Can you imagine fearing everything and honestly believing there is no way out of this dark grip of addiction?
What would you do? Hide from society; that’s what I did.
While in active addiction, it is almost impossible to be a productive member of society. Often, family members, co-workers, and friends are all aware of your situation and prefer not to be around you. An addict will isolate themselves as much as possible. The people around the addict who love them may start to enable.
What it was like:
My whole life I have battled with bipolar disorder. As a teenager, there were many times where I would be ecstatic, excited, hyper and not sleep for days. Directly following these exhilarating days would be a number of days filled with sorrow, sleep, and depression. I knew something was off, but I had no idea what it was. I couldn’t help it. The only solution I knew of was alcohol or drugs, so I unknowingly self-medicated. The mood altering substances would mask the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Soon enough, I found myself drinking and using drugs more often than not.
At first, drinking and abusing drugs was the perfect solution. I didn’t realize that this self-medicating I was doing made my symptoms worse… When I was sober or forced to be clean, my mood was 100% unstable, and I was very unpredictable. I even went “doctor shopping” to find a doctor that would prescribe me the pills I wanted. I’d have to see a couple of different doctors before I got the pills I wanted. It’s not a problem if I take pills prescribed by a doctor right? That was my thought pattern, at least.
I completely avoided all social settings and stopped doing all hobbies; my mood swings were too drastic to be around people. Everything irritated me. I was no longer a part of anything except for my own room. I would often wish I was sucked into a hole in the ground and that the world would just absorb me. I loved the thought of being sucked into oblivion by a black-hole.
When I was 21, I knew I couldn’t live like this anymore. I knew it was time to do something about my addictions and bi-polar disorder. I had no idea people were like me. I thought I was the only one in the world with this disorder and I was just going to have to figure out ways to “live with it.” My family doesn’t understand mental illness, so I decided to seek help for myself. I had heard the word “dual-diagnosis,” so that was my first search. Apparently, there are thousands of dual diagnosis centers in California. And that was exactly where I wanted to go: to get better, heal, and find myself spiritually.
After battling this mental illness for over a decade, I finally decided to get help. I had no idea just how bad I was. Treatment was amazing. It turned out that I am not alone. There are thousands of men and women across the globe that suffer from this exact illness, and for the first time in my life, I felt at ease. I was not only getting treatment for my addiction but also my bipolar disorder. The 30-days I was away at this dual diagnosis center in California saved my life. I gradually learned how to be a member of society.
What it is like now:
I have not picked up a drink or a drug since May 15th of 2010. I have over six years of continuous undistributed sobriety, and my life is amazing. I take medication every day to combat my bipolar and attend AA meetings regularly to maintain my sobriety. Little did I know, my habit of drinking and using drugs forced my medication to stop working. I no longer hide from anyone or anything. Of course, I have bad days—I am a human. But my worst day sober is far better than my best day abusing drugs or alcohol. And the most amazing gift I have received from all of this is, I never obsess over drinking or using drugs.
I have rekindled every relationship and made amends to everyone I had harmed. To be honest, the greatest miracle in the world is the fact that today, I love myself.