This was written for you all by my beautiful friend Amy, who I met on Facebook via a friend I met on Facebook 😉 Amy’s story is very real. It was not written and shared for anyone to judge. It was written to help, to give hope, and to inspire. Although you may identify greatly with her struggles and triumphs, not a single one of you has thought the EXACT same thoughts and felt the EXACT same feelings as Amy in her situations. Please keep that in mind before you think it’s acceptable to judge her. It’s not. And if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all. Today, it is only okay to support. It’s okay to sympathize or empathize. It’s okay to encourage. Thank you, Amy, for sharing your story. ❤
“When a friend asks you to write a little bit about your addiction life, of course you want to share as part of the 12th step, or merely in the name of helping another person find hope – but you also struggle through the thoughts of having to dredge it all back up. So, let’s just dive right in… like a meeting I guess.
Hi. I’m Amy. I’m an addict.
I’m an alcoholic, I’m a drug addict, I’m a sex addict, I’m a card carrying member of Debtors Anonymous (pun intended), and clinically bipolar. (Right here I’d love to say, “…and I’ll just listen tonight. I pass” whereby everyone would chant, “Thanks for comin, Amy.”)
The deal is this. The way I understand it, addiction is addiction. Whatever it is I do in my life to escape the reality of it all, and do it to a point that it causes me distress and despair – it’s addiction. And typically, if you’re addicted to one thing – the chances are, you’re addicted to many things. Addictions don’t discriminate. They can accumulate, but rarely discriminate.
I think the underlying issue for me is the bipolar diagnosis. As far back as I can remember (3 years old-ish) I’ve had some things that just “weren’t right”.
I have to mention that my life growing up was so normal. My parents were married, stayed married and raised my brother and me in a very loving home. The fact that we are both addicts is a matter of heredity, I learned in treatment. My parents didn’t display addictive behaviors growing up, and they’re only slight if any at this point. My point here is – I didn’t come from a “broken home” and I wasn’t born to “druggie” parents who moved me around from school to school. They were, and are, good people. My choices are not their fault.
As I grew up, I had to find a way to cope with the highs of mania and the lows of depression. At 8 years old I managed to masturbate for the first time. How does an 8-year old know how to do that? I don’t know. All I know is that it was self-soothing and quieted my mind. I remember it vividly.
I was searching and clawing my way through elementary and middle school appearing absolutely normal to the outside world. Well, mostly. I found my self-worth in the arms of a myriad of men – or boys I guess, at age 14. I wanted/needed someone to cling to. As boys turned to men, the weight of disappointment when a relationship ended became insurmountable. I would do nearly anything to cling to a relationship.
Because I was so relationship focused, I didn’t have a lot of girlfriends. There weren’t a lot of weekend sleep-overs and parties. I had a few just to keep my parents calm thinking that everything was “normal.”
The first taste of alcohol I had was a Sun Country wine cooler out of a 2-Liter bottle. I didn’t care for it. In fact, I never did acquire a taste for any alcohol. In order to drink beer, I had to chew Big Red gum to disguise the taste. Turned out that when I drank, I’d slam down 5 shots of whatever someone bought for me – and I was set for the night. (I hated the feeling of being “full” too. Drinking always made me feel full.) When I felt myself coming ‘down’, I’d have one or two more to keep me at it. The truth of the matter is, most of the time I went out, I was manic so it didn’t take much to make me SEEM wasted.
My first serious boyfriend was a known pot-head. I never even considered smoking anything because, to me, smoking looked very low class. I’m glad now that I never tried it – I KNOW I would have loved it. After telling him several times I wouldn’t smoke with him, he asked me to try LSD. I did. And then I did it again. And again. And again. But that was it. Four of the most hysterical nights of my life. Also, they were some of the most dangerous as I look back.
It wasn’t long after I fell into that trap that he moved on and I graduated from high school. I wound up pregnant (learning later that I didn’t know who the father was) and lost. Married and divorced in 18 months I was still searching.
In the arms of another man I was given cocaine. A LOT of cocaine. I HATE cocaine, but I did it because I wanted to feel alive. To escape the nightmare that was my mind. As I type this I realize that my manic mind is very similar to being on cocaine… no wonder I hated it.
As that relationship fizzled I found myself alone, with a baby, without a job and broken. I went to a doctor (this is before I was diagnosed with Bipolar) who prescribed anti-depressants. They worked! They shot me RIGHT into full-blown mania. Oh Mylanta – what a mess.
I destroyed marriages, slept with multiple men, got married and divorced again and racked up over $60,000 in credit card debt. I chartered private planes, had closets full of clothes with tags still on them and drove cars right off of the showroom floor. THIS is the danger of prescribing antidepressants to someone with Bipolar.
During the course of my manic phase, I often struggled with anxiety (ya think?). So I went back to the doctor (who I now call the “candy man”) to get more drugs. He prescribed me Ativan. I LOVED Ativan. This was exactly what I needed to quiet my mind. I fell in love. I took the anti-depressants to drive me up, and the Ativan to bring me back down. I was IN CONTROL… until the depression came.
I took more and more Ativan. I slept most of my time away. <This is pretty hard to dredge up because this is where I feel the most loss. I don’t care that I frittered away hundreds of thousands of dollars. Or that I wrecked marriages. What I hate the most is that I missed out on my little girl’s childhood. If I wasn’t in recovery, this in and of itself would drive me to suicide even today.>
I was in and out of a local psych ward trying to make some sense of it all. I had stopped abusing alcohol but the pills remained. I began taking the correct pills as prescribed but I was still drowning. After many meetings and testing, it was confirmed that I am, in fact, bipolar. FINALLY. An answer.
Somewhere in the course of this nightmare I started going to AA meetings. And then NA meetings. And then SLAA meetings. I got chips. And key tags. And I shared. And I read. And I prayed. It seemed at the beginning like there were a lot of rules. Read this book, do these steps, don’t talk to those people, yadda yadda. You know what? The only real rule is: DON’T DRINK or USE. That’s the only rule. How you get there is your choice.
There is a lot of wisdom in the years of sobriety sitting in an AA room. LISTEN to the oldies. They know stuff. Take what you want and leave the rest.
I’m sick of writing about this. I’m depressed and angry at the whole mess all over again. And I will be again. And again. Because that’s life. These are emotions. They don’t go away.
I’ll close by saying: Nothing in the WORLD is worth dying for. No matter what you’ve done, or not done – suicide is not the answer. I was merely breaths away from taking that way out. It’s really not the answer. You have to believe it.
You’re gonna get tired as hell, and you’re gonna get angry, sad and lonely. There will be shame and disappointments. You may even get too happy and over-celebrate. NONE OF IT MATTERS RIGHT NOW. Just stop what you’re doing. Put your feet on the floor and close your eyes. BREATHE. It will all be different in a little while. Call for help. Call ANYONE. Walk. Talk. Shower. Eat. Cry. Scream. ANYTHING, just do not end your life based on temporary feelings.
People love you. You may not know it or realize it yet – but they do.”