I had the pleasure of meeting Christine recently. She is a strong woman and I greatly admire her bravery, spirit and determination to heal. I was deeply touched by the story that she was gracious enough to share with us here, and I know that this might speak to some of you. In fact, it might speak rather loudly. So many of us are not only recovering from an addiction, but depression and anxiety quite often accompany our struggles. Those can take hold in ways that we may never see coming, which is why it is important to know that you are not alone, nor do you need to go through any of this on your own. Seek out doctors, therapists, support groups, recovery groups, family, friends, whatever means you need to access. You can heal with help.
I have provided links to a handful of resources here, but please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 if you or a loved one are in crisis.
I've suffered from depression and anxiety all of my life. I've been taking medication and seeing a behavioral and cognitive therapist to control both my entire adult life with some success. In addition, I have trust issues for which I also go to counseling, but this has never seemed to help. Those issues are rooted in another story. The walls I have built around me are thick and have a great foundation. To top that, I have hereditary anger management issues, also another story. The icing on my cake is that I'm also an alcoholic, therefore I mostly attempted to control my situation by drinking. Though all of my stories are intertwined into who I am, this is my recovery story.
I've been drinking since I was a teenager. Even earlier if you count all the sips of dad's beer as he drank. In 1994, I turned 21 and it was now socially and legally acceptable, I really let loose. Happy Hours, Ladies Nights, Thirsty Thursdays, Tailgate Parties, you name it, I was there. Drinking made being sociable bearable. During the next decade, I moved to a new city, I bought a house, I worked and I drank. I drank just like everyone else so I never thought I had a problem.
My first experience with rehab was in 2005. I visited a counselor about a recent breakup, but as we progressed through the details, she recommended the rehab program. At first, I was skeptical and didn't really think I needed it, so I didn't take it seriously. I was drinking, but it was normal drinking, like everyone else drinks. I had my life under control or so I thought.
After a Thanksgiving, Christmas and a New Year's Eve that I cannot remember in 2011, I knew I had a bigger problem that I wanted to admit, but it still wasn't until July 2014 before I went through the rehab process for the second time. I successfully abstained from drinking for 8 months until one day at lunch with a friend I had a desire for a glass of wine. My friend even questioned if I was sure I wanted to have that drink. I was and I did, but it was soon all downhill from there. Even after sleeping on the hallway floor outside the bathroom after a night of drinking (and driving), you couldn't convince me that I wasn't normal. I was that "functional alcoholic" that we hear/read so much about.
In October of 2017, I admitted that I was powerless and that it was time to go to rehab for the third and final time. This decision came after a tumultuous year with family, friend, relationship, work, and life issues. Most specifically after a three-month binge in July, August and September after the stresses of life got the better of me. So I signed in to the rehab clinic, sought out a new counselor, and prepped myself for what was about to happen…withdrawals.
For the next 9 months, I was successful in not drinking only by isolating myself as much as possible. I only left the house to go to work. I avoided gatherings. I made plans with friends and then cancelled them. I didn't go out at all. I even avoided the grocery store so that I would not wander into the beer and wine aisle. Takeout windows and Walmart grocery pickup were the only ways I purchased my food. The withdrawal symptoms were sometimes so unbearable that I couldn't get out of bed. I wasn't able to read a book because I couldn't focus on more than a few paragraphs at a time. I couldn't understand why I was still having withdrawals 9 months later. Finally in June, a new symptom emerged…suicidal thoughts. After everything I'd been through all my life I'd never thought suicide was the answer, but now here it was and I knew I was in real trouble. At this point, I lost the battle of abstinence with myself and spent another 2 months binging to change my thoughts.
So in what some may see as a rash decision, in August, I decided to quit my job, sell my house, and move to be near my family. So near that I am now neighbors to my parents and my brother and sister-in-law live only a few minutes away. I need their support to make it through 2018 and into a healthy 2019. Wish me luck and send your prayers. I turned 45 in June and now I refuse to live the next half of my life in the same ways as the first.