Sunday, April 3, 2011

Alcoholism, Mental Illness and Recovery

Happy Spring!  I hope everyone is doing well.  Life continues around me and I am doing my best with God's help, of course, to keep up or at least survive each moment.  I have been focusing on living in the present, not dwelling on the past too much nor worrying about the future.  Those are some tough tasks for me and not because I like to think about the past and future too much but rather because the present moments are often difficult to bear.

I have a great life and many, many blessings for which I am ever thankful to God.  The difficulties remain in my mood swings and my powerlessness over mental illness.  I asked the universe this week if there will ever come a day when I would rather be alive than dead.  The universe didn't give me a definitive answer so I guess I'll keep plugging along.  Maybe that is the answer; just keep plugging along.

I have a friend who has a teenager who is depressed and he often self-mutilates by cutting.  She knows my history and asked me if I thought he was inflicting physical pain in an attempt to distract himself from his mental anguish.  I said that I didn't know why he was doing it but the reason I did it at his age was because of self-hatred. 

I had so much anger and was conditioned to stuff it as a child that when it eventually started boiling out of me, I took it out on myself in secrecy.  Nobody knew so nobody punished me for expressing anger.  Yet, I knew and ironically, inflicted my own punishment.  Weird.  I never really thought of it that way until now.

Today, I do not hate myself.  In fact, I love myself because through the 12 step program and the examples of those women in the programs, I have learned how to see myself through God's eyes and that is an amazing gift to possess.  I love myself with all of my heart!

However, I hate my mental illness symptoms as much as I hated being alcoholic when I first got sober.  Today, I am indifferent about having alcoholism.  It is what it is and I am so grateful that the solution found in the 12 steps works for me and my alcoholism.

Maybe some day I will feel the same about mental illness.  However, for today, my symptoms are extremely painful and I struggle to find peace in them.  Yet, I remain hopeful.  I turn to God at every painful moment for help and I turn to him at every peaceful moment to give thanks.  I learned to do that by working the 12 steps "in all my affairs."

In addition to working my program, I continue to take other actions necessary to treat my mental illness (going to my psychiatrist monthly, being honest with her and others about my symptoms, taking care of myself to the best of my ability and most importantly, not being too hard on myself.)

I do not have any more power over my bipolar disorder than I do over my alcoholism.  In both cases, the only power I have is in the willingness to take the actions suggested to me by others.  So, that is what I will keep doing...I'll just keep plugging along and we'll see what happens...


  1. I relate to those first two paragraphs. I finally received diagnosis of bipolar this week. I'm really tired of plugging along in my life. I feel like that is what it's been since I got sober 7 years ago.

    This doesn't mean I am not greatful for my sobriety and that life does not have it's good moments - it just means I am damn tired of plugging along.

    What would your suggestions be to someone newly diagnosed? Any books that were helpful?

  2. It's been 3 weeks since we've heard from you. What gives?

  3. It is wonderful that you can be there for a friend and give support and advise. I hope that you have a blessed Easter weekend Marie! :-)


Thank you for sharing!