March 9, 2016 at 9:35 pm #232
We hope to get MMR’s website forum participating, so if everyone would start sharing (while following guidelines) that would be great! Your experience can save others while helping your own recovery. No judgment here. We look forward to getting to know all of you! Be well!May 12, 2016 at 2:17 pm #305
I will try to write “my story.”
I was born in the late 50’s the youngest of four children, to post War parents in a suburban tract on the edge of a woodland paradise that was my refuge.
I grew up in a two faced family. The outward facing family was picture perfect. The unseen family was hell. My mother became ensnared by a door to door salesman who was a sexual predator and Satanic cult leader. The two of them sexually tortured my sister closest in age and I for about 10 years. My mother photographed the abuse. My older siblings did not face this abuse, but they got enough damage through more ordinary means.
Needless to say, I was damaged. The strain between picture perfect and inner hell was pulling me apart. I prayed to god for rescue. Things got worse. I prayed harder, and then my mother forced me to pose for a photograph of me praying — and the perpetration penetrated my soul, and my faith in god was shattered. I had OCD, paranoia, and very bad PTSD.
I attempted suicide when I was 11, then having failed due to the failure of my method, I vowed to never attempt suicide again and to survive and recover, although I didn’t have that word at that time. I spent a few years trying to decondition myself from the OCD, and succeeded, but the inner pain never went away.
Then, visiting my oldest sister in a commune in Philadelphia, I found what I thought was the answer to my prayers. One of her housemates, a medical student introduced me to heroin. I was 13. It felt like heaven to be out of emotional pain. I used for less than 1 year, but I will always say that this is my drug of choice.
I guess, fortunately for me, or unfortunately, the med student got tired of playing with me when all I wanted was more. I had to go out looking on the street. I was entirely naive of the ways of the street. Three Philadelphia cops playing hippie dress-up (I remember their clothes, though right were so clean, so unworn) picked me up and dispensed justice, as they were prone to doing during the 70’s. Justice? Forcing me to take LSD and then taking me to an abandoned park building doing things that they should have gone to jail for. Scared straight!
So I quit heroin, and went on the hunt for safer alternatives. Pot and alcohol were pale in comparison but got me through.
Fortunately again, I also learned to meditate when my sister moved out of the commune and into a yogic ashram.
Meditation, pot and booze kept me alive till I was ready for recovery. I started with the ptsd. I used to buy two beers to drink on the way as I drove to therapy just to get through the sessions. A few years into therapy I got sober.
At that time, my late teens and early 20’s pot had a bad effect on me. It put me into paranoia and catatonic states. The last time I did it I went into shock with tachycardia. Scared straight off pot too!
I got sober in 1987, and continued to work on myself, and tried to get into a “normal” life. I became a school teacher. I was dedicated to 12 step meetings, NA and AA, and inner work, and reclaiming my right to a spiritual life, by connecting directly to nature and the unseen world of animal spirit guides.
I wasn’t completely done with processing the past. Five years into sobriety I had a complete melt down with PTSD. I stayed sober but ended up in a psychiatric hospital for 3 months. Then I was homeless and had to start at the bottom again, even though sober. More work! But still sober.
I stayed sober 27 years, but due to my poor mental health and then physical health, I’ve had a lot of pharmaceutical and medical interventions. I got back to meditation and yoga and have kept my spiritual life moving along. I started a business 14 years ago, have kept it going. I got married to another dual-diagnosis person, and with help from family we’ve made a life worth living.
Ten years ago I developed neurological pain of an unknown source. Was it Lyme disease. Was it the physical health consequences of a traumatized childhood? Was it the consequences of taking all those psych meds for decades? Who knows!
I went through years of both medical and holistic treatments to try to deal with this pain. I even had two years of remission. But it came back four years ago. I took numerous medications and treatments advised by neurologists. The help was minimal, the side effects zombifying. I focused on keeping my business going, but my personal life collapsed – my house became a mess, I had no friends, my garden went to weeds, I had no activities other than work and rest.
Last year the neurological pain got so bad my PCP advised Medical Marijuana. I was shocked! Me, sober for 27 years smoking pot? It took me three months of reflection, talking to my sponsor and husband to decide to try it. Then 3 months of working through the state bureaucracy to get my MMJ license.
Lo and behold! It helped. So much so that I started living life again. I started walking, gardening again, and having a social life. It made the pain lessen, but primarily, made my mood and motivation improve enough to start living again. I am so grateful.
Tragically my sister who survived the abuse with me, died last September after drinking herself to death. It was an explosion inside. I went into deep mourning and crisis. But here again the cannabis helped me, after a long period of my spiritual life being dormant, it blossomed, through the use of cannabis I got plugged back into my nature based spiritual path.
Now I face two problems that brought me to this group.
One– my husband is still in AA. He is on board with the MMJ, thankfully. But his AA sponsor and AA buddy are of the view that I am not only an active addict but apparently also believe I am psychotic because of my spiritual path, but an active addict.
We are working this out, but it scares me that 12 step fundamentalists are trying to persuade him I need dual diagnosis detox and intense psychotherapy.
Second — in February my neurological symptoms got much worse. Probably due to a combination of the stress of my sister’s death, and overmedication with serotonin based medications.
For 12 weeks the pain completely incapacitated me. I have never experienced such intense and daily pain in my life. I ended up in the ER 4 times, had to stop driving, couldn’t walk or move much, look at computer screens, read. My psychiatrist finally figured out the serotonin syndrome angle and helped me eliminate or reduce meds and I an slowly starting to feel better.
In the mean time, my neurologist, who supports the use of cannabis, started me on nasal spray ketamine. I saw it as a reasonable alternative to opioids, which I avoid as much as possible — meaning I’ll take them after surgery for a few days, then stop — but other than that, no! I’m still a heroin addict to this day, even though it’s been over 40 years.
The ketamine worked to get me through pain that would have taken me to the hospital. It allowed me to find sleep, distancing the pain when it felt like my body was on fire and being crushed.
BUT, and it’s a bit but — as I began to improve physically, and have lower pan levels, not requiring such a big gun drug, my depression kicked back in and one day I came home from the pharmacy with my ketamine and thought to myself — “I’d like to get inside and get loaded.” Ketamine also takes away emotional pain, just like the heroin did.
I need recovery support to keep me from getting entangled in a new addiction, but clearly 12 step meeting are no longer an option.
So that’s why I’m here.
Thanks for reading, if you got this far you’ll know that I’m long winded, or thorough, depending on your point of view.
I really hope this group get’s off the ground. I need it.
KarenMay 18, 2016 at 4:33 pm #307
This story really made an impact on me while I was reading it. Your journey has been so long with so many lows. You are an inspiration for having pulled yourself out of all of those rock bottoms.
I think people tend to forget, especially fundamentalist AA’ers, that the traumas and episodes of a dual-diagnosis person will continue to affect that person for the rest of their lives. No matter how solid your sobriety is, we will always face crisis again. We should not be feeling shame or guilt for spiraling back down the hole. It is already obvious that people dealing with physical and mental health issues are going to have a harder time going through such hard times. All stigma should be removed and it would be nice if everyone could keep an open-mind when it comes to recovery. Each person is unique and thankfully the harm-reduction method seems to realize that.
We are working very hard to get this group off the ground. For a very long time we had less than 50 members participating in the Facebook group. It was great, but we all really wanted more voices and support. Finally, we blew up and grew to 450 members in 2 years. All of us working for the group are simply volunteers in recovery ourselves. No member is “better” than the other; we are all the same no matter what point we are at in our recovery. As long as we all remain positive, loving, and supportive, I think we will have a great group in the future.
Thank you again so much for sharing this. It must have been hard, but also freeing at the same time. In no way was this story long winded. I’m glad you got out everything you needed to say. It made your story much more raw and people will respond to that. I hope all is well with you, and please continue to keep us updated.
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