Mental illness and addiction; a tale of hardship

I wanted to write this to help anyone struggling with the duality of mental illness and addiction. It is no wonder that they are comorbid disorders as one attempts to mask the other. But like wallpaper over a bloodied wall, the facade ultimately fails and can have horrible consequences. 


I began suffering from ment. Illness at 12, the result of abuse and having not possessed a sense of self worth. Leading me to have little to no friends and the social skills of a mute attempting to lead the blind.  But at the age of 14 I found that recreational use of marijuana and alcohol masked my insecurities and even free relationships. I knew they were purely superficial and relief heavily upon whether I had an drugs or alcohol to bring to the party, but the sense of not being alone was so dramatic that the superficiality seemed inconsequential. 

As time progressed I began using and selling cocaine and mushrooms, not to make money or feed a habit, but because I'd discovered that if I were being used for having access to these things I May as well make it work in my benefit. 

As on yesterday I am 8 months sober from alcohol and 9 years from cocaine, mushrooms and any other stupid things I'd gotten myself into and I've found insight that I hope is beneficial to someone out there. 

1. You can hide your demons through drug use but not scape them.

2. When dealing with sobriety don't make too much of the dates you've been sober, sure a congratulations is in order. But with time comes forgetfulness anarrogance. This is exactly what is needed to relapse. 

3. Don't subscribe to things because it's the "right way" or the "popular way" to achieve sobriety. Subscribe to whatever you think will benefit you the most. I for one, don't enjoy AA or meetings of the like As I don't fit in well. I have choose to go my own route. I want to stipulate though, that don't simply try to do it on your own with out at least giving some programs a shot.

4. Sobriety may heal your ills and your wallet but will not heal your scars. Mental anguish of what you have Done and those you have hurt stay with you. More times than not, things you'd forgotten about while using will surface when stopping. These need to be attended to, as a wound does not heal if you allow it to fester. 

5. If you're considering quitting make a pro/con list of what would come of quitting. (i.e. pro- no more hangovers, con- making new friends). I have no doubt that the pro column will far outnumber the con list. 

6. After making this list you should think deeply about your own desire to quit. You will achieve nothing if deep down you want to continue. Just remember what you are willing to give up on that pro list mentioned above.

7. When entering sobriety, the world doesn't stop. Don't expect the world to be nicer now that you've gotten clean. In the 3 months after I stopped drinking I lost 4 family members. And at any point could have gone back, but why? Drugs do not alter reality, they break you from it. Blind you from the truth and shunt your feelings. And those feelings persist, and as they do they will create larger problems.

I won't go on more about my ideas of how toquit, but would like to talk about why we use. A good explaination of this can be seen in maslows hierarchy of needs, (from foundation to peak) we have physiological needs, safety needs, love/beloning, esteem and finally self-actualization. When these components are missing or underdeveloped we seek a way to fill the void and pretend that we are living to a true potential. As someone abused, I used drugs at first to fill the gaps in safety and esteem, but as time grew it also took over for belonging. This is the thing about drugs and abuse/dependence. The more of your needs they fill a void for the harder it seems to leave them. But self-actualization. The greatest achievement of the needs is just that, realizing that despite shortcomings and problems you still have the ability to be you.

And that is something that should never be changed.

I wish the best to all those struggling with abuse/dependence and/or mental illness. It is an immensely difficult task to undertake; changing oneself for the better. But it may well be worth it after all,  for being you on a bad day is better than a shell of yourself on a good one.


User Comments

It's great to read such helpful and insightful posts. This was a useful reminder to me, as I've recently considered resorting to alcohol to solve my problems. Best wishes for you in your continuing sobriety.


I'm terribly sorry for what you've gone through, but I'm grateful to see you turning it around, and being there to help others in their time of need. Thank you.


I particularly like the advice of making a list. I'm not recovering from drug or alcohol dependency, but I use lists to keep myself on track in every aspect of my life. A list for what I need to do each day. A list for goals to accomplish at work, and another for my personal life. A list of ways I'm going to try to improve myself. I check'em off, like quests in a computer game, as they're completed. It leads to a more productive lifestyle and a serious sense of accomplishment.


I went through abuse as a kid, and while I never fell to drugs or alcohol to any great extent I've done other things to try and bolster a sense of self esteem. You're right that nothing works except for honest self-esteem: doing the right thing, being someone you can be proud of being for your own sake. I still falter some days, maybe more than I don't, but I'm trying, and I'm getting better all the time :)


You've got some great advice in there, especially about how the world isn't going to bend over to reward you for getting sober. It's not about how other people treat you, it's about how you see yourself (grats on you for getting better, by the way). It's hard, but it's so worthwhile.