A Moment in the The Miraculous Spiritual Science of Sobriety and Medication
1287 days ago I began medication for complex-PTSD.
Suicidal ideation was practically invisible to me until two of my closest friends saw what was happening and helped me get into intensive counseling, which eventually after many fears and concerns led to medical treatment. My two closest friends in sobriety both made sure my son and adult daughter didn't become motherless thanks to you them helping me finally getting an appropriate assessment, diagnosis, and medical help.
They twelve-stepped me in a way others couldn't reach me.
I am here to shout from the mountain tops to those who are struggling with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, PTSD, addiction, alcoholism, that I hope you never experience having a sponsor/meetings/groups tell you that taking medication is "not sobriety".
People die in sobriety because they are shamed into believing their depression or anxiety isn't real, their night terrors and just resentments you haven't amended, that rage is curable through the steps. While all those things are co-current symptoms of alcoholism - they are also part of why many of us drank. We drank because it medicated those things so we could function.
The fear we are transferring our alcoholism into pill-taking has been a long-term reason why sponsors say that "any mood-altering drug" is unacceptable if you want "real" sobriety. Zoloft, to many old world sponsors, is "cheating" and a "way out" of the expectation of alcohol abstinence in the program. Prazosin is newer and even more misunderstood.
Here's the deal:
The Twelve steps don't say "Don't drink". Actually, it asks us to look at if we think we are powerless over alcohol and we tore our lives and the lives of others apart because of it, then how to work towards fixing the messes we made.
It's in the Tradition Three we here the closest to "don't drink". It's in the tenant: The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire
to stop drinking.
Total abstinence is always the best route and in the 164 pages of our book, we do go down the rabbit hole of quitting drinking, but then that's where all hell breaks loose: we hit the elevator button B - for bottom _ and there we begin to discover WHY we drank. For some, it's pure genetics, environment, society. Then there's those who drank to repair themselves.
I discovered thanks to beginning intensive PTSD therapy that I drank to repair myself without knowing what was broken.
I was weeks from 7 years of sobriety (alcohol - I hated weed and stopped about a decade before, but I loved Vicodin, Percocet, Percodan - and even those I let go off before I stopped drinking a few years earlier) - but there was a chemical running my life for me - and one that isn't an outside substance. It was inside me.
That is my brain on Norepinephrine with noradrenergic hyperactivity.
It's not just eggs frying - it's eggs burning, screaming for a hotter pan.
One of the first papers on PTSD and Prazosin came to light in the early 2000s and was discovered in Seattle's VA Hospital patients. So, here we have a potential treatment for WHY a person self-medicates with alcohol and drugs.
In later studies, Prazosin decreased heroin self-administration in mice who had long-term heroin usage/experimentation, providing possible alternatives or aftercare to methadone.
Use of methadone is already a rift in the 12-step communities due to the same idea that it's "cheating" and not true sobriety. Addicts and Alcoholics are shamed for being Addicts and Alcoholics in active use. We might get lucky and have a shot and becoming well, recovering, We start to do steps, find a like tribe, and want to continue in a more sober way of life, and then - the shame comes again now from our peers because we don't qualify what they think sobriety is.
So, we use, we relapse, we drink, we harm ourselves, we harm others, and those same lofty seat-stealers say it's because we didn't "WANT it".
We wanted it. But, we want it in a way that aims to find out how else to fix the rest of the robot, not just administering enough oil in our joints to get us to walk and talk the big book and be seen as a "success" our sponsor or group believes is the correct archetype.
I see success in myself that after 10+ years of sobriety from alcohol combined with 1283 days of C-PTSD treatment with two prescribed medications is where I had the beginning epiphanies that I wanted more out of a sober life. Now, I'm in clinical hours at a treatment center and about to start my medical assistant licensing so I can one day apply to become the right hand of doctors - a Physician Assistant with surgical focus and aftercare. Why there?
Because a lot of sober folks need operations in time. And they are handed opiates like candy. I collect their urine day after day. I hear the stories and see them suffering. They talk about how they were shamed by 12-step individuals for needing methadone to come off heroin, which was the only relief after becoming addicted to oxycodone and oxycontin after having a surgery that went well or didn't AFTER having a sponsor tell them to get off the pain medication days after surgery because they weren't truly sober. Like the 20+ years of sobriety before the relapse didn't count. I don't mean count in time - but count in the community as maybe, just maybe, we could've done more before that didn't include shame or having a sponsor demand their sponsee to get off medication against doctor's orders.
Shame is why people keep the secret of being worried their prescription might be hurting more than helping. Shame keeps patients for asking their Dr. to change the Rx or for other options because their sponsor or peers say NO pain medication is acceptable, even as prescribed. Sponsors are not our medical providers, and even if one is coincidentally a physician - it's unethical, unprofessional, illegal, and outside of their scope of practice to ever give medical advice in that manner. Shaming a patient or shaming a sponsee is simply practicing harm.
Shame is deadlier than resentments because it's the backbone of resentments. Shame is Fear in steroids.
I take medication. I am still sober. I work to stay in the middle of both communities so I don't drink and also don't sabotage myself. These 1287 days have been amazing, rough, beautiful, disgusting, and revelatory. Most of all, they are included in my sobriety, not separate from it.
Included below is a post I made on April 2016 - and it's the kind of thing I needed to see someone else post, say, text, tell me to let me know I was doing right action. So, here it is, and the result 3+ years later.
I hope this helps anyone who needs it.
I am humbled and beyond grateful, surprised, and amazed I even have a day, let alone 10 years sober, let alone over 3 in PTSD recovery. I do my best to give it away to keep it. I hope it IS a lifetime - I'll do whatever it takes to never fucking drink again. Because while for today the desire to drink is removed, the disease of alcoholism is not.
Spreading this message along I hope gives others a moment of peace in this impatient world.
April 9, 2016
More than three times this week I forgot I was ever depressed. Forgot I had ptsd. Forgot I'm from a place where perpetrators don't want you to forget them or their feelings and actions towards you.
I forgot I had nightmares for 40 years.
Forgot I was afraid of heights. I'm simply cautious.
Forgot I was afraid of men. I'm hugging my male friends more with ease.
Forgot I was angry. I get pissy, then it goes away.
Forgot I was once a very small person. I am confident in a way that feels like I never wasn't.
And, it almost lead to forgetting I am an alcoholic - not that I wanted to drink. Gods, no! No, I forgot I was broken. I was so completely broken when I got here, to a place to finally look at recovery.
I didn't forget I'm alcoholic - I forgot I was ever drunk.
When I mentioned this week I am sober to one of my teachers (we were discussing our choices in healthcare) it didn't possess any of those old feelings of it being a part of me, but still "apart" slightly to the left. Integration hadn't fully taken hold because I was still used to this thin, high-tensile strength wire of a barrier that divided me from The Others, the Normies of life. not the Normies who can drink and are not alcoholic - the Normies who could hold down jobs, homes, kids, bills, etc.
I no longer feel the barrier - the gripping hot shock of the fence that said, "No, remember. You stay on this side of the field."
sobriety, for me, wasn't enough to feel a part of life. I got close, mainly between years 2 and 3 1/2. The crash of needing to delve into the steps vs the gods were a year long journey that lifted when I hit 4 1/2. Five rocketed me further into my spiritual faith, but the humanism of people began to unload. Six was incredibly shocking when life events changed my family and taught me about the depth of long-term amends.
A few weeks before Seven I broke. I went and got outside help. I finally got to attack my ptsd on a level I didn't realize existed. The help i got included one medication, prazosin, then another, Zoloft. I maintained my sober work and maintained my therapies.
And guess what -
It fucking worked.
It took months, but we are taught that perseverance, vigilance, maintenance (the principles of Step Ten) will allow us to look into ourselves and help change the outcomes of our life if we get deep within and take stock. Handing it over to therapists was and is an valuable as handing it over to sponsors and my Gods. They worked as a three-footed triskelion towards finding the causes and conditions not just of my illness/disease, but as examples of what taking responsibility for our health - mentally, physically, and spiritually look like.
For a bit, my ptsd has utterly been lifted. Just like my desire to drink.
It's fucking weird.
Just because I don't hit the floor on my knees every day doesn't mean I don't pray and meditate. The walks in the woods, the cleaning of my tarot cards, the appointments, the medical upkeep, the calls to and from friends, sponsees, therapists, all are a part of my sobriety, all a part of my 10th and 11th step. I couldn't see what I did as equal until yesterday and today.
I was walking two dogs I'm sitting this weekend after hitting the books this morning. It was sunny and blue and chickens purckled and cars went by with windows down. I at once forgot myself and felt I was inside of myself. As one of the two decided to nose a patch of bluebells I said out loud to them, "So this is what it feels like to not have depression?" The blondie and the silver pups looked back up at me and I heard a resounding, "Yes.
Now go roll in some dirt, woman. You have a new life to live."
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