When meetings aren't enough.
I am an alcoholic and I am also bipolar. I can have problems with confusion or rage sometimes without any warning whatsoever. I have heard from various members of alcoholics anonymous that I need to make more meetings and I’ll be alright work two steps two steps work with everything I beg to differ. I started drinking as a child it was nothing in my father's house to another beer or a little bit of sherry or wine on holidays were usually treated with a hot toddy in fact babies who are teething and crying too much a finger dipped in wine and rub their gums and make them happy too. Because of the common use of spirits many Caribbean drunks are what would be called low bottom drunks. The culture dictates that if you can keep a job, pay your bills and your family is not in the cold you don't really have a problem. This can get ugly because you could destroy your own health as I did on the way to your final bottom.
I was a gifted child and went to ivy league schools I have worked under commissioners in civil serving jobs, I have done costume design and lived in three states I have a car I rarely am without one. I married and divorced and had two children.
As far as my family was concerned I was fine except for the fact sometimes I often seemed a little tired at the dinner table most night. I also had a problem with rage. I would look at something that you had done it could be today it could have been 6 years ago it could be when we were children and I would rant and rave and try to get you back. When I was on one of these rampages there was no help for you. My children formed the habit of making me a drink and leaving it on my chair or my laptop to let me know that I needed to check in with the doctor again.
I got sober at 40 after experiencing the last of a series of horrendous relationships. For other people they seem to settle down to the business of getting sober but with my mix of alcoholism and mood disorder it was very difficult to stay in a relationship for any length of time. It was said I could start a fight in an empty room, at my job and my church and with my family. The frightening thing was I didn't know when it would go.
After I was in recovery for five years I began seeing a therapist because it felt like I was going crazy. My therapist suggested I be assessed by a psychiatrist. I was diagnosed as being bipolar I went on medication. When I went back to AA the first “suggestion” of the AA [self-appointed] doctors were that I didn't need to take any meds because I would get addicted.
Now note to self if you tell your doctor you're an alcoholic or addict they will not give you opioids or things that are addictive there are other options they know about because THEY ARE DOCTORS. But they didn't know that.
In fact, I had one sponsor who's thought not only was I not bipolar I was probably not an alcoholic because I had a graduate degree from an ivy league school. She could not imagine me being functional enough as a drunk to go to school. By the way i am not by any means unique.
One of the effects of my alcoholism is the cartilage wore away in my joint my knees and my hips and it was necessary to get joint replacements one knee and one hip. While I was at the hospital the nurses begged me to take pain medication, but I listened to my aa friends and I did not. As a result, despite physical therapy that knee froze at a 50-degree angle and my heel was at least an inch and a half shorter. The cartilage in my hip went and my leg I would wake up in my leg will be sideways in the bed because of cartilage was gone and I had to have that replaced as well. By this time, I knew better but even so at the hospital, but a young nurse overmedicated me just before I went to physical therapy. I scared of therapist and everyone because I couldn't focus I was hurting angry and confused.
You see when I’m medicated I sound very rational and clear and when I’m not you know something's wrong and you can't figure out why I’m doing what I’m doing and I’m not clear enough to tell you. Being bipolar is like having a cloud of emotion in front of your eyes that blurs anything that you tried to do, people are misunderstood, decisions made at the spur of the moment that may or may not make sense, I went along like that for a while until I learned that the meds were there to help me manage my illness nothing would cure either one.
I found dual diagnosis meetings for people like me who have a drug or alcohol problem and a mood or mental disorder [I really don’t like the words struggling or suffering – needlessly dramatic]. These people understood me.
Meanwhile my aa sponsor begged me to not tell anybody I was bipolar. Her reasoning was that in AA meetings we only talk about AA. But my condition always showed up whether I wanted it to or not. I had a few friends not very many and the women at my aa group tried to fuss and cry over me in the hopes that I could be bullied into acting like a lady. I remember one group anniversary and my then sponsor noticed that I always brought salad or sodas or ice she demanded that I cook something because I wasn't acting sober why couldn't I cook. Well the problem is my short attention span I put something on the stove and I get distracted by television or a book or a phone call and I don't remember until there's a cloud in the room and people with fire extinguishers.
She was annoyed with the fact that I did not do what she said. I learned that you must be very careful who you let inside your head. Doctors are doctors and not someone who got sober five minutes before you did. If you need help get help. For many of us were dually diagnosed we have found that finding a sponsor who is dually diagnosed works well it's it can be done.
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