One experience that completely changed myself, excluding my rehab and getting sober, would be my actual drinking and pill popping. I was so ill that I didn’t realize what I was doing belonged to the habits of an ill person. Bipolar disorder aside, I really had a problem with alcohol and pain pills. In The Thirteenth Step, Hayden remembers her first drink. That was my first drink, at an off-campus party with a girl who lived down the hall. I remember that first tentative sip of beer. It didn’t take very many drinks for me to get drunk that night. Although my descent into substance abuse was not immediate, I was hooked from that very first night. I did, however, quickly turn into a weekend warrior until my drinking escalated to the point of hiding vodka bottles and downing shots after my roommates had gone to bed. I was always very secretive about my drinking. Yes, I drank when I went to bars. But many times I tried to hide my urge to drink out in public by only having one or two drinks, then binging as soon as I returned home.
My fast downward spiral was frightening, and just a few months before my admittance to a psychiatric hospital then rehab I was completely aware I had a problem. I knew I needed to stop, and although they were poor attempts, I tried. But I found myself right back at the bottom of a bottle. I liked to mix my alcohol with pain pills. The combination was my poor but effective way of dealing with my sleeplessness. I was very much self-medicating. There were too many horrible thoughts racing through my mind that I couldn’t handle.
My experiences with a drinking and pain pill problem taught me a great lesson: I now know who I never want to be again. I never want to go back to that chaotic place filled with horrible thoughts and despair. I hope no one ever has to see that side of me again.
But for the grace of God, go I.