Being a woman in recovery can seem like an unending uphill battle. Add a mental health issue into the mix and it can feel like you’re carrying a backpack filled with rocks on that uphill journey. It can sometimes feel like we are drowning, and that no one understands why we feel and think the way that we do. I know that there are countless other women out there who are in the same boat as I am, and I rest a little bit easier knowing that I’m not alone. Today I know that there are scores of women with their arms outstretched, waiting for me to admit that sometimes I’m not okay, but that everything is going to be fine.
Ahhh, depression, the silent and creeping destroyer of motivation and well-being, the reason I fall behind on my program and the reason I have no desire to get better some days. I never even knew I struggled with depression until I got a little stability in my program and the mental fog finally started to clear. The corresponding rates between addiction and depression are astounding, with a large majority of people having the dual diagnosis.
The trouble is, that we haven’t yet learned how to wade through the murky waters of our minds by ourselves, so some people are very quick to prescribe the pain away or go back to the only thing they knew that would help, drugs or alcohol. However, studies have shown that when we are depressed, medication may not always be necessary, depending on the severity. For women experiencing a few-week low, doctors suggest changing their daily routine, adding exercise, spending more time with women, and for us addicts, helping others. Trust me when I say that when I’m depressed, I never want to do any of those things. However, one blessing of the program is that today I have friends who will come to my house and pull me out of bed and help me get on my feet. Some days I struggle, and other days I don’t, but after some time and step work under my belt, I know that I can’t sit in self-pity anymore, even on days when I really want to.
Many women whom I love and cherish struggle immensely with this disorder. From what I understand, it can be crippling and terrifying. My friends have reported feeling like they can’t leave their house, or turn their brain off, and I have even heard of people having panic attacks due to severe bouts of anxiety. Similar to depression, many have a really hard time with anxiety when sober because we are no longer able to use what always worked (and then stopped working in the past (drugs and alcohol).
We have got to find new routes of managing the thought processes that come along with our anxious mental state. The tricky thing about anxiety is that it is based on our thoughts and actions, as some women over analyze past life events, and countless others try to control the future. When we feel out of control, we feel anxious, and since we can’t control everything even though we would like to, the anxiety can become overwhelming, and quickly. Medication helps, as well as a hearty home base of a 12-step program.
This is one of the most common mental health diagnosis’ associated with women in addiction. There are countless treatment centers specifically dedicated to the recovery of women who struggle with both. One of the main issues with eating disorders is control, which, surprise surprise, is an addict’s main issue as well. The tricky thing about food compulsions vs. drug addiction is that drugs can kill us, but we need food to live, so the battles that addicted women with eating disorders face is multiplied one hundredfold. Again, I have friends who suffer from anorexia and bulimia, and a large portion of the disorder centers in the self-, and the behaviors they use to subdue those negative images.
Today I know that the only thing holding me back from feeling better is simply myself. It all depends on just how much and how long I’m willing to sit in my pain before I take action. The only thing that really always works is being of service to others, whether it be at work, with sponsees, at meetings, and in day-to-day life.
Getting Help at Wayside House
If you are a woman struggling with addiction and mental health issues, Wayside House can help. We offer a women-only program and provide a safe, supportive environment to recover in. We have outstanding treatments and therapies that are often only found in more expensive programs. We offer inpatient rehab with various therapies, relapse prevention education, outpatient, and aftercare, as well as programs for medical professionals. Contact Wayside House at 800-655-0817 to learn more.