my 11th step

This was a funny Freudian slip made at Tuesday night’s Newcomer’s meeting…someone was reading the Steps, as usual, and said this, “Sought thru Prayer and Medication …uh, Meditation…” Of course, the room filled with knowing laughter.  The 11th step continues that through prayer and meditation we improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. That’s a big responsibility people. As for me, one way to ease my search and aid my recovery and see myself actually take the 11th step every day requires medication AND meditation.  There is no shame in my game. Which brings me to a conversation I’ve wanted to have for a long time. Diagnosed with clinical depression at 20 years old, and having struggled with mood disorders my entire life, I will never claim therapy and psychiatry a “pseudo-science”   I know the benefits of antidepressants and I also know their prevalence in our society.  I know that some people struggle every day with mental illness that would be treated and possibly cured if our model of disease and health care included treating addiction, mental illness, as a disease that requires medication.  No one would stop a diabetic from getting his insulin.  Or a hypertensive from taking her antidiuretics.  It’s common sense.  For me anyway.  I know it’s controversial, but it shouldn’t be.  So many lives could be saved if depression, anxiety and the multitude of disorders of the mind were treated as disease instead of a personal choice.  This includes addiction.  The DSM IV which classifies a range of mental, behavioral, substance -related and sexual disorders suggests a clinical model for diagnosis and treatment of substance abuse. That’s as far as the American Psychological Association is willing to help out doctors and health care providers when it comes to addiction. “Substance-Related Disorders” fall into two groups, substance use and substance-induced disorders. Addiction and its awfulness can be described as disease by a guy who knows what he’s talking about, a journalist and father to an addict, in his new book “Clean” (see my previous blog post). I can’t stress enough how helpful it is for me to view my alcoholism as a disease, along with my depression. If I didn’t see addiction or mental illness as “real” (which is hard under current circumstances that make it popular to believe depression and problem drinking is a choice) I couldn’t do my part to treat myself, to take care of myself. I need AA but I need so much more than AA. There I said it. I need science. I need drugs, but not without therapy. Not without the work. Here are brief examples of the work I (other addicts) must do :
Making sure I focus every day on the moment, peace in that moment, acceptance.
Taking deep breaths and long naps and big drinks of water, fill myself with good so that good comes out.
Make a gratitude list and remember to be thankful for what’s on it. Find a quiet place in my mind, free space get familiar with the void, the ONE, this Higher Power. That is meditation. Prayer is talking, meditation is listening. This is simple, but hard to do. Medication helps me find the room in my brain to listen. I want a quality of life that I know I just can’t have without taking daily doses of “happy pills”. Why are they even jokingly called such things? Already we have labeled them something I don’t agree with. Happy? I have come to value peace and serenity far above my happiness. Addiction and depression are real, not made-up fantasy. I wish sometimes they were fantastical illusions because than I would not waste another minute of my precious existence on the energy it takes to fight my addiction and depression.

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