Updated: Feb 23, 2022
Do you suffer from addiction paired with 'outside' mental illness(es)? Do you feel misunderstood in and outside of 12 step recovery programs because of your mental illness? If so, you are not alone. This one goes out to you..
First, I want to make it clear that I am not a professional in the medical field or 12 step programs. My goal here is to share my experience, strength and hope. There exists a strong stigma revolving around this issue and many times the lines start to blur. Where does addiction / alcoholism end and 'outside' mental illness begin? Many symptoms overlap and it can be hard to tell the difference. Everyone on this planet experiences emotional ups and downs, fear, anger, sadness, jealousy, the list goes on...it's part of the human experience! That doesn't necessarily mean that we're all bipolar. So what sort of emotional/chemical imbalance confirms mental illness? I wish there was a simple answer to this question.
When you look at mental illnesses such as anxiety disorder, bipolar, schizophrenia, PTSD, ADD, and many other abbreviated illnesses, some people wonder if they actually even exist. Those who can't seem to comprehend these labels are usually those who aren't afflicted. They say, "What do you mean you can't go to work today? Just do it!" The concept is as foreign to them as it is for us to try to understand what it's like to not have a mental illness. We just don't get it.
We learn in 12 step programs that addiction in and of itself has a mental illness component. In fact, we learn that addiction / alcoholism is a threefold illness that affects our mind, body and spirit. Suffering from dual diagnosis does not have to be your reality. You don't have to resign to the life of a numbed out zombie. I remember my doctor telling that I'll know when I'm properly medicated if I don't 'feel medicated'. He was right! Today, I don't suffer. I struggle sometimes but don't we all? It's part of being a human. There are many of us who do recover from dual diagnosis if we have the capacity to be honest and are willing to do the work required. Through the help of good doctors and 12 step programs, we can overcome addiction paired with mental illnesses.
I was recently blessed with the privilege of participating in an interview for Kelly Mahony's Self Help podcast, KellyApy. Kelly Mahony is a strong advocate and public speaker for our 12 Step recovery community. She dedicates her time and love into bringing about awareness and helping others. Thank you Kelly for all that you do!
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