Proud, sober, and willing to accept help
Therapy didn’t occur to me as an option until August 2016, when I was just over nine months sober. During the first nine months of my sobriety (or, as I like to call it, BT—before therapy), I talked about what I was going through to anyone and everyone who was willing to lend an ear. My go-to person was my therapy-advocating roommate. She listened to me, gave excellent advice, and found gracious ways to sneak in the whole “you should see a therapist” message. I’d get annoyed, but then after the 100th time, it finally sunk in. I realized that my neuroses weren’t so cute, after all.
I used to self-medicate my anxiety and depression with drugs and alcohol
When I was struggling with some family issues at 14, I saw a psychiatrist. She diagnosed me with depression and put me on antidepressants. I tried Prozac. Then Zoloft. Then Effexor. I hated them all. I was a stubborn kid who knew everything and I didn’t need medication. At 16, I found what I thought I needed: weed and Smirnoff Ice (#classy, right?). At 18, I took myself off my meds without telling anyone. “Who needs antidepressants when they’ve got weed and booze?” I thought. Obviously, I was wrong.
The first time I got high was the best feeling in the world. Calm and relaxation washed over me. Nothing else mattered other than the cloudy bubble I had just created. From that moment forward, I subconsciously decided that cloudiness would be my medication of choice. Smoking weed turned into popping pills … which I stole from my grandmother. Drinking a few Smirnoffs turned into chugging whiskey and hooking up with strangers. This was my life for the next 13 years.
Now I treat my anxiety and depression with therapy, self-care, and natural supplements
With time, my current therapist has helped me identify the underlying issues that led to all those years of self-destruction. Through this experience, I’ve found that I have agitated depression/high-functioning anxiety. This means that I tend to feel like I have to solve every single problem, and if I don’t, I see myself as weak. It also means I fill every moment of my life with “busy-ness,” so I don’t have to feel my own depression. I subconsciously self-destruct—even in sobriety.
But, hey, there’s no cure for my own stubbornness. I still choose to self-medicate instead of taking antidepressants. Every morning, I’ve prescribed myself 20 minutes of meditation and Holy Basil (an herbal anti-stress supplement). Once a day, I drink Kava tea (an anti-anxiety herbal tea) as needed, and little to no caffeine—I’ve found that caffeine exacerbates my anxiety.
Therapy has really helped me figure out who I am, who I’ve been, and what I’ve been dealing with all along. I am NOT my depression, I am NOT my triggered behaviors, and most importantly, it’s NOT my responsibility to save the world. I wish I had taken my mental health more seriously long ago. But if I did that, where would all my stories come from today? (Just kidding!)