Oh my goodness, where has all the fun gone? Don’t worry, it’s not gone for good. It’s just gone until my life gets back to a healthy state and I can think straight! So why don’t we chat recovery for a bit? Today I have two doctor appointments so I’m going to discuss how recovery has taught me how to ask for help.
I never asked for help with anything before recovery. For as long as I can remember I did everything myself. When I was a child I did my own homework, picked out my own clothes for school and I made my own lunch. The only things I couldn’t do was buy things and drive myself places. My parents were happy to help with those things of course. I was so independent. Too independent. My psychiatrist in college told me my independence was a huge detriment and that I used it to actively push people away. I wish I could remember the term she used.
The only reason I went to a psychiatrist was because my team doctor wouldn’t clear me for athletic participation if I wasn’t seeing a therapist. My parents and coach knew I had major depressive disorder, but that was all they knew. So I reluctantly went to therapy where I proceeded to lie my ass off. Every week. I couldn’t even ask for help in an environment where I was supposed to be getting help!
Mostly I had simply resigned myself to the fact that I was depressed and that I would always be depressed. I didn’t believe anyone could help me, especially not some crazy quack doctor who compared my substance abuse issues to her love for chocolate. Seriously? I would go high to sessions and she had no idea. That woman was so dumb I told her she lost her mind, and she started looking for it. Come on, don’t tell me you forgot about Yo Mama jokes…Ok, ok, she wasn’t all bad – that’s just my resentment talking. Afterall I should be grateful – she was the one who suggested I go to my first NA meeting and where I learned that I have the disease of addiction.
Today my problems are less severe than active addiction – headaches and swollen joints – but unfortunately AA can’t directly help me with those problems. These are problems only a doctor is qualified to solve. However, I would never have thought to go to a doctor if it wasn’t for AA. First of all, I probably wouldn’t even have noticeable headaches with all the pain pills I was popping. But more importantly, I would not value myself enough to seek help. Being in recovery has taught me that if something hurts, I do something about it because I’m worth it.
In active addiction/alcoholism most of us would just ignore medical issues. Many people I know in recovery figure out they have serious dental issues years into recovery because they just weren’t responsible about yearly visits when they were using/drinking.
We ignored even the most obvious health issues too. Oh, this? All this blood streaming out of my nose? Don’t worry about it – I’m sure it’ll stop… some day. Your disease wants to you stay sick and miserable, spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically.
Case-in-Point (warning: this gets gorey): One night in college I was cleaning out my bathroom because I was subletting it for the semester while I studied in the UK. I was very high on that stuff and the bathroom door was shut while I disinfected everything with all sorts of chemically cleaning supplies. I was light-headed but determined to see myself in the tile floor. I must have been in there with no air flow for an hour or so.
After scrubbing the floor I went to deal with my trash can. I lived in the basement of this house and my roommates only came down to do laundry so for the most part I had the whole floor to myself. I was embarrassed at the amount of beer and wine I had been drinking so I hid all the recycling in my bathroom instead of adding to the community bin in the kitchen upstairs (I learned later that this is typical behavior for an alcoholic). For some reason I decided to be a good citizen and separate out the aluminum cans from the trash. I grabbed a Bud Light can (I was classy like that) out of the trash but I accidentally jammed my right ring finger into the lip of the can and the metal tore through my finger tip with vengeance. Blood started gushing everywhere. I wrapped it in huge wads of toilet paper but it just kept bleeding. I went through three full rolls of TP. Finally I took a bath towel and wrapped it up and held my hand above my head. The blood was still streaming. Where were all the vampires?? I knew I should get to the hospital but I was so scared/paranoid someone would find out about my drug use. I sat up in my bed with my hand up in the air wrapped in the bloody towel until I passed out. When I woke up my finger had stopped bleeding. I cleaned it and put a huge bandage on it. It took years for the scar on my finger to heal.
Now what person in their right mind wouldn’t have gone to a hospital? Or at least called a friend or a parent for assistance? I probably needed stitches! But I refused to ask for help.
Today, I know how to ask for help. When something hurts, I pay attention. I don’t ignore the pain just hoping it will go away. I take action. I wish I could do that more often in other aspects of my life, but hey – it’s progress not perfection right?
Is it easy for you to ask for help?