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Bipolar Disorder and the Damage of Addiction

Addiction is a disease. It can turn someone strong into a powerless human being. It can make someone a prisoner in their own body. 

"My name is Laura and I am an addict." That sentence took me three years to say out loud. I always will be an addict, but I am currently in recovery. Recovery never ends. I watched addiction in my childhood and I swore to myself I would never reach that point. Little did I know that bipolar disorder and addiction come hand-in-hand. So how did it start? 

When my youngest daughter was two years old, I had tubal ligation surgery. I was prescribed a narcotic pain medication to get through the surgery. That was all it took. I took the pain medication until it was gone. Thirty pills later, averaging two a day, it didn’t take long. I scrounged our medicine cabinet, I knew I had more. I was sick with a raging headache and nothing was going to take away my pounding head. Sure enough, I found more. Shortly after that, I had various injuries, some serious and some not so serious. I went to the doctor and they would hand out pills left and right to me. 

Through the grapevine of what I then called friends, I found my dealer. He justified my addiction, normalized it. In order to hide things from my (then) husband, I would go shopping and take cash out that way. It just looked like I spent more at the grocery store than I actually had.

I got stomach ulcers at one point and had to go to the hospital. While I don’t think my addiction to the pain medication was the cause, it still scared me. I was hoping the hospital wouldn’t take blood samples and search for anything that would cause alarm. My (then) husband sat by my side. The nurse gave me an opioid via my IV. She warned me it would come on quick and sudden and most likely would cause dizziness. She was right, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Not only was I on other various medications, now I had this “incredible” drug in my system. I craved the opioid for quite a while after, so I kept upping the amount of narcotics I would take. Soon I was taking 10 to 15 a day.

I kept my addiction a secret for a very long time. I think that secret was the downfall of my marriage. I hid a huge secret from the man that loved me unconditionally for fear of judgement and rejection about the addiction. I don’t think an apology will ever be enough for the space I put between us. It was no wonder he pushed away. If only I had admitted to him after my first surgery what was going on.

After my suicide attempt, I really decided to try and get clean. I would go a few hours and felt physically ill and would give in. This happened at least five more times. Finally, I flushed all my pills. I was going to do it this time, this was it. I went through all the symptoms of withdrawal and stayed in bed alone and scared until I felt better. I went through a year of trying to quit with three intense rounds of detox and absolute torture and pain from withdrawals before I finally called it quits. All three rounds of withdrawals were terrible — I would be in and out of sleep, sticking to my sheets from sweat, a garbage pail by my side and no energy to even move. I would highly recommend having someone there to support you through detox or through a rehab center, it’s also safer. I am proud to say I just celebrated one year of being sober. Looking back, I don’t know how I ever managed to go through three awful rounds of full detox on my own. The third and final time drained me, physically and emotionally. I felt so weak and defeated at the time. Now, looking back, I see how strong I was.  

Though a thousand apologies will never ease the pain I caused, I am truly sorry to every single person I hurt. I am especially sorry for lying to my husband. I cannot even imagine how much that must have hurt. I lost myself in the form of a little white tablet. I lost years that I cannot ever get back.

Read more of Laura's posts here.

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