An Article Share From Earlier This Year. Living With Dual Diagnosis In Recovery With Mental Illness.

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MAY IS MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH ~ Some of My Story . . .

“All I remember is waking up in the hospital. I heard people talking about me saying, when the police came to my home, there were knives all around me on the couch and floor of my living-room. Then I blacked out again.”

I woke up next in a mental/addiction crisis center with my wrists wrapped, feeling very sick to my stomach, and remained there for the next 14 days”…

I’d been invited by a Behavioral Rehab Center earlier this year to share a little of my story of living with ‘Dual Diagnosis’ of Mental Health challenges while living live in recovery from addiction. Since it is Mental Health Awareness month, I though I would share one of my articles I wrote for them here on my blog. Not only do I have these challenges, I’m also in the middle of a battle, and have been for 5 years with SSI disability for my benefits.

This has added a lot more stress in my life. WHY? Because it is really disappointing when you have worked all your life, paid into your social security disability, and when you do become unable to work? You have to fight like hell for your benefits. I have all the medical, mental, and psychiatry evidence and documentation to show why I am unable to work, but if you get a SSI judge who doesn’t know, or care what you go through daily with these disabilities, and of course he/they find ways for denial of your benefits.

I even have a new lawyer, which makes 3 lawyers now that have helped me, and we just won our federal case, and have been granted a new SSI hearing for next month. Now this whole experience will be for another blog post! LOL.
But my point? If your unable to work because of your Mental Health and medication side effects, you better be armed with excellent evidence, and a good lawyer because you have to fight like hell to get anywhere with the SSI Disability department. And this 5 year experience has added so much more stress in my life that is very unhealthy for me. It is some of what my blog share is about. So here is what I’d like to share with all of you today.
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How Does One Recover From Gambling Addiction When Living With Mental & Behavioral Health Problems?

“All I remember is waking up in the hospital. I heard people talking about me saying, when the police came to my home, there were knives all around me on the couch and floor of my living-room. Then I blacked out again.”
I woke up next in a mental/addiction crisis center with my wrists wrapped, feeling very sick to my stomach, and remained there for the next 14 days under a black cloud of pressure pushing down on me!”
Here is where my addiction recovery and behavioral health journey began. Trying to recover from gambling addiction, and while there, was diagnosed with many mental and emotional disorders, and many negative behavioral habits I had picked up in my many years of addicted gambling. I was in crisis! See, I had been suffering undiagnosed mental illness for years without ever knowing it. And I turned to addicted gambling and alcohol abuse in my adult life to zone out & cope, not wanting to feel the hurt and pains I had not processed from childhood.

With my first failed suicide attempt, I was supposed to be attending my best friend’s funeral and celebration of life, instead, I had a very bad gambling binge/slip that almost cost me my life. I chose to escape her tragic death by 16 hours of addicted gambling to escape the hurt and loss I felt from losing my best friend. Many asked me, “how can you just waste your money like that?” Today I tell them, “it’s not about the money, it’s about the disease of addicted gambling, and the bad choices and behaviors that comes with it”. It is why I feel it’s just important to share one’s personal experiences, as it is educating others about this addiction, and about living with mental/emotional illness, and childhood trauma and abuse.

So, what is gambling addiction? There are many definitions for problem and gambling addiction. Some claim it’s a mental health disorder, some say it’s a cognitive behavioral issue, and even some say it’s an impulse control problem. From personal experience, it was all three and more. But all gambling behavior patterns that compromise, disrupt or damage personal, family or vocational pursuits are a gambling addiction. The major features are increasing preoccupation with gambling, a need to bet more money more frequently, restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop, “chasing” losses, and loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences. In extreme cases, problem gambling can result in financial ruin, legal problems, loss of career and family, or even suicide. It is why currently gambling addiction has the highest Suicide Rate than any other addiction.

So there I was, in a crisis center due to a suicide attempt, which wouldn’t be my first. However, it made me start the progress (which took a few years) of trying to attain recovery. Still, I wasn’t fully convinced regarding my mental/emotional diagnosis. Partly because I was still in denial about my gambling addiction.

When I was told I would be starting medications for my mental/emotional issues, the first thing I thought was, “oh great, now people are going to think I’m nuts or a fruit loop”! Looking back now, it’s clear that this came from the huge Stigma in this country about those who suffer from any type of mental and or emotional illness. This cunning addiction invades every part of your being, especially your thinking. And even though I was a victim of childhood trauma and sex abuse as a little girl, I had never told anyone until my adulthood.

And my parents did raise us to know right from wrong, even if it was heavy-handed. But when addiction comes along, or you turn to any addiction to cope with what life is throwing at you, all good behaviors and choices fly right out the window, and the negative behaviors of addiction change your thought process in working out life’s problems. It seemed easier for me to go gamble for a few hours than to deal with what life drama was happening around me! That is the ugly side of this addiction. My bumpy journey of recovery began with cognitive behavioral therapy. Last time I wrote about behavioral health. Throw gambling addiction in the mix – this is called having Dual Diagnosis. But on a personal level, I called it a recipe for doom.

 


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Why? Because it was hard to admit to myself that I have mental health issues as I was still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I was an addicted gambler, and it got so out of control that I tried to end my life. I wasn’t focused on trying to manage my disorders because I was in denial about my diagnosed mental/emotional illness.  So when I left the crisis center, all I knew was the doctors told me to “take these pills” and all would be OK. However,  I just focused on the recovery from gambling, and didn’t give much thought to managing my mental/emotional health except for browsing through some pamphlets they gave me to read.

What I have learned from this part of my journey is that you have to manage and balance not only your recovery from addiction, but your mental and emotional behavioral health as well. Like any other illness or disease like diabetes or heart disease, you should follow what your doctors suggest, take your medications properly, eat right, and even exercise to have a well-balanced healthy life. But if you only focus on one part of your overall plan, you won’t be successful in managing to stay healthy – physically and mentally.

And that’s the same when we live life in recovery with dual diagnosis.  You have to learn to live an overall well-balanced life in recovery, and mind your mental health. It helps your recovery journey to be a success. There are many ways to recover, but you have to pick one. When is enough really enough with addiction? Are you “sick and tired of being sick and tired” yet? Are you finally done with letting addiction control your life?

Well, If I can recover from both addiction and living with mental and behavioral disorders, then so can anyone!

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Catherine Townsend-Lyon
Author & Recovery Advocate
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0984478485

 

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