the secret addict.

Whether it’s drugs, alcohol, sex, etc., what’s your definition of an addict? The dictionary says that an addict is “someone who is addicted to a particular substance.” or “the state of being compulsively committed to a habit or practice.”. What makes a person an addict? In my personal opinion, an “addict” is a person who doesn’t want help. Your opinion may be that an addict is “just an ole crackhead, no job, wasting space individual.” I was becoming a secret addict. Depression was killing me- I was an addict.

I believe that most “addicts” have become labeled as “addicts” because there is a deeper issue that lies within them that no one has been willing to hear. I believe that a “cry for help” lies within addiction. More so than just doing drugs or drinking because it’s fun. You see, lots of people with mental health issues, social issues, or PTSD, perhaps, become addicts. For someone who suffers with Bipolar Disorder (severe depression), like myself, the substances that turn us into alcoholics and addicts, momentarily, make us feel normal. They drown out the darkness that is consuming your mind. Damn, I wish I could explain depression better just so you could imagine that darkness. Simply put, you’re darkness is so dark that you’re constantly questioning God why you’re still here- all while putting on a smile, cooking dinner, being a mom, and having responsibilities. Those substances make us feel better and we want more. We want more wine, we want more pills, we want more of whatever it is that makes us feel better, instantly.

I was becoming an addict. I was becoming an alcoholic. Not only had I began drinking more, I began drinking during the day. I began taking “small” sips of wine in the morning. I was what I would call an alcoholic and “alcoholic”- and, I’m NOT an alcoholic. Not that I’m having a problem admitting that I’m an alcoholic, but truly, I know the limits it takes to becoming an alcoholic. I recognize the path to alcoholism. My need for self help was obvious. I wasn’t raised in a family of alcoholism after the age of 8. My real father, who has so many mental health diagnoses, was an alcoholic. His alcoholism was solely because of his depression. He was a “normal” man under all of the mental illness. He knew better than alcoholism, but he couldn’t help it. He hadn’t sought professional help.

I have a pillbox that sits on my nightstand. (My awesome husband bought me that!) My pillbox is an am/pm type of box. My am box contains most of my medication, including one that I developed a severe addiction to. I guess I should’ve mentioned that with depression/anxiety/OCD, you tend to feel that you are also dealing with Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD. With mental illness alone, you can hardly focus. Throw ADD in with that, and you can’t get shit done. I was prescribed Ritalin. If you don’t know about Ritalin, it’s pretty similar to taking an Adderall- just as addictive as Meth. Ritalin takes about 30 minutes to kick in, and damn, when it does, even with severe depression causing lack of motivation, you get a burst of energy that lasts about 4-6 hours- depending on how much you do to wear yourself out in the timeframe of feeling good. I’d start my day- very early morning- almost wanting to set my alarm to take one 30 minutes before I had to wake up. I wanted that sucker to kick in and have my ass jumping out of bed. I wanted to be talkative on the way to school with my kids. I was prescribed two a day. In the beginning, I was very responsible with taking my Ritalin- until I realized how much better I felt on it. I’d take my first one so early that by 10 am, I was ready for another one, then by 2 pm, I wanted another, then hell, it’s only 6 pm, I still have shit to do, I wanted another one. I became addicted to Ritalin. I hid it. I seemed normal and high functioning. My husband knew I dealt with some grief, female issues, and a family history of depression, but he didn’t know that my mental illness was controlling my life. It wasn’t until after our wedding that he’d really see me at my worst low ever.

What got me into that depression, right after the wedding, was a few missed doses of my prescribed antidepressant, Cymbalta. Do me a favor. Google “missed doses of Cymbalta side effects”. I felt every single one of those side effects, including brain zaps. See, along with taking my antidepressant like I’m supposed to, day drinking and Ritalin made me feel much more normal. I had motivation and I felt happy. One thing about depression is that no matter what gives you the most happiness in the world, that still won’t make you happy with mental illness. Cymbalta, Ritalin, and wine (and cigarettes hehe) made me feel “happy”. Side note- if you’re ever on an antidepressant, don’t ever stop cold turkey. Talk with your doctor. It will make you so sick, your thoughts will become unthinkable.

Upon recognizing that I was becoming a Ritalin addict, I contacted my family doctor. This man is a lifesaver. He’s been our family doctor all our lives. I explained to him that I wanted to be taken off of the Ritalin because I was getting addicted to it. I explained my behavior. He agreed and we tried another drug. Similar to Ritalin, but without the “high” feeling, I went on Concerta. If you don’t know about Ritalin, it’s a schedule whatever narcotic, whatever! Used without a prescription and in your possession, it’s illegal. There is a cap on the amount you can get each month, and you CANNOT refill it until THE day that it’s due. What I was doing was taking more and running out and going without for several weeks, not being able to refill my prescription. Imagine how my mood and my mental stability would change. I was up and down! I got off of the Ritalin and onto the Concerta, but it wasn’t working. I had to become vulnerable and tell Jacob that I had an addiction to Ritalin, but I desperately needed it daily. It was helping me to function. Let me just tell you, I LOVE my husband. That man cares for me more than I can even explain. Because he trusts me, he agreed that I could reach back out to my doctor and get back on the Ritalin. I did- only after MYSELF coming up with the rule that he’d give me my two a day and he’d keep the bottle of Ritalin hidden. I knew I had to change. I knew I was being held accountable for becoming an addict. I had too much pride to give my husband a pity party daily to get more Ritalin out of him. Ritalin works for depression- I can’t stress that enough. It was my lifesaver, but it took me becoming an addict to actually appreciate the effects that it had on me and to treat it with respect and not misuse it. I actually recently got off of Ritalin.

My new psychiatrist prescribed me something with a much better, longer acting drug. I’ll tell y’all the name, but don’t get all crazy and run out getting prescriptions, hahaha! But, right now, the drug that is saving my life, as I venture through finding the right antidepressant, and with my current regimen is called Vyvance. I currently take one a day and it lasts all day. I had to accept that it is ok to start getting tired around 6 pm, without the need to throw another Ritalin down my throat to finish conquering the world till midnight. Just in case Vyvance becomes addictive, my husband and I are still following the same scenario- he puts one a day in my pillbox and hides the rest. He entrusts me with 7 at the beginning of the week. It’s on me if I want to take all 7 in 3 days vs. 7 days, but I know I can’t get anymore until the beginning of the next week.

I’m telling you, if you’re suffering with addiction or finding yourself going down that path, find someone you can talk to about it- hopefully, it’s someone so close to you who loves and cares for you like my husband. Have someone hold you accountable. Get yourself better. I wasn’t an addict, rather it was time for some self realization and getting professional help.

Before you bash alcoholics and drug addicts, maybe you should take time to hear their story. You don’t know what they’ve walked through, or what they’re currently walking through. Maybe they’ve just never found anyone to listen to them. If it’s mental illness causing the alcoholism and addiction, give them a little grace. Help them to seek help, love them, support them as they accept the help they need. It’s a process and its hard. I never wanted to be an alcoholic or a drug addict. That’s not who I am or was raised to be. A real addict that desires to be an addict is living their best life, I guess. They don’t want to stop. Maybe it’s because they’ve been spoiled and enabled all of their lives and can’t seem to function normally without it because they’re spoiled and keep getting handed to them. They’ve never had to work for anything. Being an addict isn’t fun if you aren’t truly an “addict”. It’s actually pure hell. Bye, y’all!

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