Addiction support makes all the difference in the world to an addict

This time of year is so hard on me. If you’ve been around here long enough, you know this about me. If not, let me explain. You see, on March 6th I celebrate the anniversary of getting clean. From pills. From an addiction that could have killed me. I can’t explain why I get so wrapped around the axle this time of year but it happens and I know it happens to other recovering addicts as well. Today- right now- I am 4,731 days clean. That’s 408,837,070 heartbeats, give or take. (Let’s hope that number continues to rise as you read this.) There is this dark place in the back of my mind that no one likes to talk about that screams at me around this time that I don’t deserve it. It screams I will screw it up. It screams that I am a poser. You’d think with 12 years, 11 months, 11 days and some change, I’d realize that one day at a time does work. But sometimes we get harsh reminders that it doesn’t work for everyone.

I read the headline tonight that Mindy McCready, another addict who struggled and seemed to have one thing after another try to bring her down, died today due to a self-inflicted gun shot wound. Her addiction won. Did she not have enough support? Did she believe the lies addiction tells addicts? Did she feel like nothing would ever be okay? Did she think the pain she felt today would last forever? So many of us addicts have felt those things. Today, it won. Every single time addiction and its demons beat one of us, it shakes me. But for the grace of God go I. I do have support but I am not immune to the lies it tells, the loneliness it brings, the pain that rips through me. I’ve learned to reach out. And when I can’t or don’t, my friends know the signs well enough to reach out to me. I wish Mindy had that.

This year feels harder on me than most others. I have been struggling with chronic headaches. I don’t mean headaches that slow me down. I mean headaches that slam me down in ways that put everything on hold. My life is a constant headache. I have learned to live around them until we can find someone who can find a reason or help me through it. But every few months a migraine comes along that kicks me so hard, I simply cannot do it without medical intervention. They do everything they can for me that does not involve narcotics. But sometimes, that is the only way to break that cycle. And that is the bitch of it.

There is no reason an alcoholic needs to have a doctor give him or her a drink. There is no reason to need to go into a bar and throw back a shot of tequila. But when you’re a recovering pill-head, there are times when there is a medical necessity for pain killers. And each and every time it twists me up inside. When I feel the effects it gives me both relief and heartache. I keep my doctors in the loop so they are very well aware of my situation. Yet, still…

Empty...

Empty…

Two weeks ago I had to go into the ER for a migraine. My pain was off the charts and my blood pressure was through the roof. I had to go in. I know the routine. This time I had a doctor I have never met before.  After they hooked me up to an IV and gave me a shot for pain, they darkened the room to monitor my blood pressure. I supposed it didn’t help that I was crying. The doctor came in and sat by my bed. She took my hand and talked to me. Actually, talked to me. We talked about the frustration of feeling the pain medicine course through my body. And for once, a doctor gave me permission to not only be frustrated by the situation but in a way gave me permission to be grateful to feel the pain drain away. I have conditioned myself to hate the feeling of the medicine taking over even though it means the pain leaves. For the first time someone sat with me, held my hand, and told me that it was okay to feel relief that my pain was going away. That to beat myself up mentally was counter-productive. She heard me. It’s been so long since a medical professional has actually heard me. It made a difference.

As I laid there and watched the monitors and I finally relaxed, my blood pressure slowly lowered. I had permission to be okay with not hurting. It was okay. I was not slipping. I was not backsliding. I was not “using” for a high. I was helping myself medically. And that was okay.

My name is Jenn and I am a recovering addict. And sometimes, I need medical intervention. And that is okay.

So, if you will, my faithful readers, hang in there with me until March 6th and encourage me to keep going one day at a time then together we can celebrate 13 years. One day at a time (trite as it may sound) will get me there. That and the people in my life who encourage, love, and support me.

50 Comments

  1. Hugging you all the way from Chicago! xoxoxoxo

  2. Thank you for contributing to the destigmatization of addiction and psychiatric diseases. You have probably saved more lives than you know.

    Love and respect,
    Grace xo

  3. Oh Jenn, I love you dearly.
    I hate that you are struggling with these migraines. I hate that this time of the year is rough on you.
    I’m so happy that that doctor sat with you and *really* listened. It is a gift to get a doctor like that.
    Sending much love your way tonight. (((hugs)))

  4. Hi, I am a recovering alcoholic. I understand though what you say about needing a doctor to give me a drink. Through the wise words of A.A. and N.A., A DRUG IS A DRUG IS A DRUG. Well that is the reason I quit meetings. I am an individual and what works for, or applies to others may not apply to me, or you. I have severe, chronic stomach pain and I have been told, by well meaning people, that if I use any narcotic pain killers it is the same as taking a drink. I disagree but then I’m told that I do that because I’m an addict. The truth is I know my body and how it will react to what I put in it. The one and only drug I have ever had a problem with is liquor. Not beer, heroin, Vicodin, etc.. Well I seem to be getting a little side tracked here. I really feel for you when you are in pain and because of your drug of choice, you have few choices.
    Oh, the topic that brought me to your blog was I typed in the search bar, blogging for fun and your site was #3. Do you have any pointers to give a mother and grandmother, addict, and I have bipolar disorder, about how to start. I just want to write about what I love and possibly share a bit about my life and things I have encountered and learned along the way. I just do not know where to start.
    I don’t want to start a blog and connect it to facebook and twitter. I’d rather not share my life with some of the people in it, if that makes any sense.
    Well I hope to hear from you and I will be reading what you share from now on.
    Maryann

    • First, I agree that you know your body and what you can and can’t do. It can be a slippery slope for some. But you just have to know what your triggers are.

      As for blogging, there are many ways you can blog and not have it connect to FB or Twitter. You can go totally anonymous. Blogger is one way to do that. I say, just jump in and start. If you don’t want people to know it is you, use an alias. Many, many bloggers do that.

      Email me if you want more detailed advice. I’d be happy to help you!

  5. Stay strong. And keep that doctors number handy! Love you so much!

  6. Love this AND you! You have SUCH a beautiful soul and I feel blessed to be able to call you friend.

  7. More hugs from Chicago! A doctor that takes time to connect, really connect, with you is a blessing. Here’s hoping they can find some answers to keep those headaches at bay.

  8. Thank you for opening your soul and sharing a piece of it. I am a migraine sufferer, and I can’t imagine struggling through them with the fear of medication. You are amazing and strong and as soon as we meet IRL I will give you a super big hug!

  9. It’s situation like this, having to take medication for a severe migraine, that people who haven’t battled with addiction don’t think about. I’ve had migraines, I know the excruciating pain that can involve. But to fear treatment, the lessen of that pain, because of an even deeper and more profound fear, is foreign to me. Thank you for sharing this, and for helping me to understand better.

    • Thanks for taking time to comment. I truly feel for anyone else who suffers from migraines. They steal so much from our lives. I do hope you suffer fewer and fewer migraines! Hugs!

  10. One day, sometimes one hour at a time, sister. You can do it. You can do it!! Xoxo

  11. It’s amazing what a difference a GOOD doctor can make. Why do they have to be so few and far between? Hang in there, Jen. You’ll be at 13 years soon.

  12. Hugs! The 6th is getting closer and closer!

  13. Jenn, as a fellow migraine sufferer, I can only imagine the added burden of feeling that the relief of the medication was something you were compelled to fight. Thank you for courageously sharing your journey. Thirteen years is an important milestone. You will make it in spades.

  14. I feel so blessed to know you. You are as brave and kind and true a person as I have ever known. I hope you know how many people are rooting for you and are in your corner. xoxo

  15. Oh, sweet lady, I hate that you’re hurting. I’m glad someone was there to tell you what you so desperately needed to hear; what a wise doctor.

    You are a constant inspiration to me. Hang in there, sister. I’ll be here to cheer you on!

  16. Very inspirational post — by admitting that it isn’t easy and that addiction is a daily battle, you are no doubt helping others. I wish you all the peace and pain-free living you deserve! Congratulations on your almost 13 years of sobriety — that is INCREDIBLE!!!

  17. You are so very, very strong. Clean days and picking yourself back-up days, they all count toward your strength. Thank you for sharing this. Go thirteen!

  18. Jenn,
    I have known you for so long, and every time you write about this…I’m in awe at you. I’m in awe at your strength and courage to tell the story that many aren’t willing or ready to tell. And, I love you for being so honest and real with your readers. I am really sorry to hear about your migraines. As a fellow migraine sufferer, I actually understand your pain and know how debilitating it can be. Hold strong sweetheart, March 6th….you’re gonna be strong enough to celebrate this and go through another year being the wonderful person you are.

    • Oh, Meeta, you are so precious to me. Thank you for your kind words and your support. You’ve always been such a sweetheart to me and we’ve share so many laughs. Let’s share this WIN together, too. xoxo

  19. I had chronic migraines for 50 years of my life. I am 62 now and migraine free. I started two blood pressure medicines and I think getting older I outgrew them. LOL. Try the sumatriptan medicine. It worked for me Imitrex did the trick and not a narcotic. Good luck I have walked in your shoes so to speak. Dont give up.

    • I am happy to hear that you are migraine free!

      I can’t take Imitrex. It gives me the most awful jaw pain, it makes everything worse. But we are working on finding the right meds.

      I’m standing strong. Thanks for your support.

  20. Sending you lots of love and standing with you. I have dealt with debilitating migraines, and that pain is awful. I’m glad you had that wonderful experience with the good ER doctor – such a blessing.

    Stand strong. Thirteen is coming.

  21. As a chronic pain sufferer, Major Depression and suicide survivor your words truly resonate with me. I decided to quit taking opioids, August 2011 after realizing I was hooked. It took 11 yrs and multiple times before I could say, “I’m clean”!
    Are there moments that I still crave a pill. Most definitely but my son gave me wonderful advice while I was going through withdrawals. “Take things moment by moment”. It works for me.
    Best wishes in your journey.

    • Thank you, Rona. Finally admitting there is a problem is huge. Getting help and quitting is life changing. I am proud of you! Day by day. Hour by hour. Moment by moment. We can beat this.

      Good luck on YOUR journey, Rona!

  22. I think you’re incredibly amazing Jenn!! I’ve never read your story until today and to know that you have come so far is beyond words. You should be so proud of yourself! Very happy that you had a Dr. who took the time to listen to you and understand how difficult it is for you to seek pain relief. I’m looking forward to the 6th and doing a happy dance for you on your anniversary because if you’ve come this far I KNOW you can make it!

  23. Ah, I hear ya. 17 years sober and a chronic migraine sufferer. Sadly, narcotics don’t help my migraines at all (weird thing, that, cause boy I love narcotics!). But a medication with a small amount of a barbituate in it, and I get shamed and questioned each time I need a refill. Hate it.

    We’re sober and clean, but we aren’t martyrs. We don’t need to suffer when there is medication that can help. I took pain killers after I had all four wisdom teeth removed at once (bad idea) and again when I had my c-section with my daughter. I took them for a while after the c-section, in fact; it was an emergency slash and burn (literally) procedure that left me with a 14″ incision in my belly. You bet your ass I used my pain meds. 🙂

    Take care of yourself. You are fine. Seriously.

    • Oh, Cecily, I totally understand that shame. It is a horrible feeling when you are fighting with everything in you to not slip and to be judged? It is the worst.

      I love what you said about not being a martyr. Somehow, the way you said it really resonated with me. Thank you. Seriously.

      You take care of yourself, too, my friend.

  24. Wasn’t it sad about Mindy? I just rips me every time another addict is beaten by addiction.

    One day at a time. I even have a magnet from a dear friend to remind me.

  25. 13 years is a milestone as is 13 days or 13 weeks for someone who struggles. Good wishes and congrats on a job well done and continue to do.

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