It was November 14th, 2012. I was miserable. I had spent the last three days locked in a room contemplating suicide. I had dug myself into such a deep hole, I thought there was no way out. I reached out, I yelled, I screamed at the sky. “God are you out there?” Why won’t you help me?”
That day I broke into a million pieces. My husband saw it happen. I think I terrified him a little bit. He did not know what to do. I drug myself out of bed and got on the computer. I goggled “Alcoholism” and “How to stop drinking.” Many things came up. I read every post and recommendation as I nursed a glass of wine shaking uncontrollably. (I had binged over the weekend and was now into Monday.) I had called in sick, with the flu for the umpteenth million time. I was out of ideas to help myself.
I went to my husband and cried, I told him I needed help, I needed to fix me. I told him I had no clue what to do. But the funny thing was, we both knew, as I sat there and looked into his eyes, we both knew what the answer was. LONG TERM TREATMENT.
I completely turned into research mode and started looking for programs around us. I goggled and called and called and googled. I spoke to a ton of people. Nothing! We had medical insurance but it excluded mental health. We even applied for a medical loan in our names but were young and our credit was not so great. I was drained, defeated and hopeless. I had just spent the last three hours trying to find a solution and there seemed to be no way out. As I sat on the bed crying hysterically, my husband came to my side, he put his arm around me and said, “Honey, I’ll sell my car, we don’t need two if you’ll be away and not working, let’s do this, I’m going to sell it, I’ll list it today.”
Relief and panic set in at the same time. I laid down to try to nap. About an hour later my phone rang. It was a treatment center I had called earlier and left a message with. I can’t remember who I talked to but I pored my guts out, I begged and cried and told her my whole story. She agreed. They had a six month program. It was $600 to enter treatment and after a few weeks they would let you start working to pay off the balance owed. I explained to the women on the phone that I had a job, she was shocked. I was a high functioning alcoholic and pill popper with a good paying job. She said the first two weeks was a detox and after that the women were allowed to work but only 8 to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. It was a shot.
I pulled myself out of bed and into the shower, I knew what I had to do next, go talk to my employer.
I worked at a small private practice and knew they had no family medical leave act or short-term disability. I called and asked the owner if she had time later in the day for me to come down. She said yes.
As I drove over to my office I thought I would throw up, I wanted to turn around. I parked and walked in and back to her office, I closed the door behind me and just sat down. We stared at each other for a minute. She was a tough person to talk to and I had to bear my soul. I started to talk…
I told her, I was a child of abuse, physically and sexually. I told her I was diagnosed with PTSD and had often panic attacks and daily anxiety growing up. I said that in my twenties I started to medicate with prescription pills, my prescriptions and over time the more I took the more they stopped working. I told her at 25 I started to drink with the pills and at first it helped and then it just snow bawled from there. I told her my life was in disarray and I wanted to end my pain and take my life. I explained the program I had found and I told her I needed help and was going away. She said nothing as I talked, just looked and stared. She looked shocked and grabbed my hand and said. “So you’re quitting?” I said “No, I’m asking you if I still have a job to come back to in two weeks?”
Holding my hand she started to talk to me. She told me a story about her little brother, about how he went away to fight in Iraq and when he returned he too had PTSD. She said he was very depressed and coped by drinking. Over time the drinking got worse, it got out of control. She said everyone in the family reached out, they tried to help. She said about two years after he got back he got drunk and hung himself in her father’s garage. She told me she had never shared that personal story with anyone outside of her family. It had been almost two years and she still thought of him every day. She said the biggest problem is not realizing you have one. She said she was proud that I wanted to get help, told me I was a strong woman and said if I wanted to come back, I had a place to work in two weeks.
Off to the liquor store I went and I picked up what felt like was my last super, a six pack of beer and green curry Thai. I sat on the floor of my living room as my husband helped me pack my clothes. What does someone bring for six months? I had no clue. I packed lots of sweatpants, t-shirts, comfy slippers, and about two weeks of professional clothes for work.
He drove me that night as it stared to get dark to the treatment center we had found in town. I took what was to be my last zanax, actually two. I knew I would soon be detoxing from everything for the next two weeks, I was scared and humbled at the same time. As I unloaded my bags and was ushered inside by a small group of women, I realized this was going to be a first for me, a new start for life. Little did I know what was going to happen next. The next few months would change me forever…