Posted by bipolarandaddicted
4th Jun 2019

Hi, My name is Aoife and Iím an alcoholic.

Unfortunately, I wasnít able to send this during mental health awareness week because I was in rehab. Despite this, I didnít miss out because for me and many others, mental health awareness week is every week and one out of 52 doesnít quite cut the extremity of this crisis. I understand that my story may be shocking and upsetting to some but I refuse to spend even one more minute being silenced and shamed for a problem that we as a society simply do not know how to address.

I have been struggling with a very public and humiliating battle against addiction for the past 10 years and naturally, as the years went on, so did the transition from being a functioning to non-functioning alcoholic. My functioning days saw times of university degrees, great relationships and hope. My non-functioning days saw periods of hospitalisation due to suicide attempts, shockingly high-risk behaviour in all areas, and complete and utter self-destruction. The majority of my using at this time was done alone because my behaviour was too dysfunctional for company. For perspective, an example of my substance intake for the past 6 months would be 30 units of alcohol, excessive amounts of various other substances (costing £600 a week) a day on top of the antipsychotics and antidepressants I take daily for bipolar (type 1). I became physically and mentally addicted to all of these drugs.

The day that saved my life came along when I woke up recently after a couple of months of sleeping on a friends sofa bed and realised I had lost everything. This included my friends, family, job, savings, health, sanity etc. For me, this was rock bottom. The moment I realised it was all over. During one of my hospitalisations, a doctor essentially told me my organs were about to start shutting if something didnít change drastically. This was 2 years before I stopped drinking. Nothing would stop the burning hunger that my brain constantly craved for alcohol. Not even death.At that moment in time, i would have valued a single unit of alcohol more then my life. As I left he handed me a leaflet for a local rehabilitation centre. It was 2 years later, after hitting rock bottom, that this leaflet resurfaced in the right place and at the right time. This was when finally accepted the opportunity to begin the journey of recovery.

For the past few years, addiction has not only ruined my life but it has ruined the lives of those who love and care about me. Fortunately, I have been able to rebuild relationships and pay off debts however this illness has caused some more permanent damage that is beyond repair. An example of this includes the grim reality that alcohol has corroded the lining of my bladder. It has also caused me minor brain damage located in the part of my brain which controls memory (due to excessive drinking without eating) but despite this, given the state of my condition, I am just happy to have gotten out alive. It is still incredibly early days for me but for the first time in my life I can confidently say that I will never touch a drink again. Everyday is a struggle and I am by no means under any kind of illusion that my journey will be easy. I have had to accept that I will spend of the rest of my life in recovery.

I have decided to share my story /journey because addiction has a ridiculous stigma attached to it and people must start realising that it does not fit a certain stereotype and has no face. I feel incredibly lucky to be living in a time where I can confidently discuss my anxiety, depression or even my bipolar but I am still so ashamed to talk about addiction because I know first hand that it makes people very uncomfortable. This only encourages us to suffer in silence, become secretive and often dishonest. We are all suffering and battling with our minds so why is this still different.

This is me. This is the of a non functioning alcoholic. (See Photograph.)

This is not a life anybody would choose for themselves, trust me. Iíve made some unspeakably awful choices in my life but I did not choose to be an addict. People are not (generally) addicts because they got carried away with the party, people are addicts because something has gone horribly wrong in their lives or minds, enabling an overwhelming feeling of self-hatred and worthlessness. Addiction is a slow and painful call for death. We must start recognising addiction as a serious mental health problem rather then a lack of self control and poor judgment. We must educate ourselves, reach out and start talking about it. Young Addicts, let alone young addicts who struggle with mental health have no place in society because society simply can not associate addiction with young, beautiful and sometimes reality functioning people. We are left on our own to silently self destruct. We must start to recognise enormity of this problem and put an end to it before one more young person dies of a drug or alcohol related illness or consequently, even worse, suicide. I am so grateful that i was able to see the light.

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