There was a conversation I had not long ago about my opinions regarding the problems we face as a society. What I mean by this is the epidemic we face.
I’m talking about addiction, alcoholism, and mental health, all in its entirety. A while back, I entered my opinion to which I was challenged to do one of two things: I was told to either put up or shut up.
I was told to stop talking. In not so many words I was told that if I don’t like what I see then I should do something about it. Otherwise, shut up because the world is already filled with too many opinions.
At first, I was insulted. In the beginning, I thought my opinions were educated and well thought. I believed I knew what I was talking about. But this is the problem; everyone thinks they know what they’re talking about.
We live in this world of statistics. But no one ever questions where the statistics come from. Where is information gathered? How is it assessed? How do the facts check?
I never thought about this before. Instead, I based my thoughts and opinions on a stigma and experience. I based my ideas on the lessons I learned, which is not to say that I was altogether wrong. However, I wasn’t altogether right either.
Truth is yes, although I had a tough time in my young life, I was also fortunate to find my way out at a young age. I was taught the definition of what a straight life means. I was given this definition by those who succeeded before me and they were given this definition by those who succeeded before them.
I had my opinions of what sobriety meant. I had my beliefs of medically assisted treatment, some of which have not changed; however, I will say that by educating myself and by learning, I have found that I did not know what it meant to have a medically assisted treatment plan.
Before I move forward on this, in full disclosure, I admit that my heroin use was not to the level I see in others. I admit that I got out young and that I did not suffer as much as many other people do. I understand this is fortunate. I also understand that while I do my best to remove stigma; I am also stigmatized whether I agree or like it or not. Stigma exists. Rather than deny it; I embrace the truth and expose that stigma exists. I call it out because I have been met with stigma too. But so what . . .
Everyone has their viewpoint on this matter. I am not here trying to compare scars or say that I lived better or worse than anyone. Instead, I would just like to see a change in the way we treat mental health for reasons of my own.
I would like to see a better treatment strategies. I am tired of people believing the opiate epidemic is a new thing. Truth is addiction has been around for a very long time but yet we have not changed the way we treat this problem. And besides that, what do they say to the addict or the alcoholic about insanity? They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. But yet, here we are claiming treating the same problem the same way for so long and what are the results? The same!
I have been part of the 12-step community for a long time. I have heard and wholeheartedly believe and agree that addiction and alcoholism is in fact a disease. This is not opinion. This has been proven as clinical fact.
This is talked about frequently in meetings.
“I have a disease,” is what people say; however, what does that mean? I was told I have a disease of my thinking but this is not true either. This is called Jellinek’s Disease which is a build up of THIQ cells in the brain that cause a 3-times greater chance of being obsessive/compulsive, addictive personality,
Rather than stop there, I chose to learn about the disease. Where did this concept come from and why aren’t we talking about the clinical aspects and medicinal treatment. If it were cancer, which is equally deadly, would we treat this without medication?.
In fairness, however, 12-step meetings are not professional. We are not doctors or properly trained to treat or diagnose —well, most of us aren’t doctors or professionals. We are a fellowship.
In the beginning I was taught the biasness I have against things like methadone. In the beginning, I go back to my old memories of working three doors down from the clinic on Archer Avenue in Jamaica Queens.
I remember the clients. I was friendly with some and some of them, in fair trade, shared some of their sickness with me. They shared this in exchange for money. This was not an exchange of methadone but there were other exchanges that brought me to different levels of drug use .
See, at the time, I was searching for ways to heal myself. At the time, I was looking for an answer to an internal riddle. I wanted to be high and find a way to soften the sharp edges of routine life. I wanted to calm the whispers in my head and solve the questions of my insecurity. I was in search of an answer. I wanted an answer to my anger. I wanted an answer to my fears. I wanted something to nullify the thoughts and feelings, which relentlessly imposed upon me, and I wanted a way that I could slow the world down to a perfect, unobjectionable crawl. And it was true what the famous old script said: Seek and ye shall find.
This is how the virus spreads. I say virus because this is in fact a social virus. It is equally contagious as it is deadly. I had to find ways to maintain. I had to find different sources and outlets. I had to make due because most of my sources would rip me off because I lacked the ability to defend myself. Plus, even if I did get ripped off and found a way to get even, —they knew I would always be back and I would always lose in the end..
The way I see it is the devil we know is always looking to make a deal. In my case, the devils I knew were always willing to bargain. And they willingly took what I had in little tiny pieces, slow and steady because the devils I knew were fully aware that eventually, they would have all of me in no time at all.
My good luck came through bad luck. Had I not been arrested and had I not been taken away; had I not been removed from my home and removed from my element; had I not been removed from my influence and had I not been removed from my “So-called” friends; had I not entered into treatment and had I not been shown where my sickness comes from, I am sure that I would not be where I am today.
I did not and do not ever want to be physically and emotionally dependent upon a drug or anything of that sort. I do not ever want to need something that bad that i would risk my life and forfeit my dignity to the point where I would degrade myself to hands and knees ever again.
I was taught a way to live. I was given the framework to live a better life; however, this was my journey. And as my journey, I was taught this by those who traveled the same way before me.
I had to suffer through things. I had to suffer through depression; however, what if we were able to remove the suffering? Wouldn’t this be helpful? What if this journey could have been made easier?
The way my mind works is I am always thinking, always over-analyzing, always worried, always wondering when the bad news is coming, and always cautious to be happy or excited because in the depths of my emotional mind, I fear that happiness is only fleeting; however, depression is not only inevitable and long-lasting —it is also dependable.
I was fortunate in many ways but I still have symptoms that I live with. In my efforts to make an impact, I expose my symptoms. And admittedly, I am partially afraid to let go of them because they have become part of my identity. Who would I be if this was not me?
I am afraid to let go of the symptoms because they have defined me for so long. With this being mentioned, I have learned to empower myself throughout the years. I have learned to live instead of struggle. I learned living skills are better than coping skills.
I have my own concepts on this struggle and my own theory. I believe this is an identity problem. At least, I know it is for me. In my search to find myself, I learn that my search is unending. And it should be unending.
It used to be that I did not believe there was an answer to the riddle in my head. Then I came to the understanding that the questioning and the fears and anxiety (although normal to some degree) is part of what my depression is.
For a long time, I had my problems with medication. I was against it.
In my case, I was against medication because I saw this as more of a lifelong addiction. This is neither right nor wrong. This is just me and my views on my life. Essentially, however, I learned that I do not have the right to define what is good, bad, appropriate, or inappropriate for anyone else.
But still, I live with depression. I live with symptoms that can be difficult at times. I understand suicidal ideation. I relate to the bad thoughts and the dark thoughts, which come uninvited and without warning.
Going forward, I have agreed to become part of something to help make an impact in the way we treat depression. Instead of judging and rather than talking about my opinions, I have decided to do research and come up with facts about my body’s chemistry. No theory, no opinion, instead, I will use facts and blood work to define my chemistry.
All of this will be documented and filmed. I have discussed this with doctors and we will do treatments that are not mind-altering or euphoric. However, medication will be used.
We are going to learn about my chemical makeup.
I have been talking about my fight against depression and trying to help and defend people with this same problem. Rather than talk, I am going to put up.
I’m going all in because I want to be the best me possible. I am doing this because I want to be impactful in the mental illness world. I want to be an advocate. I want to be a voice. And moreover, I want to be better. I want to heal. I want to improve and be the best me possible.
Someone once told me I talk a lot. I was told to put up or shut up. Well, since no one will ever get me to shut up; I might as well put up.
Trust me, you will be informed