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 Personal Stories - Jeanne F.

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The 12 Steps Gave Me A Life

I was forty-six before recognizing my addiction/alcoholism. I suffer from severe, chronic depression as well. I recall being so depressed at the age of five, that I was catatonic: unable to move, statue-Iike. It is probable that this was partly due to heredity and partly situation induced. Alcoholism is also rampant in my family. So I come by my dual diagnoses honestly.

I began being hospitalized for depression at the age of twenty-eight. During the next thirty years I was given medication. When I started taking anti-anxieties, or as I call them, the "quick fixers" because of panic attacks and sleep problems, I became addicted to them in a big way. When they no longer worked to my satisfaction, I began to drink as well. It was not uncommon for me to drink myself to sleep watching TV and when I awoke at 4:00 a.m., I would remember that my husband and four daughters were with me when I passed out. Guilt and shame proliferated, but I kept on doing it. I had convinced myself that a drugged sleep was a normal sleep, and I needed my sleep because of a busy household, active family, and a full time job (all done poorly while under the influence).

By the time I was able to stop denying my addictions and face up to the fact that my life was unmanageable; I had become a passive, volatile, boring, depressed, and depressing wreck, much worse than I had been at the age of twenty-eight. I was a forty-six year old child because I had refused to grow up. Is it any wonder that all my family relationships were crappy, my marriage was in total decay, my children were suffering from depression, and one daughter had a dual diagnosis as well? So I began to walk the road to recovery. I found that the Twelve Steps were the most important steps of my life. I had had psychiatrists, therapists, medication, assertiveness classes, and church sponsored support groups. I tried everything including a long rabid stretch of reading self-help books. Every avenue I sought told me to change my behaviors and take charge of my life. But none was able to tell me exactly how to go about doing this until I began recovery with the Twelve Steps.

I found a new way of living and coping and my behavior changed. I developed a spiritual life that has transcended anything I thought possible. I have some very deeply caring friends and I have been able to be a deeply caring friend. I found out that I am a light sleeper, when I wake up during the night, I go back to sleep, and if not right away, I have light reading available because I haunt the library.

I went back to college at the age of fifty-eight, taking classes to improve my writing skills. I am a published poet. My daughters trust me enough to let me baby-sit for my grandchildren.

My days are full, and I have just the right amount of time to do what I have to do. I have all of my needs, and many of my wants. I am very active in our DRA group. I have truly embraced the "joy of living".

Jeanne F.

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