Hello, my name is Mandy T. I
am a person with a dual illness of major depression and addiction. I
have been an active user of drugs since I was 13, and can remember
showing signs of depression as early as the third grade. I always
thought there was no hope of a fulfilling life for me.
The first time I got sober was when I was 17, through
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). This helped my addiction tremendously; I was
able to stay sober a year and two months. During this time I started to
care about myself again. Yet there was an ever-present feeling of
hopelessness inside. Despite all the positive changes I had installed in
my life I still wanted to die. I knew I was deeply depressed, but I didnít
know that I had a mental illness. I kept telling myself that it was
normal to feel the way I did.
My emotions were out of hand. I would cry when called
upon by teachers. I slept for days at a time, not caring about school,
avoiding people because I didnít want them to know that anything was
wrong with me. My smile has always been my mask; it felt too vulnerable
to show anyone how I felt. I thought it was my fault that I was out of
control. Denial runs deep, especially when I was able to talk myself
right out of feeling; I denied all of my shame and pain, and locked it
up tight inside of me.
My life started to get worse. I wet the bed at 17. I
couldnít concentrate or speak coherently sometimes. I turned back to
the only solution I knew of that had worked before - drugs. My addiction
told me that I didnít need AA anymore, and I listened. I forgot how
much worse my life was before AA.
For a year and a half I tried to escape from this pain
and fear that I felt. Moving in and out of nine places in 18 months, I
couldnít shake it. Going to college, changing jobs, doing volunteer
work, sleeping - nothing worked because the problem was me. Not to
mention the drugs I used that started me back down the spiral to Hades.
I would get really high and act insane, promise, to never do that again,
get so miserable I wanted to die, so then Iíd do drugs just to keep
myself numb enough to survive. Finally, it got so bad that I literally
couldnít function. I couldnít take a bath or swum without thinking
of drowning myself; everything I touched I contemplated its use for my
demise. Iím not sure how I survived when my major thought content was
about killing myself. Thank goodness I had enough sense to tell my
counselor at the treatment center. She escorted me to the psychiatric
unit at the Hospital on July 26, 1996. After two days, I was transferred
to the dual treatment program. Here I met other people like myself. That
was incredible for me. I realized Iím not alone, and never have to be
There, I was educated about my illness. I learned how
drugs and mental illnesses fester together, when not managed in a
healthy way. I remembered that years before, when I was in college, I
had once picked up a pamphlet that said, if you answer Ďyesí to one
or more of the of the following questions, you may have a mental
illness. I said yes to all of them. Terrified, I threw it away, and
tried to forget. Now, it is such a relief to know about my mental
illness, because that means I can get help. Dual Recovery Anonymous has
been of tremendous support, and aids in my recovery.
I first attended a DRA meeting at the treatment center.
That was even more amazing to meet people who were just like me, and
successfully recovering. HOPE - I finally had HOPE. I am a member of
Narcotics Anonymous (NA) AA, and DRA.
DRA feels like home to me because it addresses issues
that other fellowships do not. I feel a freedom to discuss my
medications, share when I donít feel emotionally stable, and talk
about other things that members in other fellowships may not understand
or relate to. The support and understanding present at DRA meetings is
truly impressive and therapeutic. When I hear someone describe me when
they are speaking of themselves, I fed a connection to the group that I
donít feel anywhere else. I am truly grateful for, and proud to be, a
part of the program of Dual Recovery Anonymous.
Previous Story | Story
Index | Next Story