In my pervious blog post, I discussed the prevalence of substance abuse in individuals with bipolar disorder. I honestly haven’t yet discovered as to why this actually happens. I do have some theories that I would like to share and of course put up to discussion with all of you.

My future seems complete to me when I imagine my profession. I am en route to earn my PhD in psychology and I aspire to work in a rehabilitation center. I feel like that there is where I can do my best work. I love helping people and engaging with someone on a very deep level. I work so hard in school to be able to achieve this dream and bring change into this world. I believe that in a rehab facility – one can see the embodiment of transformation and revitalization.

Substance abuse is a disease. Bipolar is a disease. When compounding both together – an individual needs all the help they can get. But why are the two so closely related? I believe it has something to do what wanting to escape reality or numb the pain. No one wants to feel like they are hurting, especially when the pain is mental and completely indivisible to others. People who suffer from a mental illness can never explain the excruciating pain they go through to someone who doesn’t suffer from such an illness. So they find an escape. Drugs is an easy one and one that is readily available. It’s easier to pop a pill than it is to talk to a counselor. It is easier to pop a pill than go through the ebs and flows of one’s emotions. It’s easier to pop a pill than talk about what’s happening inside of you. But popping a pill is only easy going in, but coming out – the road is most difficult and most debilitating. There are major consequences – dependency, physical illnesses, loss of loved ones, homelessness and even death.

I am currently reading this book “Rewired” by Erica Spigelman. I read a lot of books (as most of you know). She doesn’t live with bipolar disorder, but she has suffered with substance abuse. This book is a self help book for those who have had (or are having) this problem or for those who want to help someone who may have this problem. Even though she does not have bipolar disorder, she is an individual who has endured suffering and came out from the bottom becoming one of the most influential writers and doctors who ever came face to face with substance abuse.

If anyone with bipolar disorder has ever had a problem, I think seeking out this book to help get and stay on the right path is a great idea. I’m not close to being done with it, but this step by step process is very intriguing and I can see that if you apply the work in this book you may just become a survivor of this ugly epidemic.

Substance abuse is killing millions of people and it is honestly one of the most saddest things ever. Imagine having bipolar disorder – which is a struggle in itself and also hitting rock bottom and abusing a certain substance. It’s like the worst kind of cocktail to try to swallow. Before my diagnosis, like most young adults I would drink a lot (being a bartender didn’t help). I partied a lot and and truth be told there wasn’t a night in my early 20’s where I wasn’t drunk or drinking. Sure, most people around that age would say there is nothing wrong with that; we all love to party! Well, I was impulsive, irritable, sleeping around, spending like a maniac, etc etc. I wanted to numb my pain and in turn numb the reality of my life. Of course then I didn’t know I was struggling with bipolar disorder. I took the easy rod and blamed it on my drinking. I didn’t want to even think about mental illness as being my reason. Little did I know that I was hurting myself more and more. Drinking made me more manic, drinking didn’t help my disorder one bit, in fact in only made everything worse.

Nowadays I barely have anything to drink. I still go out, but I control myself. I don’t have more than one drink because I know what happens next. I have people in my life who also care about me and make sure that I don’t abandon my willpower. Being responsible when you have bipolar disorder is very important. One, because of my medications, and two because I rather keep my drinking to a minimum to not create a cycle of loosing control. One glass of champagne for a celebration and I’m more than good with that.

Was I an alcoholic back then? Probably. I had easy access to alcohol, I partied every single night, and I didn’t care to stop. Thankfully, as soon as I got diagnosed I realized I didn’t want to be that person, I wanted to be better. Not everyone can just stop a bad habit, some may need rehab and help. My rehab was therapy, and my diagnosis. I knew that having this disorder was chaotic enough, I didn’t need to add to it. Unfortunately, many who suffer from bipolar disorder don’t see it that way, and I don’t blame them. Escaping the truth always feels better than reality. I do hope though, if anyone is having substance abuse problems that they can find someone to talk to. There are many therapists available, also don’t be afraid to seek help in family and friends. And always remember that your friendly blogger is here for you as well. I’m only one message away and I will find time to give you my ear and try to help the best I can.

Addiction is a disease and we all know it so there’s no one to blame, but knowing something is bad for you and continuing to do it, well that’s a choice. Break the habit, get better, read this book, learn something and become the most authentic self you can be. I’ll never judge anyone if they are suffering from this disease but I hope they will find the strength and see there is a light behind that darkness. You don’t have to be a statistic. Rewire your brain to have a better lifestyle and better habits. Perhaps, start here. After reading my blog, read the book, talk to a friend. Help is everywhere if you need it. Don’t let substance abuse ruin your life.

Bipolar or not, your life is worth living. Trust me.

God bless everyone. Have a great day

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