Mental illness & drug addiction

I was first diagnosis with having a bi-polar disorder in 1999 when I was twenty-one years old. I rejected the bi-polar diagnosis and the prescribed medications, and stayed in denial for many years, choosing to live a reckless life rather than an organized life of accepting the norms of society. I was out of control.

Bi-polar disorder is generally defined as a mental illness characterized by high and low mood swings. Before I started using cocaine, I was afflicted by high mood swings that made me feel self-righteous, powerful, and invincible. I took great pleasure in breaking rules and laws. I believed that rules governing other people were not rules I had to follow.

This is why my foray into college at Quinnipiac University resulted in Sociopathic behavior. I stole a student’s car. I smoked weed. I did whatever I wanted without regard to any of the rules on the campus. Rules were for other students. Not for me.

The bi-polar diagnosis predated my addiction to drugs by thirteen years. My lust and addiction to cocaine began when I was thirty-five years old. That is when my bi-polar disorder entwined with drug addiction, making me dual-diagnosed in clinical terms, leading to a total mental dysfunction that lasted for over twenty years.

Using cocaine to treat my bi-polar disorder had serious consequences. My moods began to swing low, deepening into depression that would last for days or weeks. The more I used cocaine, the more depressed I became. The more I smoked crack, the more alienated I became.

I used every ounce of my existence and energy to get money to buy cocaine. What was once casual indulgence quickly became everyday use. I was hopeless and helpless to resists the pleasures of getting high.

Because the high only lasted for minutes, I had to incessantly smoke crack to keep the high going. I came to enjoy and need the high to escape the reality that I was worthless, unloved, and wanted by my family.

I would go days without eating or bathing, days without human contact, long stretches of euphoria that temporarily eased the anxiety and reality of being unemployed, homeless or both. I regularly dismissed the notion from mental health professionals that I was a crackhead and a drug addict.

Even after years of drug abuse and suffering the consequences, I was not ready to accept treatment. Medications to treat my mental illness were out of the question. I was in and out of countless rehabs, counseling, and therapy for years. The only option left was to kill myself, which I attempted without success.

Then my girlfriend, Tina, got sick and died from ovarian cancer

That got my attention. She needed me while she laid feeble in hospice. I remembered all of the years she loved me unconditionally despite my human deficiencies. Amazingly, in the midst of a crisis, I was able to detox myself from the cocaine. I gained strength from her sickness. I sat with her. I talked to her. I prayed with her. Losing her life saved my life.

After Tina died, I sought help for my mental illness. I committed to taking the prescribed medications. It took a few weeks for the medication to kick in, but I persevered without getting high. I was God’s miracle. Today I am drug free, having shaken off the years I abused cocaine. It was not easy but loving her enabled me to love myself again.

Read my book, Don't Tell Me What To Do, for more insight in my mental illness and drug use.

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