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Old 10-19-2009, 01:49 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Sobriety and mental illness getting worse


Hi all,

I feel like I have a handle on the not drinking thing, for the most part, except for one big thing... the mental illness is getting worse, to the point the only way I could stop thinking about death and fear of the swine flu was to drink again. I see a shrink, I'm on medication and recently started an SSRNI to deal with OCD. I am diagnosed bipolar and I have phobias. Now I am afraid to leave the house as I don't want to get sick. This turn of events isn't good. I could go to an OCD group but don't want to risk getting sick. I could go to a depression support group but don't want to get sick. My life is being severely limited. My shrink told me I'll be ok even if I get sick, but I don't know. I will go to a support group for sobriety but other than this I've decided to stay in until I get that flu shot.

If this continues, drinking will be a better option than dealing with untreatable mental illness or thinking about being sick and dying.

Has anyone been where I am? Any thoughts? Clearly, I am not recovered1 - not anymore. Thanks.
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Old 10-19-2009, 01:53 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Well, I can say that my depression got worse when I first got sober as my roommate, best friend at school overdosed toward the end of my drinking/using. And yeah, I have those hypochondriac moments at times.

I find that talking about these things when they come up, with someone personally or even in a meeting, helps.

My mom is one of us too, who has bipolar. She has almost 2 years sober now, and it just took her finding the right meds to get her illness under control. Hope this helps.
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Old 10-19-2009, 02:00 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Well, I can say that my depression got worse when I first got sober as my roommate, best friend at school overdosed toward the end of my drinking/using. And yeah, I have those hypochondriac moments at times.

I find that talking about these things when they come up, with someone personally or even in a meeting, helps.

My mom is one of us too, who has bipolar. She has almost 2 years sober now, and it just took her finding the right meds to get her illness under control. Hope this helps.
Thanks, I am trying. It's just that the more meds I go on the worse things get. I'm already on a mood stabilizer, anti-psychotic, and two anti-depressants. Not too much room for more I don't think. My Dr is good but I am getting worse. I know I've self-medicated and Of course drinking will make things worse, but my life is shutting down and drinking doesn't seem so bad when I think about things.
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Old 10-19-2009, 02:11 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Well, as cliche as it is, I often tell myself "this too shall pass." It always does.

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Old 10-19-2009, 02:15 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Well, as cliche as it is, I often tell myself "this too shall pass." It always does.

Thanks, I hope so. How did your mom manage to make it to two years without her mental illness being a problem?
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Old 10-19-2009, 02:23 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Well, to say it wasn't a problem would be a lie. She still has troubling falling asleep some nights and has anxiety issues.

But once she found the right combination of meds, she could manage it at least a lot better than before (while drinking). She was very afraid about being diagnosed bipolar (which just happened this past March), but she's doing strides better now. She got a dog, which seems to be very therapeutic.
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Old 10-19-2009, 02:24 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I am a recovering alcoholic diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and bipolar. Am on three meds and so far I'm hanging on pretty well. I have my good days and bad days, but one thing I know for sure is that drinking will make my mental illness worse. Besides, it doesn't do much good to take antidepressants if you're drinking as alcohol is a depressant. If you're not satisfied with your doctor, could you find another one? Drinking isn't much of a solution for mental illness, believe me, I know.

:ghug2
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Old 10-19-2009, 02:35 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I am a recovering alcoholic diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and bipolar. Am on three meds and so far I'm hanging on pretty well. I have my good days and bad days, but one thing I know for sure is that drinking will make my mental illness worse. Besides, it doesn't do much good to take antidepressants if you're drinking as alcohol is a depressant. If you're not satisfied with your doctor, could you find another one? Drinking isn't much of a solution for mental illness, believe me, I know.

:ghug2
Thanks, he is a good Dr but I am a challenge. He has told me I'll be ok, but I don't believe him. It's not him, it's me. I've just latched onto this whole swine flu thing and have spent hours on the Internet reading all sorts of horrible things. I don't know what's happened but all of a sudden I have this OCD thing going on much worse than ever. I couldn't stop with the obsession so I drank. I am glad you are doing pretty well. Having both things (addiction and MI) is not fun. I see why people have a hard time staying sober when dealing with mental illness. It can most likely be done though. I can handle the depression, the phobias and the bipolar, but the OCD is doing me in.
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Old 10-19-2009, 03:38 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I was pretty crazy for almost the first 9 years of my sobriety, but it was more a depression 'crazy' constantly fighting depression. I then went into a 'manic' state that wouldn't stop. I started checking around at my different meetings and seeing who was on my 'health care provider list' from my HMO and found a Psych Dr that had and was working with many alcoholics. She was great. After undergoing a complete physical, she diagnosed me as Bipolar. Now the funny part of this was back in '72 (while still in the throes of alcoholism) I had been diagnosed as manic depressive (bipolar)/schizophenic.

It took my Psych Dr almost 5 years to finally find a combination of medications then out that helped me. There are some great meds out there today to help with mental illness but they all work differently on different people.

If you are not happy with this Dr or do not fully trust this Dr then it is time to find one that you do trust. Drinking while on these medications is a definite NO NO and is only going to make your problems worse, never better.

Please go back to your Dr or find another one who may understand better than your current Dr.

Yes, I know many of us can obsess over medical issues in particular. I have had 2 legitimate cancer scares and about 250 that were my head going haywire.

Yes, the Swine Flu can be scary. Talk to your regular Dr and get their 'honest opinion' on how susceptible you are or could be. The ones it seems to be hitting hardest are the young children with asthma and the elderly with lung problems. Get some face masks at the drug store, so you can go to your group meetings or your AA meetings.

The one thing that you are playing with fire with is drinking while on the medications you are on. Please go see your Doctor(s) and get some help.

J M H O

Love and hugs,
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Old 10-19-2009, 03:57 PM   #10 (permalink)
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The ones it seems to be hitting hardest are the young children with asthma and the elderly with lung problems. Get some face masks at the drug store, so you can go to your group meetings or your AA meetings.
The one thing that you are playing with fire with is drinking while on the medications you are on. Please go see your Doctor(s) and get some help.

J M H O

Love and hugs,
What I bolded - what you said about who is being affected is just what my shrink told me. I didn't believe him. I do have asthma so that adds to the scariness for me but I am not elderly. I do have the face masks I bought in 2005 before the avian flu scare, so I am set on that.

Yes, I am playing with fire to drink on the meds. It was a lapse of sorts and I know it's not the answer. I will call my regular Dr and see if I can get in to see him for a consultation. Thanks.
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Old 10-19-2009, 04:43 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Hi,

I know that my mind can easily run away from me, when I start thinking about illnesses too. But, I needed to stop drinking to save my life. When I stopped drinking, I realized that I had been living all of my life 'in the dark'. I lived in fear. Recovery has meant stepping into the light and it has been scary at times. Take it easy, be kind to yourself and take small steps. Congratulate yourself when you do go out. You can get through this.
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Old 10-19-2009, 06:05 PM   #12 (permalink)
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My 9 year old grandson just got over it last week. He has terrible asthma and with the help of TamaFlu got through it with flying colors. My 40 yr old Son In Law who is also asthmatic did most of his care and he is fine and never even caught it.

Yes please go talk with your regular Dr tomorrow.

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Old 10-19-2009, 06:10 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I just wanted to throw out my support too, as a recovering alcoholic with depression/bipolar II. Recovery is possible, I promise you. You've gotten some great advice and insight. Keep reaching out and know that you are not alone.
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Old 10-19-2009, 06:47 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Old 10-19-2009, 07:11 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Hi R1 --

I've had bad OCD all my life, verging on Tourette's when I was younger. Mine mostly involves always having to to things "the right way", if that resonates with you. It's gotten better as I gotten older, but it always seemed intertwined with my drinking, like a chicken/egg thing. They would drive each other.

When I stopped drinking, the OCD drive/anxiety definitely got worse. I even thought for a bit that the OCD was my "real" problem, and my drinking was just lifelong self-medication of it (well I was self-medicating lots of things, but anyway...)

Here's what I've done. It's helped, and now after eight months I can say it's helped significantly:

I had never heard of exposure therapy until I saw a few episodes of Obsessed on A&E. My first reaction was "whatever, wouldn't work for me", which of course was my working reaction to most things that might have served as a solution for the past 20 years. Then a voice in my head said

"Well, have you ever tried it?"
"Um, no."
"Well, why don't you?"

So I did. On my own. (Take that as you will, I guess it couldn't be called true therapy.) I basically just started pushing through doing things the "wrong way", which is to say not apply the ritual and pattern to everything. The way OCD feels for me is that if I don't do what I feel I'm compulsed to do, that even if I get past the initial overwhelming anxiety that it will "always be wrong", that 20 years down the road I'll be like "yea, everything's great, except for the time when I put three slices of turkey in the sandwich instead of four, and OMG! OMG! I can't believe I ****** that up!!! and proceed to melt or explode and die. So when I started just doing it anyway it was very difficult at first, but I didn't die, and over time (weeks) it got better, and lo and behold, I started to not have the compulsions at all. At one point I had reached a tipping point and thought I was cured, but of course, they pop up time to time -- and probably always will -- so I just keep doing what I'm doing. Compared to what it was, it's lightyears better.

I also meditate a lot, and visualize myself going through my day freely without the obsessions. Sometimes I have to stop and "emergency meditate" (in another room or outside if need be) when an OCD moment comes about. I do straightforward breath meditation each morning as well.

For a while I also wrote down every instance where I got the feeling coming on, and what it specifically involved (in terms of thought or activity or whatever.) I ended up with a 200+ long list, which just looking at objectively was just pure crazy and made me have to laugh -- this helped too.

This past weekend I spent a lot of time doing service work. If I wasn't setting something up I was breaking it down or giving someone a ride. Last night I realized that I was for all intents and purposes OCD-free the whole time.

Hope some of that helps,
Chris
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