Am I sober if I’m taking psych meds? A lot of people have a lot of opinions about this topic, as do I.
I try to share my experience more than my opinion, but after what I’ve been through from sponsors telling me not to take my meds to people telling me I wasn’t “really” sober because I was taking meds, I have quite an opinion.
It is possible to be sober and on meds and even without drama. I know this now because I know my truth now.
A big part of sanity is being able to let go what people think of me. I had to or I never would’ve made it to the other side of 4 years of postpartum depression.
I got a great question about mental illness and addiction – does one trigger the other? This vlog is about my experience with my co-occurring disorders affecting each other. Hint: they do, but balance is achievable. Never lose hope!
The number one question we with alcoholism get is finally answered!
In last week’s episode, Sandy and I went over to Tommy’s to get high. Tommy took the hugest bong rip ever and made weird noises with his face. Then he passed the bong to Sandy.
I needed to watch her do it and survive, then maybe I could do it.
Sandy took a hit, stuck out her little tongue – which she always did when she smoked – and then immediately coughed all the smoke out like a total spaz.
I felt better.
Tommy passed the bong to me.
“Try to keep it in your lungs as long as you can. The longer you hold it in, the better the high.”
OK. Wow. I was about to do drugs. I would’ve felt cool if my knees weren’t shaking so hard.
And if I wasn’t wearing yesterday’s underwear.
Tommy put his arms around me.
“I’ll light it, you put your finger on the little hole here and let go right before you feel like your gonna cough.”
He lit the bowl. I sucked. The little green bud turned red. So did my face. What felt like a fire started to grow in my lungs.
I took my finger off the little hole. A Cumulonimbus cloud of smoke went rushing into my already burning lungs and I immediately coughed like I was dying of TB.
After about the run time of Dazed and Confused from Song Remains the Same – my God seriously Jimmy Page give it a rest – I stopped coughing and it was my turn again.
I hit it again, this time a tad more cautiously since I now knew all the smoke in the chamber was going to shoot directly into my lungs once I took my finger off that evil little hole.
The bong went around a few more times and next thing I knew Sandy was gone and I was on the moon looking down at earth.
And Tommy and I were kissing.
“When did we get on the moon?”
“You’re high as a billy goat!” Tommy was grinning like the Cheshire Cat.
“Maybe yes I am but that still doesn’t explain how we got to the moon and how will we get back and my mom’s gonna be so mad.”
This was the beginning of my obsession with my mom being mad at me when I was high. She lived in my high psyche. It was unfortunate.
It was fun and scary and thrilling all at the same time. I knew I was in Tommy’s room, but I also knew that Tommy’s room was on the moon, so it must’ve been a spaceship.
Then there was a knock at the door, which made absolutely no sense to me.
“Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit,” Tommy repeated over and over again as he gathered and hid his paraphernalia.
“You have to get out of here. It’s my mom.”
Uh-oh. I knew moms were bad. Even in my oblivion, I knew that much. They were the Jabba the Hut of my Moonage nightmare.
My adrenaline kicked in and increased my fear by a trillion. In Tommy’s room I was in a spaceship; out there I would be just floating in outer space. I was afraid.
Good thing I had my spacesuit on.
I exited the cabin and fell into some sort of alien shrubbery. But then I started floating, so I was cool. The whole antigravity thing was neat, but discombobulating. It was hard to know which way was up and which was down.
It was blackness for a long time. Thankfully I never hit a black hole. After floating in space for what felt like days – although time is relative in space, you know – a white metallic something appeared in the distance.
Was it a spaceship? Would I be rescued? After all, I was probably about to run out of oxygen in my spacesuit.
I floated toward the ship, but not fast enough.
Why not swim?
Brilliant idea. I did the breaststroke and got to the spaceship much quicker than just floating around. I was figuring this shit out right quick for someone without NASA training.
It was a spaceship! I was saved!
I swam to the driver’s side. There was a huge mirror object. It had a smaller mirror inside of it that made my reflection go all wall-eyed. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
Why would a spaceship have a mirror? Let alone two?
This was my last memory of the evening.
The next day I experienced what would be the first of many retold stories of what I did the night before. Ends up Sandy found me making swimming motions with my arms and staring in the driver’s side mirror of their RV parked in the driveway. The only words she could make out of my babble were spaceship and mom.
So we went over to Tommy’s that night and got high again.
This is part 1 of a 2 part series about the first time I smoked pot. I highly suggest listening to Pink Floyd while you read it for maximum pleasure.
Sandy and I were kickin’ it watching Days and chain-smoking when an amazing idea popped into her head.
“Let’s go over to Tommy’s and get stoned tonight!”
She did this a lot. Sandy was the kind of girl who would have to share her inner thoughts the moment an idea popped into her head or I think she may have actually exploded. Like Scanners, but not just her head. And I’m not kidding, spontaneous combustion is a very real phenomena, so it was a bad idea to silence people like Sandy… or it could’ve gotten messy real fast.
“Sure,” was my normal reply to Sandy’s ideas. There was rarely a reason to say no to one of her sudden ideas. They generally ended in hi-jinx, hilarity and sometimes handcuffs.
OK, only that one time…
“Have you done it before?” I was only drinking and smoking thus far. I was nervous at the prospect of adding drugs to my milieu.
“Yeah, Tommy got me high once, but it didn’t really do anything. He says I need to try again.”
Oh, just think of the accomplishments we would’ve made if we put our determination into, say, school.
Tommy’s eyes were always red and half-closed. It seemed like he was stoned all the time. And I’d only ever experienced one-word conversations with him.
Until this night.
Sandy and I waited until dark and sneaked into Tommy’s room. Of course, I was wearing a skirt – with a closure – so getting in the window without showing Tommy my underwear was a bit of a challenge… and then… a failure.
And I was wearing my Thursday undies on Friday.
But Tommy didn’t seem to mind – he actually smiled. It was the first time I ever saw him smile full-on, besides his permanent stoner half-smile.
Once I awkwardly gathered myself, I noticed that I was glowing. And that I had a shit-ton of lint on my navy shirt.
And Tommy’s smile was, well, green.
Sandy ate shit getting through the window, as she was about as clumsy as a puppy who hadn’t grown into her feet yet. She grinned a big yellow grin and I could count the cat hair on her leggings.
I dared not ask what was wrong with the lighting in his room, as I was quite sure it was intentional, but I now was even more scared to do drugs because I already felt like I was in an altered state.
I wish Sandy would’ve warned me that Tommy’s room was possibly the raddest place on the planet. I would’ve definitely chilled over there a helluva lot more had I known. Maybe she was scared she’d lose me to his room.
But I doubt he would’ve watched Days with me and his parents didn’t let him smoke in the house so that was a fat chance anyway.
And he never talked, but Sandy talked all the time, so those two cancelled each other out.
The walls were covered with Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden and Metallica posters. But the coolest part was that I felt like I was in Hawkeye and Trapper John’s “swamp” on a glow-in-the-dark M.A.S.H. set. He had that army green netty stuff everywhere.
I was immediately bummed I never even thought of doing that to my room.
He just had a twin mattress on the floor, but his room was so cool that it didn’t even need a waterbed with a mirrored headboard. The funny light was at the head of the bed emanating a bluish-purple beam. The bed had netting all around it and I wondered if he was scared his room was going to be suddenly invaded by big ass bumble bees or may flies.
It was now Out of Africa meets M.A.S.H.
I must admit I did feel protected from any impending infestations of overly large insects.
He put on Dark Side of the Moon. The three of us sat on his bed as he packed his large glass bong with weed. Thankfully he knew it was my first time so I didn’t have to pretend to know how to smoke out of that thing. I’m sure I would’ve found a way to burn my face off and, even worse, embarrass myself.
“This is a bong. It’s the only way to smoke. Gets you super high and it’s a really clean high.”
Shwew. I definitely wanted a clean high, whatever the hell that meant.
“I’ll take a hit to show you how it’s done.”
This was the most I’d heard Tommy speak. Ever. By like a zillion. He was really in his element. Then he ripped that bong like a true pro. I was impressed.
But it got weird real fast. He held the smoke in his lungs with fierce determination. His eyes started to water. His face got red and started to contort. And I wasn’t even high yet. This was a bad sign. What the hell had I signed up for? It was too late to back out.
Then a noise came out of his face. A noise that frightened me. A noise I would never allow to come out of my face the next, oh, 8,000 times I got high.
It sounded like he was about to sneeze and fought it, but sneezed anyway without opening his mouth ever. Or kind of like the sound Felix Unger made when he was cleaning out his sinuses.
He started to tremble. My fear intensified. I was scared he might have a seizure or something. How would I explain this sordid situation to my mom? Jesus man, exhale already!
After about the run time of all nine parts of Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Tommy finally exhaled enough smoke to fill the room, coughing all the way.
Tune in next week to find out if I inhaled! Hint: I did… I just realized that was a rhetorical question. I also am very happy that rhetorical was on my 10th grade vocabulary test because I use it quite a bit. Vermilion? Not as much.
I met Sandy toward the end of 7th grade at the graffiti wall where all the smokers hung out. She had porcelain skin, dyed hair, tiny feet and balls of steel.
You guys get to meet her next week. You’re welcome.
We were best friends for 10 years. Our addictions brought us together and then tore us apart. I watched the sparkle in her eyes fade as her parents divorced, she gave her daughter up for adoption and her father died. Yes, she was not the only person on the planet to suffer loss, but it was simply too much for her.
Sandy struggled with drug addiction her entire life. She used meth daily until she lost all of her teeth. Then she quit meth. Unfortunately, she switched to abusing prescription medications and those eventually killed her.
She was only 43-years-old when she died.
I write this blog because I think my misadventures drinking and using are pretty hilarious. Reno is hilarious. Sparks is beyond hilarious. And all of the characters I met along the way made me who I am. It’s healing for me to find the humor in my tumultuous upbringing.
But I could write this blog a very different way. It could be dark as hell and very tragic. Unfortunately, this isn’t going to be a funny post. Because losing someone to addiction isn’t funny. It’s simply fucked up.
There are no hard or fast rules. Some drug addicts can quit their drug of choice and can drink and use recreationally. Others cannot.
Sandy could not.
I’m coming to believe addiction as a disease similar to cancer. Some cancers are so aggressive they simply cannot be overcome, some cancers are defeated completely and some return. The relapse is generally harder to defeat, just as the return of a cancer is often. Some people beat cancer five times!
Sobriety was never on her radar. She knew I was sober, but she didn’t understand why I had to quit everything. Her brain was also damaged from all the meth.
The Sandy I knew died a long time ago, so this grieving process has been very strange for me. I’m happy that she’s with her dad again and I’m sad for all of us left behind. It’s the death of the hope of a miracle. When an addict gets sober, it’s a miracle.
I’ve been working a 12-step program for a long time, yet there was no magic cure I could offer her. Christianity saved her mother and sister, yet they couldn’t save her. In my experience, the only thing that could’ve saved her was a Higher Power.
So am I saying God hated her? Absolutely not. We’re born with free will – the will to surrender to something bigger than us to solve our problem. Maybe her disease was just too terminal for her to surrender.
Or not. I don’t know.
The best way I can illustrate this is comparing addiction to Godzilla. The addict is a little, teeny, tiny ant. Godzilla is ginormous and breathes fire. And here’s the worst part – nothing, and I mean nothing, feels as good as hanging out with Godzilla.
When Godzilla and the addict hook up, it’s limos and glamour and excitement all the way. We feel like we’re in heaven, but when we want to go home, when we get tired, Godzilla says “Oh hell no, little ant, we’ve only just begun.”
I have no idea when Godzilla’s going to be done partying and the addict has no vote for when we’ll stop. Only the monster has the power of choice and he can choose to squash us at any time. That’s the risk we take to hang with the biggest and baddest of them all.
We have to stay far away from him, but it’s not easy. I have friends who hang out with him still and assure me that he’s cool. I get in my car and there are billboards with him looking fly in a tuxedo. He looks so good it’s hard to remember how bad he truly is for me. He even comes to me in my dreams.
In L.A., I can actually call Pink Dot and have him delivered to my house.
I got in his limo after 15 years sober and he almost flattened me. Every time I’ve even looked in his direction, he’s been on to me. He’s magnetic. He says things like:
“Girl, we haven’t hung out in so long you don’t even know me anymore. I’m so much more chill now.”
“I promise we’ll just have a couple and then I’ll take you home.”
“You’re so boring now. What happened to the party girl I remember?”
If he gets me, it doesn’t matter how hard I fight, only an act of Providence can save me. I cannot fight him on my own. He only laughs at my feeble attempts.
I’m an ant, remember?
All of the knowledge I have about the disease does nothing for me if I go near him. He’s too magnetic. The years I’ve been sober only make him want me more. I cannot rest on my laurels because he’ll be right there, Gucci sunglasses on ready to go.
I miss Sandy. I got to be there after her family made the impossible decision to unplug her (because her brain was dead), and I got to hug her and kiss her and stroke her hair before she left this realm. I just returned from her memorial and my heart is heavy.
But I know, beyond a shadow of doubt, that none of us could’ve saved her from Godzilla.