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Addiction, Mental Illness & Reaching Out

Posted Apr 23 2009 4:18pm

I received an email from a young woman who attended one of my lectures with her parents. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder in her mid-teens, she’s struggled with addictions for nearly as long.

After hearing from her I felt simultaneously sad and encouraged.

I felt sad because she described an abusive romantic relationship in which her illness is used as a point of shame and degradation.

I felt sad because she’s actively using methamphetamine and cocaine, with no inclination to quit.

I felt sad because she no longer sees her doctor or takes the medication that could eventually keep her stable and well.

I felt sad because she sounded isolated and frightened and sad, herself.

But my feelings of encouragement dominated.

I felt encouraged by the fact that she was honest about the mistreatment she received. She was not hiding or denying it. Recognizing something is wrong is the first step toward righting it.

I felt encouraged because she knew she used illicit drugs to manage her illness and to maintain her romantic relationship. She made no excuses and realized her behavior and choices were unhealthy.

I felt encouraged because she admitted that she needs to see a doctor and asked for low-cost options in her area. She was reaching out, searching for help, asking for resources.

I felt encouraged because, stuck in a darkness of her own creation, this sweet soul seeks something better, seeks the light.

She will find it.

She will overcome.

She will get well.

I am encouraged. I have hope.

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