Bullied to Addiction

Bullied to Addiction

Bullied to Addiction

I first came to treatment as a teenager for dual diagnosis mental health issues and substance abuse. Living at home with my parents and 3 older siblings didn’t give me as much freedom due to being the youngest child. I was bullied at school, and bottled up my feelings, but my anger came out in other ways sometimes exploding in anger at home. I began drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and abusing prescription pills in an effort to avoid dealing with the trauma and bullying abuse I was experiencing. Now I know my addiction was tied to my experience of being bullied – bullied to addiction.

At one point, I had been admitted to psychiatric hospitals several times in a matter of a few months for suicide attempts and was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and was taking medication to help manage my emotions. My parents finally admitted me into a treatment program, however they had no idea what I was going through, they had no idea I was being bullied or the extent of my addiction.

Fighting the Help I Need

During the first few weeks of treatment, I fought the help the treatment team and my therapist was trying to provide. I threatened to leave constantly, rebelled against the program’s rules, and yelled/cursed at staff. My parents were desperate for help, not knowing what to do, and searching for answers to their questions of how to handle me, their daughter. I begged them to remove me from treatment, and they held strong. When I finally surrendered to the program, the therapeutic work began and honestly, I started to feel relief, relief from the anger, sadness, guilt, shame and resentment that had been tormenting me. I had no idea it was possible. I could imagine it. I had hope. I had hope something could be different for me. I could have a different life.

In individual therapy, my therapist worked with me on increasing my awareness of when I started feeling angry and on verbalizing my anger to a supportive people in my life. We talked through, in detail, about my experience of being beaten up at school and explored positive coping strategies that I could implement in place of using drugs and alcohol. I found relief and groundedness in simple things like listening to music, going to the beach, and taking deep breaths. In family therapy, my therapist worked with me and my parents on practicing listening skills, improving our understanding of each other’s perspectives, and communicating effectively. It helped me build trust with them again. My parents attended a weekly parenting group that allowed them to learn about setting healthy boundaries (I didn’t like this at all at first, but appreciate it now and set my own boundaries with them). They also received feedback and support from other parents going through similar experiences with the other clients in treatment. My parents worked on recognizing and managing their own anxiety and working together so they weren’t sending mixed messages.

Letting Go to Grow

As I made progress in treatment, I could go on the weekends on a short family pass, then a longer family pass, and eventually to return home for the better part of a day. My father was very nervous that I would act out old behaviors (screaming, crying, throwing objects, breaking things) when it was time to return to treatment. My therapist and I prepared ahead of time and I understood ways to communicate with words rather than actions to let my father know my true feelings about returning to treatment without displaying the old behaviors. I returned later that evening and both my father and I had a great time together. In treatment, I learned and so did my family, that the entire family system is effected and it was a shared responsibility for everyone to help make changes that would ultimately benefit the whole family unit.

By the end of treatment, my therapist helped me by expressing proud feelings of the hard work and progress I had made and worked with me on the ability to accept that feedback. We had talked during therapy about the various ways that people give and receive love. My parents and I identified that we each value quality time. My parents went home and discovered that all of my brothers and sisters value quality time too. Toward the end of my treatment, my parents rented an RV and took all us on a camping trip to the beach for the weekend. This helped the us and me to transition back to my supportive family and spend quality time together before returning home.

My parents had a better understanding of my potential triggers and worked with me, my school and environmental adjustments to significantly lower the exposure.  Overall, the work my therapist, the treatment team, my family and well, the work I did, changed my life – free from being bullied to addiction. My family and I worked hard to create a new foundation for positive change that we continue to build upon together.

Anxiety Disorders

ANXIETY DISORDERS – What are they?

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety Disorders are very different than the type of anxiety that warn us from danger. In addition, there are many types of anxiety disorders. Generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, specific phobias, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder and separation anxiety disorder are just a few types of anxiety disorders. Anxiety can indicate awareness to dangers and can be a healthy warning sign to draw our attention to a threat. An anxiety disorders differs from feelings of nervousness or anxiousness, and involve excessive fear or anxiety. Today many people struggle with anxiety disorders at some point in their lives. Soothing anxiety that involves excessive fear can sometimes lead to alcohol & drug addiction, process addictions and other live debilitating behaviors. Treatment is the most effective way for most people lead normal productive lives.


Anxiety Disorders – Symptoms

Symptoms of anxiety can vary. When anxiety disorders involve panic attacks, symptoms are most intense. Symptoms can include:

  • Avoiding situations that trigger or worsen symptoms
  • Decreased job or school work performance
  • Damaged personal relationships
  • Impair ability to function
  • Types of Anxiety Disorders
  • Persistent and excessive worry
  • Restlessness, feeling on edge
  • Easily fatigued
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Muscle tension
  • Problems sleeping.


WHEN AN ANXIETY DISORDER BECOMES PANIC

Panic Disorder

Panic disorders are a combination of overwhelming physical and psychological distress. While some with severe anxiety disorders may experience some of these symptoms in a milder form from time to time, during a panic attack several of these symptoms occur at the same time:

  • Pounding heart or rapid heart rate that can include palpitations and/or chest pain
  • Sweating, chills or hot flashes
  • Trembling or shaking, feeling detached
  • Feeling of shortness of breath or smothering sensations, feeling dizzy, light-headed or faint
  • Feeling of choking, nausea or abdominal pains
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Fear of losing control, fear of dying

Some who experience panic attacks may believe they are having a heart attack or other life-threatening illness. They  may go to a hospital ER because the symptoms are so intense. In addition, panic attacks may occur with other mental disorders such as depression or PTSD.


DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT

It is important to see a qualified doctor. If you are diagnosed with an Anxiety or Panic disorder getting the appropriate treatment in the recommended level of care is ideal. Medications may be necessary to provide some relief in order to begin treatment. Adequate providers would be less inclined to prescribe benzodiazepine medications as it can limit access to feeling states during therapy. In addition, they can be addictive and cause anxiety. The most commonly used medications are anti-anxiety medications (generally prescribed only for a short period of time) and antidepressants. Finally, Beta-blockers, used for heart conditions, are sometimes used to control physical symptoms of anxiety.

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