Statistics time. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about a third of all people experiencing mental illnesses and about half of people living with severe mental illnesses also experience substance abuse. These statistics are mirrored in the substance abuse community, where about a third of all alcohol abusers and more than half of all drug abusers report experiencing a mental illness.
The report goes on to explain their determinations as to why this relationship is so significant. I think they’re missing one. Dealers don’t judge.
I’ve been “medication-compliant” for about 6 years now. I have resolved to know that my depression will probably never be cured. But I also think I have the right to try different treatments that make my day-to-day existence more bearable. There was a point in time where I felt I was doing well enough. A doctor had prescribed tramadol in addition to my venlafaxine. I was also taking supplements/vitamins A, D and potassium to address my deficiencies and had my Xanax use down to once every few months. After about 6 months, I had dropped 25 pounds, my sleep schedule had normalized, I was working steady, I felt good and I felt good about myself. For a brief moment, my demon was not in control of my life.
At my next clinic visit, I was disappointed to find that this doctor had moved on. My new doctor would present new challenges. Any opiate use must be handled by a pain specialist, something my town doesn’t have. In order to continue use of the tramadol I would need to drive 2 hours roundtrip and add another doctor to my treatment circle. “Why, hello anxiety. Glad to see you’re back.” – snark. Long story short, I am not able to do what she needs me to do to continue the tramadol. Re-enter generalized body discomfort. Re-enter sleep issues. And of course, here’s my rope, demon. I kept your spot warm for you.
Within 6 months, the weight returned. I quit working again. Xanax is back every week or so. I had an acquaintance tell me they know someone who can get tramadol for me. Tempting, especially since I know who they’re talking about. Nice lady, works at the craft store. Says she understands what I’m going through, and knows how hard it can be to keep up the fight for yourself.
I ultimately decline. The bitterness can be overwhelming. So for now, I’m in a holding pattern; trying to continue my existence and build up some strength to go back and try again.
Let me point out for those of you who aren’t living this:
If you ask for something in particular, you are a drug-seeker. Nevermind that you were prescribed it previously, that you can articulate how it was beneficial, or how they can see from your chart how your use of it was not abusive (in my case, taking usually 3 sometimes 4 of the 6 available daily). I am very aware of abuse potential and I monitor my use of those medications extra close, erring on the side of caution, always. Can you please not make me feel like a degenerate? No? Okay, you win. No more asking.