How Do You Deal With the Double Whammy?

The double whammy is living a life of addiction and depression (or other mental illness) recovery. The 12 steps work best for addiction recovery. But depression recovery requires much more individual exploration and experimentation. There is no one size fits all for depression recovery.

Some posts from others who are also living with addiction and recovery:

1.From I Don’t Want to Talk About It: “Fanatic’s Fraility”:

All I ever wanted as a kid was to be accepted. Red hair and freckles, plus being named after a song. I was ripe for the teasing. Not that every kid isn’t. I was just never given the tools to stand up for myself or believe in myself.  The only place I ever felt strong was on a sports field. But life isn’t really soccer or tennis or swimming anymore. I can’t really escape into those worlds as I did 30 years ago.

Here I am. 40 years old. An adult. And still I crave acceptance. I just want someone to look me in the eye and say I love you just as you are in this moment, and the next. And if this moment you are manic and depressed the next…It’s okay. You are who you are.  Please Don’t get me wrong, I am loved. Tremendously. Trouble is I can’t always feel it or believe it. Why would someone love a black and blue fanatic who can find no balance. Who swings from left to right and back again like a wild circus monkey. Who can’t hear your words correctly as they ricochet around the mind and become convoluted. Who misunderstands and rises up in anger and self defense wrought with agitation at the slightest suggestion I try to be more mindful.

A self righteous monster comes alive and makes accusations, casts blame, doubts anyone could ever understand what I’m truly going through, how I truly feel, what’s really happening on the inside.  No amount of mindfulness can fix this massive gaping emotional wreckage of past present and future. I am simply a lost cause. The world. You. Me. Would be better off without me. No one needs an out of control manic depressive wreaking havoc in their life.

2. From The Chronically Unimaginable: “Anxiety and PTSD: Connected“:

Did you know that PTSD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder are closely related? For example, “studies have shown that about 17 percent of people who have or have previously had PTSD experience GAD as well” (HHO support). What is the connection? Well, there are several overlapping symptoms between each condition that makes it difficult to determine which one you are experiencing. However, “co-occurrence may arise due to features of one disorder serving as risk factors for the development of the other” (Generalized Anxiety Disorder). Let me use my story as an example to show how these two diagnoses are linked.

I was first diagnosed with GAD at 14 after living with the condition my entire life. The medical community did not have near as much information on mental health conditions twenty years ago as they do today. This allowed for me to skate by, further strengthening the connections that anxiety was making in my brain. PTSD for me, comes from a number of different things. The emotional abuse from my narcissistic father, the death of my brother, the loss of my dogs, and dealing with the trauma of my chronic illnesses are big ones for me. My mind is essentially a nervous wreck.

The Hippocampus, one section of the brain that deals with memory and learning, is affected by both of these conditions. If we look at my story, I had 14 years to develop major structural changes to my brain before I was ever able to get treatment for my GAD. This alone makes it harder for me to go through something like the loss of a family member. That is explained by this statement that when one has,  “a pre-existing tendency towards excessive worry and anxiety that can be magnified by witnessing a traumatic event” (Generalized Anxiety). So my GAD predisposed me to react in a way to trauma that one without this condition would not.

Now, I have had multiple severe traumas in my life. According to the statement cited above, I would have a greater chance of developing PTSD each time a new trauma happened. This is exactly what happened to me.  A study about the effects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, “discovered that anxiety is reduced, and parts of the patients’ brains decrease in both volume and activity” (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). So if I had been able to get help from an earlier age, theoretically, my chances of developing PTSD would have been greatly reduced. This is a vital fact to consider in not only treating children with anxiety today, but adults as well.

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