Hi! My Name is Samantha and I Have a Dual Diagnosis!By: Samantha Steiner
By: Samantha Steiner
I was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder Mixed when I was just fourteen years old. Also, that happened to be the year that I became an alcohol and drug addict as well. Being Bipolar seems to go hand in hand with any form of addiction. This seems to happen to so many people around the world that are dealing with any form of mental illness that also turn to mind altering substances on a regular basis, right? I know I can’t be the only one out there.
Being Bipolar is hard enough of a struggle and then I went and made everything worse by adding alcohol and drugs into the mix. Alcoholism and drugging can also be a symptom of an impending mood change for me. If I was starting to get manic or hypomanic, I seemed to want and crave getting messed up even more. However, if I was starting towards a depressive episode than the same wants and cravings started to happen as well. It was not always a mood related thing when I felt like I wanted to get wasted, even though that was the case a majority of the time. I would even drink when I was feeling fine; I would be happy, chipper, outgoing, and just trying to have a good time.
My drinking and drugging didn’t start totally bad at first. But I would tend to binge drink. When I was sixteen, I had my first taste of alcohol poisoning. And let me tell you, it was not fun. I was just out skipping school, hanging out with friends and just getting so wasted. Next thing I knew, I was waking up in a hospital bed, full of tubes and my mother was sitting in a chair in front of my bed. I couldn’t seem to be able to do the simplest things like form words or even speak. I had no idea what happened or when. I couldn’t remember the past few hours no matter how hard I tried. After waking up from what felt like being in a coma; I looked at my mom just sitting there and staring at me. She looked so sad and disappointed in me. I find that I am a disappointing person in general. Looking at my mom, I felt so low, dumb and stupid. I couldn’t believe what I had done. I was sure I was in for the yelling of my life when I got home. I wish I would have taken the alcohol poisoning as a warning to proceed with caution and to stop drinking. But I didn’t. It was years later before I took those difficult steps towards getting clean.
As the years went on, and I got older, my drinking and drug use grew into something stronger as well. I was using whatever I could get my hands on and drinking whatever I could find that would get me buzzed and beyond. My bad habits were starting to weigh down hard on my mental health. I was getting more and more depressed. During one of my depressive episodes, I had drunk an entire bottle of hard liquor all myself. I put a depressing song on repeat and started cutting away at a vein in my foot until I really started to bleed out. Between the depressed state of mind and the alcohol, I was gone. I just wanted to die because I felt I had no other way out from the horrible things that were going on in my head or from my problems. I’ve heard the quote that says, “Suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems.” However, I couldn’t get that through my mind at that time. I could see no other way out.
From there on, no matter how happy I would get, my using would just bring me down more and more; over and over. I would be out drinking with the person that was supposed to be my best friend, and we would have the best night ever. But then, when I got home and my boyfriend went to bed, I would be left alone with my thoughts and they would turn real dark, real quick even though I just had the best time of my life. I would start to over think and then the uncontrollable tears would start to flow; slowly at first, but then turning hysterical. I would yell and scream; throw things and get violently angry. I would black out and do terrible things like attempt suicide, self-harm, and say things to purposely hurt the ones that I loved and cared about the most. Then, the next morning I would wake up with a horrible hangover and half a memory about the things that I had done, feel like crap, feel guilty and shameful for how I had reacted the previous night. And then do it all over again within the next day or two.
I had let myself get to the point where occasional drinking, became every other day drinking, which ultimately led to me drinking almost every single day. By this point, I could hardly remember my own name, if I was supposed to be at work, who I had said what to, or basically anything at all. It was bad, and I was becoming way and way more aggressive towards everyone. My moods were all over the place. They were cycling faster than ever before. I was utterly hopeless, but I was nowhere near ready to seek help yet; No matter how bad and unmanageable my life had become I still wasn’t ready.
One night, I had over-dosed on almost every medication I had, on multiple illegal drugs, and got liquored up. I was completely in a psychosis mode. I was hearing and seeing things that were not there. I was hallucinating and yelling at my, now ex, boyfriend and telling him how much I hated him and didn’t want to be with him. I lost my mind. I kept hitting him and slamming his arm in the bedroom door. However, I kept flowing in-and-out of consciousness so I really don’t remember a lot.
I called my mom, she moved me in with her and my siblings that same night, I continued to pop pills and drink and then I called my friend, Mike, over to come save me because I told him I needed him. Within minutes he was there. I felt like I was lost, out-of-control- and broken. I felt like I hit rock bottom and things were once again, unmanageable for me. I freaked out so much more and told my mom and Mike that I wanted to go inpatient for the behavioral health unit and Mike drove me over. This was in May of 2012.
After I got out of the psych ward, I felt like a new woman—again; At least for a little. I told myself that I was never going to drink again. That very evening, June 1St, 2012, Mike asked me to be his girlfriend, and even though I had just got out of a rocky relationship, that I caused, I said yes. Within less than two weeks of leaving the hospital, I started to feel unsteady again, and I started to drink again. I thought I could handle it this time. I thought I could moderate and just have one or two drinks, but why? No one else was having one or two either? Isn’t binge drinking normally for everyone, anyway? People would try to cut me off and I would just get mad and scream and argue and then steal some more anyway. This was my bipolar life! I was going to do as I pleased! However, I did find out that I have lost the job I had while I was out on psych leave due to a failed urine test for drugs and alcohol being present in my system. Is this still my life?
After Mike and I moved in together my drinking and drugging kept up pretty heavy until one drunken night when I tried to stab him during a mixed episode of depression and manic rage. After that, that was it. I begged him not to leave me. I told him I wouldn’t drink anymore. At that moment I meant it. The key word being: at that moment. He put his foot down and said no more drinking for a while and no more drinking alone in the house. I accepted his terms resiliently because I did not want to lose him. I knew I messed up big time. I had already begun to mourn the loss of my precious booze the moment he said it. However, I knew he would cave in eventually; which he did.
As the weeks went on, he would let me drink at family and friends houses a few times a week. But as with what was becoming normal, the overwhelming depression would just set in and then I could cry and cry and cry. And sometimes I wouldn’t even know why I was crying. Mike would get sick of it and want to leave me every time it happened. So he reduced it to once a week. But it still happened. Then I could only drink like three times a month but I would binge drink hardcore. I would drink more than everyone else, faster than everyone else. And I wouldn’t stop until there was nothing left. By the time I would get home I would become so angry at everyone and everything. I would feel completely suicidal and try over-dosing on pills almost every time. It was just horrible; horrible for me; my health; my mental health; and my loved ones.
My last drink was on April 8th, 2017. I just lost it mentally that day. I ruined relationships, overreacted and freaked out over nothing. I don’t know how or why but I really messed things up that night. Nothing has been the same for me since my sober date. I truly had hit my personal rock bottom this time. I admitted to a Higher Power that I was powerless over alcohol and that my life had become unmanageable. I wish I could say that quitting drinking has been the easiest thing that I have ever done but it’s not. I no longer have ways as a quit fix for my emotional problems but I am working on healthy alternatives each day and it does get better. I know that avoiding mind altering substances is the best thing for me, my health and my future.
Samantha is the author of "My Bipolar Mind: You're not alone," she is also a freelance writer, blogger, and mental health advocate who runs and manages her own mental health blog MyBipolarMind.com.