Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
Are you self-medicating?
When I first started using at fifteen, it didn’t occur to me I was self-medicating. I’d never heard the term back then. All I knew is that when I drank, or used drugs, the hurt and turmoil inside of me, lessened. Long before I picked up my first substance, I chose unhealthy behaviors to cope with my thoughts and emotions. At first, I was invisible. Then, when that didn’t work, I was whatever you wanted me to be. Because of the tension in my growing up home, I got very good at reading body language. I would exaggerate stories, make up lies, tell people what they want to hear, like what you liked, create chaos and drama, gossip, skip school, sneak out of the house at night, embrace unhealthy relationships and feel suicidal if you rejected me, or I got dumped by the boy I thought I was in love with. My behaviors grew progressively worse over time. I began stealing money from my parents. I tried and hated, smoking cigarettes. They made me feel sick, but I powered through the nausea and smoked them, anyways. I got a thrill out of doing things; I wasn’t supposed to do. It felt good to be getting back at the people who had hurt me. Of course, those people never knew I was getting back at them. It was my secret revenge, also known, as passive aggressive behavior. When I tried alcohol and then later marijuana, it was a match made in heaven. The jittery, tight, tense, I’m not good enough – pretty enough, smart enough, or anything enough, feeling, went away. I didn’t know then – the not comfortable in my own skin without something more than me, in it – feeling, was anxiety. I was clueless, about me. Of course I didn’t know that, either. My quest was other or outside, focused. If I could get you to like me, then I was okay – for a little while anyways. Trouble was I sabotaged my relationships. I was suspicious that you didn’t really like me, so I put you to the test. I played the come here, go away, game. That’s where I want you close, but not too close. My worth was tied up in the people I met. I had no sense of self, at all. It seemed to me, I was programmed to self destruct. I kept running my life off the rails, in spite of all my good intentions. Most difficult and annoying of all, was the constant, nagging buzz, going on, inside of me. Not only was it distracting, it stung. Anxiety affected my self esteem. It ground away at me, buzzing in my ear, like an angry wasp. With an inner running, and negative dialogue, I call brain noise. I sought various solutions, but never understood the answers I was looking for lived within me, not outside, of me. Oh how I wanted that buzz to shut up! That’s why we addicts and alcoholics run. We’re searching for our next, quick fix. Whether it’s through geographical, monetary, relational, or substance, we want to stop the sting. We desperately seek a material or chemical cure, to this spiritual, emotional, physical and cognitive, malady. We can run, but we can’t hide. Everywhere I went, there I was and I took all my problems, with me. With each new relationship, or job, or town, I created new problems, adding to my existing ones, culminating in one gigantic mess. Which not even drugs and alcohol could make better. The only time that buzz was quiet, was when I was sleeping, or loaded. By this time if I wasn’t loaded, or in the process of getting that way, I was in bed. At the time I didn’t realize my cure, was killing me. If you’re anxious or depressed, or you’re experiencing any other mental health issues, it’s never a good thing to use alcohol and drugs, to cope. It would be like trying to put out a fire, with gasoline. In rehab I was taught a healthier way of coping. Through group therapy I found a way to take the lid off and voice, my pain. It was like an emotional throw up. Everything that had been stuffed away in dark corners came out. I was called on my case-building, and manipulative, ways. I learned the difference between self-pity and sadness. I learned to give and receive feedback. I learned when people told me, what they saw me doing, that hurt me and my relationships, they weren’t being mean, they were being, loving. I learned that people could and would love me, until I could love myself. But most importantly, I learned I was worthy of love. Today there are moments, when I feel anxious. But they’re fleeting. I’ve come to understand that most of us feel this way, from time to time. Instead of fighting it, or hiding it, I pick up the phone. There is always someone who is willing to listen, on the other end. I am so blessed. I’m at peace, happy and content, I found in recovery, everything I was ever searching for. And it was never out there. It had been hiding in me, all along. I just needed a little help, to find it. If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance. 844-470-0410.