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[ Personal Narratives ]

Life Without Brain Fog

By 17, I had survived a court ordered year of unattended AA and over 30 foster homes with all that this entails, along with a diagnosis of Borderline Personality. By 26, I was a self righteous raging alcoholic trying to numb the pain. I was a well mannered housewife and young mom of three, pulling into gas stations to drink and cut away my anxieties and realities. The result of my being overmedicated landed me 5150’s and 5152’s into behavioral health units and hospitals around 13 times.

Here is my story.

Although unknown to me at the time, my fear of vulnerability and lack of humility combined had left me in a state of victimization. I felt cheated and I was angry but I continued my search. I had convinced myself that my situation was being taken lightheartedly. I needed a REAL professional—and surely medication. My nightly Black Velvet and Coke buzz wasn’t filling the void. I needed validation, so in March of 2007, I scheduled it.

Although I was 27 years old, I was likely functioning at a much younger level emotionally and I honestly knew nothing of the real world. With concerned eyes, my new prescriber asked about my past and current struggles as I held my head in my hands and cried, trying to get the words out. I looked up at him with desperation and explained that my daughter had just turned four and I thought I may be having some kind of emotional reaction in connection with my own childhood because of it. Another 45 minutes of sharing personal information with this man and I was getting what I was looking for: an explanation for my insane behaviors, a documented disorder. Without him saying it in those exact words, my “self-diagnosis” had been confirmed. Satisfied, I naively left his office with a prescription and a one week appointment. “Finally,” I thought. “My life is about to change.”

Unfortunately for my family and I, when I thought my life was about to change, I couldn’t have been more correct. I still wasn’t feeling any better. The now increased med was not helping. I was still unhappy, still drinking too much, still angry and had agreed that I probably just needed to increase some of them again.

That week, I felt encouraged and took home another prescription as a mood stabilizer, and sample packets to experiment with along with a friendly invitation to come back sooner if needed. My husband was not feeling so hopeful.

That evening, he spent several minutes on the phone with my P.A. insisting that he was giving me too much—demanding an explanation of why his wife was now being prescribed three medications. Unconvinced but even more unsure of how to help me, he reluctantly listened to the P.A.’s reasoning. “This is a process. Finding the right combination of medicine is going to take some time.”

We decided to reschedule anyways. Again, we were reassured that I was being properly prescribed, so I continued again with seeing this P.A.

My little girl was four years old and nearing the end of her first year of preschool, not too far ahead of my one- and two-year-old sons. I knew they deserved a better mom. My alertness always seemed to be in fifth gear and any noise they made was too much and I would snap, yelling and grabbing my head with my hands—totally overwhelmed, incapable of coping with something as large as a spilled sippy cup. I was weighed down and drinking heavily to cope with my severe anxiety and restlessness which I would justify to be okay because, as I would always say, “At least I’m not getting drunk.” One of many lies I told myself for years. I remember looking at my kids often and saying “I can’t fail them. I’m nothing like my own mom!”

Miserable, lonely, out of my mind from boredom with nothing ever big enough or good enough to fill my void, I lived in my world. I was sad and imprisoned with self-torture. There wasn’t much I wouldn’t do just to feel a little better.

Within four months, I was ingesting eight psychiatric drugs, some to be taken twice daily. My dependency on anti-anxiety medication only got worse.

By 2009, I was on 13 meds per day and was drinking heavily on top of it. When I finally admitted myself into rehab, I was told coming off the amount I was put on was as bad as coming off heroin. It took me three years to get back to being “myself.” Now, I no longer binge drink or gamble online penny auctions that put my family through hell and bankruptcy.

Now, I work as a patient advocate, happily married with three kids and enjoy a life without brain fog from booze and benzos. I’m now a contributing member of society—I own my own humble skincare business and am in remission of borderline personality disorder while aspiring to help others like me. I am honored to be working at NYSA Therapy as a patient advocate and therapy trainer giving a voice to addicts and sufferers who haven’t found theirs yet.