Normally I would start this paragraph off with a list of things I FELT was wrong with me before I sought treatment, but the truth is I felt NOTHING! I had sunk into an abyss of numbness. Previously in the rare occurrence I did feel something unwanted, my coping mechanism was to take a pill (because prescription pills solved EVERYTHING). I equate using pharmaceuticals as a band-aid for the mind and soul. They might cover your injury for a brief period, but they always fall off and leave sticky residue. For me meds didn’t heal the reason I needed the band-aid in the first place; In fact they just got me into a bigger mess. Now I was not only walking around mentally injured, but was adding a drug addiction into the mix.
I was diagnosed at a young age with a chronic and incurable autoimmune and pain disorder. The only solution presented to me at the time was drugs, drugs and more drugs. All in all I wound up on a large dose of opiates for pain/inflammation as well as Seroquel and Ambien for sleep. Before I knew it my usage of each of these had grown exponentially. I was not only using to mask my symptoms, but now I had to use to eliminate the ever occurring withdrawal. So basically I was in medication limbo. After ten long years of this, my tolerance was sky-high and on top of that, I had unbearable discomfort.
I had phantom sleep (my eyes would be closed yet I’d wake up 12 hours later feeling like I hadn’t slept a minute), I wasn’t eating appropriately, if anything at all, and my anxiety/depression was at an all-time high. My cure was to throw whatever pill I could at the problem, meanwhile adding more negative symptoms from the actual medication. It was very clear to everyone around me as well as to myself, that something needed to change. My addictions and mental health had become unmanageable.
So I proceeded to ATMC. I went in preparing to be judged, and not ready to talk about my demons. Up until that point I was suffering in silence. Aside from my inner circle, people were not aware of just how intolerable my life had become. It was taboo to talk about my dependence on medications and I felt alone. But at ATMC I was greeted with warmth and acceptance; from the clinical staff, the residents, and even the housekeeping staff.
I immediately threw myself into the program. Their incorporation of supplements, sauna/detox program, and diet maintenance helped me taper off my Seroquel with very minimal discomfort. Before I arrived I spent some time in a detox center to help ease me off the Hydrocodone; and continued to taper off of the Subutex for two weeks after arriving at Alternative to Meds Center. Pretty quickly I started to feel physically better by just lowering my dosages, but I still needed to work on what I was going to do in the imminent future when I had a painful flare, or a mental health crisis.
That’s where the therapy came into play, and boy did I need to be counseled! Through group therapy sessions I learned what “mindfulness” and the ever popular “mind over matter” concept was. For the first time since I got sick I was given hope that I could manage my symptoms without pharmaceuticals. It took work, but I started to notice a difference. In the past if I didn’t have my full dose of a nighttime prescription, it was a given that I wasn’t going to sleep that night, and here I was at ATMC surviving on natural remedies alone! Changing my mindset was a game-changer, and with that came happiness and comfort. From there a chain-reaction occurred, and I experienced great personal growth while continuing to improve.
I feel as if the paramount changes implemented while at ATMC were a miracle. I’m confident and eager to restart my life and make a difference. Music has become enjoyable again, I can appreciate myself and the special people around me, and I’m able to interact with others the way I did prior to medication. For this second chance, for this experience, I will be forever grateful.