“So Thanksgiving Day was my birthday and it just happen to fall on a day we gather with “family and friends to “give thanks” for the many blessings we have received. To share good food, good company and have a heart of gratitude, but I am very aware on this day, and always around the Christmas and New Year season, it can be a difficult time for many in recovery. As my birthday comes each year, I have to pause and take a look back to when I turned 40. It was also Thanksgiving week and in November of 2002, I was in an addiction/mental crisis center after my first suicide attempt. What a way to celebrate ones birthday” . . . .
See, our addiction comes with many negative outcomes, habits and behaviors. We find we have burned many bridges, lost many friends and some of our family members along the way. We didn’t realize at the time how we were hurting the people around us that we cared about, and those who have loved us when we are in the middle of our disease. But lets face it, a person can only watch another person destroy themselves before they have to walk away and stop watching as we hit “rock bottom.”
And yes, we can learn to work through this and much more when we finally choose and enter recovery.
Is it hard? Yes. But it is worth it.
Now since my friends and readers of my book who visit me here already know a little of my story of my gambling addiction and alcohol abuse, but for the new friends who may visit, I wanted to share that “part” of my addiction and recovery story as it will show just how addicted I was and how my life at the time was spinning out of control, and how hopeless and dark one can get when you are an addict.
My 40th birthday in Nov. 2002 was filled with some unexpected “life events” that was happening, and we can become very week when we have no relapse plan in place when these “life events.”
Now of course these are NOT excuses for relapsing in any way. I was having a rough time staying in recovery at that time for a couple of years. That damn light bulb moment didn’t happen for me until my second failed suicide attempt in April of 2006, as I took all my bipolar meds.
I was feeling so hopeless as I wasn’t even gambling at that time. But that is another blog post for another day.
In 2002, my mom began a year-long decent in an out of the hospital before her passing in 2003. But my dear friend Sue H, I called her my ‘adopted mom’ was being ravished by cancer, and passed away a week before our birthdays. Mine the 26th and hers the 27th November 2002.
I watched her at her home take her last breath, and I can tell you that it hit me very, very hard. The coming Saturday was her Memorial as her family had her cremated, and later they were going to go to her favorite beach to spread her ash’s in the ocean of the Oregon Coast in Bandon, OR.
So I was to go to her memorial that Saturday, but still don’t remember to this day driving to an Indian Casino that early morning and gambled my ASS off all day.
Needless to say, I missed Sue’s memorial that morning and didn’t get home until early evening. I was so out of control and crap spinning in my head, as I think I spent all our mortgage payment money and more! I freaked! I also won about 2,100 while I was there on top of what I gambled away and gambling until every penny was gone! It was liked I was zoned out, was shackled to that slot machine and I couldn’t get free. I was running and trying to escape from my past hurts and pain in my life.
I was a HOSTAGE! I was a hostage of addicted, compulsive, uncontrolled gambling!
So when I got home, I called my gambling councilor and told her I had a bad relapse and I didn’t want to live anymore because I just couldn’t STOP Gambling! I muttered some other things about cutting myself, which she told me later as my anxiety was so high and I was so distraught that I has blacked out. So she called the police. The rest I don’t remember as I was told later on all that happened.
And that was that police came into my home, I had cut my wrists, and was cutting on myself I guess to try to release some of the stress and anxiety I was feeling, but I kept blacking out, there were kitchen and butcher knives all around living room when the police got to my home. All I remember was waking up in the hospital briefly, then as I found they had given me shots of morphine to calm me down. I then woke up hours later in a Mental/Addiction crisis center on suicide watch and my wrists wrapped.
How the hell did I get here, and where was I? I was out of it a few days to say the least. When I had my bearings is when my councilor told me all that happened. Then I thought, oh damn, my husband must be so upset with me. And all this was the week of Thanksgiving and my 40th birthday was spent in a f _ _ king crisis center.
What a way to spend a birthday and Thanksgiving!
And if all that wasn’t enough? While in the crisis center, the centers psychiatrist and my primary doctor found I was suffering from undiagnosed bipolar disorder with severe depression, anxiety with mania.
I was floored. So not only am I having to start my recovery over again, I’m now a frigging mental case. (Yes, that is how I felt about mental illness because of Stigma) . . .
Both doctors believed I had been suffering for many years but never diagnosed. That my gambling addiction caused the symptoms to come to the surface. So now I have labels too? I just couldn’t wrap my mind around all that was happening to me! I felt like my world was crashing all around me in total darkness. A blackness I had never experienced before. They say that is when your suicidal and at the end of hopelessness. Never want to be there again!
And wow, what a difference 13 years can make, and what my life is today.
When I look back at all that, to all that I have been through with this awful addiction, gambling addiction, I really am blessed to even still be here living a whole different life today in recovery. We sometimes have to look back at the worst of ourselves to appreciate where we are now. And yes, since 2002 and when the light bulb went off finally went off and I left the crisis center again in late April of 2006, is when I finally started my road to long-term recovery.
Yes, freedom from gambling addiction with alcohol abuse is truly a beautiful thing! No more preoccupation with urges and triggers, spinning thoughts constantly in my head of when and when and where I was going to gamble again. No more feelings of being a hostage to this insidious disease. I am free. It took a lot of hard work through treatment, therapy and many gamblers anonymous meetings, but I DID IT! And so can you!
Gambling addiction does not have to rule your life any longer. Life is ward way to short for any addiction. Yes, I did learn this the hard way, but I learned so much to along the way. If we don’t learn from a relapse or from any addiction? Then we remain stuck within its cycle and you never can break free. We must do the recovery work to get here.
Having a relapse plan is also a must. So my next blog post is going to be a 3 part series on just how to use a “Relapse Prevention Guide” I was given, and it helped me be prepared for any life event that may come my way. The holidays are upon us, and that to is a great time to have a prevention plan in place. Because the holiday season is the time when we may not have the support from family and friends that we need.
Know I will be here blogging and answering questions on my blog through this holiday season.
Because it is MY way of giving back to others in or reaching out for help from Gambling Addiction or any Addiction. And addiction doesn’t take the holidays off . . . .
God Bless All,
Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author & Recovery Advocate XOXO