October 16, 1984 – I was released from the Psych Ward at Harbor General hospital in Torrance Ca., at the tender age of 34. Thankfully, the experience turned out to be the very end of my drinking career. The reason I was there was because I had experienced a psychotic break due to drinking alcohol while taking Antabuse, which I had been ordered to take by the court. I couldn’t stop drinking, after my 2nd DUI, wherein I had smashed into the rear end of another vehicle, in a blackout, while doing about 60 mph.
For those unfamiliar with Antabuse, alcohol is contra-indicated. Should you go ahead like I did, and consume alcohol while taking it, there is an immediate and almost violent physical reaction that is extremely unpleasant. Of course, they tell you this prior to your beginning the regimen. What they do not tell you, (or maybe they did, and I wasn’t listening), is that you can also experience psychosis. Which is what was going on when I was admitted. A Psychosis coupled with an Antabuse reaction! They called it ‘Atypical’ in the hospital, which means not normal. Of course.
After my brief stay there, I was shipped off to 28 days of inpatient treatment for substance abuse (and Antabuse abuse?) at a medical facility. As I am sure you know, there is much more to getting sober than just stopping the abuse of alcohol or other substances. I also needed to acquire some emotional sobriety as well. This meant that I would need to begin work on my many emotional and mental, uh, maladjustments, or shortcomings.
One such character flaw was, and still is to a lesser extent, self-loathing, and it has certainly had a harmful effect on me.
To be sure, going to meetings, working with a sponsor, experiencing the love and acceptance of people in recovery, has helped a great deal. But I also needed more, you know, outside help. Because I really hated me, I didn’t think I was worth much, etc.
Having finally come to the conclusion that I need to reign in this behavior, I remembered that while working with a therapist, I learned it is possible to re-program my brain. Also, I remembered something from the Big Book that helped me a great deal in this regard. According to the book, it seems that I, “who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body” am also a miracle of mental health! Imagine that? Its true. You could look it up.
So, today when I am tempted by circumstance to call myself names such as stupid, or idiot, or any of a number of other abusive terms, instead I say to myself, “I am a miracle of mental health!”. And guess what? Most of the time, it’s actually true! Most of the time.