September 24, 2016 by Courtney
One day I was very vulnerable on my blog. Then, I deleted it because I felt ashamed and that maybe I was too open. I’m often told that I am too open, and I allow that to make me feel ashamed. But I’m learning that vulnerability is courage. And courage is strength. It doesn’t make me weak to share, it makes me strong. It is through Christ that I am able to be strong and be vulnerable. I feel this is what God has called me to. It’s who I am. It’s who He created me to be. I don’t have a reason to feel ashamed! So, here I am.
As most of my friends and family know, I have had a really rough 10+ years. I’ve struggled through severe anxiety most of my life. Then the depression started after Karis was born. Joey (my brother) committed suicide almost 7 years ago (November 30th), then I had my third child in 4 years. I went through severe depression and anxiety after Levi was born.
We moved to Dallas to live with my in-laws 4 months after Levi was born. I started working a very difficult job in August of that year (2010) on top of having 3 kids 4 and under. At this time, the alcohol use started. At this point it wasn’t very much. I would have a drink or two in the evenings. Not a big deal. It was just new since we came from a camp where we couldn’t drink.
Over time, the alcohol use happened more and more. I worked several times, only to quit because of severe anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. I drank more and more to cope with my anxiety. January of 2014 I ended up inpatient in a mental hospital because of severe depression and anxiety/panic attacks. I had to quit my job (yet again). I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 in March of that year and began new medication for that. I was also diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (again, by a new doctor).
I was doing really well on the new medication, so I decided to try to work again at a private school. This job ended the same way: in the hospital. They wanted me to do inpatient because of my alcohol use, but I refused and did outpatient instead. During my outpatient program, they tried to convince me that my alcohol use meant that I was an alcoholic. But I was deep in denial. I finished the 3 week outpatient program and moved on. I ended up picking alcohol back up, but at this point, it wasn’t necessarily for coping anymore. I was doing better not working… it was just my habit. And, frankly, I love beer (and rum in coke zero and wine).
Fast forward to last year. We moved to wonderful Camp Eagle. I went through severe depression again and relied on alcohol to get me through. About a year ago I decided to quit drinking… only I picked it up again. This cycle would continue over and over again until a couple weeks ago.
One of the things that’s really hard is that alcohol use is totally socially acceptable. You see it all over Facebook. Moms especially joke about it as a way to cope with motherhood (drinking a bottle of wine is the norm). But I’ve realized it’s not healthy, and I need to put a stop to it in my life.
I can’t even count how many times I ended up sick from alcohol use. Once is too many, but it has happened way too many times.
A few weeks ago, we had an evening thing here at camp. And because I am an introvert and we had had a ton of evening events here, I used alcohol to cope with my social anxiety. I drank a whole 6 pack before the event and I embarrassed Robert. He got really angry with me because of that. I realized in that moment that I really need to stop.
Since then I’ve had lots of conversations with people who either struggle with alcohol themselves or are spouses of someone who struggles with alcohol. It helped me open my eyes to the fact that I do have a problem with it. I need to stop now. I don’t feel ready, but who really ever does when they have a problem with something? A new friend of mine urged me to seek outside help in the form of Celebrate Recovery or AA. I tried a CR last week and decided it wasn’t a good fit. On top of it not being a good fit, they won’t have any step studies starting anytime soon. So, I’m going to try another one on Tuesday. If that doesn’t work out, then I will get out of my comfort zone and try AA. I prefer CR for many, many reasons, but I need the help so I’m not above AA. I praying that CR works out!
Why share all of this? Like I said, I feel God has called me to be vulnerable. Not only does it help me, it helps others. I guarantee you there are other people struggling with alcohol and they are feeling ashamed. If you are one of those people, I urge you to get out of denial and seek help. Share your struggle with a trusted friend, family member, etc. Seek out a Celebrate Recovery, or if that’s not an option, AA. It’s worth it for your health and your kids and spouse.
It’s worth it for these important people in my life.
I heard this song on my way to my doctor appointment on Tuesday. It is the perfect song for my new journey. Once and for all. I lay it all at His feet.