For many years I was caught up in the vicious cycle of alcohol, anxiety and depression. If I was anxious, I drank. If I was depressed, I drank. Then I would sober up and the anxiety and depression were still there, only now I felt even worse.
I suffered from social anxiety. I just wanted to fit in. Alcohol solved that problem. A sip of alcohol and I turned into a bubbly, outgoing, fun girl. I had the time of my life. I laughed, I danced, and I made new friends. Alcohol is a depressant, but it seemed like the exact opposite. It made me happy. It filled the void that I felt inside. My addictive personality found its new favorite vice!
I faced more trauma than I care to think about. I had to deal with things that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. One of the worst was losing one of my best friends when I was 17. I left the hospital and started drinking immediately until I passed out. I woke up and I grabbed a bottle of vodka that was next to me and took a big gulp. That was the first time I thought to myself, this is what alcoholics do. But I had a free pass to cope however I wanted; my friend just died.
Anytime I didn’t use alcohol to cope, depression completely consumed me. I felt like it swallowed me whole. I would feel so low that I thought the only answer was taking my life, which I attempted more than once. Little arguments were magnified in my mind. I felt so helpless. Arguments with my boyfriend were the end of the world. I was so co-dependent. My happiness depended on another person. This was not healthy.
Eventually the alcohol stopped working. Instead of turning me into the person I thought I wanted to be, it turned me into a devil. I would lash out at people I cared about. I sabotaged relationships. One sip turned me into a completely different person. I pretended I didn’t care about anything. If something hurt me, I drank and turned into this bad ass girl that gave zero fucks. I couldn’t allow myself to sober up. I couldn’t allow myself to feel anything. I needed to numb myself. When alcohol didn’t work, I started to experiment with different drugs.
I had been in the hospital multiple times and each time they had me talk to a social worker. They recommended rehab. They recommended counseling. They recommended anti-depressants. I went to detox after one visit and left within 24 hours. I tried counseling, but I didn’t want to talk to a stranger. I tried anti-depressants, but quit taking them after a week. All those recommendations sounded great and all, but they would take time and effort to work. Alcohol worked right away. Drinking always seemed like the best answer to my problems.
I gradually started to realize that alcohol wasn’t helping me anymore. It was only making things worse. I would wake up and feel shame and regret. I would wake up more anxious and more depressed than I was when I fell asleep. One day I woke up and decided I didn’t want to feel this way anymore. It was time for me to face my problems. I checked myself into rehab and this time I stayed. I stayed for 6 months. The alcohol was gone, the fog started to lift from my mind, and I could think clearly. It felt terrible. Depression and anxiety were back with a vengeance.
Over those 6 months, I faced my problems head on. I learned how to cope with depression and anxiety in healthy ways. I was surrounded by people who suffered from this disease and they helped me to feel normal. I had a counselor that I talked to twice a week. She helped me grieve over the losses I’d faced. This counselor helped me to heal from the things that I never allowed myself to confront from my past. I learned to open up and talk, rather than hold things inside until I exploded. I learned to meditate and do yoga to cope with anxiety. I started working out. Exercise helped me to release anger. I didn’t want to do any of these things in the past because I didn’t want to admit I suffered from depression or anxiety. All I ever wanted was to fit in. The last thing I wanted to do was label myself as different. Simple techniques that I would have laughed at in the past have made a world of a difference. The best therapy has been writing and sharing my story to give others hope and inspiration. I don’t need to ingest toxic substances in order to find peace. I have been able to find peace within myself and that has been the best medicine of all.
My name is Brittney Taylor. I am from Michigan and currently pursuing my Communications degree at Saginaw Valley State University. I went from girl gone wild to girl gone sober. I want to share my experience, strength and hope with others so they know there is more to life beyond whatever their vice may be.