Who needs therapy and medication? I’m Lit!

It was my senior year in college, and I was not on track to graduate “on time” (many people, including myself at the time, believe that you must finish college in four years).   With my inconsistent performance in class freshman year and withdrawing from school my second year because of my hospitalization, this goal was almost impossible. Despite it all, I overloaded each semester after being reinstated to school and was on course to graduate once I completed summer school. Unlike my first year of college when my ego helped me ignore the signs of my mental illness, it now helped me be persistent in completing my undergraduate degree.

Unfortunately, my ego also played another role in this process as I decided to not follow the treatment plan designed to handle my symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. I substituted therapy and medication with alcohol.

I constantly consumed alcohol. I woke up drinking. I was drinking while in class. I was drinking to sleep at night. I would finish a fifth of Tequila in a matter of 24-36 hours.

Ironically, people that were around me did not see it as a problem (or they never addressed it as a problem with me) and would say “that's just Shaun”. It was such a known fact that I was considered "most likely to be drunk" during our senior class superlatives.

Drinking alcohol while experiencing symptoms from a mental illness, such as hallucinations or mood swings, was not always a wise decision. My goal was not to drink to get drunk, but it was to drink to not feel like I was going insane.  I was overwhelmed by so many feelings all at once.  

I was faced with the feeling of not knowing what to do, who to call, or who to go to. The feelings of not knowing why tears continued to roll down your cheek. When a simple yell or scream will just not cut it feeling. The feeling of thinking that dying would be a lot easier than putting up with the million things that are constantly going on in your mind.

Each were amplified with the help of alcohol…but I continued to depend on it.

I’m sure that we all know someone that we think drinks, smokes, or use some type of drug way too much. Unfortunately, we often dismiss these actions or wait too long to ask them about it. Substance abuse issues are commonly linked with mental health challenges and these issues need to be addressed. This can start with you simply asking “What’s wrong?”.  If you are that person who is struggling with a mental health challenge, please understand that you are not alone and whatever vice you are using is probably not helping.  Trust me, I know. There is help out there. Don’t be afraid to use it.

Rwenshaun Miller

Founder and Executive Director of Eustress Inc., a nonprofit organization that focuses on raising mental health awareness by creating an atmosphere where it is okay to talk about mental health challenges. With a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree from Montreat College and over 10 years of experience in the field of mental health, Rwenshaun understands the challenges faced by individuals with limited resources and looks to provide ways to address these needs. 

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