We all have our challenges in life and I don’t want to pretend that mine are bigger than someone else’s. My particular disease can be a huge challenge, but in some ways, it is not. Yesterday on Reddit a user told me that they did not have a challenge like mine in life, their issue was “only drugs.”
I am fortunate that my challenge in life has a name: schizoaffective disorder and a couple other mental health issues. Because my challenge has a label as a diagnosable mental health condition I am being medically retired from the military. This means that I will have compensation and medical care for life. If this were not the case, and my performance continued to slip like it is then I would probably not make the next promotion and would be separated from service without any benefits or compensation.
If my challenge, like the Reddit user, was drugs, and I came up hot on a drug test then I could be facing a dishonorable discharge. Drug addiction is a serious disease too. And like my disease, it is also a highly stigmatized one. In a lot of ways, I can feel a kind of kinship to the drug addicts, we both have a disease that can lead to a lot of other problems like homelessness, destructive behavior, suicide, loss of friends, disillusionment from family and other issues.
I can also relate because I was well on my way to an addiction to alcohol. When I was doing bad with my disease and didn’t have a lot of the healthy habits in place like I do now, I was using alcohol as a medication and escape. It worked well too. The Dragon’s voice would get quieter and its claws and teeth didn’t feel so sharp either. Everything would feel much smoother for me. Alcohol was one of the best and most immediate treatments for my symptoms.
But when the effects would wear off things would be much worse. It didn’t make things better, it just pushed the problem away for a short period and, like a pendulum, it would swing right back at me with the same force that I pushed it away. So, I was just extending the amount of time that an episode would last.
I’m an alcoholic in that I used it to medicate. I never considered myself an addict though, but it wouldn’t have been long. But I did quit drinking altogether. I absolutely can see how easy it would be to get into drugs and to become addicted.
I can also understand how difficult and nearly impossible it can be to quit. It isn’t as simple as just stopping. I still think about how easy it was to just have a drink or two (that was all it took) to quiet The Dragon. It is still tempting.
I am also hopelessly addicted to caffeine and particularly, coffee. Anxiety is a key feature of my brand of my disease and caffeine isn’t the best for it. I’ve tried to quit coffee. I tried weening myself off it. I’ve tried cold turkey. I made it all the way through the truly awful withdrawal symptoms and still, here I am, drinking many cups of coffee each morning and having either more coffee or energy drinks in the afternoon. Even though I should quit caffeine I never will try again even though it might make things a little worse for me.
More generally, my point is that we all have our challenges. Yours might be like mine, or addiction, or maybe an over-bearing mother-in-law, or a chronic illness or something else. What is import being that we recognize our challenges and do something about them. If you don’t then you’ll only crash through all of your hurdles and never get ahead in this race.
For me, with my disease, I have a support network that I am building, have adopted an emotional support dog, eat a healthy diet (I’m doing bad at that right now), medication, therapy, this blog, exercise (well, this is more an intent at this point), admittance rather than denial, and an attitude that I can continue this fight successfully for the rest of my long life. That’s the list off the top of my head, I’m sure there is more.
You need to recognize your challenges and then come up with ways to fight them. It won’t work if you think your challenges are greater or less than others. That will only lead down some bad roads like depression. We are all different people with our own strengths and weaknesses paired up in our own personal battles.
Please comment below what your challenges are and how you fight them. Maybe you’ll have a few good ideas that others can pick up on. I know I’m always looking out for something that I can put into my tool bag. And if you need someone random and anonymous to chat with, then contact me, I would love to talk with you.