Acceptance – Donna’s First Step

Before a patient or resident is considered to have successfully completed treatment, they must complete a First Step assignment.  This is Donna’s First Step assignment.  Donna is an older adult with chronic pain issues that was able successfully complete the program and enjoy recovery!
“I admit I was powerless over Xanax.  My life had become unmanageable.  The drug robbed me of gratitude and replaced them with fear.  I could no longer feel the gratefulness I had normally in my life of friends and family.
My sons became blurred in definition, my environment disintegrated into a lot of dust and there was the ever present hospital bed in the den.
The process of isolation began.  My nutrition and hydration was secondary to sleep.  I became socially withdrawn and sad.  The loneliness increased, but I was powerless to overcome it.  Showering was an exhaustive  process, and unsafe, as one of my legs became more numb, and weaker, following nerve damage.  So, cleanliness dropped off too.  I did occasionally sponge bathe.
As I grieved the loss of function of my leg and foot, the drug didn’t allow me to process acceptance.  It promoted sleep and escape.  Communication was lost to me and I became an empty shell.  I began to tell untruths about myself to my sons.  I told them I was “okay” when I wasn’t.  I lied to myself about my shakiness, that it wasn’t drugs, I was just weak.  I lied about taking extra Xanax at night, because I needed to sleep.  I either told my friends I was okay or didn’t answer the phone, and lied to my family doing the same.
There was hidden emotion regarding the hurt that my sons were feeling.  Parenting became lost to me.  I became lost to myself, my inner me, the once caring unselfish me.  I couldn’t see the love or value of what I once was.  I had all the symptoms of depression and those of a user.  From lethargy to secrecy.  Being elderly with physical issues, back pain, numbness and nerve pain in my right leg and food complicated my case.  I decided to wear these afflictions like a badge of honor proudly.  I medicated them sufficiently, with a little extra for luck.  Anything to make the feeling of body loss go away.  If I didn’t feel it, I didn’t have it.  Fortunately, I was rescued by a family intervention.
The truth to sobriety began.  The road was painful through detox, but then an amazing thing happened…LIFE!  I started to feel, albeit slowly at first.  I began to learn about reasons and triggers of why I used.  Also, I began the learning process for gaining coping skills.  I was breaking the isolation, feeling again and slowly gaining lost abilities.  I learned to write again and my pen runneth over.  I have taken my First Step…”
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