Blog

Jun13
2016

Anxiety, Alcohol, and a Second Chance at Joy

By Erika Keller

If you do it enough, it becomes really easy – almost habit – to lie to yourself about your mental health.

You think, “I’m handling this. I’m functioning the best way I can.” And then you find yourself needing a few drinks to go to the grocery store. To go the doctor. To go to sleep. You lose a job. And then another one. Friends start to disappear. A relationship starts to fall apart.

You see it all going up in flames, but you ignore it.

“What the heck else am I supposed to do? It’s not my fault I have anxiety and these simple tasks seem impossible.”

I wish I could tell you there was one thing or moment that made me want to get help, but there wasn’t. Instead, there was a scary moment followed by a brief period of sobriety and a desire to change. And then I went right back to self-medicating. Rinse and repeat. Because of this cycle, I lost friendships, a relationship, and several jobs, and I almost lost my life. But somehow I kept managing to get myself back up and fight, convincing myself that I was coping the best way I knew how.

At the darkest, most miserable point in my illness, I left the life I had made for myself in Seattle and headed home to be closer to my family. For those first few months, I considered myself to be in recovery. I stayed sober for a while, got a job, and was doing pretty well. I met some people who I thought could be friends, but they ended up just being drinking partners. I’ve always had trouble really connecting with people, and I fell back into the bad habit of surrounding myself with people who really didn’t give a crap about me. I kept choosing those people over the people in my life who actually do care about me: my family.

Even during my darkest moments, my family still cared. They just hadn’t known how to help me because I hadn’t really wanted to help myself. I had become complacent. I thought, “This is the card I’ve been dealt. I just need to deal with it.”

And I did – until I didn’t want to just “deal” with it anymore.

The most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do is ask my family for help. I am a fighter, an incredibly strong person, and have always tried to handle everything on my own. But I realized I couldn’t do this on my own. During one of the hardest moments of my life, I was sobbing uncontrollably, broken and exhausted. I turned to my mom and said, “Please help me. Please. Can you please help me?”

And she said, “Yes.”

For the longest time, I thought it was better to be drunk. Now I know that it’s better to be sober. It’s easier to embrace healing and to experience life in full color. I celebrate my small victories, such as trips to the bank and the grocery store. I revel in the fact that I go to family get-togethers and parties and don’t feel the need to drink. I can actually enjoy all the little moments without feeling like the walls are closing in.

There’s no such thing as “fixed” or “all better now.” It’s a daily struggle. But with the help of my family, compassionate doctors, the TWLOHA community, and the will to have a better life, I’m finally experiencing joy again. I’m finally thriving, not just surviving.

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Comments (8)

  1. Faye Hayes

    Erika,
    I’m so proud of you for sharing your story. You will never know how many people you have helped just by your willingness to share the truth. You are a beautiful and talented young woman. Your life is going to be full of happiness because you know how to work to get what you want out of life. All the Best in your journey.

    Reply  |  
  2. Jay

    Wow, I feel like this is my story verbatim. I have recently started discussing my alcoholism and anxiety with my family. They are the ones that have made it easier to stay sober. AA and other friends haven’t worked, as after brief periods I start dealing with anxiety by drinking again. Now that I have opened up, I realize they love me no matter what, and I am OK. And I need to celebrate small wins, like doctor visits and running errands sober. Thank you so much for writing this. I needed this reconfirmation.

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  3. Bobby

    what is the TWLOHA community?

    Reply  |  
    1. Tasha

      feel free to correct me if i’m wrong, but i think that the twloha community is basically anyone who supports this organization and their message, and tries their best to listen and give advise to people who are struggling and are in need of help.
      the twloha community is a place where everyone is able to feel safe and free to talk about any and all of their problems without being judged, and in the hope that someone else will read it, understand how they feel, and we can all help each other to live and not just barely survive.

      Reply  |  
  4. Lucas Yanac

    Hola , la verdad es que tengo 21 años y en este momento me siento muy solo y pues no se que hacer , en estos ultimos años mi vida cambio mucho de tener a las personas mas importantes en mi vida cada una a una se fueron destrozando e hiriendo y para cuando me di cuenta de todo el daño que hice a una persona que siempre estuvo conmigo y el daño que cause a mi familia y a mi mismo yo ya estaba roto por dentro completamente perdido me di cuenta que estaba solo sin amigos sin amor sin mi familia yo juro que cada dia e tratado de levantarme pero no puedo empece a tomar hace 2 años y no puedo controlarlo a fumar cada noche porque no puedo dormir sin hacerlo y me duele hacerlo pero no puedo detenerme una vez que empiezo ya no quiero sentirme solo quiero que mi familia sea feliz pero yo no soy feliz no puedo fingir serlo , hace unas horas vi la pelicula “escribir amor en tus brazos” y me dolio verla se que estoy haciendo mal todo extraño ser el de antes , antes de perder lo que mas me importaba …. a mi mismo

    Reply  |  
  5. Ashley

    Thank you for sharing. Going through similar struggles right now.

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA

      Hey Ashley. Thanks for the love, and thank YOU for sharing. We would love to talk and offer you encouragement if we can. If you feel comfortable with it, please email info@twloha.com and we can talk more there

      Reply  |  
  6. David

    Well done… Keep on, keeping on ?

    Reply  |  
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