1. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Struggling with mental illness in a relationship

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Selbbin, Aug 30, 2013.

    When I made a post in the unhappiness thread venting my stress at being in a relationship with a girl that has borderline personality disorder and the associated issues, it sparked a debate about mental illness, loved one's, and such. The thread, however, was no place for such a discussion.

    In reply to some of the comments made, her drug abuse is not really a voluntary action. The use of drugs is a very common symptom of BPD for a number of reasons. I won't go into the details, but she uses drugs heavily at times because of her mental illness, the same way someone would use and get addicted to painkillers after a horrific accident. 90% of people with BP take illicit drugs to cope with feelings of emptiness, loneliness, worthlessness and detachment. She wants to quit drugs. She's tried to quit drugs. She was sober for 2 years and she is again wanting to stop. She's desperate to stop. But when she does she gets overwhelmed again by the illness and can't cope.

    One of the things I have found interesting about my own situation is that most couples where a partner is BP, there are violent outbursts and lots of unprovoked (but triggered) rage. That hasn't been the case with us. While we have had friction, and she has often said we shouldn't be together etc, I'm the only one she never has such volatile reactions with. This is rare and, as her mother says, an excellent sign (I hope).

    Education is key. As I learn more about what is really going on not only does a lot of her behaviour make sense, I feel much calmer and less emotional. I don't take things personally and that is the golden rule with loving a person with PBD. Understanding her thought process and the involuntary nature of the illness is invaluable. As I learn more it is evident BPD is a very complicated illness and difficult to beat, but successful relationships can be had; as long as one partner is clear, rational, and not overly reactive.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2013
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    The field of psychiatric medication has advanced a long way in the last couple decades, in the US anyway. I understand they still follow Freudian therapy nonsense in some parts of Europe though I could be wrong. The point is old psychiatry has a bad reputation, sometimes for good reason, but the science of brain chemistry and structure as it relates to mental illness is more promising now.

    If she's finding psychoactive drugs relieve her symptoms, how extensively have you tried some of the newer treatment drugs? It does take some trial and error sometimes, and people tend to give up if they don't have rapid success. But if you are not hooked up with a good psychiatrist, then you should consider finding one. Not just any counselor or MD will do, you need one that is up to date on brain science and who knows how to relate to mentally ill people.
     
  3. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Honestly, Selbbin, it seems that you have quite a good handle on things. You know what you're dealing with, you know how to deal with it, and you sound like you have the wits to take care of yourself as well as her. I think what you're doing is a wonderful thing and as long as you're careful about not losing yourself and continue to be smart about it, I really think she has a chance. It takes a lot for anyone in her situation to start to come around. I really do wish you the very best, and also agree with everything Ginger said. :)
     
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  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I have to agree with Trish. It looks like you're very happy being with her, and I get the impression that she's happy being with you as well. Hopefully she can get clean again. The great thing is that she has you for support, so in a way she's not going through all this alone. Good luck to you both!
     
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  5. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    That's kind of you all to say, but it's still stressful and it still gets to me when she goes cold, stops getting in contact, etc etc. But as I said I understand it far better now.
     
  6. Kramitdfrog
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    Kramitdfrog Member

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    It seems you understand this woman on a well enough level to know what to do. I know that she may not have had a major violent attack or outburst at you yet, but you should take caution if one does occur. I'm just reminding you that these things can happen and to expect the unexpected. Remember the trigger can be a person you love or a friend even family. When such a thing occurs what will you plan to do?
     
  7. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I have some personal experience on this matter from both sides of the fence (though not BPD, other conditions), and I pretty much said what I had to say about the subject in the not happy thread, but to reiterate, as long as you remember to take care of your own needs as well, I'm positive you will have a happy relationship. People with mental problems deserve to be loved as well, and they deserve a chance for happiness many healthy people take for granted. In this day and age, BPD is treatable, and there's a lot of support available for both of you out there, thanks to the internet.

    Addiction, on the other hand, is pure hell and very difficult to manage on one's own. You'll probably be a good driving force for your girl to battle her addiction. Several of my relatives are/were alcoholics or drug users (I'm not sure why. Bad genes?) yet so far only one has made it through, thanks to his family. He's also been in a relationship with the same girl for over three years now. For the rest, things have ended more sadly; prison and death, and the fate of one of my uncles is still fuzzy to me 'cause my Dad just won't talk about him. I'm not saying you should feel obliged to stand by her side for fear of abandoning her, thus disregarding your own needs completely, just that your presence and support probably help a lot and give her hope to achieve balance in her life, or your joint life.

    And even if you guys won't make it, you shouldn't regret the time and effort you invested in loving and helping her. We have this noun in Finnish, it doesn't have a direct equivalent in English, but the meaning is roughly "an unconditional love for the people close to you", and that love is considered one of the greatest virtues in a person. This is going to sound way sappy, but to be that kind of a person has become one of my ultimate goals in life (not there yet, unfortunately) and, somewhat ironically, striving to achieve this goal has healed a lot of wounds of my own and helped me to deal with a lot of bad stuff.

    All the best to you guys!
     
  8. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is a subject I know all too well: my ex had PTSD, paranoia, depression, and disassociative personality disorder. It would certainly help if more people were aware of mental health issues, other than what they see on a movie screen (which is contractually-obliged to be b******s), as then I wouldn't have had to find out all the relevant details on the fly.

    The most important thing coping with stress is communication. That's nigh-on impossible if someone's in the midst of an episode, and sometimes it may feel you're a third wheel because she's not talking or doesn't seem to be coping: trust me, your very presence is making a world of difference. Someone there doesn't need to be 100% helpful, 100% of the time, and no-one can be: the act of doing your best for someone is all the impetus they'll need to keep pushing forward.
     
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  9. IronPalm
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    IronPalm Banned

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    Well, you've convinced me. I was simply going off the dozens of examples among my own friends where relationships with heavy drug use by one or both parties resulted in misery and break-up, but yours is clearly the exception. Crystal meth is no big deal! Even though it has the additional stress of both mental illness and self-harm. But as you stated, none of it is even her fault. (Some would call that "enabling", but they're clearly ignorant!)

    Obviously, there's nothing to worry about. In fact, I'm not even sure why you wrote that post in the "The Unhappy Thread"! You seem so positive and satisfied with the whole situation.

    It's because you're different, special, and the one to cure her of a disease that she has fought and failed to overcome dozens of times throughout her life. It's in now way related to it being early in the relationship, and those "volatile reactions" simply not manifesting themselves yet.
     
  10. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    @ IronPalm Ohhh... that was a bit harsh. If I were to play Devil's Advocate, it's exactly the stance I would take.

    Unfortunately, I can completely see where you are coming from. If my exes are anything to go by, many of their actions were fueled by wanting to save me from myself, and seeing themselves as the person to do it. I came to think of it as them having a 'Messiah Complex.' I started to think that my well-being was second to that of their own egos. I ended up resenting them, and that's when things started to get volatile. As a person with BPD, it's next to impossible to accept that a person is with me, for no other reason than they want to be. I can convince myself at the start but the reality of the illness usually kicks my optimism in the teeth. This leads to all manner of confusion and doubt and manifests in the kind of clinging to, and pushing away type behaviours that are so prevalent in this disorder.

    As for Selbbin's original post on the other thread, sometimes a bit of a rant is as good as a prescription. Dealing with BPD is frustrating. I, for one, am glad he has the outlet. We all have the right to express our worries and doubts.
     
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  11. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I wonder if the "Messiah complex" is more common in men?

    On another note, coincidentally enough, there was an article in yesterday's newspaper about 3 women, all over 30 yo though, who had BPD, but they also had husbands, families, careers. They talked about the problems the condition causes, but also how they were able to manage it. I don't know, maybe they were lucky enough to find just the right psychiatric care.
     
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  12. IronPalm
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    IronPalm Banned

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    Did the article mention if they had been addicted to crystal meth for years?
     
  13. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    No, why? it's very rare in Finland. Unfortunately we just have other substances that are abused here.
     
  14. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Interesting thought, and one that I've never really considered.

    That's always good to hear. In my own case, drug treatment actually made my conditions worse. Because I have the tell-tale features of several conditions that exist co-morbid to each other, drug treatment proved very difficult. I tried for over 20 years to stabilise my conditions, but with very little success. I was either rendered completely inert or so depressed that suicide was always on my mind. I fared a little better with Cognitive Therapy, and group therapy had it's uses too. As it stands, I self-manage, by actively avoiding as many triggers as possible and by relying on the support of close friends who help to keep me on an even keel. I don't think it's fair when one person has to shoulder the majority of the responsibility, in my own case.

    I have a pretty low tolerance for treating others badly, regardless of whether it's technically my fault or not. Whilst it could be assumed, that I'm 'missing out', I'm quite content, but then I've have the benefit of age and the fact that my child rearing days are over. It also helps that I believe the idea of romantic, unconditional love to be a crock. I'm independent have no need to throw my lot in with a partner in order to consolidate funds, or raise children, but I remember well enough what it is like to worry about such things, and from a younger sufferer's perspective the future can seem very daunting. Accounts like the ones you read in the paper, give them hope that some kind of equilibrium can be achieved.

    Ta, for mentioning it.
     
  15. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Who is that referring to? I don't think it's really accurate if you're talking about Selbbin, I hear no evidence of it in anything he's said. If you didn't mean him, I apologize.

    As far as it being more prevalent in men, there's no evidence of that. More common in more educated people vs uneducated, but equally male or female. Which always surprised me, actually, because I would have thought it was more common in women. Generally, we're the ones always trying to make everyone okay and take care of everything... Just my thoughts anyway, lol
     
  16. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    I seriously don't understand the relevance. Some people come out of addiction (to a variety of things) quite well and others don't. Have you ever done meth? Coke? Pain killers for recreation, Speed, H? Of course I don't expect you to answer that, and it's probably better if you don't. The thing is I come from a looooong line of addicts. Pick your poison (including alcohol), and I've seen someone be swallowed by it, been swallowed at some point myself, or have been with someone who has. Out of all of them, including myself, I've seen a 50% kick rate. So I've seen about 50% kick whatever habit they were trying to get through. The thing is - THEY have to want it. You can't make some want to get clean and if they're doing it for you, or work, or anything other than just not wanting to be an addict for one more day, they'll relapse, every single time.

    If I'm reading it wrong, I'll apologize, but it seems that you think it's an impossibility for someone to get clean, and stay that way, and that's just not the case.
     
  17. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    The thing that keeps dominating my mind as I read this, and that I haven't seen mentioned yet, is: Kids. Selbbin, you can educate yourself, and you can understand that when she seems to hate you that's just her illness talking. Kids can't do that. Kids don't easily recover from that.

    So one thing to keep in mind is that if this is a permanent relationship, then that is likely to mean that you will never have children. And _you_ may need to be the one to make sure that children are never a possibility, because once they're there, they're eighteen-year hostages to misery.

    No, I'm not saying that someone with bipolar disorder can never be a good parent. But when we add unprescribed drugs, especially drugs that cause permanent damage, I think that it's quite likely that kids should be permanently out of the picture.

    That may be fine with you. I didn't want to take the risk that the dysfunction in my mother's family would flow through to any children that I had, and after living with my mother the perpetual child, I had no desire to raise a child. But it may not be fine with you, so that's something to think about.
     
  18. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    @Trish I think KaTrian was musing on what I'd said. I don't think for a moment that she was referring directly to Selbbin.

    I don't want to put words in to Iron Palm's mouth, but since he's playing Devil's Advocate, he's bringing some interesting points across. Whether he cleaves to what he is saying is another thing entirely.

    Impulse control is a struggling point for many with mental illness and this combined with habitually self-medicating, using very addictive substances, makes quitting even more difficult. It's not impossible with the right support, but still many sufferers end up overdosing, or compromising their physical health. Mental illness adds a new dimension to addiction.
     
  19. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    First, my hat's off to you, Selbbin, for supporting someone who's going through a difficult time. It's a rough ride, but if done for true love, totally worth it. Personally, I have never regretted anything I've done out of love, even if they've been mistakes, sometimes big ones. My only regrets regarding love have been things I haven't done. Hardship is, in a way, a good indicator of love: if it's real, i.e. mutual, it withstands anything.

    I've had my fair share of obstacles in life (the most prominent being chronic pain and consequent substance dependence to prescription drugs) and I've dealt with people suffering of BPD and drug addictions.
    Neither situation is easy, but one thing I have learned over the years is that unless you suffer of chronic pains that are so bad that you'd go crazy / kill yourself without chemical relief, it might be a good idea to treat drugs (illegal / prescribed) as nothing more than stopgaps, non-permanent aids that help you through the worst patch, but things you ditch asap.

    The reason for this attitude is simple: with any regular use, the human body develops a tolerance which means you will constantly need larger and larger doses for the substance to work and eventually something will have to give. Two ODs later, I'm finally on the last stretch of withdrawing from years of (prescription) opiate use. I can divide the users I've known into two groups: those who've eventually found the strength to quit and those whose lives drugs have destroyed.

    Also, what you said about your gf's experiences in rehab hold true with me as well: I'd been barely two hours in the place before I was taught how to cheat more meds off the nurses. My roommate was a heroin junkie and a drug dealer who had decided he'd be an addict for life and most other patients shared that mentality, so it definitely was not a place that encouraged quitting (my roommie and his wife were in rehab just so they could get buprenorphine from the government). Another thing he said (and I believe him) was that rehab (at least the place where we were) is almost exactly like being in prison except more boring, hardly a positive experience. A nurse there also told me that she had seen several folks like myself (meaning "normal" people who are just addicted to orally taken prescription meds after years of daily use) who had only ended up learning new bad habits in rehab, i.e. learning to shoot up, snort etc.

    That being said, rehab helps some, but I'm best off withdrawing at home with the support of family and friends as well as an organization that provides medication that helps curb the worst edge off the withdrawals such as lofexidine. It sucks big time, but being addicted is even worse and the longer you use, the less the drugs help, and from there on it's a downward spiral and it'll be just a matter of time before you crash and burn.
    In the case of BPD, nowadays there are quite a few alternatives out there as far as medication goes, so it might be beneficial (perhaps even healthier) in the long run to gradually shift from illegal substances to prescription drugs.

    The one thing that has helped the most in this ordeal has been, corny as it sounds, love. Without it, I wouldn't really see the point. Drug addiction (regardless of whether it's solely recreational or if the drug use has an actual purpose like managing pain or mental problems) often causes intense feelings of guilt and self-loathing, so it's difficult to motivate yourself for the sake of, well, yourself.
    That's when it helps immensily to have someone for whom you can do it. I know it doesn't make sense to everyone, but to me it's much easier to go through hell for someone I love than just for my own sake. Of course, this doesn't mean that anybody should suffer needlessly by someone's side who never puts forth enough effort to actually get better, but having someone there, standing by your side through thick and thin definitely helps, perhaps more than anything else.

    In any case, I wish you both all the best. And if your girl does decide to kick the drugs, remind her that withdrawing is a temporary phase; the pain and discomfort don't last forever even though at the time it feels like it.
     
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  20. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Gotcha :) Thanks. Somehow I missed that post entirely. Sorry KaTrian.

    It does add a new aspect, but not one I'm unfamiliar with. Try an alcoholic and H addict with PTSD, as well as other mental disorders. Things get interesting, I'll tell you that. But he kicked it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2013
  21. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    @T.Trian Beautiful. I agree with every single word you said.
     
  22. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Same with two of my friends. One of them grew up with a narcissistic mother who never showed her any affection, constantly demeaned her, and was jealous of her. How does a small child begin to reconcile with that?

    That said, I've raised my daughter and we have a wonderful relationship. She's now a mother herself, and I was visiting her and my grandson the other day. I mentioned that sometimes I feel I really let her down, but she just hugged me and told me I was the best mum in the world. And she meant it.

    Truly, she is the love of my life.

    @T.Trian I agree with what you've said. In my own case it was love that helped me, but not the love of a partner. In truth, it was the love of my friends, who work as a team, and stand by me through thick and thin— sweet people who view my anxieties, phobias, and 'quirks', (as they like to call them) as part and parcel of who I am. Their easy acceptance of me, and my flaws, has given me a quality of life that I would never have believed possible in the past. And it's by their continued efforts and support that I can come to this forum with enough self-confidence to express my opinions. I'm never going to be cured, but to be honest, I'm not even sure I'd want to be. I like my life.
     
  23. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    No prob. :) That was in reference to obsidian's post indeed.
     
  24. IronPalm
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    IronPalm Banned

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    The relevance is that yup, being bipolar is a major obstacle in a relationship. But it can be overcome. However, a meth addiction is an even bigger obstacle, and when added together to being bipolar (nevermind the self-harm!), is practically insurmountable. (Although it should be noted that Selbbin's relationship is the exception!)

    A lot of people in this topic are concentrating on the bipolar aspect, and not on the meth one.

    Nope. Never done any of those. In fact, I have never even smoked marijuana in my life.

    Well sure, I agree with you here. Although some drugs are more chemically addictive than others, and at this point, she will have an itch for meth for the rest of her life.

    But here's a question for you; how many years and trips to rehabs did it take most addicts you knew to kick the habit?
     
  25. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    No, they're not insurmountable. Or even practically so. There's an order of operations per se that must be followed. You have to address one thing, then the next, then the next, and deal with the relapses in any area as they come. And they will come.

    I'm not.



    By all means, then, certainly you know what the supposed 'itch' would be like then.



    Again, the 'itch' based on second hand knowledge. I understand how non-users, present or past, come to believe they know what it's like based on watching others, movies, books, etc. but the fact is that you don't. I'm certainly not suggesting that you go out and do them so you can relate, because that would be idiocy, but I also don't think you should speculate on what being an addict feels like. No matter how many words we use, you won't ever really understand.

    Out of all of them, only one had repeated trips to rehab. The ones that DON'T kick it are usually the ones that are in and out. Everyone, with the exception of one, kicked it at home and subjected themselves to withrawal symptoms, to a far higher degree than most. IMO, the easier it is to get through that, the faster you forget it and the more likely you are to go back. Because it doesn't seem that bad.

    When you go through it at home, when you find someone you can trust to monitor you and hold your crazy ass down when you flip out, to not LET you do what every fiber of your being is screaming at you to do, is when you remember it all, and you don't want to go back.

    Also, the one that kicked it with rehab relapsed 16 years later, stayed relapsed for about 2 years, then dragged his own ass out of the mire, at home, when he was done. Still sober, another 8 years under his belt now.
     

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