Asking for help is something no one ever wants to do. Especially when it comes to addiction. For me, it has always been hard to ask for help. My ego has always been in the way. Growing up I was scared I would look stupid in school if I asked questions everyone already knew the answer to. It was one of my biggest fears and it led to me getting behind in some subjects because I wouldn't speak up when I didn't understand. I was terrified of looking and feeling stupid because then I would believe that I really was stupid. It's crazy what thinking like that can do to a kid. But it's not much different from how I felt when I got sober. The last thing I wanted to do was ask for help. And I didn't know how. In fact, I didn't even know asking for help was an option for me. I am often asked if I ever tried to quit drinking before I stopped on May 7, 2013, and the honest answer is no, never. This is because I really thought I could control my drinking. I felt compelled to try. I must have gone over the thoughts in my mind hundreds of millions of times. The thoughts of, "Do I really have a problem? Am I an alcoholic? I can't be an alcoholic. I don't drink every day. I have a job. I have a house. I have a car." And around and around the merry-go-round would go. At no point did I think "maybe I should ask for help." I would not even entertain the idea that I might need help. When I thought of alcoholism I did not think of myself. I thought of the stereotypes we all know so well. I thought of the stigma that I'm now trying to break.
But I think that's where I went wrong. I should have asked for help when I became unsure. I should have verbalized my doubts. I should have opened up to someone and said how I was really feeling. I cannot stress this enough. If you have even one thought in your brain that alcohol and drugs are negatively impacting your life, tell someone. Asking for help isn't always going to look like what we think it looks like, picking up the phone and calling an addiction treatment center and checking yourself in. It can look like sitting down with a close friend or family member and just voicing your concerns. It can look like doing a Google search for living sober and seeing if it's something that would suit you. Or it can be talking openly and honestly with a therapist. It can be quietly going to AA and finding help there. It may be reaching out to someone who is sober and asking what worked for them. Whatever it is, find a way and do it and do it more than once if you have to.
The thing that drove me to the edge of insanity was the suffering in silence I had been doing for over a year leading up to that day in May 2013. That silence is what can kill you. It's not that I was offered help and ignored it, or tried to quit drinking and was unsuccessful, it's that I really didn't know I could ask for it or that I deserved it. That's why I want to tell all of you that you do deserve help and that it IS available. You don't have to be on the extreme end of the addiction spectrum and lose everything to make sobriety a part of your life. Any type of drinker can live a happy life in recovery. That might be one of the most important things I've discovered about sobriety. It is for ANYONE.
This is exactly why you should ask for help. Because addiction is isolating. I didn't know this until I got sober and then I realized, even though I was constantly surrounded by people, parties, and substances, I felt more alone than I ever had in my life, and that's because I did not verbalize that which was plaguing me. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me and I never asked for help with it. I listened to what my sick brain was telling me - that there was something wrong with me, that I was a bad person making bad choices and I deserved all the bad I got. It wasn't until I got sober and started working on myself and understanding addiction that I figured out that I was sick, not bad.
I wish I had been able to truly ask for help when I needed it the most because even after I decided to stop drinking I was still convinced I had to do it on my own. I thought that would be more acceptable and that maybe if I did it that way, I wasn't really an alcoholic. But the reality is the bravery lies in the asking. I still kick myself for not asking. If I could go back to that time I would research treatment centers and addiction programs. I would talk to a professional and not condemn myself to be alone with my thoughts. I would educate myself on the wide variety of ways recovery is for everyone and anyone who wants it.
What I do know is that when we are in the darkest of times we need connection. We need someone else to tell us, yes I've been there too, and yes you can do it. We need to know we're not alone and that we aren't weird or bad.
So if you're thinking that your life is miserable, or even just mediocre, and alcohol may be a factor, tell someone. Ask a professional. Go to a meeting. Read a drinking memoir or a recovery blog. Research inpatient or outpatient treatment programs. Your future self will thank you.
Even if you don't want to, do it because you know that there is something better out there than this. Life should be beautiful and it can be.