Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Monday was an ironic day. I finished up the bartending school and passed the final exams. I was really happy with myself and excited to call my parents and let them know. I also wanted to let my neighbor B. know, except that she told me her news first. She decided to go into rehab for her drinking problem. (I discussed this in a post here)

This surprised me, but I was also quite proud of her for taking this additional step. The day before we were chatting about her and her family's trip to New York. There were some interesting stories like almost losing one of her sons to the Canadian border while they were visiting the Niagra Falls. She had told me that she knew she needed to stop drinking and that when her dad's inheritance estate was finalized, and there was more money, she would go.

That Monday morning, her hands began shaking, and she needed a beer. I guess for whatever reason, it clicked with her. She called her sponsor who was thrilled with her decision, and then basically said she should just have all the beer she wanted that night, because she never would again.

B. asked me to come over and hang out. I did hang out with her from like 8:30pm - 1:30am. It was a long night and by midnight, I was asking her if she planned on going to bed soon. But at the same time, I knew she was more nervous than she let on about going.

We chatted quite a bit. It was essentially the same conversation we had almost a year ago when we had talked about this. I think during this time, she slowly got worse. She's lost a bit of weight substituting beer for food. Her memory has also been affected. I watched last night as the more she drank, the more forgetful she would become, telling me the same story over and over. Then, I'd see her stagger to find wood for the fire pit. It was difficult to watch.

When I asked her what made her decide to go to rehab now, she said she wasn't sure other than she knew she needed to go. For many people around her, with the exception of her family, most did not realize she had that big of a problem, simply because she is a functional alcoholic. She has not had some of the typical losses an addict might have--a career (she did lose her job but that was not through fault of drinking--it became a reason later however to drink later), a house, going into debt, etc. I told her that some people do not hit a rock bottom, but that they simply get to a point of being sick and tired of being sick and tired. Her eyes lit up with a "yes, that is exactly it."

During the past year, she has continued to go to AA meetings, but it was obvious, this was not enough and she needed a higher level of care. I think part of the problem too was that she saw a lot more people worse than her, so it undermined the what the severity of the problem though she knew she had one.

Although I do not completely agree with the entire AA philosophy, I've always felt that everyone has to do whatever feels right and will suit them for treatment. For her, she feels she has just not surrendered herself to God/a higher power. Personally, I think it is a lot more than that, but if that is what she needs/believes, then certainly, it can be helpful.

She will be in an inpatient program detoxing for 10 days, though she could be there for 30 days. I'm hoping she will take the 30 days, so she can at least begin some therapy. She's had limited experience with any kind of therapy for herself other than a psychiatrist who didn't even think she needed rehab at all.

B. said she was kind of excited to be going (she left yesterday morning), because she was finally doing something for herself. Like many, she fell into the caretaker role. There's also a lot of low self-esteem issues too. Though I do not know everything that goes on behind closed doors, I can see how she would have come to feel that way. Words hurt.

So how does her family feel? Actually, they are thrilled she is going. However, I get the sense from them that they want her to change but are unwilling to change themselves. Perhaps, this will be an incentive for them as I do not think they want to watch their mother continually get worse. Or maybe by them hearing it from someone else, that will make a difference. All I can do is hope.

I hope for B. this will be the step she needs to kick this for good. On the down side, I think there is a chronic depression, unresolved past issues, low self-esteem, communication issues, etc. But on the up side, there is no denial of a problem, there is motivation to get better, a yearning to be able to feel emotions again, and a belief system.

Though I consider myself to be more in a sense spiritual than religious, I do pray for people. And I pray for B. she can get through this, that she can learn to love and accept herself, and mostly to begin to heal. Recovery doesn't happen overnight, it is a process--one that can be long and difficult but in the end, for the better.

Lastly, I have to say it feels a bit odd being on this side of the fence. It wasn't like I didn't know this before, but it is weird, it's like knowing something beforehand than someone else--knowing there is an ability to come out on the other side. I did point out to B. I tell her these things not because I am wise beyond my years but rather through experience. I did not go into specific details nor talk about my ED, more depression, having a short stint in an inpatient unit in my teens, being a bit suicidal, etc. I don't know how much she will remember of what I said, but I hope there is some part she can hold onto.

p.s.--There was one thing that astounded me--how she had no qualms with her insurance company and they accepted her to go the very next day. I was floored honestly. And her insurance isn't that great. It just reminded me how much easier it is for someone with an alcohol problem to get extensive treatment than it is for an eating disorder person. I know it has gotten better overall, but still, I just couldn't believe it, especially with such a fast turn around time for the insurance company making a decision.


Charlynn said...

Insurance companies are more likely to approve rehab for alcoholism or drug addiction - with fewer questions asked, no less - than any other type of inpatient rehab. It's not fair, but that's how it is. :-|

That said, I'm glad your neighbor decided to enter treatment. It sounds like she's ready to start the hard work ahead of her.

I Hate to Weight said...

i always found it pretty easy to get into drug/alcohol programs too, via insurance. i never tried with an eating disorder, but it's awful that it's more difficult.

i so hope B. finds some peace.

i will say that AA helped me more than anything before -- more than all the treatment centers and years of therapy. i haven't been to therapy since before the new year, and i have to say -- i have never felt better. therapy helps, OF COURSE, but for whatever reason, the program of AA (the 12 Steps) helps me with everything, every day.

the acceptance of a power greater than ourselves is the absolute key, but there are a lot of actions to take and changes to make, and without those action Steps, there is often not sobriety.

wow, i sound like i'm preaching. i guess it's because i was so doubtful about AA and such a life-long atheist until i went and did the steps and for the first time in my life, have freedom.

May B. be well

I Hate to Weight said...

i really do hope that didn't sound like i was on my soapbox!

ola said...

congratulations Ms. MxTr. Tiptoe!:)

The thing I quite like about having a history (well..) of ED is that I don't judge people with addictions and I can probably relate better to their problems. Your neighbour is lucky to have you as a neigbour, hopefully she'll get better.

Tiptoe said...

Thanks for the well wishes for my neighbor!

Charlynn, it's definitely a sad state about what insurance will cover or not cover. It doesn't completely make sense to me why insurance will easily cover those wit drug and alcohol addictions more than EDs, because they have a similar revolving door problem as well.

Melissa, no you don't sound preachy. I'm really glad AA has worked for you. I read a very interesting article today about the idea of a higher power in order to be in AA. Apparently, in Canada, several were banished from AA due to not believing this philosophy and went off to create a different group.

Ola, I agree, I think once you have experienced something similar, there is a less likelihood to judge that person.

Tiptoe said...
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Dr. Deb said...

It's strange what gets approved or delayed by insurance companies. I remember when getting help didn't require any preauthorizations. I long for those days! Sadly, they'll never be here again. Wishing good things your way.

Tiptoe said...

Hi Dr. Deb., I agree. I wish there didn't need to be pre-authorizations either. Hope you are well!