Could be triggering…
I’ve known alcoholics. I have heard many of them say that alcoholism is a disease. I am not disputing that. I am asking some other questions. If addiction to alcohol is a disease then how can anxiety disorders NOT be labeled a disease? How can PTSD NOT be a disease? I didn’t choose to be molested. I didn’t choose to have that create PTSD or chronic anxiety. But it did. Those events altered my brain. So much so that some days I can barely function. I can never function like a “normal” person. It FEELS like I have a disease in my brain. Anxiety and PTSD feel like a disease. It even feels like sometimes it is killing me just like a disease. But those two can only be disorders but not diseases. Tourette syndrome is a syndrome. Chronic fatigue syndrome is a syndrome. Who decides what gets to be labeled what? I am sure there is a mathematical/symptoms/criteria, but I don’t understand it. As long as alcoholism can be constituted a disease and PTSD cannot then no matter what equation they have come up with to give it this label I will not understand it. It just seems that if you have a “disease” then you are offered more help. Even with my muscle disease I have been in multiple free of charge to me, studies. There is currently no cure for my muscle disease but a lot of money from different organizations have been put into studying me. If only that amount of money were free for my mental health. My other thought on alcoholism being labeled a disease is this: There is an underlying reason why that person drank that alcohol that has not been addressed. I suppose someone could be a casual drinker and become addicted because they are more prone to addictive behaviors but what if the person who is an alcoholic chose to drink to dull the pain. What if they chose to drink to drown out their sorrow. What if they chose to drink to numb depression and anxiety. That leads me back to anxiety and PTSD being huge in the realm of mental health. What IF PTSD, depression, and anxiety cause alcoholism. Shouldn’t those disorders get the same attention and support? Another question is: How can and alcoholic so easily get help? They can go to an AA meeting. There is a specific program for an alcoholic to go through that even has a reward system, support, etc. There is not a building I can just walk into anonymously and discuss my PTSD. Why isn’t there? Because it is taboo. PTSD and anxiety and sexual abuse for that matter are not discussed. Now, you can say the word sexual abuse and get a cringe but you still may have a temporarily audience. Get into details and that makes sexual abuse too real. No one wants sexual abuse to be real. No one wants PTSD to be real. No one wants to know that someone experienced or saw some thing so horrifying that it left them with mental scars. A soldier can not come home and discuss carnage openly because no one wants to hear it. Shouldn’t mental scars get a disease diagnosis? They don’t and so they get stuffed down, they get silenced, and all that pain just gets worse and worse. I have no doubt that some alcoholics are direct results of self medicating PTSD, anxiety, depression and more. So why is the underlying cause not addressed in a more widely acceptable way?The label is not necessarily what I find upsetting. Disease, syndrome, or disorder, is not what has me riled up. It is how they are treated. If you are an alcoholic you absolutely deserve treatment. You deserve help and a program and support, absolutely. And I am freaking thrilled that there are programs that can help someone who is struggling. I simply want the same for other mental health issues. I want to have 5 different locations that every night at 6 I can walk into and talk about my anxiety attacks, or my PTSD. I want to open up the language and make what we are going through real to others. Sexual abuse is barely whispered. There is not an open forum for men and women to discuss what someone else did to them against their will. If other people hear about it they will have to validate it exists. And no one wants to validate sexual abuse. Look at my own family. They all stopped talking to me because I talked about what really happened. I used the harsh words of abuse. Abuse is not pretty and has no red ribbon. My family did not want to hear that I had a penis in my hand at 13 years old and was forced to watch porn at 11. They would rather cover their ears, never talk to me again, and say lalalalala to make it all go away. My family is one tiny percent that unfortunately represents MOST of society. They don’t want to hear it. If they don’t want to hear it then the abused have no one to support them, no validation, no help. That needs to change.
I know there are a few sporadic infrequent support groups out there for PTSD. The reason I am comparing it to alcoholism is because alcoholism is recognized and acceptably discussed. ” I am 6 months sober” That is fantastic. I do not minimize that achievement at all, but it is said and it is celebrated. I just wonder how I would feel if I had the same celebration if I said “I made it 3 hours without a panic attack”. It would sure be nice to have a pat on the back and a hoorah for me. I can’t get a pat because there is no program, there is no acknowledgement, It took me 20 years of therapy to even get a diagnosis of PTSD. Just now after all this time it is recognized that this is what I have been suffering from. That is not okay. I want ALL mental health to be viewed and treated equally. I am not at ALL saying that being an alcoholic does not come without a stigma attached too. I know that it does . And it shouldn’t. It just happens to have more programs to assist those who suffer from it. And I am GLAD for that. I just want more for EVERYTHING ELSE. I don’t think that is too much to ask. But if a girl’s own family cannot handle it, perhaps society isn’t able to either. But listen, if I made it through the abuse, society needs to buck up, get some balls, put their big girl panties on, and as a collective unit HELP US. It is hard to do alone. It is isolating. We deserve more. I am holding out hope that all stigmas will be dropped and open communication will exist for mental health.
And since I have spoken so much about alcoholism, I will further my passion to those suffering alcoholism as well by saying, they need more help too!!! So they have a program, and meetings which I want for all mental health but ONE doesn’t work for everyone. If it did, we would not see homeless alcoholics and we would not see alcoholics committing suicide. If the program didn’t work, and whatever underlying cause, wasn’t treated, they need more options too. We all need more. We all deserve more! If AA doesn’t work, there needs to be another group.
There needs to be more focus on breaking the silence for every single mental health disorder/syndrome/disease that exists. Things have to change. Even if it only starts one family at a time. One father who listens. One mother who holds her daughter. One brother who stands by his brother who was abused. One sister who stands with her sister who was raped. One person at a time if that’s what it takes. But it needs to start now.