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Emelia Symington Fedy Headshot

To All My Tiny Addictions

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Mental health issues are becoming de rigueur in the media now, which is a great thing.

So are addictions.

I just finished reading an article about how heroin addiction is caused by childhood trauma and how drug use is connected to your mothers mental health issues when you were in utero. Well, that's not good news for my boys....

Having bipolar disorder is starting to be considered a plus if you're an artist. Gonzo journalists are writing about their trip to Peru to take Ayahuasca to treat their Schizophrenia. Stars are outing themselves about their previous Oxycodin abuse, and I'm starting to think "is it becoming cool to be an addict?"

I find it strange that the addiction stories we hear are always "after the fact." We hear about being "1 year clean" and "how sobriety changed my life" but we don't hear about the process...the shitty, embarrassing process of right now.

There's got to be drama to make a story but it leaves me thinking "what about all my tiny addictions?" My everyday coping mechanisms that are too small to go to rehab for and too embarrassing to tell my friends about because I'm still functioning. I'm still parenting. I'm still making rent.

I'm going to talk about it. I'm going to try. Because if the big stuff is getting notice I guess it's time to open up about all the minute ways I daily try to push down my pain.

I've been on and off anti-depressants all my life. I don't know if they work. My Dr. just keeps changing the brand and upping my dose.

I take toke of pot before bed every night so that I can stop my brain for awhile and make sure I get a good night sleep.

When my mom died I was prescribed Ativan for anxiety and for some reason, three years later I still have a prescription. No, I'll amend that. I know why, it's because I keep demanding it. When there was a substitute doctor who wouldn't prescribe my normal dose because she thought it was too high I yelled at her in the waiting room till another doctor took me aside and wrote the prescription.

I've also stolen a pill or two off a friend's bedside table.

I tell myself I'm not addicted. I don't go into cold sweats if I don't take a pill but I do count them to make sure I have enough to last me to the next appointment.

So maybe I am. Addicted. A bit.

I think what's happened is that over the years, with easy access to medications that help me zone out and numb down, my tolerance for pain has lessened.

I'm much more uncomfortable feeling discomfort now. Ya know?

I used to be able to cry, to have a bad day, to feel overwhelmed and I'd know what to do about it.

I'd give myself permission to feel bad. I'd lie in bed. I'd take a sick day. I'd have a bath.

Those strategies don't touch the anxiety anymore. Deep breathing does nothing. I need a pill.

So I take one. And then I take another because only one stops working right? It's not enough anymore. I get used to it. So I go to my doctor and explain my situation and he ups the dose.

Because he doesn't label me as an addict; he considers me a professional with stress.

I'm sure mine is not a new story. All our grandmothers were on valium right? Almost one-hundred years ago women were popping pills due to isolation, not following their dreams, being responsible for an immense workload with no raises or vacations and being bored as hell and here I am, following in their footsteps...taking a pill to float away and get dinner on the table and finish my 12 hour work day....how far have we not come.

I pride myself on being honest and a leader in my community, so it's time to come clean.

I'm starting with the pot. It was a nightly ritual with my husband before bed after the kids went to sleep. We'd get a bit giggly, watch a show and fall into a dreamless sleep.

But even the smallest stone-over with toddlers in the morning can really ruin a day so...we threw it out.

The first night I didn't sleep a wink.

The second night I had a lengthy nightmare reliving my mother's death.

The third night I dreamt I was gang-raped all night.

It's amazing how the body knows. The minute the pot was out of my system, my subconscious kicked in and started processing all the shit that I'd been packing down.

Then I moved on to the anti-anxiety meds. Instead of taking two when I felt a twitch of discomfort, I took one.

A few days later, even though I really didn't want to go to the meeting, and I knew it was going to be stressful, I left them at home and coped. I coped with feeling my feelings. It was the worst.

It's all willpower because I know they are upstairs. I know I could take one and I know would help. But I'm sitting on my Goddamned hands.

I'm slowly, like a slug, every day, developing a bit more fortitude, an inch more of being ok with not at all being ok.

Because this is the cycle that I want to break. Every time I take a pill or smoke some dope I lessen my ability to deal with...life.

And that's all I want. To be able to face living. To feel wracked with anxiety and still be able to read my kids a bedtime story.

To feel grief so acutely and let myself fall to my knees. It won't kill me.

The feelings won't kill me. I have to whisper to myself.

I'm 38 years old. I'm a successful working professional. I'm a wife, a mother, an advice columnist for God's sakes, and I have so many tiny addictions (I haven't even started in on smoking or food, or coffee or sweets). And it's happening right now; I'm living with them all right now.

And saying that out loud is the first step.

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