I’ve come a long way since I first accepted that drugs were the problem and not the solution for me. For years I took drugs to self medicate my social anxiety. I work in the medical profession and had access to prescription drugs.
I believed there was something intrinsically wrong with me and that I needed medication to function normally. And it worked, for a while. I was secretly a high-functioning drug addict. Eventually I had to accept that what I was doing was harming me and was not sustainable. I was living a double life – the public medicated version of myself and the private true self that was a mess of withdrawal and depression.
I had to change. I put a name to the fear that plagued me. I wasn’t intrinsically wrong or flawed or unlovable – I had social anxiety. I read books on how to deal with it. I stopped taking drugs. I started excercising, meditating and doing CBT. I joined a Buddhist group. My life improved immeasurably.
However I’m not fully ‘recovered’. Addicts are masters of self-deception. Life can be hard and I craved something to lighten the load, to make things easier. I convinced myself and a psychiatrist I had ADD and got a prescription for Amfexa, which is an amphetamine. Turns out it’s great for relieving social anxiety. Its essentially legal speed. I’m chatty and confident on it.
So my reliance on drugs has started again. Its crept in through the back door. The Amfexa helps in the short term but I know from bitter experience that self medicating makes things worse. And there are side effects. I struggle to sleep after taking it. I feel depressed and unhappy for hours after it wears off. I know its physically addictive although I’ve managed to avoid this so far.
Social anxiety is a many-headed hydra and the fear of rejection runs bone-deep. ‘Between bone and soul’. I have friends I have essentially never spoken to without being on medication of some kind. I’m scared to ‘be myself’ around them. I’m also working for a few weeks at a clinic that may offer me a job if they like me. I’m afraid they won’t if I am not on medication. I’m getting married in a couple of months and the thought of facing the day without medication is terrifying.
I have to figure out how to beat the drug dependence for once and for all.
So this is the plan:
- CBT. Think through and challenge the fears and anxieties. I haven’t done this for a while – will start doing this regularly.
I know that some of these fears are irrational and I can successfully challenge them. The truth is that my friends are unlikely to reject me. If they do who wants friends that you can’t be your true self around?
The job is a difficult one. There is a definite possibility that I won’t fit in with the other staff. Anxiety aside, I don’t always connect very easily with other people. I’m an introvert. I’m generally not chatty and I don’t like small talk. I am capable of it but it takes a lot of effort and I don’t think it will ever come naturally to me. I no longer believe there’s something wrong with me, I know that I’m a likable person but there are aspects of my personality that are difficult and I simply have to accept. Not everyone will understand or like me. I have to learn to tolerate the discomfort of sometimes not fitting in. I don’t think the fear that I may be rejected for the job is irrational. The simple truth is I may not be suitable for the role. If that is the case then I would be better off not working there. The rejection will hurt but I will get over it. The worst outcome will be taking a job that I have to take drugs to be able to perform.
The wedding is the hardest of all. I can’t help thinking there’s an argument for taking something because it is going to be a LONG day of constant socialising and I honestly don’t know if my introvert self will cope. Its the sort of situation that has made me ‘shut down’ before – where I reach point of virtually being unable to talk and needing to escape the situation.
2. Stop taking medication. Sounds like a no-brainer but its very hard to do. Don’t take medication to work. If I don’t have it I won’t be tempted to take it. Stop taking medication to socialise with friends.
3. All the other methods that I know are helpful – daily meditation, excercise, sleep enough, power postures.
Thought writing all that down and putting it out there may help.