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Conor Bezane

What Has Helped in My Dual Diagnosis Recovery

I have bipolar disorder. I am a recovering alcoholic. In other words, I am “dually diagnosed.” You are dually diagnosed when you experience a mood disorder or mental health condition in tandem with a substance use disorder. It’s a topic that rarely sees the light of day in the canon of either psychological or layman’s literature. It also barely gets talked about and is almost completely overlooked in Alcoholics Anonymous circles. Dual diagnosis is complicated, but very real. It is a very serious problem, one that affects as much as 50% of the 5.7 million people in the U.S. who live with bipolar disorder and are either active or recovering addicts. Major depression affects as much as 21 million Americans and when it is coupled with addiction, it sees a frequency of as high as 80%. Here are some tips if you find yourself with a dual diagnosis: 1. Find the right doctor This is quite a journey in and of itself. You need a psychiatrist who you have a rapport with but also who treats [insert mental illness] and addiction. These duo credentials are not easy to find. When I moved back to Chicago in 2010, I continued via phone with my NYC psychiatrist who I liked and who was treating me for bipolar. It was so easy to pull the wool over her eyes when it came to my alcohol use, which was running rampant with two six-packs of beer or two bottles of wine or more every night. She went to bat for me when my family staged an intervention, insisting I did not have an alcohol problem and that the “one beer, once in a blue moon” that I told her was my limit was fine — certainly not an addiction. Only when I went to Hazelden Betty Ford did they get it right. At Hazelden, they gave me a dual diagnosis of bipolar plus substance use disorder. I had a dual diagnosis, a term I’d never heard before. I broke up with my New York psychiatrist when I received my dual diagnosis. Given the fact that she overlooked my addiction, it was the right thing to do. But most importantly, I shopped for a new psychiatrist and took it very seriously. I saw three people before settling on the fourth. A couple of them were addictionologists. After four tries, I found the right guy, and I’ve been with him more than a decade now. 2. Read all about it The Mighty is the perfect place to start. Here are a few articles on dual diagnosis… Why I ‘Overshare’ My Bipolar Disorder and Addiction Journey My Family Learned the Term ‘Dual Diagnosis’ the Hard Way  5 Tips for Supporting a Loved One With a ‘Dual Diagnosis’  But it doesn’t stop there. There are many books about bipolar or mental illness, and there are many books about addiction, but scant few that tackle the intersection of both that are not self-help or scientific treatises. For a deeper dive, and a more compelling read, yours truly wrote a memoir about dual diagnosis. It’s titled “The Bipolar Addict: Drinks, Drugs, Delirium & Why Sober Is the New Cool.” And it chronicles my descent into alcoholism, drug abuse, and bipolar disorder. Needless to say there’s a happy ending and it can be seen as inspirational if you are someone who struggles with a dual diagnosis. It also contains an appendix of support groups and other resources. A simple Amazon search will find self-help and scientific titles. 3. Stop ignoring that you may have a problem When you’re manic, it’s easy to think “Oh, I’m fine.” But if you have a dual diagnosis that is untreated, you are not fine. It’s when the going gets tough and depression and anxiety kick in that you find yourself in trouble. Bipolar depression and anxiety can be excruciating. So can unipolar depression.  If you think you might have a problem, do something about it right away, so that you may not have to trudge through the pitfalls of deep and unrelenting depression. 4.  Don’t self-medicate Drinking and drugging hide your true feelings. They mask the problem underneath — your mental health. You may think you are OK if you are drinking excessively and doing drugs every day. But this is an illusion. When you’re high, you don’t have room for depression. And you may feel fine, but really you’re not. I’ve always thought that getting drunk or high is like re-experiencing mania. If you’ve had a serious manic episode, you want to recapture that feeling and getting high might feel like replicating it. But you are treading in dangerous territory; in my experience, you are doomed to crash. 5. Reach out on social media for camaraderie, but not necessarily advice Here on The Mighty, there is lots of camaraderie in a variety of bipolar or depression groups. Under the Groups tab, just search “bipolar” or “depression” in the Explore search bar. Also, I just started a brand-new group called Dual Diagnosis Recovery. Come join us! Facebook is loaded with groups. I recommend Dual Recovery Anonymous, Bipolar Coaster, and Bipolar Oasis.  However, remember these are merely peer groups. You should not take medical advice from anyone; just enjoy the camaraderie. 6. Muster the courage to live with your new diagnosis A dual diagnosis never goes away. I am an alcoholic. I’m in recovery, but still I will always be an alcoholic. Same goes for bipolar and depression; these are permanent conditions. Wiggle your way through the treacherous path and once you have a couple years under your belt, you may feel like you can manage.

Community Voices


Community Voices
Community Voices

Grieving my therapist

Yesterday, at the end of my session, my therapist very gently told me that our next session would be our last due to the military moving her family to another state. She praised me as her most improved patient and told me she would miss our time together. Her words unfortunately gave me no comfort because my progress was mostly due to her efforts over mine, at my darkest low. I held it together only due to numbness from the news but have had a very hard time since then. Intermittent crying like I am grieving. I've tried to give myself space to grieve but I honestly feel this desperation to not lose her. My issue comes where I would normally talk to HER about these feelings and she would obviously help me, but I feel it may be inappropriate, or unethical?. I do think it would be unneccesary and selfish if I called her and told her how I am struggling. You guys are my go to for things like this. I could use some encouragement, personal related experiences, advice, resources, anything. Thanks humans. #BPD #manicdepressive #dualdiagnosis #Grief #therapyworks #isthishashtagging ?

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Community Voices

A trail of dead bodies where my good intentions are supposed to be.

I shut down and shut everyone out when I get anxious, depressed and manic. After months of avoiding everyone I know I'm finally feeling friendly again. I've been apologizing to friends for ghosting on them with no warning. They seem to understand but I low key know some are offended. I just can't drag my friends into the brutal worlds I enter when in a bipolar episode. I try to protect them and I just end up hurting feelings. I have a really hard time reaching out for help because I feel like my bipolar disorder isn't accepted. I always feel guilty about how I cope.

#BipolarDisorder #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder #dualdiagnosis # friendships #Family #iwishtheyunderstood #mental health # rejected if i dont act right#bipolarepisodes #Depression #Anxiety #Sadness #enduring #imsorry #extremeguilt #im horrible at Relationships

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Community Voices

Hello! I'm a New Bipolar Contributor

Hi Mighties. I'm a new contributor to the site and I wanted to introduce myself. My name is Conor and my first story was "Why Some People Are Doing Just Fine During COVID-19."

I have Bipolar 1 Disorder and I am a recovering alcoholic. I LOVE music and some of my favorite artists include Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, The Flaming Lips, and Bright Eyes. I also dig old-school jazz like Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, and Billie Holiday.

My background is in music journalism. I used to be a television producer for MTV News in New York City, interviewing and writing about music artists and celebrities and musical artists. Now, I enjoy writing about the intersection of pop culture and mental illness. I also write about "dual diagnosis" or living with mental illness plus addiction. I hope you'll walk away from my posts with a sense of camaraderie and empathy. Follow me!

Further reading on my blog at thebipolaraddict.com  #Bipolar   #Alcoholism #Addiction #dualdiagnosis     

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Community Voices

Count Your Lucky Stars, a poem.

<p>Count Your Lucky Stars, a poem.</p>
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Community Voices

Who here has Dual Diagnosis?
If you’re unsure what I mean by that, it’s having mental health issues and addiction/dependency issues.
I’ve had a long, long history with #Addiction, ranging from #Alcoholism to multiple different drugs, since I was around 11/12 years old.
Even now at 23 it’s difficult to keep a hold of and maintain.
When I’m in the pit of a #Depression or I’m finding things difficult to manage I always find myself leaning on to something to make things a little “easier”... Well that’s what I tell myself but we all know in the long run when does it ever make things easier?
Yet again, I find myself leaning on to those old crutches. Right now the tendency seems to lean towards a lot of drinking and taking pain killers to get high as well as more then my usual amount of weed.
Every night while I drink alone I sit asking myself how I got back into this place? Where was the snap? What caused it?
I’ve referred myself to drug and alcohol counselling again for the 5th/6th time in my life since I was 16.
I wonder if I will ever get a grip of my tendencies or will I always be this way?
#BorderlinePersonalityDisorder #Anxiety #MentalHealth #ObsessiveCompulsiveandRelatedDisorders KaysDays

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Community Voices
Community Voices

#CheckInWithMe Start the Week With #goals : #dualdiagnosis

I feel… finally loved after a tough weekend where my husband and I had a tough talk. I then had a #Miscarriage the next day.

I need… to be courted by my husband. He has forgotten that I am not my #Bipolar or my #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder I am me, his best friend and wife who he loves.

I forgive… the harsh things that were said. We were both tired and both in a period of #Depression so as a peer, I can understand the frustrations.

I celebrate… my goals for the week because I think I deserve pero chingona! I am going to try and spark the romance starting today! We are going to the top of the city, Signal Hill, and having a picnic! It’s out of my comfort zone but sometimes you gotta jump.

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