I never considered myself to be a strong person or a "survivor." I had always let things get to me very easily and spent my entire adolescence just basically trying to calm down and not get the people around me upset in anyway. Hardly a week would go by where I didn't have at least a mild panic attack and I began to live with this irrational and inexplicable fear that I could feel in my chest every waking minute of the day. I started drinking to relax and loosen myself up long enough to experience fleeting periods of normal social interaction. When I drank, my tensed fist became an open hand and the stifled breath became a liberating exhale—in short, I was free.
By the time I was junior in college, alcohol was a permanent fixture in my life; allowing me to say what I needed to say and act the way I wanted to act without fear of judgment or ridicule. Until I went to rehab, I had no concept of what it was to be normal. The only way I knew how to make myself feel comfortable I by drinking. I felt like a nobody unless I was drunk, and after that, I forever connected alcohol with my self-worth until the two become synonymous.
Fast-forward to my mid-twenties, where the only comfortable reality I knew was through alcohol. I had gone through a series of failed relationships that fell apart when they got too "real" and my ability to function on a daily basis was dramatically decreasing. My paranoia was growing and my panic attacks were getting worse. I knew it was time for a change, but I was too scared to make it—I didn't think I was strong enough. It became even harder to trust anyone well enough for me to ask for help. My older sister told me about a facility that offered alcohol detox for women, and begged me to go there to get the help I needed.
Putting my physical and emotional well-being in someone else's hands-even if they did promise exclusive alcohol detox for women-was, to this day, the hardest thing I've ever done. I went into rehab with an attitude that I didn't want to be examined by doctors, much less having to spend thirty days in treatment. But I stayed in rehab because I was also tired of living in a cycle of confused anxiety and depression brought on by my alcohol abuse. It soon became clear to me that I needed help for a lot more than just alcoholism, and thankfully that's exactly what this program gave me. I wasn't even expecting the program to address my anxiety problems at all because they are an alcohol rehab for women. My therapist was really excellent and helped me to understand how both problems were connected to each other.
Since I've left their alcohol treatment program for women, I've been able to breathe easier and stay away from alcohol, and it feels like I'm living a new life. I more readily embrace change without letting it take over my life and limit me. Above all, I've learned that you can't put a price on the ability to be free within yourself. Treatment gave me many gifts besides becoming sober, like the ability to finally be comfortable in my own skin.