A little over 7 years ago, Mary sunk into a deep, excruciating depression when her husband divorced her for another woman leaving her alone to raise three children under the age of seven. She explains, “I had no desire to do anything. I stopped eating and could barely get out of bed. It was all I could do to just breathe.” She began taking medication to battle the depression and, through the support of her family and friends, she got better.

Several years later, she stopped taking her medications and found herself drinking heavily. She was later rediagnosed with bipolar disorder and began taking new medications. She again, began to feel better, went off her medications and started drinking. This dangerous cycle repeated itself several times over the next five years – a devastating physiological roller coaster that, over time took its toll on Mary’s mental state. She explains, “Because I felt so much better, I figured I was healed. When the medicine would wear off, I drank to get rid of the symptoms instead. Before I knew it, I was drinking all day long. One day I would be a happy drunk and the next day an angry drunk – you just never knew what to expect from me. It got so bad, my daughter moved in with a neighbor because she couldn’t stand to be around me.”

Mary reached rock bottom after she hosted a hurricane party for herself stocking up on plenty of rations of vodka – hold the water and batteries. While in a drunken stupor, she told a friend she wanted to kill herself. He called the police who brought her to the David Lawrence Center’s Crisis Stabilization Unit under the Baker Act. While on the Unit, the doctors carefully monitored her mood as she sobered up. She remembers telling them, “I don’t know why I am here. I’m not crazy, I was just drunk. I don’t even remember saying I was going to hurt myself. No, I don’t have a drinking problem.” She was put back on her bipolar medications and referred into the Detox program, but she wasn’t ready.

She went home and drank for another five days before finally admitting to herself she was ready for a change. As soon as a bed became available on the Detox unit, she was admitted and began her road to sobriety and a new life. What she thought would be a two day visit, turned into 10. The nurses knew she wasn’t ready because of her extreme instability. She explains, “I would be laughing one minute then crying the next. I couldn’t sleep or sit still and was very anxious. All I wanted to do was go home, but the longer I stayed, the more I listened.” She was finally released after agreeing to enter the Substance Abuse Day Treatment program the following day which provided her with an intensive treatment program that had flexible and individualized schedules allowing her to keep her children at home with her at night.

Today she remains clean and sober and feels lucky to be alive. She adds, “I realize now what keeps me sober is my medications. It keeps my head right. I wish no one ever had to go through this. Now that I am sober, I realize this is the least amount of craziness I have had in my life and I don’t ever want to go back.”

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