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Shaun's Story

Hello, my name is Shaun R. and I am in Dual Recovery. I have been active in DRA only recently, however my story goes further back. You see, I had gotten sober in 1992 through another 12-Step program. One and a half years prior to that I was diagnosed with a major psychiatric illness. I couldn’t take care of myself when I was drinking, and managing my mental illness was next to impossible while I was drinking.

Sometimes I get caught in wondering which came first… was it the mental illness or the alcoholism? This of course, just leads to more confusion and hinders my recovery. After I got sober in 1992 I was on that “pink cloud” they talk about. I thought I had this “thing” licked. People would tell me, “Yeah, I heard voices when I was drunk, but now that I’m sober, I’m free,” or, “depression is just part of alcoholism.”

People would tell me “You don’t need those pills,” and I fell for it, hook, line and sinker! I had continual problems with my illness, committing myself to respites repeatedly, going on disability and eventually to a psych ward at 5 years sober. I finally received my latest “label,” which is schizoaffective disorder. I call it a label because I definitely do not want to make it my identity. People are sometimes surprised to hear that I have these illnesses. They don’t see what goes on inside my head. Sometimes I try to remember this when I look at others, even so-called “normals.” We can never judge someone’s insides by their outsides!

Work has been a repeated struggle, I do fine for a while, then about 4-6 months later, I crash! Then it’s back to the “mental health break.” Now I am making better strategies to deal with this: I belong to a clubhouse for the mentally ill (where my home group meets on Wednesdays), and I am receiving support. I am learning to be gentle with myself, allowing myself time to take breaks, to “regroup” and recover.

My group has been a godsend… I get so much from my brothers and sisters in DRA… love, support, encouragement and finally, a sense of belonging. No longer am I “split”… I have DRA to treat my dual illnesses as a whole, rather than a part here, and a part there. I certainly am grateful for my first exposure to the 12 Steps in that other program. It has kept me clean and sober for nearly nine years. But now, like in that song, “There’s a place for us, somewhere a place for us.…”

I am hoping to get more involved with service in DRA, even, hopefully on a global level. I was just given a real dose of reality today, and not in a bad way; I was asked to be the opening speaker at a dual diagnosis conference for consumers and professionals in my area. Tears formed in my eyes when my good friend Val asked me if I was interested. I felt goose-bumps just now, thinking of it… I have come a long way!! Thanks to my Higher Power, the 12 Steps, and all of you in these halls who have made a difference in my life!

May the Peace of God be with you,

Shaun R.

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