Mental Matters May 2013 - Page 6

R ecovery IT takes a lot of courage to battle through addiction and come out the other end to tell your story. Add to that the amazing grit and determination to help others on a similar path and you come across one remarkable woman. Any addiction can be a dark place, regardless of what it’s from. Alcohol, narcotics and even gambling can be problematic to many and it’s an ever-increasing epidemic. “I already had alcoholism and Social Anxiety Disorder to cope with, and to me it was just another label that meant I was a screw-up. “I was briefly offered some sort of specialist help from a psychologist, but he said I couldn’t go if I’d had a drink at all, even a sip. “So, I stopped going.” RELATIONSHIP WITH ALCOHOL Beth Burgess, 32, lives in London and has turned her life from being on the brink of death to delivering the recovery message. A diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder was penned down on her notes but only given formally after questions from her dad to professionals. Hospital can be a difficult place to go whilst at your lowest ebb. The complexity of dealing with both an addiction to alcohol and living with a personality disorder couldn’t have been easy for Beth which makes the story of recovery all the more heartwarming. For Beth, the relationship with alcohol was a direct link to social anxiety. It became a compulsion to have a botleof spirits just to cope with the anxiety. Self-medicating is a harsh reality and it becomes a choice to survive. When things reached a critical point though, Beth knew it was time to hit the road to recovery. “Even on my discharge sheet, it only said that I had an ‘enduring personality disorder’, never mentioning the word ‘Borderline’. “My dad was really concerned though and bought some books on the subject as he wanted to know more. “At that point, I didn’t care if I lived or died, so I just ignored the diagnosis for several years. She said: “ I was diagnosed when I had to stay in a Psychiatric Hospital after trying to kill myself for the first time. “I wasn’t actually going to be told about my diagnosis, it’s just that my parents saw it on my record during a meeting with the Doctor and asked about it. “No-one explained what it was; they just said it was a collective of symptoms. DIAGNOSED Beth explains: “I realised that I needed serious help at around the age of 27, by the time I had recovered from my SAD and was trying to seek help for the alcoholism. “I would relapse over and over again because I was so impulsive and reactive. “Even when I did manage periods of sobriety, I was so emotionally-driven and angry, that I was still very miserable. “I realised I would never, ever be able to stay sober in the long-term unless I sorted the BPD out. “In fact the constant relapsing was the first time I started to take the BPD diagnosis seriously. “I looked up all the symptoms again and realised that not treating the BPD was completely ruining my attempts to move on, and so I needed to finally deal with it.” NO SIMPLE SOLUTIONS BPD doesn’t have a simple solution sadly and it’s modern psychotherapies such as Dialectic Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Mentilsation therapy that are pioneering recovery in the field. Beth continues: “DBT has saved my life. “Funnily enough, DBT enabled me to both recover from my BPD and also has made a massive impact on my recovery from addiction.