10 months, 5 days

I’ve got exams and revision coming out of my ears at the moment, therefore it has been difficult to find time to do anything else. Yesterday was entirely spent on revision, because as usual I’d left it all to the last minute. I don’t seem to be able to function unless it’s at the very last minute. My first exam was this afternoon, in Abnormal Psychology. I had to write an essay on schizophrenia and an essay on phobias. It was easy to spew out a lot of facts that I’d memorized from my lecture notes. Whether or not I presented coherent arguments worth good marks or not, I will have to wait a couple of months to find out. We have two hours for each exam; over the years this time has increasingly felt too short for us to write good essays. A few years ago I couldn’t wait to get out of the exam hall. Nowadays it’s so much more important, and I tend to think that an extra half hour would be better. I suppose it makes me sound clever when I say that I have enough knowledge stored in my mind to write for two and a half solid hours! Not really, it’s just that there’s so much to psychological theory, it’s impossible to sum up something like schizophrenia perfectly in a few pages.

I’m continuing to go to meetings during this time as I think it would be good for my recovery to do so. Tonight’s home group was good. I went for coffee afterwards with the usual gang. For the first time they waited for me outside, as I was helping with tidying up at the end of the meeting. To be part of a clique like that still gets me. I’m sure it’s partly down to the prozac that I have not felt the usual jolty nerves in the social situation during the past couple of days. I got to the meeting tonight and I was talking to everybody happily, no inclination to isolate myself. Even after ten months, that urge would still hit me at unexpected times. Overcoming social phobia is a very tough challenge. I’m glad I’m taking the treatment path with it now, even though it kind of goes against the AA message. Funnily enough, a lot of tonight’s sharing in the meeting was pretty down on therapy and anti-depressants. The chair had talked about being a researcher in the field of drug treatments, and people seemed to jump on this theme of proclaiming the evilness of all anti-depressant medication compared to the godliness of the 12 steps.

As a psychologist in the AA program I do feel a bit torn sometimes. I already knew that psychology as a science viewed the 12 steps with some suspicion; now I’m very aware that the fellowship views psychology, therapy and medication with equal, if not more, suspicion. Someone tonight said that after years of being on anti-depressants they were eventually driven to insanity and marijuana addiction. As if alcoholism wasn’t bad enough! If I was less sober I think I would have been seriously affected by tonight’s sharing. Anyone would think that I had compromised my sobriety by starting on Prozac, because it’s a mood altering drug and it’s not dealing with the problem by trusting the steps.

What I would say to those arguments is: I’ve made a decision and I’m happy with it. I still don’t believe that I’m compromising my sobriety, because I’m not drunk. I’m correcting a chemical imbalance in my brain and until I’ve learnt other ways to deal with that problem, I’m happy to trust this treatment. It’s always been clear to me that non-AA’s can get very sneery about the 12 steps, almost looking down their noses – but now I think AA’s themselves are not innocent of being judgmental. When it comes to any problem that doesn’t get solved using the steps, there’s this instant gasping reaction of disgust. I won’t let it affect my sobriety because this is too important. I will carry on with the program and the steps as I’m still sure they can help with most, if not all, of my problems.

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