I want to share this thing that happened to me. I'm not a mental health professional, and this is not a "general statement". This is just something that came about by practicing the principles and regular contact with my sponsor. I found that tenth step very helpful, but in a "different" way.
I know Dallas is a big fan of 10th step inventories of anything that he finds "disturbing". Well I also been finding out that my own sponsor is probably a bigger fan of inventories. So between my sponsor and Dallas, I've been learning to inventory the crap out of everything. The last two relationships, sponsor said "write down an inventory" when they ended. Shoot! Whenever ANYTHING isn't working right ANYWHERE, I find myself taking an inventory first thing. Heck I even tell my mom to take an inventory if she's having problems.
This does relate to today, and AA, and especially spirituality, so bear with me. Early in my sobriety - actually like part of my withdrawl, I ended up having clinical depression. I needed to see a shrink, and I took medication for the issue - all of which was necessary. Now I say this because I know exactly what clinical depression feels like and how hopeless a person can get. Today I no longer need medication, and both my shrink and me concluded it is due to the "constructive action" in working and living the 12 steps, Again this is my experience and I can't say whether or not it will lift clinical depression from anyone else.
Well over the last 6-7 years, I have been getting a "feel" every day of what "content sobriety" and "serenity" is like. Even in dramatic or traumatic situations, I've been able to find serenity and peace of mind every day. So whenever something happens that "disturbs" my serenity, I know it's time to start looking inward at myself. It's like if I was a bank teller, over the years I get to know what real money feels like, smells like, looks like, and sounds like. So if a fake bill gets into my hands, I know it right away. Well the same thing goes with serenity - when it gets "disturbed", I know right away.
Something happened over the last two weeks that caught me off guard. I started feeling the symptoms of clinical depression. At first I just sort of set them aside and kept on taking constructive action - you know working a program and working with other alcoholics, and maintaining a pretty decent meeting schedule. But over the days, I kept getting the depression symptoms. I especially noticed the symptom that I remembered from withdrawal - the one where you can't find enough energy to get out of bed. You just want to stay in bed and let the world pass you by.
Well this was starting to get on my nerves because it was slowing me down. It took all the energy I could muster up to keep up with constructive actions like I was doing without any problems just a few weeks ago. Now everything was slowing down and the depression symptoms started moving in closer and bigger and stronger. There wasn't any strong "irritation" or that "disturbed" feeling. It was that dull, numbing, hopeless feeling that sets in and takes the wind out of your sails. I knew exactly what it was because I had it before. What the heck was I doing now that was making me clinical?
Inventory time. I wasn't doing anything wrong. Life was going well, everything was on course, and aside from a few changes that already happened, I couldn't find anything that I had a role in or I was disturbed about. So I prayed.
AA has taught me about this loving God, and God has taught me that everything I need is there in front of me - all the time and whenever I need it. If I can't find the thing I need, the only prayer I need to ask is for help in finding what I need because I'm having trouble finding it. And God always answers that prayer.
After I said that prayer, the next day I was taking my vitamin supplements and medications that I take for physical things - HEY wait a minute! I looked at this little yellow pill and there it was - the thing I couldn't find. About two weeks ago, my physician took me off one medication and put me on another one. That little yellow pill was the answer to my prayer. God helped me find what was making me feel depressed.
Man I got on the internet faster than anything, and you guessed it. The clincial depression symptoms I was feeling were CHEMICALLY induced by that little yellow pill. Side effects of medicine. This little yellow pill is a "beta blocker" which is used for high blood pressure, angina, and in my case was to treat, actually reduce, migraines by making my blood vessels loose and wide. Lots of folks take "beta blockers". Now buddy let me tell you what - every single beta blocker except one (out of 8-9) has DEPRESSION as a possible side effect. What in thee hell was my doctor trying to do?
I got on the phone to my sponsor. He said that is a very bad side effect because it interferes with my spiritual connection. If I have "depression" and its a result of me doing something wrong, or against God's will, or something I can change, then I'm not going to be able to tell the difference between that kind of depression, which is my spiritual responsbility, and what that little yellow pill was doing. He told me to double up on working step 11 and don't let off until either the side effect goes away or the doctor switches medication. He strongly suggested I ask the doc to change the prescription. So I got back into step 11 with an "oommph"!!! You know where that led?
Back to the inventory - to step 10. Of all the things I inventory, one of the things I didn't inventory was my medications. So I went back online and inventoried everything I take to be sure there wasn't any other side effects or interactions. Then I read about this thing called "seratonin syndrome" - again realted to that little yellow pill. I said what the heck is this thing causing trouble everywhere I look? I didn't see anything that I was doing or taking could make this "seratonin syndrome" happen - that is until I got to the dentists office last night (more on that later!)
But I remembered at the last medication change, I went a teensy bit higher on a supplement that eases my anxiety - because that medication change started giving me anxiety symptoms, but I found this supplement that really has been a "miracle cure" for one of my other conditions (legal, natural, and not habit forming and it comes from a tree). I said to myself, "I wonder what would happen if I took a teensy bit more?" Now this supplement only works to the degree it's needed. The "excess" doesn't make you feel "altered" or get you high or anything, you just pee it away like excess vitamin C.
I took a teensy bit more, and an hour later WHAMMO! The depression symptoms went away completely. I was driving to the dentist, and it was like all of the sudden I realized I felt my serenity return. It was profound! I said out loud "You mean that little bit of tree bark did this!!??" I was totally outdone. So I went back to my vitamin supplement schedule and reset this supplement scehdule to take it througout the day so the level is constant instead of taking it only at certain times. I was really glad because I wanted to give that little yellow pill at least a 30-day trial to see if it helped my migraines. So now I take that little yellow pill with a smile.
I found what I needed - and true to form all of it was right in front of my eyes. I just needed His help finding it. That is one of the best parts of spirituality for me. I'm always finding things I need that a loving God has left right here out in the open for me.
So what is the action in all of this? Step 10 and Step 11 action.
Step 10: "Continued...." (that's a good action to "continue")
Step 11: "Sought..." (that's another good one - I always need to LOOK for the answers that are there already)
NOW ABOUT THE DENTIST!
I go in for a filling and he's about to shoot me up with Novacaine to numb my tooth, and I say hold on a minute pilgrim! Suddenly, and I mean suddenly, I remembered that darn yellow pill again, and I remembered that "seratonin syndrome" warning. I told the dentist since I was last there, I started taking this pill and it cautioned about the "serotonin syndrome" and it could be triggered by "epinepherine". Why I remembered that I don't even know why?
The dentist just stops dead with the Novacaine syringe in the air.
"I'm really glad you mentioned that. I'm gonna write that in your chart. I'm gonna give you an alternative form of Novacaine - one that doesn't have EPINEPHRINE as an active ingredient". Then he put the syringe down and got out another one.
Holy COW! Double HOLY COW!
Now that was surely God doing for me what I could not have possibly done for myself. The combination of Novacaine with epinepherine and that little yellow pill could have sent me into a state of "seratonin syndrome" where I might have paid a visit to the ER - and then the complications of them trying to figure out what went wrong. That was a mess I avoided quite handy.
I avoided a life-threatening event that could happen to anyone who takes a common prescription form of beta blocker. I avoided it because I TOOK AN INVENTORY, and by taking so many inentories - thanks to DALLAS and my sponsor - I took an inventory of that yellow pill and details I wasn't even consious of went into my head automatically. Those inventory details probably saved me from a serious blow to my health.
So here is what I want to suggest.
If there is anyone online here in this forum that is taking any forms of prescription medicine - especially if you take more than one - TAKE AN INVENTORY of what you're taking. Find out what it does and what potential problems can happen with interactions. The internet has dozens of reliable medical sites that spell out everything presciption medicines do.
I know today, this is an inventory that could save your life.