Module 1.3 – All

Module 1.3 - The Problem of Self Medication

Have you worked with people who struggled with self-medication? What’s the impact it had on them and the people around them? Have you had a mentor who’s made a difference in your life? What’s the value of that mentor’s feedback?

Name: Jacqui Glasener

Journal

Yes, I have worked with people who have struggled with self-medication or had a family member who struggled with it. I have witnessed the negative impacts that this has had on their health, their work quality and quantity and their professional and personal relationships.

Yes, I have been fortunate to have several mentors over the course of my life. Many of the board presidents of the Alumni Association over the last 20+ years have become mentors and friends. We work so closely together during their two-year term that the relationship/mentorship continues. Kurt Madden, our most recent Past President is one of my most trusted advisors. His input and advice are so valuable in helping me work through difficult situations or giving me a different perspective. I also have a close relationship with my boss, Paula Castadio, and she is an excellent thought partner and we enjoying ideating together. Finally, one of the most important mentors I keep in my life are those work colleagues who have a different generational view than I do. In other words, keeping me young in my thinking. This has been truly valuable in staying relevant.

Have you worked with people who struggled with self-medication? What’s the impact it had on them and the people around them? Have you had a mentor who’s made a difference in your life? What’s the value of that mentor’s feedback?

Name: Richard Peralta

Journal

Sadly I have had plenty of experiences working with folks that struggled with self-medication. Whether they would admit to it being a problem or perhaps perceiving the practice as a strength, I think the habits that have bothered me the most when taken to extremes have been: 1) the health nuts- those that work out and adopt strict dietary habits that dominate their lifestyle choices and available free time 2) the religious fanatics- that adopt incredibly strict interpretations of a given faith or doctrine, often times becoming preachy and pushing their beliefs on others and 3) the drug and alcohol abuser - taking chemical substances to excess, where the vice dominates their decisions about how they spend their days and perpetually alters their mental state. All 3 of these examples of self-medications can be damaging to external relationships and people's perceptions of your overall value and well being. I've been fortunate to have had a few valuable mentors in my life throughout critical times in my development. The value of these mentors feedback can not be overstated. It effectively kept me on the right path in life as I navigated really difficult, complex and challenging situations. Influencing decisions and perspective on how I interpreted the results of my action or inaction. Ultimately a good mentor is a guide that will constantly challenge you to become the best version of yourself. I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today had it not been for the supportive relationship of mentors like Dr. Bill Newell, Gary Moody or Randy Mehrten.

Have you worked with people who struggled with self-medication? What’s the impact it had on them and the people around them? Have you had a mentor who’s made a difference in your life? What’s the value of that mentor’s feedback?

Name: Haley White

Journal

I come from a long line of addicts and I have addiction issues myself. Drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and sex were my coping mechanisms in my twenties. Some good times and some really dark times came out of those vices. I was sober for five years from age 30-35 and started drinking again (very casually) after my mom was diagnosed with brain cancer and I became her caretaker. It was just one too many things I felt I needed to be perfect at. In any case, my alcohol issues have shifted to food in the years since. And though it is also unhealthy (I'm a good 100 pounds heavier than I was before my mom got sick), I still know it is a lesser evil, especially in terms of leading to other unsafe circumstances. Using outside coping mechanisms has scarred me in ways I'm not ready to open up about and also led to other people's pain, especially the people who loved me through my more self-destructive patterns in my twenties. Grief, from losing my mom and several close friends over the past few years, has made me better at sitting with my pain and stresses and 'growing through' rather than around things, but I still have a long way to go, not just with binge eating but with all forms of self-care. Just because I engage in less vices doesn't mean I'm at the point where I'm that great at actually doing proactive things to take care of myself (other than taking my anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medicine regularly).

In terms of mentors, I've had many. Mostly women. I think most recently of the advisors I had in grad school, particularly Devora and Sharon. Devora was particularly invaluable because I started and ended my grad school journey with her. I probably would not have pushed myself to finish in the crazy year that was 2020 without her. She also helped me create safe boundaries when it came to my dad. He was very discouraging and belittling as I worked on my thesis and Devora helped me build the courage to tell him he wasn't allowed at my thesis presentation but welcome at my graduation.

Aside from mentors, I am lucky to have very honest friends here in Fresno. They aren't cruel or anything but they do call me out when I am not being the best version of myself. I think they have helped me grow a lot over the past decade. In fact, I think I've evolved more in my time in Fresno than any other point in my life. Maybe that is just my age and losing my mom but it's been noticeable. I don't LOVE getting criticism and, like most people, I am often initially defensive, but I like to believe I am good at sitting with constructive criticism and trying to grow from it.

Have you worked with people who struggled with self-medication? What’s the impact it had on them and the people around them? Have you had a mentor who’s made a difference in your life? What’s the value of that mentor’s feedback?

Name: Coreen Campos

Journal

I come from a family that struggles with addiction and there has been speculation and some clinical assessment that this could be a result of self-medication to trauma and mental health challenges. For my biological parents this is manifested as addiction to illegal substances, but this has also been reflected in food addiction as well. My grandmother regularly attends Food Addicts Anonymous as a regular commitment. This is something that she began later in life (within the past two years) and until she did, it never would have occurred to me that food could be an addiction. It feels rough because we can't give up food, we must eat vs. illegal substances or alcohol, those can be given up, not to say that's not easy to quit.

For me, I believe I likely have a food addiction as over-eating, over-indulging and succumbing to cravings on the regular is embedded into my life. I LOVE food--I love the experience of trying new things, of going to restaurants, particular restaurants that make their food from scratch or have a custom menu or executive chef and/or different types of food, even for a quick and more reasonably priced meal. I love the experience of breaking bread with others or sometimes sitting down and treating oneself. I like to indulge to celebrate, when I'm stressed or sad and when I'm bored/seeking entertainment ("hey, let's grab a bite to eat").

In addition, I also love (although this is non-existent these days) to have a lazy day(s) where I do NOTHING. No cleaning, binge watch a show and eat some good snacks/food, etc. I share this here as this is not a sporadic thing, I sometimes go through months at at time where this is the case after work and on the weekends. I want to sleep in and do nothing. In excess this has led a cluttered/messy home, lack of motivation and tension in my marriage. Although even when I'm doing these things, I still work far more than the average fulltime employee, sometimes I think that this is why I do this. Partially this was modeled by my mother and grandmother--my mom would just lounge around ALL day and was often in between jobs, but now I know that she was struggling with her mental health and my grandmother also does this and it's due to being morbidly obese most of her life and now being in pain due to various health issues as a result of this.

I also have struggled with not getting rid of things. Again, my mother and my grandmother are borderline hoarders. Out of all of the things I've shared so far, this is one that I've made extreme progress on, as I have been having such fun donating things and trying to have 'less' stuff and now we've hired a housekeeper and it's been so great not worrying about cleaning so we can just focus on organizing and getting rid of stuff---the clean house is motivating and energizing. For me, much of this has been embedded in not having much and having a deficiency around lack of clothing, food and scarcity, so I have held on to things and have a weird hierarchy around stuff that is inefficient. For example, I'll keep beat up old shirts and sweats (sometimes to the point of severe fading, thinning fabric, holes, etc.) and think that's 'workout' or 'cleaning' clothes. But regular clothes (like a normal jeans and t-shirt) and work clothes (slacks/blouses, professional dresses, blazers) I see as a little more special and so I'm often walking around looking haggard so I can preserve my 'nice' clothes while I only dress nice for work, even with jeans and t-shirts. I also keep stuff forever, I have found that I have a handful of clothes that are from high school and whatnot and things that I haven't worn in literally years.

Now, at this age, I realize how silly this is because I also realize I need the right clothes for the right things. For example, while on my physical health journey, I learned quickly running socks are not a 'luxury' but a necessity after the blisters on the bottom of my feet wearing old cotton socks that I've likely had for far too long, same with general workout clothes, casual clothes and work clothes. I've realized I can wear regular clothes and not treat them so strange, they're just clothes. I also worry about landfill with clothes, but I remind myself that by donating clothes before they're ruined, I'm blessing someone else vs. wearing something until it's riddled with holes or falling apart. Additionally, it's good to model and being a women of color in a position of leadership, it seems silly that I'd be walking around looking haggard, but rather, I'm WORTHY of wearing a simple top and some jeans while I'm out and about!!!

Growing up there was always this 'kids are less than' attitude. 'You don't NEED' more than 2 pairs of jeans.
No, don't eat this special food/or use this special item/whatever, this is mine and it's too expensive for you to eat/use,' and I think that has been internalized in some of my behaviors that I didn't even realize I had, but I've grown from this mindset for myself, for my kids and also in some ways for my community leadership. I do not have an affinity for things like fashion, so I'll likely never be a fashionista with the latest makeup, hair/jewelry trend, but I'll look presentable for the occasion and I'll have some sort of orthopedic shoe, as foot comfort has grown to be another priority for me! I deserve to be comfortable.

Have you worked with people who struggled with self-medication? What’s the impact it had on them and the people around them? Have you had a mentor who’s made a difference in your life? What’s the value of that mentor’s feedback?

Name: Lindsay Booker

Journal

As a recovering alcoholic I still struggle with self medicating and have a tendency to let even healthy activities become unhealthy obsessions. Self medicating can look like neglecting and alienating family and friends, mentally checking out of work, ignoring important tasks, ruining finances/racking up debt, poor health, putting yourself or others in danger,

I've had good bosses and a good AA sponsor but I've never had a really great mentor. Not because they weren't great mentors but because I didn't really let them mentor me. I don't like being criticized, told what to do, and I don't like being held accountable. That sounds horrible but I'm trying to get really honest with myself.

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