Profiles in Recovery

Jami DeLoe

Like many people diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), DeLoe turned to alcohol to silence the torment. In her case, flashbacks from a childhood rape and severe abuse by an ex-husband would lead to a PTSD diagnosis – and years of blackout binge drinking.

“At first it was an easy way to get those thoughts and scenarios out of my mind. I would gladly suffer through a hangover if I could stop the thoughts for a while,” DeLoe writes on her blog, Sober Grace. “That, of course, led to my really extreme alcoholic drinking.”

DeLoe’s road to healing began with medication, lots of therapy and 12-step work, and a novel PTSD treatment known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR).

“The good news about this PTSD thing is that there are some great treatments for it,” DeLoe notes. “I take medication to treat my depression and PTSD, and that has made a huge difference in my life. Being properly treated has saved me and I believe it was a huge help in removing my compulsion to drink.”

Day Job:
Freelance Writer

What I lost to addiction:
The ability to be honest. I lied to everyone, including myself, about how much I was drinking and the toll that it was taking on me. I lost relationships with friends and family, some of which I haven’t been able to rebuild. I lost my dignity by behaving badly and acting immorally.

My rock bottom moment:
I drank all of the communion wine at the church where my husband was the pastor as I was putting things away after the service.  I don’t know what it was about that time, nothing catastrophic happened, but it was a really horrible low for me. I went to treatment two days later.

What worked for me:
A Christian-based residential rehab (but it took going twice; I relapsed after my first 30-day stay), being active in a 12-step program, and my faith. Along the way, I was diagnosed with PTSD and depression, so it was important that I also participate in treatment for those conditions, as well

Advice to my younger self:
Talk more! Don’t stuff your feelings, they have to be dealt with at some point – the sooner, the better.

On my bucket list:
I want to finish my recovery memoir. I have found so much hope and inspiration in reading the memoirs of people in recovery. I would love to be able to pass it on to others.

Favorite recovery quote:
“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today . . . unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy.  I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes”  ~ Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Ed., p. 417

Best advice for newbies:
It gets better. I know newcomers hear that all the time, I know I did. But now, I can say with certainty that it’s true.

Stigma I faced:
I’m very open about my alcoholism and recovery, so it’s no wonder that I have run into people who have preconceived notions about what an alcoholic is and what we should look like.

I once had a supervisor at the college where I worked tell me that I should keep my recovery a secret, not letting staff or students know, because it’s not something to be proud of. So, at the next student assembly, which just happened to be during Alcohol Awareness Month, I stood up to do a presentation in front of the student body. I started with, “Hi, I’m Jami and I’m an alcoholic.”  I didn’t have that job much longer.

I get inspired by:
Other people in recovery. I truly believe that anyone who can go from the depths of addiction to being able to maintain a life of recovery is a miracle. I love to listen to recovery podcasts, go to speaker meetings, and read recovery memoirs. My sponsor and my husband (he’s also in recovery) are also huge inspirations to me.

SHED THE STIGMA:   
If you’re a person in long-term recovery who wants to share your insights, please contact us at [email protected].

Follow DeLoe on her blog, Sober Grace.