Excerpt From Introduction:
“During my active addiction, I was able to manipulate a handful of doctors, and one pharmacy, to pre- scribe in excess of 2,000 pills a month that nearly took my life quite a few times, the last time being in early 2013. I have learned that I am responsible for my choices in life. However, when I was beyond incoherent and knocking at death’s door, where were the doctors and this pharmacy? They were not there trying to save my life. They continued to prescribe a lethal amount of pills. Whatever I wanted, in any amount that I wanted. No questions. No fuss. No regard for my life. How did they get away with this type of reckless behavior? Back when I was in active disease, medication dispensing was not monitored the way it is today. However, even today, there are still so many reckless prescribers that are getting away with murder, sometimes in the literal sense.
I have learned that Substance Use Disorder is a chronic and progressive brain disease, and is re- lated to our DNA, our genetic “family tree,” and is also impacted by our environment. It is diag- nosable, treatable, and manageable. Recovery and wellness is spectacular when you work it, but you have to want it and crave it more than you crave anything else. I knew I would have to be willing to begin new healthy practices, and most of all, to address the PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) that I had been diagnosed with in relation to the trauma I had endured, ongoing, in my youth, and in my 20s, and 30s. I wanted to live. I wanted wellness. I crave wellness. I crave new and innovative ways of a natural and organic solution to any health challenge that I have. I have learned to live and to thrive holistically, and that is what I am doing—thriving!
We are depending upon our medical community to take care of us according to the oath they have taken as doctors, pharmacists, and healthcare providers. Yet, not one doctor whose care I was under questioned me about any suspicions they may have had. When I finally asked for help on April 3, 2013, my primary care physician said he had “suspected” that I was addicted to my medications. Yet, he had never confronted me in all of the years I was his patient. I do not blame him. In fact, today, and for all of the years in my recovery, he has been one of my greatest cheer- leaders. Much of the medical community lacks the knowledge, awareness, and education on this disease. Many that I speak to in the medical community are willing to be educated and empow- ered so that they may be a part of the solution in fighting this disease.
The Hippocratic Oath that healthcare professionals swear to says they will “practice medicine honestly.” Furthermore they will “maintain the highest principles of moral, ethical and legal con- duct.” Wouldn’t Hippocrates be shocked at the way so many of our healthcare professionals, and the way our healthcare system, have become not only dishonest, but full of reckless behavior that is endangering the members of our society, even killing them? WHERE IS THEIR ACCOUNT- ABILITY? Well, in my story, the doctor writing the prescriptions with absolutely no regard for my well-being will never be able to harm, or nearly kill, another precious soul. He was a drug addiction “specialist,” and psychiatrist. He is no longer practicing medicine as I filed a complaint in 2014, and his license was permanently revoked in September 2018. These prescriptions were all filled at the same pharmacy, who in my opinion, was as equally reckless in dispensing the medications as the physician writing the prescriptions.
Below is a snapshot of the pharmacy records from March 4, 2009 through April 22, 2009. I re- ceived the following prescriptions and I filled all twenty prescriptions at the same pharmacy. I
had been using this pharmacy for twenty-plus years. We were like “family,” and they never in- tervened to try to save my life.
*03/04/09 IBUPROFEN 800MG QTY: 50 *03/04/09 DONNATOL 16.2MG QTY: 100
*03/06/09 HYDROMORPHON QTY: 4MG *3/6/09 CODEINE SULF 60MG QTY: 350 *03/06/09 TRIMETHOBENZ 300MG QTY: 50
*3/10/09 CYCLOBENZAPR 10MG QTY: 90 3/12/09 CHLORD/CLIDI 5-2.5MG QTY: 90
*3/19/09 CODEINE SULFATE 60MG QTY: 400 *3/19/09 ALPRAZOLAM 2MG QTY: 150 3/19/09 PROCRIT 20,000/ML QTY: 6
*3/20/09 IBUPROFEN 800MG QTY: 50 *3/23/09 HYDROMORPHON 4MG QTY: 90
*4/1/09 IBUPROFEN 800MG QTY: 50
*04/02/09 HYDROMORPHON 4MG QTY: 90 *04/02/09 ALPRAZOLAM 2MG QTY: 100
*04/06/09 DONNATOL 16.2MG QTY: 100 *04/06/09 TRIMETHOBENZ 300MG QTY: 50
04/11/09 FLUTICASONE 50MCG QTY: 16 04/11/09 CHLORPROMAZ 25MG QTY: 30
*04/12/09 CODEINE SULF 60MG QTY: 400
*04/18/09 IBUPROFEN 800MG QTY: 50
*04/22/09 HYDROMORPHONE 4MG QTY: 90
*04/22/09 ALPRAZOLAM 2MG QTY: 150 *04/22/09 IBUPROFEN 800MG QTY: 50
* Signifies the same doctor writing prescriptions. I came very close to death a number of times, and finally took what would have been a fatal overdose in early 2013. My life was saved on April 3, 2013, by the grace of God.
I am a mother, grandmother, counselor, friend, teacher, human being and precious soul. My accountability of the amount of pills that I was ingesting and the behaviors caused by the substance abuse ceased when I was incoherent and no longer in charge of my faculties, when I was living with paranoid delusions in a drug-induced psychosis. I believed my husband was trying to kill me, that he was involved in heinous murders, that people were spying on me through my computer and stereo speakers, and that T.V. shows that I was watching were using my name to talk to me directly, and where I answered them. I shared all of this with the “addiction psychiatrist” to no avail. He wrote it down, but never questioned me further, and in fact, many times toward the end of my active addiction before my overdose in early 2013, I never went to his office because I was so ill. He just called the pharmacy with refill after refill any time I made a request. The pharmacy filled each one as I paid cash which reduced the risk of being “caught” by authorities. The pharmacist used to say, “Pay me cash so I don’t have to put it through the system.” And I did.
I could not think about anything but making sure I had enough drugs in my purse and in my home every day. I ate, slept and breathed drugs, continuing to self-medicate to escape the memories and pain of the trauma suffered earlier in my life where I had experienced domestic abuse and sexual abuse as an adolescent. Some of that abuse continued into my adulthood. It was all that I knew and saw in my own immediate family. We live what we learn. It felt familiar to me. It was “home” to me. I was using so many opiates and benzodiazepine medications over the years that I needed more and more to get that calm and high feeling. My tolerance level was so high, dangerously high.
In 2006, an immediate family member at that time said to me after years of living with me in my chronic and progressive disease (not fully realizing it was the addiction), “Don’t you see what a burden you are to myself and to your children?” (This was while I was immobile, unable to eat, heavily into my pills, sleeping and crying excessively, and the doctors were giving up on me.) Again, not one doctor had any idea that I was living with Substance Use Disorder and a mental illness being induced by the pills. I also lived with a serious eating disorder, where I lay on the bathroom floor locked in their for hours every day and/or falling asleep overnight, and took six enemas a day, abused diuretics, and barely ate any substantial food as I was afraid of gaining weight. I lived with suicidal thoughts/behaviors and self-harming behaviors. Due to the severity of my self-harm, I wound up in the hospital for emergency surgery for a partial hysterectomy at age 42. I caused myself, purposefully, to bleed by abusing birth control pills. I wanted to bleed because I felt I deserved to feel the pain of the severe cramps and wanted to see blood. It was self-punishment for decades of abuse through no fault of my own. I wanted attention, to be “loved,” and believed that the only way to get that attention was to be sick. This was a lesson I learned as a child. I blamed myself for so much, I worried about my mother, my father, my sister, and in addition, I had no one that I could tell about the sexual abuse, which I now know was nev- er my fault. I was ultimately diagnosed with adenomyosis, where I had ongoing, heavy vaginal bleeding, and I was sent to the hospital for emergency surgery, and of course, discharged from the hospital with more painkillers. I could not get off this merry-go-round. No matter how many pills I swallowed, I could not rid myself of the emotional or physical pain I was experiencing, and the truth is, this pain followed me from the time I was a young child until I went into treatment in early 2013. I wanted to remain in a completely numbed state, until I did not.
As for the domestic abuse that I lived through as a young girl, and again as a young woman and young mom, I received some counseling short- term and was prescribed antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds, but never truly unearthed all of the dirt piled up in my cellular structure that was planted there due to the severe trauma. We know that when we suffer trauma, it seeps into our cellular structure. The energy of the trauma is stored in our bodies’ tissues (primarily muscles and fascia) until it can be released. This stored trauma typically leads to pain and progressively erodes a body’s health. Any area of our bodies that our brains are disconnected from won’t be able stay healthy or heal itself. I was never given the opportunity to release the severe ongoing trauma that plagued my body, mind and spirit. My brain disconnected from the reality of the trauma for self-protection, and I self-medicated for four decades to stay in a constant state of euphoria and inebriation so that I wouldn’t have to face the memories, or the work needed to relive the trauma, to work through it, to accept it, and to release it. I was always terrified to talk about the traumatic events with anyone because I feared having a complete mental breakdown that I would never recover from. At the very thought of verbalizing all that I had seen and experienced, my heart rate would increase, and I would shake throughout my body. I would immediately have to run into the bathroom because I would have diarrhea as an instantaneous reaction to my thoughts and memories. I’d become short of breath and feel numbness and tingling in my face, arms and legs. I never felt safe, so I continued to repress all of my feelings, emotions, and memories.
Even when writing this book, my editor, after the first edit, told me that I was “holding back details,” and in order to connect with the reader, would need to go back and rewrite with specifics. This very task caused me, once again, triggers that escalated my anxiety, however, because I have done so much work on healing, I surrounded myself with my self- care tools each time I would sit down to rewrite. At my desk, I keep my essential oil diffuser, my Himalayan salt lamp, my Buddha’s Blend tea, my music, and I take frequent breaks to walk outdoors. Self-care is the actions that we take to achieve wellness, and wellness is where we stand in our power!
The family member who referred to me as a “burden” in 2006 did not know how to help me, and talked me into taking my life with a bottle of 500 codeine sulfate pills that I had in my possession after I had just received my refill. I was incoherent and not in a lucid mindset, in a helpless and hopeless, vulnerable mindset, and I felt guilty about what my family was going through. I did not know who to ask for help for my SUD at that time, and saw no other way out, and so I agreed.
I wrote goodbye letters to my children, and gave the letters to this person. We said our goodbyes, and he went into the living room to await my passing. As I lay there with a bottle of pills in my hand, unable to walk without assistance, unable to eat due to my serious digestive issues, unable to think clearly due to my addiction to these pills, and a co- occurring mental illness, I was about to end my life. I wanted to die only because I couldn’t see a way out to live, and I had no support. I didn’t really want to die. I just didn’t know how to live, and I feared facing the untreated, very painful, existing trauma without being high.
It was the thought and visualization of my children standing over my coffin that stopped me from taking those pills, and years later, in early 2013, after awakening from a lethal overdose, my children and the thought of them once again standing over my coffin, heartbroken and possibly unable to recover, is what gave me the strength to ask for help to save my life. I wanted to change the trajectory of my legacy. I was able to have that awareness in a moment of Divine Intervention in between swallowing handfuls of pills.
I prayed to God to help me out of my pain and my Substance Use Disorder, to show me the way out. In early 2013, after awakening from my overdose, I promised God that “I will follow any path that You put before me to help others living with this disease.” My prayer was answered. I kept my promise.
I am now in my 9th year of recovery. Today is June 4, 2021.
About a year into my recovery, I said to the family member who encouraged me to die by sui- cide, “You wanted me to kill myself, and look at me now.”
His only response was, “I know.” I never got an apology. I’m fine with that as he was unable to connect emotionally, and I am aware that he saw no other way out for any of us. He himself lacked the coping skills. I hold no ill will. He did all that he knew how to do at that time with the tools that he had available to him. He was probably terrified, watching me slowly dying over the years. Beyond all doubt, I know, in his own way, he loved me. We all deal with pain, suffering, loss, and disease with the tools that we have at hand, and we do the best that we can.
By the grace of God, I survived.”
“Book Reviews” to Be Printed on the Back Cover of the Book!
“With grace, love, and authentic voice, Wendy Blanchard not only brings you through her (on-going) process of Recovery, but offers accessible solutions and practical tools for ours. She moves beyond traditional “talk therapy” and mutual aid to an emphasis on self-care, somatic, holistic methods and deepening a connection to spirit. WRITE PRAY RECOVER is a must read for people in recovery, family members in recovery, and health care practitioners, as a guide to helping ourselves as we help others. ”Theresa M. Knorr, CARC
BALANCE Recovery Consultation | Tai Chi for Recovery
Director of Education and Training, Friends of Recovery – New York
“I have witnessed in amazement at the courage, stamina and determination that Wendy Blanchard has demonstrated in her journey to recovery. She is an outstanding role model for anyone struggling with addiction and has utilized everything that she has learned about addiction to aid in her recovery. It has been a heartwarming journey that will inspire those who read her book”.Mignyetta C. Ramnani, LCSWR
Within Reach Counseling Services
“Thank you so much for last night’s program. It was raw and downright emotional. Sharing your story lets others hear how painful it is to have a loved one with mental health issues and promotes an open dialogue on mental health. Through your professional intuition and guidance, I believe this program was one of the most important workshops our library has ever had.”Lynne Warshavsky
Vulnerability and strength. Steel wrapped in Cotton. Thoughts of the person who I know as Wendy Blanchard. Wendy looks beyond the traditional 12-step recovery program by recognizing that abstinence and relationship with a Higher Power would provide a part of her recovery journey. This courageous and self-aware survivor reaches to the core of her being with a willingness to change everything about herself. Most importantly, she shares her journey openly with grace and respect for the tremendous effort required to adjust one’s narrative. Her message illustrates opportunity in each “Now Moment” as opportunity for growth. I know she is a miracle worker.Brian Bailey, Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army, Retired