Stories of Hope: An Interview with Rose Lockinger
This is part of a series featuring individuals who share their life experiences with mental health issues. Recently, I asked mental health advocate Rose Lockinger about her history of mental health challenges and about some of her current advocacy work. Here’s our interview:
DS: Tell us about when you first started becoming aware of concerns related to your mental health. How did these issues continue to affect you before you sought treatment?
RL: I’m pretty sure that the mental twists that come along with my alcoholism have been present a majority of my life and so in some ways I was aware of those from an early age, but I didn’t know that it was called alcoholism at the time. I always felt apart from everyone around me, that much I was acutely aware of, and I always found it difficult to soothe myself.
So those things were present at a very early age, but some of the other mental health concerns I have like PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), my anxiety, and my eating disorder, didn’t really present themselves until later on in my life. My eating disorder was the first of these that I was aware of and it really affected my family negatively. They had to watch me becoming dangerously thin and all of the deceit that went into my continuing to act out on my eating disorder really hurt our relationship.
DS: What was the turning point that led you to decide to seek help?
RL: The first time that I sought help was when I was 17 years old. By that point I was pretty well established in my eating disorder, but the treatment center that I went to mainly focused on the eating disorder and did not really delve into the PTSD or anxiety that haunted me. It really was a matter of coming to understand how much my eating habits, binging and purging, were affecting my life and wanting to get help.
I really wanted to maintain my abstinence from my eating disorder and attended OA (Overeaters Anonymous) and some ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders) groups, and therapy. Unfortunately, I was unable to stay away and within a year I was back to restricting and then began the cycle of binging and purging.
In all honesty it was when I finally decided to get sober that I actually began to deal with a lot of these issues. Right before I entered treatment this last time, I felt completely empty on the inside, in a very profound way, and the amount of guilt and shame that I carried with me was unbearable. I was trying to care for two small children and I wasn’t able to be there for them and my marriage had just disintegrated, so I hit bottom and asked for help.
DS: What has your treatment consisted of, and what have you found that has worked well for you?
RL: I stayed in treatment for nearly 6 months and in that time I dealt with a lot of the issues underlying my alcoholism, addiction and eating disorder. I was blessed to attend a facility that incorporated acupuncture and other eastern medicine for treating addiction. I have no doubt that his played a significant role in the healing process for me.
I joined a 12 Step Fellowship and worked the Steps, which really helped a lot, but I also sought out traditional private therapy in order to deal with childhood traumas that had plagued me for years. The PTSD that I had was mainly surrounding the sexual abuse I experienced as a child and the emotional abuse and physical abuse I endured in my marriage.
While the Steps helped me make peace with a lot of the things in my past, the therapy has helped me to process these things and in a sense move past them. The same thing goes for my anxiety. I have found that the tools offered to me within the Steps, like prayer and meditation and the ability to get out of my own head by helping others, and the power of talking out my anxieties and tracing them to their root with my therapist has done wonders for my ability to soothe myself and calm my anxieties.
DS: How are things going for you now? What have you learned that has helped you stay positive and healthy?
RL: I have found that recovery is a process. Recovery from drugs and alcohol is a process and recovery from the other mental health concerns I have is a process. For the most part my life is infinitely better than it ever was, even as a kid. I no longer feel alone or apart and I am actually able to deal with my life and rise to occasion when difficulties present themselves. This was something that I was never capable of doing and whenever the going got tough, I retreated into my den of inadequacies and hid from the world.
The way that I stay positive and healthy is by praying, meditating, exercising, ensuring I stay on my eating schedule, and talk to my friends and family about where I am at. This may seem like a lot but it isn’t really and having those things in my life really helps to keep me in the proper state of mind. When I do get down, which happens from time to time, I try to remind myself that all things in life are fleeting and that they will pass, even if they don’t feel like they will.
DS: You’ve been active in mental health advocacy and social media. Tell us about your involvement in those activities.
RL: I write for a number of a different mental health and addiction blogs and am active in various online communities pertaining to those subjects as well. I try my best to be as vocal as I possibly can be about my own struggles and how I’ve overcome them because I am a firm believer that as a person in recovery I should not hide behind anonymity. I think that we all should be loud and proud about the fact that we’ve recovered because by doing so, we not only help to break the stigma of addiction and other mental health issues, but can also give hope to people who may not have received it otherwise.
DS: What would you like to say to encourage others who are still working on their journey of recovery?
RL: Just stick with it. The road of recovery can sometimes be rocky, especially in the beginning, but it is worth it. There may be times that you feel like you should be further ahead or that you shouldn’t feel the way you do, but understand that none of that is true. You will feel the way you feel and act the way you will act until something different presents it self, so just stay with it and everything will be fine.
Rose Lockinger is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. As a single mom to two beautiful children, she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Rose is currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing. You can find her on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram.
Thanks so much to Rose for sharing her inspiring story of hope!
Would you like to share your story of hope? I plan to feature more personal accounts like this from time to time on my blog. If you are interested in sharing your story, please notify me via my contact page. Also, please subscribe to my blog and feel free to follow me on Twitter, “like” my Facebook page, or connect on LinkedIn. Thanks!