How Sobriety Helped Tiffany Lee Gaston Break Through Her PTSD
Gaston was diagnosed with PTSD during the summer of 2020 after feeling depressed and struggling to comprehend her emotions following a traumatic experience.
She had longtime fought anxiety that she admitted was debilitating at times, but this time it felt different. “I spent about two weeks in denial of the diagnosis my therapist provided, before deciding to attack it head-on,” says Gaston. She wanted relief and was willing to put in the work in order to heal.
Gaston and her therapist devised a plan and Gaston made it her full-time job to understand and overcome it while attempting multiple modalities in search of setting herself free; all while her alcohol consumption escalated to new heights.
“I was running from myself,” recalls Gaston. “I had to locate the bullet hole, so I could get to work on the repair, no longer needing to douse with fire.”
Initially, she struggled to release her grip on alcohol, eventually learning it was keeping the work she had done from integrating. “I had to observe I was standing in my own way,” says Gaston. Something many of us can do when we know a change needs to be made.
“When the student is ready, the teacher appears, and it certainly did, leading me to a snap decision to omit alcohol altogether,” says Gaston. Just two days into a 10-day family vacation, after what felt like the most catastrophic event in her world, Gaston was desperate for help. Having no support in her own home, she then realized she had to face this head-on.
“I had to choose me or there would be no more me,” she recalls. “I was alone with myself during the hardest time of my life and I am now grateful for that pain, as I remind myself of this: I needed that pain to bring about evolution.
Gaston explains the pain she had continued to numb. She struggled to let go of what she deemed her security blanket until she was literally scared sober. This was rock bottom.
“Rock bottom looks different on us all, but I had just identified mine,” she says. “I observed the ultimate demise of my world, and as a last-ditch effort to save myself, I knew I needed the clarity that only comes from omitting it altogether.”
Gaston saw what was necessary at all costs and went hard in that direction to save herself. “Pain was my greatest teacher,” says Gaston, helping her make the change she desperately needed.
While it isn’t recommended, Gaston went stone-cold sober on her own. “I truly didn’t know I could, but it was clear something drastic needed to happen, so I finally took control,” she says.
Gaston realized early on she needed support and explored a few groups finding the most value in Narcotics Anonymous (NA) in the early months. “It felt good to have a community of support and to observe that no matter our differences, we are far more alike than we differ,” she says.
While Gaston no longer attends meetings live or virtual, she continues her walk best by not overwhelming herself with more than simply staying sober for just one more day and has identified her support systems for times of need.
“I am grateful that the omission of alcohol and all that has come with it has also been a method of sobriety for me,” says Gaston. “I sure feel better on every level without it and that will never be lost on me.”
“When you stop to realize you’re pouring jet fuel on a fire as is alcohol, a depressant on depression and mental health challenges and simply taking yourself deeper, you may finally get the message,” explains Gaston.
Gaston’s therapist had longtime suggested the work she was doing breaking through PTSD and healing mental trauma be further supported by sobriety, but she struggled to remove it until this behavior was overwhelming her system.
“I could finally observe the very thing I was using to escape the internal struggles was only serving to worsen them all.”
Gaston learned that PTSD, anxiety, and depression are not made better by drinking them away. “Now, the cognitive challenges I was battling no longer control and consume me and I rarely feel anxious any longer,” recalls Gaston.
Sadly, she was standing in her own way during all that time she was doing deep self-work, only to self-sabotage with alcohol. “The clarity, memory, focus, and all I struggled with are in the distant past,” she says. “It’s wild how we continually lie to ourselves to justify our behavior until we finally call ourselves out on it.” Says Gaston.
Once Tiffany Lee Gaston decided to remove alcohol, she went through extensive trauma-release work. That work, coupled with her sobriety has allowed for radical healing of both old and newer trauma she is navigating.
Looking to get sober and heal your mental health? Here’s what you can start doing today! So far it’s worked for Tiffany Lee Gaston.
Here are some success principles and practices Gaston follows to assist in maintaining better mental health are: