Day 198: Recovery and Reflections

One month into attending meetings, I saw someone I knew. Gasp! It was someone I worked with years ago and when I saw her, I froze for a moment, but defrosted as soon as she smiled with recognition. I really loved working with her and we got along very well outside of work. It’s no surprise today that we’re both in AA, but back then it was just fun having a couple of drinks together after work.

I’m very happy for her and relieved to see her sober. When I knew her, I suspected her drinking was a problem, but I justified it because of terrible things she was dealing with in her personal life. That is a symptom of my own disease: justifying alcoholic drinking as a reasonable coping mechanism. “Of course she drinks: X, Y and Z are happening in her life.”

Her one year birthday is next week.  I saw her at a meeting this week and she’s struggling. She was having trouble putting thoughts together as we chatted. I do not think she’s drinking, but she’s struggling. It’s sad to see her having a hard time one year in. On a selfish level, it makes me look ahead 6 months and not see any improvement.

I’m looking forward to attending her birthday and am hoping, for many reasons, to see her in a better head-space.

This road of sobriety is rough. This new idea of dealing with shit is difficult. I’ve heard people say that their emotional maturity is stunted at the age their alcoholism kicked in full force. I’m starting to believe it. Living like an ostrich with my head in the sand for so many years means that I am painfully ill-equipped to deal with daily life. This piece has been the hardest for me these past 6 months. The cravings for booze have been few and far between – that part’s a piece of cake. Feeling, however is fucking rough.

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Surrendering

I’m in a funk and I need to get out of it. The trouble is that I don’t even know where to start. My head is swirling with too many thoughts to count and I can’t grab hold of one long enough to give it proper attention. I’m overwhelmed by feelings and I’m having trouble separating reality from what’s potentially just a creation of my own self-loathing mind.

Above all else, I feel completely alone. Is that real or is it a manifestation of my warped mind? For a brief moment, I was feeling as though I had people around me that I could open up to. That’s gone. I’ve realized that no one wants to hear from me – I have nothing to offer. It’s what I’ve suspected for years, and what has made me the closed person I am today, but I foolishly allowed myself to briefly believe otherwise.  I’ve slowly, over the past 6 months, been trying to create a more open relationship with my husband. I would compare our relationship to that of roommates. We don’t talk about anything below the surface. “How was your day?”; “Did you see that thing on the news?”; and “What are your plans for the weekend?” are as deep as we go and I feel completely alone because of it.

I’ve been trying to slowly open the door. I developed a rash last week as a reaction to a new medication – it’s one of the side-effects of this drug that they tell you to seek medical attention for because it could be a symptom of something more serious. His question to me: “are you sure you’re not just creating a problem by itching?”. It immediately fed into what I’ve been fearing lately: that there’s nothing wrong with me and I’m just a whiny, needy bitch.  I’m ready to give up on medication. Nothing is helping, which is a pretty sure sign that there really isn’t anything wrong with me. A pill can correct a chemical imbalance in the brain, but it won’t correct whiny, poor-me self-pity. That’s all it is.

So how do I get back from here? How do I surrender and accept that there is nothing medically wrong with me and somehow become a tolerable person?

Step One

Photo credit: Sven Fennema

Photo credit: Sven Fennema

I am 6 months sober, have been attending AA meeting for several months and have very recently partnered with a wonderful sponsor.  It’s time to give AA a proper chance because I’ve realized that if I’m going to have long-term success with my addiction, I need to do things differently.

It’s time for me to tackle the steps.  I plan to chronicle my step work, mostly because I need to write thoughts down to properly work through a concept.  My ADHD mind does not retain thoughts for long, so having a written account of my process will help with my overall success.

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

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Recovery and Reflections: Relief

Rainbow

I am too excited to craft a creative post that buries the lead, so here goes: I finally summoned the courage to ask a woman to be my sponsor and she said yes!  I’ve known for over a month that I wanted to approach this woman, but gave in to fear and anxiety at every opportunity until tonight.

I have been approaching AA with only 1 foot in the door, not making connections or doing any work beyond attending a couple of meetings a week.  I had myself set up to be able to flee at any moment and not have my absence noticed.  I needed to decide if I was going to flee or if I was going to bring both feet past the doorstep.

My fears and social anxiety begged me to flee, but I’m glad I was able to muster the courage to stay.  I’m more than glad, I’m relieved.  I didn’t leave tonight’s meeting crying and disappointed in myself, as I’ve done the past few weeks.  I left feeling relieved to have a new connection; someone on my side.

Today, on day 182, I am going to bed with a calm and relief that I haven’t felt in weeks.  In this new sober world, I am learning a lot about myself.  Some things about me are good, some not so much.  Tonight, I learned that I can get through an anxiety-filled social situation without vodka.  It must sound small to someone who’s not an alcoholic, but simply being able to ask this woman for ongoing support was a huge personal coup.

In the hours leading up to tonight’s meeting, I became increasingly anxious and thought to myself several times “this would be so much easier if I had a few drinks.”  I wouldn’t call it a craving and I was able to giggle at myself for the complete absurdity of thinking about having a few shots to make it easier to ask for an AA sponsor, but it reminded me that I still think of booze as my go-to courage.

It will just take time to become comfortable with, and trust, my organic ability to deal with life on life’s terms without alcohol.  But for today, 3 days away from 6 months sober, I won’t worry about how long it will take.  I will simply revel in my relief and be thankful for this new connection.

Daily Prompt: Thank You

Day 176: Recovery and Reflections

ChickenHi, my name is Mental Rollercoaster and I am a chicken.

I am 176 days sober and I’ve spent the past 30 days putting off getting an AA sponsor.  I know who I want to approach, but I always chicken out at the last minute.  Why?  Because I don’t want to bother her.  I don’t want to intrude in her life and ask her to devote time to me.

The past 5 years were the worst of my alcoholism, which is no surprise considering the progressive nature of the beast.  I would struggle to get sober for a couple of days, only to run back to the vodka.  I tried to do it alone, maintaining a false exterior of sobriety; I drank 100% in isolation.  Near the end, I recognized that I couldn’t get sober on my own, but I still didn’t reach out to anyone I knew.  During one workday, I got a call on my cell phone from a rehab centre, following up on my email.  Email?  I had no recollection of emailing them.  I told them they had the wrong number.

It’s a character flaw that I don’t ask for help.  It’s not out of ego (believing that I know best), but for a lack of.  I truly believe that asking for help will burden the person I’m asking.  Why would they give a shit about me and want to spend the time I’m asking them to invest?  Wrapping my head around AA and sponsorship is not easy, but I know that I have to ask for help in order to stay sober.

So I’ll try again, on day 176, to ask for help in the shape of a sponsor because I am not a rock and cannot do it alone.

Daily Prompt: I Am a Rock

Taking the Driver’s Seat

Doctor Note

I had a big wake up call this week, reminding me that I cannot continue to be passive in the treatment of bipolar.

When it comes to treating alcoholism, I’ve been an active participant, going to therapy and getting involved in AA.  However, when it comes to depression, I’ve just sat back and let the doctors throw pills at me.  Don’t get me wrong, I need pills, but not the ones I’m currently on.

I saw a psychiatrist last month for an evaluation.  He’s provided my GP with his notes, but because of my GP’s vacation schedule, I haven’t seen her since the notes were sent.  I have an appointment with her at the end of this week.

On my therapist’s request, I asked for a copy of the psych notes.  I never would have thought to do this – I wouldn’t have thought it was something that could be done.  Granted, all of my medical knowledge comes from TV, so my perception of doctors notes is limited to Elaine’s experience on Seinfeld.  I thought doctors notes were meant for doctors’ eyes only.  “What are you writing?  Don’t write that down!”

Reading the psychiatrists’ notes, my therapist and I realized that the medication he recommends for me is not what I’m taking.  I don’t know where the error happened, whether it was him who meant to prescribe drug A, but wrote drug B on the prescription, or if it was the pharmacy that misread and dispensed the wrong drug.  Either way, it’s an error and I’m taking the wrong drug.

Granted, both drugs are in the same universe.  It’s not as though I’m taking meds for gout.  However, I have felt like shit this past month.  I’m ridiculously tired and my depression is running rampant, with suicidal thoughts swirling around in a big bad way.

This is a wake up call for me to become active in the bipolar treatment.  Until now I’ve simply just nodded my head and taken whatever is prescribed.  Yes, the doctors probably know best but they’re human too, and just as prone to error as anyone else.