Life Changes Every 24 Hours in Sobriety

FitFatFood‘s (“Blogging to Stay Sober”) recent post “Time for Me” perfectly expresses the internal struggle between needing self-care and the concern about how to find the time for it. If you haven’t already, please take the time to visit her blog.

Around the 7 month sober mark, I began to build a resentment around my sober process. I  have been working full-time throughout this incredible journey that is changing every piece of myself. I was raised to put work first, to make my job my identity. When your value is based on your success at work, it is impossible to consider scaling back for self-care. That is simply a selfish, lazy thought. Or so I thought until recently.

This sober journey is changing how I define myself. I had a very frank conversation with my boss yesterday and asked to reduce my hours to part-time for a 10 week period. I had my script in my head, but when I saw that she was not understanding my intentions, I threw out the script and went rogue.

She knows that I have issues with alcohol; I had to expose that truth to her 15 months ago (although I still didn’t get sober for another 5 months after that humiliating conversation). SInce then, we haven’t talked about my “issues” (that was as far as I was willing to admit 15 months ago). I gave her one hell of a big update yesterday.

– I’m in AA and I’m coming up on 1 year sober.

– I put an unbelievable amount of time into changing my life during 2013 and I need to take a little time to continue that work without being overwhelmed.

– Part of the work I’m doing is to take control of my mental health as well. I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD and am on medication to increase focus. I’m also in therapy and developing tools to further take control.

– In sum, I’m in a very positive place today and everything I worked so hard on in 2013 is to benefit me personally and professionally. I see the improvements in my work routine that are a direct result of this journey.

The meeting ended on a positive note, with my boss agreeing to all of my requests. I think that once I spilled the truth about alcoholism and mental illness, she probably couldn’t say no. It certainly wasn’t my intention to manipulate her into agreeing to the reduction in hours, but I now see that may be what happened. My intent was to help her understand why I am asking to scale back temporarily. It is not that I’m looking for another job, it is purely that I need to take charge of my health (physical, mental and spiritual).

It’s been another life-changing 24 hours. I’ve peacefully come to terms with the fact that maybe I’m not supposed to be a workaholic who can do everything that is asked of me. It’s time to be honest with myself and the people around me. I’m taking control of my life, but it takes a little more effort for me to maintain control than it does for others. I have some elements within me that require extra attention: bipolar II, ADHD, alcoholism, and a lifetime of self-hate because these elements have run rampant within me for 37 years.

So maybe I’m not someone who can work 40 hours a week. Maybe I’m someone who achieves greater success working 4 days a week and having the extra time to be active in AA, attend therapy, get more physical activity, and generally be selfish. I no longer see the word “selfish” as negative in this context. I cannot be a productive, happy person without control over the elements within me.

When I got back to my desk after my meeting yesterday, I had a mild wave of panic. “What have I done? Why did I tell her all of that? I look so weak to her now. I need to fix this and take it all back.” It was a fleeting wave. I grabbed hold of the thoughts and talked myself through them: this is what I need. I have changed my life for the better today. I am confident in that truth.

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Day 280: Recovery and Reflections

Snow Globe Coaster

The metaphor of a rollercoaster works in my life in a couple of ways.  Most notably, in describing the ups and downs associated with bipolar II.  Another is in describing my commitment to any given task: I start out fully devoted and inevitably my enthusiasm wanes.

While this is likely a flaw that is connected with my ADHD, it’s something that I need to manage.  I used to allow myself to walk away from various undertakings, fooling myself into believing that I was simply “moving on.”  I can look back through the decades and see the wreckage in my life caused by “moving on” from various paths.

My weight has yo-yo’d a record-breaking number of times through my life because I easily abandon a healthy lifestyle that I’ve worked hard towards.  I’m back at the top of this particular rollercoaster: tracking calories, habitually hitting the gym, white-knuckling through the late-night Cheerio cravings.

I am nervous to admit that my enthusiasm for AA is waning.  The reservations I had about the program going in, seemed to melt away for a few months, giving me a calm acceptance of the rituals.  Today, I’m starting to feel some of those reservations surface again.  I see the dedication that some of these people have; 40 years of sobriety and they still attend 2-3 meetings a week.  Wait, what?

All of the speakers I’ve heard recently, while they were terrific storytellers, all of the stories were the same: “I was an atheist before I came to AA and once I opened the door a crack to my higher power, it was all I needed.  Now I believe.”  Great story, but the cynic in me is starting to sound the warning bell on this cult.

Part of what allowed me to be such a good alcoholic is that I’m always searching for an easy fix.  At the end of the year, I’ll start medication to control the ADHD.  I’m looking to this as a fix-all: one easy pill and I’ll be focused!  Not likely.

Ah the rollercoaster of life: managing daily responsibilities with a spinning mind and a thirst for vodka.  No wonder I’ve amounted to nothing in my 37 years; I allow life to hurtle along without any management.  Instant gratification has been my engine.  There’s so much work to do and my enthusiasm is fading.

Frazzled. Love the Word, Hate the Feeling.

I’m frazzled.  I’m overwhelmingly tired and self-medicating with a metric shit-tonne of Red Bull (metric, because I’m Canadian).  Energy drinks just aren’t cutting it.  I want to flat out ask my doctor for stimulants.  That, or find an alternative to the Seroquel, because it’s kicking my ass.

I haven’t drank in 163 days, but I’ve been feeling drunk for 2 weeks since Seroquel was added to my diet.

This shitty combo of exhaustion and fake energy is making it impossible to focus and finish anything.  There are 1000 things I want to do but I can’t organize the logistics to even start most.

I’ve been sitting at my desk for 5 hours and haven’t completed anything of significance.  I have documents open with tasks in varying states of progress.  I know that today’s going to pass without getting anything done.  I have no focus or ability to stay with one task longer than a few minutes.

Fuck.  This is not the person I want to be.  This is not the worker I want to be.

When a coworker comes to my desk for an impromptu conversation, I can’t get out of it fast enough.  It’s like I have a squirrel in my head digging furiously to get under the fence and escape.  I just want to escape back to my swirling thoughts; trying to follow a conversation and organize intelligent responses is too much work.

There’s not much time left in this work day.  I’m going to close the internet browser and keep it closed for the remainder of the day.  I’ll avoid any work tasks that require it, minimizing my risk of being distracted like the digging vermin that’s in my head.

I’ll make a list of 3 tasks to complete before the whistle blows.  And I’ll finish them.

Forced focus starts in 3, 2, ….

It’s a Balancing Act

Juggling Mental StabilityI’m juggling a lot of balls in my mind.  There’s a ball each for bipolar, anxiety, ADHD, and sobriety.  If I allow one ball to stray, then all will fall.  If I allow the bipolar ball to dip too low, I will sink into depression, which threatens sobriety.  It’s all a balancing act.

I’m constantly tweaking the strategy to maintain the balance in my brain.  It’s an interconnecting puzzle of medication, therapy, bike riding, comedies, blogging and reading.  The one piece that keeps everything together is therapy.  There is no question that without working with a therapist (one who is an excellent fit for me), I would not be the person I am today.

I have a lot of personality quirks, let’s call them quirks, that need work, but overall I’m a much better functioning person than I was before therapy began 5 months ago.  It’s the motor that keeps the juggling at an even keeled pace.

Bargaining With The Clock

Bargaining with the clockThere are 7 urgent items waiting for me at work on Monday.  Things that should have been done days or weeks ago.

My car’s license plates expired 2 weeks ago.  Last year, when I let this happen, I also put off paying the ticket I received for said expired plates.  So much so, that my license was suspended and I wound up in court bargaining with the prosecutor to allow me to keep it.  That was a $1,000 clusterfuck of procrastinations.

My home has been my home for 11 years.  There are unpacked boxes in the basement.

There is an unfinished needlepoint in a closet that hasn’t been touched in 15 years.

I put off everything.  I am always watching the clock and begging it to pause, just for a little while.  Just long enough to finish whatever task I’ve put off far too long.  I bargain with the clock.  I have to leave in 15 minutes; I can play Candy Crush for 10 more minutes, because it’ll only take 5 minutes to do my hair and makeup and pack my lunch, right?

I work a desk job and I’ll often look at the clock and realize I’ve done nothing productive for hours, and there’s not enough time left to do what must be done.  I end up working late and on weekends when there’s a hard deadline.

My doctors say that’s ADHD.  Perhaps.  That’s easier to digest than “you’re just a shitty, lazy person.”

I should be making dinner right now.  Looking at the clock, I think: fuck it, I can blog for another 20 minutes.  

Daily Prompt: Procrastination

Similar Read: Why Isn’t There More time To Do What I’ve Put Off?

Can’t Identify the Feeling

Comfortably NumbI’m sitting at my desk, surrounded by tasks but unable to get started on any of them.  My mind is darting from one thought to another, so quickly that when I try to remember how I got to one, I cannot retrace the path.  I can’t remember what felt so important and urgent just seconds ago before I started thinking about organizing that desktop folder.

I try to force myself to identify how I’m feeling.  I start the sentence “I feel really…” a dozen times but can’t finish it.  The usual adjectives just don’t fit.  So here I sit with my mind flitting and feeling numb.  That’s the best I can do when I try to finish the sentence: I feel really numb.

I can’t explain why I cannot get motivated to work.  I’m spending hours surfing the net, going between news sites, Twitter and WordPress.  When I’ve exhausted one site for the moment, I sit with my fingers positioned on the keyboard, staring at the screen hoping to be inspired as to where to surf next.  After a few beats, I’ll type in the next URL and spend a few minutes getting caught up from when I last visited (maybe an hour ago?).

As unproductive as I am sitting here, I don’t have an overwhelming desire to leave for the day.  I’m not thinking of excuses to leave early and I’m not counting down the minutes.  I’m just numb.

Maybe “numb” isn’t the right word.  I’m just in limbo?  I’m just…

Two minutes left to the day.  Now I’m counting down.  I’ve managed to complete one time-sensitive report for a client with 2 minutes to spare.  That’s just enough time to catch up on Twitter.

Why Isn’t There More Time To Do What I’ve Put Off??

www.freefoto.comThere just aren’t enough free hours in the day to do everything I want/need to do!  The next two weeks are busy – nothing extraordinary, but there are a lot of little deadlines and commitments.  My ADHD mind knew, in an abstract way, that some of these commitments were coming up, but I hadn’t connected the dots because of my finely tuned ability to delay and put things into the mental “deal with later” file.

So yesterday I connected the dots – I put together a beautifully formatted (ADHD) spreadsheet outlining the next 2 weeks and all of the little tasks that need to be done in order to hit the big deadlines.  Then the anxiety set in.  I’m trying to be very mindful of my usual ADHD pitfalls, especially underestimating how much time a task will actually take.  Not to mention my tendency to over schedule, having the best intentions to complete 17 tasks in one day (“I can do it, no problem”), with no chance in hell of getting to half of them.

There’s no choice but to simply do as much as I can and let the less important tasks fall away.  Amidst all of the mundane tasks that need to get done, there are a few fun plans that I don’t want to overshadow with anxiety and over planning (and the subsequent self-loathing for not completing said 17 tasks).

The highlight of the next week is reuniting with 5 friends I haven’t seen in 10 years.  This is an evening I want to purely enjoy and not allow any of my (73) mental roadblocks overshadow.  Let’s see if I can strong-arm my brain into being normal – if only for a little while!