It has been months since I’ve posted an update – I’m such a slacker!
I celebrated a year clean on July 27th!!!!
I can definitely say being clean for a year is probably my biggest accomplishment in life. I guess that sounds ridiculous and you’d think I would be more proud of the degrees I’ve earned or some shit but in reality staying clean for a day is a miracle. Putting together 365 (now 418) is incredible to me.
The first picture above is from June 2016 and the second is from June 2017. I found the first picture on my boyfriend’s phone this weekend from a kayaking excursion we took last year. I could not believe it when I saw how bad my face looked and how pale I was in the middle of the summer. I just look so lifeless despite the smile I had on my face. That picture is a reminder to me of where I never want to be again. I may not be exactly where I want to be now in terms of fitness, my job, or emotional health but I am SO far from where I use to be. Definitely the most important transformation picture I have ever posted.
I am going to make a point to update my blog more. I have been reading many memoirs on addiction/mental health recovery and am so inspired to write my own someday. I guess I have to start somewhere though – one day at a time!
I get super frustrated when I have to find a new therapist/psychiatrist/doctor etc. Mostly because I have a hard time trusting people and I hate having to repeat my whole life to someone. I am always super hesitant to even start talking to someone new. I tend to research them on the internet and spend the first session deciding whether or not I can talk. I’ve gone months working with a therapist who knew nothing about me because I didn’t like them and was forced into the situation. I hated that and I think that’s why I am so selective now.
Since I got clean a little less than a year ago (4 days less to be exact!) I have had to change providers many times for various reasons.
July 2016: assigned therapist/psychiatrist that worked at my rehab
September – November 2016: therapist/psychiatrist provided by my intensive outpatient program.
November 2016: Switched to local providers, new therapist and psychiatrist.
December 2016: new psychiatrists decides to retire (seriously??!). On to psychiatrist #4.
January 2017: Required to see a LADC (Licensed Drug and Alcohol Counselor) in order to get my license back. Therapist #4 – lasted only 8 sessions… could not connect on any level with this person unfortunately.
In the spring after all of this bouncing around I ended up discontinuing therapy with the person I had been seeing since November. There ended up being a conflict of interest with my job potentially having access to my records and I didn’t want to risk that. I did some research and reached out to a new provider but ended up playing phone tag for almost two months. I definitely could have been seen sooner if I would have put more effort into setting up the appointment. I have just been so frustrated with changing a million times that I didn’t know if I even wanted to see anyone new. I had to remind myself that having someone to talk to about my shit can be helpful and that it was worth trying.
so TODAY I actually attended an appointment with a new therapist and it went really well. I felt like I could open up to him almost immediately which never happens for me. I also have not had a male therapist in a very long time and was nervous about that but I got through it.
Anyways I am not sure why I feel the need to rant about all provider changes I have had recently but I guess it’s because I’m pretty proud of myself. Usually just one change like these would send me spiraling but I’ve actually been dealing pretty well.
I get overwhelmed pretty easily. Sometimes if my to-do list is too long I get so worked up about it that I end up taking a nap and not getting anything done at all (this happens quite often actually). This usually leads me to having even more to do, with less time to do it. Causing more anxiety and feelings of inadequacy. I can recognize this pattern but actually putting one foot in front of the other in the moment can be tough.
This was definitely one of those weeks. So much to do – no motivation at all to do it. My work schedule was not as hectic as it was the couple weeks prior so I felt I had no excuse but to get everything done. When I woke up today at 10:00 and realized I overslept and had all of the same crap to do as I did a week ago I started to panic. What was wrong with me that I couldn’t just get up an hour early and vacuum and get the dishes done? I shouldn’t be going to this birthday party because I have so much to do. I need to workout, I need to meal prep, I have to write and clean the bathroom and I JUST want to go back to BED.
I set a goal this morning to at least get the dishes done today. If nothing else, at least the the kitchen will be cleaned up and I can feel accomplished. Once I finally got the dishes done though, I started in on everything else I had to do. Now I’m sitting on the couch with a clean apartment and I feel better. I feel accomplished and ready for the week ahead.
Life gets so chaotic and overwhelming that it feels like accomplishing anything is impossible. Fortunately for me, getting done simple tasks leads to a more productive day. I am glad I made the choice to get the dishes done!
Asking for Help is HARD.
This is a short article I wrote for The Mighty about my experience asking for help. Enjoy!
Something happened last week that I’ve been thinking about quite a bit. I have one of those Monday-Sunday AM/PM medication holder things. Well on Monday or Tuesday my boyfriend told me that he was upset because I wasn’t taking my meds. I had only taken two out of the last four days.
(I should note that I take a medication called naltrexone that is an opiate blocker. Meaning if I were to take any opiates they wouldn’t get me high).
My boyfriend was SUPER upset that I hadn’t taken my meds and accused me of getting high because he couldn’t see any other reason why I wouldn’t take them.
My first instinct was to come up with some sort of excuse or deny missing my meds. I did this for a good hour before finally telling him that he was right and I hadn’t taken them. The only problem was that I wasn’t skipping meds in order to get high. I was just down and in one of those moods where I wasn’t really taking care of myself.
I don’t understand why my first reaction is always so defensive. Why I can’t just come out and tell my boyfriend that I have been feeling depressed and unmotivated when it comes to self-care. Why do I always need to have an excuse or lie about such a little problem. There is no reason for it because I know he will be there for me regardless. This is definitely a consistent habit for me so I suppose it comes down to creating new ones.
I guess one positive thing I can say about the situation is that I did finally come around to telling my boyfriend the truth and that I can now sit here and acknowledge the problem. A year ago I would have been in such denial that I actually believed the lies that I was telling. It amazes me what my illness can do to me and I’m so happy about the progress I’ve been making.
One day at a time.
The last couple weeks have been super stressful for some reason. Not a ton has changed in my life but I feel like I can’t seem to keep up.
I am working on finding a new therapist which means I haven’t been to any sort of counseling for about a month now – this usually isn’t the biggest issue in the world but DBT is definitely super helpful when my emotions are all over the place. Hopefully within the next week or so I can get in to see someone new! Changing therapists always causes me some anxiety because I have to explain my whole life story to someone new but it will be worth it in the end!
I went a few months after getting clean without working. I would work for my dad occasionally but I didn’t go right back into working full time because I have a history of putting my recovery and mental health on the back burner and eventually crashing big time. I ended up getting a part time/temp job back in April and it’s been pretty good so far. On the one hand I don’t have to commit to full time hours and can give myself time to do the other things I need to get done but because of the nature of the job I can get called in to work any shift at any time really. I like to have my schedule set up in advance and last minute changes can cause lots of anxiety so that can be a little difficult. This week my schedule is all over the place which makes me feel like I am as well =[
I started a new workout program this week, Kayla Itsines BBG is the name of it. I really like it so far and the workouts exhaust me so that is definitely a plus.
Hopefully I can somehow manage to balance my time with work and the gym and getting to meetings and therapy and everything else. It seems like so much and all I want to do is take a nap and forget about it!
One day at a time – 10 MONTHS CLEAN last Saturday and super proud of myself!
I haven’t posted in over a week! UGH! I decided that I am going to be posting a weekly update to just sort out how my week has been/what’s going on in my life. This is probably more for myself than anyone else but it’s happening anyways.
I got to the gym a ton last week! Which is always a goal for me because exercise makes me feel really good. If I go too long without working out/just laying around my house I end up in a funk. I have been doing this group fitness class called Grit that is one of the best workouts I’ve ever done. I wear a heart rate monitor and I am always practically at my max. I love the feeling after the workout – my head is clear and I feel so accomplished!
My partner, Kerry, and I had his son (Joel) this weekend. Kerry’s ex moved to MA about a year ago so we went through a ton of court bullshit in order to make sure she continued letting us see him. Anyways, we took Joel to this Jurassic Quest thing and it was super cool. It was a massive dinosaur exhibit that had rides and science experiments and just so much stuff. I think it was directed at kids a little younger than Joel but we still had fun.
Goals this week are to get to three meetings and find a new therapist (something I can’t standdddddd having to do).
THANKS FOR READING!
For those who are not familiar with twelve step programs, many meetings have guest speakers who share their story with the group. The guidelines of speaking at a meeting vary from group to group. Usually people are asked to speak once they’ve been clean for a little while and when they are working a program (have a sponsor, go to meetings, etc). When speaking the person is suppose to talk about what life was like while actively using, what brought them to recovery and what life is like now (experience, strength and hope).
Tonight I was asked to speak for the first time! My first thought was HELL NO. Mostly because I have so much anxiety and my thoughts are constantly scattered everywhere that I didn’t even know where I’d begin. I texted my sponsor and she thought it was a good idea so I went for it. It was probably better that I didn’t know in advance because knowing me I would have prepared the whole thing and practiced it over and over and made a HUGE deal out of it when I didn’t need to.
So of course my hands were shaking so bad I had to fidget with my keys so people didn’t notice. My heart was racing out of control – I could legitimately feel my heart pounding in my chest. My palms were all sweaty, my thoughts were going a mile a minute, I thought I was going to fuck it all up.
Then I did it. I told my story. I started at the beginning – when/how/why I started using drugs, I talked about the many times I tried to get clean on my own, I spoke about my ‘rock bottom’ and what it took for me to finally decide I needed to get clean and I finished with what my life is like now. Everyone at the meeting was saying how great I did and how glad they were finally able to hear my story. Now, of course they could all be just saying this stuff to make me feel good but I am so super proud of myself. I can’t sleep because I am still thinking about it!
Anyways I wanted to write a short post about this and how lucky I feel tonight to be clean. This also inspired me to tell you guys my story so be looking for that soon!
One thing you’ll learn about me pretty quickly is that I love reading (so this will definitely not be the last book recommendation that I write..). There is never a time when I don’t have a book going and that book usually goes with me everywhere – leading to lots of recommendations from fellow book enthusiasts. A couple weeks ago I was at my sponsor’s house and she recommended that I read The Night of the Gun by David Carr. My sponsor stated that she read the book in early recovery and while it was a bit triggering it was a great read.
That night I sat down and started reading. I love Carr’s writing style. He is a journalist and put so much time into the actual research for his book. That research being on his own life. He had copies of mugshots, court documents, magazine/newspaper articles he had written, photos of him and his children, so much! He was so thorough in including everything he could about his life. I really appreciated that.
Carr starts out the book by telling a story about a night he believed one of his close friends pulled a gun on him. After speaking with the friend and witnesses he realized that there was a high probability that it was actually him that pulled the gun. Carr spoke a lot about the way our brain works and how we perceive memories. It’s so interesting to me because I have experienced myself times when I start talking to my boyfriend about a specific event that took place while I was actively using and I had gotten the situation all wrong. Our memories are not always the most reliable when reporting facts/events of our pasts.
I think what I like most about this memoir is how authentic and honest Carr is about his addiction. He doesn’t sugarcoat anything and he doesn’t make excuses for what he did. He writes about his experience dealing with active addiction and also the struggles that occur in recovery. This is definitely not your stereotypical addiction memoir.
I would definitely recommend this book to addicts who need a little inspiration in recovery. I would definitely also recommend this to family and friends of addicts as well. Carr really does well writing about how addiction is a family disease and the affects it has on loved ones.
I pay close attention to the stigma and stereotyping that goes on when it comes to mental illness. I learned a long time ago that there are many people in this world who do understand mental illness but there are also quite a few who don’t. Advocating for myself and learning everything I can about my illnesses has been very helpful in reminding myself that I am not actually a monster.
I had an interaction at work last night that hit home for me. I work in a state psychiatric hospital. It is an involuntary facility admitting the most acute patients in the state. The population here is pretty broad. There are some patients who are considered criminally insane and unable to stand trial while others come from community residential treatment or their own home. Regardless of where the patient comes here from the range of diagnosis we see is pretty wide.
Tonight we were admitting a new patient and a nurse supervisor came to my office asking for her medical and psychiatric history. I reported what her previous diagnosis’ have been (including borderline personality disorder). She told me that we don’t normally take many borderlines anymore so of course I asked why. Her response is still bothering me. “Because if I had to work with a borderline every day I’d quit my job.”
As you can guess, I have not disclosed to my work what my own diagnosis is. When I had to do a pre-employment physical they became aware I took antidepressants but they have never asked me about it. I just started this job a little over a month ago so I’m not 100% comfortable with everyone yet. Normally if I heard someone make a comment like that I would express my opinion but of course this was a supervisor and I kept my mouth shut.
WHY IS IT STILL BOTHERING ME? I’ve been asking myself this question all day and I think I’ve come up with an answer. If this woman has been working with mentally ill patients for over thirty years she has most likely experienced first hand what working with borderlines is like. Does this mean every stereotype and stigma is true? I truly do not believe so. I think the main reason I keep thinking about this is because I’m scared it’s true. I’m afraid that I will use the perception people have of borderlines as an excuse to engage in self destructive and manipulative behaviors.