The Dark Side, Part 2

Okay, so my last post was about my relapse and the “cookies” over on the Dark Side. I got pretty emotional while trying to explain what happened when I put the plug in the jug AGAIN.

What happened was….TERROR. Paralyzing fear. A relentless feeling of hopelessness. In all of my years of drinking and swearing off drinking, binging and quitting, I have never experienced such a deep sense of absolute DOOM. I laid on my couch for 3 straight days, unable to form complete sentences, unable to think rational thoughts. I couldn’t even say the Serenity prayer. I honestly believe I was on the verge of having a wet brain. Physically I was so weak that my husband had to help me stand so I could use the bathroom. On the 4th day, I was able to eat 3 or 4 bites of toast with a bit of butter soaked in milk. That 4th day is when the reality of my situation started to hit me.

Could I recover from this? Was I going to die? If I didn’t die, did I do irreversible brain damage? Did I want to live? Did I want to recover? Incomplete thoughts would shoot through me at the speed of light. I couldn’t slow them down. I couldn’t rest. Sleep was impossible. I remember saying “God, please help me. Thanks. Amen.” That was the longest string of words I could manage.

Then the mental illness demons decided to tap dance on my already mushy mind. Anxiety sucker punched me. PTSD gifted me with flashbacks from numerous past events, so real even the smell and taste senses were present. Bipolar must have thought it was time to play King of the Mountain, because it came in and knocked everyone else down the hill. I was Sybil in rare form!

I am so thankful that I had a strong support system in AA that helped me find my way back. I had to have my butt in a chair daily for quite some time. Even 6 months later I am battling the mental health demons, though not nearly as bad as in November. Here’s a little bit of what I’ve learned or needed a refresher course on:

  • The Dark Side sucks ass!
  • They LIED about the cookies!
  •  An ex-booze hound should NOT drink booze.
  • Booze and psych meds DO NOT MIX!!
  • Mental illness and addiction is a wicked combination.WHAT A LIFE!
  • ~Me
  • And finally…Staying sober is WAY, WAY easier than GETTING sober!!! I am so blessed to have been given the opportunity to get and stay sober AGAIN.

The Dark Side, Part I

So, here I sit, back in the “sunlight of the Spirit”…sort of. Let’s just say I am “cautiously optimistic”. This last visit to the Dark Side still has me scarred, scared, befuddled, baffled and then some.

And for those of you in recovery that might be in a bad spot and be tempted to the Dark Side….take it from me…THE COOKIES SUCK ASS!!! Oh, sure at first they will serve them up nice and fresh, warm from the oven with a tall, ice cold glass of milk. MMMmmmm. Then, they downgrade just a little. Cookies not as fresh and milk not as cold. Then the cookies aren’t even homemade and they skimp on the milk. Before I knew it, I was getting sugar-free STALE cookies that left an after taste and NO milk. Sound familiar? The point is, the Dark Side lies. My addiction LIES. I turned back to the booze because my disease told me nothing else would make me feel better. I gave up. Used the booze to self-medicate. Instant gratification. Did it work? You bet your sweet ass it worked. A couple of times. But then, it didn’t. Just like the cookies. And what I was left with was 100 times worse than where I started…

  • 3 ½ years of sobriety gone
  • Loss of loved ones trust
  • Bipolar in full swing
  • Despair
  • Doubt
  • Fear
  • Anxiety x 100
  • Compromised physical health

Just to name a few. I went to the Dark Side alright. And it damn near killed me. I went to treatment from the end of September to the end of October. Still had a few drinks in me though. Finally got my act together on November 20th. I pray that I never forget the first two weeks without booze. No drama here…I was near death. Could hardly stand, barely swallow to sip water or eat “milk toast”. And my brain….putty. For 3 days I just layed on the couch and “existed”. It was a literal hell. I was stuck in my own skin, my mind would race through a million thoughts but I couldn’t catch one. I’m getting anxious just writing about it.

Glad to be back. More later.

WHAT A LIFE.

~ME

Meh…..just Meh.

That about sums up the week. I’ve just been “meh”. The demons have been damn busy this week. And I can tell y’all why. Because I wasn’t doing nary a thing to keep them shackled, that’s why! I was in that horrible place, you know the one…sitting in my shit, and it stunk and wasn’t comfortable but because it was “MY” shit, it was at least familiar. Everything else had become so unfamiliar and scary, I simply chose to keep sitting in my stinky and uncomfortable shit. True insanity that makes so much sense. Wait….What?!

This insane, sensible inactive activity went on for about 3 days before it became unbearable enough for me to do something about it. Booze demon screaming “drink the vodka, you’ll sleep better!”, Bipolar demon shouting “quit taking the meds, you’ll sleep better”, and the anxiety demon screeches “don’t leave the house because bad things will happen if you do.”

I showered the stinky poop of myself and went to a meeting on Friday. And while I can not honestly proclaim that my world instantly become all rainbows and unicorns, I can say I instantly started to feel better. Why does it have to get so bad before I take action? Sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes I stay on top of things and it goes good for a long period of time. But I know what to do when it starts getting bad, and yet, I do the opposite. And that just blows my mind.

Meeting makers make it. I know this to be true. With how volatile my mental health and sleep patterns are right now, I need lotsa’ meetings. DUH! So grateful for this recovery life, where I can be “meh…just meh” or can choose to break that old behavior and actually have a great days.

WHAT A LIFE!

~Me

 

 

But Weight, There’s More…

scale

I had to go to my primary care doc because I pulled a muscle in my back and touched off a bad spasm. None too happy about being in the doc’s office to begin with and then I have to stand on the scale. grrrrr. I weighed in at a whopping 202 pounds. WHAT? I had to look back and make sure the nurse didn’t have her foot on the scale as a joke. Nope. It was ALL me! WHAT?

I haven’t weighed that much since before my liver failure in 2008. I stand 5 feet, no inches tall (or short) so you can imagine what 202 pounds looks like on that frame. Dumpy. Frumpy. Fatty. Ugh. I have gained 35 pounds in 3 months. Is there a medal for that or something?

I know that I have been depressed. I know that I have used food for comfort. But 35 pounds?! That’s just ludicrous. The demons came on fast and strong. I almost completely forgot about the pain in my back. My skull started vibrating, the voices were so loud.

  • “You’re huge.”
  • “You’re worthless.”
  • “Just eat and the puke.”
  • “Hubby doesn’t love you anymore. How could he possibly find you’re fat ass attractive?”
  • “Start drinking again. You never eat when you’re drinking.”
  • “Stop taking you’re meds. They make you gain weight.”

The scary thing was, I was listening to the voices and they were sounding like the voice of reason. Damn those demons. Once doc came into the room and checked me over for the back spasm, I brought up the weight gain. He was shocked. Told me that he found it very hard to believe that I weighed 202 lbs. That made me feel better. We discussed strategy on weight loss, but he made me promise not to try anything until after September 10th when I am cleared from the hysterectomy and now my back. I have to have physical therapy 3 times a week. grrrrr.

The demon voices were still making my skull vibrate. I felt like a total failure. How could I have allowed myself to get to that weight? I felt lazy. I felt ashamed. I guilty. I knew that I had been using food for comfort but I had no idea it had gotten to this point. My mind was racing. 100 thoughts going through and I couldn’t grab onto 1 and focus. Diet…which one…swim…how long…can’t swim yet…not cleared for exercise…binge and purge…bad for me…no carbs…unrealistic. STOP!! “God, please help me. Thanks. Amen.”

It wasn’t instant, but it was quick. I began to calm down. I said my version of the AA ABC’s. I can’t, He can, I’m gonna’ let Him. I felt better. I am powerless. Not just over booze. I’m putting food on the ever growing list. My life is unmanageable. God can restore me to sanity. (so I’ve been told) Nah, I know this to be true. I just have to get out of the way. Quit obsessing over something I have no control over at this very moment. In a few weeks, I can do something about it, but not right now. So I can choose to stew and sit in my poop or I can surrender and give it to God to handle. I choose the latter. At least for now. I may forget and start stewing again. But that’s the grace and mercy of this program. If I take the crap back, God is always willing when I am ready to give it back to Him.

WHAT A LIFE!

~Me

Well, Dog-gone It!

Joe

This is my fur-kid, Joe. He is 3 quarters Black Lab and 1 quarter German Shepherd and just turned 2 years old 2 weeks ago. If you know anything about dogs then you’ll know he is still quite exuberant and full of “puppy”.

Yesterday, Joe gave me quite a fright. I had him outside on his lead. He finished doing his business and I let him lounge in the grass for awhile while I perused Facebook. When it was time to go inside, I unhooked the lead and walked Joe by his collar toward the house. He had other plans. He did some sort of doggie ninja move, twisted then pulled and the next thing I knew he was on the other side of the yard.  My heart was in my throat. Joe is a runner.

We just recently moved from a city into a small town. Joe doesn’t know the layout very well yet and we live fairly close to a county road. As soon as he realized he was “free” he bolted across the street and out of my sight. My anxiety level went through the roof. I got Joe’s leash and opened the garage. Sat in a chair in the driveway, calling for him and whistling. Nothing. I could feel my body reacting to the anxiety then. “Deep breaths, deep breaths.”, I told myself. I was shaking. I laid eyes on him a couple of times but he was always far off. I went back in the house but left the garage door and house door open so he could get in. By this time every muscle in my body was tight and my breathing way out of whack.

Joe is my companion. My confidant. My buddy. He keeps me company while hubby is on the road all week. The thought of losing him is unbearable. He is a very intelligent pup. And funny, too. I am convinced that he understands the English language and therefore I talk to him ALL THE TIME. He snuggles up to me at night, or when I am having a “mental health” day. He makes sure I get my exercise by INSISTING on going for walks. My mind was racing with thoughts of what would happen if he didn’t come home.

I took an anti-anxiety pill. A non-benzodiazepine. I wished I hadn’t canceled my benzo prescription. Went back outside and called for Joe. Still nothing. Came inside and went to the living room and got on my knees to pray. I could hardly get the words out. Finally settled on “God, please help me. Thanks. Amen.” I couldn’t focus long enough for anything else. My mind was too jumbled. I felt like my heart was going to explode. Tears burned my eyes as they welled up before falling.

Tick, tick, tick, tick. I heard the sweet sound of his nails on the linoleum in the kitchen. HE CAME HOME! I got up from my kneeling spot and went to the kitchen. Joe was panting so hard, his tongue almost touched the floor. I knelt down and hugged him hard. He just looked at me like, “Why you cryin’, Mama?”. I shut the front door, got fresh water for him and scolded him while he lapped up the water. Then, the demons kicked in.

The crises was over but the way my lying mind works, the “what ifs” start slamming me. What if Joe didn’t come home? What if Joe had gotten hit by a car? What if Joe had bitten somebody? (he would never do that. lick someone to death, maybe.) I began to feel overwhelmed. Manic. Panic. I couldn’t bring myself back to reality. While a part of me knew these were irrational fears, I was still allowing them to fester. The booze demon decided to come out an play. “Hey, you wanna’ shut those others up? I’ll take care of that. You KNOW I always do. A few swigs and they go silent.” “GO AWAY!”, I shouted out loud. He kept on going, of course. I was in a pickle. I was a hot mess. I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong that was causing this melt down. DUH! I was dialoging with the disease. HELLO! When I dialog with the disease, it always wins. Back down on my knees I went. “God, please help me. Thanks. Amen.” I said a few other things, too, like “Your will not mine”, and “I surrender.”

I started feeling better. Stronger. I was “Higher Powered”. I should know better than to face off with the booze demon one on one. He’ll kick my butt every time. I can’t talk to him. I talk to God and let God fight that battle for me. As for the mental illness demons, I’m still a bit manic today after Joe’s disappearing act yesterday. I still have anxiety. Still have the “What ifs” lurking in my head. But he’s home. He snuggled up with me last night to sleep and we went for a walk this morning. I pray that the vibrations in my mind will smooth out soon.

I am so grateful that I have been given the tools to get through situations like this. I am working on picking up those tools earlier in a situation and not waiting until it’s a full blown crises. Progress not perfection.

WHAT A LIFE!

~Me

Taking Out the Garbage

I have a very heightened sense of smell. I’ve been told that I could smell a flea fart 100 miles upwind. (that was not a compliment) Point being, the garbage MUST be taken out at the end of the day or I am a big “grumpasaurous” in the morning when I walk down the hall and smell the stinky garbage. Sometimes it’s hardly half full but I don’t care. It MUST be taken out or I am grumpy. Who wants to smell stinky garbage first thing in the morning?

I say this because I can relate it to doing my 10th step every night. If I don’t “take out the garbage” from the day, it sits with me overnight and I wake up grumpy because yesterday’s garbage is weighing on me and it stinks! By taking just a few minutes before going to bed and doing an inventory of my day, I get a clean house and go to sleep with a light heart. For me it’s a MUST. When I forget, I don’t sleep well. When I don’t sleep well, one or more of my mental illness demons tries to rear it’s ugly head. But why wouldn’t I want to? I know that when I do a 10th step, I feel so much better and when I don’t, I feel like poop. I must admit, there are times when I am the rebellious teen who stomps the foot, folds the arms, and says, “I don’t wanna’, you can’t make me!”. It makes no sense, but it happens. I get the same result every single time I do it. Crappy nights sleep and an emotional hangover in the morning.

So, tonight I will take the garbage out, both physically and spiritually. I am so grateful to the program that has taught me how to do this.

WHAT A LIFE!

~Me

Silent but Deadly

No, I am not talking about farts, although my dog Joe most definitely lets some righteous SBD’s go that almost require gas masks. He is so stinky that he “shares his air” and then gets up from wherever he is lounging and goes to a clean air zone. But I digress.

The silent but deadly that I am referring to is choosing to be silent about negative feelings and emotions and the deadly consequences that can have.

I can’t stand negativity. I try putting a positive or humorous spin on things whenever I can. The downside to this is sometimes I do not allow myself to be “me” and walk through specific emotions or feelings. I can CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) situations to death. Glass half full. Joke away depression. But on the inside I still feel like curling up in a ball and sobbing.

This hormonal imbalance and the depression that has come with it sucks ass! I am starting to feel like Sybil, with multiple personalities. I’m on an emotional high, everything is peachy and then BAM, sobbing because all my lady parts are gone and I can’t have anymore babies. (I had my tubes tied 10 years ago, so more babies went out the window long before the hysterectomy!) A few days ago, I lost it and cried because I ran out of milk. Can you say “basket case”? 

I know I need to process through the emotions or they will manifest in some other way, like anger. My poor hubby is nearing Sainthood with what he is putting up with. Hats off to him. This up and down exercise is screwing with my recovery program as well.

My morning prayer and meditation have been reduced to, “God please help me. Thanks. Amen.” And then reading the Daily Reflections. I have to read it 3 or 4 times to comprehend because my mind is racing with nonsense. I am very grateful for many of the AA one-liners:

  • Back to basics
  • Keep it simple
  • One day at a time
  • Progress not perfection

These have been a staple in my haphazard brain lately. I can tell that the hormone replacement therapy is helping because the depression is lifting slowly. It’s not all day, every day and certainly not as dark and scary as it was 2 weeks ago. My Bipolar is trying to have some fun with me now. I know that’s just a wave I have to ride and when the manic hits, journal and treat myself with kid gloves because that’s when I am susceptible to counterproductive behavior.

For those of you old enough to remember, Gloria Estefan had a hit song years ago titled, “Coming Out of the Dark”. That’s what keeps playing in my head. I am coming out of a very dark place. By the grace of God, I have a wonderful support system that has held me up during this ICKY ordeal.

As long as I don’t stay silent, my thoughts and actions won’t get deadly. Dual diagnoses is no laughing matter. I am blessed that I can laugh at myself but when I fake it I am just being a fool. When I choose to ignore or run away from feelings and emotions instead of facing them the disease starts winning. Cunning, baffling and powerful. Walking through the stuff means I am not stuffing it down to have it ambush me later. A very dear friend always tells me, “You don’t have to get through it gracefully, you just gotta’ get through it. And I AM.

WHAT A LIFE!

~Me 

Oh, the Places You’ll Go…

This Dr. Seuss book is one of my favorite books of all time. I have given it as a graduation gift to kindergarten, 8th grade, high school, college and even law school. But none have been as profound as when I have given this book to someone who is starting their journey in recovery.

“You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care. About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” Change your playground. How many times do we hear that?

“And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.” One day at a time. That’s all we can handle.

“I’m afraid that sometimes you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ’cause you’ll play against YOU.” When we allow ourselves to spend time in our own head, the disease of addiction WILL play horrible, scary games with us.

“On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far, and face up to your problems, whatever they are.” No matter how far we need to go to get our but in a chair at a meeting, we do it. Meeting makers make it! That’s a fact.

“And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 3/4 percent guaranteed.)” By doing “the next right thing” on a “one day at a time” basis, you WILL succeed.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go. Mental Illness, addiction, whatever ailment it may be. This book is so simple, truthful and uplifting. I read it often. It helps keep me grounded. Try it, you might like it.

WHAT A LIFE.

~Me

Ahhhhh….

I love that ahhhh feeling. You know the one. Release. So bottled up you feel like you’re gonna’ explode and then…ahhhh.

I met with my med. doc and my head doc today. Med doc and I have been together since 2004. 10 years. WOW! For being a Duke fan, he is amazeballz when it comes to psych meds. Of course we have our differences with the whole Duke/UNC thing, but I forgive him. He says that the HRT (hormone replacement therapy) should help get me back on track and pull me out of this depression. No med changes right now. He thinks HRT will enhance my cocktail once it gets going in my system. Glad to hear it because I don’t like feeling like I am moving mountains just getting out of bed in the morning. It was fun informing him that there is a published book titled “Duke Sucks” and that I am the proud owner of a copy.

My head doc, who I call H-bomb, met with me for an hour. It was exhausting. Talk about release. I haven’t seen him since December of last year. I was able to talk through a BUTT LOAD of stuff. That ahhhh feeling of release that booze used to give me I received by puking out all the crap I had bottled up inside. Crap I didn’t even know I had been bottling up. I go to a lot of AA meetings and thought I had my cards on the table. Yeah, not so much. So, H-bomb got an earful. And I got my money’s worth.

I am so blessed to have these two as part of my support system. They have been by my side through some ugly times. I am going to start seeing H-bomb on a biweekly basis for awhile until things level out. With hubby on the road again, it will be good to have this outlet. There’s only so much one should put out on the table at AA meetings. And I feel a responsibility to my med doc, even if he is a Duke fan, to keep myself in check. He’s got a lot of time invested in me. And he helps give me that Ahhhh feeling.

WHAT A LIFE.

~Me

Sound mind and body.

Yes, I am of sound mind and body. As in, my mind and body make TONS of sounds!

Currently, my skull is vibrating from all the noise my mind is making. The demons (addiction, mental illness) know that I have appointments with my head doc and my med doc tomorrow. I have been forcing myself to get to near daily AA meetings, which is pissing one demon off in particular. With my morning prayer and meditation, the demons all scream in pain. It’s not long before they dress their wounds and come back fighting. They talk, they scheme, they scream. But the awesome thing is that this morning, I surrendered. I’m not fighting back. My Higher Power has this. God has my six. If I was fighting, my ass would have been toast before I got out of bed. This trip to depression street has really taken it’s toll on me. Mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. But it won’t win.

I mentioned physically. OMG! I have gained over 25 pounds in 2 months. I promise I am not the vain type, but on a 5 foot, zero inch frame, 25 pounds is A LOT, especially when I was over weight to begin with. So, yes, my body IS making tons of sounds. Snap, crackle, pop. I sound like a bowl of Rice Krispy’s when I move. I keep telling myself this is just a bump in the road, but those damn demons try to make me feel like I am the bump in the road. In reality, I know that as I emerge from this depression and get the green light to exercise from the doc after surgery, I will slowly shed these extra pounds. It’s just not that easy to fathom when I’m standing in front of the mirror naked after a shower.

It’s nice to know that I AM of “sound mind and body”. Hey, it’s MY fantasy, so I make the rules!

WHAT A LIFE!

~Me