Sunday, March 18, 2018

Recovery will involve pain

I had surgery a month ago. My first (and hopefully my last). The other night at ARP meeting, I had a revelation of sorts.
I've been in recovery since 2011 and this month marks my seventh anniversary! Go, me!

It was "minor" surgery, but it was hard. Medical fears are one of my anxiety triggers. I have felt peace beyond understanding, but also moments of extreme anxiety and panic. Great waves.

But I survived. It's been a difficult time. More depression. More anxiety. Pain at the surgery sight. Getting over the anesthesia... it took longer than I thought. When my surgeon said I'd be able to go back to work right after... I believed him. And he was right, but not entirely. I did go back to work, but I also couldn't work full days and had to take lots of naps.
I'm still recovering in a lot of ways...but I can do more each day.

A lot like addiction recovery!

When I started the ARP program, I thought it would be 12 steps in 12 weeks and I would be "fixed."
Instead, it's been seven years! It's wonderful, because I've been healed, not merely fixed.
But it took (a lot) longer than I thought and it was painful... very painful.

However, though my arm hurts since the surgery, it doesn't hurt as bad as it did before the operation. That was a lot sharp pain.

I knew addiction recovery would be painful... and it was... but it was a lighter pain than when I was an addict. Does that make sense? It's been hard and it's hurt, but it's a healing hurt... not a bottomless, deep hurt.

I admit that I'm missing my addiction this week. With my struggles with mental health, the desire to escape into fantasy have been there, a lot more than usual. But I know it wouldn't help. Reality would still be there.

So that's my great realization.
Recovery from addiction isn't easy. It's hard. It's painful. But it's worth it. Because the pain hiding underneath is much worse than the pain of the healing process.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

ARP is about more than addiction

The past couple months have been crazy! Not "I ended up in the hospital" crazy, but crazy. God decided to answer my long standing prayers to find a new place to live in one weekend. With 15 days to move! And it was hard.
I had to say goodbye to a place I've lived for two years! A ward I loved and people I considered friends.... and then things didn't end well with my landlady. Which also hurt.

I thought moving would fix everything and I found myself feeling depressed and anxious and still being late for work. My body was trying to deal with the sudden change, and the difficulty of that last day and I was starting therapy...

This week has been hard emotionally. I felt that I needed help, only to be asked to wait for a leadership meeting to be over. There are a lot of stresses and I've had some horrible user dreams.
But I did realize that the ARP program is not just about addiction.

I've started a new ARP manual and as I was reading Step 1, I realized that I could replace addiction with anxiety or depression and it was still true. I was being prideful, I was not being honest with myself and I was struggling.

I need to write and get a lot of this out, because keeping it inside is making my emotional state wobble and crash.

I do love that I have another resource for recovery from my mental hurts, the manual. So my goal today is to answer one question from the Study & Understanding section in Step 1.
Wish me luck.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

If you don't take the time to be well...

The above quote is from Elder Holland's talk "Like A Broken Vessel," which has always been one of my favorites, because I am broken in many, many ways. Sometimes I feel irrevocably so.

The entire quote is "Physicians promise us that if we do not take time to be well, we most assuredly
will take time later on to be ill." And I learned lesson a few weeks ago...

With the stress of trying to find a place to live, commuting, dealing with late nights, and depression and anxiety... I was letting things slip.
And I was hit with a major trigger... I found out I might have to see a family member that I haven't seen in over a decade and have no desire to see or ever have anything to do with. At the time, I thought I was fine with it.
I've forgiven this person, but, as ARP has taught me, it doesn't mean I have to have a relationship with them. Especially when they refuse to change.
Anyway... at the time I didn't think anything of this. I'd come off a slightly stressful weekend with family (trigger festival galore) and a long, stressful day. I was trying to get ready for a work conference and... I had a breakdown and ended up in the hospital.
It was wave after wave of anxiety attacks. I couldn't get control of it and I realized at group this week that it was because I haven't been taking the time to be well. Spiritually, emotionally, or physically.
My meditation has fallen by the wayside. I don't exercise. I barely get enough sleep and I skipped church to spend the day looking at apartments online. (It's no surprise none of those panned out.)

I was running faster than I had strength and when the anxiety attack came... I couldn't handle it. And I ended up in the ER followed by another day of anxiety attacks. Plus, a few user dreams because that is how I usually dealt with this in the past.
It's been very hard, I've been forced to deal with emotions and triggers I've buried for a long time. Also, because God didn't instantly fix me. I got a blessing from a random man that day and I still ended up in the ER. I was mad because I wanted the immediate healing. And I didn't get it. I didn't start feeling okay for a couple days. I thought that my Heavenly Father hadn't helped me, that He had... not abandoned me, but definitely didn't do things my way.
Until I realized that I had led myself to this. The consequences were something I was complicit in because I had become complacent (from Elder Sabin's talk this last conference).

The best part? I survived! The worst happened and I didn't die. I didn't end up broken and irreparable in some psych ward... lost forever.
My Heavenly Father was there. He sent angels on both sides of the veil.
And I'm learning to take better care of myself and focus more on including the Savior and Heavenly Father in my life. I'm taking the time to be well and in recovery.
Hope is there. The future is bright and God is over all.

This is one of my favorite songs right now. It's how I feel. I'm may be dry bones, but my Heavenly Father will raise me up again.

"I may just be dry bones
Stripped of sinew and skin
But the wind of His spirit
Will raise me up again

I lift my eyes
I look to the horizon now
Oh, there's still a song to sing
Fall down on your knees and cry aloud

Can you hear
Can you hear that thunder
Sing His name, sing it out
'Til the sky spills over"

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Working the steps and surviving life.

2017 has been... good... and bad... so mostly normal.
I struggle to realize that it's not all bad and try and find the good. We need both.
I've learned that. I can't be happy all day every day. I realized that while watching Inside Out last month. Joy annoys me and I realized she won't allow the other feelings to be felt.

As you know, I struggle with anxiety and depression and they've been switching places. I'd go through the week feeling anxious and fighting off panic attacks, only to sink into depression on the weekends.
Since the New Year: I've had to get my car repaired several times, even got a new engine, because I was stupid and drove it while it was overheating... so I was isolated and having to ask for help to get to work and I am not good at asking for help.
I've been sick and ill, and having anxiety about that... and the car kept having issues.
This last week I've struggled with sleep, with making myself get out of bed in the morning to go to work, even though I love my job... I've felt helpless and hopeless, dealing with user dreams and triggers in ways I haven't in a while.
At work, we had a training on a book on triggers (not only addiction, but good and bad triggers), which was something I hadn't thought of before. There can be good triggers. And trigger festivals. That's my new favorite description of spending time with my family. I'm off the the trigger festival.

It didn't help that I missed group twice in a row due to all this craziness.
I learned I needed to be gentle with myself. This week, things started to look up. I'm off my anxiety meds, on new depression meds. I'm going to find a new counselor. I found a new doctor who is awesome... I also decided I'm going to move. Being so far away from work is not good, it's frustrating and time consuming. Especially as a single woman. I actually hired a cleaning lady for the month because I was sick for the second time in a month, stressed, anxious, depressed, and feeling overwhelmed. I do not regret it.
The housing situation is also stressful. Oh, the stories I could tell.
I may attend the Single Adult ward once I move... but the jury is still out on that decision.

I realize that I'm learning to deal with my depression and anxiety in ways I haven't had to before now. The last time I had anxiety this bad, I hadn't started recovery. So I would use my addiction to cope. Which explains the user dreams, because my body still thinks that's the solution. Which it isn't.

Today, I feel good. I feel better than I have in a while.
Recovering from addiction is about rewiring the brain. So is recovery from anxiety and depression. It's teaching my brain what is truth and what is lies. No, I do not have blood poisoning because my leg is red where I just scratched it. No, I did not just relapse and give up on recovery.

None of this has been easy. But I feel similar to the way I did six years ago... recovery is possible. I'm not defined by addiction. Or depression. Or anxiety.
And there is hope in that. Recovery.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

I hate February

I'm sorry, February. It's not you. It's me.
Six years ago, February was my rock bottom. It was the month I indulged in my addiction almost nonstop. I didn't go to church, or really hang out with friends... I just read and read and read. And went to the store and read romance novels.

Plus, the days are short and it's Valentine's month.

But I will survive. I'm going to church! I finally finished Step 12!!! YAY!
There's a lot going on right now, but I have faith I will make it through this.
As usual, God has my back.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Happy New Year!

I started this blog post a few weeks ago and it was pretty bleak. 2016 has been hard. Add to that the deaths of Carrie Fisher, one of my heroes, and it really hit me hard.

I am so tired.
I've agreed to write a book for an editor friend and it's way overdue. I said I would get some chapters to them after Thanksgiving and I... am still working on it. But I need the money, because I have a two hour commute each day. It's less if I drive, but then I can't work on the book if I drive and driving stresses me out and uses up gas money.
I got massively ill the week of the election and spent the night of the election pacing my landlady's basement, having huge, massive anxiety attacks. So I missed two days of work at a job I just started. Then, because of the fallout from the election I got to go on anxiety meds which exhaust me.

So my typical day is barely making it to work on time (my boss is so, so understanding, but there's also that fear that they're not really and one day they'll just fire me like my last two jobs this year), working, barely seeing the sun, traveling home in the dark, and finally getting home after 10+ hours away from home.
My house is messy. I put up my Christmas tree a week before Christmas. A couple weeks before, I hurriedly put up a few decorations and my nativity, just to try and feel the Christmas spirit... it hasn't really worked. The holidays felt rushed, my anxiety is through the roof and I've been getting into political arguments on Facebook and was accused by a friend that I was calling her racist... so I think I've lost some friendships over that.
Spending 5 days with my family was great and nice and fun and horrible and lonely and so stressful.
Yesterday, I cried. It was New Year's Eve and no one called to invite me over. I realize how often we forget the single people in the church. I don't mean widows or widowers or divorcees... I mean me. Those of us who have never been married. Who have to sit through church hearing about how to raise a family, or how to apply this lesson to our kids.
I was lonely and stressed and I just wanted someone to reach out to let me know I was remembered. It was a friend from the UK who messaged me a sweet Scottish poem about the New year and I cried. I cried because I miss Scotland. I miss my friends there. The members of the church who did not let me fall through the cracks. Ugh. Honestly, I'm so tired of walking through this desert.

But it's a new year and, as one of my favorite songs, says "Yesterday's a closing door, you don't live there anymore" it's onward and upward. I've accepted that, barring angelic manifestation and possibly a heavenly sign, I'm alone for 2017. Oh, I'm avoiding Single Adult activities like the plague! It's rather like I'm daring Heavenly Father for a miracle. :)

I want to move closer to work, which I will start working on once the dang book is finished.
I will to exercise daily, even if it's only 10 minutes on the thingy in the basement.
In other good news, I'm seeing a counselor for free this week. I do love my job.
I worry that I'm sabotaging myself, but I'm also asking for Heavenly Father's help. I feel hopeful for 2017. It will be hard to leave where I live now, but I also feel that pull to move on. I really, really miss the sun.

To end, new year, new beginnings. But every day can be a new beginning. Also, I'm finally answering some questions on Step 12!! YAY! It's a New Year's miracle! 
It will be okay in the end. Trust in God.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Up, down and all around

Hi! I haven't posted in the last few weeks because, well... life.
I lost my job after only two months and struggled with being out of work again. There wasn't the cushion of money and, honestly, losing two jobs in five months is not great on the self-esteem.

So I went back to job hunting. It was hard and I struggled with anxiety and depression and triggers.
I was definitely having many Children of Israel "moments" where I worried that nothing good was coming.

But it has come! I have a job! A career that I am sure I will love. Interestingly enough, it came the week I've struggled very hard with my triggers.
It started with a British show that I had chosen not to watch when it aired last year, for various reasons, but was curious enough to rent it from my library before the new series aired... and it turns out I should have listened to that original prompting.

It wasn't a explicit show, in fact, it was actually tame, but I ended up watching six hours straight, staying up until 5am, which is not good to do the week before you start a new job, but what was unexpected was the longing that the main male character brought out in me. There were a lot of intense emotions.
The main character is played by a very beautiful man and the character in the story is a good guy too... stands up for the weak, etc. And suddenly I was dealing with feelings of passion and longing and desire that I had not felt in, well, over two years. My heart was broken and I realize now, that I shut down my heart and those natural desires. I am social, but I've avoided the local Single Adult group like it was infested with the plague. If God wanted me to meet someone, it was going to involve a high amount of Divine intervention.

Now here I was, early in the morning after spending six hours intensely involved in a tv show, feeling all these emotions and desires that were triggering and I was being triggered. I found myself looking up the actor, which used to be a prelude to indulging in my fantasy addiction. I stopped. Also, I've been triggering all week. As I was driving to Group this week, I realized that what I was feeling wasn't bad or wrong! These are natural feelings and emotions. It was how I needed to deal with them. Limerence, love, passion, desire... are normal! I had taken them and distorted them. Then, the big reveal happened... this was happening because Heavenly Father wants me to learn how to "bridle my passions" for a future relationship. (Not that I have any idea how far away this future is... it could be years)... so that revelation led to my realization that I had tampered all romantic emotions. Honestly, my first reaction was ugh. I do not feel at all ready or even willing for this. It brings up a lot of deep-seated fears about intimacy and marriage that I've struggled with for years. But I will soldier through. A friend in group sent me a couple great articles on this topic. I might share these later.

One of the hardest parts from this week was reading articles posted by a Mormon on sex and porn addictions being myths. That is a whole other blog post, which I hope to write soon. Still, with that temptation there... and the idea that it isn't a "real"addiction... that created a whole new issue and trigger.
BUT I resisted! Prayer helped a lot. I reached out to my Heavenly Father constantly. I look forward to learning more about myself and how to control my emotions and passions. Because what I feel isn't a sin! All this will be okay. I have my PASG group. I have my defenses and actions. I have my Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost cheering me on.