Sunday, October 21, 2018

Struggling and Trudging

One of my favorite movies is A Knight's Tale because, well Paul Bettany as Chaucer and it's just a great movie. A line that I've adopted for hard times comes from aforementioned Chaucer. He's lost everything gambling and he's walking all alone when one of the characters asks him what he's doing.

Chaucer: Uh... trudging. You know, trudging? 
[They all stare at him]
Chaucer: To trudge: the slow, weary, depressing yet determined walk of a man who has nothing left in life except the impulse to simply soldier on.

Lately it feels like I am trudging. Simply soldiering on in hopes that I will find something...
and I'm struggling.

I recently started a new intense therapy for my depression and anxiety. It's working, but-- much like recovery-- it's hard, it's emotional, it's going to take time. I've had many low days, depressed days, and it's affected my work. Which is an added stress. I'm easily triggered and very emotional. I've had to avoid news, social media as it relates to politics, etc. I've had to reset my expectations of what I can and can't accomplish in a day... and be happy with the results, even if all my to-do boxes aren't checked off.

One thing that's been hard is my addiction. I've been in recovery for seven years, but I find myself easily triggered now in podcasts, music... all the old triggers. I know it's because my body and my brain want to help me... and that's how they used to do it! And I may have slipped up last night. I stayed up late late into the night watching romantic movies. Historical romance. Because I'm lonely. I would love some romance in my life. A partner. I'm so tired of doing it all myself... but at the same time I have no desire to even get out there and date. I tried to go to a Singles Dance a few weeks ago and... never again. I'm okay being single, I love my life. I so do not want to have to deal with all the dating crap I would have to go through right now... but...

So I found myself watching these videos, movies I've seen before. Based on historical fiction books. Very romantic... and I felt that longing, that feeling of wanting that or desiring that feeling, and the longing that comes with watching people kiss. I used to use kissing or sex scenes in movies to feed my addiction. So I'm not sure if last night was a slip up, or just a simple longing for something I don't have in my life... I want to talk with my bishop, who is a good man... but I don't feel comfortable talking to him about this.

One of the reasons? My testimony is struggling. It has been ever since the news broke of the MTC abuse scandal. As a victim of abuse myself. As someone who was treated differently, especially when my parents divorced... a someone who was not believed... to read that response from the Prophet of the Church... broke me. Because I'd always held onto the hope that a prophet would have reacted differently than my bishop did. I held onto the talks given over the years from these same leaders that abuse was wrong. They condemned it... except for now, apparently. Because that first statement blamed the victim. And THEN to find out they had known about this for EIGHT years! This predator has never been punished! And this woman is still trying to be heard. It broke me. I watched as fellow abuse victims in group struggled with it. I struggled with it. Because this is not how the Savior would have acted.

One night I had a huge crisis of faith, because if these "prophets" could treat a victim of abuse in such a way... was the Church even true? Where would I go?

I stayed. I stayed because I believe in the gospel. I believe the gospel is true. I believe in eternal families, and priesthood power, and the ARP program. That is from Heavenly Father. I believe that God is trying to work with human beings... but I struggle to accept President Nelson as a prophet. I've struggled through each conference this year. The lack of women giving talks or prayers. The lack of talking about real, pressing issues. The obnoxious emphasis on the name. Then, to be told by these same priesthood leaders that my sole role in this life is to be a nurturer and to get married and have babies... that can't be my sole purpose! I am single. My purpose has to be more than that. More than waiting until I'm dead to get the real blessings  that I missed out on this life.
Today, I didn't go to church. Mostly because I slept through it. I've been struggling with attending church. I don't feel that I belong.
I did talk to my bishop about my concerns and he helped, a little, but he thinks "there's more to the story." Which I don't believe.
Anyway... that's where I am. Today, even though it's Sunday, I think I will clean my house while trying to listen to conference. I did love many of the talks from October Conference... I'm working on it. Maybe we're in transition. Because the Church has changed, my bishop pointed out, it will continue to change. I must hold on to the belief that the gospel is true.
Because the Church's ARP program has changed me. It saved me in many ways.
I'm going through my own transition as well. In an effort to help my therapy be easier, I'm simplifying my life. One way is that  I'm changing PASG groups. They moved my original one further away and it's a struggle to get there. Plus, there is a different ARP mission area closer to me and I feel the desire to be closer to home. Most of the women from the group when I originally began coming, no longer come. It's new people and I figure I can feel just as alone in a new group and not have to drive 20 miles. And to not have to freak out every week trying to survive the interstate traffic. I hope to make new friends there.

Wish me luck as a trudge.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

An addict is victim and sinner.

I love this blog post by Beggar's Daughter about abuse, addiction, and recovery!
I highly recommend it.

The past few months my anxiety and depression have been sky high. I've recently started seeing an EMDR therapist. So far, so good.
I will try to write more later, but today I want to share this!

Yes, we're addicts, but that doesn't mean we don't deserve healing!

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.