We Admitted We Were Powerless

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.” –Step One

Powerless does not mean helpless. When we lose electric power in our house due to a downed wire or a storm, I call the power company and pray for the power to come back on. There is nothing I can do in my own ability to repair the electricity.

Yet, I can light candles for light. I can take care where I step, and be sure important things are within reach.  I am not helpless.

Babies, either human or animal, are both powerless and helpless. They can’t get their own nourishment and are mostly dependent on the mother, or other caretakers, for all their needs. Alcoholics and addicts are powerless over their addictions, and we are powerless to make them recover.

Last year just before Thanksgiving I hurt my back. It kicked up an acute inflammation of sciatica. It was awful and painful. I took pain medication for about a week. After that, I had to rely on meds designed for nerve inflammation and ibuprofen.  I moved slowly and everything hurt. What helped get me through this until I was scheduled for an epidural injection a couple weeks ago? Distraction.

A distraction of any kind, whether it was a game on my phone, a Netflix series to binge, or a fantastic book–these are the things that got me through.

Powerless does not mean helpless.

Peace out,

Chris

What’s Eating Judge Judy?

judge judy

Mom and I watch Judge Judy together as often as we’re able. When we’re not, for whatever reason, by the time we dive in for an afternoon episode it’s as if into a long-awaited meal. Starving, we sit, rapt, eyes glued to the TV screen.

“Is she still mad?” Sometimes we’ve asked the words aloud. Lately, a puzzled glance toward each other lets us know all we need to know. Judge Judy’s ticked. Something’s not right.

Maybe she had one of those years. You know, clothes just not hanging like they should, to-do lists too often becoming to…morrow lists. 

We each of us know that feeling. We can completely understand.

My main objective this year — my theme word (sounds silly, I know) — is confidence. Confidence: the acquisition, and what to do with it once it’s acquired. 🙂 Yes. 

What about you? I’ve heard it said that declaring your intention for the year helps to sort of seal the deal. 

Desperation, Tears, Laughter, Hope

This is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I swear on my beloved dog Lucy’s grave in the backyard.

Tuesday, my shrink’s nurse notified me that she had called ahead to (hospital), explaining the situation, that I needed to be taken off all the psych meds I was currently on. Then I would be moved to (psych hospital) to start fresh, a clean slate, to see what would work to make me happier.

But let me backtrack just a little. My family physician promised me that he would basically look into every nook and cranny until I was doing better, happier.

When I get to the hospital, I was told to go through the ED. I registered, hugged my mom goodbye, and waited to be called back. But, instead of sending me onto a floor or into a room, they did an x-ray of my lungs. I’m grateful, because they found fluid on the left lung, an indication of possible pneumonia. They confirmed it, I was admitted to a room, and spent three days there on an IV for dehydration, also for antibiotics.

While I was there, a psych tech came into the room, informed me she had spoken with my shrink. She then told me they can’t take me off my meds there. Neither could any psych hospital. They could tweak the meds, sure, something that has been happening to me since I first started taking psychotropic meds in 1993. Did that help? Hmmm. Don’t think so, because if they had, I would be a much more happy and productive person than I am today. And yes, I got emotional and sort of raised my voice to the tech, who wasn’t responsible for the hospital’s policy. I’m actually angry at my shrink and my primary care physician for giving me hope, then snatching it away – like Snoopy with Linus’s blanket. I may be on the meds for the rest of my life, and deal with these severe side effects (cognitive issues), but I can practice

Radical Acceptance which means completely and totally accepting something from the depths of your soul, with your heart and your mind. You stop fighting reality. When you stop fighting  you suffer less. That means you don’t feel hot anger in your stomach whenever you see the person who got the promotion you deserved and you don’t seethe with resentment when you see your best friend who is now dating your boyfriend. You accept  what is, learn and go forward.

So I was sent home yesterday, still somewhat sick with pneumonia. The doctor gave me antibiotics and raised the mg on my Lisinopril since my blood pressure was so high at the hospital. At one point, it was 200 over 100, and when I looked at it, I was afraid I might have a stroke! I have a hospital follow-up appt with my PC physician on Tuesday. Mom is coming, since she was there the day I told him my voice had been hoarse for the last 4 weeks, that I had trouble swallowing and shortness of breath.

But I’m alive, and that’s the most important thing. My emotions are still all over the place. When I got home, knowing Pookie wouldn’t be there to greet me when I opened the door, something that was building inside me came out in a rush, and I sobbed while Mom put her arm around me. Then, later, I was laughing so hard at a rom/com that I surprised myself!

Life. What a mysterious, sometimes tricky, but always worthwhile endeavor. 🙂

Peace,

Chris

Deal With The Devil – Insidious Steps

“[Jabez Stone is examining Mr. Scratch’s contract]
Jabez Stone: What does it mean here, about my soul?
Mr. Scratch: Why should that worry you? A soul? A soul is nothing. Can you see it, smell it, touch it? No. This soul, *your* soul, are nothing against seven years of good luck. You’ll have money and all that money can buy.”
When this film first came out, one of the ways it is described on a movie site, is as a comedy. When I watched it, a few months ago, it absolutely terrified me. Every time “Mr. Scratch” chuckled or palmed his chin, thinking his evil thoughts, I shivered. But, we all know that deals in the movies also happen in real life. These are the innocent, insidious, steps to how it plays out, at least in my life.
1. My first hospitalization in Chandler, Arizona, where I stayed for five weeks. Because of my fear of authority, I questioned nothing, didn’t know I had other options, so when they wanted to give me Prozac, I said, “Okay.” That’s the beginning. The first ignorance, the first taking whatever comes your way. I’m depressed? Okay, I’ll take Prozac and I’ll get all better. Ha!
2. Switch scene to years later, actually this year. My psychiatrist looks at me and tells me I’m a difficult patient. I, thinking she meant behaviorally, immediately asked what I was doing. “I mean you have been on so many different medications by this point it is hard to know what to try with you that will work.” It’s true. I’ve been on just about everything except MAO inhibitors, because I don’t think I could deal with all the restrictions.
3. It’s no secret on this blog that I have severe anxiety. I’ve been on benzodiazepenes, which only work halfway, then stop working altogether and have to be replaced with another one. What I didn’t do, or no one told me, was to check the side effects: loss of balance and coordination, dizziness, short term memory loss, searching for words, etc. When I told my shrink I was having a really hard time with the side effects, then came my deal with the devil.
4. She said, using her hands, like the lady of justice: “Well, you can either live with the side effects on one hand,” she lifted her other hand, “or just deal with being sick.” Wow.
5. Now, after I made that deal with the devil, to put up with the side effects, I’m potentially very sick. I went to my primary doctor because I had fallen three times in six weeks, and all sort of other difficulties. He told me he would do everything he could, and would not stop until this was figured out and I was better. He ordered an MRI on my brain last Friday, and I have the results: It was an MRI Brain WO Contrast. The summary findings sort of terrify me. Even though I don’t completely understand, because I’m not a doctor (but I play one on TV), it’s startling.
“Mild T2 hyperintense signal is seen within the central and left aspect
of the pons on FLAIR and T2-weighted sequences.
A few very small focal areas of faint hyperintensity identified within
the white matter of the cerebral hemispheres bilaterally.”
“Impression:

1. Findings to suggest mild chronic ischemic changes within the pons
and cerebral hemispheric white matter bilaterally. No acute
intracranial process is seen.”

What’s the moral? Be very careful about your health, because it is immensely precious. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid; it’s your life. Oh. And the last caveat:

Don’t ever make a deal with the devil. 

Peace. Chris xo

Feeling Helpless? Try This!

helpEver feel helpless? When I feel that way, it’s usually because I’m feeling overwhelmed. Then I will remember one of these three things:

1. Breathe. Mmmm. There. Feel better? When I’m helpless, or when I get the thought in my head that says, “I’m helpless,” weirdness descends. Shortness of breath. My chest is tight. Constricted. It sort of feels a little like drowning. So I take a deep belly breath That’s what I call breathing through the diaphragm, because you have to push your tummy out–it seems confusing but it’s not. Do it as many times as you need until the world starts to make a little sense again. You’re not helpless, love. You have everything you’re supposed to, right now this minute.

2. Be in the moment. We are too much forward-thinking and backward-thinking and not enough right-now-thinking. Stay in the now as much as you can. If you’re reading this post, really pay attention. Read it out loud. If you’re reading it on a tablet, turn it upside down and read it that way. LOL When I was a kid and I was bored but couldn’t go to the library because I was grounded or whatever (who, me?), I would take a book I’d already read and read it upside down. 

3. Be your best self. Do the best you can and let it go. We all do the best we can with the knowledge we have at the time. When you know better, you can do better. But this is now.

Peace out. xx

R is for Relapse Prevention

Relapse during recovery doesn’t happen overnight. It happens over a period of time and can be as sneaky and insidious as the disease of codependency itself. It requires an awareness and a dedication to WANTING to stay well.

It ain’t easy. I came close the past week myself.

Tools to help aid in relapse prevention include all but are not limited to the following:

Meetings: This I can’t stress strongly enough. One of the first signs of relapse, for me, is wanting to isolate. I missed several of my regular meetings this past week, and I’m feeling it. I feel blah, stressed, “out of it”, not connected (oh really?), alone, lonely, and resentful. I know exactly why I started isolating, but that doesn’t make it any better. The only solution is to GET MY BUTT to a meeting, which I did yesterday, and am doing again tonight.

Meetings provide a much needed connection so we know we are not alone. They provide structure for us to share our stories, and get strength and hope to carry on. We can fellowship with other members before the meeting or after for coffee.

When I DON’T want to go to a meeting, that’s usually mostly when I know I NEED to get there. The urge to isolate is strong within me, and I have to fight it tooth and nail. Once I get there, I know I’ll feel better. It’s like – like an umbrella in the pouring rain, or that first cup of java in the morning. Nothing compares. 🙂

Sponsorship: It’s important to find the right fit in a sponsor, and there’s nothing wrong with having a temporary one, or even firing your first sponsor when you feel s/he is not right for you. “Fire” is such a strong word. When I ASK someone to be a sponsor, I don’t feel I have the right to FIRE them. But that’s the terminology.

Anyway.

Keeping in touch with my sponsor, whether it’s by phone or email, is crucial. I usually see her at meetings during the week, and we get together on Wednesday, except I begged off this past week (again, ISOLATING).

Literature: There is so much recovery literature to keep a person connected in between meetings. Between the Big Book of Al-Anon, Hope for Today, One Day At a Time in Al-Anon, and Courage to Change (just to name a few), there is absolutely no reason to fall into a funk of old ways and old thinking.

Telephone: Self-explanatory. Pick it up. Use it. Use the phone lists you have from meetings. I don’t use this when I isolate, and that’s a big mistake.

One day at a time. Right?

Peace out. 🙂