Mastering Emotions. Addiction Recovery Month 10

Recently, I’ve been out in nature every day, enjoying the warmer days and lighter nights. It feels like the first time I’ve been in a position to notice, let alone appreciate, the spring.

The sky is blue. The sky is fricking blue! And the foliage is like, bright green. But then, I suddenly feel ill, like the beauty is drawing out the ugliness I still feel inside of me.

So I cry it out. I’ve had a good cry almost every day for two weeks now. I say a ‘good’ cry, but in truth, it’s been horrible. Facing pain does not come naturally to an addict. But I always feel so much better afterwards and my burdens are gradually lightening.

I liken my tears to scoring drugs on a bad day when you have to sit around, waiting for a dealer. There’s an almost unbearable agony to that. Finally, you manage to score and you get that elation, release and relief. I say this is no different.

And, of course, it’s for a greater cause and there’s no doubt my life is getting richer. It’s been hard to see the improvements at times, but on days like this, I can see the positive changes that have been taking place behind the scenes.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m happy, but I’m getting a sense that’s where I’m heading, whereas before I could only cling to the guarantee provided by logic, that things would get better.

New Habits. Addiction Recovery Month 10.

I remember reading that it takes 66 days to create a new habit, that is, for it to become second nature. In the past, it’s worked for me to change one thing at a time, but recently, I’ve been trying to do everything at once. Unsurprisingly, I’ve been feeling down again. It seems I’ve slipped back into my one habit of a lifetime; rushing everything because I’m so desperate to get better and falling flat on my face as a result.

Of all the things I’ve been trying to change, I’d start with healthy eating because I’m obsessed with my health to the point of it being unhealthy. If I eat a chocolate bar, it feels like I’m loosing control, like I’ve transferred those feelings I had in my addiction onto food.

Anyway, that’s another story. PTSD aside, my plan is to create the life I want by building up new habits on a 66 day cycle. It’s not that I can’t do the other things, I do them as and when I feel up to them. That way, if I’m having a bad time, there’s only one thing I have to stay focused on.

It’s painful really. In many ways it feels like I’m back to square one. But of course, I know that’s not true. Just to be able to say I haven’t used drugs for over 10 months at least makes me sound like I’ve got it together, lol. But I must have it together, otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten this far.

Addiction recovery is not only hard, it’s hard to admit it’s hard. I just want to forget about the past and be free. I’ve had to forget about the past to some extent, if I didn’t, I’d get pulled back there, but there’s a drawback to that, I forget where I’ve come from and loose sight of how well I’m doing.

Recently I’ve had people in my life who’ve been taken aback by what I’ve achieved, but I’m so out of touch with what I’ve come through that it baffles me. What? Me? All I see is that I’m failing to reach the high standards I’ve set for myself and it’s time I learnt to lower the bar to a point where I can be comfortable.

It feels like a step backwards but I’m actually letting go of a mentality I’ve carried through from my addiction. There’s always this sense of urgency in addiction: ‘If I don’t change soon, something terrible is going to happen’. I repeated that thought in my head for so many years that it plagues my subconscious, like a mantra.

But the urgent issues have now been dealt with and I have the rest of my life to realise my dreams. The war is over, I can breathe the fresh air again. I can afford to stop and smell the roses.

The ‘Good Things’ Ceiling. Addiction Recovery Month 9.

Yesterday, I started decluttering my flat which I’ve been meaning to do for ages. It’s strange how I’m getting my energy back, but at the same time it’s a little worrying. Could it be bipolar? Only time will tell as it could just be my brain rewiring itself and adjusting to this new life.

Either way, I’m trying to pace myself and use my energy wisely (now I’ve got that shopping spree out of the way). I’m not fully out of the depression, I still have my low points, but I got out of the habit of self-reflection when I had a break from blogging, so maybe this will help.

That’s why I like to blog because it allows me to frame my experience in a positive light. Also, if I’m feeling under the weather, it helps me to work out what’s going on. So…what is going on? I guess I’m having some issues with feeling deserving and being open to receiving good things.

I already have what I would call ‘good things’, like staying on top of my life, but it seems I’ve hit a ‘good things ceiling’ which I have to break through in order to truly move on. It gives me anxiety just thinking about. Maybe that’s what my depressive episode was really about.

Before it hit, I’d just finished my novel and I was getting genuinely positive feedback from it. My life was about to change, but I resisted it, and it paralysed me. Considering I deemed it a miracle that I was actually able to function, to publish a book as well? It proved too much.

It was different when I was writing it, but when I shared it, it became real. That’s when I realised: ‘Oh, I’ve actually done this, I’ve actually written a novel!’ It wasn’t just a childish fantasy in my head or an inevitable unfinished project. I actually did it and I still can’t get my head around it.

It challenges every belief I’ve held about myself since I was a teenager, so it’s not surprising that it stirred me up. Ah! I feel crippled by anxiety now, but at least I have a starting point for working through these issues.

Self-Imposed Limitations. Addiction Recovery Month 9.

I’ve been in a strange place these last three weeks. I think I lost my bearings during those two and a half months of depression and I’m left with this feeling that something is missing. But what’s missing? My recovery is going so well.

My lifestyle is healthier than it’s ever been and I’m discovering a new spiritual path. Am I just being ungrateful? Impatient? Or should I be striving towards my next goals? My work goals.

To have everything in life; health, spirituality and an income from something I’m passionate about; from where I’ve come from, seems wildly unrealistic, like wanting to be an astronaut or something.

In the past, I could only manage one of these things at a time. When I worked on my book my health and meditation turned to shit, when I worked on my spiritual path my work and health fell to wayside and when I maintained my health it took everything I had.

Because of my addiction, the heroin got in the way, and after that the majority of my energy went into my recovery, but now I’m left with this ingrained belief that I can’t maintain all my interests at once. To add to the issue, there are very few people I’ve ever met who’ve maintained their lifestyle goals, either.

So the result, when I look at it, is rather amusing. I do my healthy shopping, I do my healthy eating, my meditation and excerise, which takes up no more than three hours a day. So, for the remaining 13 hours I twiddle my thumbs because; ‘Oh no, I can’t work on my blog or my novel because I’d be breaking the laws of physics, somehow.’ Past experience has told me it isn’t possible.

At least I’ve taken the first step to challenging this belief by catching up with this blog, but even now I have this anxiety like something bad will happen if I continue. I guess it’s going to take time to break these self imposed limitations, but I’ve made a start, I guess we’ll see how it goes.

Spiritual Quarantine – Addiction Recovery Month 9.

Okay, a quick update before I get into my present issue. Most importantly, the last three weeks have been a lot better. My depression finally lifted, I started eating healthy and exercising again and generally staying on top of things. It’s amazing really and I’m grateful to be better, but right now I have other things on my mind.

A couple of months ago, I blogged about wanting to leave the catholic church and since then I’ve been plotting my ‘escape’. I started by looking into other religions, one I could better ‘fit’ into. I became so consumed by it that I lost interest in blogging. In fact, I tried to write a couple of times but it seemed I’d lost my voice.

Desperate to escape institutionalised religion, I’ve been researching different forms of paganism, but yesterday I realised something that disturbed me and it’s completely put me off. I’ve been searching for a new religion because I’m afraid of being ‘lost’, not trusting myself to walk my own path – it’s catholic conditioning all over again.

I already left the church once before, and in it’s place, I became a buddhist, but really all I did was superimpose the same catholic dogma onto the faith. I saw karma as a punishment, I saw the teachings as a gospel which couldn’t be questioned and felt guilty when I couldn’t live up to them. I saw the bodhisattvas as prudish, judgemental, ‘holier than thou’ saints. I saw the Buddhist hell realm as a form of condemnation and I projected the catholic idea of God onto the state of enlightenment.

So, ironically, my conversion to Buddhism only entrenched those toxic ideas deeper within me. So I eventually returned to the catholic church, believing that all religion was fundamentally the same. What I didn’t realise was that what I had deemed as ‘fundamental’ was universal punishment and condemnation. So, my subconscious response was to finally accept this ‘fact’, or pay the price. What a mess! What am I to do?

I’m what they call a ‘cradle catholic’ – indoctrinated from birth, and seeing how deep this brainwashing goes makes me feel violated, ill and almost doomed. How am I to remove this parasite that has reached into the core of my soul? Even the very word ‘religion’ is infected with catholic dogma. Surely I must stay away from it altogether.

If it wasn’t for my meditation practice, I never would’ve seen this, so it stands to reason that meditation is the only way out. In the meantime, I’m not going to be so desperate to join another religion, or subgroup, or anything, I guess I need a kind of ‘spiritual quarantine’. I need to stand alone for a while, to become established in my own voice, but I never imagined how scary that prospect could be.

Celebrating 9 Months.

Now then. Nine months of abstinence today. This month has been the one I’m most proud of because I’ve always faltered when times have got tough. I’ve never come this far, in that sense, and now I finally appear to be coming out of this ‘depressive episode’ or whatever it was.

Upping my dose of methadone seems to have worked, but who knows, maybe I was coming out of it anyway. Either way, I don’t care, I can start reducing again when I’m feeling better. In my previous attempts, I rushed the methadone reductions, came off it and cut ties with the drug services, only to struggle at a later point with nothing to fall back on, and relapse.

It actually makes me wonder if I cut down on methadone faster than my dopamine levels could readjust. It’s like one day I had energy and the next – nothing – it just fizzled out. Ah! So many things that could’ve caused this depression, so many theories I’ve pondered on in these posts. Bipolar, ADHD, identity crisis, writers block, a spiritual ‘dark night of the soul’. Only time will tell, but maybe it’ll turn out to be all of them!

Such is the confusion of addiction recovery. It’s like being a new born baby. I don’t know who or where I am and I’ve had to learn the fundamentals of life from scratch: ‘It hurts when I do that, it feels good when I do this, etc. But I’m actually doing it and I’ve proved to myself I can remain drug free under any circumstances.

No experience goes to waste and getting through this dark time will strengthen my confidence. My recovery has been tested in fire and I’m going to come out of this with a wealth of self knowledge and experience.

Addiction Recovery 8th Month. Trusting Life.

Trusting life has always been one of my biggest problems. Life seemed so cruel, but when I look back I realise that I never really gave it a chance. I fought against it from the start, I took my destiny into my own hands. Why would I take my chances in a world of chance?

If I didn’t take action, life would surely crush me, so I made a plan. A solid, unshakable idea of how my life was going to be and I’d be damned before I let life interfere with it. And damned I was.

About a month ago, I went for a walk and climbed down to the bottom of a waterfall. It was so loud that I was able to let out my grievances without being heard. ‘I had so much to give,’ I shouted. ‘Why didn’t you help me? I was young, I was beautiful, I was talented, why did you put heroin in my path?’

I poured out my soul to that waterfall, I ached with regret and cried until I laughed. ‘Well, you’ve missed your chance to save the world,’ I joked. ‘It won’t survive without my plan. Yes, I really am that important!’

I’ve always had this obsession with reaching my full potential, but is there really such a thing? Human potential is infinite, after all. And life? Well, life could snuff me out in a moment if it chose to, even that waterfall could’ve killed me. It’s been so hard to let go and trust in ‘what is’ but I’m starting to hold up my hands and say: ‘Okay, let try your way for a while’. Que sera, sera.

Addiction Recovery 8th Month. Bipolar Worries

I had a plan to get out of this depression, but it’s not working very well. I went into town two days running, trying to do some ‘retail therapy’, but I soon got overwhelmed and left empty handed.

Today I watched a couple of Ted talks about depression and after reading some of the comments, I realised; wow, I really am suffering with depression. I’m not sure what to do about it, I’m going to try different things, but it’s like the brain chemistry just isn’t there to pull me out.

Simple tasks like cleaning my teeth take monumental effort, I can’t believe I’ve ended up in this position. I could complain that my meditation practice hasn’t helped me but who knows where I’d be if I didn’t have it.

I think the meditation has helped a lot in terms of acceptance and it’s allowed me to lay on the sofa all day with a certain level of contentment. My outlook has rarely turned bleak and I’ve been anchored to the present rather than panic about how I’ll survive it.

I didn’t expect it to last this long though and it’s starting to worry me. At first I put it down to my recovery from addiction, but now I’m beginning to wonder if I have an unchecked mental health condition, like bipolar, for instance.

The addiction, of course, would’ve covered it up, but each time I’ve stopped using I’ve had these cycles. I think back to January when I was working on my novel from 7am to 2am, and now I can barely make a cup of tea.

If it is bipolar, it seems to be a six monthly cycle. If that’s true, I’ve made it half way, which I’m proud of, but maybe it’s time to make a fresh commitment to stick with it. Last week, I’d had enough, I was starting to lose faith and I’d forgotten that this will pass, whatever it is.

Being paralysed for six months of the year is better than twelve, like it was in my addiction. Being drug free isn’t what I expected it to be, but I still don’t want to go back. I’m still learning about myself but next year, when I know my patterns, it’ll be easier. Look at me, being all accepting! I would’ve never accepted setbacks like this before, I must’ve been through some positive changes.

I’m not resigning myself to it though. I’m still going to experiment with different approaches. One of the medications for bipolar is lithium and you can actually buy it as a health supplement. Of course, the dose is microscopic in comparison to the pharmaceutical, but apparently, it can still help.

So, I’ll try that and I’ll attempt some editing work on my novel. Who knows, the depression could be connected to that. Maybe if I face it, I’ll get my sense of purpose back. And the doctors, I’ll ring the doctors about the bipolar, see what they have to say.

Addiction Recovery 8th Month. Who’s Story Is This?

Yesterday, I was anxious, which I took special note of because I haven’t felt anxious in two months. I’ve been too depressed to be anxious, but there it was, a tightness in my chest, all day.

So in the evening I investigated it and discovered that my once inpenetrable delusions have been reduced to a thin veil, and the dreams I’ve been holding onto so tightly have begun to loosen.

The unspoken goals of my recovery were; to become super healthy, to become a successful writer and afford to live in a nice home. But it was all for the wrong reasons; to prove myself ‘worthy’ and make up for the ‘wasted’ years.

So I questioned myself. What if I don’t get those things? What if I can’t sell my work? What if I become ill? What if I’m slowed down further by mental illness like these bouts of depression I’ve been suffering?

My spiritual goals have only added to the problem. Underneath I hoped meditation would make me superhuman. As it turns out, it’s only making me more human, like everyone else.

I thought I could defy life’s problems with meditation and defy aging with superfoods and exercise. I’ve separated myself from others by putting myself either above them or below them. I’m below them because I was a heroin addict, I’m above them because I have the secrets to health and well being. I’m not going to suffer, like they do.

Last night, when I put these percieved differences aside, I suddenly felt a connection. I saw that we’re all in this together. We’re all going to have disappointments, failures and difficult times, we’re all going to fall short of our ideals, we’re all trying to make the best of what we have and we’re all aging together in these fleeting generations.

We all have an epic story, most of which will never be told. Is all that beauty really lost in the vast ocean of time? Or is it preserved in the memory of a universal person that we all really are underneath?

Addiction Recovery 8th Month. Run Away!

I’ve been feeling low for two months now and it’s finally got to me. This week has been the hardest, my meditation practice has been like something from the exorcist and I’ve had moments where my thoughts have turned dark. For the first time in almost nine months, my recovery feels fragile.

I’m not taking any chances, my recovery has to come first, so I made a decision to put the meditation on hold and up my dose of methadone until i feel stable again. It’s been a difficult decision as I’ve worked so hard to cut down. I’d got myself down to only 3ml and I was really looking forward to being free of it.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learnt about addiction recovery, it’s that the tortoise wins the race. In the past I’ve always rushed it, I never gave myself enough time to get better. I pushed so hard for change that I tripped over the rug under my feet.

These last two months have been one of those falls, but it wasn’t all for nothing. I’ve remained drug free throughout my struggles, I’ve done a lot of emotional detoxing, meditation and letting go, but now it’s time to give myself a break and fill the space I’ve created with something positive.

This deep dive is over (I hope), all that’s left is to see if this retreat has done me any good. I do feel like something has changed but I won’t know until I get my routine back and start feeling stable again.