Sunday, September 18, 2011

The roller coaster of PTSD

Since my last post I've felt a lot better but then felt worse again with bone pain. I continue to knit, collage, love my kiddos, fight periodically with my husband and go to therapy. I haven't needed any more percocet and am just using ultram as I need it.

I'm trying to learn to be gentle with myself.

I'm trying to meditate with guided imagery that my shrink recorded for me.

I'm trying to learn to take good care of myself but nobody ever taught me how.

Every time I do something creative I feel good about myself. The painting above was from our back driveway. The neighbor kids came over and I got out paints, sticks and paper and everyone went to town. It's a small thing but this is what helps me live from day to day.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pain and Recovery

I've been having such a bad lyme flare for the past week I haven't felt like posting. I saw a new lyme doctor today and he said that I was just filled with neurotoxins, from the antibiotics which are killing the bacteria. He said treating Lyme is not a marathon but a slow race. I didn't have to live like this. I guess I felt like I had to soldier through. I felt so weak that he was taking me off this regimen, like I couldn't handle it. The pain and probably all of the neurotoxins have been making me feel crazy, though. I started putting stitches in my hand to mangage the pain - that's how bad it was. I'd put three stitches in and shake from it, but then I'd feel sleepy.

When you are a drug addict - even if you're in recovery and don't crave any drugs at all, it takes a big person to treat you like a human being. Dr. Sadie's husband is an addiction doctor and has been recommending the Butran Patch for me. My own addiction doc agreed since I always take things as prescribed and really am having a lot of pain. I called my PCP and a new pain doc. They wouldn't call me back. I think my PCP thinks I'm trying to get more Percocet out of him, when really I just want someone to help me with my pain. My husband called a lyme doc he knows. He said he'd see me and treat my pain, that it's typical and disgraceful the way people like me are treated.

Then, we got a notice that my own Lyme doctor was closing his practice due to intractable disc back pain. What a loss for the Lyme world. What a coincidence, though. Lyme docs are hard to find!

So, I saw the new Lyme doctor today. I went in asking for the pain med that's good for druggies (the patch.) I left with 60 percocets and 60 valiums. It almost sounded like I was drug seeking for the anti-druggy medicine. He was confused. He didn't want to get me hooked, he said. I'm so so so so so tired of fighting my corner. I don't want to take percocet as I think it depresses me, and it's a bad idea with my history, but I need to be out of pain and if nobody will write for this other drug, I'm done begging.

At least I felt heard about the pain and my symptoms. He also said I looked anxious. My husband agreed although I didn't feel anxious, just shitty. I hate valium. He said I also looked exhausted and it helps people with lyme relax their muscles while they sleep. I hate valium - did I say that? Maybe I'll take half a pill at sleep.

It's ironic that I went in asking for a good drug for drug addicts and came out with what I did. I don't like percocet. It makes me sad. I can't afford to ever like percocet. Wait til Dr. Sadie hears about this. She's going to shit a brick. Maybe when my pain is better controlled I can ask her to help me come up with a better plan. She's a pain in the ass in terms of all this pain and druggy stuff but she really does care. Maybe she cares more than my sorry ass deserves. I'm a lot of aggravation for one small person in this world.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Our own worst enemy!

One thing I've been practicing since rehab, is how events in my mind can take on a life of their own. When something presses my "shame buttons" especially, I can spiral down into a world of negative thinking. I love this video because it really shows how ridiculous we can all be. See? There I am again judging. It's not ridiculous, it happens for a reason, but we can be curious and learn more about ourselves and how to control these thoughts. By seeing how we make them a lot worse sometimes, it's good motivation to try and have compassion for ourselves and take things a bit more lightly. I hope everyone has a hopeful week.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Therapy Angst

Wow, look at me - I'm really not ignoring how I feel these days! Dr. Sadie returns next week and I am going on Tuesday. I'm so nervous. I don't want to talk about anything unpleasant. I'm worried that this nice, creative place that I'm in is going to end. Maybe I could send her a ticket to Mexico for another week. Avoidance is key. It's cloudy here but the birds are singing. I'm grateful for that.

I'm also grateful for:
1. Funny little kids who keep me laughing
2. my queen sized bed where my Lyme addled body can rest
3. The fun sense of color that I possess
4. That I can walk in to therapy next week and plop these collages in front of Dr. Sadie. 
5. For learning to knit years ago. It's so good for PTSD. The repetitive calming action is very soothing. 6. Learning to be curious about some of my reactions
7, Being kicked out of that support group because it means I've realized in the scheme of things it wasn't really that supportive and yet my friends and knitting buds are. People at church (bet you thought a sailor mouth like mine wasn't allowed into a church!)
8. For learning how to collage a few weeks ago. It's been such a good creative tool
9. For a husband who is working overnight tonight which means the kids and I can have an adventure.
10. For my inspiration journal. I'll show that to you another day. 

Wishing everyone a lovely weekend. I'd love to hear lists of things you are grateful for even if life has you in the crapper. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Scared to go back

Today it occurred to me that I have to go back to therapy next Tuesday. Dr. Sadie's secretary phoned yesterday, said her flights had been changed, and she couldn't meet me this Thursday, was that ok? Of course it was! I did a little "No therapy" dance and breathed a sigh of relief. Well, what is going on? Does that mean my therapist sucks? I don't thinks so. I actually think she's the best person for me, and she has a lot of common sense. I really respect common sense in people. She's a good egg. She's also a huge pain in the ass, as she makes me talk about my childhood. She doesn't let me just tell funny stories. I get that this is good, but it feels BAD.

I imagine that I don't look too crazy to you, the seven readers of my blog.  Since I started this blog a week or two ago I've been in a pretty good place. You don't hear about how in February I got so depressed that I lay in the shower sobbing and thought there was a physical hole in my gut. It was a devastating experience. You don't hear about how I sewed my shirt to my stomach in January during a very bad series of nightmares. Here is a tip: Don't show up to therapy with the t-shirt that you slept in sewn to your skin. It's bad form. It scares people. You feel like a kook.

She made some mention of hospitalization and I stood up to go. I told her absolutely not would I go into the hospital. I knew she could sign something and get me admitted without my consent but I looked at her and told her I'd get in my car and drive across the country without even looking back. She calmed me down. Kudos to her hearing me on that. I've never been hospitalized and I feel that it just isn't an option. She made a deal with me not to hurt myself and she would see me in a couple of days. I asked her if I'd get kicked out of therapy if I broke this contract and she said, "No, of course not." God, this woman is good. If she had said yes, I probably would have run over my foot with a chainsaw just to get kicked out. She was compassionate and non-judgemental, which is just what I needed. But anyway, talking about my crazy mother, doing intense trauma "therapy" and having the Lyme - it was all a bit much. Having such intense nightmares that I drink coffee so I don't sleep. Crying for no reason in the middle of Target, being unable to see a future for myself - all of this is rotten. That is the biggest understatement in my blogging life. IT IS HELL. I bet a lot of you can relate. 

We had definitely toned it down since everything got intense, and yet the nightmares were still severe. I also started Cymbalta for the depression and to see if it would help the Lyme pain. It helped both. I was able to go off all pain drugs for the entire month of April! I was off antibiotics for the month (they alternate months with them) and the pain just went away! But this bingeing thing started. I started throwing up, trying to rid myself of all the poison in my past. I would tell her a bit about it, but it's so shaming that I can't really talk about it. It finally occurred to me that it could be the Cymbalta. I stopped taking it and the binging stopped, too. Luckily, she was out of town so she couldn't lecture me about not stopping something on my own. But the pain came back up, and here we are. 

So, to get back to the main topic, I'm terrified to start back to therapy. I haven't felt depression in three weeks. Some good things have happened, and some bad things have happened. I've started doing collages and started this blog. I'm trying to get to know my inner mind better, to see why I do things. I just want to feel creative and not worry about falling back into a dark hole of despair. I hope Dr. Sadie can help me with this, but it seems like it has to get worse before it gets better. Thanks mom, for all of this. You should have just fucking killed me when you had the chance. I wonder if I should send this collage to my shrink so she knows to be very gentle?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Today I was Heard

 In 2007, with a 10 month old baby, I was caught forging prescriptions and sent to rehab for 3 months. I vowed to change my life completely and I did. I had always been creative but now art and creativity took a front seat. I basically changed addictions. From something negative and destructive to something positive and hopeful. This collage is about being heard.

When you recover from addiction, you say goodbye to your substance or behavior. For alcohol, this is a definite line. Nobody needs to take alcohol. Not that this is easy! I think in many ways alcoholics have it worse because, let's face it, I don't have to speed past a This Percocet's for You billboard on the way to the grocery store. The problem comes in when the drug addict in recovery has real, debilitating pain. Luckily I don't have this pain very often.

I got Lyme Disease two years out of rehab and with it flares that caused so, so much pain. With my history, which I've been honest about, doctors HATE you. Even though the literature says that pain needs to be treated, even in drug addicts like me, this was not put into practice very well. I've had countless sleepless nights and one near suicide attempt due to pain. I'm sure my Lyme has had a more difficult course because of undertreated pain. My immune system has reacted to weight loss, night sweats, poor sleep and constant stress hormones due to pain. I starved myself for a month because I read that starvation releases opioids and I thought this might help my pain. It didn't.

So, when I had a Lyme flare last week I went to the ER and didn't tell them my history. They knew I was in pain and sick. My exam showed that. They treated me as I should have been treated. And then, today I had a checkup with my PCP - the last one was 6 months ago. I never call him for painkillers as he told me he wouldn't give me anything more than tramadol, and believe me, I'm grateful for the tramadol. It doesn't make me high and I take way less than prescribed. So, in December and last week - I had to go to the ER because of pain. I brought in the bottles of painkillers both times and showed him. Just to keep everything on the up and up.

Today, at the end of our appointment, he said, "So what do you need today?" I said, "Nothing. I think I'll be okay." and then he said to me..."Well, if you get another flare on this fluconazole (a treatment for Lyme) then call me and I can refill the percocet for you."

And with that I felt heard. Heard and humanized and cared for. I am going to try so hard not to call him. There is just something about knowing that I have a safety valve if the pain gets too bad. That all my honesty has been possibly worth it. That he doesn't think I'm a crackwhore. That he sees me for me and is willing to trust me. The truth about these painkillers is that they numb out my thinking. My goal is to NOT numb out. They depress me a bit the next day. I hate depression and will go to the ends of the earth to avoid it. I don't have any euphoric recall, which is the biggest blessing of all. When I got addicted I was walking around on a broken pelvis that had been misdiagnosed. I was taking painkillers for obvious reasons and then would get withdrawl when I tried to stop. I didn't know about weaning down gradually. Now I do. I don't want to take painkillers but if I have to, I now have someone who trusts me and I can call him. I finally feel heard.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Body Image Collage

As I've mentioned, the purpose of this site is for me to document creative attempts to heal from drug addiction and the fallout from it, the stuff I found out about myself after rehab. Fun stuff, like a diagnosis of CPTSD. Dissociation. Aberrant eating (not officially qualifying as an eating disorder, apparently.)  Of course, drug addiction was the result of an underlying problem (crappy childhood I had totally supressed.) It seems that not having a body image or any sort of body awareness is another manifestation of this lovely childhood. I've been self unaware for so long, it only just occurred to me that this might be abnormal! I decided to try another collage since I found the first one so helpful. They take me a long time to do so I 'm able think a lot and process things, not a strong suit of mine. I'm not a great thinker but I'm an extraordinary avoider.

I remember standing in a dressing room with my mother. I was maybe 12 or 13. I was trying on a bathing suit. A competitive swimmer, I was always in the water and never thought about my body, certainly not negatively. On this day, all of this changed, and my ability to walk around in a swimsuit too. All she said was, in a loud voice to ensure that everyone could hear:


And from then on, that paradise that I called a swimming pool was tainted. I felt like people might literally die if they were to see me in a swimsuit, or they would see me and be unalterably damaged. This didn't result in me hating my body, however. Just last week, I realized that it resulted in my not even noticing that I had a body. Perhaps this was already going on since the woman was such a crazy freak to begin with. But this is the day, the moment, that I remember. I developed weird eating behaviors to punish myself and numb out in my teens. I still fight them today. See? There isn't one "thing" wrong with me. I hate saying "I'm a drug addict." (That was four years ago.) We are all so many things, to define ourselves with words misses so much of the picture.

All the aberrant self soothing activities are just ways I learned to cope. Drugs, dissociation, over achievement, eating issues. More on body image in another post. If anyone could share with me in the comments what their body image issues are, I would appreciate that. (All seven readers of Artistic Recovery!) Part of "recovery" is realizing that you aren't alone. You aren't that abnormal even if you feel crazy as shit, at least I think that's the point of sharing with safe people.