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. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A collage about drugs, sort of

Remember the angst ridden poem I wrote the other day? The great thing about this stuff is that it can be as ironic and cliched as you want. Doesn't matter! I took my angry rhyming poem and made a collage. This is difficult for me because I think that it always looks undone and without enough texture or layers. I worked on it while watching a couple of movies. It's my first entry in an art journal that I just started and I'm trying to be gentle with myself and say "good job" rather than "This sucks!" Art journals aren't supposed to be about the end product, anyway. It's good to have a place like this to document a collage.

I'm also having a very bad Lyme Disease flare. This happens right before my period but usually I can weather the storm. Last night I lay awake tossing and turning. My bones hurt in my legs, and all my joints felt like they were on fire. There was no way I could do a pain hypnosis from Dr. Sadie. I started to cry. I hate trying to get pain medications. The last time I did this was in December during a flare. I went to an urgent care and they were very nice to me. I did not go to my PCP because last July I did during a flare and he said, tough, weather the storm. With your drug history, you will not get any painkillers other than tramadol (which usually works fine.)

So, I avoid my PCP now. I ended up going to three urgent cares at 3am and they were all closed. So, I followed a sign that said "H" to go to the ER. I didn't want to do this. I just needed pain relief, not an ER. Well, I got what I needed. My blood pressure was 154/105 and my heart rate was 127. I guess some of this was anxiety around the whole "pain relief" thing but some of it was from pain, too. During the exam my reflexes were very, very brisk - way stronger than they usually are. I also had clonus. This worries me because my right eye is also getting blurrier (the Lyme attacked my eye last year and I wear glasses now.) I could tell the doc wanted to run more tests on me but I was insistent that the Lyme doc (in another state) says that this is expected with the new medication and I don't need any tests. I got a percocet prescription and it's helped a lot. I think it depresses me, though. I just want to get my period and not need the painkillers. Probably nobody in my support group would ever have believed that (or Dr. Sadie who always has some reason why my pain is aberrant, or my response to it sub-optimal, or some other reaction to it that makes me feel unheard) but it's the truth. Even ex-drug addicts deserve compassionate pain relief. I'm glad I have this blog where I can say this and not have people rant back at me about denial, drug seeking, poor pain tolerance, trauma history causing pain, yada yada. That gets so invalidating I want to scream. This blog is nice and silent and lets me have the space to say what I want to say. Thank you, blog.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Inhabiting Yourself

Yesterday I started the weekly practice that I had mentioned. I am trying to learn more mindfulness. Apparently, learning mindfulness is helpful in psychotherapy and any sort of recovery of the crap life slings at us. I took a 15 minute walking meditation right before working at my daughter's book fair (another way to feel like I'm doing something.)

 I concentrated on all of my senses and tried to quiet the inner chatter. I guess when the inner chatter gets loud (and starts saying things like CRACKWHORE) the idea is to start again with no judgement. I felt my feet on the ground. The breeze at my back. The sun on my face. Smelled the flowers, heard the birds. I saw a baby goose which was the highlight of the walk. It was light brown and fuzzy, just enjoying the sun. Most importantly, I completed a walking meditation without nightmare images coming into my brain. I felt accomplished, which is what my unemployed PTSD brain often lacks. It sort of gave me a boost and just enough verve to want to make fish tacos for my family. Another tiny step forward after pulling myself out of the Lyme flare where I was in bed 24.7 and so depressed.

 We ate dinner on an Ikea curtain that I am using as a tablecloth (photo above), along with some fake peonies.  I love using things creatively like this. Also, you can probably tell that I like bright colors a lot. By the way, I also love this You Tube video - it makes me smile. It seems like such an obvious thing to do with 100 cats, doesn't it?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Multitasking isn't So Good

I just read an article that indicates that multi-tasking leads to poor self regulation. I am a big multitasker. When I'm feeling good mentally, I am passionate about many things and enjoy doing them all. I'll surf the net, start an art project, start a meditation (and get bored in 2 minutes) and knit. Plan dinner, take some photos, read a book.  It makes me feel scattered while I still like it. Things can become half-assed. I'm glad to read the science behind this. It makes mindfulness even more important.

Today I'm doing one thing at a time. I made a tablecloth from a curtain. I took some deep breaths. I'm going to do my morning pages, followed by a walking meditation where I am officially starting these weekly practices. Today I'm going to walk and work on inhabiting myself - inhabiting's that for a Therapy Boner?

I need a calmer mind even though I enjoy a chaotic mind of creative ideas. It's as though when I'm not depressed I have to fit in everything at once. I get so excited about life and worry that it will poof disappear overnight into somberness. What we want isn't always best for us though, is it? Have a lovely day, everyone. Print from The Wallaroo.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Green Eggs and Ham

I was recently kicked out of a support group because sometimes I take tramadol for pain from the Lyme Disease. Very occasionally (like every several months) I need something stronger for a few days. The addictionologist I see recommends the tramadol as does my PCP.  I've had the same prescription since January. I take it as rarely as possible, way less than prescribed. Nevertheless, the support group and AAers don't see me as in recovery. It's a lonely place to be. It's difficult to process and I don't feel at all heard by Sadie on this topic. So I wrote this tonight. I'm feeling so bad about being kicked out. It's only til the Lyme is treated but it still hurts me a lot. The Dr Suess print is from this Etsy shop.

Green Druggies and Ham
by TC

You cannot eat at our table
You cannot eat beneath our table
You cannot come and speak out loud
You cannot sit here in this crowd
We do not like green eggs and ham
We do not like crackwhores, no, no ma'am.

Not in this life
Not with your pain
We could catch it
The pain that you feign.
You take drugs, you do sometimes.
You fucking suck
To us you're slime.
We do not like crackwhores and ham
We do not like them, no, no ma'am.

Go get a sponsor
Go to AA
Anything else is just not ok
You're a drug addict
Your pain is bullshit
We do not believe you
Not one little bit.
We do not like green drug addicts and ham
We do not like them, no, no ma'am.

Unless you take the poison we select         (suboxone or methadone)
You cannot come - you're our failed project
We don't care that your doctor disagrees
You'll do what we tell you and you'll say yes, yes please
Or you won't sit here and get support from us
We'd rather throw you under the bus.
We do not like green eggs and ham
Or snotty little drug addicts, no way, no ma'am.

Ok, I feel sad after writing this post. It's apparent that I have a pretty brutal self critical part which I never used to have. But at least I'm not numbing out. I'm getting it out there, learning to express my feelings.  I have a lot of people who support me and it's just hard to be kicked out of a support group for a disease that I didn't ask to get and which is a bitch to have. The pain is bad tonight. I'm not sure why. It's deep in my bones and then it goes away and comes back. I think I'll go do a pain meditation that Sadie made for me now and try not to take any pain relievers. A good place for guided imagery is Belleruth Naparstak. Guided imagery is so helpful to me and I'm lucky to have a therapist who makes such good recordings and does hypnosis for pain. You should try it if you're open to that sort of thing.

Nancy Napier

Sadie (my shrink) told me about this woman named Nancy Napier. Sadie also gave me one of Nancy's tapes and I really liked it. It was positive but also gentle, about looking at your future self. At the moment I'm really living one day at a time. I have trouble seeing a future self. I'm having bad joint pains and am fatigued from Lyme Disease and babesiosis. I'm also happy that I'm finally arriving at a place of awareness that my past wasn't as benign as I used to think. It's not an excuse for becoming a drug addict but at least it helps me understand it on some level and try to learn different coping mechanisms. I just ordered this book by Nancy which I got for $1.18 on Amazon.

The other night S (my husband) woke me up by putting ice in my hand - except I remember none of this. I was shocked and upset when he told me about it. I felt embarrassed. I'm learning that this sort of thing should make me feel compassion for myself but I'm not there yet. Instead my brain goes to "You are suck a FUCK UP!" Anyway, after a night of intense bad dreams, I woke myself up after yelling HELP several times - that deep slumber yell that generates almost no sound - but I finally was able to yell it out loud and wake up. I don't know if this not remembering is just normal sleep or a dissociative episode. It's so stressful and confusing but I'm trying to look at it as part of the process. A process which completely sucks, let it be said, but I'm part of it and radical acceptance of that is the best way forward, in my opinion. So, for today, I'm going to do an art piece on being compassionate about bad dreams. Sadie is overseas for a few weeks, and I'm so glad to get a break from therapy and try to just rely on myself. It feels so much more natural and comfortable to do this, but at least I realize that I can work on this other crap as well. So often this "reaching out for help" is just going through the motions of "What a less fucked up person might do" so right now I don't have to reach out for help at all. S took the kids to the mall and I can drink coffee, do some art and try to just be.

Start Where you are

I hate labels. I believe people are unique and there are many different ways to recover from drug addiction or whatever currently ails you. I was - WAS - was was was was was - see, it's my blog and I can use the past tense if I want! This is so freeing!  I was a drug addict but I'm not now. It's been almost four years. I've been mercilessly labelled as a DRUG ADDICT by the recovery community and I hate it. In my journey I've discovered that my childhood sucked. I tried to numb out stuff with drugs but I didn't know I was doing that at the time. I got into big trouble. I went to rehab. I got diagnosed with chronic PTSD. I had dissociative episodes. My eating is sometimes fucked up. I got into therapy. It's hard. It sucks a lot of the time. My therapist is nice but she gives me a lot of shit about not going to AA. I went for the first year, but I don't feel welcome in AA. I find it judgemental and sexist and extremely punitive. The friends I made always relapsed, it seems. It was very sad.  The people it works for - awesome. They don't need to start a blog like this because the get plenty of support right there. I'm trying to use my creativity to come through a very difficult 3 years. I have a wonderful husband but zero parental support. Sometimes I can hardly get out of bed because of depression and joint pain from Lyme Disease but I continue to start where I am and move one foot in front of the other. I think there are many ways to skin a cat and I'm going to use this blog to document my experiments into feeling better and being more whole.