Tag Archives: problem

Dear Methylenedioxymethamphetamine…

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rave

Dear Methylenedioxymethamphetamine,

You lips were bitter like a gourd but your kisses left me speechless on countless occasions.  You made my heart beat faster, my eyes widen in awe and my jaws clench in excitement. You made me impulsive, you made me deceptive and you made me provocative.

From the start I could tell you were a sinister man. You would always show up to the party early, manipulating yourself through the crowd, never passing me up to say hello. The first night we met, you introduced me to one of your friends. You pressured me to stay the night with him and even though I really didn’t want to, you convinced me that I should. You were so pleased when you saw us together, you seemed proud of your work—a brilliant self-proclaimed matchmaker but you would never admit it. You would joke how it was inevitable and claim that it wasn’t your doing. I knew that it was but I still tried to shove down my immediate feelings of regret to embrace my new life of love and drugs. I reluctantly welcomed your charm whenever I saw you, forcing a smile and saving you a dance. We eventually got closer as my ignorance dissolved any apprehensions.

I was still with your friend after sometime but that didn’t stop you from expressing your fondness of me. I even think that he noticed you making moves but decided not to do anything or even care. It’s like he didn’t mind sharing me with the man who arranged a young, pretty, foreign girl to play house with him. I tried to look past this, accepting the reputation I had built for myself: American slut. I took a week off to travel and escape you both. After several days I became bored so you came out to visit me without my lovers knowledge.

We spent some time with other travelers on the vast onyx beach one night and one thing led to another. Before I knew it, I had just cheated on the man I had been living with for a month with two people (not including you). While I should have been ashamed of myself, instead I felt exhilarated. I had a sense of pride for my promiscuity. You encouraged me to stay with you again and I told you that, “if it will be, then it will be.” And so it was. For days I kept my mouth sealed as we snuck around together every chance we got. Together, we stayed up for days, starved and drove ourselves mad.

Eventually I had to go back to the home. You told me you would come to see me and you did. We acted out the same scene we left on that dark night on the beach. Only now we were surrounded by ravers in a massive stadium covered in flashing lights and melting colours. We walked through the crowd together and danced around the beautiful people. When we sat down you welcomed a stranger by my side and told him to kiss me behind my ear. You lead his hand up my thigh and lay me on the grass surrounded by hundreds of on-lookers. You had done it again. You had me put out again.

Your presence slackened my body and made my mind weak, I lost sight of right and wrong. My moral standards were clouded by the sudden urge to lose complete control. You’re malicious and manipulative— you’re the definition of a psychopath. Don’t you see how sick it is to find such pleasure from someone in such a state of senselessness and vulnerability?

I don’t have any regrets for what I’ve done. I know that it was all because of your influence. I would never repeat what I have done with you but I am not ashamed of it anymore. I know that if we ever saw each other again, you’d try and bring me down to that level of pure, passionate idiocy and I dare you to try because this time it’s different. I have respect for myself now and I know that I deserve so much better. I deserve real love. Not these temporary fixes that were set up on a high.

I won’t miss you.

Goodbye M.D.M.A.

No regrets,

Robyn

 

Dear Lysergic Acid Diethylamide…

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Dear Lysergic Acid Diethylamide,

I sit here in the shadow of the night, watching the darkness play tricks on my eyes and it reminds me of you. Only you never played it off as a joke. It’s as if you enjoyed watching me grow increasingly more puzzled, dazed, and confused with every embrace. The world around me became blurred as you dizzied me with admiration. Everything I saw, everything I heard, and everything I felt transformed into a sensation of profound heightened clarity. I had never felt this way before. I was amused by your presence but I was not convinced that all this newfound beauty was the influence of only your love. I know you must have had some resentments towards me because I spoke so poorly of you, telling everyone that you were worthless and useless. But that only lead you to pursue me even harder, as if you had something to prove. You tried and tried, again and again but I insisted that you were never enough for me. You began to taunt me, somehow persuading me to try my luck with you. And I did— admittedly, so willingly. After a week of timid romance, I finally surrendered all self-respect as I gave myself to you completely. I will never forget that night and when you defiled my soul. I was already so weak, growing increasingly more dependent and entirely delusional about you. I would wonder when I would see you again and fantasize about what we would do. I wanted to feel your embrace and push the limits of our love. I wanted to see more than just the earth dance. I wanted to feel more than just the vibrations of every sound. I wanted to understand more than just the ease of every silence. I wanted to trip out… bad.

The miraculous thing is that I was already tripped out but I hadn’t fully realized it. I had tripped out after meeting you on the first night. You managed to steal more of of my time and I was curious to get to know you, only feeling disappointed by the end of the night— unaware of what you had done to me. That disappointment was irrational, I had made the mistake of unknowingly falling for you. You had me under your spell. I only just figured that out. For weeks I had tried to get a perfect trip, thinking all along that I had never actually had one (as though everything I experienced was real). I had left the confines of reality and I didn’t even think of looking back. I was losing it and eventually I lost it.

For days I was coming down from your high only to have you swing me up again in your charm as I would ignorantly insist that “we weren’t working.” You were so adamant to convince me and I was so naive to taunt you like I did. I had no idea what you were doing and what you were capable of. If I would’ve known that your seduction would have destroyed my mind for years to come, I would’ve never provoked it.

But thats a lie… I still would have made love to you.

And that’s why I am writing:

I never had the chance to tell you the truth: I am an addict. I was before I ever met you but I didn’t want you to know. I had already been with countless of other drugs but I never thought you would all be the same. Its true though, your all just as cunning, untrustworthy and frightening. You were the most devious of them all. The way you manipulated me is unparalleled and I will never forgive you for that. Even after months of our separation you were still harassing me. Using men to lure me back to you. Hypnotizing me with ideas of false admiration and recreational sex. Luckily, I didn’t fall for it so easily that time. Sure, I spoke of surrender but I never sought out any action.

I had a feeling you would come back for me and I know we might run into each other in the future. Thats why I want you to know that as much as I hate leaving you on a sour note, its for the better. We would never work. We would always be at each others throat. You would never be enough for me and I could never make you happy without going mad. I mean, I am still picking up the pieces from my last high… I thought torrent of insanity I experienced for months after we had last met would never end. While I eventually managed to collect my mind and find a sense of stability, I still experience some side-effects of our heated past. You are still with me in my mind. From time to time I see these vivid colours and flashing lights and I know that that’s remnants of your binding spell. I can’t believe that you have threatened me with these flashbacks, saying that I will have them for years to come. You blame it all on the length and progression of our relationship at the time, telling me that it was all my fault; “if you hadn’t doubted me, if you hadn’t belittled me…” All I can say is that I am sorry. It was I who instigated the relationship. My curiosity was convincing and my ego was big. I went in with greedy intentions but after all you have put me through, I think its safe to say that we are even now. You have hurt me enough, striping me of sanity and making me feel so helpless and vulnerable. You can chose show me mercy or remain cold and bitter. But I know that you have a heart somewhere to forgive me and I look forward to the day when you finally release me from your grip. For now, I wish you nothing but peace and solitude.

 

Goodbye L.S.D.

Your old valentine,

Robyn

The Problem with Christmas

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All the meetings I have been going lately have shown to prove that this time of year is incredibly stressful. Thoughts of past Christmas’, struggles with expenses and family can really trigger us to want to use. This is the time to be thankful, to be selfless and to spread love, not scream ‘fuck it’ and get wasted. We need to be there for our families, for each other and for ourselves.” -Happy Christmas Eve, Robyn

Presents

Most people know the holidays can be a period of emotional highs and lows. Loneliness,
anxiety, happiness and sadness are common feelings, sometimes experienced in startling succession. The bad news is the holiday blues can trigger relapse for people recovering from alcoholism and other drug addiction. The good news is the blues can be remedied by planning ahead.

Why do the blues hit during this otherwise festive season? Doing too much or too little and being separated from loved ones at this special time can lead to sadness during the holiday season. Many recovering people associate the holidays with memories of overindulgence, perhaps of big benders that resulted in relationship problems or great personal losses.

People experience feelings of melancholy, sadness and grief tied to holiday recollections. Unlike clinical depression, which is more severe and can last for months or years, those feelings are temporary.   Anyone experiencing major symptoms of depression, such as persistent sadness, anxiety, guilt or helplessness; changes in sleep patterns; and a reduction in energy and libido, should seek help from a mental health professional.

Whether you’re in recovery or not, developing a holiday plan to help prevent the blues, one that will confront unpleasant memories before they threaten your holiday experience. Your plan should include improved self-care, enhanced support from others, and healthy ways to celebrate. Here are a few suggestions to achieve a happy, sober holiday season:

Good self-care is vital. Remember to slow down. Take some quiet time each day and work on an attitude of gratitude. Plan relaxation and meditation into your day, even for a few minutes, no matter how busy you are. Relax your standards and reduce overwhelming demands and responsibilities.

Don’t overindulge. Go easy on the holiday sweets and follow a balanced diet. Monitor your intake of caffeine, nicotine and sugar. Exercise regularly to help maintain your energy level amid a busier schedule. Don’t try to do too much. Get plenty of sleep. Fatigue is a stressor. Maintain some kind of schedule and plan ahead; don’t wait until the last minute to purchase gifts or prepare to entertain.

Enhance your support system. Holidays are a good time to reach out more frequently to your therapist, sponsor, spiritual advisor, or support group. If you’re in recovery, spend time with fellow recovering people. Let others help you realize your personal limits. Learn to say “no” in a way that is comfortable for you.

Find new ways to celebrate. Create some new symbols and rituals that will help redefine a joyful holiday season. You might host a holiday gathering for special recovering friends and/or attend celebrations of your Twelve Step group. Avoid isolation and spend time with people you like who are not substance users. Don’t expose yourself to unnecessary temptations, such as gatherings where alcohol is the center of entertainment. If there are people who have a negative influence on you, avoid them.

Focus on your recovery program. Holidays are also an important time to focus on your recovery program. For example, ask, “What am I working on in my program now?” Discuss this with your sponsor.

Release your resentments. Resentment has been described as allowing a person you dislike to live in your head, rent-free. Resentments that gain steam during the holidays can be disastrous for anyone, especially recovering people. The Big Book of “Alcoholics Anonymous” refers to resentment as the No. 1 offender, or the most common factor in failed sobriety.

Holidays may also be a time to evaluate your spirituality and find a personal way to draw support from the spirit of the season. Return the holidays to a spiritual base, and stress the power of unselfish giving.

Recovery is serious work, but it is also important to have fun. Laugh a little and a little more. Start seeing the humor in those things that annoy you. Take from the holiday season what is important for you and leave the rest.

Take Twelve

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This is about the time we begin to ask if she is still alive…

And she is!

And now we ask if she is still sober..

She is!

But is she still sane?

It appears so…

What a happy day! She spent three hours in total driving to and from the unbearably busy mall to get her computer fixed and while it does turn on, there are fuzzy technicoloured lines that remind her of tripping… no matter.

She has spent the past few weeks unpacking, painting and decorating her rooms in her new house. Her mom was kind enough to give her two little rooms to use as a massage room and a bedroom. She’s had fun placing all her nick-hacks and art work on her walls. But thats boring stuff! We don’t care about the day to day, we are curious about her head.

Smoking

She woke up— everyday seemed to be the same. Time was dragging on. It seemed like it was taking forever to get things done. Would she ever find a sense of normalcy again? She felt guilty for not going to the gym, for eating poorly and waking up only minutes from noon. She grabbed a bottle of water and went out on the back porch and find her mom rocking in a wicker chair with a cigarette hanging from her mouth. She sat down next to her and lit one up for herself.

“It’s like we’re here decorating someone else’s house and we’re going to go home when its all over,” her mom spoke softly.

“Yeah.”

“Theres just so much to do. The trip down here was so hard. So stressful. Everything is… so stressful.” A tear fell down her face.

“I know. Its a lot. I’m struggling too. I’ve tried not to let it out.” Her mom looked up at her as she said this, cocking her head to side suggesting to tell her more. “Its unpacking all my things… It all comes rushing back. I left it all behind when I came down here earlier to stay with Grandma and Grandpa. Living out of a bag for a month, it was like an escape.. But now its all back. Every little thing reminds me where I’ve been. What I’ve done. How I’ve hurt everyone…” She hesitated and continued, “I found a letter that Daddy wrote to me and hid in one of my travel documents before I left for India. He had so much faith… but so much fear. I could tell. It broke my heart.” She burst into tears. Together they sat crying.

“You know we love you. No matter what, we will always be here for you.”

Her throat knots as she writes this and recollects this moment of weakness. It’s always in the back of her mind but every second of every day she pushes it out. She has learnt to recognize when she is about to slip and quickly resists those feelings. She doesn’t want to break down. She does’t want to fall into depression and get lost in the past. But she remembers it all. The letters she opened on the plane to France from her parents, her sister. They left so much love in those few pages. So much hope for her future. She let them all down.koorg

She ventured into the depths of the messages that were sent from her parents while she was in India.

Tears are rolling down her face now. She could tell when she was going crazier and crazier. She can see the dates. The times. Those words. Those lies.

I have been catching up with time, got lost in koorg for those few days hanging out with my friend pooja —3/22, 10:52am (11:22pm India-time)

‘Getting lost in Koorg.’ Koorg was where it began. The unraveling of her mind. She remembers the trip that set it off. Physical and mental.

Right now its too hard to write about. Maybe later, she thinks as she tries to shove it off. She’ll probably post it, password protected, on her blog soon. Stay tunes I guess. 

 

Take Eleven: The 90th Day

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(A recollection of my last relapse)

This is the perfect time, she thought. The party her parents had thrown was winding down and there was only one guest left standing. Her dad was drunk, that was obvious. Her step-mom might have been a little tipsy…
Its been hard for her to find the perfect moments to steal booze from their butlers pantry for a while. Every time she took some, she took it from another bottle, switching off, hoping no one would notice. Sure enough, no one did. But this time she could get away with not only enough for tonight, but enough for the nights to follow. She took her first chance to grab the largest coffee mug and fill it to the brim with vodka. She made her way upstairs unnoticed. She rolled her eyes when she saw the new meds she had got prescribed earlier sitting on her dresser. She picked up the sample packet and read: “Do not consume with alcohol. May cause dizziness and poor concentration.” That doesn’t sound so bad. So she popped the pill in her mouth and held the mug to her lips. It went down her throat, burning, as she gulped down what she assumed was about 4 shots.
She made her way downstairs, making pleasant conversation, laughing, joking and flaunting her best wit. Then she dismissed herself to her room where she lay on her bed typing away.
It was well into the night and as she was journalling about her latest relapse. She cocked her head up and thought, if I’m going to relapse, I want to relapse on something hard. Something worth relapsing over. She got up, stumbling and made her way down the hall, tip-toeing and jumping from carpet to carpet. When she reached her parents room, she glanced in cautiously and then took a bolt to the medicine cabinet. She reach in pulling out an old dusty green basket. She slid each prescription up and read the fine print. Blah blah-pin, blah blah-izon, Vicodin! She opened it and examined one of the oval pills. Classic, she thought, I replaced these all with generic Aspirin… She shoved the bottle back in with the rest. But then, there it was; Tylonal 3’s with Codine. Codine, Codine, I know about Codine… She took the bottle and placed the basket carefully back on the shelf.
With the bottle on her desk, she lay her head on her folded arms, gazing dreamily at the pills. She smiled and knocked down every last one. She knew they were old, so they probably weren’t very strong and she knew she had a tolerance for opiates at this point.
The night went fast as she sat there embracing the tingling in her body. Her parents had gone to bed and after a few hours, all her symptoms had run out. She was bored. Not tired. Her mouth was dry. What now? She searched her own medicine cabinet and found a box of Benedryl and an unopened bottle. She never thought it would resort to this but she was desperate for a high. Her friend had told her about how hard he tripped once and she was intrigued. She had tried it once but it only knocked her out. She figured she didn’t take enough that time. So she quietly ripped of the aluminum seals and collected the pink pills in a pile on her bed. 20 pills. She went and got some water, forgetting about the alcohol sitting on her nightstand and swallowed them all at once. She wrote again:

20131203-174703.jpgEntry 17: August 25th, 4:45am

I feel it kicking in. First noises, are they real? Now flickering lights. O wee, I’m in for a trip! I took a shower and brushed my teeth. Put on some fresh clothes. Now i lie in bed waiting for the right moment to get up. Maybe daylight. Im kinda scared! Paranoid… Noises all over :S no one is up im sure. Ill type again if it becomes foo much. Ill pay attention to the time. It took about 50 min to feel this little feeling. Im parched and my lips are dry. We will see, we will see.

 

7am. So i saw my sheets fiddle about. Left for a bike ride. Everything spinning, beautifulllll, strrangegege. Things take form, illuminatingggg and all appears as something its not… It paints my reality in a stop-motion patterns >><<<>>>. Im so thirsty! Some nausea, shaking, memory loss. Zoning out….

20131203-174710.jpgThat all she has left of that day. That day she now sees as the one that changed her life. The day when she decided to give it all up and really try to get clean. She remembers lying in bed for another hour, her blood vessels in her legs were dancing, she thought they were going to shoot out through her skin. She got up and looked in the mirror. Her eyes were dilated so big she could only see a sliver of her iris’ blue outline. She looked closer at herself, her skin had dots all over it, was it peeling? She reached up and scratched it.. It was falling off! Her jaw dropped, her tongue huge with large pimples glowing. Her teeth looked yellow and decayed. Then, there was someone behind her. Her heart jumped as she spun herself around quickly… No one was there. She began to cry. Now the feeling that was in her legs was all over her body. Her blood wanted out. She was so afraid. She ran to her phone and called her mom as quickly as possible. Delirious, she sobbed quietly, begging her to not get mad. Begging her to listen and too please, please not get mad. She explained to her what she had done. She asked her to drive her to the hospital. Her blood was going to explode, she just knew it. Her mom hung up; shocked, pissed, but on her way. The girl ran to her parents bedroom. “Guys, guys, wake up. moms coming to get me—don’t get mad— I was stupid, Im so stupid. I took a bunch of pills. Moms coming to get me…” They were frazzled, sitting up in their bed blinking up at her. What? What was going on? “Okay honey…” was all her step-mom could think of.
She ran down the stairs and lazily fell into her moms car. They were silent. When she walked into the hospital they placed her on a bed in a room with no windows, chairs, nothing. Her mom sat there in silence. The doctors came in and out asking if she was suicidal. She promised she wasn’t, “I just wanted to get high.” After her mom had a long talk with one of the doctors she signed some papers and two buff looking women stepped in. They brought a gurney to the left side of the bed where she was resting and picked her up. Her mom came to her side and explained to her what was going to happen, “There taking you to a psych ward.”

 

The Pink Cloud

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Many people like to criticize a person who is in early recovery and flying high on their ‘pink cloud.’ This is a word used to describe that possessive positive feeling when your in the first months of  recovery. I know a lot of people say I am sitting on a pink cloud. They like to remind me that relapse is possible— as though they don’t think I know that! I absolutely hate when I am in a meeting, smiling wide and so excited about my bright future in sobriety and someone glares me down, rolling their eyes at my optimism. I understand they’ve most likely ‘been there and done that’ but whats wrong with being happy for me and encouraging more excitement?  Is too much positivity a bad thing?” -Robyn

pink cloud The Joy of Recovery

Getting free of drugs or alcohol is something to celebrate. Addiction destroys lives and escaping this hell is certainly a wonderful achievement. Enjoying the freedom and newness of early recovery is to be encouraged. It is a time for waking up to the possibilities of life and benefiting from improved relationships with friends and family. The nightmare is over so there is plenty to smile about. Sometimes though, the newly sober person can feel so good that it becomes dangerous.

People may feel exceptionally good for weeks, or even months, in early sobriety. This pink cloud period is undoubtedly enjoyable, but it can also be risky. Some will come back down to reality with a bang, and that can be painful. It can also lead to overconfidence which could put people at increased risk of relapse. The individual is feeling so good that they fail to do the things they need to do to stay on track.

The Pink Cloud Defined

Early recovery is often referred to as a rollercoaster ride because it involves a mixture of great highs and great lows. Emotions that have been anesthetized with alcohol and drugs suddenly awaken, and feelings can be particularly intense. As the body and mind adjusts to this new life, there can be rapid changes in mood. There will usually come a time though, when the individual hits a smooth patch. Life will feel wonderful and the future exceptionally bright. Staying free of addiction now feels effortless and the individual may wonder what all the fuss was about.

The term pink cloud tends to be used negatively to describe people who are too high on life. They are individuals who have lost touch with reality and are now living in a fantasy land. The emotions that this person is experiencing do not properly reflect their actual situation. The pink cloud syndrome in addiction recovery was first described by Alcoholics Anonymous.

The Dangers of the Pink Cloud

It might seem odd to claim that there would be any disadvantages to feeling good. The addict may have spent decades battling their problem so it seems reasonable that they should get to feel great now. While it is true that life in recovery should be about enjoying life, there can be problems if people become too confident and complacent. They may conclude that their problems are over, and that there is no need to do anything more to maintain their sobriety. There is also the risk that when the pink cloud period ends, it will lead to huge disappointment.

Relapse is most likely to occur during the first few years of recovery. It is particularly likely to happen during the first few months after leaving rehab. The most usual reason why it occurs is that the individual stops putting enough effort into staying free of addiction. They start ignoring their problems and stop asking for help. The relapse process describes how people begin the road back to addiction as soon as they hit a point in recovery that they fail to get beyond. The risk then is that those who are on a pink cloud may feel so confident that they become stuck.

If an individual experiences a particularly pleasant period in recovery, then it can be disappointing when it ends. Life is full of ups and downs, and nobody can stay up forever. Emotions eventually settle down as the body adjusts to recovery, and the highs and lows become less intense. The individual can respond to the end of the pink cloud by assuming that they have done something wrong. They can begin to lose faith in those tools that have been keeping them away from alcohol and drugs. They may even start to question if recovery is that worthwhile after all. People can feel cheated when the super highs of early recovery are replaced by more modest emotions.

Criticisms of Pink Cloud Syndrome

There is no denying that people in early recovery do tend to experience periods when they are emotionally high. There are undoubtedly risks associated with feeling overly confident, and the comedown can be harsh. The main criticism against pink cloud syndrome is that it can be used negatively to describe people in much the same way as dry drunk is used. This could mean that the individual feels guilty about experiencing positive emotional states. The problem is not feeling good in recovery, but with staying on track.

Character Defect Meditation

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“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

When thinking about step six, even if your not there yet, it can be troubling. Who wants to name all of their character defects? Its not nice to point out other peoples flaws and its certainly not fun pointing out your own. Thats why I went looking for another way we can handle working through this step. Something that will give us courage but most importantly: serenity. Below you will find some adjectives that you might use to describe any number of your faults. I suggest picking a few of the most dominant traits to start with. Then there is a step-by-step guided meditation practice. Give it a look over and try it out loud first. Then, when your ready , you can really dig deep and spend some time with yourself and your thoughts. Relax and observe yourself. There is no fear, there is no tension. It’s just you and complete, utter, honesty.” -Best of luck, Robyn

List of Possible Character Defects:

  • anger, hatred
  • anxiety – Not as a clinical diagnosis, but as a general way of viewing things with an eye toward what is wrong, what might be wrong, what has been wrong or what is going to be wrong. Excessive worry, especially about things I cannot change.
  • arrogance – Offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride.
  • closed mindedness – Contempt prior to investigation. Disregarding things and ideas just because they are new and unknown. Being unwilling to try things or follow suggestions. Failing to remain teachable.  Having a mind firmly unreceptive to new ideas or arguments.
  • dependency, over dependency, co dependency – Relying on others to provide for us what we ought to provide for ourselves. Feeling we must be in a relationship, or must hold on to others who want to move on. Letting others control us to an extreme due to our fear of being alone, abandoned, or independent.
  • depression, pessimism – Not as a clinical condition, but as a way to generally see the dark side of things.
  • dishonesty – Sins of omission and commission. Telling lies, hiding things, telling half truths or pretending something is so that isn’t. Withholding important information. Adding untrue details to stories and situations.  Stealing, cheating, taking things that aren’t ours and that we aren’t entitled to.
  • controlling attitude toward people, places and things – Trying to control others by manipulation, bribery, punishment, withholding things or tricking them into acting as we wish, even when we believe it is in their best interest to do so. Failing to be equal partners with others and to consider their knowledge and opinions.
  • fear
  • gluttony, greed – Wanting and taking too much: food, sex, time, money, comfort, leisure, material possessions, attention, security.  Acquiring things (material things, relationships, attention) at the expense of others.
  • gossiping – Speaking or writing about others in a negative manner, especially to get them in trouble or to feel superior to them and bond with someone else against the target of the gossip.  When I find myself talking about someone, I must pause and check out why I am mentioning their name.
  • humility, a lack of humility – Feeling better than and worse than others, and being self centered.
  • impatience – Being frustrated by waiting, wanting often to be some time in the future, wanting something to change or improve rather than accepting it as it is.
  • intolerance – Not accepting people or things for who or what they are.
  • inventory taking, being judgmental – Noticing and listing, out loud or to ourselves, the faults of others.
  • jealousy and envy – Wanting what others have, feeling we don’t have enough or deserve more, wishing we had what others do instead of them. This applies to material possessions like houses, cars, money and such. It also applies to nonmaterial things like relationships, a nice family, children, parents, friends and partners, and fulfilling work relationships. We can envy others their looks and physical appearance, their talents and physical abilities or attributes such as thinness, tallness, sports ability or musical talent.
  • laziness, procrastination, sloth – Not doing as much as is reasonable for us to do. Putting things off repeatedly. Not carrying our own load as much as we are able. Letting others provide things for us that we ought to get for ourselves.
  • perfectionism – Expecting or demanding too much from ourselves or others. Treating things that aren’t perfect as not good enough. Not recognizing a good try or progress.
  • prejudice – Pre-judging people based on a group they belong to. Negative feelings about someone based on their religion, race, nationality, age, disability, sexual orientation, accent, politics, economic status, physical characteristics like height, weight, hair style, clothing style, physical fitness.
  • rationalization, minimizing and justifying, self-justification – Saying and/or believing I had good motives for bad behavior.  Saying that I did bad things for good reasons, or that what I did really wasn’t that bad.
  • resentment – The feeling of displeasure or indignation at some act, remark, person, etc., regarded as causing injury or insult.
  • rigidity and fear of change
  • self centeredness, selfishness – Spending excessive time thinking about myself. Considering myself first in situations. Not having enough regard for others or thinking about how circumstances hurt or help others. Thinking about what I can get out of situations and people, what’s in it for me? Spending too much time considering my appearance, acquiring things for myself, pampering myself, indulging myself.
  • self pity

From a blog by Lydia at Don’t Drink and Don’t Die

Meditation

Step Six Meditation:Uncover and detach from our defects

1. Relaxation, Centering and Aligning with our Higher Power

  • Let’s begin our meditation as before by getting comfortable and listening to our breath. Feel the clean light-filled air on the inhale filling your lungs and body with goodness and love. Exhale deeply and visualize all sickness and negativity leaving your lungs and body with the breath.
  • I relax and I let go. Repeat this phrase in rhythm with your breathing and feel the tension release from your body, your emotions and your mind.
  • I let go and I let God ( or use the word – Love).  Continue your path towards relaxation by using this mantra as you breath. Concentrate on the words and imagine all of the day-to-day stuff that you can let go of and turn over to your Higher Power. Begin focusing on your heart center. Imagine a white light glowing in your chest that is warm and full of love. Remember that this heart center is your connection to Higher Power and to the Universe and all of the good is available to you.
  • “I offer myself to my Higher Power.” Become aware of how this surrender affirmation feels and what images you can use to support this affirmation.

2. Dis-identification exercise

  • “I have a body, but I am not my body.  My body may find it self in different conditions of health or sickness; it may be rested or tired, but that has nothing to do with my SpiritSelf, my real ‘I.’ My body is my precious instrument of experience and of action in the outer world, but it is only an instrument. I treat it well; I seek to keep it in good physical condition, but it is not myself. I have a bodybut I am not my body.
  • I have emotions, but I am not my emotions.  These emotions are countless, contradictory, changing, and yet I know that I always remain I, my SpiritSelf, in times of hope or despair, in joy or in pain, in a state of irritation or of calm. Since I can observe, understand, and judge my emotions, and then increasingly dominate, direct, and utilize them, it is evident that they are not myself. I have emotions, but I am not my emotions.
  • “I have desires, but I am not my desires, aroused by drives, physical and emotional, and by outer influences. Desires too are changeable and contradictory, with alterations of attractions and repulsions. I have desires but they are not myself.
  • “I have a mind, but I am not my mind. It is more or less developed and active; it is undisciplined but teachable; it is an organ of knowledge in regard to the outer world as well as the inner; but it is not my SpiritSelf. Ihave a mind, but I am not my mind.

3. Let’s begin our work with one of our defects. I suggest that you select 1 defect to reflect on in each meditation. You may need to work for a number of meditations on one specific defect to help detach from it. Hold in your mind the defect that you wish to share with your Higher Power in the Sunlight of the Spirit.

  • have (this defect), but I am not (this defect.)  Visualize this defect as separate and detached from you. Repeat this affirmation adding any visualizations or emotions that will help to support this for you.
  • Next let’s work to replace this defective quality with a higher, positive spiritual quality.   You may substitute any word for the spiritual quality or virtue that expresses the opposite of the defect into this affirmation.
    • “I am the “(insert spiritual quality)” of my Higher Power in action.”  Repeat it over and over with in rhythm with your breathing in your meditation. You may wish to add a visualization to accompany the affirmation that reinforces and imprints the energy of the quality within you.  In this way we begin to weed out the defects within our Spiritual Garden and replace them with the fruits and flowers of our virtues.

4. I am a Spiritual Being. Imagine being free of all that is weighing you down emotionally, mentally and physically. I am one with my Higher Power, connected in my heart center, I now rest in this conscious contact and oneness with my Higher Power.

5. End your meditation slowly. Open your eyes and look around the room. Sit quietly for several minutes.

Please do not get discouraged and give up. This is practice. You will think that you are not being very productive, that you are distracted and not doing it right. Persist through this. Be consistent. You will discover the fruits of your meditation over time. The first goal achieved will be emotional balance, , emotional sobriety, a calm within the storm of our thoughts and emotions. Stick with it.

From 11th Step Mediation, The Sixth Step

Take Ten

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What if she woke up one morning and actually listened to that little voice inside her head? The one that tells her go outside and practice yoga, to read instead of waste time online, to eat smaller portions, to go to the gym, to paint, to journal, to pray, to live? Sometimes she’ll just lay there, listening to the voice as it goes on and on. Later, she says. She begins to make excuses.

She’s been in Florida about a month now. Doing not much else but sleeping, eating, driving from doctor to doctor and playing the day by ear. Some days are good; she reads, she writes, she works out a couple hours and makes it to a meeting. But now, ever sense she broke down at the gym a week back, she hasn’t visited since. It was terribly embarrassing. One second she was doing crunches and the next she is balling into tears. Likely PTSD caused.. She sees her time now here as doomed. When she thought all insanity was forgotten, she was suddenly hit by an episode of uncontrollable guilt and remorse. If she would’ve known that the music of Indian trance would set her off in a crying fit of hysterics, she may have not played it in the first place. Then again, there was that voice, in the back of her mind, that did warn her. She’s been ignoring that voice ever since. “Why ignore the voice that tried to help you?” the voice says. She doesn’t reply.. “Your in denial.”

Maybe she is in denial. Its been harder and harder to be the girl she was before her world came tumbling down but she thought this fresh start could really help her.  She thought she could spend this time to search for that girl she thought she was. It has been meaningful, there is no denying that. She’s written countless journals, poems, and spoken to many friends to find some reminisces of serenity. She sees the clouded skies and rainy days as an excuse to stay in. An excuse to withdraw from the world. Now she just waits for Sunday. The day she suspects her mom will arrive with all the furniture they packed. Then she will be busied with moving in, finding a new healthcare plan, applying to college and getting a part-time job.

Yet today is only Thursday. She still has time. She still has seven more days to finish her ’90 in 90’ and one more day until she’s been clean for 90 days. That’s all good. That’s something to be proud of. For the meantime though, she should listen to that voice.

Today she woke up early, watched the sunrise and had a lunch wrap. She sits here writing this thinking about how the rest of her day might pan out. Her grandma wants to get her nails done, thats something. She has to blog, thats obvious. If the sun comes out she could go to the gym, maybe read/bike for an hour then do the usual drill. She hopes she won’t run into that guy she went on a date with. That was a bad idea. He claimed she was looking at him and he caught her doing so several times. The only thing is, she could’ve sworn she’d never seen him before. They had nothing in common but they still talked for hours. More like he talked for hours… She knows all but his last name. He loves to workout (used to be fat) has a kid but has been separated from the baby-mama for a few months. He was wearing camo shorts and a tee shirt— so not her type. He had a messy apartment and ADHD.. just boring southern fellow really. Not an ounce of creativity and not an ounce of wisdom, from what she gathered. She ignored most of his texts trying to give him a hint, it worked eventually. She has to admit that it was nice to finally talk to a local enough to share even a glimpse of her story. But that glimpse, while it may be interesting, is very strange. She has decided to remain a mystery to anyone else she meets. They don’t need to know her past, she’s not there anymore…

Where she is now is a place of comfort. A place that doesn’t remind her of her past. Well, not the one she is ashamed of. She recalls the first time she snorted cocaine in her house. It was all fine until she took it a little too far. She snorted a little too much. Just after dinner, just before bed, she was ready to feel that surge of energy. She wanting to make art—she hadn’t in so long. That night she did stay up but instead of drawing she worked on making a schedule for work and homework and other meaningless stuff. She doesn’t quite remember. What she does remember was the look on her face when she looked in the mirror and saw the whites of her eyes gradually being sunken in red blood. She opened her laptop, searching for an answer on the web, she found that her blood vessels had popped due to the pressure of her amateur inhale. She freaked out but by the time morning came her shift was about to start— she took another line. When she came home her eyes were completely red, nothing but her blue iris’ left, bright with the contrast.

Blue Eye Blood Vessels PoppedShe looked like a vampire.

She made up some story about sneezing in the night after eating too much cayenne pepper (which, according to online sources, stimulates blood cells). People just shrugged it off.

She had to deal with that embarrassment for a week before she quit her job at the local coffee shop and began her new one at Starbucks. What a great first impression… From then on she was afraid to to take another hit. So she developed a new way to get her high. This way was a much lighter way, a more hidden way. She would ration out enough powder for a day in a small baggie. Stealing her moms cigarettes (for first few times), she would lick the edges, roll them in cocaine and light up when she could get away from work or school. She would smoke on her breaks occasionally, before she went to the gym, on her way to school, and before she went back home. She’d stay up late into the night and crash in the afternoon. It worked for her. She got a lot done.

She was very meticulous about how much she used a week, knowing she had a limited supply, she would never waste any on a lazy weekend. She was pleased with this drug, it was nothing like the opiates she had used in High School. The rush, the fire, it’d burn inside her but she was able to still be in control. It kept her out of the dumps. It actually brought her quickly into mania. She was shopping like crazy and inhumanly productive. She began to stop eating and people would praise her for her good looks. She’d smile and offer some grandiose advise; lying through her teeth about how it all had to do with her vegan diet and exercise. It wasn’t until she began to run out that things started to fall apart. She had tried cutting it down little by little but she couldn’t stop herself from using more and more. Until one day, poof, it was gone. She went into work a complete disaster. She was unbelievably tired, completely depressed and horrendously lost. Her mind was going a mile a minute, wondering how on Earth she would find her next fix. She thought about everything; asking strangers, going to a strip club, prostituting, ect. She knew she couldn’t do any of that, at least in that moment, all she wanted to do was fight. She was hanging onto the moments before she started using. They were never as great as when she was but they were livable.

Eventually people were starting to notice. At school she would shy away, this time not with her head in her books or hovering over her laptop; she was sleeping. She would drag her feet on the floor and plop down in the hallways, sometimes dozing off so long she would miss class. She hid herself in her room during these dark times. Her insides crumbled as she woke in the morning to another cold autumn day. Going to work became a pain, customers would ask her what was wrong. When she was behind the counter she just shrugged them off. Until one day when she was sweeping the cafe and taking out the garbage, one of the regulars threw the question at her one more time. She looked up, tears began to fill her eyes. In a low voice she let it all out. She didn’t know where it was coming from or how she was able to trust this guy (maybe it was because he looked a bit like a druggy, perhaps more likely a dealer given his oddly formal yet rugged attire). As he stirred the sugar in his coffee, she looked up at him to say something, anything. He paused returning the glance and said, “I’ll be right back.” He left his coffee cup steaming as he took large steps out into the parking lot. The next thing she knew he came back with a bottle of pills.

“It’s Adderall,” he said. “I’m prescribed but I don’t really use them, I use other stuff. Try it, it’ll help you come down. You look too young, you can’t get into that stuff.”

Adderall 20mgWas this guy serious? She felt a little piece of him was looking out for her. She didn’t bother wondering what that ‘other’ things was, she was just pleased to have a solution. After cautiously taking the bottle she whispered, “But I don’t have any money on me now and I just can’t pay for something like this.” The truth was that she had spent all her money on clothes but she desperately needed this.

“Don’t worry, consider it a gift, its cheap…ish. Just throw in a free biscotti for me when I come in.” She smiled, he winked and shouted “take care,” as he exited the shop.

She ran into the bathroom and immediately downed two pills of 20mg. Having no idea if that was enough, she raced into the back storage room and threw the bottle in her bag. Within 30min she began to feel it. Her teeth clenched, she couldn’t stop moving—she was back.

 Chicago at Night

Reminiscing of the days before her rock bottom are very strange. Its almost as if she wasn’t there. Like it was a different person and she is watching it all play out from afar. It’s a movie of some girl she used to know but hasn’t talked to in a long time. She left her at home. She didn’t even say goodbye.

Mayan Calender She also never said goodbye to the city. Sometimes she wonders if she should have wandered the streets of Chicago once more before she took off for Florida. The last time she went she was in psychosis: She walked for hours in flash delirium as pictures of the the people bounced off the reflection of the nameless buildings, staring them down believing fully that she could feel their energy and read their minds. The concrete was hard against her feet as she pounded her way through the crowd as though she had a purpose. And when she reached the river she stopped and caught her breath. It was so surreal. Everything had changed. Well, not the city— she had changed. Symbols and sounds were mocking her now. Her thoughts spun an intricate web of destruction, telling her she was the saviour. A Mayan princess. The last one standing. The only one who knows
the secrets of the elements and the power of air.

 

Now she closes her eyes and imagines she’s there again. She imagines how she would’ve felt if she had gone; she’d probably have been overwhelmed, sick to her stomach, her mind would’ve gone crazy with flashbacks of not only her life pre-India but of all the delusions she had post-India— she’d probably break down and cry.

She was grateful she was no longer in that stuffy suburb, just a train ride away from those memories. She had soiled everything by walking around for miles thinking too much, pushing her mind through the endless brinks of insanity. When she was home she was trapped by those thoughts. Everything reminded her of everything she was trying so hard to escape. The only reason she agreed to go to the psych ward in the first place was because she knew she had to get away. That month that was spent jumping from one facility to the next kept her mind from unfolding. It was all almost heaven-sent. But when she returned it was waiting for her. She can see herself crying and crying throughout the day, just wanting out of her head. Questioning why she couldn’t just be someone else, if only for a day. Death looked inviting. But death was not the answer.

She was lucky to have a family that loved her. She was lucky to be so young. She had another chance at life. She had wasted too much time drowning in her sorrow, disappointing herself, disappointing everyone. She was ready for a change. She wanted to change. Now this is the only thing she has left. This journal keeps her going. Her words like vomit; cleansing her spirit, detoxing her soul. She imagines a day when she will run out of things to say. Right now that seems impossible, but maybe someday. Maybe someday she will look back on all her journals (private and public), all her poems, all her letters and nicknacks she collected on her crazy journey through the wormhole and out. She will spend time reading for hours, laughing at her past. And thats all it will mean to her, nothing but the past. She won’t dwell on it, she won’t worry about it, she won’t find herself in the depths of despair. Instead, she may take it, throw it in a box and hide it away. Or maybe she’ll show it, share it with people who have gone through similar things. Consoling them, giving them strength and courage, letting them know that there’s hope. Letting them know that someday, they too can come down from their cloud. They can still follow their dreams. They can overcome their mind. After all, our minds are a powerful thing… And no one knows that better than someone whose experienced insanity.

Find Your Drive with MET

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“One of my earlier post talked about how important it is to have motivation. But I was mainly referring to lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise. I failed to mention its importance in recovery from addiction! This is a great article that outlines an actual therapy to help boost your mental and emotional strength called Motivation Enhancement Therapy or MET. The goal is to hit a breakthrough, a kind of enlightenment, that will enhance your drive for a life of sobriety. As they say, ‘the 12 steps doesn’t work for everybody,’ because you need that motivation to even show up at a meeting!” -Best of luck, Robyn

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Motivational Enhancement Therapy(MET), according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “is a counseling approach that helps individuals resolve their ambivalence about engaging in treatment and stopping their drug use.”

It is a method offering more to the substance abuser than simply the traditional 12-step programs of Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous (AA, NA).  “This approach aims to evoke rapid and internally motivated change, rather than guide the patient stepwise through the recovery process.”

MET is based on principles of Motivational Interviewing (an approach developed by William R. Miller and Stephen Rollnick, clinical psychologists treating problem drinkers).  It elicits self-motivational statements in early discussion sessions. This is done to “build a plan for change” based on the patient’s observable commitment and verbal expressions of some level of movement toward healingsurrounding the problem.

This therapeutic approach specifically engages the patient in the process of putting a plan forward based on person-centeredmotivations, as opposed to societal. ((As such, it evokes the work of educator John Dewey and psychologist Carl Rogers.)) In uniquely notreiterating the 12-step approach, it can appeal to those having problems following a rote program that does not fully speak to them.

After all, the 12-step approach doesn’t work for everyone.

Developing problem-solving and interpersonal skills is a core component of the therapy. Often, this is introduced early on, in order to initially get past the denial of any substance abuse problem. In a sense, the therapist is guiding the patient to see for himself that there is a problem — all based on discovering what motivates the individual to live life as he or she is currently.

Enlightenment can only occur if an individual wants to learn (John Dewey), and MET is centered around this insight.  Once initial resistance has been countered — by reflecting back the patient’s own statements about desiring better outcomes — learning can really take off.  An introduction of behavioral techniques can be nicely mixed in to support the patient’s ability to better fend for himself when tempted by chemical or old, bad habitual patterns.

Therapists using this approach will often encourage partners and family to attend some sessions as well. This is to support the patient’s thinking and behavioral process changes, as well as to learn techniques for themselves. ((Those techniques could be to draw out the patient’s experience and feelings, or to find coping mechanisms as an addict’s or alcoholic’s family member, based on the MET approach.))

MET often is used in conjunction with other cognitive behavioralapproaches to problems; indeed its application can be much further-reaching than simply for substance abuse. It also has points of connectedness with dialectical behavior therapy-based approaches — utilizing principles akin to mindfulness and distress tolerance in session explorations.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy could go a long way toward offering new insights to those affected by the varied symptomatology of many mental illnesses, as well as interpersonal and professional human relations. Its applications are beginning to be far-reaching, as a simple search online will prove, with its healing offered toward everything from anxiety and depression to breathing problems connected to needed lifestyle change.

Source: http://www.psychcentral.com

Why We Smoke SO Much!

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” When I first started smoking, I thought I was cool. Then I stopped. When I picked up smoking several years later, it was a way to get high. Then I stopped.  It wasn’t until I found myself in recovery that I really started smoking like a chimney. My parents were concerned and frankly annoyed my this new habit. There was a sense of relief  however, when they discovered in their NAMI class (National Alliance on Mental Illness) that this was commonly seen in people who have mental disorders and addiction. So I went on their website and found the article that explains it all! So if your a smoker, you may relate to this bit of text! It does focus on mental illness but a lot of the information can be useful to all.” -Peace, Robyn

Smoking and Mental Illness

People living with mental illness have a very high rate of smoking. A study by The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that 44.3 percent of all cigarettes in America are consumed by individuals who live with mental illness and/or substance abuse disorders. This means that people living with mental illness are about twice as likely to smoke as other persons.

A positive note is that people who live with mental illness had substantial quit-rates, which were almost as high as the group without mental illness. NAMI has led many changes in our mental health system─getting access to the tools to quit smoking is a way to improve the quality and quantity of life. Improving lives is a new advocacy pursuit.

The Connection between Mental Illness and Smoking

There is no one single, certain reason why so many people who live with mental illness smoke. It may be a combination of brain effects, psychological effects and the social world in which we live.

From a brain-based perspective, research is being done to determine if and how nicotine is involved in some of the brain’s memory functions. If nicotine is a factor, then this could explain why so many people living with an illness like schizophrenia or other illness involving cognitive deficits may smoke. Even though smoking is thought to enhance concentration and cognition, the effects are short in duration.

Researchers and the medical community have a great deal to learn about how smoking impacts the brains of those living with mental illness. It is known that people diagnosed with schizophrenia often smoke before the onset of symptoms and that they smoke more often and inhale more deeply than smokers without schizophrenia.

While we still have a lot to learn about why people smoke, there is plenty of information to support the serious health risks of smoking. So while there may be good reasons why you were attracted to smoking, the key is to figure out ways to increase rates of quitting. Nicotine isn’t a health problem on its own, but when smoked and combined with hundreds of other chemicals that are present in cigarettes the practice of smoking is toxic.

Psychologically, all addictions soothe cravings. People often find themselves relaxed and less tense when their addiction is fed. This is true of cigarette smoking. Smoking can also be part of a social norm, one where people in your social circle all hang out and smoke. Some people who live with mental illness learned to smoke in a hospital or in group-living settings. These examples help illustrate how the mental health culture needs to move forward to reduce the tie between socialization and smoking.

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Facts About Smoking

People die from smoking-related illnesses. Every year, smoking kills about 200,000 people who live with mental illness. Smoking harms nearly every organ of your body and diminishes your overall health. Smoking is a leading cause of cancer and of cancer-related death.

Smoking also causes heart disease, stroke and lung disease. With the increased risk of heart disease from second-generation atypical antipsychotic medications (SGAs), individuals living with mental illness must try to quit.

Inhaled cigarette smoke is made up of 4,000 chemicals, including cyanide, benzene, ammonia and carbon monoxide to name a few. There is no safe tobacco product, so switching to a smokeless or chew product will not eliminate your risk of smoking-related diseases.

People are finally waking up to the fact that smoking is a true health hazard, and people need to quit in order to live longer. More psychiatric facilities are going smoke-free, and NAMI is advocating for access to smoking cessation in outpatient settings.

State mental health commissioners and state medical directors are committed to changing the way the public mental health culture relates to smoking. Check out their toolkit (http://www.nasmhpd.org/general_files/publications/NASMHPD.toolkitfinalupdated90707.pdf) to see what policy changes and strategies they are using to create a healthier mental health system environment.

Smoking’s Effects on Symptoms and Medications

Research shows that people living with mental illness do not have worse symptoms after they quit. It is understandable that this is a concern with quitting smoking. Quitting is hard work, and it may take many efforts to be successful. Be sure to get support, talk with your doctor, set a quit date and explore the tools for success (Link to tools for success section) that are available to help you quit.

If you are a smoker and you quit, you can usually get the same treatment results from lower doses of psychiatric medications. Smoking increases the breakdown of medicines in your body, so smokers need to take higher doses to get the same results as someone who does not smoke. Without cigarettes you may need to take less medication. An additional benefit is that a dose reduction will likely reduce side effects of medicines, such as weight gain and other side effects.