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At the relapse prevention course last week this idea came up. We stop growing emotionally when we become addicts. That makes me a teenager (it makes own of my fellow course attendees eight, but theirs isn’t my story to tell).

I can see some truth in that. I was scared of growing up and drinking helped to keep me a child. All I had to worry about was when I would next be able to get drunk, free myself from the anxiety and the fear. There was no need to engage with the problems of despised ‘real life’ with all its responsibilities and obligations. Now they are here.

And, in watching a YouTube video the other day (you can see it here, it’s rather long but quite interesting) I recognised myself. The speaker – a psychologist – remarked on how a loud noise might affect someone who suffered with anxiety, someone who sees the world as full of danger. It’s a noise that a settled, calm soul might not even register. I would register it. I’m constantly scanning for threats. In some senses I see this as a strength. A writer is supposed to observe, and my antennae are twitching 24/7.

Narcissism? The Wikipedia page for ‘addictive personality’ used to redirect to ‘narcissistic personality disorder’. So could I, who spends so much time loathing myself be a narcissist? Well, this is all about me. Even the loathing is all about me.

But the good news.

When I wrote my thoughts on counselling I didn’t give it much thought. It was honest and considered but fairly automatic writing. To Counsellor Mike though things jumped out that I had given little thought to. Describing myself as ‘evil’ was one – I have a cape and a lair and everything – which to me means little but to him seemed important.

We talked about it a little. Like talking about killing myself it’s something that comes to me very naturally and which doesn’t concern me greatly. But having it questioned made me look a little more closely. I have a deep core belief that not thinking of others first is selfish and that selfishness is a Bad Thing. My lack of connection with my emotions means I often think I’m cold and calculating, that my natural reaction is to do what enables me to drink.

Mike doesn’t believe I’m a psychopath. This is a Good Thing.

More later.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.

Leave a message.

TCC x

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I love this song. I’m slightly – make that hugely – obsessed by The Beatles.

Anyway. Tiredness is the chief problem in my life at the moment. I’ve got no spark, no get up and go (yes, it’s got up and gone).

This is frustrating.

I’m also a little stuck. I’m not quite taking the steps I need to take to become a bright, shiny new self-sufficient person. This is frustrating too.

But, it’s relatively early days. My meditation is helping me to become more focused, which is wonderful. I’m actually learning to do one thing at a time.

And today I’ve made a list to help further that progress. It goes a little like this.

  1. Tea (actually, two cigarettes)
  2. Meditate and Qi exercise (yep, I did that. The Qi exercise is a short simple deep breathing thing.)
  3. Breakfast and shower (this is where the tea appeared, along with a load of washing up, and another ciggie. I didn’t have a shower.)
  4. Take recycling bag up to the office. Check emails for work and then blog (which is where I am now)

I have a problem with lists. I tend to make them and consider the making of them to be the do-all-and-end-all: I’ve written it down and that’s enough. This is what I’m trying to change. And, although my focus is improving I’m still too easily distracted. Logging on to the computer can mean firing up a whole host of browser tabs that just have to be checked and before I know it I’m following a 400 post comment threat on Israel and Gaza.

So, I’m hoping to pack in the rest of my list today. Here’s how it goes from here on in.

  1. Work on paperwork filing (my life is a chaos of piles of unsorted but allegedly important sheets of paper.)
  2. Bank statements (chief amongst the often amorphous fears I face is my tax return. I need to get my hands on lots of missing (binned) bank statements to sort that out.)
  3. Lunch. Fifteen minutes Tai Chi practice
  4. Work.
  5. Antabuse and counselling.
  6. Make dinner for Mag.

Let’s see how we go then. I’m at the office in FIA all day tomorrow so can’t blog but I hope to be back on Friday.

If you’d like to leave a message it’s always appreciated.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.

TCC x

 

I’ve been getting counselling for a looooong time now. As I went for my detox I changed counsellors in an attempt to make it something more, not positive, but concrete for me. I used to toddle along every fortnight, enjoy sharing my innermost doodahs, feel much better for it, then go home and NOTHING WOULD CHANGE. That wasn’t the fault of the counsellor, it was the fault of me. But I want counselling to be more than that. That was the focus with which I started meeting Mike. He’s been very good in following that and given me home work, which is what I’m doing now.

This time I’m to look at my counselling review form and write what it inspires.

So, the form is a series of questions. Hell, let’s just do it.

What first brought you into counselling?

I had a drink problem and I was offered it. I suppose I know there are things ‘wrong’ with me and my personality that need addressing. I had hoped it would be an answer and free me from the things that made me drink.

What main areas have been focused on in counselling?

Many. My relationship with my parents and my childhood. But more recently, how to change and make that change stick.

What changes do you think you have made since counselling began?

I’m now abstinent. I’ve also started to make some more changes, taking up meditation and tai chi and I’m more committed to change. Previously, I hadn’t been making changes, just wallowing around in what caused my problems and essentially looking for an excuse for my depression and alcoholism.

What further changes would you like to make?

I’d like to take control of my life. I’d like to lose the ‘blocks’ that stop me communicating and stop me changing and keep me in fear and stasis.

What would need to happen to take this forward?

That’s a tough question. I think I need to learn to leave a lot of things in my past behind and start to look forward. I need to believe in myself (I have a terrible view of myself, I often refer to myself as evil, and I mean it.)

Do you feel you would like counselling to continue?

Yes.

I

If yes what will the focus be?

Change.

How would you know you no longer need to come?

That’s another tough question. I think I will have lifted some of those blocks and not be living in fear.

To answer that big old rhetorical question, I’ve been here. Sober as a judge. Sort of moving on and sort of standing still.

The big question is are you drunk? No, I am not drunk. I haven’t been drunk since 9.45pm on October 14, 2012. This is a good thing.

What else has changed? Well, I now meditate every morning. I know. You could have knocked me down with a feather if you’d have told me I’d be doing that a couple of months ago. It is both the hardest and the easiest thing I’ve ever done. Easy, because all I do is sit quietly and count my breaths from one to four. What could be easier? What could be harder? Given free rein my mind is a spiteful, jumpy, free wheeling sort of a mind. But I am trying and I am persisting in trying. This is new. I’ve not often persisted at much. I’ve taken things too easy. Been too kind to myself.

I’m also doing tai chi. Or rather I have attended one tai chi class. I intend to keep going on this.

I’ve also started reading a self-help book. It’s called the Barefoot Doctor Manifesto. It’s a fairly random pick. I was in the library looking through the health section – actually in search of tai chi or yoga books – when it jumped out at me. A quick flick revealed it to be based on Taoism of a sort so I picked it up. I’m reading it slowly and already doing some of the visualisation techniques within.

I didn’t blog last week because I was too busy. Every day I toddled along to the Addiction Team HQ for a course designed to prevent relapse. I learned some interesting things, drank some free tea and ate some free biscuits. I may well expand on this in future.

I have counselling tomorrow, for which I have some homework, which I will share here.

This has been an unfocused rambly sort of a blog.

If you spent it, thank you for your time. Leave a message.

TCC x

 

 

USGBD came round the other day. A cup of tea, a chat. Much of it about alcohol and The Spreadheads. USGBD used to be an addiction counsellor and was speculating about who was an alcoholic in The Spread. It wasn’t territory I felt particularly comfortable in.

I’m sure there are a lot of alcoholics in The Spread and I can think of three or four straight off. But it’s not for me to say, it’s for them.

I lied. Lied by omission but lied nonetheless. USGBD thinks I just stopped drinking, he doesn’t know about the detox or the antabuse. “That’s good,” he said, “it shows you can control it.” I should have corrected him I suppose. I should have told him that I couldn’t control it, that it took 70mg of diazepam to stop me drinking and it takes an antabuse tablet a day to keep me sober.

I just didn’t want to go throw the whole thing. And, I suppose it made me feel better that someone thought I’d done something involving self-control and discipline. (I have, but I don’t think I could have done it on my own).

I was more honest with Jiffkriff on Friday. He, in the course of our conversation admitted his addiction to cannabis. He smokes every day (and I used his visit as an excuse to join him) and recalled the only time in the last four years when he hadn’t. He was in ‘a dreadful state’, mainly insomnia.

He also told me about someone he knew who gave up drinking and then started again but was able to do so in moderation. His friend had been drinking a bottle of whisky a day and then had stopped completely.

Jiffkriff said, “But it was always a battle.”

“He said ‘every time I went past the pub it was a battle not to go in’. Now, he was drinking a can while he was saying this, and he told me: ‘I decided I wasn’t going to let it win, that I was going to have two cans or four cans, but I wasn’t going to let it be on ‘its’ terms.'”

That’s the dream isn’t it. I can’t imagine there are many recovering alcoholics who don’t wish they could do that (we’re in that ‘what is addiction’ territory again). I do. I miss it awfully. For the moment I’m committed to abstinence. How long that will last we will see.

I lie to you (anyone who reads this) by omission too. I don’t tell you my real name or the names of anyone I know, I don’t even reveal where I live. There are good reasons for this. I need to find work freelance and I don’t want anyone to Google my name and come up with ‘alcoholic’, but I also know there’s an extent to which I want to avoid publicly making that ‘I’m an alcoholic’ statement because one day – deep down – I hope that maybe I won’t be. Maybe I’ll be able to make all the changes in my life, my personality, that will enable me to drink with discipline and restraint.

History suggests that will never happen, but who ever learned the lessons of history?

Why?

I’m due back at counselling today. I haven’t been for a while, what with the chest problems and all and I’m looking forward to it.

I managed my second meditation yesterday. An ‘action’ meditation of juggling. This one isn’t quite from the guide books but as I understand it the idea is very similar to that of all meditations – to do one thing and one thing only and to concentrate on one thing and one thing only. I started juggling when I was a kid. I’m not very good, can’t do any tricks or anything, but I always found it a very relaxing thing to do. (The other option was playing guitar scales). So, I went for 15 minutes of ball tossing.

I meditated again this morning. The breath count. And, again… extraordinarily hard. I’ve noticed how shot my concentration can be when reading (ironically, when reading the book on meditation) and how I have to really struggle to properly take things in.

And, that’s the subject of my counselling today. I was sent away with a task and that task was to recognise an occasion when my thoughts started going in an unhealthy (and anxiety causing) direction and that I stopped it, or was at least aware of it. It’s not difficult to spot because it happens all the time. Not least when meditating!

So, I have to write that down. And here it is. As I say it’s an example from actually during a meditation.

My thoughts are supposed to be directed towards just counting my breath but this is how they can spiral away from me. I start to think about the breathing. Then I notice that my chest is bad – there’s some slight pain when I breathe in – and I start to think about the treatment I am having. This will not work, I think, they’re treating me for the wrong thing so this shortness of breath will continue to worsen until I am forced to go to hospital with it. Then I will lose my job. (I find it interesting that at no point do I think of this in terms of being possibly seriously ill, it just registers as an obstacle). When I think about work I always start to think about my lack of financial independence. I think, if anything happens to my parents, I am screwed, I won’t be able to support myself. Then I find myself thinking that I won’t be able to cope with my dad’s funeral, I will fall apart and cry in front of everyone uncontrollably and be revealed as a small, weak, baby. Then I start to think about how I will avoid it, how once my parents are gone I will be able to commit suicide without anyone worrying about it.

 

It’s not a pleasant path down which to tread. It’s not particularly distressing to me either. I’m so used to having suicidal fantasies and thoughts that it’s just part of the noise now.

That might seem an unpleasantly negative way to finish this post, so I should accentuate the positive a little too. I’m blogging regularly, keeping to a routine. I’m keeping all my appointments and taking all my medication. I’m reaping some of the benefits of sobriety. I’m meditating twice a day. I have a website set up for a writing project. I have some work to do today and just got an email about some more. I’m not drunk.

These things are good.

Tonight Mag goes away for a few days and that will be a test. I have some dope hidden away waiting for just such a moment. I’m trying to smoke as little as possible (three fags yesterday) and I want to stay on track. I’ll be a fool if I start to throw stuff away for a spliff now.

Wish me luck and thanks for your time.

Leave a message.

TCC.

I went to the Thin City Hospital yesterday for further check ups on my lungs.

It didn’t go well. The doctor rather intimidated me (his staff too from the hushed and reverential tones in which the nurse referred to him) and I’m still stuck with the idea that everyone believes that I have TB and that’s what they’re going to treat. More worryingly, they’re not treating my current shortness of breath while they decide what’s wrong with me. I feel stuck.

In my new resolution to take actions rather than just worry, I have written to the doctor this letter:

Dear Dr Intimidating,

I attended your TB clinic yesterday and thought I would write as I am not sure I was able to fully explain my symptoms yesterday. I do apologise for this but my anxiety and depression mean that I do not always communicate verbally very effectively, particularly in stressful situations.

It may have appeared that I was rather resistant to the idea that there is anything wrong with me. This is not the case. I am short of breath and I’m aware of this getting worse. I also have occasional pain in my right lung on inhalation. I also feel more fatigued than I should be. (This is particularly worrying and frustrating as when I managed to give up alcohol previously I was absolutely suffused with extra energy). I’m also aware that I am now on a whole panoply of new drugs – accamprosate, naltrexone, antabuse – which may account for this, as well as already prescribed medication – mirtazapine and citalopram – which will have had a different effect whilst I was drinking.

I work freelance and because of my drinking came close to losing my only current assignment, I’m extremely keen to hang on to this and I’m terrified that the situation with my lungs will just get slowly worse until I end up in hospital again, which is likely to cost me this job.

I have drunk through all the antibiotic treatments I have had, which includes both the course I was given on leaving Gloucester Royal Hospital and the most recent course from my GP. I know that this will have reduced their effectiveness, although all of them have worked to some extent and given some improvement in my breathing.

I’m not sure if I should present to my GP if – as I expect – my shortness of breath continues to worsen and ask if he will prescribe something to help?

Again, I apologise for what is I’m sure not great patient/doctor etiquette; however, it’s just a measure of my concern and my desperate wish to get properly better.

Thank you very much for your time.

Yours sincerely,

Thin City Citizen

 

Let’s see where that gets me.

I’m off to see Desmond now. He’s going to set up a website for me.

Let’s see where that gets me.

Thanks for listening.

Leave a message.

TCC x