Friday, July 25, 2008

How do you feel?

I have been practicing what I've been learning in my outpatient treatment program for depression, by trying to be mindful of my present feelings and circumstances. The program is teaching me how to live in the present in a way I've never learned before. I am asked on a consistent basis, "What is your mood today?" "What are you feeling?"

Being a person who has spent her life trying to avoid feelings and my mood depended on what was happening around me, these things are new. But I'm realizing that living one day at a time, really means taking stock of my life right this very moment, being grateful for what I have right now, avoiding things like fortune telling, all or nothing thinking, and being mindful of the fact that my thoughts are often distored and can cause disturbing feelings and initiate inappropriate behavior.

One thing I am very grateful for is that I am coming into this program with four years of SLAA recovery under my belt, as well as several years of therapy. SLAA has taught me that "acceptance is the answer to all my problems today" ... and that if I keep an open mind there is no problem too great to be lessened. As uncomfortable feelings surface during my treatment, I am able to embrace them as learning opportunities -- to separate what is still useful to me and what is no longer useful, and to reframe my thoughts using the tools provided to me by my therapists and doctors.

To be honest, I was very saddened by the idea that my depression had gotten the best of me and I needed serious treatment. I'm kind of a stubborn goat when it comes to things like surrender. I don't like to admit my weaknesses. I don't like for things to be beyond my control. But I'm thankful that to have learned there are things I can change and things I can't, and I'm thankful to a wonderful and loving Higher Power, ever present, who has stuck with me through my stubborness and has given me the wisdom to know the difference.

Depression is an illness that runs rampant in my family. Years of silence about my abuse (PTSD), and years of living in the throes of my addiction, not to mention the effects of medication I take for another illness, and relocating three times in six years, have only served to escalate the severity of my depression. I'm thankful today that I have had the opportunity to address this with medication, professional treatment and today -- a positive attitude.

I feel very blessed.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A night off

It's a rare night off around home. Hubby is out of town for work and I came home just to enjoy the silence. I thought of watching television -- you know actually having control of the remote -- but it's no fun without someone to argue about the volume control. So, I thought I'd do a quick check in here.

My partial-patient treatment for depression is going well, though I have to admit that I have trouble staying there all day. I just want to get up and run out and start living at times. But I'm so tired by the time I get out, that I don't have much energy to do anything at the end of the day.

It has been good to learn more about mental disease, the psychological world's perspective of it, and the medications that are used to treat it. I've met a lot of interesting and inspiring people. I'm feeling less irritated by the idea that I am in treatment for a mental disease as I see others struggling with issues far greater or equally frustrating as mine. There are people of all ages and diagnoses, and I know that I've gained greater empathy for those people who suffer from bi-polar disorder.

It's funny the words that trigger some of us ... one woman said she became offended these days when people would jokingly say, "You're crazy," and another woman became irate when someone suggested she was a "victim." I remember years ago walking into NP's office -- she was my first therapist -- and saying "I am not a victim." I have gone through the roller coaster of living as a victim and then a survivor, and know that being a victim is a self-defeating attitude. Nonetheless, I think taking the victim's stance, rather than the survivor's stance, in my recovery has been one of my biggest issues. Using statements such as "I can't ..." rather than "I am determined," has been detrimental. But it took those I can't statements to help me to surrender to my powerlessness over my addiction.

Another thing I'm hearing a lot about is anger. We've all heard the adage that "Depression is anger turned inward." I know I have a lot of anger issues to deal with, but am not really able to identify what they are right now. Slowly it's all being revealed and I'm doing my best to understand it.

My one prayer after all of this treatment is over is that I have the willingness to move forward, to move past this point of being stuck in depression. If I don't though, I'm going to keep chugging along, working hard until my life does move from dead center. I'm not happy and I intend to do something about it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

It's OK to be OK

It's OK to be OK ... that's what my therapist at the hospital told me yesterday. That seems pretty simple, huh? But it's not a concept I've grasped very easily.

I talked to my younger sister this morning. I sometimes think I call her as punishment. She is a constant state of "not OK," and in my opinion that's the only way she knows how to live. I was thinking of how I have tried to protect her from the reality that her father was a child molester so that she could have a better life. The truth is ... she wants her life to be just as it is -- a little too dramatic to be enjoyed. What I regret more than anything is that she is raising three children to think just like she does. All that said ... I realize that she's doing the best she can with what she's got. A single mom of three, working the night shift so she can be with her kids in the daytime ... that's no easy life. She is primarily responsible for her father (my stepfather) now, as all the rest of us have pretty much abandoned him.

Sometimes I feel guilty that she is in the position she is in, but then we all make choices. I've made mine and I respect hers.

I recognized while walking the dog yesterday that when I think about some members of my family, I consider their cases hopeless. I don't think they will ever change. Like I have no real hope that my sister will ever live life differently -- even though she is living much differently than she was when she was an active drug addict. I have a nephew whose abilities were severely minimized by his parents while he was growing up -- and I have the idea that he won't likely live much better than he does now. I think of my sister's kids -- each with different fathers and a whole screwed up idea of what makes up a family -- and I just have no hope that they won't grow up with little hope for a brighter future. It caused me to ponder if I think I am hopeless too, that I'm just reaching the point of life where I was always intended to be -- wrapped up in drama, hopeless and just getting by. Many people would call it white trash.

I made a determination many years ago I was not going to live like that ... and I don't intend to. I just need to take one day at a time and look upward rather than downward and realize that we all have our own journey. The journey of my family doesn't determine my journey.

Instead, the genetic mental disorders of my mother's side of the family have me off for another day of a treatment. I'm thankful to be willing to get the help I need.

Monday, July 14, 2008


I am currently undergoing treatment for chronic depression in an outpatient program. IDespite what it may look like on the outside, I have struggled immensely with depression and isolation (and some major withdrawal from my relapses) over the past 18 months and these have kept me unemployed, and in a regular state of misery. When my therapist called me a couple of days ago to ask me to give the hospital a call and set up an appointment, I felt enormous sadness. I could not stop crying. For so long, I have felt desparate for someone else to acknowledge the extent of my struggles. Finally somone had, and now it was my turn to acknowledge the truth I had wanted others to validate. I was sad.

But today, I am willing and ready -- whatever treatment options are available, I am willing to explore. I prayed yesterday asking my Higher Power to guide me to a message in Answers in the Heart, and opened to a page in Sept. where the reading was about asking for help when we need it. I've not been so good at that, but yesterday I reached out to my Higher Power, and I felt an unfamiliar willingness to reach out to my husband, and to talk to others in recovery about how I was feeling. I also felt the willingness to seek the help I need from professionals who have tools, to supplement the tools of this program, to help me move forward.

Likewise, I am opening my heart to the idea that no gain comes without some level of self sacrifice and change. My depression might never have escalated thus far if I had been taking the measures necessary over the years to maintain proper health. But those things are in the past and all I can do is work on today.

Today I am grateful to be alive. Since I was born, I've had all kinds of chances to simply die. I've thought a few times I was going to die when I was no where close, and contemplated doing the deed myself in the midst of despair -- but here I am fully alive and seeking help and surrender, one day at at time.

Saturday, July 05, 2008


I'm closer, more engulfed in sobriety than I ever have been. I am more aware of myself, my behaviors, what is driving my feelings. I see my life through a clearer lens, and I have a more truly intimate relationship with my husband and myself than I could have ever dreamed possible. I am more respectful of myself and more willing to try to make responsible decisions for myself, to try to practice the traditions and principles of the program in my life.

Yet, I still have a strong desire to act out lately, to slip away from indescribable feelings of discomfort and unease into the oblivion of sexual acting out.

I am accepting this today as a reminder that the disease does not go away, recovery simply helps me to manage it. I am also accepting it as a reminder that addiction is a disease -- a disease of the mind and body. It affects the way I feel inside and out. It feels differently from day to day and slight changes of mood, emotions, attitude or circumstances can cause it to flare up. But it is a disease -- not just a phase, not just a bi-product of some past life experiences.

Just for today I will live with my disease, trust my Higher Power to guide my life, work my program, and remember that without sobriety the disease is not just a part of my life, it is my life.

One day at a time, thanks to the grace of God, I am recovering.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Past and present

E. decided he would continue his efforts to weasle his way back into my life today by forwarding the e-mail he sent two weeks ago along with a note saying he had been checking his e-mail daily to see if I had responded to him. What an asshole.

I was traveling over the past week in the region where E. lives and where I spent my most active acting out days. While the trip was overall a very positive visit with friends, I have to admit that I felt more deeply than I have in a long time a sense of loss for all the time and energy that was lost to my disease.

I am thankful today to be sober, to have made a meeting tonight, and that it's bedtime and I can push the delete button and forget E. for one more day.