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Friday, February 21st, 2014 | Author:

“There’s nothing wrong with you, Liz,” she said.

For 11 years now, I’ve begged therapists to help me figure out what is wrong with me. Ever since my adolescent depression caused me to stop being That Kid Who Did and Was Wildly Successful at Practically Everything, I started being disappointing, and “difficult”, and I wondered what the hell was suddenly wrong with me that I was miserable and unable to complete things that used to be so easy?

Why am I not yet back to being that overachiever after all this therapy and all these medications and all this meditation and all this self-help crap and all of this “recovery”? Why am I still crippled with anxiety and guilt to the point that I barely accomplish anything on a day-to-day basis? Why do I keep trying to change my lifestyle only to wildly go flying back off the rails when my mind inevitably says, “Oh, fuck this.”? WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME?!

Laureen, my current therapist, is the first person in the entire time I’ve been struggling with this to ever look at me, smile, and say, “There is nothing wrong with you.”

She said this on our second meeting together after she’d been listening to my husband discuss the constant roller coaster of insanity I’d kept us on for the year before when he’d been seeing her by himself. I scoffed and thought, “Well, she doesn’t know me yet; she’ll figure it out soon enough.”

But, months later, she still continues with this MO – that there’s nothing wrong with me at all.

And it’s been more effective in changing my life than any other therapy I’ve ever experienced.

I’ve tried for 17 years now to change myself. Constantly. I’m constantly convinced that if I start making myself do some other radical change every single day, I’m going to be “better.” I’ve tried countless diets (I’ve lost and gained the same 30 lbs roughly 12 times now…totally healthy, right?); I’ve decided I’m going to abstain from countless indulgences; I’ve tried putting myself on schedules and/or trying to adhere to routines; I’ve tried saying that I’m going to try to do the same thing every day/week as a means to make myself better. And then I can’t. And I’m submerged in this guilt and feeling of defeat: What is wrong with me that I can’t adhere to a schedule “like everyone else”? Why can’t I say, “I’m gonna work out/do yoga/practice one of my musical instruments/clean house/stay at 1,500 calories every day!” and stick to it? Why can’t I decide to abstain from something like chocolate or social media or something harmless and actually stick with it? Why do I always try to kick these habits and then fly wildly off track and overindulge over and over? What is WRONG with me?

And only recently have I dared to think, “Nothing. There’s nothing wrong with me.”

I’m just different than what I was raised to believe I needed to be. I can’t clean the house a little each day or once a week or on some sort of schedule if I set it out, but it always gets done; it’s never been filthy or in total disarray. I can’t stay on a regimented diet, but when I stopped thinking about it a few years ago, I lost a ton of weight and was at my smallest, most energized, and healthiest; I didn’t have any desire to put a lot of crap into my system. I can’t abstain from things I really love because, inherently, I don’t believe in it; it’s like Erma Bombeck said, “Seize the day. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.” And it isn’t reverse psychology; if you were to tell me I could never ever drink root beer or shoot/smoke heroin or listen to Limp Biskit for the rest of my life, there would never be a moment where that whole “You want what you can’t have” crap would come into play. Not ever. But when I try to deny that there are just things I love to do or indulge in every so often, I end up derailing and overindulging and just feeling awful and overcorrect and the whole cycle goes on and on forever. It’s bullshit and I’m tired of it.

When I listen to what my body and mind want, I am productive and I am healthy and I feel accomplished even when it doesn’t at all match up with what I’ve always believed was the best way to achieve things.

I realized that, when I was younger, I was constantly doing. I had literally 2 extracurriculars every day after school except Fridays; I practiced piano everysingleday; I always did something for Girl Scouts or church or theater or piano competitions, etc. on the weekends – and, because my schedule was completely full, I never had a chance to just be. I don’t fault my parents because they did everything they could to give us every single opportunity imaginable, but I now wonder how much of that I even wanted to be doing, and I remember doing a lot of things that I loathed just because it was expected of me – church/rec-league basketball comes to mind; I was more comfortable posing nude for strangers at NCSA than playing basketball in front of people I knew during those tormented seasons.

I think, at some point my spirit realized that constantly doing things wasn’t enough, and I got exhausted denying what I really wanted to do, which was just be. For example, I got tired of pretending I could tolerate Sunday school/youth group where they told us to hate gay people and slut-shame and reject “sinners”, and I wasn’t heard or respected when I expressed my desire to stop for years. Because of this, I spent a lot of time afterward being really, really angry at organized religion instead of just getting away from it. Even now, I’m usually happier spending my spiritual time meditating alone by sitting quietly or walking outdoors or singing or saging or doing yoga, etc.

I went to college because I was “supposed to” and it caused me to crash and burn over and over again for 7 solid years of undergrad including summers. The whole time I wasn’t living up to the accomplishments or habits of my peers (the driven, consistent, intellectual types), I loathed myself for not being as disciplined or regimented. When I was doing things my parents disapproved of (having “weird” friends, exploring different spiritual beliefs, dating people who didn’t fit their ideals, not wanting to wear entire outfits in the comfort of my home, etc.) I lived in constant shame and guilt and found myself hiding out from their judgment, which meant doing the things my heart felt drawn to in secret. This sort of continues with my husband, although to a lesser degree. For example, he hates that I smoke occasionally when I go out – about 2 cigarettes every 2 months- and I finally told him to get over it because I was tired of lying about it when I don’t think it’s a big deal. At all. The same goes for my graffiti projects or having unconventional friends or needing to go on road trips to stay with friends every other month. And even to the day-to-day difference in habits – him being regimented and thriving on routine whereas I am completely the opposite – has been a strain on us as cohabitants. I’ve punished myself for years because I just – as they said in the underrated movie “Life – “can’t get right.”

And I’ve finally decided to embrace this completely novel idea that that lifestyle just isn’t right for me. It doesn’t work. It hasn’t worked for a really, really long time. I’m slamming myself into a round hole when I am a square peg, and it’s just breaking me down and making me crazy.

When I am true to myself, I am capable of doing genuinely great things. I taught at a community college and was able to show up to every class, on time, and give 100% of myself every time because I really, really enjoyed it. (Meanwhile, when I’m doing work where I’m not engaged or feeling like I’m valued, it’s a waste of everyone’s time and money because I’m just going to be mentally clocked out.) When my mind is in the mode to create something, I create really great things, but it can’t happen on any sort of regimented schedule. I get obsessive about things for a very short amount of time and am meticulous about learning it thoroughly or finishing it to the most minor detail until I, much like Jay-Z, am ready to move on to the next one. I clean my house from top to bottom when the whim strikes me, and it always does. I don’t have a problem with these things, even though other people immediately around me have always seemed to. When I allow myself to listen to myself, I take care of myself and nurture my home without overdoing it on any front and feeling like I have to constantly apologize for falling short.

I’m really, really tired of constantly apologizing for myself. And I think I’m just effing done with it. I think, if I start listening to what I actually want, regardless of what literally anybody else has to say about it, I’m going to find myself finding balance and accomplishing things I’m proud of. That’s how it has always worked for me. I need to stop denying that just because anybody else has a problem with it.

I know. It all sounds so cliche, but I have been raised in a culture and with people whose lifestyle is so dissimilar, I’ve always been taught to believe that, because I can’t thrive in that sort of daily life, that there’s something wrong with me.

And it took 6 therapists, 1 AA sponsor, two trips to two separate mental hospitals, and talking my brains out in therapy and prayer for an 11 year period for anybody, ANYBODY to tell me, “There’s nothing wrong with you.”

Fuck what anybody else has to say about it; I’m finally giving myself permission to believe that she’s right.

Category: Recovery and Changes  | Tags: , ,  | Leave a Comment
Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 | Author:

I’m not usually one for the oversentimentalization of New Years, but it seems the lunar cycles have landed us in a good ending/beginning, so I’m going with that. Without any preplanning on my part, the last 12 months were the life/mind-shifting, transformative renaissance I’ve been praying for for decades. I mean, it hurt like a sonofabitch and there were moments that weren’t fun at all and during which everything was going to completely collapse (assuming I didn’t finally sink), but right now is a pretty fantastic new place to be mentally – “mentally” being my entirety when it comes right down to it.

I want to learn the landscape here and how I’m best here. It’s the first time since I can remember that I feel comfortable making long-term plans for myself; I’ve always been too afraid to do that before, and I never took any such aspirations seriously because I’ve carried around a long-held belief that the future somehow didn’t exist for me. (This is how I’ve managed to make it this far while feeling like my life has just happened around me without my immediate participation.)
I want need to change that.

One thing I’ve learned this year is that I have the capacity to change my entire reality, which I’d frankly just never believed was anything more than psychobabble before. But my unwieldy emotions doesn’t wreak havoc on my impulses anymore, thus destroying pretty much everything within arm’s length.

You’ve heard. In fact, most of what I’ve written here is the same sort of thing I’ve written about over and over for all the years I’ve been blogging here. I remember whining about hating the struggle more than a dozen times annually, and I definitely don’t want to do it anymore now that we’re past it. I wanna work in that “past it” space.

So I’ll be “out there” in the real world if you need me. Thanks for reading all this and staying tuned to what seemed like an endless saga of madness. I’m not delusional enough to think that it’s gone forever; I just know this feels different. This peace feels more obvious; I’m not stuck in the same webs of anger or shame I’ve been calling home for ever. I’m wise enough to know I need to make serious lifestyle changes if I’m going to maintain what I have going on immediately. My recovery needs me putting my energies elsewhere. The mental stuff has worked; I need to move it into a physical realm.

I’m also taking all the other entries on SuburbanBohemian down and saving them for my personal archives. They may resurface again; they aren’t unimportant to my story. But, for now they’re going into hiding.

It’s time.

Thanks for giving me the space I needed to work out loud here. It helped. It worked.

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013 | Author:

I once was in a very, very codependent relationship that was brutal and toxic and just atrocious on my psyche for years afterward. In the aftermath, I decided that I’d never let myself be that way with anyone ever again and I’ve managed to maintain that conscious, “I can take anyone or leave them” attitude ever since, even though I’ve started to question whether or not that’s just not the truth when it comes down to it.

Then today I read a new definition – that “codependency is simply the complete neglect of self care” – and it changed the entire way I have been treating recovery. I thought independence was not being so emotionally invested in someone that I couldn’t function without him or her; maybe it has nothing to do with whom I lech onto, but is more about holding myself at arm’s length.

I hate the term “game-changer”, but I feel like that’s the most apt description for what this concept is. It doesn’t mean that I’m codependent on any one thing or person; it just means that I’m still not emotionally independent, and that’s what has been keeping me in emotional stasis, even though I have had the mental processing of psychoanalysis down pat for years now.

Merry Solstice to me.

Thursday, December 12th, 2013 | Author:

I’ve been here panting in the aftermath of our turbulent crescendo for about a month now, since I’ve stripped our daily lives of unnecessary burdens and outside drama, and I’ve been working overtime to get my mind on an even keel for any amount of time. And this week I looked around and realized that, without any of the usual chaos, it is really, really quiet.
Almost too quiet.
It’s freaking me out. A lot, actually.

There’ve been no meltdowns or huge eruptions of emotion or external upheaval or feelings like I’m on the brink of death… There’s just been serenity and level-headed normalcy and general contentment for longer than I can remember.

It dawned on me that the chaotic, emotionally-exhausting lifestyle was one I’d lived consistently since I was an early adolescent; in that time, I only “found myself” or identified who I “really am” in my escapes into creativity or some other outpouring away from the messy restlessness of my ongoing circumstances. (Admittedly and as aforementioned, I learned how to participate in these dysfunctional cycles and how to kick back at the broken people I encountered who caught me blindsided and I started acting like that sort of monster, too, even toward the few people who weren’t steeped in self-loathing. It got to be pretty abysmal… I digress…)

And now things are just sort of steady. And non-chaotic. And okay.

And I have absolutely no bloody idea how to maintain this sort of lifestyle. I feel completely naked and unprepared. Obviously, I know the rules and what’s expected of me and how it’s all supposed to work; I just feel like I’m involved with a very detailed role-play exercise to see how I do in a “healthy” environment. I expect notes and feedback at the end of the day’s session…

I’ve been candid with my support unit about deciding to no longer dive into my usual distractions in the course of recovery, which, strangely, involves me not hurling myself into yet another altruistic endeavor, as I have used those as a means to validate myself in my ongoing fear I have nothing real to offer anyone if I’m not physically giving them anything, (I call it my “Oprah Complex”.) So I’m doing what they teach people to do post-rehab, which is how to take care of yourself, how to coexist in a group environment, and how to re-form an identity without hiding behind vices.

I realized I had all the time in the world to myself this week to do whatever I wanted, and I suddenly felt unsure of what that was. It wasn’t like usual, where I felt too much guilt to do something I wanted to and would do it with a ton of anxiety; nor was it like when I’m depressed when nothing sounds interesting to me… I just… I knew a bunch of things I’ve always wanted to get around to doing and playing with and had absolutely no idea where to start…at all.

So I did laundry. And I read a little. And I did some housecleaning. And I wrote a letter to my incarcerated pen pal.

And I was bored.

And that’s awful. Do I need to have a clinically crazy, dysfunctional lifestyle to be mentally stimulated and/or have a mind capable of flourishing?

The thing is, I’m pretty sure this quiet contentment/stability is what I’ve been working toward in recovery all these years. This is what people want. This is that routine people talk about and the day-in-day-out lifestyle that people say they thrive in.

This should feel like a blank canvas. I realize people would kill for this variety of luxury, especially at my age. Instead, I feel like I’m driving on a very wide, open desert road with no particular destination, and I’m almost out of gas… And I can only get AM radio…

Mental illness is the only medical issue in which full recovery involves extracting the patient from an alternate reality. Nobody warned me I’d be leaving entirely.

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Sunday, December 08th, 2013 | Author:

I was right; the book can’t be written because the story isn’t at a stopping point yet. And I am really excited about that.

Things got really, really bad in the last 6 months on a number of levels. I may’ve mentioned that here. And, after everything broke completely down, they’ve started being better and slowly brighter.

I’m stablizing, which is completely novel to me. I’m getting out and volunteering at the Bear’s school. I’m doing yoga every day and doing work trade at a local studio for free classes. I went to a job interview for a super-part-time position at a local business I frequent weekly. I’m getting basic housework done without panic attacks. I’m not actually having any panic attacks. I’m still sober/clean. I’m still getting to support group meetings. I’m taking time to do creative things for/by myself. I wrote an article for a major publication. I’m putting down and walking away from needless distractions. I’m celebrating little things. I’m surrendering to the things I clearly cannot handle and need help with.

And things have been just… better. Calmer. Content, even. My ongoing, crippling anger about outdated issues has vanished, and my frustration with life and general happenings has been taken back down to a healthy 1 or 2 on the dial. I’m not flailing around for attention or validity or ego-inflation. I’m just sort of being whatever I am at the moment and going with that. It’s new. It feels really, really fresh and happy. I don’t feel like I have to define anything or that I’m paralyzed by overwhelming emotion/racing thoughts, and oh man, is that a huge new relief.

So, at the moment, I’m just focusing on this and seeing where this goes. I haven’t felt this clean and weightless since… well, maybe ever. It’s full of hope and optimism, but at a steady, non-manic pace (also something new for me altogether.) And, in this, I’m perfectly okay walking away from everything else I thought I “had to do” before now. I’ll come back to the book if it’s supposed to happen, but, right now, getting and being peaceful and happy is more important.

Took me long enough to get here, but at least I am.

Thursday, November 21st, 2013 | Author:

“If something can be destroyed by truth, it should be destroyed by the truth.” – Carl Sagan

Things around here are crumbling fast, and, while terrifying, it’s also evidence that I’m finally making the changes needed to get the hell out of this. Supposedly, ghosts become active again when renovations are being made on old houses, which seems to be the case here, too. As I’m ripping up the shoddy foundation of the recovery method I’ve been living in for the last decade, remnants of old, bottled-up toxicity is seeping through my subconscious and out into my emotions and I’m finding myself seething with rage or writhing around in heartache at nothing in particular other than everything (including myself). Additionally, the walls I’m tearing down or no longer agreeing to support are conjuring demons from those around me that I’m having to deal with as well. In a few cases, I’m finally deciding not to grapple with the demons of other people anymore, while in a few others, I’m agreeing that we can tackle them together. Either way, I’m not taking on any more demons because someone else is too selfish to deal with them him/herself. And that’s liberating.

I’ve found a support group I’m visiting daily. Frankly, with my nonstop emotions and my life upheaval being what it is, I feel like I need to be in therapy every day, and, luckily, support groups offer free therapy AND free coffee, so it’s win/win. Plus, I’m not dumping all my noise on anyone around me who feels powerless, and that’s another new thing for me. It’s helping. It’s better.

I’m also keeping my head clear of anything that will skew my perspective, which means I’m clean and sober. Look, I honestly don’t know if I’m an alcoholic/addict (I’ve never been a daily user… or even a weekly binge-r) or if I just need to learn to stay the hell away from things that make me want to mentally escape by overindulgence, but, until I learn to deal with life’s circumstantial bullshit without having a psychological meltdown, I know I don’t need to do anything to disrupt my upward trajectory. That I know for sure.

This could be a lot worse, and I am so grateful that it isn’t. I’m not alone; I have a handful of people who have always, always been in my corner to whom I have connected and with whom am sharing love daily. I’m not suicidal. I’m not so emotionally disastrous that I’m unable to do anything at all. Progress is being made no matter how small, every day. I’m drawing lines in the sand with my demons and the situations that continue to present them to me over and over. This is getting better, slowly but surely. It’s getting brighter day by day.

This is me building my own sanctuary for once, instead of letting others do it for me. It’s scary beyond all reason, but I have the tools, the energy, and the time and I’m not afraid anymore.

Sunday, November 17th, 2013 | Author:

2:44 a.m.

“Just keep journeying forward,” she said. “Even if it’s the teeny tiniest step at a time.”

“You’re right. You’re right. Thank you,” I said. “I am so scared. I feel so small.”

“Well then,” she said. “You will fit perfectly through the keyhole, so you won’t even need the key to get through the door.”

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Monday, November 04th, 2013 | Author:

I honestly don’t even know right now. Mostly, I’m finally remembering and/or thoroughly identifying a lot of things about my pre-recovery life that have everything to do with my current Self, and I’m mad and feeling helpless and tired of feeling both of those things after so long before I even knew why. I’m struggling between trying to work to improve some life-long relationships or tell them I’m going on. I’m tired of feeling like I’m pulling teeth and some people, regardless of their title or relation to me, may just not be worth trying to keep on board if I want to be someone better than they’ve let me or they want me to be. I care, but I care about me more. I’m ready to amputate this dead weight more than I’m ready to fight to heal it.

I feel like I have absolutely no sense of identity right now. At all.

I’m fending off depression better than usual. I’m lethargic and uninterested, but, for a change, I’m forcing myself to get a little exercise and get a few things done around the house every day, no matter what. It isn’t much but it’s keeping me from locking up and going into blurry, fuzzy psychotic depression, which I’m also sick of.

I’m incredibly agoraphobic at the moment; I can’t deal with interactions with more than one person at a time, and the majority of my interactions are by text – phone or online. Even when I’m at home, I prefer to be alone, writing or reading to myself. I’ve been meditating, but I’m right on the border of actual physiological depression, so my brain has been wandering. Today, when I woke up from a nap, my vision was like when you first feel the effects of LSD and you can see swirls and fluctuations in everything. It lasted about 30 minutes.

I’m just barely above succumbing to the usual frustration and despair that goes along with a full-blown depression. I know, if I’m gonna change this shit, I have to change the way I handle it when it’s coming on.

I just want to stop hurting. I want to go to five therapy sessions a week and do whatever I have to to exorcise this. Seriously, I’m so angry I’m still having to deal with my brain going AWOL on me every time I have a breakthrough that hurts and sucks and Doesn’t in any way, have anything to do with what’s going on in my day-to-day life anymore. It sucks. I’m fucking done with it.

No numbing it with chemicals. No collapsing into bed or staring at the television all day. No reaching out to other feel-good vices that are always, always right at my fingertips. Just a phone call or email or transaction away. No full-blown hibernation.

Constant motion, no matter how small. Keep talking. Keep writing. Keep being social as much as I can bear. Keep vigilant. Keep sober. Keep clean. Keep learning.

Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013 | Author:

This therapist doesn’t believe in labels, and she’s made sure to clarify that, just because she has seen bipolar and bordeline personality tendencies in me, it doesn’t mean she’s been ready to slap me with those doagnoses officially. As she put it, “I’m sure we could go through this entire DSM and find out that we all have symptoms of everything in it. It’s like the WebMD of psychology.” She’s mentioned that she’s especially not keen on formally diagnosing me with anything when we’ve been seeing each other for such a short amount of time.

So that’s pretty novel.

Thing is, I only have manic or depressive episodes immediately after something terribly traumatic happens or after I’ve been using some outside substance for a while. The first manic episode I had (the one that lead to me tagging an abandoned rural bridge at 1 a.m. and getting attacked by drunken rednecks) was immediately following a 3-week stint building a storefront for a guy who turned out to be a con-artist, during which time I was working for him 60-ish hours a week, usually around the clock with the help of Adderall (which, by the way, had been prescribed to me by a psychiatrist as a “jump start to help [me] get out of bed”. WHAT?!) That was the only time I’ve experienced audio hallucinations, which I then associated with sleep deprivation. When the bottom dropped out of that situation and the aforementioned con artist was threatening to press charges for slander (which he never did), I went into a tailspin and lost my damned mind. The same can be said for the last manic episode in which a series of events had lead to a massive explosion of emotion here in my home that left Greg and I in despair.

Also, as I’ve been talking to New Therapist, it has become evident that my impulses have slowly grown in intensity in the last 17 years because of my subconscious need to be heard. Thorough, expressive letters I would write to family members asking for help in my teenaged years would be ignored, which turned to me acting out in larger and larger ways that I seemingly couldn’t control.

Six months ago when Greg was begging me to try to go back to therapy, I was adamant that I was done with it. “I’m sick of digging into the past. I’ve turned over every single stone I possibly can looking for answers. I’m exhausted. I can’t do this anymore. It’s been a fucking decade. I need to just accept that this is the way things are going to be.”

About a year ago, I began considering applying for disability with the harrowing thought that I would never be able to hold down a real job; I would never be stable enough to be a reliable, functioning member of society; I would always need to be taken care of. (This is something that many articles about people with BPD assert.) With exhaustion, Greg said maybe the pressure of feeling like I needed to be something I wasn’t was too great for me to be stable; he reluctantly began considering it, too.

We were feeling hopeless, demoralized, and defeated. I called my go-to CrazyTrain co-passenger and told her this “realization” I was having, to which she became the maternal voice of reason I didn’t know I needed.

“No fucking way,” she said with tempered but gentle authority. “You are NOT that person. You are not some leech on society who is terminally crazy and beyond help. You are smarter than that. You are not a lost cause. You are capable of living with whatever bullshit your brain tries to pull on you and you are capable of flourishing. You are not opting out of this because you are not that person.”

I didn’t know if she was right with those sorts of bold declarations, but I did know that surrendering to being taken care of by the government was as good as me throwing in the towel and deciding that “unstable, perpetual mental patient” was a label I was happy to slap on myself forever. Hearing that someone who loved me wouldn’t tolerate that was all I needed to stop looking at the paperwork.

This new therapist was different from Day 1. In my 10 YEARS of going to therapists (6. I’ve had 6 at this point.), not a single one has ever said to me, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to never have to take these antidepressants again?” This therapist said that on the first day. I had never once considered that an option. Not once.

As we have spoken, it has become apparent that my main problem has been that NOBODY HAS BEEN LISTENING. Wait. That isn’t true. There are a handful of people who have listened (my beloved AA sponsor, spiritual mentor, and dear friend Daisy has from Day 1), but my parents were too busy with three other children and too unaware of mental illness to realize that I wasn’t just being “a normal teenager” when my grades plummeted and I started losing my shit slowly during early adolescence. My therapists were too busy pre-diagnosing me to listen to what I needed to talk about and how, specifically, I needed to deal with the things I kept saying were hurting me. And none of my psychiatrists seemed to give a shit. My first psychiatrist lost his job within 3 months after I stopped seeing him at UNCG and was called “The Candyman” by the other staff on board. The others required 15-minute appointments, during which time I had to spit out the few thoughts I was having about my moods and have them scribble scripts for me without knowing anything about my backstory. I saw one psychiatrist for a little over a year, but she seemed adamant that my depression should be combated with Vyvanse (which ripped my digestive system apart so much I had to be hospitalized and endure an endoscopy) and then Adderall instead of, you know, a better diet. One psychiatrist I saw was an old guy who wanted to compare my phases of mental illness to the life of Elizabeth Taylor and would ramble to me about how she felt during her weight gain; this was too recently after my first hospitalization for me to think to question his technique. Another psychiatrist propped his feet up on his gigantic desk and read a bunch of files while I talked before saying things like, “Well, let’s try you out on ______ and see how you do.” This, actually, was the method of another of my psychiatrists, who was warned that spring is always my “bad season” and decided to abruptly change my medications right in the middle of it just “to see what happens”. (HINT: Cut to me writhing in agony and drooling on myself for a few days in withdrawal while my mom came and made sure my kid was bathed/clothed/fed, etc.)

And suddenly, I have someone who isn’t just listening, but was paying attention even when she was just seeing my husband. She was the one who saw the red flags I was throwing up just by hearing them through Greg, even when my own therapist wasn’t acknowledging them. (My last therapist heard the story of me getting attacked in the middle of the night and said, “My goodness! What a fascinating life you have! I do enjoy your stories.” instead of “HOLY SHIT, YOU COULD’VE BEEN KILLED!” I stopped seeing her shortly afterward.) And now that she’s hearing me, validating what I’m saying, and giving me the respect I deserve for having been doing the recovery thing for so long, my impulses for self-destruction have disappeared.

Don’t get me wrong; the material we’re dealing with and looking dead in the eye is really, really painful and is requiring me to make some changes to my lifestyle and let go of some things that are really scary. A lot of times after our sessions, I have this aching heartbreak and have to take a little time to myself. There are a lot of emotions that are finally working themselves out of my subconscious, but I’m so happy to finally have them be acknowledged, respected, validated, and invited. I feel like, by finally letting them out, I’m going to be able to finally get the fuck over them for a change.

Even though it hurts to talk about, I’m steadily enthusiastic about staying on board this 24/7 recovery lifestyle. For the last few weeks, I’ve been journaling my moods and eating habits and the small changes I’m able to make in my daily life. I’m not throwing myself in the deep end like I always do and I’m cutting myself some slack when I don’t reach a daily goal, but I can see it happening. I’m doing my homework. I’m going into therapy every week with a clear assessment of the week before. I’m introducing myself back into a “normal” lifestyle really, really slowly. It’s been a long time since I was capable of maintaining for a whole day, every day for any amount of time, so I’m not hoping to do that right out of the gate. But every day I sleep a little less during the day, I have a little more energy, I get a little more done around the house.

It’s exactly what I’ve been hoping for since I started therapy in 2002.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I’m thoroughly documenting every part of this process as I always have been via blog entries. However, I’ve turned it up a notch recently and am taking photos of my physical state to keep track of my progress and remind myself that things are changing when I inevitably get exhausted in the next few months. Also, I’m writing all of this down at the end of every day in addition to what I’m sharing publicly here on the blog. I plan to keep this up for awhile, but I’m not pressuring myself to do it daily – just when the inspiration strikes… which it has a lot recently…you may’ve noticed.

It’s exactly the personal story about all this mental fuckwithery I’ve been wanting to tell. Writing it down all this time is how I’ve allowed myself to get it out when nobody was listening. (It’s why the only thing I asked for from the staff when I was hospitalized was a dull pencil and blank paper.)

As for writing a book about it, I just had to wait it out until I found the end of the narrative to have something complete I want to share on a larger scale. I can see it clearly now, and I’m sprinting toward it. All hopes for a possible publication aside, I want something I can be proud of. I think I can be that

Monday, October 28th, 2013 | Author:

I don’t understand it when celebrities go into long-term rehab for the 8th or 15th times (looking at you, Weiland), because, frankly, you learn the same tips, mantras, sayings, tools, etc. in the first trip to rehab and/or the first month of AA. In fact, you don’t even have to go to one meeting every day for a week to know what the Steps of every rehab group are; you can look them up online, check out a big book anywhere, or ask anybody going into a meeting. And inpatient group therapy is the exact same as one-on-one therapy except you’re drowsy as hell from being loaded down with stabilizer meds so you don’t get all stabby on anyone with whom you’re suddenly sharing close quarters. So going in and out of rehab a bunch of times doesn’t really make sense unless you just need a place to be mentally sedated and away from substances for awhile, in which case you should never, ever return to the same environment you came from immediately upon your release.

I made that mistake twice already. Also, I’m not physically/medically addicted to anything at this juncture, nor am I a threat to anyone’s health or well-being, so there was no need for me to be hospitalized a few weeks ago when everything went down. Thank God. I can stay at home and go through the physiological pain of this thing by myself and, luckily, I am even functional enough to get myself to doctors, bathe myself, take care of my child, etc, without any help or outside supervision. That’s awesome, because, frankly, having a psychotic episode and then being corralled into a mental hospital where I’m not allowed to shave my own legs along with other disgruntled psychotics who are usually there on 5150 holds and/or criminal charges is the worst possible way to build up the resolve I need to save myself.

And, ultimately, every person with an addictive personality HAS to save his/herself. Everyone in recovery knows that the only thing that can successfully save us is ourselves and others in recovery.

So now, after 10 years shoving recovery talk and therapy into my brain, I’ve got to start trying shit I’ve been resisting for forever because, like the AA-ers say, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” I’m getting away from toxic personal interactions and accepting that they won’t change. I can’t sit around and let them trigger my Crazy into action over and over just because I crave the presence of those people in my life. Also, I’m looking into treating my food like medicine and I’m cutting out yummy stuff that I love because it conflicts with healthy brain function. (I will miss you, pasta.) I’m journaling my every action and emotion so I can report to my therapist at the end of the week and she can tell me what’s going on and we can track progress together. I’m making sure to get a little physical activity every day, even if it’s just 30 minutes of gentle yoga or hobbling around the block a couple times (I have been sleeeeepy, which is a sign I have to be vigilant of an oncoming depression… which means more walks and leafy greens for me.) I’m reading everything I can about my diagnoses. I’m trying to make sure to take care of my home and the needs of my little family during all this. I’m trying to get the rest I need without overdoing anything.

I’m tipping the tightrope.

I just have to focus on actually doing and continuing all this for enough time for it to work. A doctor isn’t going to beg me to tell her what I need help with if I don’t feel like it and I’m wasting my money and time if I show up and give her half-truths out of embarrassment. I’m wasting all these years in therapy if I continue to put myself in toxic environments and let myself get sucked into emotionally abusive relationships over and over.

The difference between psychological therapy (not psychiatric in this case) and say, chemo therapy, is that success of the former process depends solely on the efforts of the patient. The fear, however, is that there is no actual answer or cure, which is what keeps most of us sickos from ever wanting to move out of our uncomfortable, crappy mental/behavioral situations. This is something I’ve run into a lot with those around me I from which I am asking for space and room to recover alone. I have literally been told recently that, at this juncture, someone I know sees no merit to getting help for his/her toxic behaviors, as he/she has accepted these faults and is comfortable not ever getting better to no longer be a hurtful, miserable person. Dear LORD was that a shockingly awful thing to hear… I’ve never known anyone to willingly admit to such cowardice. It made me want to sprint into another therapy session.

How sick do you have to be to be okay admitting that you’re perfectly okay living a life of barely tolerable mediocrity? The very idea is easily my greatest fear.

I’m really, REALLY thankful I know how to do all this mandatory homework on my own and I’m able to do it independently/in the comfort of my home instead of for a parole officer or in a 24/7 inpatient rehab facility somewhere. (Sleeping on crinkly mattresses and trying to ignore psychotic wailings of mental patient roommates is the worst possible respite for a sick mind. Keep that in mind the next time you think to stigmatize anyone who has had to go to a mental health facility for treatment. It. Fucking. Sucks. I’ll be sure to overshare details of the ones I visited in this book whenever it is completed.) Also, to be frank, I’m really thankful I’m not too much of a wuss to go out and do the damned work I need to to not steep in this dysfunction the rest of my life. Sitting in a decade’s worth of talk therapy is one thing – I’ve always liked to learn – but actually making all the changes I’ve known I needed to for forever is something else. Thank God I’m able to do so from such a physically comfortable, nonjudgmental, loving place. I just hope that keeps up. Seeing that there are people who are still listening to me, living with me, forgiving me, and loving me gives me hope that I can too. I’m thankful that I still have resources on my bookshelf and recovery allies at the end of my cellphone. I’m thankful I have written all this down in this humongous online archive so I can go back and cite events, patterns, behaviors, meltdowns, etc. This blog is an active tool in recovery on a number of different levels, actually, and I’ve saved the first 5-6-ish Livejournal years of it in a tangible book I have highlighted and sitting on my bookshelf. Noting parallels, patterns, and progress in it has been enormously effective.

I’ve got the map of a successful recovery all sketched out, my survival kit packed, and I’m finally cashing in on these years of prep without any holdups.

Thank God.