Monthly Archives: January 2017

IS A SOBRIETY DATE IMPORTANT?

I recently received a message from a Rehab on Twitter. It was the same Rehab that took a blog post of mine and put it on their Twitter page without asking. When I played the video I became annoyed and angry. I don’t agree with most of what this Rehab is about. I want to help people if I can but not through a third party that I don’t share the same opinions with.

The woman in video discussed the topic of a “sobriety date”. This is what she said.

“It’s important to celebrate your sobriety date, count out the days, make it a big deal, and I feel if you don’t think a sobriety date is important it’s probably because you don’t have one”.

I personally found the whole thing condescending.

“Sobriety Date” is term used in 12 step programs. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol reported that 75% of people with an alcohol dependency manage to get and stay sober without any kind of program at all. There are specific reasons for this.

  • Focusing on your successes and not dwelling on failures
  • All improvements count even small ones
  • Not passively going along with someone else’s approach
  • Having a support system
  • Learning the reason behind your drinking
  • Learning you have a serious health problem
  • Learning you have a mental health problem

I will be the first to admit that I have no clue what my sober date is. I can take a guess at the year and possibly be right. My best friend usually has to tell me.

In my twenties I was court ordered to a Rehab. They did 2 days of testing to see where I was physically, mentally, and how my cognitive skills were. (Again no one picked up on the Bipolar)

The Doctor came in and said “Your liver is enlarged and you have the brain of an 82 year old alcoholic man”. Then he left. What was I supposed to do with that information? What did he even mean? Who says that and leaves?

I’ll explain a few things. Celiac Disease causes problems your cognitive skills. Years of heavy drinking does too. Bipolar Disorder also causes cognitive problems. So do medications.

I have memories that are clear and vivid but I couldn’t tell you the exact day or year they happened. I have problems with my speech which is either related to the above or Conversion Disorder.

I will tell you that I am sober. I will tell you that I am alive. I will tell you that I don’t need a sober date to keep me that way.

What I don’t need is anyone trying to guilt or shame me for my choices that have worked for me.

My way might not be for everyone but I have been able to do it for about 9 years. My father has been able to do it for over 30 years. That’s enough for me.dollarphotoclub_99693865-500x300

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I’M NOT MISSING ANYTHING AND THANK YOU DAD FOR NEVER GIVING UP

I have to face some facts that I have subconsciously ignoring.

Travel will not fix any of my problems. Things will never be like they were 10 or 15 years ago. And as much as I hate to admit it, my medications are not working and have not been working since I went into Kidney Failure. I have been cycling more than Lance Armstrong ever did. The constant pity party I have for myself has to stop. I did it because no one else around me showed an empathy or compassion.

I can’t blame them. They had developed a callous as far as I was concerned. Dealing with someone who always has a problem for well over 20 years makes you so used to it that you stop hearing it or stop paying attention. I get that.

I don’t understand how no Doctor can give me an answer about my medications. When I ask if having 1 kidney instead of 2 can cause my medications to break down differently, no one knows. I get another answer of “Your 1 kidney works at 70% which is like having 2 working kidneys so it shouldn’t interfere with anything”. How does that make sense. You have 2 kidneys that work at 100% per kidney. You lose complete function in one and 30% in the other. If my math is like the doctor’s 70% in one is as good as 200% total. To me that is idiotic. It makes no sense.

I don’t want to try new medications. I know what they are. I have tried 2 of the newer ones and they didn’t agree with me. Most of the newer medications are a variation of the 2 I tried already but my Psychiatrist will insist I try them anyway. Why? Because his hands are tied and he receives a million sample packs from Pharmaceutical Reps that visit him constantly.

Truth be told I don’t know how my dad handles everything. Never knowing what I’m thinking or if I’m going to do something irrational or hurt myself. He’s the only one that is always here for me. I love him. I love him more than anything. I apologize every single day to him. It will never be enough.

But I am lucky. So many people have no one. Not one person. I at least have that and need to be thankful.


HARD TIMES, HARD ROCK, ALCOHOL, NOSTALGIA (Nothing Stays The Same)

I’ve tried hard not to lie on my blog. I won’t start now. I haven’t felt well in awhile. Not physically or mentally. When I have an overwhelming feeling to relive past experiences I know I’m headed down the rabbit hole. I don’t mean relive them in my head, I mean actually do them again or something similar.

I can’t hop on a plane to L.A. and have drinks with Lars, I can’t hop on a plane and annoy Sebastian Bach, I can’t charm my way on to a bus filled with musicians. I miss those days. It isn’t so much the drinking I miss, it was the person I was able to be. No medication or therapy has ever made me feel like that person. In my head I was confident, funny, smart, pretty, and everyone wanted to be around me. In some cases that was true. But mostly it wasn’t. It was nice that I didn’t know or care what anyone thought at the time. Those were brief periods of drinking where the Worm didn’t come out to play.

When I drank no one knew who I would be at a certain point in my drinking. My best friend called it “The Turn of Worm”. That was when I would become reckless, mean, or on occasion violent. Sometimes I would hurt myself. I jumped off of the deck of a building one time. It wasn’t high up so I hadn’t done any real damage to myself. My best friend wasn’t happy. She rarely showed emotion except when it came to me. Now she doesn’t show me anything anymore. I can’t blame her. I just don’t understand why you would babysit someone for over 20 years and then wait until they’ve been sober almost 9 years before letting them go? She actually started to pull away sooner than that if I’m honest. This breaks something deep inside me that I can’t even name. She knew me better than my twin.

I care too much about everything and everyone since I stopped drinking. Emotional overload has made me weak and tired. I feel the way I did as a child only my mom isn’t here to comfort me. She always knew I was different. I would hear her talking to my Dad. She would tell him I was more sensitive than other children and to just “leave me be”. So that’s what they did for as long as I can remember. I went to my mom to cry. I missed school a lot of days sometimes when I said my “stomach hurt” and they didn’t question it. My father only recently said to me what he thought “I should’ve ignored your mother and taken you to a doctor when you were little. Maybe you wouldn’t be like this now”. It doesn’t do any good to try to blame anyone. I know he has blamed her side of the family many times. I personally have blamed my Grandmother. I think she was a rotten Mother and a horrible person in general.

I constantly feel an ache inside me. It never stops except when I sleep. I have been to countless Doctors and Therapists. I’ve done every different method suggested from visualizing a stop sign, writing a daily journal, changing my diet, ECT, so many different combinations of medications I’ve lost count. I’ve been asked if I can be videotaped for students to watch like a lab experiment, my dignity and pride lost a long time ago.

There is nothing that interests me anymore.


IS BIPOLAR DISORDER A GIFT?

I came across a blog post by a psychiatric Registered Nurse who shared their belief that people with Bipolar Disorder are not sick. The real sickness is the treatment and medication people with Bipolar Disorder receive.

The writer’s belief is also that many with Bipolar Disorder realize that “normal life” is too phony, boring and constrained. Leaving them with the realization that there is much more to this mundane existence. A manic episode is triggered by the collapse of the mask we wear or hide behind and while manic the soul is allowed to be free for the first time.

The author states that there is no science involved in diagnosing Bipolar Disorder, no scans or medical tests, no scientific process.

They quote Socrates “Our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness, provided the madness is given us by divine gift.”

And Plato “Insanity a divine gift and the source of the chief blessings granted to men”

Everyone is entitled to their point of view. I know many that think of Bipolar in terms of wearing a “mask”. I sometimes think that way myself. You are constantly trying to be “normal”.

RESEARCH

Scripps Research Institute has shown for the first time that ensembles of genes within the striatum (part of the brain that coordinates motor and action planning, motivation and reward perception) could be very involved in Bipolar Disorder.

More than two thirds of people with Bipolar Disorder have at least 1 close relative with the illness or with unipolar major depression. (National Institute of Mental Health)

They also found genes linked to the immune system and the body’s inflammatory response system which could help in future development of diagnostics.

MY VIEW

Do I think Bipolar Disorder is a gift? Only if I put it in the same category as Herpes, the gift that keeps on giving.

Before I was diagnosed I drank to feel like a person instead of a thing that was in constant emotional pain. When I wasn’t in pain I was making life miserable for everyone around me. I spent money like there was a never ending supply, I would just do things without thinking, I feel like I had to do something but I didn’t know what, like an itch I couldn’t scratch. The manic times I could handle. The depression I couldn’t. I knew something was wrong with me. I had been around enough mentally ill people in my life to know the signs. I didn’t want it to be true. So at 16/17 I started drinking instead. Next thing I knew 20 years had gone by. The lost opportunities stacked up, so high I couldn’t handle it.

All of the suicide attempts, all of the alcohol, all of the physical and emotional abuse had taken everything out me. I finally gave in and went to a Doctor. I had been to other Doctors. I was court ordered several times to see Psychiatrists. Not one of them diagnosed me with a mental health problem. All they saw was an Alcoholic.

By the time I was diagnosed it was kind of too late. Too much damage had been done. Years of the wrong medications mixed with alcohol, having Celiac Disease and not knowing it for years, and Conversion Disorder, all made things difficult. My immune system is almost nonexistent.

I am 43 and can’t have children now, I have one kidney and Stage 3 Chronic Kidney Disease, I also have various problems with my white blood cell count, malnutrition, malabsorption, Rickets lol, and 1,000 other problems. Do you know what this means? My medications do not work the way they should. Does it make a difference? YES IT DOES.

If you are someone who doesn’t believe in medication then maybe you never found the right combination. I had for about a year and everything was okay. I wasn’t doing backflips but I was leaving the house, taking pictures, making jewelry, and doing some things. When my immune system started to get worse and I was in kidney failure but didn’t know it, there was a huge difference.

There isn’t much relief now. I can’t take off a mask because there isn’t anything underneath. My manic episodes are filled with agitation and angry outbursts. All I keep thinking is “I want to go home” but I’m already home. Then I spend hours searching for plane tickets and hotels to disappear to. Then I talk myself out of it because I’m afraid. The constant cycling of thoughts and memories are relentless.

This is no gift, this is torture.dt_150406_brain_bipolar_disorder_800x600

 


Living With And Taking Care Of A Parent

It isn’t easy to live with a parent when you are an adult. When you add illness into the equation it’s almost impossible.

Unfortunately, it isn’t just one of us that is ill. We make quite a dysfunctional pair. We probably even enable each other. That’s hard to admit.

My dad is 73 and on dialysis 3 times a week. He has never listened to Doctors or anyone else except for my mom. He used to call her “Serge” short for “Sergeant” because she gave the orders. He hardly ever listens to me. I’m just his daughter who is “mentally ill”, never went to college, drank most of her life, and lives with him. Somehow, I’m his favorite.

Watching the man who raised you go from Superman to a skinny, pale, cranky (crankier), old man is painful. He had beautiful hobbies at one time that have now become hoarding and dangerous to himself and what he hoards. He has loved birds from an early age and has always had them. I loved it when he had exotic birds that he was trying to increase the numbers for because they were threatened. He had a permit from the Government to do this. He would then donate a successful pair to a Zoo or Research facility that was trying to do the same. It’s the pigeons that have taken over. He hasn’t had exotics in many years. Having over 200 pigeons to feed and water up to 3 times a day is too much for him.

If he’s too sick then I have to do it. I have little to no immune system. I shouldn’t be out there with that many birds and their feces either. He isn’t able to maintain their environment. He refuses to admit.

Inside the house we have a Moluccan Cockatoo and an African Grey Parrot. We’ve had both for at least 15 years or more. The Cockatoo started to pluck out her chest feathers a few years ago and they never grew back. She was okay though. Until the other day when I went to say Good Morning to her. I noticed a big hole in her chest. It looked like a bullet hole. I started to cry. There was no blood which I found odd. I told my dad who sitting in his chair in the living room. He never got up to look. This killed me. I wanted to slap him. How could he just sit there when one of HIS ANIMALS was hurt?

He finally looked and said it would be fine. It’s been almost a week. It isn’t fine. She’s been digging in the hole with her beak like she’s trying to find something. It’s 3 times the size it was. It can’t even be sutured. Their is necrotic flesh which will have to be cut away, the wound flushed out and packed. I KNOW ALL THIS! My father continues to do nothing.

I told him this morning that if he didn’t take care of Rosie that I would. I told him she should probably be euthanized. (Most birds do not recover well from this type of self mutilation) I told him I would put her down myself if I had to or I would call a Vet I know that specializes in Exotics.

He screamed that he would “put me down” if I didn’t shut up. He told me to pack “my shit” and get the hell out of his house. He also had his fist pulled back ready to hit something. It sure as hell wasn’t going to be me. I’ve been there, done that, never again.

As usual there was no answer at my twin sister’s house. How am I suppose to feel? What do I do with all of the feelings I keep stuffing down inside. At some point I will crack and everything will come out like an exploding volcano. His dialysis doctor put him on an antidepressant that has made him worse. I know it well and knew it would make him worse. No one listened. img_20170104_104124_302.jpg


The Trouble With Addiction, Mental Health, And Spirituality.

I’m not really sure how to begin. These subjects are so important to me and I want to make sure I write in a way that isn’t boring or too one sided. I won’t lie, it will be hard for me given my own personal experiences. That’s why I will lean on research and statistics until it all comes together. This will probably be a two part post. There is so much to all of these subjects that it’s hard to for people to read a 1,ooo word post.

The reason I decided to write about these topics is due to a post I read stating that “Addiction is a disease of Spirituality”. When I read the post I found myself becoming angry and confused that so many could still think this way with all of the scientific research that’s been done. So I’ll go through a shortened version of their reasoning.(If possible)

Addiction as a Spiritual Disease

Addiction is explained as a thirst, hunger, or starvation for some type of fulfillment or wholeness in your life. Addicts have an initial void of spirituality, a higher drive for a spiritual connection.

When speaking of spirituality the author states it’s not a religion. Spirituality refers to finding purpose and meaning in life along with a connection to the Universe outside of our self.

Types of connections such as nature, love, friendships, understanding the Universe, meditation, and mindfulness are all connections we probably experience, but may not understand what they mean.

Specific Examples

  • Moment of clarity
  • Sense of inner peace or calmness
  • Euphoria
  • Feeling connected to the world around us
  • Being in the moment
  • Feeling like your true self
  • Unconditional love

The author of the post sites a Collegiate Study of 200 people focusing on the reasons why they use alcohol. They had a list of reasons and had to put a check next to the box that applied. 100% of the people checked the box for “I like the feeling”. Not surprising. The author of the post talked to people who were either actively using or in early recovery and came up with a list of their own feelings. The following is what they had for responses.

  • Everything makes sense (Moment of clarity)
  • I relax and don’t worry about life (Inner peace)
  • Everything is better, food, people, jokes (Euphoria)
  • I understand people better (Interconnection)
  • Content in the moment (Being present)
  • Freedom from self criticism (True self)
  • No judgement about anyone (Unconditional love)

This in turn leads us back to Spirituality.

The American Medical Association declared Alcoholism to be a disease in 1956. Years later the American Society of Addiction Medicine proclaimed all addiction as a disease.

WHY?

Scientific evidence showed that addiction is rooted in distinct brain changes, similar to mental illness. For 25-50% of people with an addiction problem it is a progressive relapsing disease.

People with addiction do make a choice whether or not to take a drug or drink, but they do not choose how their brain and body will respond to the drugs or alcohol.

Choice doesn’t determine a disease. A person with Heart Disease or Diabetes may sometimes choose a diet or lifestyle that has lead to these diseases. A disease is what happens in the body and/or brain as a result of those choices.

RISK FACTORS

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Specific brain characteristics
  • Psychological factors
  • Exposure to physical/emotional/sexual abuse or trauma

If one or more of these are present it doesn’t mean someone will be an addict it just means the odds are greater. 

MENTAL HEALTH

People with severe mental health problems are more likely to have addiction problems. Most likely due to many not getting a diagnosis for years or the incorrect diagnosis. Instead they self-medicate which can make psychiatric symptoms worse.

Some of us with what are considered “severe mental illnesses” and addiction tend to experience the same problems:

  • More severe psychiatric symptoms
  • Physical health problems
  • Increased stigma
  • Financial problems
  • Homelessness
  • Aggression or verbal hostility 
  • Some time spent in jail or trouble with the law
  • Increased suicidal feelings and behavior

Our brains also look similar when viewed by Neurologists or other Doctors in the same field of study. There is often a hyper-intensity on one side.

I personally do not think this has anything to do with Spirituality. I had two wonderful parents. I do come from a long line of alcoholics and mentally ill people. The amount of both is astonishing. You can’t chalk that up to Spirituality. FIFTEEN of us in my immediate family have addiction/mental illness problems. Sorry, make that fourteen. My Uncle Jimmy died after a long battle with HIV first (from a needle) then AIDS. He was Schizophrenic and homeless. He chose to live on the streets just like he chose not to take medication. He was well over six feet tall and very handsome when he was young. I don’t know where he’s buried. I do know that not many spiritual people showed him any kindness. My mother and I would bring him food and clothes while she was alive.

My cousin Rhonda has been missing for years. She took off one day from her real estate job and was living in the woods. No one can find her. She is also Schizophrenic like her mother. I tell a million stories, one sadder than the other but there is no point. Addiction is a disease/illness, just like Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder are illnesses. There is nothing to make me change my mind about that. When your brain wants you to die and you don’t even know why it isn’t a question of faith or spirituality. It’s a question of survival.thktpzxxqk

 

 


THINGS I NEVER HAD A CHANCE TO TELL MY MOTHER

I’m sorry you had to see me try to destroy myself so many times.

I love you for always being there when I would leave the Hospital.

I’m sorry for all the nights I came home drunk and said hateful things.

I love you for always holding me tight when I finished, stroking my hair, telling me how much you loved me no matter what.

I’m glad you never had a chance to see me at my worse.

I hate that you blamed yourself at the end and we didn’t know it would be the end.

I didn’t get to tell you that none of it was your fault.

I didn’t get to tell you one last time that I love you with all my heart.

You didn’t get to see me become sober and continue to do so.

I’m sorry for being impatient with you and being unable to handle all I should have.

I want you to know there will never be another Mom like you and I’m taking care of Dad.

I miss your hugs because there are none now.

I know you forgive me but it’s harder to forgive myself.

I love you and miss you every single day.


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