01 July 2016
So these last few days have had some ups and downs for me.
I felt great for four days. I felt like I had turned a real corner, that my attitude and outlook were so much more positive. I felt like a survivor not a victim. I felt strong in my recovery. And then this was followed by a crash in my mood and some intense cravings to use. I managed to struggle with this for a couple of days and then I am sad to say I slipped back into old habits and used for four days. Each time I have lapsed over the last six weeks my mental health problems have had something to do with it. I struggle with my mental health quite a lot, and I've picked up a few psychiatric labels along the way, like clinical depression and anxiety disorder plus others. I struggle with unmanageable thoughts and feelings, and that's a major reason why I have used and abused alcohol and drugs for so long as a way of coping with my existence – self medication - which led to me becoming an addict. I think this is probably quite a common feature for all us addicts. We generally habitually use to escape our existence, which can be very painful and using can be a way of coping (however harmful our methods may be) with our thoughts and feelings about ourselves, others and life.
I have been fortunate enough to have become well versed in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and mindfulness techniques, both of which are helpful tools in adapting and coping with life. I trained and worked as a Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, and have in recent years been using CBT methods in my own mental health struggles, and my mental health prompted me to take up a mindfulness practice via Tai Chi and Buddhist meditation. For me a major challenge in my recovery is learning to manage my mental and emotional state without picking up. I'm learning a lot about myself on this voyage, for example I know what I could be doing to help my recovery and stop me using but I'm finding it difficult to always put that into practice. But if I am to remain clean and sober I feel I need to make even more of an effort to use these positive and adaptive ways of coping with my inner world, else I'm going to keeping slipping and ultimately my fear is that I will have a full blown relapse, which I so do not want to happen. So I'm having to up my game once again and dig even deeper.
So knowledge is power right? What can I do to support myself when my mind is in a mess and my emotions are paining me so much? I do not want to use skunk cannabis as a messed up way of coping anymore because it is destructive and harmful to me and those that love me. I've struggled to find a positive spin on the last week but I think I've found it now. It's by now focussing on learning to use these helpful and healthy ways of coping rather than using when things are tough. We can all do this and with practice, patience and persistence it can make a big difference to our overall sense of well-being. It's not a quick, easy fix but it takes work to get well.
So here's a list of some of the things I'm doing my best to implement to keep me clean.
I'm planning my activities every day and keeping a record of what I achieve.
I'm working on getting a wholesome daily routine in place.
I'm working hard to keep it in the day or even the moment.
I'm doing my best to keep it real – to be aware of the lies, excuses, justifications and rationalisations that I use to give myself permission to pick up.
When a craving hits I've got to keep in mind the realistic consequences of using. Plus going through all my reasons for not using. I keep a list of these on my person at all times.
I struggle with reaching out but it's part of my recovery plan to reach out to someone and talk it through or to do something together that's fun.
When the negativity hits and those cravings come I can't afford to let myself sit and ruminate on them I've got to get up and do something to distract myself.
Learning about my triggers so I can put a plan in place to deal with them.
Don't panic – relax. When cravings hit me I panic so I need to use breathing and relaxation techniques to calm myself down or engage in an activity that I find chills me out.
It is unfortunate when a slip up occurs and we can use it as an excuse to have a full blown relapse and to beat ourselves up and feel terrible. But it's important to stop using as soon as we can, and see it as an opportunity to learn something useful that will strengthen our recovery.
I'll be carrying on this theme next week as it's a big topic that's very close to my heart.
Book of the week
Heal Your Life – Louise Hayes
Quotes of the week
It's a terrible thing I think, in life to wait until you are ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking now is as good a time as any. (Hugh Laurie).
Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I will try again tomorrow.