?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
12 March 2005 @ 04:08 pm
thoughts of the day.  
I really appreciate all the responses to my post the other day, from all perspectives. I want to answer them, but haven't revisited the thread yet, and the more time that passes the greater likelihood that I'll just move forward. I'll probably start posting more again on this subject, starting here. I'll cut-tag regularly, probably using the text below, for anyone who wants to scroll past. Please, please, please filter yourself out if it'll bother you to read this stuff.



Drinking has been cropping up as an issue again for a few months. Winter's been hard. I had to stop seeing my trainer. She left my gym and I intended to join her new one after her holiday break, but then didn't, because I didn't have the money. So it's been a while since I've worked out. At the same time I was switching gears on my antidepressants, as a new combo wasn't working. Sloth and moodiness contributed to a backslide.

I still need to tell myself that it's a substance *abuse* thing, and not so much an addicition because, I guess, the idea of addiction--as it's generally accepted--seems like a life sentence. I mean, I easily went most of the summer without drinking, and I was happy and fulfilled and energetic. And that was when my medications were working optimally, before the side-effects showed up.

I wish I didn't feel as if I need the meds to complete me in some sense, to straighten out the kinks of brain chemistry, but lately I find myself thinking about them the way other people might think of god: as something that needs to be there, a presence in my life, like the ground beneath me, before I can even hope to stand on my own two feet, do anything myself. Is *that* a life sentence? That's a rhetorical question that I maybe don't want answers to.

My therapist, a few months ago, tried to caution me that there's no one-time fix. Depression recurs, meds can stop working, and what I need to do is build myself an emotional and mental tool-kit to deal with it when that happens. I found this to be a horrible thought. I guess I recognize the likelihood, objectively--I'm experiencing it now--but I want the ground to be solid. Stable. I don't want to walk around prey to sudden earthquakes that tip me off balance.

At the moment I think the new med combo is kicking in. I'm feeling better, and am trying to get the drinking back under control. I went four days this week without drinking, which was good. Last night, I drank. Just under a pint of whiskey. I can kill a bottle pretty easily, usually with no significant hangover. Once I start on a bottle I don't usually stop until it's gone.

Weekends are hard. When you've got your head down throughout the week, focusing on work, going through a routine, it can be a bit easier. But the weekend makes you look up and you face that surrounding blankness of your life. You don't have anyone to be with, nothing to do on a Friday night. You could write, yeah, but you watch TV instead, and yet *still* need something to distract yourself from the blankness. Take the edge off, blot everything out.

I rarely even enjoy drinking any more. It's just a thing I do. Sometimes it'll be just perfect, it'll hit the spot like a hammer on a nail, with a sweet ping. The rest of the time it's just a habit of distraction, medicinal.

My therapist wants me to focus on this problem. My homework from this past week was to look into finding a weekend AA or RR meeting, and maybe something online too. Like, a fannish Rational Recovery community or something. If anyone knows of such a group, let me know.

I called my trainer today finally. I've been so procrastinatory for the last few weeks even with money in hand. I get in these funks--I had 22 messages on my answering machine, dating back over a month, before I finally listened and cleared them today. Fortunately none were important; most were just hang-ups.

Another thing I've delayed doing is picking up my sneakers from my old gym. I think my locker must have expired, and god knows whether they kept the sneakers or just threw them away. It gnaws at the back of my mind, but I'm in avoidance mode. I pass by the gym all the time but don't go in. It's so stupid. Such a small thing, but a task I'm having trouble crossing off my list.

I feel like I always have to be exercising one indulgence at any given time. If it's not drinking it's eating sugary gooey things, and if it's not eating, it's spending too much money. And of course sometimes it's a combination of all these. In general, it's not taking care of myself.

This post has been a bit zig-zaggy and random, hasn't it?

Anyway, that's the state of the me right now. Trying to climb back out of my winter slump.
 
 
 
Laura Shapiro: zenlaurashapiro on March 13th, 2005 12:31 am (UTC)
{{{holding you}}}

My therapist, a few months ago, tried to caution me that there's no one-time fix. Depression recurs, meds can stop working, and what I need to do is build myself an emotional and mental tool-kit to deal with it when that happens. I found this to be a horrible thought. I guess I recognize the likelihood, objectively--I'm experiencing it now--but I want the ground to be solid. Stable. I don't want to walk around prey to sudden earthquakes that tip me off balance.

As someone who suffers from intermittent, but chronic, physical health problems, this really resonated with me. I am on a topsy-turvy ride that swings back and forth from bowel disturbance to urinary disturbance to vaginal disturbance, all of which play hell with my sex life and physical state, but which more than anything else upset me emotionally. I can go for months, up to six months at a stretch sometimes, feeling absolutely great, but then the wrong microbe gets into the wrong spot and I'm sick again. When this happens, I fall apart -- I cry, I rail at the unfairness of the universe, I am depressed for days.

I just want stability, you know? I want it fixed. If I can feel this good for six months, why can't I feel this good forever? Other people's bodies don't do this to them...and so forth and so on.

All of which by way of saying: I think your shrink is probably right, but I react to the suggestion of simply accepting and coping with my ongoing dysfunction with exactly the same horror you're describing.

Because, ya know, we don't *want* to accept being broken. It isn't *fair*. It should just go *away* already.

Calling your trainer is a good step. I'm glad you seem to be on an upswing right now, and checking out RR seems like a good idea, if you think it would help.

As always, I am impressed with your courage in examining and acknowledging all of these difficult things -- and especially in doing something about them.

Love to you.
The Prettiest. No really, I am.: redemptionsaucy_wench on March 13th, 2005 12:43 am (UTC)
I'm not sure if I should say anything, because I really don't know you. But I'll go out there and say it anyway.

I know what you're talking about. I know the need to indulge because it makes you feel as though you are beoynd limets. I've done the drugs, I've had the drinks, my shoe collection would make Sarah Jessica Parker die of envy. I've done it all because something in my life was missing. I was unfufilled being who I was, and I think that might be your case also.

Maybe if you took something up, like a constructive hobby. Or if you started going out more with some friends who aren't heavy drinkers. When I do go out (which is rare because I have a two year old) I go out with people I know and trust, who know me, and they know that I, on occasion, have the ability to drink myself under the table.

Just try mixing it up. Order a Shirley Temple for the first few drinks, and then, if you want, have one or two cocktails. Don't feel the need to totally quit drinking, but feel the need to not let the drink control your actions. YOU control how much you drink. YOU control how much you eat. YOU control how much you write apposed to how much you watch T.V.

It's all about you getting control. Try looking yourself in the mirror and saying "I will own this day. This day will not own me."

It's corney and stupid and you'll roll your eyes. But it really does help. Make a list of the things you like about yourself, make a list of things that you feel bring you down as a person.

You could start a journal (maybe another online one, maybe a paper one, maybe privatize this one...) about how you feel today and what made you feel that way.

Okay, I'm shutting up now. But I've been there, and if you need to talk to someone you actually don't know, I'm here.
The Spikespike21 on March 13th, 2005 02:13 am (UTC)
I wish I had an answer for all the questions, Anna. I've been having a rough month myself, depression-wise. My conclusions such as they are, are these:

Life is a lot harder when you have depression.
People who don't have depression/illness live a different kind of life. The time and energy I have to muster to get up and dressed in the morning is the time and energy my non-depressed friends can put into going to the gym. I'm not fucking kidding. On the days I'm not depressed at all I feel like a 100 lb weight has been lifted from my neck. It's all so *easy*. It's all so bright with meaning and hope, how could one not embrace it?

Most of the time, I'm barely aware of the struggle for baseline functioning. What I *am* aware of is how weary it makes me, how desperately in need of comfort I find myself at the end of the day.

What I want? I want a good life. I want a clean house and to be fit and strong. I want to love my work and do things that feel meaningful and fulfilling. I know that I am capable -- more than capable -- of achieving this. Or would be, if I weren't pestered and disrupted and weighted by depression and illness. As it is, I have to struggle to keep what I have and often have to trade off one thing for another. My available energy -- physical and emotional -- is just too limited right now to have it all.

I'm hoping that that will change and that I will find better crutches or better coping tools. Maybe I should be trying to imagine life without crutches, but for the moment anyway, that's just beyond me.

I hope this isn't too depressing a comment. Delete it if it is -- I know everything in my head is currently filtered through a big damn depression.

*hugs you anyway*
gwynnegagwynnega on March 13th, 2005 02:51 am (UTC)
Depression recurs, meds can stop working, and what I need to do is build myself an emotional and mental tool-kit to deal with it when that happens. I found this to be a horrible thought. I guess I recognize the likelihood, objectively--I'm experiencing it now--but I want the ground to be solid. Stable. I don't want to walk around prey to sudden earthquakes that tip me off balance.

Scary, sure, but in my experience that's really sound advice. I find that the more strategies I have to deal with depression/anxiety/what-have-you, the less I get thrown by them when they do rear their ugly heads, and the more solid the ground feels beneath my feet.
Signora N.N.: midnight robberbay_bus_rider on March 13th, 2005 04:40 am (UTC)
Agreed. I also wonder if the idea of a tool-kit bothers you because—well, you don't want to be depressed anymore. You want to have the stable, normal life that other people seem to. But I tend to think that people who aren't depressed (definitely not me) actually have larger, more well-equipped tool-kits. For me, depression is (in part) about not being able to handle the crappy things that sometimes happen, about not having proper coping mechanisms. Setting yourself up properly should help you deal with life when the ground inevitably shifts, as it does for everyone.

...interesting metaphor, since I'm practically living on a fault line...
tskteratatskterata on March 13th, 2005 03:30 am (UTC)
I won't offer any advice, because we don't know each other, I'll just share my experience. I agree with your distinction between a substance abuse problem and an addiction. For years I drank often and heavily, mostly alone, watching TV. It was a way to get through the nights when there didn't seem to be anything better to do. By most people's definitions, that made me an alcoholic, but when something did interest me, I could easily go for weeks without drinking. For instance, when I vacationed I rarely drank because there was so much to see and do.

About five years ago, I started dating the man I would later marry, and I started drinking less. It was no great effort on my part, no battle against the bottle, it just fell away as other things became more important. I didn't give up drinking, I still had wine with dinner, and martinis when we went out, but I rarely drank to even tipsy.

In my drinking days I worried that I would never be able to have children because I wouldn't be able to give up drinking long enough. I was wrong, when the time came it was very easy to give it up, because I wanted the child and I focused on his health and my own.

I guess what I'm saying is, that for me, the problem wasn't drinking, it was my unfocused life. When I found things that interested me, that gave meaning to my life, the drinking problem disappeared.
The Alpha Betadiluvian on March 13th, 2005 03:52 am (UTC)
I'm dealing with similar issues right now & a friend steered me towards this:

http://www.moderation.org/

Dunno if there's a group near you, or if their online presence will help, or even if it's what you're looking for. Dunno if it's something that's appropriate for *me,* even, but it's helped me think. Your abuse vs addiction thing really resonated with me.

Hugs to you.
julia_herejulia_here on March 13th, 2005 04:08 am (UTC)
I guess I recognize the likelihood, objectively--I'm experiencing it now--but I want the ground to be solid. Stable. I don't want to walk around prey to sudden earthquakes that tip me off balance.

My sister calls our family "Codependants are us" so I'm walking a tight line here.

However: there you sit at the east end of the Seattle fault, probably not too far from where the lady in the picture there, my great-grandmother, had a boarding house with foundations fifty feet above the current ground surface. The real ground doesn't stay solid; the thing to learn is how to boogy-board on the shaky terraine.

I'm coming off the first winter in decades without severe depression; I wasn't entirely cheery but the pit didn't gape before me, and it was really nice. Was maybe luck; was maybe doing a lot of very active writing; in any case, I don't bet on it happening again. All I can do is keep working on what I can, and hope what I'm doing is what I need to do.

You pointed out one thing you can't do much about: iffy response to medication. And one thing you can: getting back with your trainer, or setting up another regular exersize program. Do what you can.

And, you know those sneakers? Blow them off. They're probably all smelly and warped by now anyway. Don't sweat the small stuff, especially when it's already sweaty.

Julia, who will be pruning a rose in the Madison Valley tomorrow
Estepheiaestepheia on March 13th, 2005 07:33 am (UTC)
It gnaws at the back of my mind, but I'm in avoidance mode. I pass by the gym all the time but don't go in. It's so stupid. Such a small thing, but a task I'm having trouble crossing off my list.

I feel like I always have to be exercising one indulgence at any given time. If it's not drinking it's eating sugary gooey things, and if it's not eating, it's spending too much money. And of course sometimes it's a combination of all these. In general, it's not taking care of myself.


Boy, do I know the feeling. *hug*
inappropriately bibliophilicraucousraven on March 13th, 2005 08:31 am (UTC)
my dear unknown, i wish you clarity of purpose in these intemperate times. peace and courage go with you as you walk into this spring.
Romany: spike mad world by indiana_janeromanyg on March 13th, 2005 09:47 am (UTC)
I know from your previous post that you struggled over whether to post anything at all regarding your drinking and depression. And I think that it's really brave of you to do this, and do this publicly.

I don't know if you find it heartening or disheartening to have the inevitable "me toos" percolate up from your readers. Maybe a little of both. Yay! We're all in the same boat! But then it capsizes and where exactly is the rescue ship?

And are recovery communities that rescue ship? Dunno. Yes, it is possible to quit drinking without ever joining one but the success rate is kinda low for the do-it-yourselfers because the alchohol is just a symptom of a lot of other issues. My mom went from a bottle of bourbon a day to nothing, flat cold turkey, over thirty years ago. Kudos to her that she stopped but she never took care of the other stuff. Like going to the grocery store is a *big* deal. Or she's behind on her house payment because she needs to buy stamps to send it in but she can't buy stamps because she needs to gas up her car but she can't gas up her car because she needs to go to the ATM first and she can't walk to the ATM because she can't find her other blue shoe and she needs to wear her blue shoes and just her blue shoes and why bother maybe DS9 is on. For want of a nail...

And I know that it sounds like I make fun but I'm exactly the same way. Except that I don't drink because I developed a Pavlovian reaction to alcohol from growing up in, if not an alcoholic, then definitely habitual drinker household. But yes, the oddest things can be daunting. I have to-do lists that grow stale, grow legs and chase me about the house. And I can't do anything about them because I'm too busy hiding behind the couch. Or here on LJ. LJ is a nice hidey-hole. It's shiny, a wonderful rabbit warren from which I never seem to emerge. And when even my LJ responsibilities weigh on me then I can just wander about its halls and pretend I'm not here. Now you see me, now you don't.

And urgh, I'm doing the mememememe thing...

You managed to call your trainer and that's a good thing. That's one item off the list. Plus if you get back to working out regularly the brain chemistry might align a bit. There's just something balancing about physical activity that the spiffiest new meds can't recreate.

As far as the shoes, maybe call the gym instead of walking through that door. It'll take less time. And it'll be one more thing off your list.

Fannish Rational Recovery? Well there's 12stepfree and sober24 but they're not fannish. I know that there are fannish communities out there that deal with depression but not substance abuse.

Well, good luck to you. Let us know how it goes. Radio silence from you has meant both good and bad in Anna-land. Please let us know which one it is.
Trepkostrepkos on March 13th, 2005 09:59 am (UTC)
It's very hard for someone like myself who rarely gets depressed, to make useful suggestions, but my partner often get depression, and I think it definitely helps to make sure to do some form of exercise nearly every day, if you can make yourself do it. You know it will make you feel better, both from the feeling of physical well-being and the sense of having accomplished at least one goal for the day. Try to make it non-negotiable in your head - even if all you do is dance around your living room for 20 minutes. I may have said this before, but if you can find some form of exercise - free-weights, yoga, exercise bike - that you can do without having to go to the gym, maybe while watching TV/DVDs etc. then it will help you make it a part of your life again.
I can't believe someone as brilliant and talented and funny as you has noone to play with at the weekend. Perhaps you friends don't realise that they need to pester you and drag you out of your shell - maybe they're reluctant to disturb you. Maybe you should ask them to ensure that you socialise, even when you seem avoidy.
A bottle of whiskey in one go is way too much, as you know - have you tried drinking it with mixers? I had quite a happy afternoon the other day, (despite starting off feeling like shit), drinking Southern Comfort with loads of lemonade while hoovering the whole house, playing "Closer" on repeat...
Lesleyparatti on March 13th, 2005 11:31 am (UTC)
Have you tried Cognitive Behaviour Therapy? That set of tools and tools to make tools really does seem to work, at least for me and many of my friends.
ngaiongaio on March 13th, 2005 11:51 am (UTC)
Glad you're posting this sort of stuff, I wasn't on LJ before you stopped posting but this is your life, your journal, post what you need/want to post.

Weekends are hard ... // ... medicinal

That struck such a chord for me. Not for alcohol but for food. Chocolate mainly. I never knew other people felt the same, I thought it was just me. Half the time I don't *like* the food
I'm eating, but I eat it anyway.

Once I start on a bottle I don't usually stop until it's gone

Yup! I can't buy one of anything and once I have them I have to eat all of them.

Sorry, that was a bit me-y. I do hope things get better for you.
(Deleted comment)
Kimberly: dragonflykimberly_a on March 14th, 2005 02:47 am (UTC)
There is no fucking way that I'm going to presume to offer advice. I'm bipolar and stuck in the middle of an excruciatingly long (we're talking YEARS) deeply depressed period. I can't work. I'm not even going to go into the details, because this really isn't about me me me. (Forgive me if this actually devolves into being about me me me. I have a tendency to do that, even though I try not to.)

I just wanted you to know that I struggle with some of the same emotional issues. Our struggles aren't the same struggles, but the emotions about the struggles are similar. I hate the idea that I might (probably will) be taking mood stabilizing medications for the rest of my life. I haven't accepted it. I'm frequently tempted to dump all my stupid pills in the garbage, like that will fix things and I'll suddenly be fine. Like not taking meds will somehow magically mean that I don't NEED to take meds. Like not taking meds will somehow magically mean that the meds don't actually help, don't actually make my life easier. Yeah, my life pretty much sucks, but it would suck a hell of a lot harder if the wonders of pharmacology weren't giving me a bit of a hand.

I also struggle with the difficulty doing what needs to be done. With you it's phone messages; with me it's email (and replying to LJ comments). With you, it's tennis shoes at the gym; with me, it's cleaning the litterbox. (I walk past it and smell it and think, "I should clean that" ... but I don't. It's ridiculous.) This stuff might seem easy to other people, but if it's hard, then it's hard. There's no judgment there. You just do the best you can do. At least, that's how I look at it.

And, lastly, like you, I struggle with whether or not to reach out to other people who share similar issues, and if so, how. By it's very nature, my particular set of problems makes reaching out to other people difficult (it just takes so much effort! and willingness to be vulnerable!). I've mostly dodged it. When I first came on LJ, I tried to get involved in some of the depression-related communities, but they were full of people who wanted to *wallow* in depression, rather than work on dealing with it and finding a way to live a life that wasn't so dark. Sometimes I think I should try again. But thus far I haven't.

So, like I said, I'm not going to offer advice or suggestions or reassurances that everything will be just fine, because I'm floundering too, trying to find the path that will lead to better happiness for me. But I think it's a damn brave thing that you and I are trying to do. It's hard, but we're trying. A lot of people don't. So I'm just glad to be in such good company.
(Anonymous) on March 14th, 2005 07:56 pm (UTC)
I don't know about anyone else, but it does make me feel better to know that other people have similar struggles with depression, with drinking, with getting focused, with doing the small mundane tasks that make you crazy. I enjoy each new post about these personal items, and the replies that you get are also full of wonderful insights.

I know that other people are living grand lives while I'm mucking about with depression. I resent it, greatly. I'm angry. But so many times I've thrown the pills out the window, so to speak and it's just being crazy and reactionary. It's the easy way out. When I tore up my life and was suicidal and hospitalized, that was much easier than working, minute-by-minute, to get through it, pay the bills, go to bed and lead a stable life. I now view the pills as really, really expensive vitamins. They're no different than the ones I take for my thyroid disease. Necessary evil. But that doesn't mean that I'm still not angry under the surface.

And the to-do list has some of the same things on it that it had last year... and even the year before.

-AmyB1
amyb1@att.net
ruthless1ruthless1 on March 14th, 2005 09:32 pm (UTC)
am I too late to comment on this post?
*looks around sheepishly*
You are on the right track missy - do things in the time that it takes you to do them. When I quit smoking cigarettes - I had to remind myself that I smoked for 17 years and that suffering through a few months of discomfort held up against SEVENTEEN years of addiction might be a difficult thing to balance. But balance it I did. I think it's worth it to reclaim parts of my life - even if it's just one part at a time (smoking, weight, underachiever ect)
As for the weekends - for when I am at home and not out with friends - I took up knitting. Now - when I watch my DVD's - I am doing something. And it's not smoking or eating either! And it's ridiculously simple knitting too - nothing fancy but just something to keep my hands busy. So of course these baby blankets I make look terrible and have little holes all over them because I don't know how to fix dropped stitches but again - I don't care - I just want to not be smoking and not be eating.
I commned you - especially for calling your trainer again. You are an inspiration even if YOU don't think so!
rubywisp: b/a kiss by kamilaarubywisp on March 15th, 2005 01:36 am (UTC)
Trying to climb back out of my winter slump.

Good for you. 'Bout all we can do, isn't it?

::much love::