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 Post subject: Where Am I Now?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 3:32 pm 
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Where am I now? That's not necessarily a simple or easy question to answer.

I want to share part of a letter I wrote to a special friend of mine. But, first, an explanation. Some of you know that I lost my best friend from growing up in October of 2016 from massive heart failure precipitated by an unknown birth defect in his heart. He was 45. We were in first grade on up together. We became especially close as teens, and a third person was added to our pair. In adulthood the three of us attended each other's weddings, and visited whenever we could. In July of 2016 we rented a house in New Hampshire for a few days and our three families came together. That was the last time Travis and I saw Scott before he died. The letter (email actually) I wrote to Travis recently is filled with pleas for him to grieve Scott, because I've seen him push it down and push it down again.

In this part of the letter I explain to him how not grieving my mom's death, and the loss of my dad, who was unthinking and cruel to my sister and me, led to my addiction. I explained what it's like to be high and see the painful stuff from a distance:

"I remember being high and feeling so good, but also seeing everything I would have to deal with and go through to make myself healthy. Seeing the ugliness from a safe distance. Knowing that my father was disgusted by my mother's weight and all people who are overweight, and that he thinks that he is better than they are, than I am because he won the genetic lottery, but didn't pass it to his children. I remember being grateful that I was high so I didn't have to deal with that. I didn't have to mourn the end of my family. I didn't have to put myself through the self-loathing that came with being one of the lesser people in my father's eyes. Telling myself that it was really going to suck when I did have to break this addiction and work through these feelings, and all of the crying I'd have to do. I can't tell you how much I've always hated crying. Some people can seem to do it gracefully. Their faces stay normal looking, they don't get the automatic headache. I am a sodden, extreme mess when I cry. I look terrible, my face is red and swollen, I stay stuffy for hours. I look a lot like you look when you've been around the wrong kind of dog for a long time. [Travis is allergic.] So I hate it. I was happy, when I was high, to look at it as far off in the future. I don't have that luxury any more.

At the same time, I'm truly living. It is slow, and painful, but I've been working my way out of this depression that has had a hold of me since the spring of 2016. I'm making strides in finishing my masters degree, which I was supposed to finish last May. My school department has been very, very understanding. It is hard to have Jacob gone so much, but I love that he is fulfilling his potential and creating his own life. I am moving forward and meeting my emotions as they come."

OpenMind, in his update, was saying that he was remembering the warmth and pleasure of being high. I totally get that and I do as well, but I also remember the painful feelings I was avoiding, and the necessity of eventually facing them too.

When I chose the member name I would use on this forum, I was looking ahead and knowing I had a long way to go to be well, especially in my mind. I am still very much a work-in-progress. But I can be proud of some of the progress I've made. Most of them are baby steps that people wouldn't notice. However, I did see an addiction therapist and go through my feelings about my father and my grief over my mom's sudden and early death. That was extremely difficult. I can tell I've made progress though. My grief over my friend's sudden death could have caused me to relapse, but I've allowed my grief to stay at the surface. I haven't stuffed it down and viewed it from a distance. It is with me every day.

Going back to school for my masters in Addiction Studies was also a major milestone. I did very well in my first year of challenging classes with very little break time, but I struggled in 2016 when I became depressed. I was having marital problems and then my best friend died. I took Incompletes in 4 of my classes. My professors and the department have been incredible and understanding. But I was supposed to finish my degree in May of 2017.

I couldn't explain why I couldn't get my schoolwork done. I was baffled. It was like some form of mental paralysis. I would sit in front of my laptop and hours would go by with nothing done. I ceased doing most housework. I didn't cook or bake very much. The only thing I did manage to do was to parent my son through his last year of high school, the college application process, helping him make the decisions that were necessary for him to move forward. (He's now a 2nd semester freshman.) I was so stuck and I couldn't say why.

It wasn't until the spring of 2017 that I figured out how depressed I was. I was being rough on people on the forum, unsympathetic, and very snippy in my responses. JennJenn and a couple of other members challenged the way I was acting. I had taken a leave of absence from the forum without telling the other mods!! My moderator friends and Godfrey and Openmind and others helped me recognize what was happening. Rule offered unconditional support, even when he was upset. Jen and Godfrey opened my eyes to how I was acting and that it was not Ok. They were absolutely correct. A new friendship with Openmind helped very much. And I can't list all of the other members who offered support and forgiveness. I would inevitably miss people. I want to thank all of the people I've mentioned plus people I haven't who have offered me support. I especially thank Rule and Jen. Rule for never giving up on me, and Jen for giving me the wake up call that I needed.

With all of that background, where am I now? Since last fall I've been slowly climbing up out of the hole of depression. I have become more active. I get out of the house more. I have cooked a lot more and cleaned and organized several things. Yesterday I had an appointment at a local treatment facility to interview the Behavioral Health Supervisor and tour the clinic for one of my remaining school assignments. I can't tell you how much the thought of cold calling a facility to do this assignment terrified and paralyzed me. But I did it, and it makes the thought of applying for an internship, which I also need to do, less scary.

I think that one thing that has made a really big difference in the last two weeks is that I told my doctor's PA about the depression and lack of motivation. She prescribed me Wellbutrin, and I have felt a significant difference since then. It kind of feels like a nudge toward productivity. I'm hoping that as winter turns to spring I can feel my spirits buoy with the seasons.

I so appreciate this forum for giving me a way to help people and for the experience that I know will be helpful in my career. I appreciate you members for keeping this forum the inviting and supportive place that it is. I am grateful for Dr. Junig and the team of moderators who are my friends. I can count on them to support me, check on me and keep me in line. :wink:

Amy

P.S. I wrote a really long post and I appreciate the folks who make it all the way through, and excuse the folks who couldn't do it! :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Where Am I Now?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:14 am 
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Great post Amy!!!!!!! Great!!

I can't wait until u become an addiction counselor, I have said all along how great you'll be at it and too bad U couldn't be my counselor someday...... would that be weird :)

U have always been more of a mentor to me since I joined here in 2014. I remember u encouraging me and just being a nice person to me when I wasn't used to ppl being nice because I'd shut myself off to ppl in the beginning after my addiction. When u first told me that u were going to become an addiction counselor I knew that had to be ur calling.

I didn't know u were depressed really, but I definitely noticed something wasn't exactly right. I'm sorry I didn't know what was happening, that makes me feel bad. I'm sorry for not knowing about ur depression sooner. I knew ur friend had passed and I should have figured it out! BUT I do notice ur bk to ur old self again and that makes me happy! I'm sure depression is extremely difficult to deal with. I remember the depression I had during 6 months of being off opiates and it was miserable. I'm sure suffering from depression period is so tough. I hope ur friend goes through the grieving process too because we all know that it will eventually catch up to ya.

I'm just thankful ur here Amy! I'm happy to be able to call u my friend. Thank u for all u do for this forum because ur a very important part of it.

PS I'm sorry if my post jumps around too much, I have bunnies hopping around my feet right now wanting food but I wanted to respond to this first :)

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 Post subject: Re: Where Am I Now?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 1:26 pm 
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You are just adopting some of your bunnies' behavior, hopping around! Lol!

I just want to reassure you that you did nothing wrong during the time period that I was having difficulty. I hadn't put a name to my depression until the summer of 2017. How could you have known something I didn't even realize? I've been used to anxiety and panic attacks, but I didn't recognize the depression. Your encouragement about my career goals make me feel very good. I so appreciate it!

I also want you to realize, Jen, that you showed true friendship when you mentioned the difference in my personality. It's much easier to go along and be friendly and not rock the boat. But one thing I've learned about you is that you are a very authentic person. You don't pretend to be anything you're not and you wouldn't be able to pretend my behavior was ok when it wasn't. That is just one of the reasons you are so appreciated here.

All of the mods here have been very kind and awesome, and a number of the members have made a difference in my life too. Being a mod here has been a labor of love.

Amy

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