The slow process of RECOVERY
The inspirational tune of the day: Hozier “Sedated” – link goes to Youtube.
I went through some of my old blogposts this morning. I was looking for a bit of inspiration on something easy and quick to write, since my energy today is running a little low – but still having the urge to write something. I have got a notebook, with a frontcover displaying the words “The book of YES” – in there I keep my ideas and thoughts until I find a suiting moment or the right kind of energy for that particular subject. But the ones I have scribbled down so far, takes more or less research and I just needed to write and let my mind off the leash. So as said, I went through some of my old blogposts – and boy, did I realize something – and have an idea simultaneously!
I was crashing through Lidt om psykisk sygdom og misbrug (About mental illness and addiction), Lidt om ensomhed (About loneliness) and Loneliness is the worst enemy and I was realizing that it was about time for an update on both loneliness and addiction.
The voice from a not so distant past
Alccoholism runs in my family. I know the all the fucked up emotions that come with it, from denial to neglect. Which is why writing about my own tendancy of looking way to deep down the bottle was necessary, but none the less difficult and shameful. As I wrote then, and I will make a point of writing now, I am not and have never been drinking from dusk till dawn. But there were certain alarms that needed attention. Like if you tell yourself NOT to buy another bottle, but you somehow end up bringing it home anyway – you have a fucking problem. If you work in a grocery store and you start buying alcohol from the competing store next door to avoid colleages asking questions – you have a fucking problem. If you numb your continously noisy brain and keep drinking way past the point, where your mood is going down hill fast – you have a fucking problem!
When I wrote this, I was proud that I had succeeded in keeping myself sober for a while – albeit the cigarettes had become part of me again after two years of not smoking, because I still needed some way to control my mind. However, in December ’17 I crashed. It actually started in November, but the real crash and break down was in the middle of December. I was panicking about Christmas, because I don’t do these big seasons very well, because they kind of mess with my daily structure and need for solitude. I was deeply concerned about the future, because I had just lost my job as a consequence of my long-term sick-leave. I had just had a diagnosis that had no cure. I remember it quite vividly, doing the dishes after dinner, my girlfriend on the couch and I just snapped like a dry twig. Hands covered in soap and water, I just started crying. I felt like there was no end to the fight and my strength was evaporating fast.
And in case you were wondering – yes, I had been drinking. Quite a lot actually. I was working my way through my second bottle of wine that day, trying to numb that indescribable pain, the voices in my head and all the worries about what the future had in store – if there was supposed to be a future – I could not see a way out. Now, the thing is – the first couple of glasses actually do numb the pain. However, I don’t stop there. Somewhere in the fumes of alcohol, I come to believe that the next glass will make it even better – but at some point, it fucking turns on me and painting all the pain, I was running away from, in a much brighter and clearer light, to a degree where I convinced myself that there really is no way out – except the wrong one. And yes, I am talking about suicidal thoughts. The thing is – I am actually an extremely rational person, so I have often felt guilty and shameful about not being able to control my addiction, knowing in my rational mind full well, where it’s gonna take me.
But that is the point: having an addiction makes you tell yourself that this time will be different, this time you will stop at the second glass, this time it’s just to take a little break from that fucked up mind.
So – I was crying in the kitchen and my girlfriend came out and asked me what was up. I couldn’t really form a complete sentence, but I managed to shrug my shoulders and tell her, I was just so god damn tired and fed up with fighting against my own brain. So she held me, in silence for a while – and then she very softly said:
“Hunny, don’t take this the wrong way… but have you considered to lay off the drinking?”
I told her that I didn’t know how else to stop the pain – even if it was only for a short time.
“But you do know, it’s not a right way to do it, right?”
Now as I wrote in my earlier blogpost, I had actually told several professional persons about this addiction in an attempt of getting help (psychiatrist, nurse, doctor) and never once received more than careful and vague message, that “I should maybe not drink so much”. So what changed?
She, my girlfriend, sent me to see a doctor to talk about my drinking and my escalading self harming. I was at a place, where I very seriously thought about not just cutting my arms or hammering on my leg, but could see myself cutting up my entire face. So I told the doctor that. That I just wanted to disfigure my face, because that would somehow get me closer to what was inside. She sent me straight to the psychiatric hospital for an appointment with a psychologist.
But while getting treatment and slowly becoming more sober, it dawned on me, what she had said in the kitchen. “Have you considered to lay off drinking?”. That meant one thing: she had noticed. And I had somehow made her feel like I did, when I was a little girl and dad came home drunk – again.
But she did not settle and she refused to see me destroy myself – so she spoke up.
I got the message!
One of the many things I was trying to drown was the feeling of loneliness. I was very ambigious on the matter, because I desperately needed someone to truly understand what I went through – at the same time, I didn’t want to be understood, because that would mean that they felt the same way and quite frankly, I wouln’t wish this mental fight on my worst enemy. The fight that starts the second you open your eyes in the morning and that you push yourself through until you go to sleep again – only to know that next day, you will have to rise to the same fight all over again. I was – and am – sick and tired of people telling me that “oh, you just need to go out for a good walk” or “maybe if you ate healthier” – there are NO fucking quick fixes, and I am saying that knowing very well, that these comments stem from the very best of intentions. But those intentions dig the hole deeper, because it becomes all too clear, that you are really alone in this fight. There is no one that can magically lift the sword and axes for you. Loneliness, I think, was my basic motivation for even starting this blog. I have always loved writing, ever since being a little kid, writing small fairy tales to send to my grandma in the post. That was before my writing grew darker – when it did, I didn’t share it.
There were just too many dark places and times for one little kid to handle.
So you should think I would be used to feeling lonely. I don’t think anyone can get used to it – they can learn to deal with it, like I did, but getting used to it, really isn’t an option. So writing became my venting place, the hidden world I had to myself, where it would be okay to put to paper all the thoughts that I guess I somehow knew would shock my loved ones, if they knew about them. I still write those things, but I guess growing older and having received a lot of therapy over the years, has given me a more constructive way of dealing with those thoughts. Hence, the blog! It stems from equally needing to vent and refusing the stigma and the silence.
My loneliness in the earlier blogposts comes from not saying, what desperately needs to be said – and saying all the things, that really is insignificant. And maybe that is really the truth for a lot of the lonely people out there.
We somehow don’t realize that our own silence feeds the stigma. The stigma of being lonely, the stigma of being mentally ill or the stigma of suicidal thoughts. However, we are getting there. More and more people dare to speak up – and the more we talk about these things, the easier it will be to actually ask for help when you need it. Note that I wrote easier, not easy. Asking for help is never easy. But I do believe that the less stigma we meet, it will be easier to reach out.
The present day in the eyes of the past
I am 3 months sober now.
I just wanted you to know that.
Well, technically I did have one glass of wine in January and a beer at the Crime Novel Fair 2018 in Horsens, Denmark (Krimimessen 2018). But still, I will dare to claim that I have been 3 months sober. As I wrote earlier; I got the message!
I woke up, so to speak. Realizing I had started doing the same thing to my girlfriend, as my father had done to me in the course of my childhood, challenged my shame and my guilt. I was really indifferent to my own self-neglect, but knowing that I was hurting someone I truly loved, someone that meant the world to me, that realization shot through all the excuses I had to drink. I needed to find a different way to shut down the pain and the noise in my head. And all it really took, besides the wake up call, was one decision: no more alcohol in the home. I knew that it was primarily the drinking at home that truly got me off the rails. The hours spent alone, trying to avoid my own thoughts and pain.
I can still feel lonely. Too many scars has left trust issues and social anxiety and awkwardness is a main part of my Aspergers Syndrome. I would love to be more outgoing, to believe that people genuinely care about me, without the nagging doubt in the back of my head. Maybe I will get there some day – or maybe just closer.
Reading the earlier posts on alcohol and loneliness made me understand, that even though it feels like the steps I take are small and few, they are still pushing me forward. I sat this morning wanting to tell the woman that wrote these posts, that things would be better.
There is still pain. There is still noise in my head. There is still loneliness.
But more importantly, there is hope.
I have come to terms with my primary diagnosis, Aspergers. So much, that I recently changed the appearance and subtitle of the blog. “Rocking the Spectrum” – a sort of a playing pun between my love for music and the fact that I sometimes use stimming to sooth myself (rocking back and forth). I have even come to terms with the fact that my Aspergers sometimes makes depression, stress and selfharm reoccur. Sometimes it brings me to a point where I hear screams and voices and foot steps across the living room wooden floor in a sort of mini psychosis.
But I am learning every day. What triggers my stress levels. What helps if I am taking a turn for the worse. At this point I am still on sick leave – and lost my job, due to the sick leave – and for a long time, I saw no future. I still don’t really know where I would fit in, jobwise. But I am becoming aware of the strenghts that are undeniably there.
And guess what?
That is a start.
Reading the earlier posts made me see the progress I have made. Although I am not there yet, although there may always be certain things I should steer clear off, I also know that there is hope. It was actually really always there, like a light switch in the dark, I just couldn’t locate.
You just gotta keep looking for it.
Sometimes people tell me that I’m a fighter, that they are impressed by the way I keep on going. Again, the intent is good (and I will gladly admit that sometimes I appreciate the sentiment) – but honestly, people… we don’t get to choose. No one asked me if I wanted Aspergers, depression, eating disorder and what not – it was just something I was given. Something I had. I have had many days in my life, preparing for suicide, but always somehow understanding and knowing that I didn’t really want to DIE.
I just wanted to catch a fucking break.
But you don’t come back from the kind of break that death brings. You don’t get the chance to smile one day. You don’t get to experience the people you love ever again. I cannot speak for anyone but myself, but I want that magical smile in the future. I want to experience life from a sunnier point of view. And I remind myself of that every single fucking day. It’s hard work. Hard work that makes a full time job seem like a vacation on a cruise ship. Don’t let anyone tell you that you lack ressources due to your mental illness. You have plenty. You are “just” using them all on a fight, that most people cannot begin to fathom the magnitude of.
But it will get better. And when it does, you will find that you in fact are capable of more than you think.
I am not done yet.
Neither are you.
Stay safe, people.