Lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God.
– Book of Common Prayer
First things first…
Happy New Year
Today may be the first day of 2017, but it is also the first day of the month, which just so happens to be my monthly sobriety celebration day.
Today I am celebrating 5 month of abstinence from substance addiction, like cigarettes and alcohol and process addiction like sex and co-dependency. I also feel free from the curse of depression and anxiety and I’m learning to deal with stress.
It also happens to coincides with the first day that I started taking Fluoxetine again. 1st August 2016.
Is my length of sobriety and my decision to face my underlying mental health issues a coincidence?
I think and feel not.
I’m still very much in the early days of my recovery, but I believe my destructive thoughts, feelings and behaviours all manifested themselves from my inability to deal with… wait for it… STRESS.
Yep, as far as I can tell, stress* is the root cause of all my woes.
*The absolute root cause is fear, but my inability to understand and deal with fear, caused me to experience prolonged periods of stress, because I thought ‘stress’ was good, I became addicted to stress, ergo fear.
Because I didn’t know how to deal with stress and because our culture promotes stress as being almost a necessity for getting to the top, I invited stress into my life.
I liked stress. I became addicted to stress because, ‘some people thrive on stress’, and I wanted to be like ‘some people’. I thought I was ‘some people’. I was ‘some people’.
I have since learned that prolonged exposure to stress causes anxiety. As the stress increases, so does the fear of failure,, which in turn causes more stress. It then becomes an inevitable treadmill to nowhere.
After weeks, months and years of stress and anxiety, the end result, for me, was a subtle and mild form of depression. When this went unrecognised and diagnosed for many years, the depression became more severe, eventually leading to a life that became ‘unmanageable’.
When all other coping mechanisms failed, like tobacco; alcohol; sugar; caffeine; sex addiction; love addiction and co-dependency all started to fail to lift me out of my depressed state, hope and faith started to evaporate. When it all finally went, the only feeling that remained was ‘utter and complete dread’.
When this happened I was left in a suicidal state with no idea how to get out, so I just kept peddling faster and faster, hoping that something (I) would change.
This is the progressive nature of addiction and depressive illness. They are subtle. It doesn’t happen overnight. I know many people suffer from a sudden onset of a depressive mood, usually due to circumstantial change, but suicidal depression and clinical depression is caused by a seed that is planted very early on in childhood, and takes years to grown into the denial and delusion that eventually create such despair and paralysing dread.
For me, ‘coping’ with life was ‘normal’ behaviour. It is now taking me years to reprogram my brains to become ‘healthy’ again, because I was never taught how to feel and express my feelings as a child.
Honest to God, I used to use Mr Spock as a role model, believing that logic (thinking) was better than human emotions (feelings). It might work for fictional Star Trek characters, such as, Vulcan’s, but I seemed to forget that in this reality, I AM HUMAN.
For me, being human is about connecting with my senses, which includes my feelings and then connecting with others to feel and share (y)our reality, based on our shared sensory perception and our shared interpretation of our feelings. When I am able to do this, with the help of the 12 Step program, therapy and medication, I am able to see my reality as one of a singular consciousness. That at the quantum and spiritual level, we are all the same. It is only our ego that creates a senses of separateness and isolation.
I’ve now been in recovery for over two and a half years, although I first started taking medication in August 2011. The first couple of times I took medication, I thought the medication would ‘fix me’, so my life style didn’t change and so neither did I.
Eventually I had to admit defeat, although it took another 3 years of hell to get to that final realisation! When that happened…
- I started seeing my current therapist in June 2014, who I continue to see once a week, every week for 1 hour. (Previously 2 hours per week, every week.)
- I started attending 12 Step meetings in March 2015. I continue to attend 3-4 meetings a week and actively work the program every minute of every day.
- I’ve been taking Fluoxetine (Prozac) for 5 months and will continue to take anti-depressant medication for at least another 18 months – 2 years, MINIMUM!
I’ve been pretty clear for the last 2 years, but I’ve continued to slip. This time I’m facing everything with open eyes, an open mind and a loving and compassionate heart.
This time it’s really working, and it’s working because I’ve learnt to accept that if I…
Keep coming back, it works if you work it, so work it your worth it.