My Body Is A Temple

My body is a temple. One of those temples in Thailand where they let monkeys shit all over the place.

For years now, I’ve been poisoning my body with various toxins; from chemicals, GMOs, MSGs, to speed, alcohol, cannabis and whatever else is out there that I can get my hands on. I eat like shit. I don’t hydrate appropriately. I neglect my own personal hygiene. I’m way too inactive for my age. I’m constantly under stress. And I basically treat my body like a toilet you flush unwanted drugs down.

Body and mind. Mind and body. The two are much more interconnected than I’d like to believe. When my physical health lags, so, too, does my mental health; and vice versa. But what am I to do when I have a chronic, progressive, hereditary disease such as cystic fibrosis? Technically, I’m always physically ill, and always will be. There’s no cure for CF, only management. So would I always struggle with mental illness, as well? Were the last 10 years only an introduction to the life I would be living? I’ve been through enough as it is, I don’t want to go on if the rest of my life will be a mirror image – there’s no hope for me if that’s the case. But I can’t let myself think like that – I refuse to believe it. Instead, I will argue the opposite:

After my diagnosis at the age of 12, after 2 unexplained pancreatic attacks, I became extremely depressed. It hit me, like a bullet, that I would be defective for the rest of my life. That I would have to take medication multiple times a day for the rest of my life. That I would have this stupid physical therapy machine, with its stupid tubes that connect to that stupid ugly pink vest that then inflates and shakes me. Shakes me so hard that the mucus building up in my lungs can break up. Not to mention the inhaler, the inhalants, the vitamins, and the chronic digestive pain that went along with all of this.  For the rest. of. my. life. But I was the lucky one. My case was only mild. My lungs were healthy. It probably wouldn’t kill me.It was hard to see the silver lining, though. I was 12, pubescent, and now chronically ill.

My diagnosis, leading to my consequent depression, flipped my life upside down. I didn’t handle it well at all. I could have learned more about my illness, taken it more seriously, maybe saw a therapist or joined an online support group (people with CF can’t be near each other, we’re too vulnerable to each other’s germs…but it’s not contagious for those who do not have the illness). But I didn’t do any of those things. Instead, I repressed the diagnosis. Choosing not to believe it yet having to constantly manage it with meds, treatment, and doctor visits, I became angry. I became a very angry child and I hated my parents. Blamed them for it all, even though they were struggling enough as it is accepting that their only child, who was a miracle (my mom couldn’t get pregnant for years), was now sick. Forever. She might die. Life would never be the same for her.

So I was angry, and I was depressed. I turned to alcohol and drugs. I got alcohol poisoning at the age of 13, and was popping so much thizz and Adderall at one point that to this day my brain has not completely recovered. I was taking pain killers. I was combining a lot of different drugs together. Oh, and I dropped down to 93 lbs at one point, all the while continuing this lifestyle. I honestly don’t know how I survived. Of course, I deal with the health consequences now.

But that’s just it. It was the way I reacted to my diagnosis that ultimately led me to a life consumed by mental illness(es). As a consequence, I neglected my health. I didn’t do any of my treatments. I only took the most vital medications for my survival. I treated my body like shit. I cut it up, I bruised it, I starved it; I abused it. I hated myself. I hated the circumstances of my life. And I couldn’t cope with any of it.

And I still can’t. But I’m 21 now, almost 10 years later, and it’s about time I grow up and accept my circumstances, make the changes I want in my life, and start living – not just existing. Not just surviving. Living.

Life is beautiful. I am not a victim.

I’m a Slave 4 U

It doesn’t have to be this way. I can change, I can grow. I want to change, I want to grow. But I don’t know how. I don’t have ANY guidance other than the books I have collected over the weeks and am slowly reading through. But books alone cannot guide me through such a critical journey. I need people. I need a sponsor. I need someone who cares, someone who can push me when I need the push, and hold me when I need a hug. I need someone understanding, who understands the battle I’m fighting in my head between wanting to get better, and wanting to remain the same – stuck in the same old bad habits that have been lingering around for damn near 10 years now. I need someone who understands the complexity of addiction, as well as the struggles of borderline personality disorder. The two go hand-in-hand, and whenever my symptoms are acting up I can’t help but get high. I’m either too high or too low; too overstimulated or bored out of my mind. And if I’m neutral, which I rarely am, it’s uncomfortable as fuck and I don’t know what to do with myself because I’m so used to the extremes, so again, I go for the pipe. For the vape. For the bong. I go to the club and get an eighth, on my way home I stop at the liquor store and buy a 12 pack, or maybe a bottle of wine. Never hard liquor – not for me.

The person I am when drugs and alcohol are present in my life (so, basically, the person that I am) is someone who has no control. Someone who doesn’t care about anything, or anyone, only about feeling good. I am over-indulgent. One is too many and a thousand never enough. It’s a vicious routine, really, one made up entirely of bad habits. Wake up, refrain from smoking, cave in, smoke, eat, smoke, eat, smoke, eat, smoke, eat….all goddamn day long. Not getting anything done from my to-do list. Not showering, not brushing my teeth, Not even taking out the dog until after noon. It’s disguisting. It’s pathetic. It’s shameful. Yet, I can’t stop. I can’t help myself to the smell – oh, the sweet sweet aroma of fresh greens, or burned greens. I love it all. Just a whiff makes my entire body weak. And when I look at it, all I see are those luscious hairs, those shiny crystals, the beautiful light green or dark purple color. And I give in. I am completely powerless, completely charmed by your wicked spell.

I am a slave for you, Mary Jane.

Alright so maybe I do have a problem

It’s mid-afternoon,  and I’ve been drinking since noon, and smoking since I’d woken up. My stomach is so full of junk that it’s actually painful to breathe right now; I’ve been eating literally all. day. long. And all I want to do right now is rush to the bathroom, stick my finger down my throat, and purge it all up. Purge up the food, purge up the booze, purge up the shame, purge up the…regret.

Even as I tell myself that my problem is not really a problem, and I should just accept myself and my lifestyle as is and just work on my character, I’m finding that this is the norm for me. It’s a regular occurrence that I drink until I can’t walk, eat until I feel sick, and smoke until I pass out. And no matter how much I’ve convinced myself that I can break the cycle, the truth of the matter is that I can’t. Not unless I cut the cycle at its roots…and here we are back to the whole sobriety thing. *Sigh*

I hate it. I hate myself, the fact that I can’t just drink or smoke like a normal person; in moderation, in social settings, in a way that still preserves my integrity. Not me. I’m just a sad sloppy mess.

When will I accept the truth? The change that must be made but that I keep avoiding, keep putting off, keep making excuses for.

It’s just not something I can do on my own…and it shouldn’t be something anyone should do on their own.

Time for another meeting, I guess.

 

Trust God, Clean House, Work with Others: A Recipe for Sobriety?

They say the recipe for sobriety calls for three main ingredients: to trust God (as we know him), to clean our house (take inventory, make amends), and to work with others (fellowship, community). As someone who loves to cook, I’m usually inclined to follow the directions exactly as they are. But lately, the more time I spend in the kitchen, the more I’m tempted to improvise. Cooking is, after all, an art of sorts – is it not?

You begin with a vision. You choose three bases: starches/grains, proteins, and produce. You gather together a bundle of ingredients, all different in color, texture, taste, and smell. As you experiment with the various combinations of foods, your vision may begin to change. And that’s okay, because art is free. There are no rules, there are no limits. The plate is your oyster. As your basic mold begins to form, you notice something seems to be missing…garnishes! Scavaging through your pantry and/or garden, you choose some spices and herbs to give your masterpiece the final touches. And voila! There you have it. Your finished work.

Life is a lot like cooking, I’m starting to see. Or, for a more accurate metaphor: The world is your kitchen, and cooking is a lot like living. The ingredients you choose are the decisions you make, and your final product(s) are the consequences.

The way I cook reflects the way I live, quite a bit. I’m actually pleased with how well this metaphor is working out right now. Ha.

I always begin with a recipe. I ask for guidance. I try to follow the rules. But I’m a rebel – what can I say? So I end up winging it. I’ll take the basic format of a recipe and make various tweaks, both major and minor. Whatever floats my boat, really. Much like life, I’m desperate for guidance. But it’s difficult for me to follow rules that don’t line up with my beliefs or lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for an open mind, and am willing – always – to try something new, something different. But if it doesn’t work for me, it doesn’t work for me.

Over time, as more and more ‘recipes’ have ended up not working out for me, I’ve learned to let go of the idea of conformity. Holding on to it ends up hurting me more than it does serving me. I’ve always felt like a disappointment whenever I failed to conform to some norm, idea, or belief – especially if it’s highly appealing to me.

Take, for example, sobriety. I tried. I mean I really tried this week. But the longer I went on without a drink or a toke, the more miserable and isolated I felt. Even more than I did using. I know, I know. Everyone feels that way when they’re in early recovery. It’s just the drugs leaving your body.  But I’m the type of person that puts constant pressure on herself to be perfect, and the pressure I put on myself to conform to the rules of sobriety weighed heavily on me; the guilt that built up was more than I’d ever felt when I was high, drunk, or coming down. And that’s just it. The guilt. It eats me alive and I’m fucking sick of it. Why must I ALWAYS put that type of pressure on myself to change? Why can’t I just leave myself be, accept who I am, LOVE who I am, and let myself enjoy all the wonderful things in life – including those that I let for so long bring me down because I felt I needed to change, to be someone who, quite frankly, I’m just not. My mind is screaming at me to change, but my soul is begging for acceptance.

I am my own chef, and you, my friends, are in my kitchen. I don’t need to follow a recipe to make a good meal. I can pick and choose what I want to include, and omit those ingredients I feel serve no purpose for me and my tastebuds. It’s all about moderation.

What am I saying, there’s no such thing for an addict. That may be so, but I have to give myself a little more credit. Despite my impulsivity and lack of moderation, I’ve made a lot of good choices in my life. I’ve known when to step on the breaks, and when to gas it. I’m a lot smarter, wiser, and stronger than I give myself credit for. But even so, I am weak, frail, and easily broken. I’m a balancing act. Life is a balancing act. Despite my BPD, life is not all black and white. I am not either strong or weak, smart or stupid, and addict or not. Some days I’m better, stronger, wiser, and more balanced than others. Some days I’m a fucking mess. I have to learn to accept that. I’ve always been a bit back and forth, moving from extremes, ever since I was a child. I can’t blame that solely on drug abuse, there’s more to it. But that I shall leave to a psychiatrist to figure out.

My point is, I can be who I am, do what I like, and still be a good person. Still live a good, meaningful life.

The ingredients for sobriety: trust God, clean house, work with others. I can do all of these things all the while indulging in the list of allergens that I am so often told to avoid by the FDA (Forgo Drug Addiction).

All of my life I have shamed myself for not being the ideal me. If, after years and years of trial and error, maybe it’s time to accept that who I am might not be so bad after all. The mediocre casserole that I’ve made of my life doesn’t taste too bad, though it might need a little salt.

Recommended Books

I consider myself to be a self-help queen. Here are a few books I found to be helpful during my recovery journey (which, to be completely honest, hasn’t exactly started yet).

“Sane: Mental Illness, Addiction, and the 12 Steps” – Marya Hornbacher

Discusses the 12 steps in the context of dual diagnosis (addiction and mental illness).

“12 Smart Things to do When the Booze and Drugs are Gone” – Allen Berger

Discusses emotional sobriety.

“I Want to Change My Life: How to Overcome Anxiety, Depression & Addiction” – Steven M. Melemis 

Pretty self-explanatory. Comes with a one-month program/plan of action.

“Being Sober: A Step-By-Step Guide to Getting To, Getting Through, and Living in Recovery” – Harry Haroutunian

Discusses the 12 steps and includes various strategies.

“Living Sober” – Alcoholics Anonymous 

Discusses tips on living a sober lifestyle.

“Living Clean: The Journey Continues” – Narcotics Anonymous

A more in-depth version of the book listed above.

& of course:

“Alcoholics Anonymous” (Big Book/Basic Text) – Alcoholics Anonymous 

The literature that started it all!

 

My First AA Meeting

Two days ago I attended my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. I had been to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting once, though I did not like it much. I’m not sure what it is about AA, but I find it a much better program for me personally.

I walked in and instantly noticed the various posters of quotes, prayers, and sayings, as well as (of course) the 12 steps and 12 traditions. The word “God” was mentioned in most of them. I didn’t know how I felt about that. I knew this program was based on spirituality, and lately, I had been open to the idea of God, but I’m still shaky on the concept. I’ve yet to find my Higher Power.

As the meeting began, newcomers were asked to raise their hand, and everyone applauded after we’d introduced ourselves. Instantly, I felt the rush of love, acceptance, and support that filled the room characterized by a diverse crowd of people, ranging in ages, sexes, and ethnicities. I was the youngest one, though. There was one girl at the end that came up to me, her name was Heather, and she was the sweetest. She circled a bunch of meetings I might be interested in, and even bought me two books. It warmed my heart in such an amazing way. I also met another girl after the meetings, Molly, who was a few years older than me but we really kicked it off. It was nice to have friends.

Also instantly, I felt the stares of old men directly on me. It was an extremely uncomfortable feeling as I was very vulnerable at that point and the absolute last thing I needed was sexual predation. But I carried on.

There was a speaker that morning, 9am. Her name was Lee, she was old, and she looked a bit like Hillary Clinton. She spoke of her life in her earlier years, full of booze and drugs and promiscuity. It mirrored that of mine, I thought. She also smoked pot back in her day. Maybe I could get her to be my sponsor, she seemed like a badass grandma. Her story was inspiring. She spoke of her alcohol abuse in such a way that I could, for the most part, relate. Same goes with the others who shared at the end of the meeting about their past with alcohol.

I realized then that maybe I was an alcoholic. As with the others, I didn’t feel as though my drinking was a problem, I felt I could stop at any time and since I hadn’t gotten into much trouble, I didn’t hit rock bottom and thus didn’t need to crawl my way up out of it. But the truth was that I had gotten into trouble. Just the other day. And I couldn’t stop at any time I wanted, because I didn’t want to stop. And even if I did, as soon as I decided I would drink again, I’d fall right back into the same old habits….keep drinking till I’m drunk. And then drink more. On a regular basis.

Let’s talk about the other day, because I’ve been repressing it in the back of my mind and know this is unhealthy. It was Wednesday, the 5th. We had a mandatory menu tasting at work, and that included drinks as well. I had about 3 cocktails and a shitload of wine. I was hammered; smashed; fucking wasted. So much so I had to go to the bathroom and make myself puke to get some relief. And then I went on to drink more.

I was loving life. Everything was great. Until it was over and we had to leave. I left my car in the parking lot because I knew better than to drive home, though I had considered it. So I got a ride home from Ismael. Big fucking mistake.

We had been innocently flirting for a while now, with absolutely no intention of ever acting on any desire or temptation (I’d learned the consequences of cheating the hard way, and promised myself I’d never hurt a man like that ever again). As we drove to the gas station, I was sitting in the passenger seat hitting my vape pen when Ismael walked over to my window and just out of nowhere kissed me. It was completely uncalled for and caught me off guard. All I could think about at the time was my vomit breath, which I had hoped was masked by the food I had eaten after purging. I pushed him off and told him that wasn’t fucking cool. He seemed to understand.

So we continued on our journey to my house, I was anxious to get the hell out of that car. I can’t remember the conversation we had, because like I said I was fucking wasted, most of this was a blur and I’m trying my very best to put together the parts of the afternoon I do remember. But I know I told him that I didn’t want this. That I couldn’t do this to my boyfriend and that I loved him. He seemed to understand. But then he pulled over, and my stomach jumped. I thought he was going to rape me, but I couldn’t imagine Ismael ever doing something like that. He just kissed me again, and once again I pushed him off of me. Multiple times, but he kept throwing himself on me. I finally yelled at him “JUST DRIVE!” and we left.

At this point we’re almost to my house and then he puts his hand on my thigh over my jeans and starts moving it up, I slide it off, he places it back on my thigh, takes my hand and puts it over his crotch. I’m nearly in tears. Horrified by what’s happening right now. Flashbacks of the numerous times I cheated on Dylan played in my head, and I imagined the pain Drew would feel if he ever found out what was happening right now. I was devastated. Ashamed. Scared. Every time I took my hand off of him he put it right back. Why would he do that? He has a girlfriend.

We pull up to my house, and he gives me a goodbye kiss(es). Really? Are you fucking serious? Have I not made it clear that I am not interested? That I don’t want to cheat on my boyfriend and that I’m freakin terrified of what’s happening right now? That must not have been apparent to him because he just kept on kissing me, even when I would pull back.

I got out of the car, walked inside, and burst into tears.

I had just cheated on my boyfriend, and that’s something I couldn’t take back, no matter how much I wanted to.

It wasn’t fair. He took advantage of me. Yet I still blamed myself. I couldn’t help but feel guilty. If only I had been more stern with him, if only I had just hopped out of the car and called an uber, if only I had screamed instead of spoke. There was nothing I could do about it now.

I don’t know what to call it. It certainly wasn’t rape, but it felt like it. This had been the second time I’d been “raped.” First by Al in high school, and now by Ismael.

This experience had been a wake-up call. I can’t control myself around alcohol. And I certainly can’t control myself or my environment when I was drunk. Maybe it was time to get sober.

The Unmanageability That Is My Life

Can you pinpoint one time period in your life when your life began to become extremely unmanageable? If so, describe that period of time and what was happening.

This past year I became a student at the University of California, Berkeley. Quite an accomplishment, indeed, yet it hardly feels like one now. Before coming here, when I was still in community college, I had it all figured out. I was killing it in all my classes, transferring with a 3.9 GPA. I had a plan: study political science at a UC, maybe get an internship, go to grad school, work for local or state government, and help improve society. I genuinely enjoyed my major and was excited for all that was to come.

And then I got to Cal. Everything seemed to go downhill from there. Although I believe it may have happened prior to my first semester, during the summer when we first moved to Berkeley. I had a lot of free time – more than I knew what to do with. I managed a pretty healthy routine for a while – wake up, coffee, yoga, run, read. Soon enough, however, I broke that routine, as I always do eventually. Then I would just get high, from sunrise to sunset, and then hours after that. Every day was spent in a haze – it still is. I decided to get on Prozac for the second time (first time was 5 years prior) since I now had medical insurance that covered mental health. As I hit a plateau with the med, I stopped taking it. Within a week or two I nearly killed myself, it was that bad, so I got back on it and slowly weaned off of it (and eventually got on Wellbutrin). But nothing has been the same since that summer.

My first semester was awful. I mean terribly awful. I ended the semester with decent grades (B average, with one A-), but I felt like a failure. My second semester was the same, though I ended it with all As (yay me!)…still lacking the sense of accomplishment though. I failed to make friends, I failed to connect with professors, I failed to join clubs or get involved in any way at all, I failed to go to class (I stopped going completely after midterms…it’s become my new norm), and I failed to have the experience I was looking forward to so dearly. I hated my major, I hated being at the school, I didn’t dare go to grad school anymore, and I’d rather die than work for the government. It was a complete blow; a disappointment of epic proportions. I nearly dropped out because I was so miserable, convinced that maybe college wasn’t for me. I am still convinced of that, but I’m pushing through my final year.

Anyway, things got out of control. I felt helpless; hopeless; completely lost and alone. I was ready to die.

In an effort to combat my deep emotional disturbances, I relapsed into bulimia, twice, and then anorexia. All briefly, but nonetheless extremely detrimental to my spirit. It had been 5 years since I had B/P or starved. All of that strength, all of the work I had put into recovery (MAN was it a lot of work), all went down the drain. I now felt like even more of a failure, unworthy of the recovery tattoo engraved into the back of my neck. I didn’t think it would happen, but it did.

I also got myself an Adderall prescription (thank God, because I was spending way too much money buying that shit off the street), and basically had a semester long binge in the Spring of 2017. I was popping up to 2 a day, every day. Of course, to counter the dreadful comedown of the amphetamine salts I would smoke/dab for hours on end into the night, as well as drink. And this was on a daily basis: antidepressant, Adderall, cannabis, alcohol. At one point I became desperate to find painkiller and Xanax, to no success.

My life had become unmanageable. My eating habits turned to shit, I sat on my ass all day every day (God forbid I go exercise), the apartment stayed a pigsty, and my mental and spiritual (even physical) health were deteriorating at a rapid pace.

I was 100% completely dependent on drugs. If I didn’t get my Adderall, I couldn’t get anything for school done. If I didn’t smoke, I couldn’t eat, sleep, or basically carry on with my day. If I didn’t drink…well then I would have to smoke even more (at this point I was ingesting like 3x my usual dose of cannabis). It was a vicious cycle, and when the semester ended and I was due for a much-needed detox, the struggle was REAL.

I don’t want my next (and final) year at Cal to be like my first. For the past 5 years I’d worked SO hard on reinventing myself. I became a better person (well, tried to). I prioritized my health and had finally created a good work ethic. Within one to two semesters here everything went to shit. It seemed like all the work I put into myself had just been for nothing, because I was exactly where I had been 5 years prior: tweaking, bulimic, suicidal, desperate.

Control…it’s a funny thing, isn’t it? I restrict and/or purge to control my weight. I take drugs to control my mood. Yet by doing so I had fallen so terribly out of control. Life was unmanageable, I was unmanageable.

When would I just grow up and face life like an adult? Sober.

Sobriety…Is It Really For Me?

Why am I doing this?

Putting myself through such a transformation at such a young age…I mean, getting sober at the age of 21? What the fuck, right? I just became legal to drink and now I want to give it up? Do I really want to do that?

Part of me doesn’t. As I look around and see my fellow peers, friends, coworkers, and the numerous randos that come in and out of Trader Vic’s, all of whom drink liquor like it could be water, I question if what I’m doing is the right move for this time in my life. The worst thing about all of this, I think, is that alcohol is not my culprit – pot is. Drugs are. Anything that’s mood altering, really. I just like to escape reality, via whatever is available. But mainly, it’s the damn pot. Pathetic, right? Who gets addicted to pot…? Um, about 10% of those who use/abuse it. I happen to be part of that 10%, unfortunately. But still, pot is harmless, right? Some would say so, yes. And I agree, for the most part.

Even so, another part of me believes that I must abstain from all drugs (which IMO includes alcohol as well) in order to fully have a spiritual awakening and become the woman I know I can and want to become. Because let’s face it, I’m extremely unhappy with myself and most aspects of my life – to no one’s fault but my own, of course. And maybe, just maybe, the only way to truly get my shit together is to get sober – entirely. I couldn’t even tell you the last time I had a truly sober day. But I don’t want to be straight edge for the rest of my life. Not that there’s anything wrong with that….if you are happy with your life and your reality, with your circumstances and just with yourself generally, then good for you – sobriety is treating you well. But frankly, with my history, I couldn’t imagine a life for myself free of booze and/or drugs. It’s become a part of my identity. But maybe that’s problem.

I keep imaging a life inside my head, one where I am out with friends (at a club, or a bar, or what have you), having fun, getting drunk, and just enjoying the thrill. When I play this scene inside my head it’s comforting for a second – why should I give up the fun when it’s only just begun (supposedly), I mean COME ON! I JUST turned 21!

But in reality, that scene is just an illusion. I don’t have friends (at least none that I actually see), I don’t go out (what even is nightlife? I tried it once in Vegas and it was an epic fail, to say the least), and I’ve never even been to a real club, or bar, really. In reality, I stay home and drink, either by myself or with my boyfriend. I drink, I cook dinner and usually end up burning myself, and then I PTFO for the night. In reality, this is my night life. And it’s anything but glamorous. What makes me think this will ever change – at least in the near future?

When I reflect on my expectations vs. reality it becomes clear to me that I have yet to complete Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol/drugs and that our lives had become unmanageable.

I am still in denial.