Tag Archives: addictions

Mental Health Month- I am One in Five

May is  Mental Health Awareness Month.  It was created in 1949 to raise awareness of mental health conditions and mental wellness for all.  This year’s theme for Mental Health Month is – Tools 2 Thrive-providing practical tools that everyone can use to improve their mental health and increase their resiliency regardless of their personal situation. and will call on individuals to share what life with a mental illness feels like for them in words, pictures and video by tagging their social media posts with #mentalillnessfeelslike (or submitting to MHA anonymously). Posts will be collected and displayed at mentalhealthamerica.net/feelslike.

I am 1 in 5. I find it easier to tell you that I am a recovering alcoholic and addict than it is to tell you I have a mental health condition.  I would almost rather admit to being a cat burglar.  Even in our more enlightened time, mental illness still carries a huge stigma.   A friend who works for our local mental health department says, “I wish we could put a huge band aid on the fore head of people with mental illness. Maybe then people would really understand it is an illness.”

I have heard people say there is no real test for mental illness.  It is all just something a psychiatrist or therapist labels you.  I want to take a moment to explain those “labels” to you.  Mental health practitioners make a diagnosis based on the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).  The manual is published by the American Psychiatric Association and covers all mental health disorders for both children and adults.  There is another manual called ICD (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems.)  Both manuals contain very strict, complicated, and definitive guidelines for diagnosing.

I was 36 years old when I received my first diagnoses (plural for diagnosis). It should have happened years before.  There were several reasons for the delay. Mental illness wasn’t as treatable as it is now.  Most people were afraid of being sent to a mental hospital.  Doctor’s weren’t as knowledgeable as they are now.   I also grew up in a household where mental illness was a taboo subject.  My grandmother sent my great grandmother to the state mental hospital.  They told her she was going for a ride in the country and then lied to everyone about where she was.   That is what I understood happened to people who didn’t behave properly.  She also felt that mental problems were from the devil.  They were perhaps even punishment for a lack of faith and bad behavior.

When I was in my early twenties, I told my doctor some of the things going on in my life.  He smiled.  He said it was just my nerves. He said “all us women” didn’t cope well with stress and pressure.  He gave me a prescription for Valium.  Then he gave me another prescription. And then another. This went on for a couple of years.  Valium was actually one of the worst things he could have given me.  It was my first “drug” addiction.

As I told you, I have several diagnoses.  My first was “Alcohol Use Disorder”   That code is 303.90 (DSM V) in case you were wondering.  There was also 304.10 (Substance Use Disorder). They didn’t come first in my life but were my first diagnoses. You can’t get to the problem when you are covering it with alcohol and drugs.  I also have GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and Panic Disorder.  I have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder),  BiPolar II with Clinical Depression, and PTSD.

Wow, that looks like I must be a total mess.  Truth is that I WAS a total mess. I don’t have time share all of that here, but let me assure you, my life was a mess.  I tried suicide at one point.  However, medication and therapy have changed my life. Prayer and faith play an important part as well.   I can’t make these things go away.  I live with them.  I make adjustments.  Most of my friends learn the hard way not to come up behind me without warning.  I don’t know who jumps higher, me or them.  It really isn’t any different from someone with diabetes.  They watch their sugar, they exercise, they check their sugar levels, and do whatever treatment it is that allows them to lead a normal life.

The old question comes up about nature and nurture.  Did my genetics cause all of this?  I am sure it contributed to it.  Was it the way I was raised?  Not exactly, but childhood trauma and abuse does contribute to some of this.   Scientists and doctors are learning more all the time about our brains and the way they work or don’t work.

Why am I telling you all of this?  We need everyone’s help.  Here are ways you can help.

  1. Fight The Stigma.  Learn the truth about Mental Health.  Often the media portrays people with mental illness in an untruthful, unflattering, and hurtful way.  You can help set the record straight.   Sites like NAMI http://www.nami.org/ or Mental Health America  http://www.nmha.org/  will give you realistic information.
  2. Please don’t tell me (or others) these things:  “Cheer Up, it will be OK”.  “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”  “You are so strong-you don’t really need that medication do you?”   “Oh come on, we all get down sometimes.”  “You have so much going for you. How can you be depressed?”   “There is nothing to be scared of or worried about.”   “Just eat healthy food and exercise!”  ‘It’s not really that bad, is it?”  “Everyone has problems.”    If you want to understand, ask me and be willing to hear what I have to say.
  3. Continue to push for Mental Health legislation.  The Mental Health Parity Act was a great step but some insurance companies are finding creative ways to try to get around it.

So there you have it.  I have an illness that affects my brain.  My serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine are all out of whack.  My reuptake receptors don’t function right.  My prefrontal cortex didn’t develop normally and I have poorly integrated cerebral hemispheres. (Those two are attributed to abuse.)    But I am still me.  I am the person you hang out with, call or text, chat with online, work with, play with, and pray with.  I am a mother, grandmother, and friend. I worked most of my life.   I have been blessed with two wonderful therapists in my lifetime and have found the proper medications that work to keep me in balance.  I have an amazing family and group of friends that support me.   I am a child of God.  God made me and loves me.

As Anne Lamott says:  “You were loved because God loves, period. God loved you, and everyone, not because you believed in certain things, but because you were a mess, and lonely, and His or Her child. God loved you no matter how crazy you felt on the inside, no matter what a fake you were; always, even in your current condition, even before coffee.”

How can you argue with that?

If you need help or know someone who does, there is help available…

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.   (Chat available as well)

Mental Health America  https://mhanational.org/ Much of MHA’s work is guided by its Before Stage 4 (B4Stage4) philosophy – that mental health conditions should be treated long before they reach the most critical points in the disease process. When we think about diseases like cancer or heart disease, we don’t wait years to treat them. We start before Stage 4—we begin with prevention, identify symptoms, and develop a plan of action to stop and hopefully reverse the progression of the disease. Like other diseases, it is critical to address symptoms early and plan an appropriate course of action on a path towards overall health.

Trevor Project:  The Trevor Project also offers a 24-hour toll-free confidential crisis and suicide prevention helpline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth. Call 1-866-4-uTREVOR (1-866-488-7386).

National Domestic Violence Hotline   1.800.799.SAFE (799-7233)

NAMI National Alliance on Mental Illness https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Mental-Health-Awareness-Month NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

9862 Days

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9862 days ago, I managed to walk up the steps to a fellowship building at a large church in Severna Park, Md. I was looking for a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. My therapist Jan F. told me I had to go or I couldn’t see her any more. I had to hitchhike to get there, because I missed the only bus that would take me there. There were so many people that I thought the church was having some kind of special meeting. I saw a set of double doors and peered in the window. I could see lot of chairs and a set of tables in the front of the room. I had never been to a meeting, so I had no idea what to expect.

I walked in and saw two women at the front of the room. I looked around and noticed a rack with AA literature and pamphlets. I slowly and cautiously made my way to the front. One of the women, a tall, mean looking red head, looked up and said hello. I told her that I didn’t know if I was in the right place. It must have been obvious to her that I was a drunk, because she looked at me and asked how long it had been since I had a drink. I shrugged my shoulders and told her that it was sometime around midnight. She said that I was in the right place and told me to sit down on the front row. She left for a moment, came back with a cup of coffee with lots of sugar, and another woman she introduced as Pat. Pat said it looked like I needed the coffee. Honestly, my hands were shaky and I wasn’t sure I could even hold it.

I sat or I should say squirmed my way through the meeting. I heard some of what was said, but I kept looking on the wall at a banner where “the steps” were written. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the third step that said, “Made a decision to turn our will and lives over to the care of God, as we understood God.” I wasn’t ready to talk to or about God right that moment. At the end of the meeting, someone stood up and said, “If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, and you want to try our way of life, come up here and get a white chip. All it takes is a desire to stay sober for 24 hours.” I watched as a couple of people walked up and got chip and a hug. Pat nudged my arm, and told me to go get one. I wasn’t sure about any of this, but I went up and got one.

Since that day, I have not had a drink or used any mind-altering drugs (unless you count sugar- only kidding). It has been 27 years of working the steps, praying, living one day at a time, praying, being in pain, experiencing joy and happiness, praying, starting over in new cities with new people, praying, losing people I love, praying, feeling as if my heart were breaking and my soul was wounded, praying, – you get the idea. There have been days that I wanted to drink more than I wanted to live or breath, but I made it through them.

In most meeting, we read something called the Promises. These promises have all materialized in my life. THE A.A. PROMISES found on page 83-84, of the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous.
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and selfpity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.

I am so grateful for my sobriety and all of the people who have helped me on this journey- some alcoholics/addicts and some “normal” people. I am grateful for a program of recovery that helped me find a relationship with God as I understand God. I am grateful for my family and special friends who have my heart.

I remember the day I celebrated my first AA birthday/anniversary. I received my first medallion surrounded by my first home group. I still have the banner from that night and the cards from friends. Two very special people were that night–my new friend Donna who is still my friend today, and my friend Jan F., who would be my friend, support, and mentor for the next 20 years.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring; No one does, really. I do know there will be more heartache, pain, and loss in life. It is inevitable. Yet, I know that there will be happiness, joy, and serenity as well. All I can do is live this life one day at a time. Through the grace of God and the program/steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, I don’t have to drink today.

 

How Being Strong Almost Destroyed Me

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I saw this picture/statement on a facebook post from an organization that works with families and individuals facing challenges of mental illness.  Often, we read these simple statements, smile and say, “Oh, isn’t that sweet,” without really thinking about the message.   What I read in this statement is, “Suffer in silence, don’t ask for help, and God forbid, don’t tell anyone!”

I was raised with that philosophy.  Tears and fears indicated lack of faith in God.   Accepting help was a sign of weakness and asking for help was a sign of a failure.  Accepting help made you a slave to the one who gave the help.  In my family, there were definitely strings attached to accepting help and in some cases ropes or chains.

Fighting battles no one knows about was a way of life as a child. I learned to cry in private or not cry at all.  I learned that God didn’t like little girls who were afraid. Adults who abuse children make sure the children don’t tell anyone or ask for help.  Depression, anxiety, fear were all from the devil, so there was no help other than perfect obedience and faith.  Seeking mental health help was admitting that your faith was weak.

I grew up strong…according to the definition in the quote here.  I learned to always put myself last.    I almost died because I was so strong.  I was 35 years old before I learned to ask for help.    Walking into a room of people when you are disheveled, hung over, and smelling like alcohol (not because you were drinking right then, but the smell coming from your pores and breath), and looking at people through squinted red eyes makes it difficult not to ask for help.  Yet, I didn’t ask for help or want help from anyone. A wonderful therapist  and 12 step programs taught me to ask and accept help.   I am 62 now and still find asking or accepting help a challenge.

I also know that friends and family who love and care about you want to help.  It gives them joy and pleasure.  When I offer help to someone, I get so much from the experience.  At the same time, when I offer help to someone and they refuse it, I feel as if they don’t trust me or feel connected enough to accept what I offer.  When I don’t ask for help or refuse to accept help, I do that same thing to others.

PAUSE…I was going to go into a rather lengthy theological and philosophical discussion, however, I think I will leave that to the philosophers and preachers.

The past year has put me in a place where I have needed help.  At times, I reached out and asked for it and in other cases, it was offered without petition.  It is still a challenge to admit that I need help sometimes.  Pride and ego are powerful adversaries.  I am a work in progress.  I do not want to “smile through the pain, cry all alone, and fight in silence.”  I don’t want to be “strong” any more.

Life On Life’s Terms

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“Being sober isn’t just about not using. Being sober is about the joy a life of clarity and living by spiritual principles can bring. There is nothing greater than that. Forget drugs….. Forget everything. We are living to experience the undiluted amazement of life on life’s terms.”  Tweak by by Nic Sheff

I finished reading the book “Tweak” by Nic Sheff.    It was intense to say the least.    It is the story of his life of addiction and recovery.  There were times it was very difficult to read because I “felt” his pain.   I understood his struggles with recovery.  It doesn’t matter what the drug of choice, addiction destroys you from the inside out.  It takes your spirit hostage first and then attacks your mind.  It leaves you with a body that has been taken over by the alien force-addiction.

I am quickly approaching my 26th sober anniversary/birthday.  In recovery, we celebrate our “belly button” birthday as well as celebrating our sober birthday.   I haven’t celebrated the past few years.  I acknowledged it and even wrote about in my blog.   Please understand that I am truly grateful for my sobriety and all it has meant to my life.  I just haven’t celebrated.

A certain sadness comes this time each year.  Birthday and anniversaries bring reminders of the past.  I think about my life before recovery.  We keep the memory “green” to remind us who we used to be.  The promises from the Big Book say, “We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.”   We share our stories to keep the memories alive for ourselves and to share with others.  We share not only the story of our addiction but also the story of hope and faith through recovery.

I am also reminded of the people who are no longer here to celebrate my journey.   Before Jan died, she was such a big part of my recovery and celebrating each year.  Her memorial service was held just a couple of days before my anniversary and the two seemed intertwined.   I think about my “Papa” Paul who died just last May.   Stan, Tommy, Mikey, Rachel, JoJo, and more all died sober.   I can’t begin to list those who died because they couldn’t stay clean and sober.

I miss the people who have been through so much with me in this journey and now live so far away.  Donna has been with me for 25 of those years.   Cathy has been there for 22 years.  One is in Vermont and the other in Nevada.   Peggy, Juana, Jack, Dee, Ann, Mary, Jess, Mark and more are all scattered across the country.  I know they will be with me in spirit but I want to hug them, laugh with them, see their eyes…..

I know someone is going to quote the Big Book page 449 so let me do it first.

Acceptance is the answer to ALL of my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation- some fact of my life- unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept my life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

I write this knowing full well that I need an attitude adjustment.   I decided to write this and share it in spite of that because this is where I am today.   I know what I need to do to get that attitude adjustment.  I need to focus on acceptance.  I need to make a gratitude list.  I need to reach out and do something for someone else.    Thanks for letting me share my thoughts today.  Here is one last quote from Nic’s book:

And though I have done many shameful things, I am not ashamed of who I am. I am not ashamed of who I am because I know who I am. I have tried to rip myself open and expose everything inside – accepting my weaknesses and strengths – not trying to be anyone else. ‘Cause that never works, does it? So my challenge is to be authentic. And I believe I am today. I believe I am.”   ― Nic Sheff, Tweak

Something I Have To Share

431136_3767625948262_192232921_nI reach out my hands because I have been there.

I haven’t written a blog post since last week.   I started writing several times only to discard it.  No words seemed right after the events of last week.    I will say that my heart breaks for the families, friends, and community of Newtown.    I decided to wait until closer to Christmas and share some of the joys of the season and to share the lessons and treasures of this past year.

However, something happened today that made me change my mind.  This afternoon I saw a facebook message from a friend offering her prayers and condolences to the mother of a 15-year-old young man.  As I read the posts of the past day, I realized the young man was only a couple of weeks older than my grandson.  I didn’t know him but he was part of the group of boys that grew up in scouting in our community.  I looked at his picture as I read the words from his mother, “The autopsy reports it was an apparent suicide by hanging.  No one noticed any signs of depression.  It was such a shock to us all.”

I am writing this post because I was once in a place of such darkness, pain, anger, fear, and loneliness that I tried to take my life.  I was helpless and hopeless.   I couldn’t see a way that my life would ever be anything different.  When you are that depressed the world disappears and makes no sense.  It is as if you are in a bubble and no one can see you or hear you or get to you.

I made one last phone call that night to a friend.

She said, “I can’t do this.  I can’t go down this road with you anymore.  I love you, but I will not go any further with you unless you get help.”

She gave me the phone number to the crisis hotline and begged me to call them.  The one person I thought would care turned her back on me.  After taking moresome pills and downing a half bottle of Southern Comfort, I picked up the phone and called.   The woman on the phone that night saved my life.

Things didn’t get better overnight.  I became part of a twelve step program.  I got therapy.  I eventually started on medication.  I learned to let people into my life and talk when I was angry, scared or lonely.  I made a mess of things from time to time, but I learned how to clean up my messes and not make the same mistakes again.

That was almost 26 years ago.  Life still has ups and downs.  Life still gets messy from time to time.  Life still hurts more that I can bear sometimes, but I know what to do.  I have repaired relationships with family and have better relationships than I ever imagined possible.  I have friends that I love and cherish.  I have support any time I need it.  Oh, and that friend who “turned her back on me” that night is still my friend and I thank her from time to time for the gift she gave me.

If you are reading this and you have thoughts of suicide or you live with depression, anxiety, loneliness, etc.(or you know someone who does)  PLEASE reach out to someone.  I know it is hard.  I understand it is one of the most difficult things in the world to do.  I realize the phone weights two tons when you think of calling someone.  I know that you believe in your heart and soul that no one will care or understand.

Just hear me when I tell you that there is hope.  Even if you don’t believe me, do it anyway.    There is help.  Call a family member; Call a friend; Call your pastor or member from whatever faith group works for you; Call a doctor or therapist;  or

Call the National Suicide Prevention LifeLine  1-800-273-TALK(8255)  Chat  is available.  Veterans press   #1                                http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Online Chat support from To Write Love on Her Arms…   www.IMALIVE.org   The first online network with 100% of its volunteers trained and certified in crisis intervention.

The truth is, just talking to someone, explaining, sharing, venting, being listened to, can often give you a temporary reprieve.  Talking to someone can temporarily change your perspective – Human contact changes the brain chemistry & opens that emotion “pod” of pent up emotions for temporary relief – and it may not be what they say, but just the exchange of emotions like empathy, compassion, & concern.

Will they cure you – no.  Will they take the pain away? Maybe ease it for a little while.

Even if you know you may be upset or suicidal again soon, just give it a try.

Even though non-depressive humans won’t really know exactly how you feel — Let them try to help the best they can.   Talk to them, let them listen.  Most of them are not even getting paid. The only reason they are there is for you.  They may not always say the exact right thing, but they are hoping that somehow they can help you make it through a difficult time, to live & fight another day.    

Taken from  http://suicide.com/suicidecrisiscenter/whycall.html

My Baby is Turning 40

Teddy as a baby.

How is that possible you ask?  I know-I don’t look a day over 40 myself.  I certainly don’t feel old enough to have a son turning 40 tomorrow.  It was devastating when I turned 40, but this seems even bigger.  His birthday gives me reason to stop and reflect.

I remember finding out I was pregnant.  I was 20 years old and had been married for 2 years.  My husband was very excited about having a new tax deduction.  I was excited and TERRIFIED!  I had no idea how to be a good mother.  I certainly had fine examples of what not to do.

I had a list of things I would never do.  I was not going to be like the people who raised me. I hesitated to call any of them parents.  I lived through abuse of every kind as a child, two sets of alcoholic parents, abandonment, fear, and almost always felt alone in the world.  I wanted to provide my children with love, encourage them to be individuals, support their hopes and dreams, and give them a safe and loving home.

I went to the library and read every book I could find on parenting.  I read about everything from breast-feeding to disciple.  I read about physical care and emotional well-being.  I even had to read about the birthing process.  The only thing I really knew was how to get pregnant.

My son was the most amazing baby.  He slept through the night at 6 weeks.  He wasn’t fussy or colicky. He was usually happy.  He said his first words at 6 months and could sing all of “Take Me Home Country Roads” at 18 months.   He would sneak away from me at the store and head to front desk area.  He would tell the clerk that his parents were missing and ask for candy while he waited for them to find us.  He was outgoing and everyone loved him.

When he was 4 years old, his little sister joined the family.  He has always loved his little sister.  He nick named her “Coochie.”  I have no idea how he decided on that name.  He loved to carry her around and dote on her.

Life didn’t turn out the way I planned.  The effects of my childhood, undiagnosed PTSD, anxiety disorders, and clinical depression took a toll.  My marriage was not a good one and that added to the problems.  I started drinking as a way of escape and trying to find a sense of normalcy.

My children never saw me drink nor saw me drunk.  I hid it well.  I started to make poor choices for my life.  At the end of my marriage I was sleeping on the couch.  My kids came to me and said that my daughter was moving into the room with my son (and his bunk beds) so I could have her room and sleep on a bed. It broke my heart.  I knew I had to make changes. However, I made the wrong changes.  I moved out of the house and tried to be a good mother living apart from them.

I don’t need to share all the details of that time, but my husband filed for divorce and asked for physical custody of the kids.  I was allowed to have them every other weekend and one night a week.  The pain was too much to bear and I used drinking more as a way to escape.  I made another bad choice to move to another state and try to start my life again.  You can run away but you always take yourself and your problems with you. Eventually I found my way into therapy and recovery.

The next years would be very difficult.  Living so far away from my children made healing the relationship a daily struggle.  My daughter did return to live with me but my son did not.  He was in high school and stayed to finish.  We would have highs and lows in our relationship over the next few years.   I know he felt abandoned just as I had so many  years before.

In 12 step programs of recovery, we are taught not to regret the past nor shut the door on it.   We are taught that our past made us who we are today.  My past created a path for my way to a relationship with God that I never had before. I understand those things in my head;  My heart is another story.  Tears still come from time to time when I remember the days of missing my children. I still carry shame and hurt from that time.

My son turns 40 tomorrow and I couldn’t ask for a better relationship with him. He is an amazing husband and father.  He has a strong faith and we share our thoughts and ideas about that. We are able to talk about the past with understanding. He has an amazing wife and is father two of my grandchildren.  They are both a joy in my life.

A few years ago, he gave me the best birthday present I could ever imagined.  He bought tickets for us to go to Charlotte, NC and see the Panthers and Redskins football game.  Of course, he was wearing his Panther’s blue shirt and I was wearing my Redskins’ burgundy and gold shirt.  We stayed overnight and enjoyed the time talking, laughing, and enjoying each other.

This summer we took a day trip to Charlotte to  see the movie premier of “Blue Like Jazz.”  The movie is based on a book by Donald Miller.  We both love the author and book.  These rare moments give us time to talk and continue to grow our relationship.

My son turns 40 tomorrow.  I still call him Teddy.  His big boy friends call him Ted.   I am his Mom and I am allowed to call him anything I want.  He is still that precious baby boy, inquisitive toddler, and bright/gifted little boy to me. He always will be.

Happy Birthday, Teddy!  I love you with all my heart.

Move Number 56

No, not 56 moves in my life, just since I was 18 years old. The moves include 7 states and 25 different cities.  I don’t know how many there were before 18, but I did live in the same house from the time I was 7 until I was 18.  And before you ask, no, we were not military.

My first husband changed jobs or went to school just about every year.  After my divorce and time being a practicing alcoholic/addict, I moved several times.  Recovery brought new challenges included major moves.  Divorce added to the numbers.  Some moves were temporary while looking for a place to live. Looking at the number of moves, you might say all were temporary.  Moving from a temporary situation to a longer term place was exciting.  The dream was always the same; I wanted to live in a place long enough to have the Christmas tree up a second year.  It didn’t happen very often.

Moving to a new city was the most frustrating.  Finding the grocery store, new doctors, registering kids in school, feeling isolated were all part of the move. Up until the past few years, calling family and friends long distance was expensive so calls were on Sunday afternoon and kept to ten minutes.  Letters were the best way of keeping in touch before email.  I made the decision to make acquaintances and not friends. It was too difficult to keep starting over.

There were some moves that were devastating.  I moved from South Carolina to Baltimore, Md. after a divorce where my husband had physical custody of my children.  I was heading towards my bottom with my alcoholism and addiction.  I left to escape the pain of living and with the smallest glimmer of hope that I could change things.  It would be four months before I found my way to recovery.

Leaving Baltimore after three years in recovery was overwhelming.  I was leaving the people who had become more than friends.  They had helped me get and stay sober.  They had cried with me, laughed with me, watch me grow, and supported me in so many ways.   I remember standing at the doorway as I left my therapist office for the last time. The tears were burning my face as I struggled to catch my breath.  We hugged one last time and I walked away.  My daughter had come back to live with me and I was moving to provide a better life for her.

This move was different.  I was ready to leave a difficult marriage.   I moved into a home with my daughter and son-in-law.  We have lived together before and are comfortable together leading our own lives in the same space.   I don’t have a three bedroom house with all my stuff.  I have given up and let go of a lot.   This is home now and I am at peace and comfortable.  I haven’t been able to say that for a while.

I have lived in many houses and apartments over the years.  Some of them were home while others where just places to eat and sleep.  I grew up in a house with my grandparents.  It was never home.  I spend a great deal of time at my friend Carol’s house.  That was home and that was family.

I spend a good deal of time with my friend and her family.  Her home is a place I call home as well.   Her family is my other family.  When I leave her house at night or she is driving home from another destination, we have always text each other.   A couple of weeks ago I texted her and said, “I am home…no I am at my house.  I just left home.”   Perhaps a cliche but we both agreed that “home is where the heart is.”

I feel blessed and grateful to have a place to live that I can call home.  I have adult children and grandchildren that I call family.  I also have my second home and family.   I have a circle of other friends and a church family who make up a larger community in my life.   I hope I don’t have to move too many more times in my lifetime, however I am sure I will move again.   I just hope it isn’t too soon.

Questionable Assurance

A family member had surgery yesterday.  As expected, he was sent home with pain medication.  The medication came with normal warnings about not using it with alcohol, don’t drive, etc.  What I read next on the instructions made me do a double take.  I read it again just to be sure I had not misread this.  Here is the instruction sheet he was given. Be sure to read the line in the middle of the “pain medication” section.  You will see that it says, “You will not get “hooked” to your pain medication.

The pain medication prescribed was hydrocodone.  Here is the information about this drug.

National Library of Medicine-Hydrocodone may be habit-forming. Take hydrocodone exactly as directed. Do not take a larger dose, take it more often, or take it for a longer period of time than prescribed by your doctor. Call your doctor if you develop a strong desire to take more medication than prescribed.

Hydrocodone Help-Hydrocodone is an opiate drug that is commonly prescribed to treat pain. It is a sedative that produces feelings of calm and euphoria and has the potential to cause dangerous addiction. It is important for someone who has developed an addiction to hydrocodone to undergo professional rehab treatment. However, there are some myths about that treatment that can prevent that person from getting the help he or she needs.

Medicine.Net-  GENERIC NAME: hydrocodone/acetaminophen.  BRAND NAMES: Vicodin, Vicodin ES, Anexsia, Lorcet, Lorcet Plus, Norco.  DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Hydrocodone is a narcotic pain-reliever and a cough suppressant, similar to codeine. Hydrocodone may be habit forming. Mental and physical dependence can occur.

I could list more references but you get the idea. Did I mention that the prescription was a hefty ten day supply for a minor surgery?  This medication was given at a VA hospital where many of the patients already have issues with addictions.  Yes, if you use the medication exactly as prescribed and for only a short time when the pain needs to be managed you probably won’t have  problem.

I am confused and concerned by this.  I understand the need for pain medication, especially after surgery.  I do not understand the need for that much medication and a”non warning” label telling patients they will not get hooked.  I am not sure who to write to express my concerns, but I will be researching and sending a letter to someone.

Have you seen anything like this?  What are your thoughts?

The Next Right Thing

Over my years as a recovering alcoholic/addict, I have heard the phrase “just do the next right thing” many times.  It is such a simple phrase filled with  many questions and implications.  Exactly what is the next right thing?  I was told to just follow my heart and gut to know.  It seems to go hand in hand with Step Eleven, Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscientious contact with God as we understand God, praying only for knowledge of His/Her will for us and the power to carry that out.

If you have followed my blog posts recently you know that I have been going through some very difficult situations.  I have been confused, angry, frustrated, hurt, and yes, even afraid at times.  I have been trying to do the “next right thing” and praying for knowledge and power.   Some days have been more difficult than others.  I am grateful to have family and friends who have been there to hear me talk, let me cry, and offer their support.

My best friend happens to be the Pastor where I attend church.  This friendship does not give me a free sneak look at the sermon each week.  I have to hear it along with everyone else on Sunday morning.   I don’t even get a glimpse at the subject ahead of time, however, I do know when she finishes writing the sermon each week.  A few weeks ago, I called her about 10pm on Saturday night when things began to get difficult.  I had just learned somethings that were going to change my life and I didn’t know what to do.

The next morning as I listened to the scripture and the sermon, I was astounded to hear a story and sermon that I hold on to everyday since the chaos started.   I hope she forgives me for not remembering the exact scripture and names of all the people in the scripture. Let me give the very short version in my own words.  It seems one of the Old Testament tribes of people were threatening another group of people.  Pretty standard Old Testament kind of stuff.    But in this story, the people gathered and went off to battle.  They didn’t have the same cool weapons or numbers of warriors as the others,  but they went out in faith.  The did the “next right thing.”  I am sure they were afraid and concerned about the outcome.  When they showed up, they didn’t have to fight.  They just had to show up and God fought the battle for them.   That is what I am doing each day.  I am just showing up and asking God to fight the battle for me.   I told her after church that if I had not known she had finished the sermon long before I talked to her Saturday night, I would swear she wrote it just for me.

I know my battle isn’t over yet.  I know there  will many more before I can say the problems and challenges I am facing right now are over.  So I get up each day, spend a few moments in prayer and meditation, and “do the next right thing”.   I ask my friends and family to stand with me ready for the battle if I need them.  I am grateful I don’t have to fight this one alone.

 

Five Fabulous Things-Fabulous Blog Ribbon

I am honored to have been chosen as a recipient of the Fabulous Blog Ribbon bestowed upon me by fellow Ultimate Blog Challenge blogger Miss
Riki, creator of Refreshingly Riki. She chose Cathys Voice Now as one of five blogs to honor, and I am thrilled! This award has rules I need to post and follow.

Rules for the Fabulous Blog Award:

1. Thank the blogger who gave it to you and share the link back to the awarding blog.

2. Name 5 fabulous moments in your life.

3. Name 5 things that you love.

4. Name 5 things you hate.

5. Pass the award to 5 deserving bloggers.

5 fabulous moments in my life

1. and 2.  I have to say that the birth of my son Teddy and my daughter Lory were the two most fabulous moments.  They were both born healthy and came with all the proper parts.  Teddy was a sweet, happy baby who slept through the night at six weeks.  He was always happy.  Lory came into the world tell everyone what she wanted and was determined to get it.  She was the cutest thing you ever saw.  Nothing could eve compare to those two moments.

3. and 4. and 5.  This was far too easy.  Grand kids Austin, Sarah, and Nathaniel’s births were the next fabulous moments.    Austin was my first and I lived in the house him when he was born.  Sarah was my first (and only granddaughter).  Almost twelve years later Nathaniel made his entrance.  These were truly fabulous moments.

5 things that you love

1.  You might guess that family is number for me.  Well, my kids and grand kids make up most of my family.  I do have some siblings and they are important as well, but I don’t get to see them often.

2.  Spending time playing, talking, sharing with close friends comes in a close second.   I grew up not having many close friendships, but later in life I discovered the incredible joy they can bring to life.

3.  I love writing as much as love any other activity I can imagine.  Writing gives me a way to work through my emotions, cares and concerns.  It is allows me to share thoughts and experiences with others.   I can make sense of this life with writing.

4. Music is something that can take to me a place of the most joy I can imagine or allow me touch a place of vulnerability.  Music helps me relax, sleep, laugh, play and touch my soul.

5.  I love having faith in a God that loves me unconditionally even when I have no clue what I am doing. A fellow blogger shared this name she has for God-“The Lord of the Five-Millionth Chance Who Never Gives Up On You Even Though You Are Beyond Ridiculous.”  This is what I love.

5 things you hate

1.  I hate vegetables or at least most of them.   I only eat green beans, corn, and any kind of bean. Eating a healthy diet is a challenge with type of hate.  I do have food issues because of some things that occurred in my childhood.  It isn’t that I just don’t like the taste.  I may share that story with you, but not today.  A friend once said that the only green things I eat are green beans and green icing on St. Patrick’s Day.

2.  I hate the I treat myself at times.  I doubt myself, question myself, put myself down, and isolate from people who care about me.  I am working very hard to change those behaviors.  It is much better than it used to be and I think I get stronger all the time.

3.  I hate to see my friends or family hurting.   When someone I care about is in trouble, pain, fear, or anything else that causes them to hurt,  I just want to take it away.  I know I can’t always do that and I I even know it might not be in their best interest to do that. I hate it none the less.

4.  I hate seeing children or animals being hurt.  I feel such intense anger and pain when I read, see, or hear about anyone doing anything to those who don’t have the power to stop them.

5.  Loss is one of the things I hate most.  Grief is one of the most difficult things I ever have to deal with.  Loss involves more than just losing someone by death.  Losing jobs, health, a home, or anything that is important in life causing grief.  It is the cause of most of the fear and pain in y life.

Pass the award to 5 deserving bloggers

These are five bloggers that I love to read and always find something of value in their posts.

1.  Even A Girl Like Me created by Joy Cannis

2.  SimplyJan created by Jan Roberts Culpepper

3.  Ted the Third created by Ted Atchley

4.  Abby Gabbs created by Abby Chamberlain

5. Tamara Out Loud created by Tamara Lunardo

 

Thank you again Miss Riki for this award and I hope my fellow bloggers enjoy this as much as I did.

 

 

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