Tag Archives: depression

One Year Later

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A year ago I was back in the psych ward.  Fifty one pills of Lorazepam taken during a blurry three hour window and a 911 call from my roommate at the time effectuated my return.  And I was angry.  Angry to be back there less than six months after my first stint, angry because I felt like no one was listening to me, and angry because I felt like no one believed me.  And even though I wouldn’t admit it, I was probably angry at myself.

Looking back, it’s amazing how near-sighted I was.  The 911 call that my roommate placed probably saved my life.  But that was the last thing I was going to admit back in April of 2013.  Kicking and screaming all the way to the hospital, I was convinced she was the crazy one.  But in the year that’s elapsed since I took that ambulance ride, a lot of details about that night have come into a sharper focus.  A few months ago, when I was still in rehab, I remembered a detail about that night that night that my denial had conveniently suppressed.  When the cops came into my apartment to escort me to the ambulance I was in my bedroom, ready to call it a night.  My roommate and I had gotten into a screaming fight and I was ready to surrender to sleep and forget about it all.  On my nightstand there was a bottle of Nyquil waiting for me.  Not my preferred brand of cough syrup at the time, I preferred Robitussin because, unlike Nyquil, there usually wasn’t any alcohol added to it.  But that night all I had was the Nyquil.

When the police walked in I was sitting up in bed, in the dark, with the bottle in my hand.  And had I drained that bottle, as was my habit at the time, I probably wouldn’t be here today to write about it.  The dose of Lorazepam I took, fifty one milligrams, is pretty close to lethal by itself.  But add alcohol to the mix, like the alcohol in the Nyquil, and I probably never would have woken up.

Thank God my roommate cared enough about me to make that call.  She told me that she had decided she’d rather lose my friendship than lose me.  There’s no doubt in my mind that I’m where I am today because of the courage and strength of the people in my life that cared enough about me to save my life even if it hurt my feelings.  A relationship can always be mended in the light of day but I might not have made it to dawn if she hadn’t picked up the phone to make one the hardest phone calls of her life.

It’s strange to be able to look back on this night with the clarity of five months sobriety.  So many things in my life have changed, a lot of things didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to, and I lost a lot of good friends along the way.  But now I can look back on that night and be grateful for all the ways that I was saved. 

Looking back is certainly bittersweet, like a lot of things that have come with my sobriety.  The year between April 15, 2013 and April 15, 2014 hasn’t been an easy one.  And there are still a lot of things in my life that I have to make right.  For now, all I can do is pay it forward, and thank the people in my life who were stronger than me, by staying sober—one day at a time.

 

 


Upside Down

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Sluggish

As it turns out, my life didn’t become magically wonderful as soon as I got out of rehab.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s great being out and a lot of things are better now that I’m sober.  But being sober is not easy.  They say that getting sober is the easy part– it’s staying sober that’s hard.  Well, for me, both are pretty fucking hard.  Getting sober was miserable.  I went to rehab kicking and screaming, counting the days until freedom.  But freedom’s not so easy either.

Cravings are such a bitch.  Thankfully, I’m being drug tested by the Bar which really takes away a lot of the temptation to actually go out there and use.  But the thoughts are still there, tormenting me until I wrap my brain around something else to try to rid myself of the obsession.  And work has been painful without the Vyvanse.  Ironically, when I was in rehab all I wanted to do was go back to work.  And now that I’m back, I’m miserable.  The hours drag by and my ability to focus without the Vyvanse is compromised.  I spend the day fantasizing about leaving early and dreaming up excuses to go home.

And when I actually do leave early, I just laze around at home, griping about not have anything to do.  My brain is sluggish.  I struggle to summon the motivation to do anything creative or even just to get out of the house.  I’m constantly resolving to exercise but I lack the drive to put on my running shoes and walk out of the front door.

I suppose I’m getting a little dose of reality.  Rehab doesn’t magically change your life, you have to change and that change takes time.  There are a lot of things I’m working on but constantly working on myself gets tiresome.  I have a lot to be grateful for and I try to remember that during my low moments.

These days, I’m just feeling sluggish.


The Best Worst Thing

Well, I’m finally free!  90 days of intensive inpatient rehab and I made it out alive.  And it’s great to be back.  My last week of treatment was kind of rough– those last few days simply crawled by.  Stupid things annoyed me.  And I was fucking sick of that food.

But in all honesty, going to treatment was probably the best worst thing that’s happened to me.  As it turns out, I do have a drug problem. I’m an addict.  But I never would have dreamed of admitting that if I hadn’t been pushed into rehab,  I had been happily swimming in the river of denial for years and probably nothing short of true catastrophe would have broken me out of it.

I was a high functioning addict, which is a blessing and a curse.  A blessing because I was able to skate through law school and pass the bar even in the throes of drug addiction.  But it’s a curse because being high functioning allowed me to stay in denial about my problem.  Loathe as I am to admit it, getting pushed into rehab by the Bar probably saved me from a lot.  In a lot of ways, it saved me from myself.

I’m happy to be back and to be sober.  A lot of things in my life have had to change but I’m looking forward to my new, healthy life.


The Upswing

I feel like I’m on the upswing.  I’m over 60 days into rehab (finally!) and things are starting to get easier.  Sort of.  I spent the weekend at home on a therapeutic leave from treatment, which was absolutely divine.  Once you’re about two-thirds of the way done with rehab you’re eligible for one of these leaves.  Some people are crazy and don’t take one.  I’m crazy but not that crazy — I was ready to get the fuck out of dodge, even for two days.  

Unfortunately, I’ve now reacquired the itch to leave.  During my first few weeks here I was (almost) literally itching to leave.  My life outside of rehab was all I could think about and was the only place I wanted to be.  After awhile, however, Stockholm Syndrome set in.  Things got easier, and institutionalization started to feel normal.  I got used to the fact that I was going to gain at least 15 pounds.  I got used to travelling everywhere in a white 15 passenger van.  I got used to spending my days cooped up in a big old house with 20 other women, crying and talking about our feelings.  

But with that little taste of freedom, 48 hours at home with my family, I reacquired that itch.  It’s not unbearable — I know that the end is in sight — but it’s enough to make me malcontent.  I just want to fast forward through the next month of my life.  I’m ready to get back out there, armed with the tools I’ve acquired in rehab.  Because rehab has killed my desire to use.  I’m ready to end that chapter of my life.  I’m tired of feeling crazy, of numbing myself to anything painful, and of missing out on life.  I’ve been living in a fog these last few years and I’m realizing that I like what sobriety feels like.  

So I’m trucking along.  I came in kicking and screaming but I’m finally starting to reach a place of acceptance.  I’m just ready to get my freedom back and start living my life again on the outside.  I’ve still got some time left here though.  And even though I’m starting to get that itch, I can tell I’m on the upswing.  


The Same Old Fear

Running over

the same old ground

But have we found

the same old fear?

Wish you were here

— “Wish you were here” Pink Floyd

 

It comes in waves.  These waves, tall and violent, crash into my brain like it’s a rock.  My brain takes the hit but unlike the rocks that waves usually crash against, my brain absorbs their force.  However, there’s a price for this flexibility — my brain avoids the damage of a direct hit but my thoughts do not.  They are flooded with this fear, this fear that comes to me in waves.  My thoughts are the ones that are in danger of drowning.  They are the ones that have to swim.  

So, in my thoughts, I swim through this crashing fear, this fear that comes in violent waves.  The crash of the impact reverberates through my body and I know my thoughts are in danger.  I start to sweat.  And then it comes, that physical feeling of fear.  

As my thoughts try to swim, I catch the glimpses of the substance of the fear.  I’m 18, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25.  I’m deep into the past but then I crash close to the present.  The places change, the people change, I change — but that feeling, the fear, remains.

I’m not paralyzed but I’m not free.  I’m back in purgatory, where I live my life.  Stuck between heaven and hell, happiness and pain, life and death.  The fear remains.  My thoughts start to take shape, to solidify and tell me what’s wrong, tell me what I’m afraid of.  But they’re beaten back with the crash of yet another wave.  

I want to learn to float, to ride out the waves and look the fear in the face.  I want to identify it, classify it, analyze it and tuck it away.  I want my mind back.  I want control.  Control floats to the top.  And control starts to build a wall, a seawall, to the waves at bay.  

Control and it’s wall protect my thoughts.  I recover my bearings and connect with my mind.  The flashes stop coming, the feeling leaves me, and the fear goes away.  

Control jealously guards the walls, keeping fear at bay.  That’s what the fear, always the same, always different, that’s what the fear runs from.  I don’t have to swim anymore, I can walk freely beyond the seawall.  I stay away from the sea and that same old fear.  

But I see now what I didn’t see then.  I traded the chaos for control.  I built a wall to escape the fear.  But in doing so I fashioned myself a cage of my own design — a cage of control.

So here I remain.  But in the calm I remember the fear — the same old fear.  Unnamed, unformed, violent and wild.  

I don’t know which is worse — the calm or the chaos?

Is the chaos worth the cage?


Escape to Walmart

I’d never been so excited to go to Walmart.  After the 15th day in rehab, you’re eligible for a new weekly privilege: the Sunday morning Walmart excursion.  

But the powers that be make sure that you never forget that you’re still a prisoner sentenced to 90 days of mind numbing repetition, group therapy, and endless rules.  And the Walmart rules do a great job of degrading what would otherwise be a normal yet freeing adult experience.  

First of all, we go at the ungodly hour of 8:15 a.m. on a Sunday.  And you only get a strict hour to shop, including checkout time.  Everything you plan on buying has to be approved by your therapist in advance.  And there’s a specific procedure in place to govern even this special task.  You go to the cubby holes next to the nurses’ station and grab one of the “Walmart Shopping Lists.”  You list the items you plan on purchasing, which can’t exceed ten.  Next, you bring your paltry list to your therapist during your weekly one-on-one session.  The therapist combs through the list and approves the items deemed acceptable.  And there’s a $50 spending limit.

When the time to board the prisoner vans arrives, your list must be in tow.  Forget a purse, only wallets are allowed.  We bump along the country roads until we arrive at the local Walmart.  

Finally, you truck back to the prisoner van waiting to shuttle you back to prison: the gated women’s facility.  

Even the taste of freedom afforded by the shopping trip’s escape from the house is tainted by the stain of rehab.  You never forget that you’re there on a limited release.  There’s no rush of exhilaration in this kind of shopping trip.  There’s something about the trip that dehumanizes you and reinforces the spirit crushing oppression of rehab.  

When you’re back in rehab you’re not a person.  You’re a patient.  You’re not to be trusted, you’re an addict.  You shrivel under the bright lights shone in your eyes by the powers that be.  Even the alleged privileges are poisoned by rules.  

I was beyond excited to go to Walmart.  But by the time I returned to the house, I just felt like an inmate.  Welcome to rehab.   


Future Tripping

In rehab, there is this thing called “future tripping,” and it’s all I do these days.  First come the fantasies, followed closely by the anxieties.  I’m over a week into treatment and things are just getting harder as the days tick by.  90 days is a long time to put your life on hold.  

The fantasies: I fantasize about the stupidest, most mundane shit.  I miss the grocery store.  I miss skittles.  I miss kit kats.  I miss driving to work in the morning, I miss the bustle of the city, and I miss the fresh air.  I dream about how good it will feel to leave.  I long for the comfort of my bed.  

I fantasize about leaving but of course this isn’t an option.  I know I’m stuck here until the program runs its course.  Leaving early would be an egregious waste:  a waste of the money I’ve paid to be here, a waste of a summer of studying, a waste of a perfectly good law degree and the small fortune I’ve paid for it.  Leaving early means giving up the fight and admitting my powerlessness to the Bar.  And that’s why leaving is only a pretty fantasy, and future trip.

I picture packing my stuff and driving back to my parents house.  I think about seeing my dog.  I think about drinking as much coffee as I want, eating when I want, and regaining the control over my life that I’ve surrendered in rehab.  Most of all, I imagine what it would be like to simply be free.  

But the anxieties are part of the future trip.  Looming largest of all is my fear of relapse.  Part of the first step of AA is admitting your life has become unmanageable.  I don’t think my life was unmanageable, but I’m scared it will be.  I’m anxious about the days to come in rehab, and anxious that uglier days are in store and I’m afraid that I won’t be able to handle them. 

These are the things that keep me in my head, my future trips.  And until these fantasies become a reality I’ll be in my head, counting down the days to freedom.  


Live from Rehab

It’s official — I’ve checked into rehab.  Not necessarily my own choice, more at the insistence of the Bar Committee.  I don’t have access to my phone, the internet, or any meaningful technology.  Not to fear! One of my brothers was kind enough to maintain the blog while I sweat out 90 days in rehab.  We’ll be communicating via snail mail — me sending letters with post content, him typing up and posting.  So please excuse any delay in comment responses, we’re working under strained circumstances.  

Thanks for all your support during this rough and ugly time — it means a lot. 🙂  So stay tuned for the latest from rehab — albeit delayed, I can promise living color.  

Signing off

G. 


Nostalgia in Endless Waves

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The waves no longer lap at my feet.  The tide has changed and, even from the shore, the current laces its long, cold fingers around my ankles and pulls– hard.  I’m being pulled out to sea but the sea is not a gentle one.  Its waters are choppy and at times great gusts of wind pull the waves to frightening heights.  It’s a sea that’s easy to get lost in, to drown in.  And even though I’m standing on the shore, ankle deep, I’m in the danger zone.  The intensity of my yearning overwhelms and surprises me– and it scares me that my past has so much power even in my present.
 
I’m prone to nostalgia and always have been, although I don’t know why.  There must be something inside of me that embellishes days gone by.  My memory is tainted by the embellishment, the nostalgia, and so I yearn to relive the past.  
 
At a basic level, I suppose I am chronically unsatisfied by the present.  There’s a hollow emptiness inside of me that I run from.  And running to the past has become a predictable escape.  There’s nothing wrong with looking back with a little nostalgia– but I take it too far, I transform it into an escape from my present at the expense of progress.
 
My nostalgia knows no bounds– just yesterday I found myself missing my in-patient psychiatric hospitalizations.  This is very nearly absurd.  I hated every minute of the hospitalizations, spent most of my time there crying, and literally counted the hours until my release.  But I caught myself thinking about it nonetheless.  Maybe I’m missing the freedom to do nothing, to sleep all day, the freedom from having to keep it together, the freedom to cry, to have someone checking on me, making sure I’m alright.
 
Nostalgia can be dangerous.  My deep longing for my drug days gone by is a problem.  Lately my mind has been taken over by recollections of my law school drug benders with the Werewolf.  And I’m struck by the intensity of the feeling, the feeling that I can’t shake. I long for that experience, and the sense of boundlessness that came with it.  When we were on those benders there were no rules– we could stay up all night, re-dose at five in the morning as the sun came up, refuse to come down, spend the weekend naked, have sex whenever we wanted, cancel all engagements, and never leave the house.  I have to tell myself that those days were bad for me but caught up in the memories of the past, it’s hard to remember why.  This nostalgia is dangerous– it jeopardizes and strains my sobriety.  But lately, in spite of these warnings, at my core I long for those days gone by and it feels like I would give anything to relive them.
 
And so the tide, the currents, the waves, and the winds of the sea of nostalgia are pulling me into the fray, into the heart of the sea where it’s easier to sink than swim.  My past lies at the floor of the ocean and it sings its siren song to me.  This song haunts me and my heart yearns for the reunion– even if I’ll have to drown to get there. 
 
 

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