Tag Archives: addiction recovery

Today

Hello everyone! It has been far too long since I have updated my blog, and for that I apologize! I hope that all of you are having a good day today, and if you are not- hold fast, balance will come.

I wanted to use today’s post to let everyone know where I am now. This is also a way for me to see how far I’ve come since I started this blog. When I first started this blog I was still in chaos, I would say about 70% of the time. Even if the people around me couldn’t see it, I was fighting for my life inside much of the time. Yes, I still have these days, but they are far less frequent now!

When I started this blog I was still very lost, confused about who I was and what I really wanted. I attended three different colleges, for three different studies (and almost finished two of them!) but realized I was following dreams that weren’t really mine. My health wasn’t where I wanted it most days, I was still relying on others to make me feel good about myself and attempting to come to terms with the fact I have no biological family to speak of (save for my little sister-who is a freaking warrior herself).

In the past year I have found some amazing doctors who have diagnosed my medical issues and therefore, have given me the keys to unlock proper treatments! I have POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) which is a form of dysautonomia (where the autonomic nervous system doesn’t work the way it should) can can result in horrific symptoms ranging from severe fatigue to fainting upon standing up. This is a great website on POTS http://www.dysautonomiainternational.org/page.php?ID=30 I have also come to terms with the fact that I have chronic thyroid disease and asthma. The great news again is, I have found some kick ass doctors who know their stuff and have great bedside manners.

In the past year, I have completed my first Tough Mudder! If you’re not sure what this amazing event is, it is (approximately) a 10 mile, muddy obstacle course that puts your body and your mind to the ultimate test. I freaking passed it with flying colours! Well….I didn’t finish with the fastest, but I finished! I had an amazing team that represented “I am adaptive” which is a non profit that works to empower individuals with disabilities of many kinds. They are heroes of mine! If you’d like to read more about them, you can find them here: http://www.iamadaptive.com/ 

In the past year I have not attended college or university. Instead I have worked on me. I have been doing some hardcore honest introspection to find out what I really want to do. I have it narrowed down to two paths. My first choice is to finish my Bachelor of Arts (or science) in psychology, move on to my Masters and then my PsyD (Doctor of Psychology) or my PhD (Doctor of Philosophy). The PsyD is more attractive to me, but I may have a much easier time having access to a PhD in my area. The second path (but not my first choice) is medical school. I know…I know…I’m 27. I have issues, I get it. But so far every time I’ve been told I can’t do something, I proved the haters wrong. I have always been interested in the medical field, I’ve read medical books, studies and papers my whole life…it’s been an obsession. I just love to learn! But, I am not sure I am able to start an intensive 8 year (minimum) program. My little boy was diagnosed with autism earlier this year and so I may not have time to fit medical school into his schedule of therapies and school. Anyway! Those are my two loves. From there, my goal is to open my own wellness facility that incorporates highly specialized treatments/therapies and empowering strategies for anyone with a mental illness, eating disorder, self harm battle or addiction. It’s obviously still being planned, but so far I have sketches, brainstorming for each section of the facility and even some bylaws and policies written down. I am a dreamer, and I am excited! I have learned first hand how ugly, jacked up and unethical the psychiatric system is…and I don’t give a shit what anyone says: I am going to do something to help fix it. Even if I never contribute to fixing the entire thing in my lifetime, I want to pave the way. Nothing can stay out of balance forever. This is a beautiful truth Taoism has taught me.

In the past year I have done an insane amount of spiritual growth. I have come to learn a lot of things, including that I can never know everything…and that is a liberating feeling. I follow a mainly Taoist path that has taught me to seek balance, to look within myself for strength, wisdom, healing, but also to look into the Universe for aid. Again…balance. I’ve been meditating and praying much more often, which has helped my health in all areas greatly. It feels so good to know who I am, what I am, what I am capable of and where I am going! I have finally found a good balance of knowing where I’ve come from (past), where I am right now (and doing everything I can to remain in the present, enjoy the present and make the present the best I can) but to also have a clear vision of what I want for my (and my family’s future).

In the past year I have legally changed my first, middle and last name. I did this because I realized something as simple as a name was holding me back. I didn’t want to carry a name two people who didn’t love or care for me properly gave me. The name didn’t suit who I was either…but this one does. 🙂

In the past year my husband has become a Realtor and Real Estate Agent, which has been pretty exciting! He has always been great with rehabbing broken down properties and selling them, now he can go further and help families find homes that suit their needs and wants, and also help them sell properties that aren’t right for them anymore. I am very proud of him.

In the past year I have busted my ass to pay off most of my medical debt…the end is in sight! In the process, I discovered my credit was WAY better than I thought. Apparently my hard work is finally paying off…because I just bought my very first home for our family! We are in a much safer, nicer and happier neighbourhood in a home that gives us more room. Plus we have a yard for our children…….and our new addition (an already huge Great Dane named Valkyrie- or Val for short).

In the past year I have learned that keeping my circle of loved ones small, I have less drama and pain in my life. I have a handful of friends I consider to be family and I love it this way. They make up a very strong, healthy and positive support net and I’m extremely thankful to have them in my life.

In the past year I gained my 5th year of clean time from hard drugs! I have also gained my 4 years clean from self harm…holy crap!

Overall, in the past year I have shed so much negativity, sadness, pain, false ideals (about harmful people who used to be in my life and about myself)….I have gone through a lot of intense “burning” periods that hurt like hell…but all the while I burned, I had vision and I had the strength and mental fortitude to hold fast. As these things that didn’t belong burned off, I rose higher and higher….and I am still rising. Just as you will so long as you don’t give up.

Where are you right now? What have your joys and triumphs been? What have your struggles and pains been? How have you been soldiering on? What coping skills help you? Do you have a strong support net? I want to know, please feel free to leave your stories below 🙂 We are all warriors and far stronger than we often give ourselves credit for. And you are never alone. I love you all!

Love and light, Dandi.

The Abyss.

Tonight I want to talk about the Abyss. I know when I started this blog I briefly discussed what the Abyss is to me. It is the deepest level of my system. It is darkness. It is fear. It is anger and horrible memories. It is terrifying and can be very very unstable. I want to talk about this place because I am there as we speak.

I thought about writing this for a few weeks, but wanted to spare my readers from my current struggles…until I realized how silly that is. This is a recovery blog. This is not a sugar coated, everything is rainbows and unicorns blog. This is down and dirty, this is how it fucking is blog. This is a, don’t give up…keep fighting blog. I am human, just like each and every one of you who read this. Sure I have a lot of clean time under my belt for drugs and for self harm. Sure, I’ve made a lot of progress in therapy…and sure, a few of my alters and I have integrated. But I am still human and I am still recovering from horrible things that had been done to me repeatedly. Nasty torturous things most people don’t even acknowledge are real because their own lives have been so positive. Things you see in horror movies and documentaries. This is my life. I have great ups and horrific downs. The downs don’t occur nearly as often as they used to, but they still come around. I am there as we speak.

I want this post to be a raw look into a breakdown. I want this post to really help others understand the pain we survivors go through, the battle we fight to survive. I also want this post to speak to those of you who are currently in your own version of the Abyss and persuade you to keep going.

The reason I am in the darkness right now is because an alter who has been with me since I was about 4 years old and holds some of my most traumatic memories has decided to break her silence. Suddenly, after about four months of stability, happiness, confidence and silence within my mind…I hear voices again. I feel a war of emotions within me. I am anxious, angry and deeply hurt. This alter has shown me things that were done to me that I guess she feels I am ready to deal with. Human nature is to avoid the harder, more dark path right? I know I just posted about this recently in my blog post about taking the dark road. Well, now I am fighting against human nature to continue on this dark, horrible road…because it is the one that will result in growth and strength. I know I am more than capable of surviving this and I know what is on the other side is well worth the pain. This is just very hard. I am feeling the same fear and anger I felt then as a small child, being used and abused, neglected and tormented. I feel the intense rage that is too much for my small human body to bare. I must get it out…but in a healthy, safe way. I have been drawing a lot more, painting and writing as well. I told my therapist how bad I feel and we have gone from one appointment every other week back to two meetings a week. At first I was angry and disappointed in myself for this, but truly, this shows my strength. Only a year ago I would not have called him. I would not have told him I needed more help. But this time I did. There is nothing wrong with admitting you are struggling. Asking for help does not denote weakness, in fact, it shows what a badass you are. Because it’s downright terrifying to ask for help. If you are struggling with telling the truth about your pain, please know you have every right to open your mouth…and you are showing your strength.

I have been forcing myself to cry. Allowing myself to get pissed off and journal my angry thoughts and feelings. It can be very scary to see such anger come out of you, but I promise you, it is vital for your health and survival. Get angry. Allow yourself to feel that rage for what was done to you against your will. All I ask is that you make sure you express it in safe ways. Journal, free write, draw, paint, meditate, pray, do yoga, play hockey, punch the shit out of a pillow, write a story and kill off a character (sounds weird, but it helps), hold your loved ones close, call a friend, call your therapist, attend a support group, dance, listen to HAPPY (never ever ever ever EVER sad) music, play an instrument, play with a pet, go for a walk…do something. Writing a letter to your abusers can be very cathartic. Or write to your addiction. Be completely honest. Don’t hold back. Don’t be afraid of who might see it because after you’re done I want you to rip it up in tiny pieces and put it in something safe to burn (like a fire pit) and light that mother fucker on fire. Watch it burn. Realize that holding in that anger will eventually be the end of you in one way, shape or form. Let it go. Let it out and tell it to get the hell away from you.

I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this one before…I bought a nice metal box with a combination code on it. It had a ton of makeup in it. I threw out all of the makeup and filled the box with things that made me happy, and things that reminded me of better times, things worth fighting for. I called this my emergency box. I still have it today. I highly suggest everyone make one and use it before you get as far down as I am now. It can really help you to slow down, calm down and put things into perspective. If it doesn’t help, move onto other coping skills that work for you.

I know it hurts to be where I am now, and where I’m sure some of you are, or have been. I know it feels as if someone is cutting into you with a scalpel, hitting you upside the head, all sorts of horrible things. But I swear to you, it will pass if you fight. Refuse to let this be your end. I know as I write this I am feeling so many negative, scary things. Some of these feelings are mine, others are feelings of my alters who have not let dealt with their abuse. Yes, I won’t lie, I am struggling with urges to self harm. I am dealing with a lot…but I absolutely refuse to lay down and die here. Hell no. This is my life damnit and I am going to fight for it. I will get past this…this is just another burning in the process of rising from the ashes. The pain is immense, but as we speak I am becoming stronger, wiser and more enlightened. I am removing what doesn’t belong, confronting my demons and growing.

Don’t give up. You are not alone. Help is always okay to look for and it is only a text, phone call, email or message away. There is always help. Those voices of doubt in your mind will try to convince you this is not true…but they are liars. Don’t listen. You’re a warrior! You CAN do this.

I love all of you, Dandi

Suicide hotline: 1(800)273-8255

http://www.fortrefuge.com

http://www.pandys.org

http://www.rainn.org

http://www.stepchat.com

http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=urgent_crisis_hotline

Take the dark road

Many times in each of our lives we come to a fork in the road. We are usually faced with many options, or paths. Some are easy and appear sunny while others, even from a distance look terrifying and difficult to say the least. When you get to this place stop. Just…stop. At this point you need to realize something very important that will help you heal, grow and make your life what you want it to be. Don’t take the easy road. Everything about that path will lie to you, seduce you, comfort you. That easy road will look so enticing, but it will do you no good.

I strongly believe in Carl Jung’s works. He was absolutely brilliant. Currently I am reading a book on his work and I came across a section that spoke to me more deeply than what preceded it. It gave me chills. “When we must deal with problems, we instinctively resist trying the way that leads through obscurity and darkness. We wish to hear only of unequivocal results, and completely forget that these results can only be brought about when we have ventured into and emerged again from the darkness.” ~Carl Jung.

Seriously…brilliant. Brilliant and true. I can attest to this personally. I have lost count of how many times in my past I tried to take the easy route and ended up in a situation far more horrible than the last. I hadn’t learned anything, I hadn’t grown, I hadn’t healed…in fact I had regressed, I had my scars ripped open and deepened. The bleeding began and it was at times, more than I could bear. I reached out to a few friends and to my therapist. Even more so…I looked inside. I was afraid of the most difficult path. The path that went straight into my mind, soul and very being. I was terrified of the darkness and tournament deep within me. There were so many things about me, my thoughts and my memories that left me paralyzed in fear.

I realized that introspection into my own personal abyss that was the network of my mind was the path that would set me free. This was when my true “burnings” as a Phoenix began. I plunged into the blackness, blind at first. I hit rock bottom and everything was silent. I felt disoriented, I felt the scary floating feeling of dissociation take over my body. Derealization and depersonalization attempted to take over, however, I managed to stay somewhat in control. I remained there for a while and began to pay attention to the darkness. Suddenly visions came, voices bombarded me, smells and even tastes came. I saw myself as a small child…alone, afraid, abused. I saw and heard the maltreatment, the process of my early abusers welding onto me the traits and ideals they wanted me to believe were me and my own. I realized that how I acted now and what I believed now wasn’t me at all. I wasn’t a scared, depressed, no-self esteem girl desperate to never be alone. Those were characteristics others had infused in my early personality to keep me weak…to keep me a victim, alone and afraid.

I came to realize the ugly truths about my personality that I had been running from. 1.) I believed my self worth was nothing. 2.) I believed that I deserved to be hurt, abused and isolated. 3.) I was terrified of abandonment.

It was hard to seek these truths out…the journey was dark and painful, but once I arrived I erupted in flames of strength, knowledge and hope. I began my ascent from the abyss and as I continued to rise I peeled the personality flaws, the lies, the untrue characteristics that were hiding who I was from my being. I ripped and scratched and fought. I burned and it was glorious…each burning was painful, yet beautiful.

I have been going through these burning processes for a few years now, but now I have completely risen from the ashes and I now work towards the skies. I don’t see limits anymore. I don’t see a scared, insecure, ugly, broken girl anymore. I see a confident, beautiful young woman with dreams, passions, strengths…I see the bubbly, positive, incredibly happy soul I truly am. You can be who you are too. You don’t have to hide anymore love. You don’t. Your past wasn’t your fault. You were a victim…but now it is time to shed that victim skin, plunge into the darkness and begin your own process of burning off what should not be there. The darkness can be scary, but only if you allow yourself to become lost. Continue working towards the light…when you’re lost look for lanterns. These can be helpful friends, family or therapists who truly understand and love you…they can be friendly spirits, they can be the Divine. They can be alters (other personalities…like I have). Rise Phoenix….rise to your rightful place in this universe.

“In order to rise from its own ashes, a phoenix first must burn.” ~Octavia E. Butler.

Three years.

So the results from the poll had a post on Dissociative identity disorder, addiction and coping mechanisms all tied with two votes each. I decided, since I completely forgot in October to write a little about the milestone I have reached! October 2013 was my three years clean from drugs! I can’t believe that it has been three years and two months now. Looking back over these years it’s truly hard to wrap my mind around everything I have been through and all I have learned. I have done more healing in these last three years (especially the last year and a half) than I have in my entire 26 years of life.

 

I’ve experienced, suffered through, and at times enjoyed so much through my 26 years that it’s really difficult for me to feel I’ve only been here 26 years. Sometimes when I’m tired and/or stressed my alters and I truly wonder if we have really been here much longer. It feels as if I have lived ten full lives already. It’s hard to explain, at least I think, but I’m sure a lot of you can relate.

 

I come from a family of drug addicts, alcoholics, wife-beaters, narcissists, child-abusers, and all sorts of weird dysfunctional stuff. I would say “awww dysfunction can’t be spelled without fun” but that is not the case with my biological family, nor has it ever. My blood family (the ones I have met) are mostly screwed up, sick individuals. I’m sorry if any of you ever track this blog down and read it…this is the truth and you no longer scare me enough to keep my mouth shut. If you have a problem with me opening my mouth to speak the truth, you should have thought about that before you beat, harassed, manipulated, isolated, abused, neglected and molested me. You know who you are. I’m not afraid of you. Anyway….

 

Sadly, addiction does run in the blood. I wish I could say this is some silly fantasy that us addicts make up to put the blame on something, but it is true. I did a little reading into the factors that play a role in a person having addiction problems (no matter what the addiction is to) and it’s a lot more complex than I used to believe. Yes genes play a role (but usually it is up to a combination of genes being passed down and a whole bunch more of science mojo that I don’t completely grasp just yet) but also obviously, how we were raised, what kinds of people were around us, all sorts of nature vs. nurture stuff plays a part. If you would like to read one of the websites I did it’s right here: http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/addiction/genetics/  

 

I’ve never had my blood tested or DNA examined to see if I have all the genes necessary to make me more susceptible to addiction, but it’s pretty safe to say I do. Just off-hand I can think of ten-plus people in my biological family who suffer from an addiction to one or multiple substances and other things. One of my alters told me today that in high school we used to brag that we would never get involved in drugs and we would probably never drink because we knew the risks and we knew that addiction ran in the family. I realize now how deadly our stupid belief that we were untouchable was. When you start believing that you are above addiction and she will never get her seductive hands on you…you are a dead man.

 

At the end of high school I had already had my first drink…and second, and third, and fourth…It scared me that I didn’t seem to have the tolerance of a “beginner”. A few drinks didn’t seem to phase me the way it should have. But I was young, I was naive, I was being controlled by really sick people. I had no idea back then what I was getting myself into. After I was raped in the Marines my inner system that makes up my DID (Dissociative identity disorder) nearly completely de-railed. I couldn’t take what happened to the body and I withdrew into the deepest part of our system (which is what we call: The Abyss). I got all the way down there and found myself safe there. And so I stayed. I stayed and I stayed and I stayed until I realized that I couldn’t find my way back. I vaguely remember lying in the hospital bed in West Florida Hospital’s “The Pavillion” (their psychiatric unit) realizing that I couldn’t move my limbs, I could move my head. I could not even speak. It was because I could see, but I wasn’t in control. I was forced to remain down there for about a month and every now and then would get a quick glimpse of what the body had been up to. (which was mainly lying in the bed and getting lots and lots of pills).

 

Finally one day I met an internal protector alter named “The Warden”. Back then I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, so I was led to believe that this alter was simply a hallucination, but now I know who he really is. His job was and is to stay inside and keep the system from crashing again. He stays in the Abyss and the level directly above The Abyss to make sure that whoever is that deeply disturbed can receive help. This in turn keeps all of the alters from getting so far disconnected from reality that we were to do something horrible to ourselves. He came about to help us protect us from the inside. I love him for that 🙂 The Warden helped me find my way back up to the higher levels and take control of our body back.

 

After many stays at the Pavillion and at Baptist hospitals’ psychiatric units I was medically retired from the USMC and sent back to Michigan. This is when my addiction truly began. I found that several of my psych meds made me feel very good. I firmly believe that these drugs are needed for a lot of people who suffer from PTSD and C-PTSD (as I do) however, I wish it had been explained to me that I needed to only take them when my coping mechanisms had all fallen through and a panic attack was inevitable. I also should have been educated on the high possibility that if I didn’t use them as a last resort, I ran a good risk of becoming addicted. Long story short, I became hopelessly addicted fast. I took them every day, I took them more than three times a day, I took way more than I was supposed to at a time. I took them via oral route and via routes I should not have. Did I realize at the time I was addicted and that what I was doing was horribly destructive? Hell no. I could barely tell you my fucking name back then. I was so jacked up.

 

The addiction to the anxiety pills spread to other perscription meds, then to cocaine. Did you see what I just wrote? I went from perscription pills to freaking cocaine! Addiction is a seductive, murderous bitch. She doesn’t give a flying you-know-what when it comes to “oh, I have a family” or, “I have a great career”. She DOES-NOT-CARE. She will rope you in and kill you. Oh, but before she kills you…she will make sure that you hurt as many of your loved ones as she can. She will make you lie, cheat and steal. She will turn you into this monster that no one wants to be around. I know…because the monster still lives within my body. I just have the tools and the knowledge I need to keep the monster restrained and locked down deep deep deep inside me. The monster is guarded daily and every time it tries to escape we fight it. We fight it with meetings, with reading literature, with journalling and with talking with loved ones who know what it is like to suffer with addiction.

 

This fight to not let addiction rule your life is one of the hardest things I can think of for a human being to go up against. But it is possible! And better yet, it is possible to get clean and sober and stay that way, all while living a very full and happy life. I have a long way to go on my journey out of the abyss and through recovery. But I have learned to love it and my life only gets better every day I chose to pick up my sword and shield instead of lay down and give up.

 

One thing I did before I learned how to love myself was hold onto thoughts of Alice Cooper. Go ahead…laugh. Then….go educate yourself on him. Alice suffered from a deep addiction for several years, he even spent time in psychiatric units. Alice knew my pain. He got himself clean and sober and lives an amazing life now. He is a great man, and I figured. If Alice can do it, I can do it…and I really admire him. I imagined myself getting through the crap and getting to him on the other side of active addiction. I held onto things and people that made me happy. Once I got there I learned how to start loving me. Now that I have started loving myself, it feels good to live for me. It’s not selfish. It’s the right thing to do.

 

You can do this! Whether it’s you or a loved one, please know you are NOT alone. There are millions of others out there who can relate and will not allow you to go through this process alone. You are strong and you are worthy. Don’t listen to the monster, all it wants is for you to die. I love you, keep fighting!

Sasha, the love of my life.

It’s almost my son’s second birthday and I feel that this is a great time to write about him and what he does for me. Before I got pregnant with my son I was a very different person. I was deeply depressed, anxious and I hated a lot of things about myself, but couldn’t find the strength to change. I allowed my life circumstances to control me and get me very far down. I was still drinking a lot and had relapsed with drugs again. I knew I was relapsing, I just felt like I didn’t have anything worth living for, so why was it so bad to continue my addict ways? I didn’t have much family.

I loved the man I was with very much, but unfortunately, he was suffering very deeply inside just as I was, so we were keeping each other in a very dark and unhealthy place. In November of 2010 I found out I was pregnant with his baby. At first I was really scared and worried that his Dad would leave. I have been abandoned all my life, so that was my first reaction to everything back then. I had been pregnant once before when I had been married to a very abusive, cold man and I lost the baby very early on. The loss of my baby was very hard to deal with for a long time, so this was yet another reason why I feared being pregnant. I couldn’t take losing this baby. I quit drinking and smoking immediately and cold turkey, and I had quit drugs months before.

The more I thought about this little life growing inside of me the more I realized I loved this little baby more than anything. I told my boyfriend the news. He did not take it well at first, and for several months he struggled with the idea of me keeping the baby. I finally told him, there is no choice for me, this baby was placed in my life and I am not doing anything to change that. He attended natural birthing classes with me and suddenly our relationship became deeper, stronger and a bit more healthy. We both were finally on the same page and were anxiously awaiting our sweet little boy to be born. Even before I birthed him, my son brought me peace and hope, two concepts that I had once given up on and once he was born he only did more for me.

I tell everyone now, “if you don’t have kids and you claim you know exactly what deep unconditional love is…you’re probably wrong.” I seriously mean this. When Sasha was born, I learned exactly what love was and felt like. I realized, this little baby in my arms…I would die for him, I would kill for him, I would do everything in my power to protect, love and nurture him and make sure that every day of his life is incredible. Everything I do in life is for him, including make myself a better, happier and healthier person. My baby deserves it, and so do I. He is the most wonderful person I have ever been blessed to meet or even know of.

Now I live everyday wanting to do nothing but be the best Mom I can possibly be, the best me I can be, and make a very happy, exciting and healthy life for us. I wanted to write this, not just in honor of my little love, but to tell others something very important. If you are at a place in your life where you just can’t justify holding on for yourself, find someone else to live for until you can. But do not let this be your reality forever. This is meant to be temporary…until you CAN live for you. Basing your happiness off of another person is not only dangerous, it puts immense, unfair stress on that person. Work to love and respect yourself…and live for you!

I keep seeing this quote, “I gave him life, and he gave me a reason to live”. That is exactly what Sasha and I have done for each other. If it weren’t for him, I may have given up and would have been dead three years ago. Thank the Gods for my little boy and every day that I get to be his Mommy. I can’t wait to live every day, experiencing life with him. Hold tight to your babies and love them sweetly!

New and improved Journey out of the abyss Facebook page.

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to drop in and let everyone know that I have opened a new and improved Facebook page for Journey out of the abyss. Feel free to like, comment, email, post away!! I would love to start a support network! The link is: https://www.facebook.com/JourneyOutOfTheAbyss

Take care til next time my friends!

~Dandi