The Clothesline Project

Today was an interesting day. As I looked through my Facebook feed, I noticed a post made by Genesis House about an event going on at Tennessee Tech University called the Clothesline Project. After calling for more information, I made the spontaneously impulsive decision to drive to Cookeville to check it out.

I remember hearing something about this last year but didn’t go at that time. Today, however, I was determined.

I went. I walked around looking at so many people’s contributions to the project and chose to make a T-shirt of my own. My hands were shaking the entire time I worked on my shirt. I drank 2 cups of water in the short time I was there as my nervousness tends to manifest in dry mouth and thirst. A nice lady from Tennessee Tech’s Women’s Center provided the second cup and a couple of brownie bites. This made me smile and eased my mind a little. In fact, everyone there was so supportive and encouraging.

Despite my horrible anxiety and nervousness, I think my shirt turned out pretty well:

It felt good to participate. My only regret is that I wasn’t finished with my T-shirt in time to participate in the “Take Back the Night” march around campus. Still, I’m proud of myself for having gone there, for handling the triggers so well, and for making my own voice heard. I’m proud of myself because I pushed myself outside my comfort zone to participate in this.

This was a special and meaningful day for me — very therapeutic.

Broken

Broken

“What the hell is wrong with me? I feel like I’m going insane.”

Her words spoke to each of us, all locked within her pain.

Broken heart.

Broken dreams.

Shattered soul.

Silenced screams.

Stuck in limbo, time’s meaning lost,

Eternity couldn’t pay the cost.

Lost deep inside where nothing’s real,

Detached and numb, nothing to feel.

Without warning, a momentary lapse,

Jerked into consciousness, falling prey to traps.

The ever-present danger is all around.

Quiet, now, don’t make a sound.

Panic manifests in gasps for breath.

What is this crazy dance with death?

Racing heart.

Weak knees.

Mind gone blank.

Stop.

Freeze!

No time to delineate,

Everything fades in that dreamlike state.

Soothe her fears,

Calm her tears,

Just make sure she perseveres.


 

I had another lengthy post written out for today; but in the end, the Critic won out. I left that post on private. My apologies, but I worry about sharing too much negativity here. No sense in “beating a dead horse with a stick.” I’m attempting to push through this creative block by writing poetry. Sometimes, that works. This poem describes what dissociation feels like to me. 

I also want to share two songs I’m kind of stuck on right now:

Disturbed — The Sound of Silence < Probably one of the best covers of this song I have ever heard!

AWOLNATION – Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf) < This one — just because I love it, and my “Bad Wolf” is craving attention. (Good luck deciphering that.)

38 Days Clean and Sober

Skull Sketch

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Due to past detrimental life experiences with drugs and alcohol, I attempted to keep my substance use at a minimum throughout more recent years. However, I realized fairly early on in my relationship with KR that his use affected my use which steadily began increasing over the last 3 years. This increase in substance use prompted me to begin keeping track of my alcohol consumption starting in March 2014. To be honest here, I was merely writing down how many drinks or shots I had. Well, this may be more like an obsession. I keep track of a lot of things — what I eat, beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), how much I sleep, how much exercise I get, my mood, etc. Yet, I wasn’t giving much thought to how much I was actually consuming. That is, until a little over a month ago when I began researching alcoholism due to KR’s recent meltdown.

This research caused me to reflect and consider that I, myself, may indeed have a problem with alcohol dependence. What began as sporadic binges every once in a while (spikes around traumatic anniversary dates) continued with regular binges beginning around the time we moved last year. Every weekend from the time we moved until the present, alcohol of one variety or another was available in this house. I know KR was/is drinking a lot more than I was; but I, alone, was drinking sometimes as much as 17 shots/drinks per week! That’s a lot! Needless to say, after I graphed it all out and realized this, I felt the need to discuss it with my counselor. We discussed my concerns about alcohol the first week of August. I told him, “I want to stop drinking alcohol.” KR, however, does not. The following week, my counselor and I met on my birthday. My counselor didn’t even ask if I managed to not drink the prior weekend. Rather, he asked, “How much did you drink?” I showed him the graph I made.

I had to laugh when he joked, “Happy Birthday! I’m sending you to rehab!” And he did, the very next day. With my newest diagnosis of alcohol dependence, I spent 28 days at New Leaf Recovery Center in Cookeville, Tennessee, my first (and hopefully last!) ever rehab experience.

Detox was a blur. I can honestly say I don’t really remember much of it, though I journaled every day I was there. From the evidence of my journal, it’s probably a good thing I don’t remember much of those first 5 days. Re-reading it now makes me wonder if I was having a psychotic break. Given the fact that I’ve been near-completely isolated for more than 10 years, my level of overwhelm was considerable the entire time I was in rehab. I spent much of my time there “shut down,” often locked deep in my mind, obsessively tapping, counting to 13 as I so often do when I’m nervous/anxious/overwhelmed. Over stimulation, overwhelm, and dealing with a lot of triggered emotions had me contemplating whether or not to stay at this treatment facility each and every day I was there, especially considering my car was parked just outside. I forced myself to stay, determined to complete the program.

And I did. I’m very proud of myself for that.

I love the staff at New Leaf. They were all incredibly helpful. For the first time in many, many years, I felt a connection to other people that I haven’t felt in such a long time. It was worth the experience for that reason alone. I “get” that I need to be re-socialized. This was a great first step in that process. I’m currently going through their Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) as well. Would I recommend New Leaf Recovery Center? Yes, wholeheartedly, but only for those people who have no problem with a faith-based approach to recovery (more on that in a follow-up post coming in the next few days).

My alcohol dependence sneaked up on me. No one in their right mind goes out with the intention to become addicted to drugs or alcohol. For me, alcohol became a poor coping mechanism to escape the emotional turmoil of PTSD symptoms, severe anxiety, and the chaos of my home life. It is recommended the addict change everything in his/her life to be successful in maintaining sobriety. While in that protective bubble of a rehab facility, it’s easy to imagine a different way of living. Outside, in the “real” world, it’s much more difficult.

KR has no desire to stop drinking. Still in active addiction, he cannot see the damage he is inflicting on our relationship or his own health and well-being. Life here at home returned to the uneasy exchanges between the two of us without much of importance being said. The fact that the temptation of alcohol is ever-present here reminds me of something a new friend told me, “You can’t sleep with a dog who has fleas and expect not to get bit.” True. I get it. I have some serious decisions to make in the coming weeks. I have to figure out exactly what I want and what I need.

I may not agree with the religiosity of AA/NA. I doubt I’ll work through the 12 Steps anytime soon due to personal issues of control and what others might call religious intolerance; but I have to admit, I can see the benefit of having social support for feedback. I do intend to use these meetings for that reason alone to the best of my ability.

Just for today, I will hold on to that hope for a brighter future and maintain my sobriety one moment at a time if I have to.

38 days sober and counting….

Slippin’ Through the Cracks

I tend to take my cue from the person I’m with about what we discuss, even within relationships meant to be therapeutic. Social anxiety (or shyness if you prefer) makes it very difficult for me to spontaneously share my deepest thoughts, rarely making it past the idle chit-chat of social niceties. Have I said lately how much I despise “small talk?” To me it feels shallow and a waste of time, yet I learned to engage in this behavior because it seems to be the “norm” and expected. Then again, it could simply be that I use it in the same way most everyone does, to avoid a deeper conversation. Keep the conversation light, not too personal, in order to protect myself from further hurt or humiliation.Slipping Thru the Cracks

I eventually learned to “mirror” communication styles fairly well — late, not until around 5th grade in elementary school after carefully watching my peers interact on the playground and in the classroom. I’m much more of an observer than one who enjoys interacting with others. I learned mirroring so well that more often than not I don’t even realize I’m doing it, now, not until afterwards when I reflect on how a conversation went and what was really said. Nothing. Nothing of substance in most cases. Topics of little importance, nervous laughter, my inability to maintain eye contact, my stammering and stuttering that frustrates me to the point of yelling internally, “Spit it out, already!,” and the obsessive self-reflection afterwards — these are my experience of interacting with others, the manifestation of my social anxiety.

Back to that first statement, “I tend to take my cue from the person I’m with about what we discuss….” I most certainly was not born a natural communicator. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever  master the art of verbal communication. Writing is far easier for me to communicate thoughts and feelings because I give myself the time I need to figure out exactly what I want to communicate. However, writing is also a time-consuming process as a result of taking this time I need to do so. I struggle to think and speak at the same time. I wasn’t born with a quick wit like KR possesses. Therefore, I rely on others to “take charge” during conversation in order to keep it going, most often to the detriment of my own self-expression or ability to communicate a need.

Today was no different. I met with my case manager. We talked more about the weather and my cats than anything else. I avoided bringing up the severity of my depression symptoms — lack of motivation, loss of interest in hobbies, persistent hopelessness, helplessness in the perceived rejection of appropriate mental healthcare… suicidal thoughts that border on obsession. It’s easier to avoid. Pretend everything’s okay. Numbness took over, pushed the painful emotions away. Out of sight; out of mind. Nothing to discuss.

— Why is this so hard? —

There was no more discussion about finding another therapist. Would I have agreed had she brought it up again? I doubt it. Therapy’s end left me more confused and frustrated than before I went in, wishing I never bothered. I expected too much, like I always do. It’s no wonder I was disappointed. Yet, I have no one to advocate on my behalf. Several weeks ago, my case manager told me she was afraid of losing her job should she question the center’s practices. This led me to believe that there’s some inner-office-politics going on that I’m neither aware of nor want to be aware of. I’m left wondering, “Should I swear off psychiatry and therapy altogether? Go it alone and take my chances?”

The choice may have been made for me. My case manager either forgot to schedule our next appointment or purposefully left it up in the air. I have to admit, I thought of it as she was preparing to leave, but said nothing. It’s an easy out… as I slip through the cracks of VBHCS. It’s okay. They won’t miss me.

 

When Words Aren’t Enough

MAD

 

I couldn’t get out what’s on my mind through words. This isn’t my usual style, but I had to do something to get it OUT of my head…. I have no words to express this last week.

Update: See Another Storm’s On Its Way for somewhat of an explanation of this post.