The thing about my depression is that it’s physical as well as mental. I get stuck for about three days and don’t want to do shit. I literally stress myself out until I’m in dark spot in my head. And what sucks is I know the things that I think are going to go wrong, in reality are not. I can do the self-talk, of “it’s ok if I fail today,” and “all I have to do is stay sober today and nothing else.” I know the behavior I get into when my depression kicks in. I start obsessing over my phone and computer like I have been for the past 48 hours. I don’t want to start my day, and my eating habits suck. And the thing that I hate most is that I know what I have to do to get out of it, but I have zero physical motivation to do so. I know the answer isn’t to “up” meds, fuck that. I know if I wait it out, it will pass. But during that time I feel like a horrible father, husband, brother and son. It’s just this big fucking tornado of pain that just marinates in my chest. Not even buying shit on Amazon works at this point. Maybe a meeting, maybe a blog post, maybe a walk with my “boys” Kenny and Colt, (Family dogs) would help if I had an ounce of energy to do so. When I was using I would stay up for weeks. I would get to a spot in my mind that’s similar to the one I’m in right now. And I would listen to songs on YouTube for hours. The music acted as a drug, and soothed my emotions and feelings that at the time, I couldn’t identify. Today I think it was depression. Maybe I used over depression. Here’s a song, to hope I feel better. Every day of sobriety can’t always be fucking amazing. Sometimes there some dark days.
I just got off the phone with a friend in the program. We have mutual friend that has relapsed.
“Where do I draw the line?” she ask, referring to when does caring turn into enabling.
I learned this lesson early in sobriety. About three months early. I was running a sober home and one of the renters relapsed and got kicked out. And there I was to the rescue, with hotel money to save the day! I went to the hotel in the morning to take the guy to a meeting and try to find him another sober home and he was completely wasted.
Even though we don’t really know the person sitting next to us at a meeting, there is some type of emotional attachment. Probably because we see ourselves. Also, creating new relationships involves ‘s “disclosing” of personal information with one another. And that’s exactly what we do in meetings, we talk about personal stuff that we would not talk about anywhere else. So I understand the attachment to someone else’s sobriety.
I would suggest sticking out your arm, and drawing-the-line there. Do what you have to do to stay sober, and allow people to navigate their own personal journey of recovery.
-Walk Towards the Cheers
The news on any platform feels so overwhelming today. It’s like politics has blended itself in every category of the media as possible, sports, Hollywood and social media. It’s hard to listen and take seriously especially when the “extremist-rant” is followed up by a money advertiser mention about Keri’s Berries. It’s actually quite comical.
So I think to myself how do I even make a dent, in a time when America is extremely-split on every topic imaginable, while the fingers point in both directions. Maybe I need to do more than just be sober.
But what? I had to start somewhere, so I decided to create my platform on “I have absolute zero control over the world and everything in it.” That right there gets me off-the-hook on a whole lot of issues. However I do have a responsibility, to someone or something, right? So I put my right arm out in front of me, and turned my body to a complete 360 degree angle. And that space right there, is where I start, and what I can control.
It’s a very small space compared to the world. So I started praying to my higher power to fill that small space with people who need help. And he did.
Andrew came in my life, and for the first time he has over 2 months of sobriety, after a dozen relapses. For the first time, he called me when he felt like using and drinking, and he remained sober. Nikki was having a nervous breakdown and her first day on the job at a local breakfast place. I took a second to tell her she was doing great, and with watered eyes, she said thank you. Brody called me and after a recent relapse after 15 months clean, he said he needed to get back in treatment, he couldn’t stay sober. Jessica called and after leaving treatment 2 months ago, she relapsed and wanted to go back. Then there was Vince, who literally got out of jail yesterday and says he is 6 months clean and if I would be his sponsor. And Mark, he showed me the scar that took up most of his forearm, and with a 24 ounce beer in his other hand, simply said, “I’m not ready yet.” Then picked up his wheel barrel of junk he has collected throughout our neighborhood and strolled down the street. It’s his journey, not mine.
You wanna change the world, start by waking up sober. Then help the people that your higher puts in your life. Action.
Walk Towards the Cheers…
On a good day, the “racing thoughts” come and go. On a bad day, they marinate a narrative in my mind that tell me I’m not good enough, smart enough, or I should be doing more. For me, that leads to some general anxiety and depression. When I’m in that spot in my head, there is nothing that can change the feeling. It’s just bad place for me to be in, and I know this today.
“It’s like my dopamine is firing blanks.”
The “clicks” on social media or purchases on Amazon don’t work anymore or bring little shots of joy. It’s like my dopamine is firing blanks. The only choice I have is to sit with the emotions. Or, take action.
Here are few things I do when I’m stuck in my head. I would like to add that alcohol and drugs are no longer an option for me to solve my emotional issues. That’s amazing. But I’m still left with myself, minus my number one coping skill. I once read, “You can make the leaves fall off the tree by shaking it, but the leaves will grow back, unless you get to the root.”
- Gratitude List. So I am five years sober, and just started practicing writing down a list of what I am grateful for. I always advise my clients and sober peers to write a gratitude list, but never have practiced myself. However when I wrote one last week, I felt better. I started with everything that I felt was wrong with my life. Then I wrote what I’m grateful for, then I wrote how I felt at that very moment and how silly my thoughts had seemed now that I was grateful.
- Thoughts are just thoughts. I heard in a meeting, “the voices in your head is not your higher power, it’s your Schizophrenia.” That made so much sense to me! This disease of addiction is truly originated in the mind. My best decisions listening to myself got me into treatment and other unhealthy situations and places. So, on a good day, the thoughts come, and let them ride right through.
- Take Action. There is nothing like taking physical action and doing something to get myself out of my head. It can be taking out the trash or blogging. If I get out of my own way, and do something productive no matter how small or big, it makes me feel better and calm my mind.
- Sit with your emotions. This one is tricky but I love practicing. I could have never done this is early sobriety or the first few years at that matter. But when I am able to sit with the feeling and emotions that my thoughts are causing, I can let them pass or I can dig deep and search for the root of why the thoughts are making me feel a certain way. It’s more like mediation, but when you are in the middle of a meeting or in front of large crowds, it’s a little hard to meditate.
I would love to hear your thoughts..lol..and some things you do to quite the noise in your head.
Walk Towards the Cheers…
I use to be the “guy” who never missed a game no matter what. Some of it was a true and innocent passion for the “big-game” storylines and hype, while a big part of it was an excuse to drink and use. When I got sober, I stopped watching sports for the first 2 years for several reasons. First, I associated watching sports with using and drinking, second I couldn’t handle the emotional rollercoaster ride of my team barley squeezing out a win, or not winning at all. Third I didn’t like they way sports controlled me as far contributing 3 to 6 hours of watching any random day. Even though I haven’t watched a complete NFL game the entire season, (thank goodness), and my favorite team was completely horrible, (not the Browns), it doesn’t take a “super-fan” to realize what Super Bowl Fifty-two, (I think?), is all about.
The number one storyline going into the “Big-Game” this Sunday is, Who do you hate more, Tom Brady or Eagle Fans? It’s really that simple. For me, I’m a Brady fan. If the Patriots win, to me Tom will be the best-ever, (whatever that means!). I like Carson Wentz, because I broadcasted one his game while he was in North Dakota State as my university played against him, and lost against him FYI. I know Wentz isn’t playing, however through recovery it’s important for me not to take this game to seriously, no matter who wins.
Here’s my logic. If I truly believe in and accepted Step 1, then I will do things throughout my day to help my stay sober. A person like me, can not afford to get emotionally invested in something so meaningless, like the Super Bowl. I can’t watch with a bunch of people who are drinking, or skip a meeting to watch. I can’t argue about a player, team or game. Other people can, I can’t. Reason being my old coping skill for handling uncomfortable emotions was drinking. Even though this will be my fifth sober Super Bowl, and I have new kick-ass skills to deal or sit with my emotions, I’d rather not test my sobriety, no need to.
If you are concerned watching the Super Bowl because you are on “day 1,” or maybe “year 10” here is a few things to make sure you wake up sober the following Monday.
- Host. You can’t control what other people do at their house, but you can control the invite list and the “no alcohol” rule at your own.
- If you absolutely must attend, maybe your up for that promotion at work and your boss invited you to his Super Bowl Party that’s is suppose to be epic, (which I would strongly suggest don’t go even if you don’t get that promotion), go with someone that is in recovery and have an escape plan if things get uncomfortable. “My neighbor called, and my dog jumped the fence or my house is on fire,” whatever works best!
- Go to your local recovery club or treatment center, someone will be hosting.
- Watch by yourself. That’s what I love to do. Pull out the old social media account and start analyzing every play from you smart phone, that will get the conversation going so you are not completely by yourself!
- My favorite, go to a meeting, don’t watch or DVR it for later.
No matter what you choose, remember this is not about Tom Brady or the Eagles, this about our recovery and staying sober.
Walk Towards the Cheers…