Posted in Addiction, advice, faith, health, Life, Mental Health, recovery, twelve step

Patience in Recovery

meth brain

I was sitting here googling random shit this morning, as one does, and somehow “Why are some people naturally more kind than others?” morphed into “Long term effects of methamphetamine on the brain”, which, in my case, aren’t necessarily unrelated to one another. Basically, I was wondering if my inability to be as kind as I’d like to be could be linked to damage in my brain caused by years of INSANE quantities of meth in my body.

It seems like there is good news and bad news. The good news is that, by now, my brain has mostly healed from all the harm I did to it. There are certain parts of my brain that might never be okay again, but as far as my behavior, moods and that sort of thing goes, it’s all me at this point. As far as “they” know, anyway. The bad news is, this means I am just naturally a bit of an asshole, but I don’t think this is breaking news. And, unlike most of the assholes out there, at least I’m trying to change. Actually, I have no idea what the other assholes are trying or not trying to do, I’m just angling to make myself look good. Shocker. Also, thanks to my years of chemical dependency, I have a higher chance of dementia and Parkinson’s, which I’m not thrilled about, but what can I do?

One thing I did find really interesting, though, is that I now have scientific evidence supporting what I have been claiming for a long time- your brain needs ample time to heal after your cessation of meth. I mean, duh, right? But this is not something anyone was able to reassure me of after I first got clean, and I thought I was going mad. If I wasn’t using anymore, why did I still act so crazy? Why was I still so full of anger and rage? Why couldn’t I control my emotions at all? In short, why was I still exhibiting all of the behaviors I associated with my drug use, but I wasn’t even using drugs?!

Although I was seeing some progress in my life in these areas, it was incredibly frustrating how slow it went, and how terrible I felt. I didn’t understand. I thought maybe it wasn’t the drugs after all, and maybe I was just a horrible monster of a person. My doctor strongly recommended that I go on an antidepressant or something, but I was so turned off by the idea of using another drug, even one prescribed to me. I knew that something wasn’t right, but my instincts urged me to wait and see. And so I did.

It took between 18 months and two years before I saw a significant change in my behavior- enough so that I felt passably sane. At 3.5 years, I can tell you that I am probably the best I have ever been in my adult life. I used drugs for most of my entire adult life, approximately 20 years. For someone who did more growing up and less drugs, I expect the recovery time would be shorter.

The point is this: be patient with yourself. Not only do you need time to grieve the time you lost and the damage you did, not only do you have to relearn, or even learn for the first time, how to exist in the “normy” world, but your brain has to heal physically. Meth might not be considered physically addictive, but this does not mean it does no physical, quantifiable damage. It does. Look it up, see for yourself the pictures of a brain six months after cessation of drug use. Actually, never mind, I’ll just post the picture so you can see for yourself.

My advice to anyone in early recovery from methamphetamine is to be patient. The changes will come, but maybe not as soon as you would hope. Commit to stick it out, and before too long, you’ll see the person you had always hoped to be under all the bullshit. With a lot of work, love and faith, it’s never too late to become the very best version of yourself. 🙂

 

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Posted in beauty, escape, family, friendship, inner peace, Life, Musings, People, random

Miracles

everything-is-a-miracle

I have been very busy this past two months, with vacation and then getting settled back in, then the first of July came, and I have been pouring all of my energy into writing for Camp Nanowrimo. I have sat down here a time or two and started to write something, and then, every time, something happened to pull me away from it.

That’s a bit of a miracle in itself, you know, speaking of miracles- (Um, the title, in case you missed that. 🙂 ). You see, a few months ago, before I decided that it was time to start living my life right again, people weren’t exactly knocking my door down to come visit. My phone didn’t ring much, and I got the impression, when I did talk to people, that I made them very tired, or nervous, or both.

What has happened since I got clean is that I have gotten a real life again, and with all of that, it can get a bit overwhelming for an addict who isn’t using. We tend to be a little extra touchy about shit, anyway, to be honest with you- lots of times, it’s what got us into this whole mess in the first place, the fact that we feel things a bit more intensely than other people, and have fewer healthy coping skills. Sometimes, we didn’t start off that way, but years of abuse to our poor nervous systems leaves us frazzled. Anyway, for people who have lived in addiction for years, even the good parts of life can be overwhelming and upsetting.

I forgot about that. I forgot how disheartening it can be, to see how easily other people seem to navigate their lives when every day can be such a struggle for me. I am as disorganized, mentally, as I am literally, and it gets frustrating. Simple things can make me want to throw the towel in because I get so overwhelmed. Cleaning the house makes me unfailingly angry, because I am always floored by how bad it is, while living in a mess in also intolerable. I have to take a lot of breaks throughout the day just to talk myself down from ledges, mentally. My impulse control is just wretched, sometimes, and it takes a lot just to keep me from lashing out. I am telling you all this because I know I often expound on all of the positive, great stuff, and I want to be clear that I have just as many bad, embarrassing, lame issues as everyone else. Perhaps even a few more than average.

But I STILL believe in miracles…and you know why? Because, in spite of all of this, all of the outbursts, instability, and frustration, I still don’t use drugs. In spite of the fact that I could probably make quick work of losing these 20 nasty pounds that I have packed on, and have my house spic and span by tomorrow morning, I still wouldn’t do it, no way. Even though I am going through some really sad, uncomfortable, and painful stuff with my ex right now regarding our daughter, and it would feel really, really good to feel NOTHING…I have finally been able to grasp that dope is not a viable solution for me. That my children deserve better, and so do I. That if I were to give in, I would be losing before I ever got started. If that isn’t a miracle, I don’t know what is.

I have lost this battle so many times. The fact that I still keep trying is a miracle. I have hurt the people I love more times than I could ever count. The fact that they can forgive me, and love me anyway, is a miracle. I have abused my body beyond what it ever should have had to endure. The fact that I am still healthy, intact, and, amazingly, not a hideous, toothless old hag, is a miracle. I have a great job, beautiful children, a house by the beach, two dogs, three cats, a mom and a dad and a brother and sister who love me…I have friends who value my opinion and want to spend their time with me. Every one of those things is a miracle.

I could choose to focus on the things that I suck at, that I am inept and inadequate at handling. I could spend all day long listing the shit that is wrong with me. I don’t know who would wind up feeling worse, me or you! But if I had to tell you just one thing that is right in my life today, I would tell you this- I am a miracle. Whatever force you choose to believe in, that thing is working in me right now, helping me write this to share with you. I will never regret my past because without it, I may never have been able to see THIS- that my life is beautiful exactly the way it is.