sobriety, spirituality, travel

The road less traveled

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I have been thinking a lot about third-world countries lately. Well, more specifically, I have been thinking a lot about spending some time in a third-world country. The idea has been sporadically popping into my mind over the past few months. It’s not a big, invasive thought, it’s just kind of like a gentle nudge. If that makes sense.

When I was 13 or 14, I went to a Christian summer camp for a week up in Tennessee. I was really involved with my church then and most of my friends were part of the same church, so a lot of my extracurricular activities were church-based. One night while at this camp, we listened to an exceptionally moving speaker. I don’t remember at all what he talked about, I just remember feeling very different than I ever had before. After the meeting, our group of people from our church met up and our youth pastor asked us some question along the lines of, do you feel like God is speaking to you or calling you to do anything in particular? And all of the sudden, quite literally out of nowhere, I had this crazy, overwhelming thought consume my entire brain: I was supposed to teach English in a third-world country. My grandpa is very involved with a mission in Haiti that has built a school, church, and college over there and he goes every year to keep up with it and to provide the missionaries and school staff with anything they need. I actually went twice to Haiti myself, and both times were pretty incredible. At the time of this consuming revelation, it was Haiti that I had in mind.

Now, I know that probably sounds insane. It felt insane at the time, but it also felt like it was something that was just meant to be and that there was no getting around it. Almost like I didn’t really have a choice in the matter – that was the plan for my life. I even went as far as asking my grandpa if the school in Haiti needed any tutors or other kind of help in the school, because I was ready and willing to leave my little 14-year-old life behind and move to Haiti. But, at that time, the school didn’t need me, and there wasn’t much use in me taking up space in an already overpopulated school if I wasn’t going to be of some sort of help.

After that, I didn’t really think about it much. And I really haven’t thought about it again until recently.

Isn’t that kind of strange? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not some kind of zealot. I don’t even go to church anymore. I do have faith, and I do consider myself a spiritual person. My God today is still the same God who put that thought in my mind all those years ago, but my understanding of him has developed into something completely different than it was back then.

I am all about seeing “signs” and I totally believe in intuition. I also believe that I have a purpose in my life that, if I’d only listen, would be made clear to me. I believe that the right path for me has already been paved, and my only job is to follow it.

But living in a material world that worships social media and celebrities and having the latest iPhone, sometimes following – or even knowing – that path is pretty fucking hard. Not because I don’t want to, but because I don’t know how to. I’m a selfish person by nature, and on most days my number one priority is myself and how I feel and what I can do to be more successful or to be happier or to make people like me. That usually doesn’t translate well when it comes to the selflessness that’s needed to pursue a way of life that isn’t revolved around, well, me.

With all of that being said, I think it’s pretty cool – and kind of strange – that these third-world country thoughts have somehow creeped back into my mind. I’m not going to be uprooting myself anytime soon. But I do want to stick around and see what comes of them.

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depression, mental health, sobriety

I’m a pill-popping animal

As another follow up to my post about depression, I AM STILL FEELING REALLY FREAKIN’ GOOD. Well, at least compared to the last few weeks. AND I’VE BEEN SHOWERING CONSISTENTLY YOU GUYS. Whenever I tell my husband I am going to take a shower, he gets these big googly eyes and just says a breathless ‘wow’. It was pretty rough there for a while.

My new medicine is amazing, and is quite literally the definition of a ‘happy pill’ for me. This is great news, as I’ve been trying different medications for the last few months to no avail. Going from eternally tired to having enough energy to go to work AND workout AND MAYBE EVEN do laundry is a pretty rad feeling.

But I do have my concerns. I’ve been on anti-depressants of some form since I was 16, and I’ve kind of come to grips with the fact that they might very well be part of my life for the rest of my life. But it still gives me an uneasy feeling to think that I am reliant on a pill to feel good.

I relied on alcohol or some other substance to make me feel good for almost five years, and that didn’t turn out too peachy. Obviously I’m aware that an anti-depressant and alcohol are two completely different things, but I am a strong believer that the things you rely on can quickly become the things you worship. Like, if I ran out of my medicine and wasn’t able to take it today, I would probably have a mini meltdown and think the day was going to be shit. That’s not the thought process I want to have.

I am trying to incorporate other things that make me feel good to buildup up my ‘toolbox’ for when life gets shitty. Depression is a complex disorder (for lack of a better term) and I definitely think it takes more than just one thing to combat it.

What have you tried to deal with your depression, and what kind of effects did it have? ~asking for a friend~

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addiction, depression, sobriety

I just wanna be the energizer bunny

So, in continuing with my last post about depression, I have started a new anti-depressant. Well, it’s not really “new.” I was on the extended-release Effexor and now I am trying out the instant release Effexor tablets. And at the moment, I am loving them. I felt pretty good this weekend for the first time in a month. I showered like FIVE TIMES. I worked out TWICE. I MADE DINNER!!! I WENT TO THE MALL!!! I did take like 3 naps, but who’s counting.

My only concern with this medicine is that it is supposed to give you a little “jolt” of energy. It’s “stimulating,” according to my doctor. At the mention of stimulating, my lil ole’ ears perked right up. She said “a lot of people find it too stimulating.” And I said, “what most people find too stimulating, I find to be just right.” Because, I do. I have a stimulation problem.

It’s kind of weird and hard to explain to most people, but here it goes. I have a serious fixation with energy/stimulation. I want to be rarin’ to go all day long. I want the little pang of anxiety you get when you drink too much coffee. I want to have unlimited focus and concentration and motivation. And I’m down to try just about anything to obtain that outside of illicit drugs. Adderall is also off the table, because we have a pretty rough history.

I have yet to find someone who shares this obsession with energy, but I know deep down it’s just another addiction. It’s just another thing that will distract me and keep my focus away from what’s important.

So, the reason I am little nervous about the instant release Effexor is because I’m afraid I might start to abuse it. Is it even possible to abuse antidepressants? Who knows. If there’s someone who would be a good test rat to find out, it’s me.

But, on the other hand, I really feel like it is helping the depression/exhaustion. Obviously, it’s only been a few days and I need to wait a little bit longer before I make a conclusive decision, but so far so good.

Is anyone else out there dealing with the crazy energy obsession? Or am I just completely out of my mind?

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alcoholism, depression, sobriety

Say hello to my little friend

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So, I have dealt with depression on and off since I was 15. Big surprise there, right? An alcoholic/addict who also has depression? It basically comes with the territory, or so I’m told. But, I still like to think of my depression (and anxiety, but that’s under wraps for now) as mine. Just let me have this one thing, okay?

Anyways, MY depression is back with a vengeance. It usually comes around once every year or two and makes itself at home for a good month. Well, it’s been a month. And good ole’ depression hasn’t shown any signs of wanting to move on.

Over the years, I have learned how to cope with it. I know it will go away again, I know it won’t be here forever, I just have to wait it out. Knowing that makes it easier for me to go through the motions of every day life when all I want to do is hide under my covers or kill someone because they won’t stop talking to me.

My depression makes itself known in the form of utter exhaustion. There is the occasional existential crisis, but mostly it’s just a comprehensive tiredness that doesn’t relent no matter what I do. Showering is exhausting. Driving to work is exhausting. Talking to people is exhausting. Eating dinner is exhausting. Telling my husband how my day at work was is exhausting. You get the picture.

So, basically I just wake up, go to work, come home, and am in bed by 6:30-7 reading and am asleep by 8 – 8:30. I can’t keep my eyes open much later than that. And, this works fine for me. It is what it is.

But my poor hubs doesn’t know what to do with himself. He has never dealt with depression on any level, neither in himself nor in his loved ones. Me, on the other hand, I come from a family in which every member is on a myriad of anti- somethings.

Yesterday, he had somewhat of a breakdown over my behavior as of late. He desperately wants to fix things for me and make me feel better. He wants to bring me back “up.” He said that me being exhausted and not doing the things I usually like to do, like working out or cooking, make him extremely worried and at a loss for what to do. Oh, my Mr. Fix-it. How did I get so lucky? I basically moved into this man’s life with my huge pile of shit that includes alcoholism, other -isms depending on the day, depression, anxiety, the whole shabang, and he just keeps on truckin’ along, loving me through all of it.

I want so desperately to take his worry away. I know I will be fine, and that it’s just a matter of waiting it out. I want to be the wife that does all the things and is happy doing them again. But for now, for today, I’ve got to accept where I’m at and roll with it. Because, as always, this too shall pass.

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addiction, alcohol, alcoholism, sobriety

I’m grateful, yo

Yesterday, my husband and I had the following conversation:

Husband: We’re like a couple of ultra-Cinderellas when it comes to shopping. It’s painful. The outside world is so “weird.”

Me: Not weird, just annoying

Husband: Yeah, that’s better

Me: Kind of like having to work

Husband: You’ve been really hating on work lately

Me: It’s not work itself. I just get sick of sitting at a desk all day

Husband: Baby. You’re a writer

Me: I know

Husband: Don’t complain. You can vent, but complaining is being ungrateful

Me: That’s very true. I am ungrateful. WAH

Husband: You are not ungrateful. You’re just whiny.

 

Honestly, I think I’m both. I am a huge complainer, with a capital C. It’s something that really irritates me, because I know that, really, I have nothing to complain about. So why do I still do it? Because I’m ungrateful. I have an awesome job, a home, a fabulous husband, a car that works, food to eat, money in the bank (don’t quote me on that), and a bunch of other crap that us first-worlders enjoy. There’s people who have no running water. There’s people whose children are dying from the flu because they don’t have access to the medication to treat it. There’s people who wake up every morning on a dirt floor and have no idea what they are going to feed their family that day.

And I’m over here like blah, blah, blah, sitting at a desk all day is annoying.

Today, I’m making it a goal to be grateful for this good ole’ desk of mine that holds up not one but two computers on which I do my job that pays me money that feeds me and clothes me and puts a roof over my head and gives me a car to drive and money to spend on dumb shit like clothes and a manicure and a movie ticket.

Because, hey. There’s people out there that couldn’t even fathom having half the shit I take for granted every single day.

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addiction, alcohol, alcoholism, sobriety

We’re all mad here

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My original plan was to get up every morning at 5:15 and write for a good 30 minutes. That has yet to happen, so I’m writing first thing when I get to work. The only issue with that is that my brain has all the day before I write and all morning to swirl around and muck up what I had planned on writing about. I’m thinking I might try writing right after work, because naturally I sit around all day thinking about things I should write about. We’ll see how that works out.

Anyways, I have been sober now for a little over three months. Which really KILLS me, because if I wouldn’t have drank in January I would’ve had over a year now. I drank in January three times in the span of one week, and then I immediately went crawling back to the comfort of my sober support group. When I’m honest with myself, I’m actually grateful that I drank. The holidays were rough (in my head) and I was feeling pent up and anxious and stressed and depressed and just weird and off kilter. My husband went out of town for a week, and my friend was going to come over with her baby to stay the night. She sent me a text that said, “you don’t drink wine, do you?” She knew I wasn’t drinking, but didn’t know the exact reason why. So, I replied, “Nope, but you are more than welcome to bring some over if you want to drink!” and then after 5 minutes of full-on anxiety and panic and deliberation and me losing to all the voices in my head, I texted her again saying, “actually, I will drink some wine. Red or white?” And it all went downhill from there.

I had been sober almost 10 months at that point, and I never saw it coming. But in retrospect, I had absolutely put myself in the position to drink. I let the anxiety and psycho thoughts build up to the point of boiling over. I didn’t reach out and talk about how I was feeling. I tried to skate by with the “I got this” mentality. I told myself I was fine. And fine was the furthest from the truth.

I drank, and then I hated myself and lived in complete and utter despair and anxiety for a solid two days. And then I called my sponsor and told her I drank.

I went to a meeting two days after my last drink, and I raised my hand, and I told a room of 40+ women that I had drank. And I cried. It was ugly. But it was the most honest thing I had done in months. And I haven’t thought about taking a drink since.

I’ve lived my entire life in the “I got this” mindset because, for most of my life, that’s what was expected and that’s just how things worked. At my lowest points, when all I really needed to do was ask for help, I did the exact opposite. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. But my slip in January has taught me so many things about sobriety and life in general. Here are a few –

  1. When your friend asks you if you drink wine and you do not, in fact, drink wine, let alone any other alcoholic beverage, it’s OKAY to say NO I DO NOT DRINK WINE OR ANY OTHER ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE FOR THAT MATTER BUT THANK YOU FOR ASKING AND ALSO PLEASE DON’T BRING ALCOHOL IN MY HOME BECAUSE IT MIGHT END UP ACCIDENTALLY DOWN MY THROAT.
  2. There’s a voice inside of you that will always know what to do. Sometimes it’s hard to hear it because all the other voices can get pretty loud and demanding and occasionally need to be babysat and shushed, but that one little voice is always there. And when it kindly suggests that you should pick up the phone and call a sober friend or you might end up drinking, it’s not an option.
  3. The consequences of drinking, for me, go far beyond the potential DUI, car wreck, property destruction, or bodily harm. The worst consequence I’ve ever experienced (and let’s just say I’ve run the gamut) was having to tell my trusting, loving husband that I drank again. It was a heart shattering experience and something I never, ever, EVER want to have to do again.
  4. Being honest about how I’m feeling, thinking, and acting isn’t just okay, it’s essential. It’s part of growing up and taking responsibility for my life and the only way I will ever be able to bloom into the woman I want to come. It’s also the only thing that will keep me sober, so there’s that.
  5. Sometimes you gotta fall down and see how shitty it is from the ground before you can really be grateful for the beauty of the chance to get back up.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, hey, if you had a slip up, if you drank your face off for a day or a week or a month or a year and you’re wondering if it’s worth it to even try to attempt the sober life again, it is. I promise. It’ll suck for a little bit, or maybe even a long bit, but the other side of the sucky part is too amazing to miss out on. So come join me.

 

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alcohol, alcoholism, coping, serenity, sleep, sober, sobriety

hello my name is Brittany and I’m honest

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God has a sense of humor. At least my God does. I imagine him as this kind, benevolent, occasionally sarcastic friend that only wants what’s best for me and that finds funny and sometimes annoying ways of showing me that. Yesterday, I went for a run. I’ve been listening to podcasts while I run and wanted to try a new one, so I chose Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons podcast. She was interviewing Glennon Doyle Melton, someone I’ve never heard of but the blurb about the podcast sounded interesting – she was a writer. Once the podcast started and Elizabeth was doing the shoutouts to the sponsors, I thought to myself, ‘I really wish I would’ve just chosen an AA podcast or a Bubble Hour podcast because right now I just want to listen to another addict/alcoholic’. Two minutes later, Glennon comes on. One of the first things she says is, “I was in hiding for the first 25 years of my life because I was an addict.”

I looked up at the sky and smirked. God, you’re pretty cool sometimes.

Glennon has an amazing story and life that is based one thing:  being honest and remaining open no matter what life throws at you. Being in a recovery program, I know all about the need to be honest and humble and committed to continually asking for willingness to listen to a voice other than my own. But listening to Glennon, I realized that I’ve only just breached the cusp of honesty in my life. Since I was a kid, honesty was important but skewed. Honesty meant not lying about whether or not I finished my homework, but it also meant that is was okay to answer “I’m fine, thanks!” when someone asked me how I was, even if on the inside I was a burning building with 200 people stuck inside. So honesty has always been an idea that has been easily mixed up in my head and that has sometimes meant saying things that weren’t always true.

I think that podcast was placed in my lap (or ears) to illuminate my ability, or lack thereof, to be honest in my life. I also think that the podcast was a sign that I need to stop bitching and moaning about wanting to write and just write. So without further ado, here are a few brutally honest facts about me that I’d rather not tell anyone but that I need to tell everyone because they are part of me. And every part of me is essential to shed light on if I’m being honest.

  1. I’m a recovering everything. If there’s something that’s even mildly addictive, I’m guaranteed to take it to the “that is called abuse, not use” level. I once took over-the-counter allergy medicine in alarming quantities every day because I thought it gave me a little kick of energy and focus. In case you’re curious, pseudoephedrine is NOT a healthy way to boost your energy. Another example – I almost overdosed on magnesium supplements because I thought it would make me a better runner. Turns out it just makes you more prone to dying in your sleep.
  2. I haven’t smoked in a cigarette in 2 years but I still wear a nicotine patch. Sometimes two. It’s a problem that I think about daily but that I’m too scared to do anything about because what if I kill someone in a nicotine withdrawal haze?
  3. I’m an energy junky. I’ll do or try anything that guarantees more energy. I got myself addicted to Adderall at the ripe old age of 19, and my comprehension of what energy/focus/motivation is has been skewed ever since. While I (unwillingly) gave up the Adderall at age 21, I still struggle on a daily basis to find a balance between what natural energy actually is and what I think it is.
  4. Making plans with people terrifies me because what if when the day of the plans rolls around I just want to lay in bed and read all day?
  5. I secretly want this blog to somehow reach 23 million readers and make me famous. But really I just want to be heard.

-B

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