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LifeRing Recovery: a self-help alternative for recovery from alcoholism and other chemical dependency. Group support for abstinence from alcohol and “drugs” by empowering the sober self within you. Completely secular: no prayers, Higher Powers or Steps.

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Going Forward (with clarity)   Sobriety/Recovery Journals

Started 2/16/14 by Elsie (Elsiek); 41073 views.
Elsie (Elsiek)

From: Elsie (Elsiek)

Aug-6

Thanks Mary, and sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you. You are so right, that negative is a hallmark of depression and it is difficult to break out of the cycle of self-blame.  I have just been poddling on, trying to engage with what is in front of me, trying to be entertained rather than horrified by the shit-show of British politics, which of course I can't do a thing about right now. 

Strange as it may seem in terms of timing, I have decided I want to wean myself off my anti-depressants. Extremely slowly. I have been taking citalopram for at least 12 years (must check exactly how long with the doctor) and I think I have to face the fact that they might not be working anymore. I had never been on them for more than a year before this time. Of course they might be helping but its really hard to know.  A lot has changed since I went on them. I tried to halve them a few months ago and totally crashed- but was this withdrawal or the return of crashing depression? Either way, halving the dose was clearly too drastic. Have been doing some reading and it may actually be that I am now dependent on them in other ways than levelling out my mood. I am starting by alternating a whole and a half dose, and planning to do that for at least a month before considering dropping it another increment. It might sound silly but it feels good to have another health goal.  I am also instigating TM at least once a day. I'm not going to impose a twice daily meditation on myself unless it feels convenient. The last time I came off SSRIs ( I was on them for post-natal depression) I found meditation was very helpful.  I also do feel that medication does affect the experience of meditation- I have balked against this suggestion in the past, it has annoyed me when TM teachers/practitioners assert this, but from experience I actually know it is true, I just wasn't ready to try to come off the meds. There are other reasons to come off it and see how I am- I'm on HRT but it has not done much to help my libido, which is of course affected by SSRIs. TMI? Hahaha. Anyway, it's a long term project. I'm anticipating it will take at least 4 months and maybe 6 to taper them off without being mashed by the inevitable withdrawal symptoms. 

When I get low the last thing I want to do is increase the medication. It is absolutely a vicious circle when I know how hideously difficult it is to get off them- or even to reduce the dose. I know my sister feels that if you have a problem with depression, you shouldn't feel bad about taking them. I agree. But equally SSRIs were touted as being non-addictive and it seems that this is actually not the case. I had an aunt addicted to valium in the 70s. It's in the nature of these things, and as we all know I'm no stranger to addiction. 

I hope you are enjoying the cooler months, I found myself hankering after a chilly day earlier! I like all the seasons but there have been some unbearably hot days here this summer. Not as terrible as France, but France isn't far away and I fear its a sign of things to come. 

I hope your dog is doing ok Mary. A dear friend of mine whose marriage has broken up and has had now to move from her nice family home sadly lost her beautiful dog a week or so ago- she is absolutely devastated. they give their whole lives to us. Dusty continues to be a bundle of fun- she got in with the chickens this morning, she doesn't attack them but likes to chase them, its to be avoided but all the squawking and flapping and rumpus did put a smile on my face. 

Off now to research chicken fencing and chicken diet. Some of their shells are rather fragile and I'm trying to enrich their surroundings because I can't have them totally free ranging. 

Hopefully catch you here soon. and thank you again.

xxx

MaryLouise3

From: MaryLouise3

Aug-8

Hi E, good to hear from you. My little dog Chub is much better after surgery -- no cancer or blockages -- and I'm hoping she  stays healthy. Good to know Dusty is  doing well and that you are now a minor-scale poultry farmer! I would love to raise chickens, had bantams when i was child, but  out here in the country we have too many large snakes and rodents as well as mongeese or mongooses, genets, hawks and falcons hovering around. Yesterday we saw a huge harrier hawk in a tree at the back of the garden eating a small hare. The hawk's wingspan was scarily  impressive.

My utter ignorance here -- I haven't got anything to say about medications and I hope you're reducing  with good trustworthy medical support.  I haven't ever really taken mood or sleep medications, very expensive and often  hard to get regularly here outside of cities. 

You know, if I  am taking flu meds or have had a cup of coffee before my early morning meditations, I notice the difference right away. Some hyper buzz or a foggy space where I want clarity, stillness. And over the years I've found that friends using meds find it hard to stay with meditation because they miss the finer, subtler sensations that come with sustained practice and being present. The quality of awareness is impaired. I do know that  I find meditation harder if I'm tired or  rattled by something, my concentration goes awry -- but the meditation is still valuable, I just ask less of it, focus on breathwork and  calming techniques. Any kind of meditation  has its uses, soothing or grounding. As I get older, I notice the backache is more of a distraction -- backache is caused mostly by my sitting writing or inputting for long hours each day and that won't change, no matter how many walks I do or how much stretching. A friend who does advanced yoga says she is highly sensitised about body sensations and energies but  can't get into her mind because she has been trained for so long to stay with the body, give all her attention to the body.

Right now all I want to do is sit with all of Toni Morrison's novels from The Bluest Eye and Sula right through Beloved and Son of Solomon, read them again. Her work has inspired and challenged me in so many ways. There are so many tributes to her all over the Internet.

Oh I envy you your chickens! Are you going to give them extra calcium? This morning I made a magnificent labneh cheese from my own homemade yoghurt and splashed on olive oil and za'atar, wished briefly I could keep goats for the milk. Billy Goat Gruff giving the hawk a beady eye.

E you do have my email address, don't you? If I can give you regular support as you reduce the dosage, let me know. And keep posting here.

xxMary

Elsie (Elsiek)

From: Elsie (Elsiek)

Aug-12

Thanks Mary, nice to hear from you. I have only read two Toni Morrison novels- The Bluest Eye and Jazz, so it's nice to have some others still to read. I have been reading some Beryl Bainbridge recently, partly because I ran out of things to read on holiday and had a couple on my kindle that I had started but for some reason had not hit the spot at the time. I heard her speak many years ago when I took my A level groups to London for a day of author presentations. I was very much taken with HER- she was talking about The Birthday Boys, which I am currently reading- and loving- her novel about Scott's ill-fated Antarctic expedition. What struck me hearing her speak was her total imaginative absorption in the story. I am not sure whether she had already finished it or was still in the midst of it - and in some senses I only paid the most cursory attention to the story she was telling that day, so struck was I by her seeming to be in a world of her own, with her dark bobbed hair, chain-smoking as she spoke, with the deeply wrinkled face of a lifelong smoker. I just remembered the parallel she drew with Peter Pan's lost boys at the end of her story. And that huge preoccupation with her subject matter, that she was completely possessed with it. I purchased it along with 'An Awfully Big Adventure' when I first got my kindle. Why there seems to be a right time to read certain books I'll never totally understand, but that's how it goes with me. 

The chickens are great, but we have a broody one. My daughter was looking after them at the weekend, failed to collect Saturday's eggs, and by the time we got back yesterday Peggy was all fluffed up and not budging from a clutch of eggs. I have to try to break the habit now. I haven't handled them really yet, but had to lift her off and plonk her out to get the eggs. She's back there again this morning so I have to try again and work out some more strategies. 

I'm so glad Chub is better. I'm visiting my friend who lost her dog on Wednesday this week, will probably take Dusty but hope that won't make her sadder. 

A week into reducing my tablets.I am aware of feeling a bit more down but nothing I can't manage as yet. Hopefully see you here again soon.

E xx

MaryLouise3

From: MaryLouise3

Sep-1

Battle to get in and the screen keeps freezing -- just to say I am reading here and hoping to be able to post soon -- if not I'll reregister as ML 4 or 5!

Is that Beryl Bainbridge novel Every Man for Himself? Loved it, my favourite Titanic novel ever and I have read most of them since A Night to Remember (published 1950s).

Love and hope the pills kick in soon --

xML

Brian (BrianB125)

From: Brian (BrianB125)

Sep-1

There's a genre of Titanic novels?  Who knew?

MaryLouise3

From: MaryLouise3

Sep-2

Another battle this morning because Delphi didn't recognise my password on the first two attempts. But in now.

Brian, I'm not sure I'd call it a genre of books on the Titanic but that sinking in 1912 was quite mysterious and  many researchers wanted to figure out  what happened. Filson Young's account was published just  a month after the ship sank.

Walter Lord's 1955 A Night to Remember  remains the classic for me. He interviewed survivors and  studied the ship-building industry, the wireless systems on  ships before WW1 and problems with sending SOS codes,  the increase in icebergs  in shipping lanes that year etc. I haven't read that much myself -- I'm curious but not preoccupied with the story. Hated the film.

Other non-fiction studies, memoirs and mystery novels include those by Robert Strange, Steve Turner, Judith B Geller and a survivor Colonel Gracie -- one source of public curiosity had to do with the wealthy and famous aboard the Titanic,  John Jacob Astor, Benjamin Guggenheim, Lady Duff Gordon etc. 

Then there is the fiction  around women and romance aboard the ship, the Irish  emigrants to the New World who travelled in steerage, Hazel Gaynor's The Girl who Came Home. Science-fiction  about the sinking too. And the  ship's dog, White Star.

Beryl Bainbridge is by far the best.

xML

In reply toRe: msg 944
Elsie (Elsiek)

From: Elsie (Elsiek)

Sep-12

It's an amazing novel worthy of comparison with The Great Gatsby.

Sorry it's been a while since i have checked in- I only have my password for Delphi on my laptop and I couldn't get my laptop connected to the internet for a full three weeks.

I have successfully dropped my medication from 20mg daily to alternating 20 with 10. Had a very depressed weekend a few weeks ago but managed to ride it and a few days later I actually started to feel a little more cheerful in the mornings. In fact I had a small epiphany- not only do anti depressants level out the difficult feelings, they may well take the edge off the more pleasant happier feelings too. I'm feeling optimistic about coming off them. I shall drop to 10mg daily at the end of this month, for at least 2 months - my husband really recommends I do it as slowly as that, as rushing it might meen I end up back on them. Husband is a doctor if anyone reading this doesn't know.

In other news I am trying not to get too frustrated by our current political situation. I've never seen anything like it in my life. 

Family life has been busy again recently although now my daughter is back at college and  my son returns to his student house next week. I am pleased to report that he has landed himself a placement at the eleventh hour so will be working in the IT department of an NHS hospital as a program analyst for the next year. he got pretty frustrated with the ridiculous number of forms he had to fill in with the same information, plus indecipherable questions that almost certainly weren't relevant. Welcome to the world of work. I'll put Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis on his Christmas List. It will in truth be helpful for him to have a solid year's work experience behind him, plus I'm sure going back into third year at university afterwards will make him really appreciate the privilege of study!

There's been this thing on Facebook- Faces and Voices of Recovery. People are telling their recovery stories. Most of them are very very dramatic involving liver failure and prison sentences. I've got a bit tired of reading them now because they make me feel like my recovery has been easy-peasy with my comfortable life circumstances. Maybe I should write one just to show it isn't only the obvious people who struggle with addiction. Possibly it's also a case of addiction just not being so obvious in more affluent situations, more easily covered up, denied, somehow even more shameful in a way, because what problem was so bad in my life that I need to drink to get away from it?  the vicious cycle of addiction is itself destructive of happiness of course. Depression is also a complex animal, not just related to your actual circumstances but also to do with unrealistic expectations of self. 

Why do you think there are so many catholics in AA meetings? not entirely a rhetorical question. I haven't mentioned my catholic upbringing much recently on here, but I was most certainly indoctrinated with an unfortunate combination of catholic self-flagellation and the Protestant Work Ethic. English Catholicism. Although my mum had Irish ancestry  she was exceptionally straight-laced, my dad was a convert from church of England. I definitely did not have the stereotypical Irish drunkard shaping my childhood world which I do think some people in recovery did have in some shape or form. Anyway it was the phrase 'unrealistic expectations of self' that made me think of my catholic upbringing. 

Enough for today. 

Hope everyone is doing well, and catch you soon. 

E xx

Brian (BrianB125)

From: Brian (BrianB125)

Sep-13

Elsie,

I remember from my days in AA what almost seemed like a competition among drinking stories. I remember thinking "gee, I never did that!"  Maybe it just having a lot of people together - they get competitive.

Good for your son too.  I have my Kaiser laminated health insurance/medicare care with my number embossed on it.  When I check in, they have to manually enter it into their computers - why not just have a card reader?  And now they ask for a picture ID - why not put my picture on the card?  And Kaiser has a very sophisticated computerized medical record system.

Brian

Elsie (Elsiek)

From: Elsie (Elsiek)

Sep-18

My husband has worked for the NHS his whole life so wasn't surprised by the number of (pointless) forms my son had to fill in. Even as a teacher I didn't ever have that much admin to do before starting. I absolutely hate unnecessary paperwork. The necessary stuff is painful enough.

I am getting paranoid about welcoming newcomers. On a couple of occasions they have gone quiet after I have posted and I go over what I've written and feel I've just got it all wrong by writing too much about myself. 

I shall leave the newcomers to more experienced hands like you and Mary. It's hard to say but I feel I'm too self-obsessed. I like expressing myself in writing and get carried away. 

Hope all is well with you Brian. Talk of healthcare in the USA does at least remind me of the good aspects of our NHS. I guess we tend to cope with what we are used to. Or not if we are in active addiction. It is worth reminding ourselves that the drinking life is all behind us- I do forget how shocking I felt for how much of the time. AA talks a lot about gratitude- I'm grateful to this forum and I'm grateful to myself for sticking at it. 

We are enjoying some lovely late summer weather here, hope you are too. 

E x

Brian (BrianB125)

From: Brian (BrianB125)

Sep-18

Elsie,

I don't think you should feel you are doing anything wrong with the newcomers.  Most people who post only do so one or two  times - that's the way it has always been.  But it has been quite for quite a while.  Mary and I have speculated that forums like this are just not very attractive anymore.  And there is nothing wrong with expressing yourself - for as long as you want - I  enjoy reading them - hearing what's happening to other people in other places.

I have a high regard for the NHS - though I've only had one experience with it.  A few years ago we took a trip to Scotland and on a hiking trip my wife tripped and broke her finger.  As she is  very serious amateur musician, this was a big concern.  We went to the NHS in Portree.  All I had to do was get our passports.  They took x-rays and sent them to an orthopedist is Aberdeen who gave instructions on how to apply a cast to take care of her finger.  They didn't have someone who had the skill to apply that kind of cast, so we drove down to Broadford.  They put the cast on, took more x-rays and sent them to the orthopedist again to check.  All this at absolutely no cost to us.  When we got back my wife went to another orthopedist who took off the cast and sent her for physical therapy.  Everything healed perfectly well and she is playing as it never happened.  

Needless to say, someone from another country would not have this experience in the US.  I'm all for medicare for all and hope we start moving toward it - but this is a very conservative country and people are afraid of change - even when things are not going well.

Brian

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