May 1st, 2019 Continuing My Journey
Today, Rebecca and I got to sit down with a local representative of the mental health community we met through an event for Third Spacey Charity (a local mental health initiative that offers counseling services), Greg Sebell. He has been so welcoming, accepting and open to us - so thank you, Greg! Give him a follow @sebell after the support and courage he was able to instill in me today to keep expressing my journey. While talking and exploring ideas of collaboration he pointed out something that has really stuck with me.
I never knew to be as open as I am was a strength.
So again Greg, thank you.
Since my last blog, I have attended one counseling session and I am approaching another on May 13th- I can't wait! I've been sober from nicotine and marijuana for a couple of months almost now and I can still feel my mind rebalancing itself in ways I never could've imagined. It's been a struggle every day fighting the cravings my mind wants me to have but the more I talk openly about it with my partner the easier it gets. Almost a month ago we traveled home to Edmonton to see our families and friends which I really enjoyed, but I caught myself in the act of addiction even when I felt the least vulnerable.
You're told not to drink on antidepressants for a reason. We were out one night with one of Rebecca's friends for some drinks and dancing... I'd like to bring you through the addictive side of substances and how they really feel since I now feel I have a clearer mind about it all. That night we started at a local lounge on Whyte Ave with a couple of bottles of wine between the three of us. Nothing was wrong with that in my eyes, I was feeling intoxicated but not overpowered by substance. As the place closed and we weren't ready to say goodbye, one of the only night clubs left open late in Edmonton was Evolution Wonderlounge- Edmonton's gay bar! It was probably the most comfortable I've felt with other humans in a social nightlife setting. Although as comfortable as I felt around everyone there, I was not comfortable with myself. I could feel myself trying to isolate as Rebecca and her friend hit the dance floor. Dancing is always where I've been the most uncomfortable in a bar so while they danced I drank, and drank to try to open myself up more and try not to care what people thought. So I could join the party too. That's when I caught myself trying to hide from the present and wanting to hide behind the substance calculating how much money to take out from the ATM to feed my addiction and anxiety. It wasn't until the next day that I realized what I had been doing to try and cope.
Around people I don't know, I feel socially anxious, I fear what people truly think of me instead of looking at the bigger picture- what do I think of myself? Anyone close to me could tell you about the outgoing individual I can be and that's what I'm striving towards in this road to recovery.
I'm a human that craves alternative realities instead of the one I currently live in. I like to alter the state of my mind in many different ways to find happiness and that is my addiction. When I give my mind something a little different, no matter what it is, I crave more of it if it's able to alter me. This goes for nicotine, caffeine, marijuana, sugar, alcohol ... the list could go on. I've only been noticing this feeling recently because of my antidepressants. For me, I feel stable, but unstable at the same time. When we think antidepressant we tend to think of a quick solution for a depressed person. This is not true.
I've been diagnosed with clinical depression since I was 14 but chose not to work on myself until now. It only starts with you and you wanting to feel better and work on it. If you want to be able to understand depression a bit better try to remember the last time you woke up with a hangover and that feeling in your head where it says "oh why did I do this" ... that feeling of your brain saying you should not have done this is the feeling I feel every morning when I wake up. I'll usually eventually start my day, but the simplest things can trigger me back into that feeling without warning. Antidepressants have helped this. I feel more stable with my emotions lately even though my anxiety is still at an all-time high. One triggers the other.
Anxiety to me feels like an "ADHD panic attack". It will creep up on me without warning and send my thoughts elsewhere without control. One thought turns into two, two turns into four and so on... Where I find myself trying to retrace my original thought or I am stuck spiraling into the worst outcome my mind travels to. I have a huge problem staying in the moment, I am distracted by everything around me and zone out instead of keeping on task. Anxiety takes over my thoughts even while I'm trying to fall asleep my mind races to past thoughts I can't control. I think about the past or worry about my future. From events I experienced as a child to what I really want to do with my life. My dreams are very vivid since I stopped smoking, over the past month and a half I've had nightmares or dreams where I'm extremely angry almost every single night. I believe it's what's called nocturnal panic attacks. This is where my body gets so anxious while I'm asleep that I wake up with shortness of breath, intense anxiety, jaw pain from clenching, and shaking sometimes uncontrollably. I'll have uncomfortable thoughts of trying to defend myself in my dreams and I'll physically punch into the air or lunge out of bed with zero control over myself.
With all that being said, I'm beginning to truly understand who I am and how I'm feeling. I'm learning to accept and adapt to the feelings I'm experiencing because I feel it's our only way of life. I've been working on happy thoughts every day and I'm slowly trying to implement daily mindfulness techniques like meditation into my life. If you're feeling anything like I described when it comes to addiction or anxiety I ask you for the sake of your own mental health to begin seeking out help. Not only are we in Mental Health Awareness Month, but it's about the be Mental Health Awareness Week - even more of a reason to step back and check in with yourself mentally.
I will continue to write when I can about how I feel and the ways I've learned to cope (safely). I'd also like to note as of May 2nd, 2019 I've decided to commit to sobriety until I can fully understand myself 100% and have full control. For reference, this means no more alcohol either! Anyone who's going through or gone through these things and wants to offer some words of advice or encouragement, feel free to leave it in the comments below!