Tuesday, 27 January 2015
YSBRYDOLIAETH I ERAILL Meddygaeth a Dibyniaeth: Persbectif Gwraig Fy enw i yw Helen, rwyf ynghanol fy mhedwardegau, yn briod â Gwyn, Meddyg, ac mae gennym dri o blant oed ysgol. Ni chefais unrhyw hyfforddiant meddygol ac nid oes gen i unrhyw gefndir felly ychwaith. Rydw i wedi adnabod fy ngŵr am 25 mlynedd. Ym mis Hydref 2010, credais fod ein teulu wedi taro’r gwaelod hollol, yna yn ystod Haf 2014, sylweddolais ein bod eto mewn rhyw gylch dieflig lle nad oedd gen i unrhyw reolaeth ac, yn drist iawn, ychydig a wyddwn, roedd gwaeth i ddod. Mae fy ngŵr yn alcoholig ac yn adict ac mae wedi dioddef am nifer o flynyddoedd gyda phroblemau iechyd meddwl. Cymhwysodd fel Meddyg ym 1993 ac mewn ffaith, nid oedd yn yfed yr adeg honno. Llwyddodd i ennill ei FRCS (statws ymgynghorydd) yn fuan. Yn yr adran D&A daeth yn amlwg na allai gynnal gyrfa mewn D&A (mae storïau cyfoes yn amlygu hyn yn glir) ac felly, penderfynodd hyfforddi fel Meddyg Teulu (hefyd yn y newyddion ar hyn o bryd!). Mae hefyd wedi cymhwyso mewn Meddygaeth Alwedigaethol a Meddygaeth Liniarol. Fodd bynnag, o ganlyniad i lefelau straen uchel o fod yn Feddyg Teulu a hefyd yn berffeithydd wrth ei waith, mae wedi gweithio fel Locwm a Meddyg Teulu y Tu Allan i Oriau am yr 8 mlynedd ddiwethaf er mwyn iddo allu rheoli ei lwyth gwaith yn fwy effeithlon. Mae ei gydweithwyr a’i gleifion yn ei barchu’n uchel iawn am ei safonau gwybodaeth uchel a’i ofal ond, yn drist iawn, ac er mawr niwed iddo’i hun, mae hyn yn ei annog i weithio’n galetach. Roedd y defnydd o alcohol yn ei helpu i ymdopi gyda straen ei swydd a’i boen meddwl. Nid oedd byth yn yfed yn union cyn neu yn ystod ei waith. Ym mis Hydref 2010, teimlai na allai barhau gyda’i fywyd a gyrrodd i fan anghysbell ar fynydd lle yfodd lawer iawn o vodka. Yna, penderfynodd yrru adref a tharodd ei gar yn erbyn coeden ac i lawr i gwm serth. Galwyd ar y gwasanaethau brys ac yna cafodd ei gael yn euog o yfed a gyrru a gwaharddiad am 18 mis. Atgyfeiriodd ei hun i’r GMC. Cynhaliwyd ymchwiliad gyda nifer o asesiadau seiciatrig, cyfres o brofion gwaed ac alcohol, mynychu cyfarfodydd misol Grŵp Meddygon a Deintyddion Prydeinig (BDDG) a chafodd ddychwelyd i’w waith o dan oruchwyliaeth. Bu hwn yn gyfnod o straen aruthrol gan fod fy ngŵr yn hunangyflogedig a’r unig un oedd yn ennill cyflog i’r teulu. Gan nad oedd yn gallu gyrru a’n bod yn byw mewn man gwledig, byddai’n beicio 20 milltir yn rheolaidd i fynd i’w waith neu byddai’n rhaid i mi ei yrru yno - nid tasg hawdd pan oedd yn gweithio sifftiau y tu allan i oriau a’r plant yn yr ysgol. Fodd bynnag, llwyddom i ennill y frwydr hon, nid oedd fy ngŵr yn cyffwrdd ag alcohol ac roedd yn hynod o gydwybodol yn y modd yr oedd yn byw ei fywyd. Roeddwn wedi mynd gyda fy ngŵr i’r mwyafrif o’r asesiadau a chredwn o’r diwedd y byddai ei broblemau iechyd meddwl yn cael eu trin ac y byddai ein bywyd yn gwella. Fodd bynnag, yn fuan cyn i’m gŵr gael ei drwydded yrru’n ôl a chodi’r cyfyngiadau GMC, sylwais ar newid ynddo (yr hyn a wn yn awr i fod yn fater o ddychwelyd i ddig hunangyfiawn) a po fwyaf roeddwn i’n ystyried y sefyllfa, po fwyaf roeddwn i’n sylweddoli nad oedd unrhyw un wedi archwilio achos y broblem go iawn. Mae’n siŵr bod yn rhaid gwybod yr achos cyn gallu trin y symptomau? Roedd cynifer o weithwyr proffesiynol wedi bod yn rhan o’r broses, ond i mi, roedd pob un yn poeni mwy am ddilyn protocol. Digwyddodd yr achlysur mawr nesaf yn ystod haf 2014. Wrth geisio delio ag argyfwng yn y teulu estynedig 150 o filltiroedd i ffwrdd o’n cartref, penderfynodd fy ngŵr adael a gyrru adref er iddo fod wedi yfed ynghynt yn y dydd, ymddygiad cwbl afresymol. Ond eto, roedd mewn cyflwr afresymol (dyna berygl alcohol). Cafodd ddamwain car oedd yn cynnwys cerbyd arall gan anafu dau berson arall. Bu’n rhaid ei dorri o’r car, cafodd anafiadau difrifol a threuliodd dridiau mewn ysbyty. Cafodd gyfweliad gan yr heddlu a dychwelodd adref ar fore Sadwrn. Roedd hyn yn awr yn llawer rhy ddifrifol i mi a’r plant ddelio ag ef. Trefnais i’m gŵr fynd i ganolfan adfer breswyl a chytunodd i fynd yno. Fodd bynnag, ni allai aros am hyn ac yfodd ei hun yn hurt ar y bore Sul. Bydd y diwrnod hwn yn fy nghof am byth ac yng nghof ein plant; ambiwlans yn cyrraedd, fy ngŵr yn adfer ymwybyddiaeth mewn ysbyty ac yna’n dianc, heddlu’n chwilio amdano ac yn y diwedd cael ei gadw o fewn Adran 2 Deddf Iechyd Meddwl. Hynod amhleserus. Wythnos yn ddiweddarach, cyrhaeddodd fy ngŵr y ganolfan adfer ac arhosodd yno am bythefnos. Roedd yn teimlo bod y drefn yn anodd ond rydw i’n hynod ddiolchgar i’r ganolfan gan iddi wneud i’m gŵr sylweddoli pa mor anhydrin oedd ei fywyd erbyn hyn. Yna, clywsom am y Stafell Fyw sydd wedi bod yn achubiaeth i’r ddau ohonom ac i’n plant. Mae’n ganolfan adfer yn y gymuned wedi’i seilio ar gefnogaeth cyfoedion ac egwyddorion y Rhaglen 12 Cam. Rydw i’n mynychu’r cyfarfodydd Grŵp Teulu’n rheolaidd ac mae’r plant yn mynychu hefyd. Mae’n rhywle lle’r ydych chi’n teimlo’n ddiogel, nid ydych yn cael eich barnu, rydych chi’n dysgu i ddeall eich sefyllfa a sefyllfa eraill a lle’r ydych chi’n rhoi ac yn derbyn cefnogaeth. Roedd fy ngŵr yn mynychu cyfarfodydd grŵp seicotherapi’n rheolaidd a chwnsela un i un a hefyd bu mewn encil ym mis Tachwedd. Erbyn hyn, mae ar ffordd wellhad yn sicr ac yn benderfynol bod ei fywyd a’n bywydau ni wedi newid am byth, nid oes troi’n ôl. Ar 12 Rhagfyr 2014 cafodd fy ngŵr ei ddedfrydu i 27 mis o garchar o ganlyniad i’r erlyniadau yn ei erbyn o’r ddamwain car ynghynt yn y flwyddyn. Teimlai’r Barnwr y dylai fod yn gwybod yn well fel dyn proffesiynol. Mae fy ngŵr yn gwybod bod yr hyn a wnaeth yn anghywir ac y dylai gael ei gosbi; mae wedi dangos cryn edifeirwch am yr hyn a wnaeth a bydd bob amser yn edifar am hyn. Mae fy ngŵr yn awr mewn system garchar sydd mewn argyfwng ac anhrefn. Mae’r plant a fi’n gweld ei golli’n ofnadwy. Wel, mae’n bosibl eich bod yn dweud "mae hyn i gyd am eich gŵr, beth amdanoch chi?" Rydw i’n dysgu llawer amdanaf fy hun drwy’r sefyllfa boenus ac anodd hon. Bu’n rhaid i mi ofyn beth sydd orau i’r 3 phlentyn a fi ac nid dim ond i fy ngŵr. Mae’n flinedig iawn yn emosiynol. Rydw i’n credu yn yr uned deuluol. Nid wyf yn credu bod fy ngŵr yn ddyn drwg na pheryglus, i’r gwrthwyneb yn llwyr; mae’n fwyn, yn garedig ac yn ofalus, ond mae’n sâl. Mae’n awyddus i wella ac yn awr, mae yn gwella ond mae hwn yn llwybr y bu’n rhaid i ni gael hyd iddo ein hunain, ni chafwyd unrhyw arweiniad proffesiynol na chyfraniad meddygol cydnabyddedig. Fel yr amlygwyd yn ddiweddar yn y cyfryngau, mae diffyg cydnabyddiaeth ac ofn cydnabod problemau iechyd meddwl. Yn wahanol i salwch corfforol, mae’n gyflwr anweledig ac felly’n anodd i nifer ei deall. I gloi, mae rhai anawsterau mewn bywyd cynnar a swydd hynod anodd yn gofalu am eraill wedi golygu nad oedd gan fy ngŵr y dulliau ymdopi angenrheidiol ac, fel dyn proffesiynol, teimlai na ddylai bod angen iddo ofyn am help. Pan aeth i chwilio am help, nid oedd yn hawdd cael hyd iddo, nid oedd unrhyw un yn deall ei salwch yn iawn ac roedden nhw’n cyfaddawdu triniaeth oherwydd ei statws. Mae Stafell Fyw Caerdydd wedi dangos iddo beth sydd angen iddo ei wneud. Mae’r ateb mewn gwirionedd yn hynod syml, nid oes angen meddyginiaeth nac ymchwil parhaus, dim ond gostyngeiddrwydd, trugaredd, dealltwriaeth ac amser. Mae model adfer Stafell Fyw Caerdydd yn gweithio. Mae’n bosibl na fydd rhai’n deall ei gysyniad ar unwaith, oherwydd mae’n brofiad poenus ac estron. Ar hyn o bryd, mae fy ngŵr mewn carchar 180 milltir i ffwrdd oddi wrthym. Rydw i’n awr yn rhiant sengl, yn ddibynnol ar fudd-daliadau’r wladwriaeth. Rhywsut rydw i’n eithaf gwydn a chredaf fod hyn wedi’i fewnblannu ynof drwy fy magwraeth sy’n unol â nifer o egwyddorion Stafell Fyw Caerdydd. Rydw i’n fwy na pharod i drafod fy sefyllfa ymhellach. Mae fy ngŵr a minnau’n awyddus iawn i weld rhyw dda’n dod allan o’r dioddef rydyn ni, fel unigolion a theulu’n mynd drwyddo. Gellir cysylltu â mi drwy Wynford Ellis Owen yn Stafell Fyw Caerdydd. Helen
AN INSPIRATION TO OTHERS Doctors and Addiction ; A Wife's Perspective My name is Helen, I'm in my mid forties, married to Gwyn, a Doctor, and we have three school aged children. I have no medical training or background. I have known my husband for 25 years. In October 2010 I thought that our family had hit rock bottom, then in the Summer of 2014 I realised that we were again caught in a downward spiral over which I had virtually no control and sadly little did I know that there was worse to come. My husband is an alcoholic and addict, and has suffered for many years with mental health issues. He qualified as a Doctor in 1993 and in fact did not drink at that time. He soon achieved his FRCS (consultant status) in A&E, however it became apparent that a career in A&E was not sustainable (current news stories highlight this clearly), and therefore decided to train as a GP (also currently in the news!). He is also qualified in Occupational Medicine and Palliative Medicine. However, as a result of the high stress levels of being a GP and also being a perfectionist in his work, he has worked as a Locum and Out of Hours GP for the last 8 years in order that he could manage his work load more effectively. My husband is highly regarded amongst colleagues and patients for his high standards of knowledge and care but sadly this is to his own detriment; simply inducing him to work harder. Use of alcohol helped him cope with the stress of his job and the pain of his mind; he never drank directly before or during work. In October 2010 he felt unable to continue with life and drove to a remote mountain site where he consumed large amounts of vodka, he then decided to drive home and crashed his car into a tree and down a steep valley. The emergency services were called and he was subsequently found guilty of drink driving and received an 18 month driving ban. He self referred to the GMC. An investigation followed involving numerous psychiatric assessments, a regime of blood and alcohol testing, attending monthly British Doctors and Dentists Group (BDDG) meetings and he was able to return to work under supervision. This was a period of great strain as my husband was the self-employed and sole breadwinner for us, and, as he was unable to drive and we live in a rural area he would regularly cycle 20 miles to get to work or I would have to drive him - not easy when working out of hour shifts and children in school. However, we got through; my husband was abstinent from alcohol and was extremely conscientious in the way he led his life. I had accompanied my husband to the majority of his assessments and believed that at last his mental health issues would be addressed and that life for us would improve. However, shortly before my husband had his driving licence restored and GMC restrictions lifted I noticed a change, (what I now know to be the return of self-righteous indignation) and the more I considered the situation the more I realised that actually no one had truly examined the cause of the problem: surely you need to know the cause before you can treat the symptoms? So many professionals had been involved but, to my mind’s eye, everyone seemed to be concerned with following protocol. The next major event happened in the summer of 2014. In trying to deal with a crisis within the extended family 150 miles from our home, my husband decided to leave and drive home although he had drunk earlier in the day, a completely irrational behaviour. But then again he was in an irrational state (such is the danger of alcohol). He had a car crash involving another vehicle, injuring two other people, had to be cut from his car, suffered serious injuries himself and spent 3 days in hospital. He was interviewed by the police and returned home on a Saturday morning. This was now too serious for me and the children to cope with. I arranged for my husband to be admitted to a residential rehabilitation centre and he agreed to go, however he could not wait for this and drunk himself senseless on the Sunday morning. This day will be forever etched in my mind and those of our children; ambulance arriving, my husband regaining consciousness in hospital and then absconding, a police search, and ending in his retention under the Mental Health Act Section 2. Very unpleasant. A week later my husband got to the rehab centre and stayed for two weeks. He found it a hard regime but I am eternally thankful to the centre as they made my husband realise just how unmanageable his life had become. We then found The Living Room, Cardiff which has been a lifeline for both of us and our children. It is a community based recovery centre based on peer support and the principles of the 12 Step Programme. I regularly attend the Family Group Meeting and the children also attend, it is a place where you feel safe, you are not judged, you learn to understand your situation and that of others and where you both give and receive support. My husband attended regular psychotherapy group meetings and one to one counselling, and also attended a retreat in November. He is now well on the road of recovery and determined that his and our lives have changed forever, there is no turning back. On 12th December 2014 my husband received a 27 month custodial sentence as a result of charges brought against him for the car crash earlier in the year. The Judge thought that as a professional person he should have known better. My husband knows that what he did was wrong and that he should be punished; he has shown great remorse for his actions and will always feel deep regret. My husband is now in a prison system which is in meltdown and chaos. Our children and I miss him dearly. Well, you may say "this is all about your husband, what about you?" I am learning a lot about myself through this painful and difficult situation. I have had to question what is best for 3 children and myself and not just my husband. It is emotionally exhausting. I believe in family. I don't believe my husband is a bad or dangerous man, quite the opposite; he is gentle, kind, and caring, but he does have an illness. He wants to get better and indeed now is getting better but this is a path on which we have had to find our own way, there has been no professional guidance or recognised medical input. As has recently been highlighted in the media, there is a lack of recognition and a fear of acknowledging mental health issues. Unlike a physical ailment it is an invisible condition and therefore difficult for many to understand. In summary, some early life difficulties and a very stressful job caring for others has meant that my husband did not have the necessary coping mechanisms instilled in him, and as a professional felt that he should not need to ask for help. When he did look for help it was not easy to find, his illness wasn't fully understood and treatment was compromised by his status. The Living Room, Cardiff has shown him what he needs to do. The solution is actually very simple, doesn't involve medication or masses of research, just humility, compassion, understanding and time. The Living Room, Cardiff recovery model works: some may not grasp its concept straight away, because it is both a painful and foreign experience. My husband is currently in prison 180 miles away from us. I am now a lone parent, reliant on state benefits; somehow I have a resilience which I believe was instilled in me through my upbringing which is line with many of the principles of the Living Room, Cardiff. I am more than willing to discuss my situation further; both my husband and myself want some good to come of the suffering that we, as individuals and a family, are going through. I can be contacted via Wynford Ellis Owen at The Living Room, Cardiff. Helen.
Saturday, 24 January 2015
Blog January 18th to January 25th Step 1: We admitted that we were powerless over our eating that our lives had become unmanageable OK here it goes. Powerlessness. Surrender. Throwing down the gauntlet. Can’t go on with it but can’t envisage life without it. But its food I shout, I cry, I stamp my feet, you have to eat to live. I don’t have to drink alcohol, I don’t have to take drugs, and I don’t have to over spend, gamble, fall in love, have sex, and exercise frantically. But I do have to eat. So how then can I be powerless over something I have to do every day to stay alive, how can my “body fuel” become such an enemy to me? How can food rule and obsess my life? How can food preoccupy so much of my time? Why, when I am in the middle of eating one meal do I start thinking about what I can scoff next? Why, when I’m in bed, am I thinking about when I can next go out for a meal or have a takeaway? Why do I look at my plate, fridge, and cupboards and panic that there won’t be enough? Why am I fearful that someone will take food off my plate when I am eating? Or, when preparing food, why do I make enough to feed a small town in West Wales? Why did I hide food all around the house and in the car? Why did I hide and secret wrappers? Why did I buy food pretending it was for others then eat it myself? Why did I lie and make excuses to go to the shop pretending it was for milk when it was for chocolate that I would eat in the lane on the way home? Why, when my partner found my hidden stash and put it in the bin, did I retrieve it from the bin to eat with a feeling of hatred and shame so strong that it overwhelmed me? Why did I develop stretch marks that were so severe they left violent red marks over my abdomen (and not through pregnancy)? Why have I got clothes in my wardrobe that range from 14 to 26? Why did I eat until I felt physically sick, bloated and lay in bed groaning? Why did I have a gastric band? Why did I develop bulimia? Why did I get a stomach ulcer? Why did my teeth start decaying? Why did my hair start to fall out? Why did I develop a Vitamin B 12 deficiency? Why am I obsessed with certain foods, yet repelled by others? Why did I comfort myself and treat myself with food? Why did I feel that I had earned and deserved a treat when I did a hard day’s work or had to deal with uncomfortable or upsetting news? Why did I self-medicate with food? Why did I buy food to share and feed others pretending I was the generous host as an excuse to over-eat myself? Why, as a child, did I steal food from my mother’s secret stashes? Why did I raid the cupboards when my parents were out looking for something, anything sweet, eating cake decorations and cooking chocolate? Why did I think that my life would be perfect at 11 stone, then when I was 11 stone it wasn’t? Why did I get obsessed with weighing myself? Why did I go on hundreds of weird and wonderful diets? Why did I go vegan? Why did I buy diet pills? Why did I go to the doctor for Orlistat which caused me to shit myself in Sainsbury’s? Why did I buy clothes 2 sizes too small to “slim” in to? Why did I pretend to have a huge interest in cooking and baking recipes and trying out new dishes? Why did I take food in to work or round to other people’s houses? Why did everyone buy me chocolate as a present? Why did I never weigh myself? Why did I constantly compare my weight to others? Am I as big as her? I feel like a heifer next to her? Why did I laugh along when people called me fat or make jokes at my own expense? Why couldn’t I stop eating? Why can’t I admit that I’m powerless over food and that my life has become unmanageable? Maybe the following question and answer examples will clear it up. What happened? I was 8, I went to a birthday party, and they had “snowballs” marshmallow cakes covered in coconut and chocolate. I loved them. Why did it happen? I loved the taste and the texture. My mother never bought them. I could never have just one; there was a whole plate of them. I was greedy. Who was involved? The girl whose birthday it was, school friends, her family, my mother. What were the consequences damage? I felt sick and bloated. When I went home I was sick. I never touched another “snowball again” Explore the loss of control, how it affected you and others I felt ill, greedy and loved them so much I couldn’t stop eating them, they were new and delicious, I felt as though I’d let my mother down, I was told I was a glutton and it was my own fault that I was sick for eating too much. I felt embarrassed ashamed and different. I felt humiliated that I had been greedy in front of other children and adults. My mother was angry and disapproved; she was embarrassed and told me that I couldn’t eat “snow balls” again Julie
Monday, 19 January 2015
Blog 18th of January Well the co-dependent parents have struck again, off with our pants over our trousers on a mission of mercy to Tonypandy. We have been so good, so focused so strong, how quickly we forgot, how simple is it to unlearn all we have learnt and see it unravel in our hands. The text came: Desperate, pleading horrible, this time there is an added complication, his girlfriend is pregnant, eight weeks and in hospital with morning sickness, the hospital is 7 miles from his house, he’s being evicted, they haven’t paid their rent, their benefits have been stopped and on and on it goes the catalogue of disaster’s in my mini me’s life. All achingly familiar. What did we do? Yet again all the wrong things for the right reasons. We sat and talked it through before hand Me, “What do we do? We need a plan” Owen, “I don’t know” Me, (getting angry) just wanting someone to tell me what to do, “What do you want to do?” Owen, “I don’t know” Me, “I know what I want to do, but I know I we shouldn’t do it” Owen “Trouble is if we do it once it will happen again and again” And so it went on and on, discussing, getting nowhere apart from angry with each other. Then at last a decision that I made: we would help, we would get him food a train ticket and some electricity but no money. That vow went out of the window as soon as we clapped eyes on him. It was the first time we had been there, a tiny terraced house on top of a hill that seemed to go on for ever, in Clydach Vale AKA the arse end of beyond. This is where he had escaped to! With his pregnant girlfriend in tow, it was all very hopeless and unmanageable and again all of his own making. We were in the same hamster’s wheel as we were a year ago, two years ago, three years ago, and so on and so forth. This time with the responsibility for a soon-to-be born child looming over him. We did what we shouldn’t have done, we should have stood back. We didn’t, we listened to this long garbled speech about what had happened, what plan they had, how all he needed was a job and to get back to Cardiff, and how he needed to change. When my son is up and running like this he doesn’t draw breath. He wanted to come back to Cardiff to sort himself out; he would go to the Living Room for help. He knows the right things to say the right buttons to press and we listen patiently, hoping, wishing that this time it would be true. Her parents had been helping out a lot this, meant added pressure and guilt, he could offer nothing. So, yet again, we extended the arm of enablement and did the following: Took him shopping to Asda Paid eighty quid in to his bank, to clear his overdraft and buy him a weekly train ticket, and bought him a pouch of tobacco. Was this the right thing? Probably not. Did it change anything? Definitely not. Did we feel better? No we didn’t, we have entered the arena again. The game has resumed. We know a whole lot more than we once did and yet it’s happened again. We both feel shitty, but would we have felt better if we hadn’t helped? Would we have felt worse? Doing the wrong things for the right reasons. Julie
Sunday, 18 January 2015
Blog 11th January to 18th of January - I had a plan, however, someone else had a better one. Another week another recovery milestone. Saturday night a work mate who I am very fond of was having a leaving do, moving on to pastures new. I would normally avoid something like this like the plague. Dangerous territory for a recovering alcoholic. A bar in the centre of Cardiff Saturday night a regular haunt in my drinking days. Yet I wanted to go, as I liked the person immensely and I am grateful for the help and support she’s given me. I formed a cunning plan (well it was a plan but not particularly cunning) I would go, I was on call so that was yet another security measure, I would sit with the two members of staff who were pregnant and I would only stay for a few hours and leave when it started to get messy. If I had followed the last part of the plan I would have stayed for 5 minutes as even when I got there people were staggering about like bambi on ice and had a bell on every tooth. On the way there on the number 17 bus we past a local hotel and rather seedy drinking hole, I looked up and saw the sign illuminated in the bus window, it said “Wynford” Bloody hell I thought, he gets everywhere! It’s a sign. I arrived, let out a deep breath, and said a silent “God please help me to be myself” and asked the leaving girl what she wanted to drink. “A bottle of Prosecco” she said (bloody hell a girl after my old heart and old ways I thought) I have not presented myself at a bar or ordered an alcoholic drink since September 2014. It felt strange and I felt self-conscious for some reason. I ordered the bottle and a lemonade for myself, when the barman handed me the bottle and asked me how many glasses without thinking I said one, he gave me an odd look then poked a straw in the bottle, a novel touch! The rest of the night was good fun, I was nominated as the photographer, one of the girls had a selfie stick, endless hours of amusement were had with this and it was good for me as it gave me a purpose and I knew I was collecting memories that she could look back on in the future. It also did my self-esteem the power of good, I remembered people who are drunk feel that it is their God given right to tell you what they think of you and fortunately in my case it was all good. (Had I have stayed out later maybe that would have changed) I was grabbed, hugged, slobbered on, and at one stage my face was licked! I found out loads of spurious gossip about who fancied who and who had done what to whom on other night outs. Another observation was the music, it was so loud you could barely hear yourself think, I spoke to every one as though they were stone deaf and signed like the man from Vison on. It was amusing for a while and I felt at ease and in control. The one thing that surprised me was that the older people seemed to be drunker that the younger ones, especially the women (maybe they are out of practise or just don’t go out as much). At 10.30 I decided to call it a night, I gave my buddy a big hug (by this stage she was sobbing wildly) told her I was glad to see her being vulnerable which made her smile and added that she could always come back if she hated the new job, then into the night I went, but this time to the safety of my home and bed. I felt strangely satisfied, proud even; I had proved I could do it, it felt good. It felt even better in the morning no hangover and a clear recall Thinking back to what I enjoyed about drinking I think I enjoyed the irresponsibility of it all so that I got to that state where I just wanted my needs met instantly just like a child. My friends used to say that I behaved in a very childlike fashion throwing tantrums, sulking, saying exactly what I thought with no consideration for anyone else and finding ways to be obnoxiously rude. I found this hilarious, but in reality it was reckless, dangerous and fool hardy; a damaged child with an out of control ego. I used to say I loved drinking because I loved being out of control, I loved the feeling of hedonism and highness. Now I know that in this state I was unleashing the hurt inner child who was crying ‘notice me, tell me I’m wonderful’. I was a little girl in the body of a fully grown woman and a handful at that. Changes, I’m going through changes (in the words of Ozzy) Blog Tuesday the 13th of January Met Wyn today to come up with the next stage in my eating plan These are the changes I proposed: Stick to my abstinence chocolate cakes sweets biscuits and deserts Eat a piece of fruit at lunch time with my lunch or something green (salad) No takeaways Drop morning and evening snack. Flexibility sometimes eat main meal at lunch, if needed and eat lunch at teatime Only put one teaspoon of butter on toast or bread Work towards decreasing fat intake Recommit to plan It started with me saying these are the changes I am willing to make. Willing spat through gritted teeth. What followed was a bit of a wakeup call. Interesting meeting with Wyn, he told me that I didn’t seem very happy in my recovery from this eating disorder that I seemed to be struggling with it, obsessed by it and resentful towards it. All those things are true. In recovery from alcohol this is what is known as being ‘dry drunk’. These are people who have stopped drinking but are bitter and twisted about this fact and hanker after the old days of one more blow-out. They are non-accepting of the fact that they are powerless over alcohol and tend to be deeply unhappy people. Lately I have been spending my days angrily looking at sweet foods like a petulant child, sulking, kicking back and moaning that I will never be able to eat them again. I must be presenting in this way with food. I have a choice here I could just give it up and jump back on the good ship over eater, or just give up the fight surrender to it and leave it to God. I need to view certain foods in the same way as drugs and alcohol as “poison” and bad for me and realise that suggestions are given to me not to punish me or to criticise me but to help love and cherish my body that has been given to me and I should want to look after it in the best way I can. I say I don’t like myself then continue to put this crap in my body then wonder why my self-esteem is in bits - self-fulfilling prophesy really, and then I spend days beating myself up for doing it and listening to the voice of the over-critical parent booming at me. There seem to be rather a lot of barriers, negative thinking, lies and insanity around a lot of my thought processes which are all causing this internal conflict. When discussing this with Wyn he asked me to think back to my last binge and what was so glorious about it. It was even difficult to do that, as it wasn’t so much a binge, I sat there and stuffed so much that I was physically sick, it was more of a grazing binge, up and down, ramming handfuls of chocolate hidden in a secret hiding place then sitting back on the sofa (thinking that no one had noticed) until the next set of adverts came on and I repeated it and so on. I explained to Wyn that in OA people had spoken about having health warnings from GP and abnormal tests and now they had followed the programme they were back to normal, which never happened to me. In fact it has been the other way; I stopped over eating and developed IBS. I’ve always had the constitution of an ox and a degree of natural fitness whether I was 11 stone or 22 stone. I also spoke of OA food plans and how the thought of weighing and measuring for me was insanity as was weighing myself. I also know that if I did this I would take the yo-yo diet pathway and start restriction and exercising like I’m Usian Bolt on speed. l Frustration and anger at being on this plan for 3 coming up to four months and not being 5 stone less as would happen in the past, then beating myself up and hating myself because it’s not happening NOW! NOW! NOW! I am getting on my own nerves and feel guilty for Wyn having to listen to these justifications, negativity and hopeless statements. But listen he does with endless patience, encouragement and unconditional love. When he suggested that I go back to overeating I was horrified and recognised that that really was not an option We came to a solution, which was to work step 1. I have a homework exercise which I will share in my blog. I have to find at least 10 examples of my powerlessness regarding over eating and my eating disorder. I have to briefly state the following What happened? Where did it happen? Who was involved? Why did it happen? What were the consequences? Then explore the loss of control and how it affected myself and others. Oddly enough this evening I feel calmer and less pressured to be perfect. As Wyn says today I am exactly where I should be in my recovery. I do not want to go back, but I know I have to change my attitude in order to be free of food and compulsive food behaviour. Small changes to the eating plan, nothing major, nothing drastic and keeping it simple and working step 1. Julie
Sunday, 11 January 2015
Blog 4th to the 11th of January 2015 And another addiction raises its ugly head! It’s been one of those weeks when I’ve been feeling restless, tired, stressed and irritable. It’s also been a week when I’ve had to come clean and look at another one of my addictions that has leapt to attention and that’s my over spending. I shared last week that my food battle had raged over Christmas but I totally ignored the fact that I had been using my spending to try and cope with the battle. Basically I have been buying crap, not just crap for me but crap for other people too. Books, cosmetics, clothes, CDs, books for Owen that he did not ask for or particularly want, and this little spending spree has totalled £400! A mere drop in the ocean compared to what I’ve spent in the past but nevertheless worrying and out of control. And as us addicts do I was justifying it (well I don’t drink, smoke or eat blah blah blah!), I’ll pay it back, and this old china: I’m not being dishonest I’ve just failed to mention it. On Wednesday evening I was confronted by Owen who was no doubt suspicious with all the Fleabay and Amazon special deliveries and the fact that I’m on first name terms with the postman. Sometimes it’s a real bugger being in recovery as you can’t lie any more, not even a little white one; you have to be honest. Owen was direct as usual, “You haven’t put the rest of the money in the joint account love, why?” “Ummm!?” long silent pause “I spent it.” “Are you overdrawn?” Instead of my past rants of “What’s it got to do with you? Stop trying to control me you materialistic bastard”, I was forced to admit that yes, once again, one of my addictions was spiralling out of control. I feel like a cornered rat when that happens - looking frantically for some explanation that sounds plausible. Knowing that there really isn’t one! “On what? How much?” no point in lying “Four hundred quid - on meals, books, CDs. Oh, who am I trying to kid? Rubbish stuff, stuff I don’t want or need.” It’s so easy online, you just press the PayPal button and wham, and it’s yours. Instant gratification and it doesn’t even feel as if you’ve spent money. It’s like it’s free and it gives me a buzz, then the parcel comes and it’s great to rip it open and admire what I’ve bought. Trouble is that that feeling is transient; it lasts for a few minutes only. I have racks of clothes that I never wear, books that have never been read, and boxes of stuff that I have never used. Annie my daughter says she’s glad I don’t live alone or I would be a hoarder and unable to move for all the piled up stuff. When I think about it I get annoyed with myself. The one saving grace is that I recognised it and I owned up to it. In the past I would just extend the overdraft, hide statements or not open them, never check my bank account and just keep on buying. The thought of going without, saving or budgeting just didn’t occur to me. I was and still am come-day go-day with money, totally irresponsible and childlike. Maybe it’s because I was an only child and my mother shows her love to me in a materialistic way. I was fortunate as a child and did not want for anything, sometimes I had to wait for birthdays and Christmases but, as a rule, if I wanted something I got it. I also hate the idea of waiting for something; its instant gratification all the way for me. Recovery is an opportunity, therefore, for me to learn that it will happen, ‘sometimes quickly sometimes slowly’. I need to look at my relationship with money as part of this process. And, when you try to work the programme for one, two or three addiction another one, sometimes, will pop out and rear its ugly head. One day I may be free from using external things to make me feel better about myself. I can only do that if I’m honest. As for food: being back at work has been good for me. Routine, structure, discipline and the end of the holidays equals being more manageable. I am following the plan and not over eating. Work has got very busy and is the most challenging it’s been since I started there, I’m constantly tuning in to the Higher Power throughout the day to asking for help. I’m trying to laugh and not take things too seriously and accept that the stress and pressure are par for the course for the time being. I’ve been doing OK - a little irritable on occasions but using step 10 to check myself and apologise to others if I overreact. I was especially irritable on Monday morning when I went for my early morning swim; there was an influx of New Year resolutioners there and I was furious. Normally I have the pool to myself and I bask like a Hollywood star pretending it’s my own private pool. On Monday I was joined by 10 other eager swimmers and I was not best pleased. I was struck by flailing limbs; I swallowed water, and silently cursed them all. How dare they all invade my pool! I was Mrs outraged of Canton! On getting to work I exclaimed my horror to the delight of my colleagues who found it all highly amusing and made me see how unreasonable I was being. They reassured me that the new influx of swimmers would probably disappear in a few weeks’ time. Tuesday’s new step meeting got off to a flying start and we explored Step 1 this week. It was a brutally honest and emotive meeting; we shared our stories of powerlessness and our rock bottoms. There was lots of identification, support, love and compassion in the room. And that’s what recovery is all about. Julie
Sunday, 4 January 2015
Blog Dec 28th to Jan 2015 Happy New Year. I woke up on New Year’s Day feeling positively optimistic and with a sense of excitement at what the year ahead might bring. In the past New Year has always been a bit of an anti-climax. New Year’s resolutions -or as Annie called them, New Year’s revolutions - were generally made with the best of intentions but broken before I was half way through January. I had given up on going out on New Year’s Eve Years ago; one too many brawls, arguments or situations spent sobbing at the moon on an outside fire escape had put me off for life. New Year’s day was also a huge cop out, often spent in bed with a hangover or if did make it up I would lie on the sofa feeling sorry for myself making everyone else suffer alongside me. This year was not like that, I spent it in my favourite place with my favourite people, in the Living Room. Surrounded by friends and family who love me unconditionally, I didn’t have to put on a face, I could just be me and that was good. It was a lovely night, lots of fun laughter and love. The obsession for food is still there raging inside me, it still occupies a lot of my time and thoughts but it is getting less. I know for it to work I have to truly surrender to it, I’m working towards doing that and some days are easier than others. There is still a fight going on inside me. The mental obsession begins when I open my eyes in the morning and continues periodically throughout the day, planning and thinking about the next meal often while I’m eating one! I have to try and stay in the moment when I’m eating. I’m not making any new year’s resolutions this year; when you work the steps it’s one day at a time. I have set goals for myself that I thought I would share; the goals are in no particular order: Continue to develop loving healthy relationships with my partner family and friends, and continue to attend family group Work towards a healthy body weight, with the help of 1:1s, food plans, steps, groups, service, prayers, Just For Today step work book and working the steps within my eating disorder from step 1 onwards. Attend the step group at the Living Room. Continue with my blog and creative writing and join a writing group in the New Year Continue with my mosaic project Look into and explore options for further education in the field of addictions, looking specifically at eating disorders, issues within addiction and people with multiple addictions Attend the retreats, help others, find my purpose, continue to explore and develop my relationship with my higher power, and enjoy my life. I’m currently trying to prepare myself for the change in my eating plan, to accept the advice I’m given willingly without kicking and screaming and going in to inner child. I know I have to do these things to get well but there’s still that sulky teenager screaming inside. I’ve given up the booze; I’ve given up the drugs now you want my food addiction removed too! I also know I’ve been playing with the eating plan again, swapping meals round, over-eating at times, eating some things more often than I should, bargaining, and making little deals with myself. These things are dangerous and if I continue I know I will be tipped back into active addiction. I maintained my abstinence over Christmas and New Year as in no biscuits, cake, sweets or chocolate. I know I need to move my abstinence up a notch and look at the other food groups that I may be eating too much of - namely fat and carbs. And I’m scared, scared of restricting myself to an unachievable goal that will result in that “Fuck it” moment. (Apologies for the swearing, but only that word seems to sum it up for me) I know I have to shift and change that mind-set and attitude but it’s difficult to know how as I don’t know why I’m hanging on to it. It may be defiance (rebellion), it may be conditioning, it may be habit, fear, self-sabotage, and goodness knows what else, but I have to find the courage to go there and really look at it warts and all. That’s what this New Year is all about for me. I see Wyn on the 13th so I have just over a week to get used to the idea of change and try and look at it positively and without reservation. I pray for the willingness to do that. Julie
Friday, 2 January 2015
New Year’s Day is traditionally a slow news day for the national press and broadcast media, but within hours of Big Ben's chimes a tragedy has been reported around the globe from China. In Shanghai, dozens of people appear to have been killed in a stampede caused by someone throwing dollar bills from a window during a New Year’s Eve celebration. Whilst it must be almost impossible to understand the depth of shock and grief that the victims’ loved ones must be feeling, the actual causes of the tragedy are all too easy to understand. China, Britain and nearly every other country in the world share a common, globalised culture of consumption that periodically reveals itself as pure madness, but the rest of the time simply exists in our shared subconscious as feelings of discontent. Before Christmas, Britain was treated to its first ever 'Black Friday', a tradition imported from America, where the public consents to debase itself in a desperate scrabble for discounted electricals and clothes. A few weeks later, in another retail-invented tradition, 'Panic Saturday', shoppers spent billions in one last blow-out before Christmas Day. There is of course, nothing wrong with shopping, spending and gift buying; in our society based on wealth, ownership and commercial values, often gift buying is the only language we have left to articulate our love and affection for one another. However, there seems to be little evidence that endless shopping, spending and consuming makes any of us much happier in the long run, the annual statistics for hospital admissions due to alcohol poisoning, family break-ups and calls to the Samaritans at Christmas time bear this out. In 1955 the psychoanalyst and social philosopher Erich Fromm wrote his book The Sane Society, based on his observations of American life at the most prosperous moment in the country's history. He observed that America was very effective in providing for the material needs of its citizens, feeding, clothing, housing, transporting and entertaining millions of people, but at the same time the numbers of suicides, drug addictions and violent crimes also increased. Fromm argued that consumerism could provide for material needs but not for the deeper and more intrinsic human and spiritual needs that all individuals crave. His ideas are still relevant sixty years later, but sadly have never been more overlooked. The ritual that is our modern consumerist Christmas offers very little that can address what most human beings desire. A sense of genuine authentic connection with other people, an ability to drop the pretences and acts that society requires us to adopt and be real and therefore vulnerable, and an ability to reject the mass stupefecation that consumerism entails - these are real human values. We as a culture are not so unlike the victims of the Shanghai tragedy, our fixation on the material has forced us to abandon the more difficult and challenging (but far more important) process of internal exploration and connection. Christmas simply becomes another device, much as drinking, gambling, drug use or sex have become, for keeping that which is real at arm’s length. Once the party is over, however, reality inevitably intrudes and for some an opportunity to break with endless cycles of bingeing and purging emerge. For some 2015 can be something more than a periodic stampede charge for flat screen televisions and a time to address real human needs.
Yn draddodiadol, mae Dydd Calan yn ddiwrnod tenau o safbwynt newyddion i’r wasg genedlaethol a’r cyfryngau darlledu, ond o fewn oriau i glychau Big Ben, adroddwyd ar draws y byd am drasiedi yn Tseina. Yn Shanghai, mae’n ymddangos bod dwsinau o bobl wedi’u lladd mewn rhuthrad a achoswyd gan rywun yn taflu doleri o ffenestr yn ystod dathliad Nos Galan. Er ei bod bron yn amhosibl deall dyfnder sioc a galar ceraint y dioddefwyr, mae achosion go iawn y trasiedi’n hynod o hawdd i’w deall. Mae Tseina, Prydain a bron pob gwlad arall yn y byd yn rhannu diwylliant cyffredin o dreuliant sy’n achlysurol yn datgelu ei hun fel ynfydrwydd pur, ond y gweddill o’r amser sy’n bodoli yn ein hisymwybod cyffredinol fel teimladau o anniddigrwydd. Cyn y Nadolig, cafodd Prydain ei blas cyntaf erioed o ‘Ddydd Gwener Gwallgof’, traddodiad a gafodd ei fewnforio o’r America lle mae’r cyhoedd yn cytuno i iselhau ei hunain mewn sgrialfa hollol wirion am nwyddau trydanol a dillad am brisiau gostyngol. Ychydig wythnosau’n ddiweddarach, mewn traddodiad arall a grëwyd mewn mân werthu, ‘Dydd Sadwrn Gwyllt’, roedd siopwyr yn gwario biliynau mewn un ymdrech fawr cyn Dydd Nadolig. Wrth gwrs, nid oes unrhyw beth o’i le mewn siopa, gwario a phrynu anrhegion. Yn ein cymdeithas sydd wedi’i seilio ar gyfoeth, perchnogaeth a gwerthoedd masnachol, yn aml, prynu anrhegion yw’r unig iaith sydd gennym ar ôl i fynegi ein cariad a’n serch tuag at ein gilydd. Fodd bynnag, ychydig o dystiolaeth sydd bod siopa, gwario a threulio diddiwedd yn gwneud unrhyw un ohonom yn hapusach yn y pen draw. Mae ystadegau blynyddol am dderbyniadau mewn ysbytai oherwydd gwenwyn alcohol, teuluoedd yn chwalu a galwadau at y Samariaid yn ystod cyfnod y Nadolig, yn dystiolaeth o hyn. Ym 1955 ysgrifennodd y seicdreiddydd a’r athronydd cymdeithasol, Erich Fromm, ei lyfr The Sane Society. Mae wedi’i seilio ar ei arsylwadau o fywyd yn America ar yr amser mwyaf ffyniannus yn hanes y wlad. Gwelodd fod America’n hynod effeithlon yn darparu anghenion materol ei dinasyddion - bwyd, dillad, tai, cludiant a diddanu miliynau o bobl ond, ar yr un pryd, roedd y nifer o hunanladdiadau, dibyniaeth ar gyffuriau a throseddau treisgar hefyd wedi cynyddu. Dadl Fromm oedd y gallai diwylliant prynu ddarparu anghenion materol ond nid anghenion dynol ac ysbrydol dyfnach a mwy hanfodol y mae unigolion yn crefu amdanyn nhw. Mae ei syniadau yn dal yn berthnasol trigain mlynedd yn ddiweddarach, ond, yn drist iawn, erioed wedi cael eu hanwybyddu gymaint. Ychydig iawn y mae defod y diwylliant prynu modern adeg y Nadolig yn ei gynnig. Nid yw’n gallu diwallu’r hyn y mae’r mwyafrif o bobl yn ei ddymuno – y syniad o gyswllt dilys go iawn gyda phobl eraill, y gallu i chwalu rhithiau a gweithrediadau y mae cymdeithas yn disgwyl i ni eu mabwysiadu a bod yn real ac felly’n fregus a gallu gwrthod y gwallgofrwydd eang sydd ynghlwm gyda’r diwylliant prynu - gwerthoedd dynol go iawn yw’r rhain. Nid ydym ni fel diwylliant mor wahanol â hynny i ddioddefwyr trasiedi Shanghai, mae ein hobsesiwn gyda’r materol wedi ein gorfodi i roi’r gorau i’r broses anos a mwy heriol (ond llawer pwysicach) o ymchwiliad a chyswllt mewnol. Mae’r Nadolig yn datblygu’n ddyfais arall, fel yfed, gamblo, defnyddio cyffuriau neu ryw er mwyn cadw’r hyn sy’n real o hyd braich. Unwaith mae’r parti wedi gorffen, fodd bynnag, mae realaeth yn dod I’r amlwg ac i rai mae’n gyfle i dorri’r cylchoedd diddiwedd o or-yfed mewn pyliau ac i lwyrlanhau ddechrau. I rai, gall 2015 fod yn rhywbeth mwy na rhuthrad gwyllt tymhorol am deledu sgrin fflat ond yn amser i ddelio ag anghenion dynol go iawn.