Tuesday, 31 March 2015

An addict on her own is in very bad company!

Blog 29th March 2015 It’s happened again, eating out of control. It all started on Wednesday when I was booked to go away to attend a course on dialectic behavioural therapy with my work. I was so pleased I’d been given that opportunity as I had wanted to know more about this therapy as it’s the recommended treatment for patients with personality disorder (the field I have worked in for many years) I was also interested for my own personal recovery as this treatment has proved successful in an adapted form in the treatment of addictions and risk taking behaviours. I was all set, Owen dropped me off at the station, I went straight in to Marks and Spenser’s and bought some food for the journey as I would be unable to have an evening meal due to travelling to Chester on the train. I bought some sandwiches and a bag of baked pizza chips, cheese and red onion flavour (large packet) I then justified buying a flapjack as it was seeded and in my addict mind healthy! This was the first step in dropping my guard. I did well when I got to Chester, even managing to ignore the biscuits in my room that adorned the complementary tea and coffee tray. The following day was quite torturous, temptation was all around, for breakfast I avoided the cooked buffet session and went for an omelette instead with cheese, onion and mushrooms freshly cooked in front of me (this was off plan, I am supposed to have cereal and toast) Again justification, I’m away, I deserve it, its healthy full of protein, and the killer blow, its free I need to get my money’s worth. I finished with toast and butter. I felt fine, smug almost, I convinced myself I had done very well. The actual conference was a food heaven haven, a thing of joy for an overeater. Yet the first day I resisted all trigger foods. There were even sweets on all the tables, Swizzles children’s sweets in little bowls, drum stick lollies and Palma violets along with other lovelies and they were in the centre of each and every table, no escape. Break times were no different, home-made biscuits, cakes of every descriptions endless varieties. I avoided them feeling strong. My colleague is aware of my problems and was sympathetic, encouraging even. Lunch was a veritable banquet four choices of main, plus bread rolls and butter, salad and a groaning desert table. I did well, I commended myself, shepherd’s pie, and vegetables and a bread roll (small portion) then fresh fruit salad (this was easy) Then in the evening I was planning to go to an AA meeting but when looking on the web site I found it had closed down. My colleague was going to accompany me as it was an open meeting and she was interested, she’s a clinical psychologist and was keen to find out about 12 step programme. So instead we decided to go for something to eat. I had passed a Thai restaurant earlier in the day when I went for a walk so we headed there. It was a lovely night, I slightly over ate but not to extremes. Sadly on my walk earlier I had bought another flapjack from the shop opposite and as we walked back I obsessed about it. I returned to my room shut the door and dived in. Sweet and satisfying just ramming it in, knowing that it wasn’t the right thing to do but simply not caring. On packing in the morning I stuffed the two packets of ginger biscuits from the tea tray (which I’m not even that keen on) in to my handbag. At breakfast it was like my mind-set had changed, I wolfed a cooked breakfast then a croissant, I was in freefall. I knew what I was doing but couldn’t stop myself, justifications I ate two biscuits as they were gluten free, then at lunch I thought that gluten free apple crumble would be perfectly acceptable with cream, then followed in the afternoon by not one not two but four shortbread biscuits an grabbed a handful of drum sticks to eat on the train home. I was determined then, I went to the station shop to buy another flapjack to have with a coffee, then stopped off in Crewe to buy sandwiches a grab bag of walker’s crisps and a packet of fruit tellers. This was alongside the ginger biscuits in my handbag. On the train Owen rang, “Have you eaten?” “Not much, I lied, just some sandwiches” “Shall we get a take away?” I didn’t need to be asked twice, he picked me up and we went to get 2 large Dominos pizzas, where on getting home I devoured 4 pieces! I woke up the following day, resigned but all right, today would be different. It was, until after I left the Living rooms when I discovered the half eaten packet of fruit tellers in my pocket after stuffing them in without tasting them I then drove to Sainsbury’s and bought a bag of walker’s Brazil nut toffees. I just rammed them in my mouth in the car one after the other desperately. I needed to do it. On getting home I confessed. I was in big trouble, we went to Chapter to eat and to watch a film, I made an unhealthy choice hot dog and fries and ate far too quickly again feeding something. I then went to the toilet and brought it up. After the film I was obsessing, I needed something sweet I went to the cupboard and ate cake decorations, again I knew I was doing it, I needed that sweetness that comfort that release from something. Today, I needed to tell you this. Today I want to be honest with you, today I don’t want to lie and hide, and today I want to get better. Going away from home may well be a trigger, when I left my parents’ home at 18 to come to Cardiff to do my nurse training. I put on four stone in a year. I was away from the restrictions the critical eye and voice and felt free. I’m not free today as I feel chained to this disease at the moment. I just can’t seem to get it. I was even thinking of radical acceptance to the fact that I am fat! How mad is that?

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Competition in the Recovery Stakes!

Blog 25th March 2015 Early recovery is exhausting and being with someone in early recovery can also be all consuming and relentless. I am delighted, comforted and relieved that my son has returned to the bosom of a twelve step programme. It’s been a good leveller for me and a healthy reminder of the pain and suffering this illness causes. Going to lots of meetings, being with newcomers and sharing experience, strength and hope helps me as much as it helps others. The flip side to the coin is that I have become totally and utterly preoccupied and consumed with Joe’s recovery. This happened the first time he entered in to the process, so keen was I to see him well I chivvied him everywhere. I took him to meetings, put money in the pot for him, drove him here there and everywhere, tried to control and take over his life. He was not ready; he was using recovery as a means to please me, to shut me up and to obtain money and cigarettes. My emotions would veer from ecstatic to anger to hope and despair in the blink of an eye. I was hyper sensitive to his every emotion when he was happy, I was happy when he was angry, I was furious and when he was low, I would be on high alert looking for signs of the red-eyed relapse. I would constantly quiz him, nag him to ring other members of the fellowship and follow the programme. Looking back I must have been a nightmare. I was in early recovery too and floating on a pink cloud. I realised I was in danger and enabling the other night. I lay in bed and was totally preoccupied with him using. Questions whirled around my head that were impossible to answer. I could not sleep, I kept imagining him using and the fear of him using was driving me mad. I finally drifted in to a fitful sleep where I had nightmares about attacking him physically and verbally. I even took a co-codymol to get myself off to sleep rationalising this insane addictive behaviour by pretending that I had toothache. I was unable to switch off, and unable to see the damage I was doing to my own recovery. Co-dependency at its best! Joe needs a lot of support but he also needs to toughen up stand on his own two feet and find his own way in life. I want to give him a flying start and help him as much as I can, but I have to keep myself safe in the process. If I go under and allow people, places and things to possess me, my recovery is in trouble. Joe is similar to me in many ways, one of his coping techniques is exactly the same as mine and that’s a tendency to talk ten to the dozen about himself and block everything else and everyone else out. Wyn calls it talking your feelings away or verbosity. I do it, and it’s dangerous as you are so preoccupied with yourself and your self-preservation that you don’t listen to others: you can also talk your feelings away which prevent you from actually sitting down and feeling them. I was a master of this and can still be guilty of it today. It’s quite exhausting to the people around you but the addict is oblivious to this and just keeps on and on like a Gatling gun. It generally stops when the recipient can take no more and hollers “Shut up” at the surprised addict. I, self, me. It was all about me when I was addicted and it’s all about me now. It’s one of the hardest things for us to learn to be “givers” not “takers”; I need work on this one daily. I have to take a step back and resist the urge to enable. I don’t help him when I enable and I destroy myself in the process. I hinder his recovery with that thinking, tough love and stepping back does work. Joe is living proof of that but as soon as he starts to do well there I go again treating him like a child, rewarding him, enabling, prolonging his agony; keeping him sick. Wrong things; right reasons. I’ve made some mistakes this week in the name of “love” giving him money, paying his rent, paying off a dealer. All backward steps for me and leading me to those feelings of panic, fear and resentment. Getting the balance right is tough, trust takes a long time to build and action has to be put in by the addict. Openness, honesty, willingness, forgiveness and re-establishing the family relationships are what are required. Compassion underpinned by that bond of unconditional love I feel for him. He seems committed, he’s been clean for three days today which is miraculous, he’s been attending meetings every day, 1:1s, sharing, reading, phoning, using the tools of recovery and the path has started to open. He moved in to The YMCA (I am resisting the urge to do the song and dance routine) he now has a Dr, a support worker, is in process of getting a dentist and is going to see a specialist about his ADHD and Tourettes. He has plans to improve his literacy and numeracy. He looks alive again instead of stupefied by the drugs and it’s like he’s woken up. He’s started some pre step work too and is going to get a sponsor. And I need to learn how to butt out and let him find his own recovery path and standalone to find and become the lovely person he always was and always will be. Joe could go on to help many, many, people. I am so proud of my brilliant son. As for my eating, I have been so wrapped in in Joe, I have not thought a great deal about it. I’ve stuck to my three meals a day with a small snack. I don’t seem so fixated, routine most definitely helps. I’ve also tried to identify my own feelings more this week, generally when I’m lying in bed. When I’m feeling something I’m trying to let it in and work out why it came and what it’s trying to tell me. I was overwhelmed by anxiety the other night, that electrical feeling in my stomach like a jolt shooting through me. I worked out I was worried as I had interviewed seven of the staff from the ward for a senior job last week and there was only one vacancy. I knew that I had conducted the interviews fairly and marked fairly. What I was feeling was fear, fear of disappointing people, and fear of upsetting people. Fear that people would dislike me and say unkind things about me, fear of being accused of favouritism and people thinking that I was useless and hopeless at my job. Deep seated horrible and insecurity gnawing away. I challenged these thoughts then rationalised them, I sat with the feelings and they didn’t hurt me or kill me, they were not very nice to feel but the sky didn’t cave in and I survived. This is what recovery is all about - learning to deal with life. Julie

Monday, 16 March 2015


March 15th 2015 Relapse Life can change overnight, with a relapse it’s rarely like that, there is always a seed, a seed that is planted a week, a few weeks, or a month before hand. It is a slow creeping insidious process. In the weeks leading up to my slip I had become complacent, almost flippant, bored and restless of it all. Playing lip service, using the jargon, doing the programme but not really feeling it. Taking the shortcuts, eating off plan and justifying it, making deals to myself, not sharing or being totally honest. There was a horrible inevitability about it all, life seemed quite flat. I wasn’t communicating with Owen, the connection seemed to be missing, keeping things from him for fear of anger or reprisals. I was becoming distant and paranoid feeling that if his mood was low it was because of me. The general self-seeking addict head that should have alerted me to the fact that the wolf was at the door. We planned a holiday, my idea, no consultation with him at all. I had an itch, it needed scratching. Again huffing puffing justification “we wouldn’t go anywhere if it was left up to him” I don’t think I consciously planned the relapse but the signs were there, not once did I think of planning my meals. We were half board at the hotel with a buffet type meal basis so I figured that there would be something to suit me. On the first night we got there a Saturday evening I slipped, I went over to the desert section and the only desert there I could have eaten staying on plan was technically an orange, instead I chose what I considered at the time the “next best” jelly and peaches. That seemed to go all right, no urges to binge. Sunday we walked past an ice cream stall and Owen asked if I wanted an ice cream (he totally forgot) and Owen does not have responsibility or any type of accountability for my eating disorder. I knew this was off plan, I could have said no but I took my opportunity and was in like Fllin. Then it built and built through the week and by Thursday (this was how quickly it gathered pace) I was binging and the old behaviour came crashing back. The obsession the fixation, the insane thinking. There was a Marks and Spencer’s food shop just up from the hotel. I went in for some biscuits (just one or two with my cup of tea) I kidded myself. Two packets later! I didn’t even want them when I was eating them, I didn’t taste them just that urge that compulsion to cram them all in, not to share them, the overwhelming fear and panic that there would not be enough that I wouldn’t be satisfied. I didn’t even taste the bloody biscuits; I was a free-falling cookie monster, out of control and hungry for more. The other horrible thing was that it really wasn’t working, it wasn’t doing anything for me, and in fact it was making me feel awful, hopeless, ashamed and miserable. Owen could see it too but sensibly kept quiet, silently hoping that I would come to my senses. On the last day I looked through the photographs on my I-phone and then it flooded in earnest. My feelings were out of control, I looked at those pictures and felt disgust, hatred, self-loathing, I pulled at my rolls of fat in the bathroom hating how I looked. Feelings so intense and overwhelming. I could either say “sod it “and go in for total relapse but heaven knows when I would emerge out of that? Or I could make a decision, this stops decision. I decided that it stopped the minute I got off the plane. I decided that I needed to go to three meals a day the OA stalwart. I decided that I needed to get back on eating plan and to take this illness seriously. Still I was unsure if I could, I didn’t trust myself. Go back to step one, one day at a time. Then a miracle happened, Joe my son who is an addict contacted us, he wanted us to move some belongings from his house in Tonypandy, he was being evicted and he asked us to store his things. Of course we said yes and Owen and I drove him up there. Joe was about the lowest we had ever seen him, he had reached his rock bottom, life had never been this hopeless, and he was homeless and living in the Huggard centre. He asked for help, he wanted recovery. This week I’ve accompanied him to meetings lots of meetings. We went in to recovery together initially but he was not ready, he went back out, I stayed clean and sober he relapsed. I recognised my primary addiction was eating and I was struggling, I was yet again out of the lifeboat. The action came from an unexpected source, Joe. Going to meetings with a newcomer has been the best thing that has happened to me in a long time. It has made me think about step one, share early recovery thoughts and feelings and my own eating disorder; head has not been half so troublesome or all consuming. Joe has given me strength and hope; I have looked at him and learnt. It has put my problems in more perspective. It has made me grateful. Today on Mother’s day, I have been given the greatest gift and miracle of all for myself and my family and that is recovery. Without my recovery there would be no family, no work, no relationship, no life. Its early days for Joe, the first few months are hard - openness, willingness and honesty. I need to remember that trio myself to arrest my eating disorder. I have completed a week of three meals a day, no trigger foods has been achieved by working the programme and through the help of my higher power. I’ve used my techniques from the early days of recovery, reinforced by accompanying Joe to meetings and listening to newcomers. Julie