Monday, 20 July 2015

Two contrasting events

Blog 19th July 2015 I’ve been out twice this week, to see two interesting but very contrasting events. The first one was a theatre production of the musical Sweet Charity; it was in the open air theatre in Sophia Gardens and was pure entertainment, the all singing, all dancing, feel good, toe tapping, high kicking, thigh slapping caper that some of us know and love. (I always said I should have been a gay man, my love of musicals cements this) The second event was a film documentary called Amy about the tragic and all too short life of the musician Amy Winehouse. I wanted to see this from the recovery angle, to see if they covered it “warts and all” and captured the lonely self loathing confusion and despair of addiction. I think they did. I was also reminded with flashbacks of shame of my own degenerative state at the time. My fiends nicknamed me Winehouse, how we laughed, I even went to a Halloween party dressed as her thinking that being seen as my nemesis was cool and ironic. I was fat she was tiny but under the black comedy of it all we shared more than drug and alcohol addiction, we shared an eating disorder. Think of Amy and you think of drugs, of alcohol, of jazz and soul and a voice, a beehive, Bambi legs, flicked eye liner and a dirty laugh. Amy also had a serious eating disorder she had started making herself sick at the age of 13 around the time of her parents confusing and acrimonious divorce. How we mock those afflicted by addiction, they become the bane of our jokes, we can’t look at ourselves so we point and sneer at them instead. I’m bad but I’m not as bad as her. I wonder if the comedians Graham Norton and Frankie Boyle watched that film and cringed as I did poking fun at a young girl’s painful, long drawn-out suicide mission. Like so many of us her body just gave up, it couldn’t take the battering any more. One quote that was relayed by her friend spoke volumes to me about the way she viewed life and the fact that she was a long, long way from acceptance and recovery. It was at the Grammys; she was clean and in London. She spotted her friend Juliette in the crowd crying with happiness at her success and pulled her onto the stage then whispered in her ear “Do you know, this is no fun without the drugs” Not knowing what to do without them. In the end she lost everything that she had once genuinely loved and became the addiction. It was the only way to run away and hide and she reverted to type. It could have been so different, but she was never ready and those around her with vested interest in her were never ready either. Let’s wait until these five concerts are over then she can have a rest. She’s resting now on - a vacation of a permanent kind. Sweet Charity was a different type of character, manufactured, yes, but there are such women out there. The tart with the heart, eternally optimistic, shrugging off the shoulders and getting on with it, pushed down pulled up, but never beaten, enduring it all with gritty determination and a tits and teeth attitude. Believing in the dream that good things happen and love will conquer all. Even after being jilted for the hundredth time. Seeing the bigger picture and never giving up hope. Becoming a giver not a taker and trusting it will all work out in the end. Living a positive meaningful life. Julie

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

A friend succumbs to his addiction

Blog 14th July 2015 I received some very sad news this week a friend and old work colleague committed suicide by jumping from a bridge. A final deliberate desperate act. There was no other way out for this person suicide was the only option. No way forward and no going back. Many of us in recovery have been at that jumping off place but by some divine intervention or reaching out for help we did not fall over that edge. My friend did. No one will know what was going through his mind in the build up to making that decision. He was a charismatic character, a Robin Williams-type, manic, hilariously and funny; an excellent mimic and smart, he had a wicked glint in his eye. He could also be angry, impatient and dip so low in mood that it coloured the room and everyone in it. He was one of us, an addict; he didn’t know it, I didn’t know it at the time (I was too sick and in denial myself to see it) but I know it now. His poison was women, love and sex, and boy what a tangled web he wove! He ducked and dived, lied and cheated, told them what they wanted to hear, smiled and charmed them into bed, and back they went for more and more. We kind of understood each other; I think there was a connection that two damaged people often feel when they are together. You can’t kid a kidder. He was trapped in the veneer of this character that he had created for himself - a tortured soul. As so often happens, what he showed the outside world did not reflect who he really was inside. He could not find his way in this world and be himself, he didn’t know how. I cannot imagine his pain. And for those around him and his loved ones there will be weeks, months and years of “If onlys” I said it myself today, “If only he had reached out” But he didn’t, he couldn’t. And now his family have to bury him. All I know is that this man who found life too painful to live is now at peace. Julie

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Things are getting better......

Blog 10th July I have had a good week. My eating plan is steady and enjoyable and I’m neither fighting nor obsessing about it. I have to plan and be organised and I have managed to achieve this despite a blip on Thursday when the planned tea was not ready on time. I accepted this and ate something else that was healthy and on plan instead. I find that I’m not craving as I can have some sweet things if I keep it simple and make sensible choices. I’m trying to feed my body healthy nourishing food that I would be happy to give to a child. Food is fuel and I want to fill my tank with good stuff not stuff that clogs my arteries piles on weight and makes me feel sluggish and tired all the time. I need to learn to look after my body to care for it as it’s the only one I’ve got and my illness has spent years trying to destroy it. I need to learn to treat it with respect as it has to last me the rest of my life and I’ve given it a battering over the last 47 years. I also bought a bike. It’s a big old fashioned affair with a basket and a bell. My son kindly put it together for me but teased me by putting a picture of it up on face book calling it a Grannies bike. I’ve carried on with my swimming in the mornings and have had to change pools due to a refurbishment. I now have a whole new set of pensioner friends. I look forward to the group on Monday not for the weigh-in but for the help, support, ideas and recipes that they share. I find that they give me motivation for the week and its non judgemental and kind. All they want is for you to improve your quality and standard of life fitness and health. Whereas I would have been dismissive and defensive, I’m willing to give it a go, I’m willing to put some action in and follow the plan. I’ve got nothing to lose. I have had some freedom from the obsessing this week. Driving home the other day I realised that I hadn’t thought about food since eating my lunch; that was massive for me. Something seems to have shifted, I feel lighter, and I’m trying to install a positive spin on the plan and to enjoy it. I’m sick of fighting this illness. I don’t have to fight it, I just have to accept I have it and live with it as it is part of me, but I must also trust that it can be arrested and it can be helped and managed if I let it be. Julie

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Nothing happens by mistake...

Blog 3rd July It’s been a while since I decided to put pen to paper. I had a period of slipping and sliding, caring not caring, binging not binging and generally feeling quite unhappy and miserable with myself. I started to detach and disassociate, I became angry and resentful at others. I am a star at deflecting my anger, it was never my fault it was all someone else’s. This melancholy and trauma reached a peak a few weeks ago in the Living Room where I actually walked out of a group. Instead of exploring why this was I blamed the other members of the group and the Living Room and ended up in that horrible revolving anger that is so damaging. I could feel myself pulling away, what I failed to recognise was that my addiction was winning. The defiant inner child was stamping her feet; she was rebelling and performing like a good un. It took a Sunday evening family group to release the tension. I was able to truthfully tell the group what had been bothering me and safely let go of some of the anger. I was even able to practise what I needed to say in an appropriate fashion. When I left that group I felt better. I made the decision to tackle this eating disorder. Wyn helped, he suggested that the addiction was winning, the defiance and the anger was the illness inside me and it was in the driving seat. I did not have a chance when that was the case. I was being controlled by the demon within. I had to recognise my true condition and come to see that I could not do anything about it by my own will, I had tried and failed. I was still hanging on for grim death to that control. I needed to accept and stop fighting, every time the demon called I needed to put action in and trust that my higher power would be right there beside me taking care of it all so I didn’t have to. Simple, but why did I keep relapsing? Because I did not fully concede to my full condition, I still believed deep down that one day I would be able to eat as much as I wanted and stay slim. I still believed that food was my friend and comforter and ate emotionally. I still had that need to escape from myself and feed something inside me. Everyone’s recovery is different - what worked for me may not work for someone else. I shared previously that OA although amazing for others and has helped millions was not working for this addict at this time. I struggled with the concept of abstinence. Even the word (it’s just a word Julie) has holier than though connotations for me. I did know that I needed a routine, a structure and a plan that was healthy, sensible, realistic and would fit into my life. So I have joined Slimming World contradicting everything I previously said about diets and clubs. (I’m an addict we change our minds, and I’m a woman). I’ve gone there with an open mind and a sense of humour and I have enjoyed it. It’s another way of embracing a healthy lifestyle and caring for my body. Looking after my body as though I was nurturing a small child. I will use the 12 Steps in sync with the group so my spiritual well-being and my addiction are addressed. I’m almost 2 weeks into recovery now and feel so much better; each time I have a craving I try to see that pang as my addiction and my defiance. I engage my rational mind and decide I don’t want to get into the ring and fight the demon; my higher power will come through and help me if I let it. I’m enjoying the food plan, I don’t feel restricted and I don’t feel angry as I have freedom to choose. Julie