Monday, 27 June 2016

Butterfly Blog Number Two

Butterfly Blog Number Two (24/06/2016) Greetings and welcome to the second edition of the butterfly blog. Developing your support network The first few weeks I have to say were about getting through each day clean and sober by whatever means possible. In times gone by when I had tried to stop I didn't change any of my other unhelpful behaviours that sat alongside the addiction. So for example I'd still lay in bed all day isolating myself and hiding away. I didn't reach out to anyone as I was convinced that I didn't deserve to be helped, supported or loved by anyone, but trying to do it on my own didn't work. We all need support in fighting the addiction demon. So this time I knew I had to be more active and put more effort into my recovery. I guess one of the reasons why I had been actively addicted for so long is because I was waiting for there to be an easy solution and eventually I had to get my head round the fact that there was no easy, quick fix. That I would have to work at getting well. A major challenge for me has been social anxiety and trusting anyone enough to let them in. My main source of support has come from all the people I have met at the Living Room Cardiff (LR), and I have spent every weekday at the LR since I stopped using skunk cannabis. I have made some great friends here, people who know the ups and downs of addiction and recovery. People who do not judge because they have gone through similar experiences. People who see the good in you at a time when the addiction has robbed you of all your self-esteem and self-love. People who will listen and understand. At first I found accepting this love and support very difficult because I struggle with such a low opinion of myself, and like many of us I have issues around trusting other human beings. I hold some very unhelpful beliefs about myself and others too which create barriers to letting people in. Such as “I am unlovable”, “I am not good enough”, “I am not worthy or deserving of love and support”, and “people will hurt and abandon me” etc. But my friends at the Living Room have been so patient with me during the ups and downs of the first month. They have provided me with a perspective that has challenged my unhelpful beliefs, seeing good things in me which I could not see in myself. They have challenged me and supported me, and accepted me however I’ve been. So I believe through my experience that developing a good social support network in recovery is so very important. Don't try to cope on your own - reach out. Accepting step one of the 12 steps of AA / NA Admit and accept that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addiction and that your life has become unmanageable. Over the last month I have struggled with this step. Prior to stopping, whilst still in the active addiction phase, I thought I had this idea nailed, but it turned out I may have grasped it intellectually (I knew it) but I hadn't truly got it (I hadn't truly accepted it). Over the last month I have had a few slips, usually at weekends when I am not at the LR and I have to deal with spending more time alone with myself, including all my thoughts, feelings, cravings etc. During the week I felt safer and more confident that I would not use, but there was something about the weekend that has had me really craving to get high on cannabis. Each time I have experienced one of these slips I have managed to use for an evening or a day and then flush the rest of the cannabis down the toilet, preventing a full blown relapse. But each time this happened I knew I was playing with fire – a dangerous game, but still I could not totally let go of wanting to use. I kept giving myself permission to use by telling myself lies like; a small bag won't hurt, I can manage just a little bit, I can't cope without getting high, getting high will make me feel better. Each time I slipped I tried to remain as aware as I could, and thus I was able to learn a lot from each slip. I guess that I ultimately learned that I couldn't control my use. I couldn't have one or two, no I'd be smoking constantly getting so stoned that I made myself feel physically and mentally unwell. I might get a very brief moment of relief from the way I was feeling, but the negative payback was way too great. I finally came to Admit and accept that I, of myself, am powerless to overcome my addiction and that my life had become totally unmanageable. Book of the week – The power of Now by Eckhart Tolle Quotes of the week - • Be around the light bringers, the magic makers, the world shifters, the game shakers. They challenge you, break you open, up-lift and expand you. They don't let you play small with your life. These heartbeats are your people. These people are your tribe. • It's not about perfect. It’s about effort and when you bring that effort every single day, that's where transformation happens. That's how change occurs. • NO ONE is ever too broken, too scarred, or too far-gone to create change. Never stop fighting. Never lose faith.

Saturday, 18 June 2016


All the names of people have been changed and no one else’s journey will be discussed here so as to maintain confidentiality. Greetings and welcome to the butterfly blog. This blog is about my recovery journey from the early days to … at the Living Room Cardiff. The back story I am in my forties and have been abusing drugs and alcohol since I was a teenager to escape the pain of repeated trauma experiences during this time of my life. Over the last five years I have stopped using alcohol and class A drugs, but my main problem has been the extreme and prolonged use of skunk cannabis. Skunk is a very strong form of cannabis bred specifically for its high THC content the active ingredient in cannabis that gets you high. This I am truly addicted to. I have used cannabis daily for the last 20 years. For 12 of those years I managed to hold down a job, social life and long term relationship despite my daily use, but in 2007 my relationship broke down. Then in 2008 I experienced a mental health breakdown leading to a three month admission to a psychiatric hospital. The year after I lost my job due to extended periods of sickness due to mental health problems including my addiction to cannabis. The following eight years have been devoted to getting stoned from waking up till going to bed. It has been a 24/7 occupation. I was either getting stoned, stoned or sleeping it off. I estimate that I have spent in the region of £25,000 over the last eight years on skunk. So the addiction has cost me dearly: my relationship, my career, my financial security, my social life and my physical health and sanity. I gave up everything I held dear for the addiction, including my morals. It’s fair to say that skunk has totally ruled and ruined my world for a very long time. Living Room Cardiff I heard about the Living Room from my GP who had been encouraging me to seek help for my addiction for a long time. For many years the denial was so great that I didn’t see the true extent of my problem, which now looking back seems like madness. At first I found it hard to fully engage. I had weekly 1:1 sessions with a lovely counsellor but I didn’t always turn up for them. I wouldn’t attend group therapy at first because I felt so anxious in group situations. So this is how I went for the first 19 months, dipping my toe into the recovery world. I managed to cut down my consumption during this time from nearly £700 a month to around £280. A real achievement for me. Then almost a month ago I hit my rock bottom and stopped completely. Rock bottom My rock bottom was prompted by a true realisation of what I was doing to my mum in order to maintain my addiction. Unbeknown to her I had been spending the money she had been giving me to pay my mortgage on skunk. I had felt terrible about this for a long time but the addiction was so strong that I hadn’t been able to stop myself behaving in this way. It wasn’t until my mum became the victim of a mail order draw scam that it truly hit home. I hated the scammers for doing this to my mum and I felt enraged at the company responsible, but then I had the realisation that what I had been doing was just the same, that I had also been scamming her all along. This lead to me feeling very suicidal to the point where I was planning my method. Suicidal thoughts and feeling are not new to me I have had to cope with them since the age of 13. The thing that had always kept me alive was the thought of what my suicide would do to family and friends, especially my mum. But now I didn’t care, I believed they’d be better off without me. I shared this with my brilliant peer support worker, others at the Living Room and my GP who all supported me brilliantly. I felt it was stop using or die time, so that’s what I did I stopped. I ceased to use skunk from the 19th May 2016 (bar three short lived slips). The blog I have been invited to write a blog for the Living Room about my recovery journey. Each week I’ll update the blog to keep you all update on this voyage into the unknown. So welcome aboard my recovery bus. I hope you’ll find riding alongside me interesting and maybe even useful.