In the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous
In my fellowship we try practice what we preach, although we don’t actually preach a thing, all we do is suggest ideas which might help keep us keep to good conscience,
Some of the elements of living we have, includes being open, honest and willing. And sometimes when I examine my relative open honest and willing behaviour its generally to the good in all respects except one. I have the feeling I try not to dig too deep into this part of me, its most likely the root of much of what makes my life difficult right now. Its to do with all the things I am endeavouring to do and nothing to do with it, in a strange way my recovery and continued recovery is in jeopardy if I try avoid it. Its to do with where I am now in my wellbeing.
Wellbeing comes from awareness of my situation in relation to my emotional, physical and spiritual state. In much of my day to day, there is no one who would work harder or more diligently to the good of being well. And its this constancy which helps me with expression, endeavour and my activities on a day to day basis. I am in a life long programme of recovery, without a doubt it is life long, without vigilance my emotional and physical situation can deteriorate quickly and without the day by day focus, &a day at a time;, I am aware that the deterioration will lead to dire consequences for me.
The three well documented and understood conditions I deal with on a day to day basis are Type 1 diabetes, clinical depression and recovery from addiction. Not glamorous and not onerous provided the day by day programme is maintained. Its just my way of being healthy enough to make life work.
Type 1 diabetes, its something I got out of the blue in recovery. After the best part of two years sobriety, and 18 months without a drink, I realised I was really ill and felt like everything in my system was failing. As a last resort, I went to my GP and within days was diagnosed Type 1 diabetic. I was not surprised with all the years of abuse I have given my system. And like a good addict I blamed myself. It was after all expected that there would be consequences. Medical opinion however did not confirm or apportion blame to me, it was a combination of things and not necessarily my self abuse of drink over the years. It is more likely it was the medical regime for clinical depression or a chance virus, and it could have been the tooth extraction which kicked off the condition and a virus contracted. Who knows and cares? Maybe I don’t anymore, although I would accept full responsibility, it seems unlikely it was me. And actually I wonder where denial figures in that conundrum. It does not matter I deal with diabetes on a daily basis, making the checks and doing the insulin by injection as required, as much or as little I can manage, with diet and all I can do to keep all elements under control.
Type I diabetes management covers all elements of living and is affected by anything and everything I do. I need to keep all elements in balance to balance blood sugars and getting enough energy to live on without going to extremes. And not be afraid of being diabetic. Fear will kill me faster.
Clinical depression is another one of the big three for me. As has been discovered running through my pathology, my clinical depression has been around for a long time. And this fits with what we know from our sketchy family history too. Certainly there is evidence of depression in the family of my mothers side, and certainly my father was not the most effusive character ever to encounter. But he was a good actor in life and he gave me the skills to act ok too. I have portrayed myself as happy more often than not, that acting ability kept people and medical people from seeing the condition for a long time, and only when I had a complete breakdown did the discovery of a longer time with the condition start to manifest.
Clinical depression untreated is awful I realise and living in such a state is quite frankly suicidal to grim most of the time its at its worst. The news about depression is it seems to come around when its ready, without rhyme or reason, unless of course we are reacting to major events in our lives which push us further into darker depressive moods or out of them. My clinical depression has been treated to varying degrees of success in sobriety, and badly when I had no understanding I was dealing with a clinical depression. For years my way of dealing with depression had been to do as I learned, and seek oblivion from reality using alcohol as the easiest and most available form of self medication. Thank providence I never went down any other route of self medication, or I would surely be dead.
Self medication in anyone’s regime is likely to cause over indulgence and dependence. Self medicating, its easier and faster to get relief from ones ills. We try to avoid this, but with the best will in the world we are most likely to fail. Willpower is not the problem, in fact iron will is the part of us which keeps self medicating far too long and makes us ripe for addiction. The stronger the will, the longer the addiction might last and the recovery from it harder and longer too. I would add, when we cross a line to addiction of anything, we have set a pattern I cannot see breaking on our own. We become better able to keep in recovery with help and support, which fits in with my recovery programme and alcoholics anonymous.
The line into addiction crossed, the recovery from this situation is ongoing and does not end, it’s a life long commitment to living well and making sure we keep balance with any means we find works. For me, AA is my route, and fellowship. With fellowship I turn up and meet regularly with my recovering addict fellows, in my case alcohol, but if there were no fellowship for alcohol, I would find another and join that. A fellowship keeps us informed of how to keep strong, gain experience from others and provides hope on a daily basis.
I need be mindful of all three elements of my situation, the type 1 diabetes, the clinical depression and where I am in my recovery.
For each condition I deal with, I do what is suggested. For diabetes I see and have regular check ups with my clinic. My GP seems uninterested in me and so I avoid seeing her. I think this is merely my perception, but I have to say, where GP’s can pass on their care element to a clinic, they seem well able to do so and therefore I accept her choice as it seems easier to go where help is offered and done with genuine concern. My clinic provide better services than my GP, so maybe this is just the way its meant to be.
I get psychiatric help to assist with the management of my depression. On a recent consultation, the psychiatrist made it clear that my well being was quite dependent on taking medication for the next few years, most likely five, before we could even contemplate no medication at all. Indeed as I am in a day to day recovery programme, five years in itself is not an issue, just doing what is suggested on a day to day basis will do, so I do it.
Clinical depression, it does not stay the same day to day, I go through periods where the world and my mood seem stable, neither good or bad, just stable. I am in a period of reasonable stability at the moment, it’s a low mood stability, I don’t function with any great feeling of well being, but I do function. The first six months of this year were particularly difficult as I had to change medication so it was consistent and complimentary to my type 1 diabetic condition. Changing from one form of medication to another takes several months and enduring the lapse back into deeper depression as one medication is stopped and another starts. Changing from one medication, which worked and gave me mental stability, but poor diabetic control has been problematic.
My new current medication has left me with chronic insomnia and consequently fatigue unimaginable. The difference between other changes in the past and now, is I don’t interfere with the process by introducing my own forms of self medication behaviour, namely I don’t resort to alcohol to induce oblivion and then fall into psychotic behaviour. My recovery programme helps me daily, keeping me focussed on what I can do, rather than what I cannot do to alleviate my condition. I can accept the insomnia and fatigue on a day to day basis, until we find nature works it out, or some other intervention is needed to sort my situation out.
I know my ability to function is conditional on continued recovery, and using my fellowship to help me deal with my condition. And I am then able to keep my self maintenance with type 1 diabetes. It is somewhat complicated to resolve in my mind, but once I resolved to understand all the things I need to do, I have been able to follow the suggestions made to me.
The one thing I don’t do however, is share the darker times of my depressive episodes. These dark times, I don’t know what to do about them, as I cannot combat them any more effectively than the next person, I have chosen silence about it rather than become what would be a complainer in my eyes. And this is a hang up from my learning of life, that to complain, when all that can be done is being done, well it just is not something I am comfortable doing. I am not a complainer, I just try live through these dark times.
So when others ask me how I am in my fellowship, I respond more often ok, when in reality I am severely depressed and unable to feel the world as it rightly is. My outlook is devoid of feeling often and my senses, which are acute in other respects are completely dulled in this essential part of life. Without feeling, my situation is hardly balanced. And yet I realise this is a phase and early in the game of psychiatry to resolve when it comes to medication. This may or may not be something that can change with another type of chemical, presently the current one helps keep me safe with diabetes and does not interfere with that. So I resolve to let nature take me where it can regarding the depressive state and consequent effects with fatigue and insomnia. Choices are limited, and with the recovery programme I keep the day to day living simple and straightforward. Complications occur and do cause everything to go wrong from time to time, and that I deal with as best I can.
So in recovery terms, the open honest and willingness to change. This in place, yet I have denial about &sharing; with others, the extent of my emotional well being, because I don’t expect miracles or it to be fixed. What I know is, I can feel worse with support and concern, that support is often able to make me feel worse when I need to keep close to people and at the same time be able to maintain enough distance so I don’t break down. Odd that I need contact with everyone, but not closeness. And this is where I feel there is still much repair work to do.
I can be honest about all this, at the same time, I fear like the devil, being loved. And there is a real reason. The real reason for this is my need for love and loving. And this love given so deeply to another and then to find it is not returned will do for me again. I recognise as others across the world, a fear of closeness in case of rejection and fear that horrid aloneness. What I am finding, is my connection to the fellowship provides security and support, and genuine concern and care. I know already my family (siblings and mother) give me this, at the same time I miss without doubt a partnership and at the same time fear a partnership. The dilemma… a woman in my life is as desirable as life itself, at the same time as fearful in case all is lost again. There is a difference now, I have fellowship. So the conditions of living have changed dramatically, and partnership is not the issue per se, the issue is the clinical depression.
My issue is long term clinical depression, and chemical imbalance. And providing I understand where I am with the depression, enables me to keep diabetes and recovery ongoing daily, merely a day at a time.
The other elements day to day associated with diabetes and clinical depression are there as others will know, and these things affect anyone in similar ways day to day. There is no set pattern to how each day manifests. Or what is encountered and its frequency. Other than the frequency of dealing with these conditions is all day every day.
So where am I now, one day short of my 50th birthday? As well as can be expected under the circumstances, and able to face the day. Enough to keep my recovery and me alive. Enough for me to accept some things cannot be changed, some things can be changed, and as I go along I find the wisdom to know the difference.
It is hard enough to live in modern times. I am starting to unfreeze and share when this particular mind, my mind is so low, it would rather be silent and not tell you I feel awful. Today is not as awful as it can be, or I would never write this post. Till now, I would have preferred you never know my whole story, in case you tried helping me, or I had my ability to self medicate taken away. After all there is always that ultimate choice.
So I plan to go to my morning meeting, and plan another later. Just for today. And if I am asked how I am, will try to be more forthcoming, just in case another fellow may have an idea how to help. And I will try not to suppress this difficult truth of feelings, or without doubt it and I will surely do for me…