My best friend connected from the soul called me yesterday. A call I expected because like her I was thinking of the same feelings. The universe always has a way of making us feel connected to one another and knows when we need someone. What I did not expect from the call was talking about our addictions and how easily we slipped last week. The universe knew that we needed someone to hear why and get us back to sobriety.
Yes I admit last weekend I threw away nine good years of sobriety. Why? I don’t have the answers right now. Addiction lacks a sense of humour, it prides itself on vulnerability. I cannot make excuses to my slide of temporary loss of control as much as I want to right now. I let myself lose control and allow the need for my addictions to fill my loss of feelings. It started with making the wrong connections. I sat on a friends floor after smoking a joint finally feeling quiet. I accepted flirting from another person. My phone call yesterday put to terms that I will always want drugs and inappropriate sexual relationships when I think i’m over my addiction.
Addiction doesn’t care if you are travelling to recovery. It waits for the right moment to hook its user back in. The addict could finally be correct in life and one false moment of hopelessness is all addiction needs. Addiction is not just drugs. Addiction is the need to fill the void in one’s life to feel something missing. Addictions are false hope in feeling good for a moment instead of facing the demon in front. It doesn’t care; its victims could be young, old, ugly, pretty, rich, poor, addiction wants everyone and everything in your life to be consumed. Its appetite for inner war is unsalable. It needs to feed on grief and desperation to stay alive. Addiction is the parasite of life.
Addiction was not my choice on how I want to grow in my life. I grew up with alcoholism and drugs. The addiction to sexual intimacy without love came later in my life to cope with lack of love. I used to use sex to feel something but nothing at all. With most addictions one does it for a small moment of feeling good, but addiction doesn’t feel good. The lengths I go when I let my addiction run rampant is horrifying. It doesn’t hurt me as much as it hurts others. (Addictions) loves to feed off the pain of others as collateral damage. It hurts families, it loves hurting the ones you love the most. Addiction is personal hell that will drag everyone you know and love with it. Being an addict makes room for lies and deceit. What addiction loves the most: having more addicts in the wake recruited by the newest addition of the hooked and able.
At least it’s not hard drugs I used to say. It makes no difference I, Ali Johnson, am an addict. I am one week sober.
Children that have memories after child hood abuse can be something fuzzy. Like tuning a radio finding a station. They sometimes can hear the chatter but the sound isn’t fully clear. Once they hit the right radio station however the image and quality of the memory becomes crystal clear. All the fuzz lifts away and leaves the person dealing with the memory in a limbo like spot. All the pain that once was and continues to be needs to be dealt with.
I struggle with all memories from my childhood. Even with the “good memories they are forced out by the ” bad memories”. I recently went over childhood photo books trying to place what time I was in. Names marked on the back of the photos I wanted to remember if I was happy at that moment. I wanted to know if it was possible for good times to outweigh the bad times. I recently started to recall parts of my life that was a main source of trauma. Wanting to get over the pain and move forward in life I struggle with the fuzz of the past. I can hear echos of words said and moments been. I cannot see faces unless I’m having a PTSD episode in my sleep. Once I wake I cannot remember who or where the incident happened. The fractures in my memory are really hard to cope with because I cannot get a clear picture of what happened. I question myself during the memory periods because I cannot say what is true and what is not.
I tried EMR treatments at therapy. I wish I could say the treatment was successful unfortunately I struggled with them. In my mind I struggled to know what was real and what my mind made up to cover the pain. Other people have reported EMR treatments for PTSD as highly successful. Even though it was not a success for me I still encourage others to try it. What works for one person in mental health may not work for everyone. I did feel angry that mine didn’t work because dealing with these memories have caused life problems I don’t have the solution to.
Triggers from fractured memories are complicated in childhood abuse cases. I have triggers ranging from the smell of bleach, smell of cologne, words people say in passing, and certain locations that look familiar. My anxiety gets triggered when my home becomes cluttered as I found my first home stressful due to my grandparents hoarding. Triggers and memory can be complex because try as I might to avoid them I cannot be certain I can. My husband has pointed out that I get weird around certain people. This can be contributed to remembering certain parts of my abusers face and placing it on the other person. Although my mind has blocked out what my abusers look like I can still remember from the fuzz certain details my mind has latched on to. One example of this is men with slight bags under their eyes. My one childhood sexual abuser to, had bags under his eyes and dark hair. I become triggered if the persons voice sounds similar to my molesters voice. I have never forgotten that voice because out of all the ones in the fuzz it’s the loudest.
One of the statements peoples make to childhood abuse survivors is ” remember this happened”. It’s hard to hear because the mind creates a protective bubble around the past. Trauma of the mind or body is a funny thing. Not hahaha funny, but funny in the way it works to protect the person living with the trauma. With extensive trauma such as childhood abuse or sexual abuse the mind forms the bubble in order for the host to survive mentally. This bubble is like a balloon and slowly deflates; because it becomes to filled with memories either true or untrue, that the person who survived the trauma has to try to heal from it. With any bubble or balloon it can pop at any given time and when that happens it is like an explosion of pain and grief. Not everyone survives the pop of greif.
I still live with fractured memories. I’m not keen on thinking I will ever fully grasp what actually happened. My mind is a puzzle missing the main pieces to complete. I don’t think my mental radio station will ever become fully in tune. Living with the fuzz is a part of my trauma. Moving forward has been tiresome because I wish I could put truth within my mind and understand why the abuse happened. Dealing with the release of memories has become a constant the older I get. One trick I have found helps in the getting rid of the fuzz is talking out the memory as if I was a small child again. Interacting with the memory even fractured has helped me cope and become more familiar with my triggers.
Everyone has a different way with dealing with trauma. In childhood abuse I would like to offer this it was not your fault. I am sorry someone robbed you of the good memories and replaced them with shards of false reality. You are not alone and others are right there with you hoping to replace what was once lost.
I once upon a time believed telling my truth would end up in more pain. For the last week I have tried to write my experiences living with my aunt. I have drafted and edited countless times. Every time I start to write my side of the story I get so angry my words come out as the old person I used to be. The angry person with little to no compassion because I felt lost. Reflecting on the past after living with an abuser is complicated. Excuses for an abusers actions are hard to counteract after doing it for so long. A part of me wanted to write everything that happened. Reading back my work I saw parts of the story that would hurt innocent people caught in the crossfire of my struggles. It’s not my place to write about them and hurt them back.
I started to forgive when I turned twenty-three. My forgiveness was not accepting what they did but to cut ties with my abusers. Inner knowledge states disengaging is the only way to fully heal and move forward with your life. Living in that home and going through emotional abuse has left permanent scars. The scarring is invisible on the outside, on the inside I live with the words and actions done by another person who I once looked up to. I chose to live with her because I thought she would different. Promises were made and I really thought my aunt would live up to them. I didn’t know in three short years our relationship would become a toxic lake of emotional turmoil. I lived with addiction my whole life I didn’t realize until years later addiction doesn’t care about anyone. It would do anything to destroy lives other than the addict itself. My aunt isn’t solely to blame for the relationship breakdown, I too played a part in pushing her mentally. I wanted her to get better three days before I left her home forever I wrote her note.
In that note I explained I wanted her to quit her company the Kali project. An escorting agency, it once held promise to do right and not allow drugs to the woman part of it. I think it was my second year living with my aunt drugs silently became part of our life. For someone who was once a successful paramedic and single mom doing her best addiction put her in sight and knew she would be an optimal candidate. Whatever pain my aunt had inside allowed addiction to turn her into the monster I know today. The second condition I wrote in the note was to start being a better parent to my cousin that I was raising for her.
I was fifteen and caring for a small child, I was neglecting myself. At fifteen, I started drinking to handle to screaming happening in my home. My aunt would leave me with her child and not return home despite my pleas of being emotionally unsuitable to provide care. At that time in my life my PTSD and depression went untreated. I was experiencing borderline psychosis from detoxing from the medication forced onto me from my first home. I loved my cousin with all my heart but to be her parent I could not. The reasons why; I was starving myself, I was drinking, I was mentally unstable, I was a cooking pot for disaster. My inner struggle was uncontrollable I went as far as using sex to be vulnerable. There was a night that pushed me closer to leaving the home and leaving my aunt. My cousin was screaming all night for her mom, I was going through a PTSD episode. I called my aunt to come home. She refused and said take care of it, I was so angry I threw the phone at my six year old cousins head. I regret this every day. If I could go back At that moment I would instead hold my cousin close and tell her everything will be alright. My aunt still insists that I beat my cousin, this part is untrue. I never beat or hit my cousin I did however come close during my episodes. After doing extensive therapy and treatment I see now that my aunt should have never put me in that position.
The third and final part of the note I wrote stated that I loved her, but I was going to kill myself or hurt others if I stayed. Three days before that note were written I was pushed to the end of a steep cliff. We had a large fight I still have trauma from. I asked her to get help before it was too late. She became angry with me and in front of my cousin and me she stated that she would drive off the bridge and drown us all. I hit my limit of patience and understanding. I told her to do it, words I wish I could take back. After that incident I came home I wrote the note. I wrote two notes that day one was a suicide note the other addressed to her. On the day I ran away I never said goodbye to my cousin. I wish I could explain to her one day that I had no choice. The drugs, the lies, the abuse made the choice for me. Three years later my cousin was removed from her home as my aunts life came crashing down. She lost everything that mattered to her.
I wish I could say a part of me is sorry she did lose everything. Forgiveness and empathy are hard to execute when your abuser will not change. Last year I received a message from my aunt stating she would have ” friends” who would do things if I talked to my cousin again. After that she emailed my grandmother stating I was a whore. Even in forgiveness her actions still tell the story abusers never change when they lose control. The best thing I ever did was walk away. Deep down I will always hold a place for her in my heart. I will hold the good memories close even though her voice and words cut like a knife from the later years. I hope one day she will own her truth instead of playing victim with her lies and false beliefs. Greatly hoping one day she will find peace inside her soul and make peace with the monster laying in her heart. I have done what I can to accept her, but acceptance can only go so far when she herself is loves the toxicity. I am sober and will not let her pain become mine ever again.
****Following content talks about depression and Suicide. If this is a trigger, please stop reading as I am not liable. If you or someone you know is showing signs or thinking of committing suicide, please contact the National Suicide hot line 1-800-273-8255 or go on https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/***
Often we hear about what depression is like when it is bad. There is a small moment when things become good again. This moment is so small it’s hard to talk about it without missing it. The moment of feeling good can be so rare to some, when it happens its frightening. In the last two months I have been going through depression. This time around my depression led me to the darkest place possible. I had intrusive thoughts about no longer being here. The one day it got so bad I pushed my partner and children away just to breathe. Like the good moment this dark place of intrusive thoughts and feelings of lingering suicidal feelings; for me are rare, but when the occur I need to remind myself to work through it to have the good moment.
I’m going to be bluntly honest these last two months were hell. I refused to reply my text, my calls, and refused any kind of contact that required false happiness. Normally I would call my grandmother every Friday and my Dad every Saturday. I talked myself out of calling them in order for them not to hear my voice. They know during my phases how dark it can go, what they don’t know is when I have suicidal thoughts I don’t want them to know that I’m thinking of ending it. In my blog I can say reach out and get help early; that is my goal to get people better before they get like me, I struggle with taking my advice.
So much happened in the last two months it’s hard to accept I did not handle it well. It took so much out of me to not give up. I really thought about it and almost got to the point of coming up with a plan. Every one of my friends messaged me asking if I was ok, yet every time I would say I’m fine. I wish I could communicate to my friends and say I’m not ok. My depression and anxiety make it hard to reach out and tell them about the struggles. I convince myself that if I reach out I will burden the ones I love. Tag a longing with my depression came the thoughts that my friends don’t want me. I wish I could say I reached out to them but in reality I would hang up before anyone could pick up the call. At this point I should have reached out to my loved ones and said I’m not doing well: not even remotely.
I don’t know what changed yesterday but I woke up and felt good. I turned on my Spotify playlist and danced it out with my two children. Baking banana bread with cream cheese icing and enjoying taste again. Cleaning my house after months of doing basics because why bother. I felt alive for the first time in two months. I didn’t do anything different to feel good yesterday. The reality of mental illness is sometimes it disappears out of nowhere and you can feel human once again. I’ve posted before I don’t know how long this good spell will last. It could be one full day or month or five minutes. This feel alive moment is worth sticking around for. I’m glad I stuck around this time and waited it out. It was beyond painful and mistakes happened, but I’m still alive today. Suicide is not the cure nor the solution, and I have to remember good days will happen.
In the last month I hit lows with my depression that I haven’t felt in a long time. This last month I felt like I was being thrown against a brick wall. Everything in my body was exhausted. My mind was going into overdrive. I cannot place what my trigger was but I can say this time I really went to the darkest place that exist. This dark place is hard to break out of because of the mental and physical hold that it takes. Its like having a parasite latch onto your brain by doing so it drives the host crazy until nothing is left.
My depression is not my friend if anything I wish it would completely disappear into a different dimension. I have several things wrong with me in the mental department. Most of my issues are a direct result of my depression or as my therapist put it subs categories. Resulting from depression is my high-functioning anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and insomnia. It may seem like a cooking pot of mental illness but under the surface depression is the CEO of Ali’s Mental department. I may be the CEO of my body but depression is the main guy in the boardroom stating it’s the boss and I hold no stakes in this company. The rest of the mental illnesses sit around the boardroom taking notes on what their duties are to complicate the relationship on healthy mind: healthy body.
I’m really grateful I have friends who remind me to stay alive. Without my friends caring and having family to tell me too not leave the boardroom meeting held by depression probably would have stayed dark. My mind would have stayed in fight club mode. Every emotion who works with rational thought fighting with the subs is not pleasant. I’m pretty sure happiness is hiding out in the broom closet again and needs to be let out sometime soon. I think anxiety locked happiness there and hid chemical balance in an unknown location. Either that or depression gave the eviction notice long ago and the good things simply walked away singing show tunes. On that note healthy sleep habits gave the middle finger and checked out last Tuesday with no polite resignation notice.
My depression thrives on chaos. When everything is going down the crap shoot of chaotic bad; depression sits there in the back of my mind smiling, it loves when I lose control. I will tell myself in the mental boardroom that I will fix this, I will be the person to kick depressions ass. The speech that I tell myself is full of gusto and yet full of false hopes. Depression and I go way back to when I was eight years old so it does know that I’m full of verbal poo. Despite the best efforts’ depression is not vacating the building anytime soon and continues to sit on throne of control.
Today I took a long lunch break as if to say eff you depression. I even got out of bed that I share with depressions minion insomnia and PTSD and thought to myself today I am going to just stay alive today. I didn’t leave my mental cubicle and wanted no part of my depressions debauchery. Though depression decided it was best to send anxiety with a tar like coffee to share, today was pleasant because for one second it remained silent. In my worst moments with depression I have to fight for my bodily rights. One good day such as today can make the difference in how the mental board meeting will go even for a short while.
She looks at herself in the mirror only to see her anxiety staring back at her. For the last three days she has raged war inside her mind again. It started slow she noticed how irritable she felt. Quite rages over small things and the quietest sounds. The silence she holds is deafening and no one else can hear it. The long forgotten videos of past trauma start to play in the dreams. To avoid re watching she will not sleep for weeks on end. She feels the familiar itch to pick her skin raw because that is what she can control. Time for her is passing in hours but it feels like forever.
She stands staring at herself she will analyze every flaw she believes she has. Her face is to large, her skin looks unfamiliar, she is to fat and needs to stop eating, and why would anyone call her beautiful? She feels like her skin is crawling with bumps and lumps that are only in her mind. She will pick each imaginary bump until her arms are covered in scabs. Today she avoided eating because she feels sick to her stomach. Binging and starving is what she knows to do. Its familiar when everything else in her life is crashing around her. She will hear the voice of long ago telling her she is stupid and ugly. She is diseased and needs to be cured. Her mind right now is being bombed with thoughts of wanting to be free.
Everyone on the outside thinks she is strong but as she stares at herself she knows otherwise. She feels weak and worn. Her insides are shredded paper. She cannot understand how her kids called her the best mom today as she fed them Kraft dinner for the second time this week. They binged TV today because she could not talk herself into doing what is needed around the house. She hated that she just wanted to look at her phone and forget that she is here for one more day. This is not her the mom that lets her kids rot their brains and eat processed food galore.
This is not her and she knows it. She knows that it will pass again, and she will feel happy for a short period. It could be weeks or months before she will feel normal again. It makes her so angry on the inside to be this person and battle the mental demons eating her away. Praying that this time will be the last, she knows this is not it. Her body aches with feelings of being squeezed until her insides fall out. The tears she is holding so her children will not see them sting in the back of her eyes. Rejection of happy thoughts are her battle. Anger fills her with desperation to not feel panicked because she cannot place her finger on what brought this on. It feels as though water is above her head, she cannot breathe.
Inside of her sits the person that vacated today. That other side of her the one that makes jokes and feels good is vacationing hopefully to return soon. The spirit that lives right now is temporary. The damage control once she decides to go back to the dark space of the mind is disheartening. I hope that she knows one day we will be OK, and we as two spirits will work together to stay alive for one more day.
I remember a time when I was arguing with my husband; in a moment of causing verbal pain, I yelled at him saying you don’t have to balance anything. The words lingered in the air like bait waiting for the fish to bite. Instead of firing back at me he just simply said I balance just like you, I’m just not as verbal about it. Taken back by that I had a deeper look into what men go through on a daily basis. We as society forget that men have to have balance in their lives just as women do.
We had a moment in our relationship where my partner was feeling depressed. He wouldn’t admit to it but it became noticeable. He was not eating nor sleeping well. One of the more noticeable signs was his anger at little things. He felt that he was burdened with copious amounts of responsibility with no hope to move forward. In his mind he was struggling to be the man that he was told to be. This is a common notion among men in our generation. Having the title ” be the man” creates a monster in helping men understand getting help is not a weakness.
Part of the problem of older generations is the toxic masculinity placed on young boys to suck up their feelings and just deal with it. So when depression and mental illness do arise people like my partner push down their struggles and refuse help. This is problematic for young men who will continue the cycle of trying to be manly with no support system to cope when these hidden illnesses come about. It creates a lack of understanding on what needs to be done to create better supports for fathers, children, and young men.
We as society have to see a different ideal and better understanding of what men go through. Breaking the mould of toxic masculinity is a big step that starts with talking to younger generations about acceptance of feelings. The next big leap for helping men in mental health is breaking the stigma that men do not need mental support because they do not suffer like women do. The third big step in changing this is stop portraying men as bad parents and treating them as unintelligent. We as society need to support younger generations of males and give help to guide them instead of breaking them down. By giving support there would be changes in parenting, changes in suicide rates, changes in quality of life among males. Stronger futures can be made given the chance to pave the way for our sons, brothers, fathers, and boys only if we can end toxic masculinity within our mindsets.
My anxiety this week is out of control and I have no idea why it came on. I started this week on a good note nothing out of the ordinary. I kept to my routines and thought I was on track with everything. Oddly enough I finally had sleep after four days of sleep regression from my toddler. Eating healthy again normally boosts my system in keeping my anxiety down about eating food.
Try as I might I don’t know what my trigger was this time. Knowing when it’s getting bad again because I get the increasing feeling of uneasiness. The irritated feeling creeps up ever so slowly I feel like a volcano about to burst. Self doubt start to plague my every move to the point I don’t want to talk on my phone or answer calls. Plans get put off until I can handle this feeling of drowning on the surface and catch my breath.
Sometimes I can talk myself out of the anxiety spell that falls into my lap. Other times it’s like a bad cold I cannot shake. I know that there is no magical pill to take this all away. Often I wish I could be magic wave some wand casting the spell of clearing my anxiety. I hate how my body feels right now.
I feel so tired not sleepy but emotionally and physically tired. No I did not do anything strenuous but anxiety and depression is like having a concrete being poured all over me. I have no drive to get anything done because it doesn’t feel like it matters right now. Right now I know that my anxiety is affecting everything.
I can do all the tricks to help ease this attack but most of all it will come right back. I know when an awful spell is about to come on and I brace for impact. This anxiety attack was sneaky, a little mind ninja with a sword slicing through my thoughts with rapid succession. I’ll be OK I’m always OK, right now I’m a mess. Not quite at locking myself in the bathroom and fearing the outside world, but I am not myself right now.
I am tired of feeling like I’m drowning on dry land.