Struggling

Struggling

I have difficulty with a lot of things. I have an extremely hard time saying no to people. I struggle to stand up for myself. Even when someone asks me what I want to do, I have a hard time answering them. I would rather do something I don’t want to do and be unhappy (without saying I’m unhappy, of course) that tell someone what I really want. Life feels like a giant problem, as if it’s an obstacle I may never complete, but I’m not giving up.

My ex, from before I got sober, was very abusive. I suppose that it just became second nature to do whatever he wanted. I would never dare to say no to him; I knew what the punishment would be if I didn’t behave properly. Even though he’s gone, I still react that way. I want to stop putting others before myself, but I haven’t been able to. Reacting the way I do is a force of habit. It has nothing to do with the people I’m with today, such as my husband, family, or friends; it has everything to do with me.

The First Downfall – My Life: Part 3

The First Downfall – My Life: Part 3

Just before I turned 17, I met a guy and was immediately attracted to him. Jared had a personality that was appealing to many. He made friends with people easily, but he only let them see the side of his personality that he wanted them to see. For the first couple months of our relationship, he only let me see positive traits. Once we moved in together, everything changed. He became physically and emotionally abusive. He would tell me when I could see my friends. I had to have dinner on the table when he got home, or else. We did a lot of drugs together. I fell for every trick he played and didn’t stand up for myself at all. He had me convinced that I was lucky to have him; he made me believe that no one else would want me. The worst part of it all is that he broke up with me. He said I wasn’t happy anymore. I remember telling him he would regret it. I was devastated. I don’t know why I was so hung up on a guy that treated me like crap, but I was.

At a party, I met a guy who was so sweet. Chris was the exact opposite of Jared, except for the drug use. I started smoking crack when I met Chris. Jared tried to get back together with me, but I finally stood up for myself and told him no. Jared started stalking me at that point, so I became terrified for my safety even more than I already was. Chris and I dated for several months. He kept talking about getting sober, but I wasn’t ready for that. I was completely addicted to crack that it came before everything. I was even with Chris getting high instead of being at the hospital when my dad died. That is one of the biggest regrets I have. Chris ended up getting killed only a few months after we met.

The loss of my father was exceedingly difficult, even though I knew for years that it was coming. He had been sick for many years with cancer and kidney failure. He ended up dying from an infection on October 10th, 2003. He was in the ICU for a while before his death. I miss my father and think of him every day. Losing him was like losing a part of myself. I wish I had been there to support my family, but I was too far into my addiction. I wish he could have seen me get sober.

My drug use was insane, I was almost always drunk or high on something. All of this made my mental health even worse. I was dealing with rapid cycling; I was either manic or depressed at all times. I didn’t want to spend much time with my friends, the few that I had left. All I wanted to do was die. This was probably my lowest point in life. I finally decided I wanted to quit drinking and using, but I couldn’t do it. I wished I was dead every day. I had lost so much in life, but the worst thing I lost was my self-respect.

One day, I had finally had enough. I went to my mom and told her I couldn’t take it anymore. I told her I needed to go back into the hospital. She told me that a behavioral health hospital would not fix things. I needed more than that; I needed to get sober. Apparently, she had already been looking at places to send me. She showed me some of the places she found. I was interested in this one place in Arizona; it was a year-long in-patient treatment center. It treated drug and alcohol abuse as well as mental health. I actually became excited; I finally felt a glimmer of hope. I was scared, but so enthused about the possibility of feeling better, that it actually lessened the fear. Most people don’t go to rehab willingly. I went not only willingly, but eagerly. I was also terrified; the thought of something new scared me, but the depression was so horrible that I felt my only other option was death.

Living With Anxiety

Living With Anxiety

Living with any type of anxiety disorder is one of the hardest things a person with mental illnesses can deal with; at least that’s how it is for me. There are many forms of anxiety disorders including Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety/Phobias, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Personally, I live and struggle with PTSD due to an abusive relationship that occurred 13 years ago. No matter how much I try to get past everything, I still have flashbacks, fears of anyone I don’t know (especially men),  I have a hard time relaxing, I frighten very easily, I avoid anything new, I struggle to sleep, when I do sleep I have nightmares, and I have portions of the abusive time that are mostly a blackout. These are only some of the symptoms I deal with; it’s a huge battle that I fight every day. Sometimes I feel absurd because of how much my anxiety runs my life. I do the best that I can to continue to live my life, but it doesn’t feel like it’s enough.

One of my biggest difficulties is that I do not like having anyone behind me. I’m constantly looking over my shoulder to see if I’m ‘safe’, just so I have a moment to breathe. This makes running errands, such as grocery shopping, very strenuous. It doesn’t really matter where I am, as long as I’m outside of my house, this is a major issue. I wish I had eyes in the back of my head. Also, my therapist tells me that I behave certain ways in all types of relationships, such as giving without thinking of myself, because of the past abusive relationship. I even had over a year long period where I could not handle touching others. Now, I can shake hands with someone if necessary without having an anxiety attack, but it still terrifies me. If I know a person well enough, such as family or close friends, I am even able to hug them. This is a huge amount of progress.

Living with anxiety is about knowing your own boundaries; what helps you, and what makes things worse. Since I don’t like people behind me, my husband generally walks behind me in public, this helps me feel safe because I know he wouldn’t let anyone hurt me. Sometimes when we’re in public, he will hold onto my belt loop or vise versa, also helping me feel safe and comfortable. Benzodiazepines, such as Valium, are very useful, but I try to only take them when absolutely necessary. Everything I do, even just getting mail from the mailbox, has potential for an anxiety attack. I can’t just walk outside without thinking of all the possibilities. I look out the window first to see if anyone is coming, when the coast is clear I go as quickly as possible to the mailbox hoping that I can go unseen.

I am always trying to find new ways to help deal with my anxiety. Knowing my triggers and boundaries is a huge part of managing my anxiety. I do the best that I can every day and try not to let my anxiety run my life. That’s easier said than done, however; it’s easier for me because I have so much support from my loved ones. I control what I can and try to prepare myself for the rest. I have thought about getting a therapy dog. One that could sense when I’m having an anxiety or panic attack and help calm me down, or sense my nerves and stand watch to make me feel safer. Therapy dogs can do so much good; it’s something I want to look into for the future as another tool to manage my PTSD.