Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Week That Was...Meh

The Week That Was...Meh

My psychiatrist upped my Abilify and Celexa by half a dose on Tuesday. This is mostly to counteract some generalized anxiety with which I'm presently dealing, for which I cannot take short-acting anti-anxiety meds like Valium, Xanax or Klonopin. My doctor says, and I agree, that taking potentially addictive benzos like that is tantamount to "throwing gasoline on a fire" when the patient, in this case, me, has a history of addiction and substance abuse. But at least the medications I'm taking are working in tandem with some relatively intense psychotherapy.

I wish I knew what the root cause(s) or issue(s) are that are causing the bulk of my acute, generalized anxiety. True, I still have the major life stressors/triggers still occurring, like waiting to be evicted from my apartment (landlord foreclosed, remember, I did nothing wrong) and the fact I've been looking for a full-time job for A YEAR now. But the holidays are adding to it, mostly because I'm dead ass broke, as well as less than a handful of more minor problems that are currently mid-rectification.

This cognitive behavior therapy I'm receiving has been good thus far...useful, interesting and cause for optimism. That said, I'm not having the healthiest reactions or thoughts, either mentally or physically. My incidence of cutting has increased, my mood is slightly more depressive than manic, and though I'm not having trouble getting to sleep, I'm having trouble staying asleep and awaken at an ungodly early hour without being able to fall back asleep. So the combination of the higher doses of my medications plus tiredness also might partially explain the anxiety and general "meh" of recent past.

Having to actually LEARN practical, healthy coping mechanisms and skills when dealing with emotions and feelings is HARD WORK! My salve, my emotional band-aid, my ultimate albatross used to be alcohol. I used alcohol to both numb pain and prevent emotions from bubbling to the surface, and consequently ended up an alcoholic. Now, with the cutting? My therapist says that while really, really unhealthy as a coping mechanism, it sort of "works," in a really fucked up fashion. It's use as stress relief is tangible and instantaneous. It feels like an act of regaining control, when in actuality, it is evidence of a complete LACK of self-control.

Cognitive and diadactical behavior therapies have been shown to very positively impact people like me who self-injure. That said, it is not uncommon for those who self-injure to experience an increase in cutting early on in cognitive behavior therapy, which I just found out at my therapy session this week. Since we discuss cutting a lot in therapy, only natural that it gets more recognition than it deserves when I decide to filet the interior of my right forearm.

Speaking of using alcohol as a band-aid, today I am ten months sober. Soon, I will be able to count my sobriety in years rather than months, and I can honestly say that during all of this acute anxiety and extra stress, I have not once had a craving for alcohol, nor did I take a flying leap off of the wagon. Sure, some of it has to do with the medications I take which aid in my continued alcoholism recovery, but I do still owe myself a huge pat on the back for conquering yet another month of one-days-at-a-times. I'm prepared to be mindful of the propensity for an alcohol craving once the flurry of Christmas and New Year's festivities begin, but I am determined to continue to be proud of myself and my sober accomplishment.

It's only taken me like three years to fully realize this Pandora thing on which everyone else I know seems to groove. It's been great, all this "make-your-own-internet-radio-station" hoo-hah, and I've got channels now reflecting my love of both The Beatles and The Flaming Lips, and it's coming up with some interesting offshoot additions to the mix. But Pandora's acting weird tonight--it keeps selecting that I like a particular song when I haven't ever actually rated it. Not fair! And no, they're not repeats I've already rated, I'm not that flighty, people, sometimes despite appearances to the contrary.

In other news, it's mighty fucking cold in Chicago. Wind chills are at -30 with subzero air temperatures and winds gusting in excess of 40 mph, howling out from the atmosphere and directly into the drafty areas of my apartment. This has made heating the main living area and two of my three bedrooms a Machiavellian task on this first day of Winter 2008. Luckily, my apartment has 2 floors, and the loft, which is also my bedroom, is on a separate heating and A/C system, so between that and the heat being on downstairs, my bedroom is plenty toasty. Luke and I bunkered up there for an hour or so this afternoon, brought up his 13" TV/VCR and enjoyed this year's viewing of our traditional "Arthur's Perfect Christmas." Yay, bonding time with my cabin fevered son because it's too cold for him to play downstairs!

My efforts to warm up the downstairs included shutting the doors of the downstairs bathroom, Luke's room and my office, which has helped. The apartment downstairs is mostly vacant and without utilities, so it has no heat with which to radiate up onto my downstairs hardwood floors. I also resorted to an idea that his HIGHLY NOT RECOMMENDED for safety reasons--running the oven in the kitchen with the door open to circulate some warmer air. At least my oven is electric, not gas, so it was not AS unsafe as what you usually see on the local newscasts. And all of these things brought the downstairs temperature to a reasonable 71, from the 64 it was when I woke up this morning. As I type right now, I have on 2 pairs of socks, a long-sleeved t-shirt and a sweatshirt, and am sitting under 2 blankets in the office.

Oh, the personal tribulation I endure in order to blog about being too cold! Hello?

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