Archive for July, 2013

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Being addicted to a substance is allot like being in a romantic relationship.  Everyone of us knows that in the beginning of any relationship it’s exciting, we think of the other person all the time, You can’t get enough of each other.  We don’t see each others faults.  We try to act our best, look our best.  We basically put a mask on.

After a while as we get to know each other better ,and we start to share our feelings and secrets.  Trust is formed.  Our true nature is revealed to one another.  This is when we truly find if where compatible or not.  If not we go our separate ways, and move on.  This scenario is in a perfect world, how it should be.  Most of us try to change for the sake of the other person.  We compromise.  Which makes the other person happy, but not you.  We try to cling on to something that we know won’t work, but out of love we try.  It’s starts to become a toxic relationship.  This almost always end up in tears.

When I started using drugs, I immediately fell in love.  It gave me confidence, I had more friends than I could count.  I could party all the time, I didn’t have to sleep much, I was with people who accepted me.  After a while the honeymoon period was over.  I needed to take the substance to feel “normal”. I knew I had to stop using, but I didn’t want to.  Who am I going to be without the substance? What about all my friends? What am I going to for fun.  So I continued.

Later this toxic relationship consumed me, I became solitary, My so called friends didn’t care.  All the people that actually cared for me didn’t want to be part of my life, because they couldn’t stand the person that I have become.  Feeling isolated, and miserable, stopped.

It was very, very difficult.  It’s the same when breaking up with someone.  Breaking up doesn’t mean you stop caring, loving the other person. Some say time heals everything.  It doesn’t.  It may make it easier after a while, but you always think what could’ve been.  I still think of using, maybe this time it will be different? Maybe if I do things differently this time I can control it.

Like any toxic relationship, it will always have the same outcome.  The only difference is, it’s going to have the same (or worse) outcome much more quickly.  It’s a daily struggle not to go back.

And then you meet someone new, someone that accepts you for who you are.  Who doesn’t care about your weaknesses and insecurities.  Someone who fits you perfectly.  Someone who’s strengths compliments your weaknesses, and vice versa. You’re longing for your ex disappears.  Only memories that remind us of the worst, so that we can be thankful of what we have now.

I am finding it easier, and easier, day, by day to manage my addiction.  The more positive things I replace it with the less the cravings become.  I enjoy life. I enjoy being the new me.  I am thankful for every day that I am sober.  I know the cravings will never go away, there will always be triggers, and pitfalls. But I know going back to using will have the same or worse end every time.

I am letting my addiction, my Ex go. But I will never forget.

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969360_497750076967540_603401270_nIn my life , doing what I feel right in That moment has caused me endless regrets.  Speaking out in anger, trying to help others after feeling sorry for them.  Emotions are a necessity.  Emotions are what makes us human.  Without emotions we will never learn to love, never learn out of our mistakes. We will never learn to cry or to laugh.</strong>

As in everything in life there has to be balance.  If we only act out of emotion or let our thoughts and behaviors be governed by it, everything in our lives would be chaos.  Acting on emotion  is purely acting on impulse.  Kids are a good example of this.  Their brain is not fully developed yet, so when they see something they want, but can’t have the usually act out in anger.  Emotion doesn’t think of consequences.  Emotion only thinks in the present moment.

In adulthood we learn to a certain degree to manage and control our emotions. To think before we speak, to way up the pro’s and the cons before we act.  As a recovering addict, when I think back on my life, I realize that every time I started using again, I made an emotional, impulsive, irrational decisions.  Sometimes out of anger, sometimes out of self-pity, and a guilty conscience.  The substance  took away some emotions and amplified others.  I lost control of my ability to keep my emotions in check.  I lost my ability to think of consequences, the ability to think things through.

In my mind I was in control, I didn’t care what I did to other people, and beware to those who wronged me.  I had a motto “I don’t get mad, I get even”.  I was filled with hate, revenge and un-forgiveness.  I was self-righteous, and self-centered. The exact opposite of who I am.  I had rage outbursts, said things to people who no one should say, and did things that no right-minded person should ever do.  I was acting like someone with Anti-Social personality disorder.

When I got clean feelings of regret and remorse overwhelmed me.  I thought ”how can anyone love this monster that I have become?’  I needed to forgive myself.  Easier said than done.  I was terrified to see my loved ones again.  What are they going say.  Are they going to hate me?

They showed me love and forgiveness.  If the people who I have wronged so much can forgive me, why cant I? Little by little, step by step I started to forgive myself. I forgave those that wronged me.  My attitude started to change, my mood changed, and I started to see the positive side of life again.

Every aspect of life is better now.  Everything is beautiful.  The environment around me.  The people in my life.  I am thankful for everything.  The bed that I sleep in,  the food that I eat.  I am thankful that I am alive.  That I still have good health.  I am thankful for my family and friends.

This was a good and humbling experience for me.  It’s still a battle to not act out on emotion.  But I have made a conscious decision to think things through.  I don’t act out in anger, I wait a while for myself to cool down and think. Only after this I act.  I try to place myself in the other persons shoes. I always ask myself. Why does he feel that way?  How would I have felt in the same situation?  What can WE do to resolve the issue.

My empathy is back.  In the past I put other people issues and problems ahead of my own.  Now I will still listen to their problems, give advice where I can, but I put my own life, my own issues first.  If I know it’s going to be detrimental to my own recovery, I won’t get involved.

Emotion and logic has to be in balance.  To much of the one, or the other causes problems and unnecessary stress.  It will greatly increase your chances of recovery, and overall well-being.

It take a lot of practice and patience, but it’s worth it.

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One of the major reasons for relapse is that the recovering addict, feeling positive after getting clean, tries to take on to many things at once.  That causes stress, and stress causes the brain to think what was the best reliever off stress?  Well in the addicts case it’s the drug.  That makes the addict crave, and if he’s not able to cope with the craving he relapses.

Recovery is a long and difficult road.  With many obstacles in the way.  It is imperative for the recovering addict to have a ”specific recovery plan” set out for himself before he leaves recovery.  Small short-term, realistic, reachable goals.  This will keep stress levels to a minimum.  This incremental increase in stress levels will cause the brain to get used to stress, and it will give the brain a chance to adapt.  Cravings will still be there, but manageable.

Every time a goal is reached a sense of accomplishment sets in.  The brain will release dopamine.  This chemical is part of the brains pleasure and reward construct.  This is one of the main chemicals that’s released when taking drugs.  New neuropath ways start forming.  The urge for drug becomes less and less.

This takes time though, and I know out of experience that, we as Addicts, Recovering addicts want instant results.  Unfortunately drug use has carved deep neuropath ways into our brains, which can take long to heal. This is Life threatening, lifetime but manageable disease.

Relapse occurs long before the addict actually uses.  Proper planning is necessity. “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”  Only the addict can recognize the early warning signs of relapse like: depression, lack of sleep, tiredness, anxiety , and only then he will be able to set things into motion or get help before it is too late.

Even if relapse does occur it’s not the end of the world.  There has to be a plan in place for this as well.  Example.  Ask for help. Think about what caused the relapse to occur, and try to remove yourself from the situation.  If you feel you can’t stop, get professional help immediately.  The sooner you stop the easier it will be to get back into recovery.

Never be ashamed if you fall.  Never give up.  Always get back up.  It takes a much stronger person to admit when he was in the wrong, than one that denies it.  Admit to yourself that you were wrong and think about where you went wrong, and change it.  Don’t feel guilty, don’t worry what others will think.  All of us have failed.  Think of the consequences of what will happen when you continue taking the substance. What happened last time? Did it make your circumstances better? No. Try and get back to your recovery plan A.S.A.P.

Recovery has become the most important thing in my life.  It has become my new drug.  I follow a simple plan every day. I add new goals when I feel ready for them.  Recovery is a selfish thing.  I don’t let others tell me, what I should and shouldn’t do, if it’s not in my recovery plan.  I tell them in a polite way “thank you for your advice, but it doesn’t fit into my plan at the moment, and it’s going to have a negative impact on my life. I will let you know when I am ready.”

Everything doesn’t always go according to plan.  Allot of things can happen, that will cause you to deviate from your plan. (Things at work, Relationships etc.)  Except it, and get back on track a.s.a.p.

Recovery isn’t going to be easy, but addiction was way more difficult.

IMG_20130619_00162947I read this quote and it made me think.  What would have been different in my life without drugs or alcohol?  I know for a fact that I would have had allot more money. I would have had a nice house, nice car, living in luxury.  Sounds like I would have had a good life.

In society’s and my father’s eyes I would have been a success.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like to have nice things.  I had it.  But is that what life is about?  Money? Nice house? Nice Car?  At one stage in my life I thought so.  I was a little arrogant brat that had no empathy, no sense of hardship. I got what I want when I wanted it.  I had no clue what life was about.  I had no respect for other people’s feelings, other people’s emotions.  I was selfish and self-centred.

At this stage of my life I was mostly drinking taking ecstasy no and then, and didn’t really have worries. It was just a bit of partying right?  Started using coke now and then.  Met a Girl (my downfall no 1) She was using Heroin. Long story short.  I got hooked.  Dad saw something was wrong went to rehab.  I went to Oppikoppi.  I took allot of Ecstasy tablet with to sell them there.  Wow made allot of money.  Met another girl there (O shit). She was smoking rocks and heroin. Long story short I really suffered.  Went to Noupoort. 8 months later I get out.  Meet up with the same girl again. Relapsed. Went back to other Noupoort. Got out. Went back to same girl again. Relapsed.  Went to Hazyview.  She went to Magaliesburg and we decided that we will not have contact anymore.  Ok. Fine.  I got out started using again. Until on 26 July 2006, High on Heroin. Looked at myself in the mirror, I said to myself “WTF are you doing? Enjoying your life? Do you want to die?” I phone my Dr and got a Subutex for the withdrawals.  Stopped.  September that year met a new girl. Life on track. Worked at Mercedes, moved to Potchefstroom, got engaged, moved to Bloemfontein had my own businesses. Broke up with fiancé.  Moved back to Pretoria. Met the Girl (OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO no). Ended up in Prison in January this year got out.  Got started using again. Started working at McCarthy.  Started using Meth. Went to Denmar got Diagnosed with ADHD. Got right Meds. Went to Beethoven Recovery centre. So that’s my using stage in a nutshell.  I was clean from drugs from 26 July 2006- 22 February 2012.  I don’t blame anyone for my drug addiction.  Yes some people made it worse and for them I am thankful.

To get back to what I’ve learned.  I learned not to Judge.  I learned that money is not the be all and end all in life.  I learned that humble.  I learned to see the heart of people.  To place myself into other peoples shoes.  I learned to thankful.  I found out my purpose and my passion.(to help other people) Emotionally I got hurt badly.  I have allot of trust issues.  I am still not able to let people close to me, out of fear to get hurt.  My addiction has taught me hard lessons.  It also made me more Humane.  It showed me the darkest places.  But now in recovery, the light shines so much brighter.  I for one think. It made me understand the meaning of life.  My purpose. It helped me to understand, love, and the lack of it.  It opened my eyes.

I won’t want to change anything in my past, because it changed my future

IMG_20130610_005181Recovery is like life, life is like Recovery.  Let me explain.

Life is not always exiting, not always what you expect it to be.  It can be frustrating and stressful.  It sometimes feels that we cannot go on, but hey you do.  Why because you have to.  Some of us have people dependent upon us. All of us have people that love us.  Why don’t you just give up on life? Why don’t we just say “Okay that’s it?  I’m killing myself” Is death better? Have you been there?   What if the Greek philosophers were right? They thought that when we die our lives that we lived will echo into eternity. Death is not the biggest deterrent no. Life itself is wonderful. Try to think back as far as you can remember.  Mostly good memories right.  Your first birthday gift, your first time at the ocean, playing on the beach, your first kiss, the first time you fall in love.  The list goes on and on.  To the very moment where you are now.  Something Positive has happened to you.  That’s Life.  That’s the Human mind.  Always putting pleasurable and positive experiences above negativity.  How else would we survive and how else would we cope as mankind if we are negative about everything all the time.  Would the early pioneers have discovered new countries and continents? Would we have walked on the moon? Would we have discovered cures and treatments for diseases?  No! The human mind is hard wired to look for positivity in every situation.  To see Hope as faint as it might be. To make the seemingly impossible possible.  Yes there are times that the human mind fails, depression sets in suicide happens.  That’s why we have Family, Friends, Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Social Workers.  To give us advice, love, support, medication, Life, humankind isn’t meant to solitary.  NO. We are individuals in a huge social network who need each other to survive. Each of us bringing a unique answer to specific questions.  Each of us being a piece of puzzle of a large picture.

Recovery is the same.  It’s difficult, sometimes frustrating but you know what. It’s also wonderful.  Do you know how great it is to wake up every morning sober?  You feel proud.  You feel that you have accomplished something great, something so few have achieved and so many want. It feels the same as your first kiss, the first time you fall in love.  I promise you.  You feel like Neil Armstrong that walked on the moon, like the pioneers that discovered new countries.  And so you should, you are.  People start looking at you differently.  They don’t see the drug addict, the thief, and the manipulator.  They see the real you, the person that they knew before.  You are no longer the problem but the answer, an inspiration.  Once you grasp the concept of Recovery, other problems start seem not so big anymore.  You start to see that there are always solutions.  You start to see life as it’s meant to be. Positive, Wonderful. Anything is possible now.  I have overcome a debilitating disease.  Like a person that overcomes cancer. You are a survivor.  Never forget the disease will always try to come back always try to destroy.  But every time you say no. You overcome. You become stronger.  You feel more positive. More accomplished than ever.  Support is very important never think you can do this by yourself.  Never be too proud to ask for help.  You need people as much as they need you.  Pride always comes before the fall.  The funny thing always is.  People actually look up to you for asking, they feel better because they feel needed. Recovery like life is what you make of it.  Be positive about it.  Plan.  Be honest to yourself and others.  And you will see:

A positive outcome in your recovery will make the negative aspects of life easier and the negative aspects of recovery (cravings, anxiety etc.)(If you’re honest about it) will bring more positivity in your Life. (Closer knit relationships and trust).

Why not stay sober then?  Doesn’t life seem easier? Try it.  What have you got to lose?

IMG_20130609_00185640What makes us who we are?  What shapes our thoughts, our beliefs?  How do we know right from wrong?  Basically what defines who we are?  Granted, our primary caregivers, environment and genes shape our personality to a major degree, but each individual is different, each one is special in his/her own way.  Therefore I can say with utmost certainty, that everyone perceives life differently.

What I perceive is normal in life, could seem crazy, extreme to other people and vice versa. The reason so many people judge, disrespect and ‘’label’ are frankly this.  Perception.  What changes perception? Action? Evidence or lack thereof? Faith? I don’t know.  Religion for instance.  Most people have a belief in some or other God, or a belief in something better (be it themselves, their life) although there is no evidence that a god exists. It’s their perception.  People’s perception may change when evidence is presented to them (addiction disease vs. choice argument) but others won’t accept it. Not because they don’t understand the facts, but it doesn’t fit into the way they perceive the world.  I know, I’ve been there.

When I became a Christian for instance.  The church, let me believe that the world was only 5000years old.  Despite all the evidence showing the exact opposite.  It got so bad that I didn’t even want to watch National Geographic, or any website talking about evolution etc.  I wanted to be a good Christian.  I didn’t want God to think that I don’t have faith in his word.  Now I know it’s not true.  Now I know that, I was deceived.  My perception of the truth was based on perception and interpretation of others who are, and where also deceived. Is a lie still a lie when enough people believe the lie to be the truth?  This was just one example in my life of many.

Action changes perception. Example. When the addicts sees one of his friends stopping to use drugs. When he sees how dramatically his friends life changes, how much easier it is without drugs, that the substance is not the all and end all. His perception changes.  He goes for help.  He sees the evidence of his life changing. He begins to have faith in himself again. His perception of life changes.

Some use fear to try and change others perceptions.  This hasn’t, and will never work.  Fear itself is a deception. Fear causes the one instilling it, a false sense of security. Fear causes rebellion.  If you try and force your perception on someone else, you will either drive them away from you or cause them to rebel against you.  Apartheid was a big example of this.

Experience has taught me, that life is what you make of it.  Everything in life is how we perceive it. We are all unique with our own, unique set of beliefs, about ourselves, people around us.  Before we judge each other about what is right and, what is wrong, we need to try and put ourselves in each other’s shoes.  We need to discover ourselves first. We need to be honest and with ourselves, and take responsibility for our mistakes when are in the wrong. We need to learn to express ourselves better.  We need to take control of our own lives. Only then through our actions can we change other people’s perceptions and reactions towards us. Only then we can truly be free.

IMG_20130619_00162224Today was a hard day for me. I felt anxious. As I am sitting here typing this, my palms are sweating. Craving, ah I hate this feeling! I am trying not to focus on it. Anchoring myself, trying to think positive thoughts. All thoughts that pop in my head is of having just one drink that is in the fridge. Just one, my mind keeps on telling me. Then I think to myself. It’s a craving, it will pass. You’ve been here before.
Think about how happy your dad was to see you today. Sorting out my brothers shit with his car, because he can’t do it himself. (My brother has no self-confidence) Even after he bumped his wife’s Mercedes against a rock. He was fuming. He was going off at my brother for not sorting out his own shit. All the money. Blah, blah blah. My Dad today finally saw me as I really am, or today he saw me as his son he knew he had, but thought was lost.
Came back home feeling proud of myself, feeling positive. I get here. Guess what. Brothers on Cat. Talking shit. Then I started craving. I didn’t want to type this letter tonight. But I have to stay in routine, and it’s therapeutic to me. I feel better now the craving is gone, I feel positive again. I actually feel pity for my brother, I was there. I understand. I spoke to him about getting help. He really needs it. Hope something sticks.
The craving passes. Be strong have hope. Be proud of yourself when you, come through it. Always remind yourself of what you have. What you have lost and what you are going to have.
Blessings