Misconceptions Aplenty about Depression

If you had asked me in my teens or early twenties what depression was, I would have shrugged, and said, “When someone can’t get happy, or won’t choose to be happy, because they keep holding onto negative thoughts’. I am 47, and I can only remember ‘depression’ being classified as a physical ailment, not just a psychological one, after I turned 40! I am ashamed of my ignorance. I only began to understand more about what depression really is after having a husband who is very open and honest about his struggles, and who shared with me his experiences with it before we ever met.

It was after his divorce to his first wife. Sadness and anxiety persisted long after the initial pain and stress of the divorce itself had ended. He went to counseling and began a course of antidepressants. Two years later, he ended the pills in the step-down method his doctor prescribed, and seems to have beaten the disease. I found out that after a long period of this flood of chemicals into the body signaling stress and anxiety, the normal levels of serotonin in the brain can be reset to just not produce as they should, or once did. That’s when antidepressants can really help. Not everyone has success with every type of antidepressant, however, and some people beat it drug-free. Some are never diagnosed and just muddle on, wondering why they feel empty, drained, tired, and that life is meaningless. There are so many complex reasons for why we may feel that way, ranging from brain chemicals to unresolved issues, and current stress-such as being in an abusive relationship, or coping with ill family members, etc. However, the ability to cope with these crises in life can adversely be affected by a lack of the proper levels of the ‘feel-good’ chemicals in our brains. Counseling is often very important to go along with medication, or may even supplant the need for medication, in the event that we just need deeper insight and understanding on how our minds may be hindering us from making progress, due to  unhealthy , unproductive thought processes.

That being said, the misconception many people have had, is that depression is ALL based on those unproductive, unhealthy thoughts, possibly arising from previous or current emotional trauma or circumstance. Some would cite the need for faith, positive thinking, and regular exercise. All these things are wonderful, but what an eye-opener to realize that a chemical imbalance could be the issue, and what a relief to know that at least some of our despair can be relieved with the right medication! Imagine being told your whole life that if you just squint, and focus really hard, you’ll be able to see better, when eyeglasses or contacts are what you really needed for better eyesight!

But can medicine alone solve all our problems? No. While depression can be like looking though dirty, dark glass at life, it still matters how we think about, and respond to, what life brings our way. It may be easier to see through clean, clear glass, but we also need to relearn how to talk to ourselves, and how to properly view setbacks in life. We can learn to respond to what we perceive as negative with productive thoughts and attitudes, as well. For example: Marti has been called into the office at work a few times this month for performance issues. She is trying very hard to get better, correct mistakes, and to be careful, but the office visits keep coming. Marti has gotten used to punishing herself and being very hard on herself whenever she feels she is ‘failing’. She complains to her husband that she is ‘just a stupid failure who never gets anything right”. Obviously, Marti has more going on than medication alone could address. So, issues like depression can be wrapped around a lot of other issues, like low self-esteem, fear of failure, fear of punishment, inability to accept oneself, and so on.

That’s me up there. “Marti.” I was feeling down after a series of family tragedies, and I couldn’t get back up. I went to my doctor, because my normal zest for life had really begun to wane. I just wanted to sleep my days away, hoping the next would be better. I had occasional thoughts that I was good for nothing, had no purpose since my kids were grown, and that my life was meaningless. I suspected I might have depression, due to what I have learned about it in the past few years. I felt like a failure and waste of oxygen.

Depression isn’t feeling blue for a bit- it is a real medical condition that can be treated. Depression can have many causes, but going to the doctor and being honest about how you feel is so important to do! Please, if you feel you may be suffering from depression- if no amount of exercise or positive thinking is solving your problems, and if you lack energy, motivation, or joy in life, or have any thoughts that you wish you had never been born, or want to die- PLEASE go see a doctor. It might be depression. It might be that you need counseling/therapy as well. But GO. Go and be well.

for help and resources, please check out the following websites:

http://www.apa.org

https://www.adaa.org   (symptoms)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

 

Advertisements

Lemmings in Line

If you’ve ever seen Lemmings jumping off a cliff, one after the other, then you have glimpsed my darker thoughts about life and death. How many of use just go through life as if we are just here to be the next to jump? And every time one of the older generation ‘falls off’, I think about how my generation will be the next to ‘jump’.

Everybody dies. It’s how we live that matters. I tell myself this as I plod to the kitchen, to pour that same cup of water into the same coffee maker like an automated…lemming. I plop the Kuerig pod into the machine, reminding  myself that I am adding to the landfill again. I have a delicious, steamy cup of coffee in hand in no time, but I don’t spend too much time to savor it slowly, because I have already plopped down in that same chair and automatically jumped onto Facebook. As usual, I get to see the latest political rants, dumb jokes, and some idiot lighting a firecracker under his friend’s ass, and then laughing when that friend nearly has a heart attack. I sigh. I click over to my 12,978 unread email list. “Online DealKing”, “Publisher’s Clearing House- respond NOW!”, “Indeed Job Alerts”, top the list. Again I sigh. Same shit, different day. It’s Friday. So what? I am at home. I don’t care and can barely keep track of which day of the week it is anyway.

I turn on the television. Three days from the presidential election between two of the biggest boobs in history. Both of them suck in different and yet profound ways. The fluffy kitty is snuggling next to me. At least she’s real. Genuine. I am grateful for her. I reflect on  gratitude, and my attitude starts to shift. The sunlight is soft and inviting outside my window,and the autumn leaves are lovely with their dappled hues, caressed by the breeze- falling, another lifetime ending. Leaf-lemmings…

And yet, we don’t really mourn the leaves, nor the grass that dies when it’s season ends. And in the large scheme of things, even though one leaf, one blade of grass, is a miracle unto itself, we don’t mourn, because we know that in the Spring, more leaves, more grass will come. That’s not enough for people, though. We cannot replace a loved-one with someone else. That one person is unique, priceless, treasured. We are left with memories, and we hope for a future of spiritual unity in Heaven. But there’s something else. Our mothers and fathers leave a part of themselves in us, our children, and their children. More than memories, more than the DNA that gave our kids that red hair, more than photographs. They leave a legacy. It might be good, it might be awful, but each new generation has its own chance, its own choices to  make.

Nature and nurture may have determined I will die as some sort of addict. Sure, I can choose to wallow in lemming mentality. I can follow the path of my father, a long-deceased alcoholic. I could follow the path of my mother, and could still be smoking cigarettes, never to quit until they make the last years of my life a living hell. I could go numbly through life, never allowing myself to appreciate the moment- the quiet time with a cup of joe, the cuddly soft cat on my lap giving and wanting affection, the golden sunshine casting beams and shadows through the house. I can also remember the beautiful people that my parents were, despite- and through- and beyond their addictions. Just like I am beautiful- and life is- despite, and through, and beyond our darkness.

It’s all about focus.

 

 

 

It’s Good to Be Back

I have neglected this blog. I decided to pursue other writing under an assumed name, because I felt I would not be completely myself if I was worried about what people may think of my deeper, more personal thoughts and feelings. However, I haven’t written much there, either. Writing for me comes and goes in terms of desire and inspiration, and it’s been a very eventful year. 2015 featured in its table of contents the death of my mother, the serious violation of my loved-one by a predator, a very difficult and stressful job that I left, and has culminated with my trip to the doctor. I left with a prescription for antidepressants, and also- a higher dose of Levothyroxine for my under-active thyroid. I feel better. I am grateful for the help, and I am slowing coming back into the light. 

So, if you struggle with your weight despite watching everything you eat, portion control, and regular exercise, it’s time to see your doctor, especially if you are a woman, to see if an underactive thyroid could be the culprit. Let me tell you that my weight has already dropped by 8 pounds since getting the right dose of thyroid medication. My appetite is greatly reduced, and sometimes I have to remind myself to eat more. 1,000 calories seems like a lot now! And really, I need a bit more than that. As to low-carb, I have been doing that for so long, that eating that way for the most part is just my normal routine. The problem comes in when I start engaging in a few deleterious behaviors. If you are struggling to stay on low-carb, or have stopped seeing success, watch out for the following  bad habits which may have crept in.

  1. Alcohol consumption. I had been creeping up on drinking. Usually I indulged in light beer, or that new water-based beverage with basically no carbs but still with alcohol. So your liver focuses on detoxing the alcohol, blood sugar actually drops, and you end up more hungry. If you are consuming very sweet drinks, however, that changes the dynamic a bit, and you are still taking in those extra calories in place of actually giving your body nutrition. Also, if you are addictive, as I am, it’s a very bad sugar substitute, alcohol. It leads to all sorts of evils. Keeping things in moderation is not what an addictive is good at. An addict is good at more and more all the time. I prefer the term ‘addictive’, because it means to me that I am prone to it, but am not necessarily committed to it. I believe the stress of the year contributed to my choice to drink more, but it’s certainly not a good self-medication therapy. Things were spinning out of control.
  2. Too many cheat days. A cheat meal is not the same thing as a cheat DAY. That one day of eating whatever I wanted was really hard to come back from. One meal is much easier to recover from, in terms of blood sugar levels. Besides, I always feel like crap after a big, nasty carb day. I don’t mean oatmeal and quinoa. I was loading up on cookies, donuts, and ice cream- like- all day long. Immediately I would retain fluids and be up about 1-4 pounds virtually overnight. No joke. Now, last night I made a tuna casserole, and I ate some for dinner. I won’t be surprised to find I am up a pound over yesterday, but I also recognize that will correct itself if I get back on track today. And I have no problem doing that, because I didn’t completely put my body out of whack by indulging all day long yesterday.
  3. No activity. I had a sit down job, and was mentally drained at the end of the day. I skipped too many workouts. It showed. At the age of 46-47, muscle loss happens more quickly almost yearly. It takes weight bearing exercise to keep muscle. Don’t neglect it, and don’t do overdo the cardio at the expense of weight bearing. it helps to  actually schedule my workouts on the calendar. I even set reminders on my phone with encouraging , tough love messages, like, “Work out today, you know you want to!” Or, “Get moving, you lazy slug!” Whatever works. There are many great sources for finding a good routine. Gyms have trainers, often for free, who will help you put a plan together and hold you accountable for progress.
  4. Not weighing in once a week. It was easier to ignore the scale altogether than to face the truth. Weighing first thing in the morning once or twice a week helps me see the immediate effects of my nutrition and exercise habits and to make adjustments. Just don’t get obsessive about it. For example, don’t be disappointed when you’re five pounds up during PMS week.
  5. Stress. It’s easy to get worked up about the election, the cat that just peed on the bed when you just washed the comforter the night before, or that your parent is in the hospital. Stress is deadly. It’s deadly to your diet, your mental health, and many other areas of your physical health. Try prayer, mediation, yoga, talking to a friend. Do what you need to do to get healthy. Sometimes a therapist may be helpful. Sometimes a trip to the doctor is in order. Some people are just very good at staying low-stress, because they have great coping mechanisms and understand that life is a beautiful thing that is just naturally ‘flawed’. That’s part of the beauty. We learn, we grow in faith, or we suffer. We do all the right things, and we still suffer. But in the midst of that, be sure to keep reaching out. Talk to someone. Work through the issues. Worry won’t solve it.
  6. Food is fuel. It should be tasty and enjoyed, but don’t make it the love of your life. Focus on family, friends, staying healthy. Develop hobbies that don’t involve running to the kitchen for a mindless snack simply out of boredom.
  7. Getting SO bored of oily meat and salads! Believe me, I know! Go to http://www.ibreatheimhungry.com , as one shining example, of GREAT LC/GF and other diet specialty recipes and ideas. Start a low-carb board on Pinterest and look for and try the huge variety of recipes and refresh your idea of what low-carb is. Everybody is busy, but not every meal needs to be roast beef wrapped around 1/2 stick of butter. Get your creative juices flowing. Set aside a time and a budget for some of the pricier ingredients that low-carb can include. For example- almond flour, xanthan gum, Swerve, etc. You need to find a good source for some of these ingredients, because not all are available, or available at a good price, at the local grocers. Meanwhile, investigate new recipes for old standbys. There’s more to do with broccoli than just steam it.
  8. Peer pressure. Your family wants mashed potatoes, corn bread, corn, and fried chicken. Fine. Let them have it. You don’t have to eat it. Have a grilled chicken salad with avocado, and colorful red bell pepper, and make them jealous!
  9. Trigger foods. Pizza? Hot rolls? Fresh cookies? Decide if it’s really worth it. Decide if you can act in moderation. Do your best to just ignore it. It’s not a temptation unless you BELIEVE it to be. Maybe this is the time for the cheat meal. But maybe you can wait for the birthday cake on Friday. You get the idea. Have some suitable, satisfying alternatives in your pantry or fridge to satisfy the immediate urges, and carry on.

Favorite low-carb emergency foods: (assuming you are ok with artificial sweeteners . I have alternatives for those, too. )

Light and Fit Greek yogurt at 80 calories and about 9 net carbs. YUM. Very satisfying. Atkin’s meal and treat bars. String cheese. Flavored almonds, Low carb tortillas are in my home at all times. I use them for everything. Even my own pizza. I use liquid stevia in my coffee. Cottage cheese with berries on top. I make mock cheesecakes in single serve sizes using ramekins. I sweeten with Splenda or Swerve or stevia. Berry-protein smoothies. I use vanilla whey or vanilla vegan protein powder and mix with almond milk and frozen blueberries or strawberries.  I mix in spinach as well, and can’t even taste it once blended. I have this regularly for breakfast.

Mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes. Light and Crisp crackers by Wasa. Peanut butter is a huge staple, as well as almond flour. I enjoy eggs, and use them in a variety of ways. The point here is, with a little investigation and strategy, you can build your own low-carb go-to stash that works for YOU. Notice that most of these have a protein component. Proteins and fats are your FRIENDS. Stop trying to avoid fat. The only time you want to avoid fat is when it’s the fake, hydrogenated kind found in things like Lil’ Debbie’s snack cakes, pre-packaged junk like Cheetos, bologna, etc. The more prepared it is, the worse it generally is for you.

So, I am back. The medication is certainly helping me get back to where I feel like me again, but God has been at work in my life big time. I am very grateful for all the support and love I have had from friends and family , and for all the prayers. If you see yourself in a similar struggle, don’t go it all alone. Talk to someone. Take your life back.

 

 

 

Stupid, Wonderful LIFE

No matter how drunk I have ever been, no matter how many times I’ve thrown up in that state, I never missed the toilet with my urine. Why is that?

I like the idea that I am actually a free-agent at work. Since the new reality in the USA is for low-to-mid level retail workers such as myself, part time work is the new reality , no matter how great you may be, I enjoy pretending that my 3-4 days off per week are my choice.

I enjoy perusing Craigslist for jobs that I am not qualified for. My overactive imagination allows me to picture myself doing the job, then the entire length of the career, and the interesting conclusion, without even ever applying!

I usually feel as though I don’t have any skills that are really vital or appreciated in society. This is the result of low confidence combined with feeling mostly ignored at large. According to “The Secret”, I am attracting being ignored, and any lack of talent and skill is simply a result of poor thinking. The law of the universe…I have been focusing on what I want- recognition and fat stacks. I am still focusing. Somebody help me out.

I feel young and old at the same time. I just turned 45. My sex drive is voracious, but my gray hairs are multiplying. Isn’t that strange? I guess my body is trying to maximize my few fertile remaining years to best production. But science tells me that my eggs are few and puny at this point. Plus, my tubes have been tied since age 26. So, the body isn’t all knowing after all.

I still have dreams, but sometimes I feel a large part of me is still 19, waiting for my life to begin, and not knowing where to start. I’ve never really had a HUGE dream that I clung to, that carried me all throughout my life. As things arose, I embraced them. Things I have always loved- dreaming, music, and feeling. Reading was my salvation as a child. I spent so much time in fiction, I guess I never came down to Earth much. When I finally did, I feel like everything had passed me by.

I was lost until age 19. Like most, I didn’t know I was lost until my life hit rock bottom. I asked a God I didn’t know to save my soul. Since then, I am still a sinner, still a crazy fool. Thank God for grace and forgiveness. I need it every day.

A look inside my head: If you didn’t know me, and if you didn’t think of me as the low carb blogger…

Mold me, shape me. I take on my environment and the people around me. I learned early to adapt to survive. It doesn’t mean I am not real. It just means that I only show you what I think you will approve of if I care about and respect you. If I don’t respect you, I feel free to show you all of what I am. For better or worse.

I should have been an actress. I used to think that becoming something I was not would be impossible. Now I realize that is how I operate my entire life.

I dream of things that cannot be as though they already are. I wonder if I am insane. I love my body and hate it , too. I embrace the light but play too much in the dark junk yard of my mind.

I am standing in a junk yard at night. You have a flashlight, but I don’t really need it. I don’t notice details that you do, and you don’t notice the poignant details that I do. You look for parts, I look for the stories behind the deployed air bag, the angle of the rear-view mirror and the tiny shards of stained glass that splatter the front seat. I see people, feel the resignation, feel the pain.

I was ten. I found a mattress in the dumpster. It was stained with many shades of blood and plasma. I felt the anguish, the sick, deep, dark hopelessness. I felt Hell and heaven and all the weight of the entire world upon my being. It soaked into my soul-my deepest perceptive senses were suddenly very acquainted with grief. In the instant that I stared, I absorbed a feeling that was not mine, but became mine. I owned this, but knew it not. Later, I was told that the mattress belonged to our upstairs neighbor. She shot herself in that bed.

I don’t know. What is it? I saw a photograph in the Time magazine when I was sixteen that showed the ovens where Jews were cooked. I saw the death camps. I didn’t actually SEE the photos as though they were a piece of history. My analytic mind was silenced. All I did was soak it in. I was revolted and horrified. Tears sprung to my eyes. I cannot tell you now that this was not just compassion and shock. But I KNOW it was much different than that. I was there. I FELT it. I can’t live in those places very long. I have to leave. I spend so much time trying to make a mark on the world, but I can never undo the mark it has left on me. I remember the day I learned about the potential of the nuclear bomb, the JFK assassination, and the 9-11 disaster. All I could do was hide in music, cry, and pray. I can tell you that I am not strong enough for the evil of this world. I can only call on Jesus. I can’t do it alone. The evil finger that occasionally reaches out to freeze and terrorize my heart can only be stopped by Him.

Life. The best things- love, selfless sacrifice, innocence of mind- the purity of music…the beauty of a smile. These things I cling to, but I never have felt, and never will feel, as though I fit into this world. I am a stranger here. As much as I am a part of this ancient Earth, and my body will return to it, I don’t really belong here. I have no real friends. I have family. I have people who love me. But, I never seem to get too close to many.

I inhaled the beautiful aroma I doused myself in. Shampoo, conditioner, soap, and perfume. I spent time carefully concealing dark spots on my face, red nose and chin, dark circles under my eyes. I spent more time scrunching my curls,plucking the grays, applying cellulite reduction cream, but the truth is never far from my mind, None of this matters. Not at all. This is just a shell. But this shell is perfectly designed to have me survive this planet. I have to keep it healthy. I fart. This ruins it all and makes reality even more important. I am really stinky inside. Gross.

On to more important things. The mind. What I think, I am . So I practice thinking beauty, health, love, and peace. These are among the most important things. I always believe that I am safe and secure. And so I am. Nothing threatens me.

Daily chores begin. I wash and fold. I sort and hang. I scrub and organize. But deep inside this productive feeling is a small child who doesn’t get any of it, the importance of it. That girl wants to spin, skip, and dance, and forget every ugly thing of this world. Then I go to work. I treat every person as if they are the most important person in the world. Sometimes I don’t feel they really are. I do it anyway.

I fear that everyone’s love is false. I don’t believe in flattery. Nobody is my age. I am older or younger than everyone. Nobody knows my age. Nobody knows ME.

I love smooth river rocks. I love dry river beds, and roaring white water. I love deep pools of clean, clear water. I love eyes that are full of light. I love proficiency and speed. I love brown, and blue, and green. I love deep red, the sunny blue sky, and ice cream.

I love my children. No matter how old they become, they are my children.

I love all that is right, good, and awesome. I hate my restless spirit.

I will write the great American novel…eventually. I know that the people I love also love me. That is enough Most all the time. I still am just a drifter, a dreamer, a wanderer, and schemer. Yet, I never want more for you than a sweet lullaby, or less than to feel the beauty of the sunrise, the warmth of the sun on your skin , and that you know- deep in your soul- that all the sweetness and love you find in others is just reflecting off your own magnificent and large heart.

I get depressed. Easily. I am an addictive personality. Pain makes me apologize. I love cats. I rely too much on feeling. I am an empath. I can be apathetic, but I hate living that way.

I will write more fiction and poetry soon. Hope to see you there.

So, Summer Begins…

Many things from our childhood stay with us. As a kid, I was never into sports. In addition to being an only child, with no dad, I had very poor vision, that was undiscovered until I was ten, and not corrected until I was thirteen. As you might guess, I was the last chosen for any team.   I never ran, and  hated all forms of ball games. I pouted, frowned, shuffled, cried, and was generally a complete pill on any ‘team’ my p.e. teachers put together. I thought that Dodge Ball was a cruel hoax invented by evil teachers, and I found many animals in the clouds while I was  standing in hot outfields, tuning out people yelling, “GET THE BALL!!!”  On my own time, though, I learned to be a kid daredevil, climbing up scaffolding and defying death in many stupid ways.

Today the kids and I decided to play a bit of freeze tag, and then baseball. Our baseball is a tennis ball, and our bat is this broken orange thing that bends too much and is an over-sized plastic relic, really. Nonetheless, I enjoy these outings, and have a lot of fun. I get to feel like a good step-parent, and maybe it helps me feel a teeny, tiny bit better about not playing with my own kids more when they were little, being too concerned with housework or   laundry.

Everything was great until my ten year old stepson yelled out, “LEE! YOU CAN’T EVEN CATCH!” Suddenly, I was nine again, being taunted by the kids on the kickball or baseball team, and I felt a lot of the same old rejected- loser feelings, and anger. I wanted to stop playing, to just go inside and say “screw it”. It was an immature impulse, and my adult sensibilities eventually won out, but it’s funny how some things stick with you, inside you. Dormant sparks of pain can be easily rekindled. I was surprised. It’s true. My catching and hitting are still pretty poor, and on some days these ‘skills’ are completely missing. I remember, though, that everyone seemed to be a critic and offer their opinions on my lack of ball-handling skills when I was a kid. I hated it, them, and mostly myself. I was always tough on myself anyway. I expected to be able to do things the older kids and adults could do, and nobody could convince me that I had to learn it over time. I was obviously a defect.  At home, one step-dad or another was harshly correcting me on how to properly sit on the toilet or yelling at me for something, but from those male ‘father figures’, there was no love, and I never shed a tear when they and my mom would inevitably break up.

It took a lot of time before I got even remotely interested in any kind of sport. I was nineteen. It started with biking, hiking, and then tennis. I didn’t ever get good at tennis, but I really enjoyed it, and still do.

I have learned over time to be happy with playing, even without playing well- for the most part. But somehow, hearing a kid criticize me brought up all these old feelings of worthlessness, all because of not catching a tennis ball lobbed at me. Why?

Why should it matter or even bother me?

When we are kids, we are like wet cement, or little flowers. We are fragile, easily molded, or trampled. The things we experience shape our entire lives. If the majority of our experiences are positive, encouraging, and loving, we tend to feel a lot better about ourselves. When we feel good about ourselves, we are more confident, more likely to experience success, and that success fuels more likelihood of even more future success.

Some people have more natural pluck and resilience than others. Some might set out to resolutely prove their detractors wrong. Others believe the negative barrage, and live it out.

Interestingly, the things I was encouraged in were the very things I became the best at, but deep inside, I have always felt as though most people were more grown up and more competent than I. I have learned a bit about not comparing myself to others, but it’s still a challenge.

So, parents, coaches, friends, step-parents, grandparents, teachers; all of us: please, don’t criticize, tease and bully others. Don’t make people feel bad because they lack a certain skill. Don’t make such a big deal about it if someone you know and ‘love’ doesn’t perform a task at your level. Teach them, or let them be themselves. Not everyone is a natural athlete. Not everyone likes sports. Some of us like to read, write, and cook. Maybe, with love and acceptance, and a bit of encouragement, these people will excel in what THEY love. Help them discover what that is, and remember that the seeds you are planting today will keep sprouting, with deepening roots, forever. Kids are, well- kids. Stop trying to control their every move. Remember how powerful a gruff voice can be. Parents, correct and discipline with love as the motivation, not some twisted concept of creating someone in your own image, or worse, trying to create someone you wish you could have been.

Kids need time to grow, to learn, and to just be kids. Let them. Be patient. Accept them as they are.

Go enjoy every moment of the summer. Kick off your polished shoes and just relax with your family. Laugh, and remember what it’s like to be a kid.

The Addictive Personality Remains Addictive – Even Without “Drugs”.

The addictive personality may kick the alcohol, the heroin, even the need to compulsively spend- but deep inside, there may still be a dormant addict. To what? If there are no drugs, alcohol, the incessant need to gamble, masturbate to porn, overspend, scratch lottery tickets, then- what? Where is the problem?

The addictive personality is doomed to exhibit addictive tendencies toward any number of things, people, but most of all- experiences- that otherwise ‘normal, healthy’ personalities respond to quite differently. The addict may do a good job in hiding the addictive tendencies, but the underlying problem lie in the addict’s inability to consistently apply a very important understanding to every undertaking of life; which is:

The ultimate fulfillment in life comes not from feeling and doing, but rather from knowing and being.

This basic misunderstanding leads to a person jumping from one project to the next, one job to the next, partner, place, educational goals, etc. Why? The experience gives the rush. Call it ‘stimulation addiction’. Similar to an adrenalin junkie’s need to feel the physical rush of the extreme, the stimulation junkie just has a hard time in general with downtime. Unlike a person who simply likes to stay busy and get some work done, or even the restless soul who can’t seem to sit still, the addictive personality is looking for something that they can’t ever quite define, or find. Ironically, they seem to ‘find’ it all the time. But once the rush of the newness wears off, they are often left feeling down. The new job just wasn’t what they thought it would be. The new car is starting to squeak and rattle, and the studies in architecture are boring. The new relationship collapsed under the strain of not thrill-seeking, but perhaps drama-seeking and neediness on the part of the addictive personality.

A 12-step program of support might always be a necessity for the recovered substance abuser, and it makes sense for those who have long ago given up one vice, (alcoholism , for example) to become a chain-smoker, then give that up but now are binge-eating, who finally stopped that but now can be found gambling five nights a week. Maybe they are involved with more than one addiction at a time, but since they are not ‘intoxicated’, and are completely ‘functional’, they don’t see themselves as addicts, and most others would not either. Chances are the addictive personality keeps people at just enough distance to keep criticism at bay. Honesty with oneself becomes more and more elusive, and difficult.

It is only when we can learn to truly have ‘fun’ without drinking, smoking, gambling, overeating, etc…when we can be at peace without having to be ‘doing’ something, no matter how industrious it may seem…when we can just relax, and be in the moment, knowing that in that moment, we have everything we need, that we are OK, can we begin to approach living a life of peace and true happiness.

Prayer, or meditation are extremely helpful for this disorder, as are certain yoga techniques, counseling, and/or the 12-step program. It is necessary to recognize our demons in order to fight them. It is not enough to kick one demon out of our life to simply replace it on down the road with another- even if it seems ‘innocent’.  Sometimes fighting means learning to let go.

In case you are still confused as to the difference between an an addictive personality and a person who just has lots of goals and hobbies, consider this:

The addictive person is never satisfied for long with the thing they obtain.

The addictive personality has a hard time maintaining long-term healthy relationships. They usually begin with a huge rush of excitement, and when that fades, the person is left disillusioned and dissatisfied.

The addictive personality has a hard time being content. They do more than simply look for opportunities to advance at work, or dare to chase a dream. Instead, they are almost compelled to seek out the excitement of the experience, and have trouble communicating the ‘why’ of it all.

The addict may have one or several ‘minor’ addictions in their lives, and may give one up to take up another at any time.

The addictive types have a hard time just ‘being’. Being in the moment is hard, relaxing and ‘doing’ nothing for very long is very difficult, even if they are exhausted.

They seem compelled to move, change jobs, up-end everything with no understandable reason.

They rarely have true peace and contentment in life, because they are attempting to live in a feeling or experience-mode that cannot be realistically maintained for the long-term.

They haven’t learned to live out BEING and KNOWING over feeling and doing, even if they understand it to be true.

Relaxation is very difficult- it’s usually full-speed ahead or exhaustion. Some may sleep more than normal, because of enjoying the dream-state, or a way to escape reality for a while.

Now, all of this could be chalked up to conjecture; maybe just a combination of what I read, think, and have experienced or seen. I am certainly no mental health expert. But, I think I am on to something.

Sound like anyone YOU know? If so, what are your thoughts?

The Trouble with Trust

I don’t think I realized I had such trouble trusting people. I mean, if you’d asked me, I would’ve come back with my usual response, ” Trust has to be earned”, or my other favorite, “Trust, then verify”. Well, those types of responses aren’t very reassuring or positive indicators of my mindset on the subject.

This issue has, as I realize now, been kept at arm’s length by my own arm- and I have chosen to be blind to it . No friends that I hold very close? “Oh, I don’t have time to commit to real friends- that you hang out with, I mean- I have my family.” That may be partially true, but the deeper truth has been that I only let very few and select people get close, and I watch them very closely, too. Why?

Why is a great question. I could tell you that everyone I’ve ever cared about and who was supposed to be there for me has either utterly betrayed me, deserted me, or turned out to not be nearly as great as they pretended to be at first. True, we are all human , all make mistakes. Also true that I believe that living in true forgiveness – as a lifestyle- is the only way to find true peace in life.

There are a few core people who never hurt me enough for me to run from for long. My mother is one. My sisters would be the others.

There are probably others that would be true and honest friends and companions. I have no doubt that my husband is one of them. Knowing this, however, doesn’t mean that I am able to trust him 100%, 100% of the time, with every aspect of my life. It’s not his fault, though. I’m not sure I can do that with anyone. It never leaves my mind that everyone is capable of being an angel or a demon. It never crosses my mind that anyone is above suspicion, except for people I haven’t gotten to know well enough yet. I can keep believing in them until the inevitable facade crumbles. I believe there are some people with incorruptible character, and keep hoping I have found them…but…

I am not sure what the answer is, but I believe it starts with choice. Like love, perhaps trusting is a choice requiring faith, and love.

I pray I find the strength inside to choose to trust more people, more deeply.

Any thoughts?