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Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 Reflections

For the past week, I've been reflecting on 2012, as well as various programs for recovery. In rehab, the groups were based on cognitive therapy; AA, as everyone knows, depends on the "Higher Power/spiritual" concept. I still attend an out-patient cognitive therapy group twice a week, as well as seeing a therapist (again, cognitive therapy).

After careful consideration, I've decided that AA is not working for me. Basically, the spiritual/religious overtones (greater here in the South) are impossible for me to accept. It's similar to my reaction at local church attendance and the Christian religion in general. I will say I'm glad the AA program works for so many; and I did like the fellowship, and some of the individuals at the meetings. However, instead of focusing on my recovery, I found myself again rebelling against the spiritual methods.

At any rate, I do hope next year is a better year for me. And since I plan to never drink again, I think 2013 will be an improvement. I do have a few plans, but I don't really make New Year's resolutions. Except one: I am going to write more, even if just here at my blog.

I don't have any plans for New Year's Eve; lately I fall asleep by 10:00 and get the best night's sleep I've had in ages. I suppose that is one of the benefits of being off the booze. Or maybe it's one of the two medications I take for depression/pain? All I know is I love getting enough rest.

Of course, every day possible, I take the dogs on long walks. Today was frigid and blustery, but I took them anyway. As for volunteering at the local nursing home, I may still resume that. I've taken a short break over the Holidays.

Now I'm going to post the remainder of my rehab journal entries:

October 21

I feel much better today, emotionally. Finally got some sleep last night, though I woke too early again. My pain was less too, until I sat in the uncomfortable chairs here...back hurts. Meds should help that, though my allergies are awful.

Still, I'm feeling much improved. Maybe all the booze after-effect has finally gotten out of my system? Or the anti-depression drug is working. I'm considering AA meetings & continuing with my counselor when I get home.

The patients here have come into focus more now.

Dora, the 94-year-old, said she loves animals, used to work at an animal shelter. Said she spent thousands on rescuing dogs from being put down. But in her early years, she left this area and moved to Washington D.C. as a telephone operator. Met her late husband there; they had one son, who died in a car accident at age 29. She has only one remaining relative, a niece that doesn't live nearby.

Another lady who is 75 had been living with her son/daughter-in-law whom she dislikes. Called daughter-in-law "Hitler." Her one son, according to her, was the biggest disappointment of her life. He was an alcoholic most of his life, married 6 times, a child with each wife. Then he got religion (the crazy kind!) and though she was living with them, she paid most of the bills. She said he was constantly trying to "save" her, telling her she was going to Hell if she didn't get saved. At last, she said she'd had enough; and signed herself into the rehab/clearinghouse to hopefully be sent to a nursing home after evaluation. She lost her husband at the same age I did (he was 58, she was 54); then she worked in nursing homes for years afterward. She's a natural-born story-teller, and can tell outrageous, hilarious tales about life in nursing homes!


Again, a meal loaded with sugar & fats! I swear, I am going to be fat & diabetic before I leave here...unless I go home soon. Although I did lose a pound last week, I think that was because I took off my shoes. Anyway, not as concerned with weight as health and the unhealthy menu THREE times a day, with THREE additional snacks!

Ruth, the fragile, sweet little lady, was at my table today. She's been having a headache for two days & after lunch, as we talked, the nurse took our B.P.--Ruth's heart-rate was too high. They had her lie down; hope she'll be okay.

I'm stuffed, going to lie down, rest my back & read. I've read two books since I've been here, on the third one now.

Oct. 22, Monday

Weekends are definitely more fun here; the staff are a bit more relaxed & easy with us. Especially 2nd shift. This, I think, is a good thing since usually the days are regimented with rules, etc.

Ruth was taken to the hospital this morning; her heart rate has fluctuated wildly in the past days, as well as her having a headache. She was upset she had to leave, and I didn't even get to say goodbye because I didn't want to upset her more. Still, she really needed the medical assistance, and was unable to sit through the two group therapy sessions lately. Hope to hear how she's doing later.

I'm still thinking of volunteering at a local nursing home when I get home. At least visit some of the residents; I truly love the elderly, and they've led such interesting lives when you listen to them talk. It will also be good for me.

I'm beginning to feel optimistic about the future...

After Supper

I got to go to the gym today! Didn't even know we had one but it sure was nice to use the bike machine. Took it slow & easy, need to work up to longer sessions.

No word on Ruth yet.

Julie (the 65 year old) will go home Wednesday or Thursday. We will miss her, especially me since we talk a lot out in the hall or at meals!

Too many exclamations, but I am feeling so much better, even though the psychiatrist didn't say when I could go home. Boo-hiss! Said I needed to work on planning goals for when I get out.

(Notice how booze has lost interest for me?)

October 23rd

Today we heard from Ruth; she will return soon.

I finally had a long, long session with a psychologist, as well as testing. It was interesting and enlightening; I hated the memory test though, worried I didn't do well.

As I spoke to him about my terrible childhood, my marriage and then the death of my husband and loss of nearly every close relative in the past six years, the tornado, the two car wrecks...he kept nodding. Occasionally he'd say, "And you've never had any counseling?" I'd shake my head, and continue my saga, the three major moves, leaving the newspaper, a few dates with nice men, the growing certainty I wanted to remain writing, on and on.

At last we began a conversation, and he was greatly compassionate. He asked about my drinking, why I thought it had started and continued. I gave him my thoughts on that, and he seemed to agree.

Anyway, it was a great session.

When I returned to my room...I had a room-mate!! I was surprised, though I knew I could get one at any time.

She seems nice, around my age, but looks much younger.

When I was getting some crushed ice in the kitchen, the psychologist stopped by and said my test was normal. He said the only problem he detected was my concentration and distraction; he said some of that might be due to the new medications (and past drinking). He knew I was worried; I'd said he might think I had dementia after that test!


Okay, that's about all of the journal because once I started getting acquainted with the new room-mate, I didn't write in my journal as often. Also if I wasn't talking to her, I was out in the hallway talking with the other patients. I do remember the bawdy 75-year-old telling stories that made us all laugh.

There was an elderly guy who kept hitting on all the women; he took a particular liking to that lady, but she kept telling him she had no interest in ever being married again.

One day she said he told her he could still shoot squirrels. She started to laugh, and said, "I told him, honey, I used to work in a nursing home and I know your squirrel shooter is broken!"

The next day when he was going to be released, she said, "Well, the squirrel shooter is going to be shot out of here today."

Oh, she was a card!

The room-mate turned out to be an alcoholic; she was the only person (other than the woman who took an overdose of pain pills accidentally) with substance abuse issues. We talked and talked and talked; it was good to share about similar drinking patterns, etc.

For me, it was also a relief; the only direct mention of my drinking was by the psychologist. The psychiatrist seemed far more concerned about my depression & anorexia & suicidal thoughts. He'd sometimes see patients out in the hallway, and if I was out there, he'd lean down and whisper in my ear, "Are you having any bad thoughts?" Jeez!

At any rate, to make a long entry shorter (too late!), I promised two of the elderly ladies I'd visit them when we left there. And my room-mate & I planned to stay in touch. She decided to leave against medical advice, and went home the same day I did: Friday, which made my stay exactly two weeks.

Before I was released, I had to have a plan approved by the social worker & psychiatrist. It consisted of going to stay two days with each of my sisters before heading home. Also, seeing the counselor I'd seen once and her group therapy twice a week. Then setting up volunteer work, not being at home alone as much. And at my suggestion, AA meetings; the social worker wasn't enthusiastic about that, mainly because she said she'd been to the local AA meetings and didn't think it'd work for me. (Turns out she was right.)

When I got home, I did hear from the room-mate once, but then never met as we'd planned. She had broken up with a long-time live-in man, and I think they got back together. Don't know even now.

I also visited the two elderly ladies. One went to a wonderful assisted living home, and she had family nearby, so I didn't go again due to the driving distance. The other one lived with her son, and I got the distinct vibe he didn't want me to visit Ruth again. Unfortunate.

One thing I noticed: the closer time got for anyone (myself included) to go home, the more anxious and worried they were. I wondered how much of our dysfunction was due to our living situations? Or problems with family relationships?

And with that, I'm closing this chapter for now.

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!


I didn't want to leave anyone thinking of secular recovery without some important internet websites/groups.

Here are the ones that have helped me in my recovery:

Cognitive therapy with emphasis on rational recovery. Articles and forums as well as live chats and articles/books/materials.

Women for Sobriety
Especially significant for women only...and personally I do think women have some different issues than male drinkers. Again, this is based on rational, reasoned recovery but with some spiritual connotations -- or emotional.

The Sober Recovery Forum
This forum covers AA discussions as well as secular connections/recovery topics. It has helped me a lot, even without posting. Reading/learning and participation is powerful in recovery.

And one book:
Sober for Good
I've just started this book, but it covers all range of recovery options from AA to secular with personal stories from those who have been sober for at least 5 years.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Still not able to find time to update my blog, but I will within a few days.

For now, I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas...and Happy Holiday Season from myself, my two dogs, two cats and all the outside cats I feed. (That's quite a crew!)

Happy Holidays from my
house to yours!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Loony Bin VIII

October 20th

Alrighty then, had no sleep last night and started worrying about the cats. Outside & inside cats. Not sure they are getting good care with nieces. Or the attention they need.

A loud hot-rod also kept roaring up and down the nearby street; a park and Walmart parking lot are teen hangouts close to here. Kids race back and forth between the two places on weekend nights. I swear it sounded like that car was coming through the wall; it would race up and down, sit at the park and make rumbling zoom, zoom noises. Argh!

I asked for sleep meds during the night, but nurse said I had none prescribed.

I finally dragged out of bed this morning, able to get a bath & dressed in zombie-mode. Then I had a come-apart, sat down in the room chair, started crying uncontrollably. A nurse came in and talked with me for a long time, even took  me outside to get some fresh air. I had that kind of crying where you can't get your breath, awful!

At last I calmed down a bit, went to breakfast, didn't eat much. I am aching all over, back pain, neck/shoulder pain. I always feel this way when I don't get sleep.

I saw the psychiatrist briefly, he changed my anti-depressant medication, and added a new one to treat fibromyalgia. Maybe that will help.

Sister visited twice today and brought more clothes, necessities. I appreciate what my sisters are doing, and love them...but I know I'm becoming a burden to them. I hate that I really have no one else to call on, but I never will. That's just how I am.

I realize they love me, but also if I killed myself, it would create a stigma for them and the entire family. It's one thing to think of suicide as an abstract concept and something else entirely to see it can be a valid escape from a miserable, unhappy life.

If I could be pain-free, not depressed, I'd love to live. But I just don't know... I do love my family, but sometimes that's not enough. I need to live for myself! 

Enough. I'm going to sit in the hallway with the other nuts.


Today, Dec. 18

I had a bad day in the above journal entry, but later that night sitting in the hallway turned out to be fun. One of the nurses got a balloon and we started tossing it around, till it burst unexpectedly. Everyone was shocked, and the reaction was hilarious. More and more, I began sitting in the hallway with other residents instead of staying in my room. That marked a turning point in my stay. Or maybe it was the different anti-depressant which I still take.

Cooler here today, but had some fog this morning. Here's a picture I took early.

So thick I couldn't see the houses behind my fence. Glad I wasn't out driving in that!

Feeling like I am getting sinus infection. Hope not. Long dog walk after lunch since it's sunny & mild now. I laundered dog bedding, have it hanging on the clothesline now.

Sister will visit tomorrow. I might convince her to go with me to look at another dog. We'll see...

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Loony Bin VII

[I didn't post yesterday due to being upset/sad about the awful shooting in Sandy Hook. Honestly, having signed myself into a psychiatric/rehab facility, knowing that my co-pay would be expensive, getting mental health help is not cheap or always available. As citizens, we need to start demanding MORE facilities/help for the mentally ill and begin at the local level first. Such a tragedy, that might have been prevented in several ways, including limiting access to guns.]

October 18th

I keep wondering why I've had very little one-on-one counseling. Yes, a few of the staff have talked to me privately -- social worker, nurses. But I've not met with a psychiatrist or psychologist for discussion. Twice daily group therapy not really helping. I'm depressed again today.


After Lunch
Had meds, feel a bit better. But I am getting really, really bored. Tired of playing bingo & elementary inspirational grade school pep talks in group therapy. Seriously. I know more about that material than I could even recount from years of inspirational writing. Hello, lifestyle articles!

My back hurts all the time and what I thought was a pain med is instead for my "nerves."

Wondering where I can hide this journal so staff won't read it?

Everything is searched here. I couldn't even keep a comb & brush! Or my drops for dry eyes. Have to ask specifically for those, and an aid stays with me while using.

Did have a delicious lunch but must be gaining a ton! I have had cereal several mornings, sugary stuff. I miss my All-Bran and Bran flakes. Fiber is missing in the regular meals here; typical southern cooking, loaded with butter, sugar, fat and greasy meat.

I'm beginning to want to go home! No group meetings about alcohol/substance abuse either.

Last night I woke up & overheard a male resident in a nearby room talking to an aide. He said he didn't know why he was here...that his family didn't want him and his daughter had him committed. Said he was first at a more secure facility before being sent here.

Night (Before bed)
I spent most of the evening sitting in front of the nurses station, talking with other patients and watching the frenetic pace of the nurses. Better than TV!

Found out that Julie (the 65-year-old) took an overdose of pain pills, got badly combative. She had to be restrained at the hospital, then ended up here. Her husband had her committed via court order. She's not the only court ordered person in here either; in fact, so far I'm the only one who has signed myself in. When I tell others that, they look at me like I really am nuts or stupid.

A few of the elderly, like the man I mentioned above, don't really know why they are here. This place seems to act as a clearinghouse for elderly who are a bit unstable or have dementia and need meds adjusted or need to be relocated to another facility other than the one they came from. Quite a few are here from assisted living places, and nursing homes.

We got a new patient tonight (from assisted living) who is the perfect example. She demanded to walk in with her walker, instead of being on a gurney. As she passed us in the hallway, she was grumbling, "They got me just as I was going to bed, didn't give me time to take my hair out of rollers."

She had a pink cap over her head, kept patting it self-consciously but laughed as several people said they had been brought in without consent too. Dora is a card, I can tell!

I will say all the residents, including yours truly, are bonding and sharing war/life stories. I believe that is a good development for myself & recovery.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Loony Bin VI

October 18th

Yesterday afternoon I met with a physical therapist; she said I would start therapy on my back soon. That's welcome news! Maybe I can get my back problems eased, need more strength & movement. My back pain has returned full-force since being here; the liquor did relieve the muscle tension and strain.

It's 7:00 AM and I'm already up and dressed (as usual here). Ready for breakfast and coffee! Everyone hurries to the dining room to get the first table, which gets coffee first! Think I'll ask for cereal this morning, tired of eggs/bacon/gravy/biscuits. God knows how much I've gained eating this food. I'll diet when I get home.

Will see what today brings.

Later, 10:00 AM
There's a feeling, intuition, instinct...whatever, that I've always had: it is my fate to die by suicide. I've felt this way from the time I can remember learning about death, but have never expressed it to anyone.

Karma perhaps? Not sure.

I remember reading about Gary Gilmore's demons, how he'd always felt an old, cold mustiness surrounding him, hearing the creaking wheels of time approaching, an ancient doom that he would be executed. Did he cause it to happen or was it fated to happen?

In other news, a new man came in last night; he's across the room from me. Dick seems confused, combative, maybe dementia. He doesn't look real old though, more like 60s. Middle of the night, aids were wrestling with him and all manner of noise/confusion woke me. He's quarrelsome, in a fancy wheelchair that he can roll up and down the halls.

Lastly, Ruth sat with me at breakfast and we had a long talk. Said she'd been living with her 50-year-old-son who has had a mild stroke. She loves cats, has several and feeds strays. Says she'd like to go to nursing home so she'd have company, but doesn't know if her family will agree. Used to work in a school lunchroom.

I felt better this morning and actually opened the curtains in my room!

Terrible thunderstorm last night, woke me up. Hope my grand-niece put cat-porch windows down. And no tree branches fell in the backyard.

There I go again: worry, worry, worry...

Sitting the hallway with Julie, (regarding exercise) she said , "The only thing I can run is my mouth!" LOL

Social worker conducted group therapy...always on topic of more socializing, make friends, get out more, blah, blah, blah...

Don't see that happening with me, since I like my solitude.

Around 1:30

Ate lunch at the table with Dick; he has Alzheimer's disease, but occasionally lucid moments when he makes sense. He's the only one here with that condition; all the rest are elderly but mentally alert.

Dick is truly a sad case.

Insurance clerk finally caught up with me...had to explain how to file with my insurance. I'll be lucky to get out of this under $10,000.00 due to high deductibles. Sigh.

Did my 10 laps up and down the hallway.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Loony Bin V

October 17th, Wednesday

Up at 5:30 every morning, bathed/dressed and ready for breakfast at 7:30. Last night I stayed up and watched the presidential debate in the TV room. Obama did very well, but I just don't know who will win. If Obama loses, I won't have health insurance (pre-existing plan now via government)...for sure a reason to be depressed. I don't want to lose everything I have, my home, my possessions to medical bankruptcy!

Have a headache this morning, still feel depressed. Depression, my constant companion.

Some of these senior ladies are very sweet--but a couple have already told me they don't want to live much longer due to being in constant pain. (Everyone here seems to be in physical pain of one sort or another, back, diabetic neuropathy, etc).

I don't know about living. It's been nice to be taken care of here, not to worry about caring for house, yard, cats, dogs, you-name-it. Maybe I had a nervous breakdown via alcohol? Couldn't get any rest, gave up. I still miss the booze though.

After breakfast:

Some names of seniors (not real names):
Betty: Regal, thin, birdlike, fragile (resembles my grandmother)
Margaret: Beauty in her day, full face, full lips, sharp green eyes
Ruth: Thin, wheelchair bound, sweet, humble and says she likes being here now, has someone to talk to other than cat
Julie: Always complaining about something, not a bad person, just speaks up more, has had back surgery, in lots of pain (65)

[I'm sitting in the library/quiet room making these notes. Cannot go back to room for hour after breakfast, why?]

Overheard in hallway where the elderly men/women sit lined up in their wheelchairs near the nurses station.

Man said, talking to another man, "I see you guys got the hall well controlled & patrolled."

Reply: "Someone has to do it."


More people:
Ida: Looks a lot like one of my aunts, guff voice. Seems a realist, not a softy.
Kate: Was in a car wreck, pretty woman about 40. Had brain injury, wasn't able to walk at first. With rehab/medication, she is able to start walking. But she shakes and can't quite control her hands yet. Her husband is very supportive. She won't be here much longer.

Not as familiar with the men yet.

Played rousing game of creating words out of two large words. Fun. NOT.

I don't know why I'm not receiving any direct counseling for my alcohol problem.

The psychiatrist comes by once a day, mumbles a few questions, adjusts medicine...and then he's gone. I thought I'd get counseling here.

Even later:
Psychiatrist came by and seemed a bit different, hesitant. Finally came out with: "...thought you might be purging after meals."

I told him repeatedly that I've never  purged! Yes, I've starved myself, but never purged because I can't stand vomiting. Great! Now he's more focused on my anorexia than alcoholism.

He did say I was looking a lot better, but had to stay out of my room an hour after meals. Crap! :-(

Tried to call my sister but she wasn't home; probably out walking my dogs.


Walked up & down the hallway 10 times to get some exercise.

Sister called me back and I told her what psychiatrist said, so I...just don't know about this place.

Whatever drugs they are giving me sure do make me sleepy.

Though not dying to go home, I'm beginning to hope I leave by the middle of next week.

I will say the staff are nice, helpful and considering the histrionics and disabilities here, they do a remarkable job of never losing their temper, being patient.

Ah, I see the edge of resistance to treatment rearing its ugly head in this entry! Sigh.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Loony Bin IV

Before I get to the journal entries for today, let me warn readers that I was going through a bad time with depression. Partly from the alcohol withdrawal, and partly because I'd been suffering from depression long before I began drinking.

I do improve, but the first few days were difficult.

October 15th journal entry:

Monday Morning
Woke again today with a dark depression...crying and sad. I sit at the breakfast table and cry, tears run down my face as I try to eat.

There's a couple group therapy sessions, morning/afternoon; all the residents have to attend, but I have hardly listened. Mostly about positive thinking, etc.

Today a nurse asked if I felt suicidal and I said yes. Later she brought a contract to sign saying I would not self-harm while here. I don't know how anyone could since they've proofed for anti-suicide.

Then the male psychiatrist came by, reminding me that he told me I'd be depressed for several days after being off liquor. And they are giving me different meds, experimenting with anti-depression drugs to see which ones help me most.

Lastly, a social worker came in my room and talked a long time with me about getting better. She said when I'm released I should go to AA meetings and I'd have a follow-up therapist. That helps me feel better, because I know I can't do this alone.

We'll see, I guess. Sister may visit tomorrow.

October 16th, Tuesday

Just had a visit with both my sisters; it was good to see them.

M. said she had the dogs groomed, and the vet there said they were due for a couple vaccinations  However, she told him I'd take care of it back here with my vet. I'd forgotten any were due.

Before sisters arrived, I was lying on my bed wondering if I'm in the right place with all these elderly seniors (75+), mostly disabled or with signs of dementia. Should I have chosen a rehab with younger people? Don't know.

I do still have suicidal thoughts.


Note: I was too depressed to write a lot during those days. I would stay in my room, thinking or reading. I found a couple of novels in the library, tried to get suicide off my mind. Reading these entries, it's as if I didn't even notice the individuals there much, too preoccupied.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Loony Bin III

Sunday Morning, October 15th

Woke up extremely depressed, started crying. I've made such a mess of my life. Better if I had died. Feel suicidal, but mostly just sad and lonely.

Been having vivid dreams, even if I just close my eyes to dose, I have such clear dreams, mostly that I'm back home & petting my dogs. Sometimes I even see J. (my late husband). He's always happy and doing something around the house. (Note: looking back, this might have been hallucinations from withdrawal?)

Wish I could stop crying. Already had my bath, dressed and ready for breakfast. Only 6:30! Maybe need meds changed?

Sister & brother-in-law visited this afternoon...45 minutes are the limit, 10 minutes for phone calls. They said everything was good with my cats. And my nephew had come home (at other sister's house) for a few days; he was keeping dogs entertained.

The meds make me calm but I feel sleepy all the time. I forgot to send a book back to the library.

Eating way too much here. Will have to diet when I leave.

So sleepy after eating supper, a good meal of chili, salad and bread.

Feel like I could sleep forever.


Note: I didn't know at that point my room was subject to searches and the journal was probably being read. I was zonked during that weekend.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Loony Bin Part II

Before I begin the journal entry, I wanted to state that the ER visit did a thorough work-up regarding liver damage. I had none, zip, zero! They even did an x-ray of my liver, no enlargement. Considering how much I drank, everyone seemed amazed by that. So it goes.

Now to the journal, continuing October 13th:

Just got back from group therapy, mostly discussion about how to deal with ups & downs of to day tedium.

Had a fruit snack.

Sister called & said my dogs, Rambo & Oscar, are doing fine; they went home with her, and we'd been there lots of times, so I'm not worried about them. My indoor cats are being taken care of by my nearby grand-nieces; they are familiar with their care/routine.

I honestly believe the only way to save myself is to get back to writing. The drinking took the place of that--so in order to stop forever, I must write.

At least this is a good place to have quiet time, reflection and collect my thoughts on the therapeutic process...which I can share in this written notebook.

We just had lunch, lots of food! Then a psychiatrist dropped by to talk to me. He said he could order some medicated patches for my knees, because I'm hurting; maybe that will help.

He also checked my B.P. and heart/lungs, but we didn't talk much. Told me I'd be receiving several drugs to calm me and help alleviate the detox from alcohol. Feel groggy.

A bit more about this facility: it used to be a hospital. I was here several times through the years for physical illness, and it's familiar to me. Another hospital bought the facility and is in the process of getting it completely open by January for drug/alcohol rehab. My GP helped arrange for me to be here.

More mental health facilities are needed in our state, like this one. There are woefully few now.

My biggest fear right now is that I cannot trust myself not to drink. Hopefully that issue can be resolved in counseling and with medication. I'm very depressed, think I'll take a nap.

Dinner is finished--3 large meals will make me FAT, ugh! I suppose I'll have to eat real light at each meal; they record what you eat at every meal!

I feel drowsy, more depressed than earlier. Sleepy after that nap. And too I was just worn out from all the constant care-taking/house maintenance.

It's probably 5:00 (no clocks/watches in our room!) & I'm ready to sleep. Maybe I'll take another nap.

One of my sisters called, said they'd visit tomorrow afternoon. I'll be glad to see them, but it makes me sad and humiliated that I lost control of my drinking and life.

I hope I come out of here stronger, because I cannot go on like I was.

I miss my cats & dogs so much!

Watched a movie, "October Baby" in the TV room. That helped some.

(Note: I have NO memory of that now!)

More tomorrow.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

The Loony Bin

October 13, 2012

Well, here I am--at the loony bin/rehab for my depression & alcohol abuse. Oh yeah, my anorexia is part of the treatment. Other than that lady counselor, I've never had any psychological/emotional treatment.

I did confess my alcoholism to my GP (who's known me since I was 22 years old), and he was shocked. Told me about the place where I am now, local, makes it easier on family to visit.

Anyway, about the drinking: sometimes I'd go weeks & weeks without a drink (trying to quit). Then I'd convince myself I could drink moderately...and ultimately be right back where I started.

The worst episode was yesterday. The day before I didn't eat anything, dieting. Went to bed early, started drinking. Dozed off to sleep...

I woke up around 2 AM, felt weak/shaky but got up & made a drink. As I sipped on it, I began to sweat, my face was instantly wet, beads of sweat just rolling off. My hair was quickly drenched.

I realized I was too weak to get up...and as time passed I got weaker and weaker, sweating profusely.

I lay there till I could see daylight beneath the wood shutters, debating if I should reach for the phone. I kept thinking that I was dying, and wasn't going to intervene.

But the one thing that reeled me in was family; if I died, it would leave such a stigma for them (I know all the stats about family of suicides being more likely to commit suicide). Was the waiting/thinking a suicide attempt?

When I had been in the ER the first time, I'd begged for help with drinking. No help at all. After I'd been dismissed, as I was starting to get in a wheelchair, I said, "I...think I'm trying to kill myself."

The nurse stopped what she was doing, looked at me and stated, "That's different. If you hadn't already been dismissed, we'd send you to the psych ward." She even told my sisters to leave, drive around a block, and re-admit me as suicidal, a difficult decision for them at that time.

Back to the 911 situation, I was so weak I could barely speak, the operator kept me on the line...and I know I said I thought I was hypoglycemic (I'd had symptoms before, never this bad). She said they were on the way.

All my doors were locked, and I just wasn't able to get out of bed to unlock them. I told the operator that, and she said, "Don't worry, they'll get in..."

I forgot to warn about my dogs, and when the Firetruck with EMTs showed up, two of the men found an unlocked window, crawled through it and met with my dogs. To say the dogs were wildly upset would be an understatement. The guys had to battle their way to my bedroom, and then Rambo positioned himself between them and my bed. Finally a woman EMT came in, and Rambo let her get to the bed.

I was about to pass out, and she kept yelling, "Ma'am are you diabetic..." I shook my head, and mumbled about drinking. She started putting something sticky sweet in my mouth, and said, "Ma'am, you are about to go into a this..."

She tried other things, and then said I needed to go to the ER. I was so out of it, I barely remember being put in the truck but I do recall mumbling about my dogs, if they left the dog door open and the woman saying, "I don't know where your dogs are and I don't care!"

At the ER, they put in an IV and I started feeling better. Brought in breakfast, forced me to eat some and then my nearest brother-in-law showed up; I had not called him. He said my entire neighborhood was in an uproar, because they saw the Firetruck and thought my house was on fire! My niece who lives a block & half away was even alarmed, and called my sister, hence the visit.

The whole thing was awful, and this time I just kept saying over and over that I had  to have help. I wanted to be sent to the facility then, but they told me it would be best to process through my GP.

Family took me by home to get my bags packed, and then brought me here. I had a minute of doubt when the doors closed behind me...but I was so sick, coming off that bad drunk, I don't half remember all the rules/regulations etc read to me. And I didn't care...just wanted some rest!

I was given medication to ease the detox last night, went into a deep sleep, but feel groggy today, slow and tired.

Not sure what plans are for me today, it's morning now. Mostly seniors in here as patients, older than me. But I feel more comfortable than being around young kids.

We are all on one long hallway, rooms on either side, probably only 15/20. There's a dining room, TV room and small library.

So far the routine consists of meals in the dining room. No TV or electronics in our rooms (couldn't bring in electronics of any kind). Nothing in our rooms we could harm others/self with, not even belts or shoe strings. No makeup/tooth brush (locked up, can call for it). The mirror is some kind of metallic thing, which makes you look weird (I'm weird anyway by now!). We have to get up at 5:30 AM!!!

At some point I hope for individual counseling. I've been told medications will be prescribed by a psychiatrist, when I see one.

....have to go, an aid stuck her head in the door and said it's time for group therapy.

I'll end here for today. More tomorrow from the journal.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Lies I Told Myself

I think every alcoholic must have their own set of repeated lies we tell ourselves in order to keep drinking. I have a list I wanted to share:

*I'm old, it doesn't matter if I drink. If I was young, had my whole life ahead, I wouldn't drink (actually I didn't drink in my younger  years).

*I've earned it! Spent most of my life worrying about this, that or the other. Could NEVER stop worrying, and now that I'm older, a widow with no children, I have a right to drink because it stops me from "inventing" things to worry about.

*I have back & knee problems; the drinking relieves those pains.

*It helps me sleep.

*I think more clearly when I have a couple drinks.

*I'm more social, not anxious around people if I have a drink.

*I'll cut back if I get out of control.

*When I did get out of control: Well, it doesn't matter. I'm alone most of the time anyway, and I never drive drunk. I'll just stay home, drink, and then lie in bed if I get too wasted to function.

*I've never had a blackout so I must be in control.

*I've never had a hang-over so I must be in control.

***And lately, almost 2 months sober: I probably need to keep a bottle of vodka just in case the Apocalypse happens this month. (NO, I don't believe it will.) Or if we have a freakish weather event. I won't drink it, just have it here in case.***

That last one, I have not acted on. But honestly, that thought has run through my mind lately. I guess it'll never stop, and I'll occasionally have to reign in such fantasies by recalling the eventual outcome of "just one more drink."

My summer journal ended with the entry yesterday. The following two weeks are a bit of a blur, though I do remember specific things.

One Sunday afternoon I decided to watch a movie in my bedroom. I had some vodka nearby, a mixed drink, but a big bottle behind the bed. I don't remember the end of the movie; on Monday...vaguely I recall hearing the phone ringing, but I didn't answer it. A couple times I must have staggered to the bathroom, fed the dogs. They had access to outdoors via the doggie door.

On Tuesday morning, I picked up my cellphone (it had been nearby in the bed all that time)...and my sister was frantic. They hadn't been able to get in touch with me Monday. They were debating coming inside my house, but kept hoping they'd get in touch with me.

I had sobered up a bit, but had lost an entire day, Monday. I even thought it was Monday when she called. I must have had the dreaded blackout, and that scared me to death! But apparently I was not frightened enough. My sister said she was on the way down (she lives 60 miles away), and would send my brother-in-law, who lives nearby, over immediately.

What did I do? Drank some more, and dozed off. When he arrived, he brought breakfast, coffee, and orange juice. He had to answer his cell phone due to work, went in the other room, and I added some vodka to the orange juice. And so it went, the entire day; I stayed in bed mostly...and kept drinking steadily (sneaking it after my sister arrived from a stash in the closet), until she caught me with the bottle, got it and poured it out.

She stayed while I sobered up, with me continuing to say I'd be okay, just had a "bad spell," etc. At last I convinced her, and she went home.

I went to get another bottle of vodka, my drug of choice. It could be mixed with something and I could hardly taste it, since I didn't particularly like the taste of liquor.

I didn't get as drunk as that blackout, but I kept drinking because I'd already been through detox twice and didn't want to go through it again. I didn't think my body could survive another detox if I tried it alone. So I had to keep drinking.

And two weeks later, I ended up in a secure, lock-down facility. I had been prepared to die, because I couldn't quit drinking -- and I nearly accomplished my mission. I was able to write about what happened that led to the facility the day after I was admitted.

That will be my next blog post, with continuing journal entries during my two-week stay.

Back during the summer, I had several bad falls (while drinking). I banged up one of my knees; it looked like a baseball, but I wouldn't go to the doctor (he might detect I was drinking, maybe I had liver damage, etc).

I fell out the door of my cats' porch, and hit my head, temporarily blacking out. When I came to, I was standing on one of the steps, feeding the cats, only recalled starting to fall but nothing else (getting up, moving to the steps to feed the cats). When I looked in the bathroom mirror, I had a huge knot on the left side of my forehead, and the beginning of a black eye. I think I had a mild concussion, but again, wouldn't go to the doctor.

With the bizarre luck of a drunk, I survived those falls and a couple of others, never breaking a bone. Disgusting behavior, shameful.

More tomorrow.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Interesting day...

The AA meetings were interesting, and I keep meeting more and more members each time I attend. Tomorrow I get my 2 month sober chip. It helps keep me motivated, knowing all those other people share my drinking problems, and are concerned/caring for me. One member has been sober 41 years, and still attends daily meetings! Impressive.

I still haven't asked about a sponsor, but may next week. My therapist called and had to reschedule my Monday appointment to next Thursday. She said she'd been hearing good things about me via our group therapy sessions. Nice.

Today is mild, partly cloudy, and I got to take the dogs on an extra long walk. My grand-nieces' dog (Ozzie) came over early this morning, but he didn't get to go on the walk because the girls had taken the halter I keep here for him. I asked my grand-niece, when she came to get him, if they could bring it back and she said they would.

Now without further ado, here's the next journal entry:

September 30

Well... that didn't work. The moderate drinking, I mean.

Oscar, my dachshund, got sick (had a tiny piece of bone stuck in his gum, cost $200+ to get it out!), I went into a tail-spin and ended up drunk! Called family in & had to spend an entire week at my sister's house.

I also met with a counselor once -- but don't know if I'll continue with her or not. My insurance hasn't even settled my last ER visit, and with a high deductible, don't know for sure it will cover repeated visits. The counselor did say it would, that'd she'd called my insurance rep, and all I'd have to pay is $25 co-pay.

So far no drinking for the week I've been back at home. Maybe I can do the 30 day "no drinking" required by Managed Moderation--then return to an occasional drink?

Whatever, I've lost 3 pounds and that's the good news from this train-wreck.


(Obviously, I wasn't thinking clearly -- just finding an excuse to drink again when I'd already proved I couldn't do the MM. Sigh.)

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

New Blog Design & Daily Life

I've spent a couple hours choosing a new layout/color scheme for my blog. About time, since I like to rearrange occasionally -- sort of like moving furniture around! I enjoy fooling with the design, fun and absorbing.

I added my Twitter feed on the right side-bar; I usually have a daily update about what I'm doing on any given day.

Another rainy day, time indoors. Probably no dog walk today. Rambo, my minpin, is sitting on my lap where he's been most of the day. I've learned how to type around him. And I used to think only cats could make me do such tricks. Ha!

Tomorrow I attend two AA meetings; there's a women-only meeting mid-morning and then I stay for the noon open meeting (the noon meeting is every day of the week!). I'm gradually easing into the AA gatherings, not attending every day. It's a relief to know they are there if I feel the urge to drink. I don't have a sponsor yet, but at some point I hope to find one. It will help me cope if I can reach out to a sponsor when I'm struggling not to drink. Also, it will take that burden off my sisters; they have had to go through a lot with me the past few months, and it's time I found support other than them.

Frankly though, at this point, I don't think of drinking every day. It doesn't cause me to obsess, worry all the time; I don't plan my day around how to get it, when to drink, how to try & moderate, etc. When I was in that dark place, it seemed my daily life revolved around such issues.

When our county was dry, I'd have to drive at least 50 miles round trip to buy liquor. It was a highlight, in a way, because I usually enjoyed the drive (and NEVER made it when drinking). I'd get up on a nice, bright day, dress at my best, trying to look "put-together," not an alcoholic. I'd rotate my trips to different liquor stores, north, south, east, west. All the surrounding counties are wet, so I figured none of the clerks would remember me that well. When my city went wet, I did the same rotation among the different liquor stores. In the women's meetings, I found out this was something other women did too! Nothing to be proud of, for sure, but something I could identify with and not feel I was the only one who ever stooped so low.

Now for the past journal entry. (In the internet moderation group, there's some questions to ask oneself regarding managed drinking.)

September 1st

Question: Identify the triggers that lead you to over-drink & develop means to prevent it.

Again, it's been almost 2 weeks without a drink. Still, hoping to do the 30 day stint, then moderate.

Watching a documentary about happiness, what makes people happy. But mostly it's a push for community, being with people to be happy.

What of those who like solitude, like myself?

As to the question above: Being around people too much, even sometimes family, triggers my need to drink (rid myself of the anxiety/stress). I am not happy if around people all the time.

Another trigger...being very upset, either emotional pain, sorrow, grief. I'm too sensitive and sometimes liquor alleviates my overwhelming empathy. It's hard to be a feeling person in a world that has so much indifference -- humans, animals, just never ending images of suffering.

But honestly, how do you avoid those triggers?

Not possible.

And I'm too old to change my deepest self. So back to the moderation plan.

Additionally, when family swoops in here during my initial drunkenness, it makes it worse and as a result, I just drink more and more. This puzzles me...

Note to self: Reading the journal again, I see many, many twisted thoughts, excuses and denial, as well as constant confusion about why I couldn't quit drinking. Sigh.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Rainy Day Thoughts

Finally, we're getting rain! It started this afternoon, a slow drizzle...nice for being indoors & contemplative.

I had a busy morning. The group therapy was great today, a good mixture of people. One of the individuals said they were inspired by me and my participation! That was nice to hear, since I am always active in the group, speaking about my problems, solutions, how I'm coping. Otherwise, why bother if you're going to sit there with a sullen look? A few of the people are there by court order (having gotten into trouble with their drug of choice), and they usually start out being quietly obstinate. Some eventually start to participate but others never do. Sad.

I had errands in town, then dropped by the library to return some books, checked out a couple more.

Once home, I took the dogs on a walk before the rain. Then I had housework as well as sorting through the pet stuff to put into the new pantry. That took awhile, but I eliminated a bunch of boxes, etc that were taking too much space.

Okay, now back to my journey. I wanted to clarify that I never drank till after my husband died. Our county was dry until about a year ago. Occasionally, we'd drive to the closest liquor store, and my husband would buy some lite beer. It would last a long time at the house because we only drank it infrequently...maybe with some popcorn and a movie.

One trait I miss about my husband is his optimistic nature. If the "glass half full/empty" applied to him, the glass would always be half full and it'd be half empty for me. How he kept such a positive attitude in the face of all the terrible things he witnessed as a law enforcement officer, I'll never know.

After he died, I remember a phone call with my mother-in-law. I told her I'd sure miss my husband's positive contrast to my negativity. She agreed with me about him, and I told her I just didn't know what would happen to me.

After he died, when I first began to drink, it was seldom...sometimes at night watching a movie I'd have a weak mixed drink. Over a period of six years, the drinking steadily increased -- but I never drove drunk (or even when I'd had a drink) and never had a drink before noon. The worst periods began last January, and it was downhill all the way after that. Truthfully I hated the drinking by then, but couldn't stop. I tried several times, but just couldn't do it alone.

If anyone with a drinking or drug problem is reading this, I hope they will reach out for help instead of thinking they can do it alone. Some rare people can stop cold turkey, get through the detox (I did that but it didn't last)...alone. There is no shame in asking/needing help; the only shame is in NOT asking if you need the outside help/intervention.

In my case, I voluntarily signed myself into a secure, lock-down facility. I did it because I reached a point where I couldn't trust myself, and truly didn't know what I'd do next.  I wanted to be taken care of, watched so I wouldn't harm myself. I had just experienced a near-suicide, barely escaping death. And I did it myself, mainly because I wanted to stop drinking but just couldn't. When the doors closed behind me at that facility, I had no idea what to expect...but it turned out to be the best decision I ever made in my life. It was what I needed at that time.

And with that, here's a couple of entries from my hand-written journal leading up to that time:

August 19th

Well, I am going to try moderate/controlled drinking. I got one bottle of vodka, and will try to have only 3 drinks per night.

Last night went well and I guess I'll see how and/or if I can do this.


Because of age ... there just seems to be no motivation for not drinking in moderation. I never want to let it get to the point it did before (ER trip due to being so highly intoxicated family feared for my life)...but there are times when I feel a drink saves me from something worse--suicide.

So, that's it in a nutshell.

August 30th

So far, so good with the moderate drinking. I even found an internet counseling group with this approach.

As I stated before, if I was young, had my entire life ahead, I'd choose sobriety. Heck, I was sober till in my mid-50s. And even then, I always managed moderation for years. The only serious problem I had was for a period of 3 months.

Probably that was due to turning 60...and the frequent stress because of problems I was going through.

In the next entry I have some questions from the moderation group to answer.

That's it for today.

Monday, December 03, 2012

My Birthday

Today is my birthday, and at least I can celebrate the fact I'm NOT drinking.

I can remember when I was around 10 or so, my daddy bought a set of encyclopedias (wow, spelled that right!) for us. I was looking through the books, and came across an interesting picture: It was of the ancient Mayans, a high pyramid...and as I read about them, it was mentioned that their "calendar" had the world ending in 2012. I was fascinated with that picture, and went back to it over and over; it was compelling, especially the idea of the world ending. But most of all, I couldn't imagine living to 2012, and being 61! For a little girl, the idea was....overwhelming!

And yet, here I am! And I don't think the world will end on Dec. 21st, but still I'm intrigued with the Mayans and their astronomy at that ancient time.

Now to the journal entry from August 18th:


I bought some beer on the 16th. Why? I have no idea, unless it was to test myself and see if I could drink in moderation.

Well, the answer: Yes & No.

First, I only drank a couple beers while watching TV at night...then the next night, three.

The next day...starting at 2:00 through the evening, four.

And I felt awful...physically. Also depressed by relapse and effect of beer.

No more! When I finish the last two beers still here. The physical lethargy after more than one is not worth it!

Sunday, December 02, 2012


As with all addictions, once you get started the momentum builds and builds, so that soon you find yourself on the dark road to oblivion. That's how it was for me, except for brief glances at the sunlight beckoning me back from that black edge of destruction.

Again, this is a continuation of a period when I was sober back in August:

August 10 (continuing the 4 questions regarding my drinking)

3. What do I think I will like about giving up my addiction. What good things might happen?

If I had to answer this while still drinking, I would have said NOTHING. However, now that it's been over a week sober, I can say I have more energy, sleep soundly, think more clearly--and am not depressed as deeply.

The very things I thought liquor did for me are the things I have being sober: sleeping well, thinking better, not as depressed.

As for what good things might happen...I simply don't know. I've never been an optimist, but only time can tell me what a sober future holds.

4. What do I think I won't like about giving up my addiction? Hate? Dread? Dislike?

Well, liquor had, in some warped way, become my companion. When I would think of not drinking, I'd get sad, feel lonely, as if I were actually breaking up with a lover. (Isn't that disgusting?)

I feared having no energy, being sad, depressed, lonely...ALONE. And missing my late husband. I'd convinced myself the liquor was important to my survival...when, in fact, it was killing me.

And, of course, I feared the physical suffering of detox.

August 15th (Another exercise)

First, list all the things that are most important to me:

Family, mainly my sisters
Pets, my dogs & cats
House/home. To have my own place mortgage-free (as I do now)
Health--so I can take care of myself
Car--driving allows independence
Computer--internet for interaction with others, news, research, info
TV, Netflix for movies/documentaries
Food--enough money to buy what I need
Money/Income--enough to provide for myself & pets
Solitude sometimes for writing/thinking
Walks with my dogs
Exercise, mostly walking but would like to join a gym
Weight--stay at my best size but get enough nutrition

From that list, choose the top 5 most important to my life:

Solitude & Writing

(So I cheated by listing two together, but in my mind, it fits my needs)

More to come.

Tomorrow is my birthday; I'll be 61. My sister/brother-in-law will be here to help with a project: one of those put-together pieces of furniture I can't handle! :-)

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Riding the Tiger

"He who rides the tiger often ends up inside it."

I've tried to trace where this quote came from, but haven't succeeded. It does aptly describe what happens to those who become alcoholics. At first, liquor is a welcome friend, one that is always on standby. Had a bad day? Have a drink or two. Can't sleep? Have some wine. Get-together with friends, have a couple beers. And as long as it remains at that level, as it did with me for 5 years, there's no problem. However, eventually it became my sole companion, my only love, my friend, my solace to the exclusion of all people. My writing became non-existent in favor of this all-consuming obsession.

At the beginning of 2012, the liquor gained the upper hand; I became its slave instead of the other way round. Contrary to the ads for rehabs on TV, questioning whether you have a problem, I knew I had a horrid predicament. The more I tried to escape, the more complex the web became. I struggled to quit, went through terrorizing, life-threatening detox two times (once with sister, once alone)...and each time swore I would never go through that terror again. Yet every single time, I'd find myself headed to the liquor store, as if on automatic pilot. Truly, for one who has always been proud of my self-control (at one point lost down to 88 lbs!) I couldn't understand why this devil was riding my back relentlessly. I surrendered at some point, and as a result, I came very close to death. At last I reached out for help, knew it had to stop being a devious secret, bring it out into the light of day, and defeat it with others' assistance.

I'm going to begin the series of journal entries from mid-summer, when I was trying to quit drinking alone. The entire period spans August through October. I've been sober 2 months yesterday, attending AA as well as seeing a private therapist. With that said, knowing the fragile nature of recovery, I still want to begin sharing my struggle...

[Preface: I discovered a great online recovery group, and participated there while trying to go it alone in real life. The following journal entries are from that time. This starts during a short sober period.]

August 10, 2012

(A series of thought-provoking 4 questions regarding why one drinks....)

1. What do I enjoy about my addiction? What does it do for me?

First, a couple of drinks help quell anxiety & relieve stress. I've always been a very anxious worrier -- even on a peaceful, good day. Drinking took away anxiety when around people as well allowing my shyness to ease somewhat.

Without social contact though, drinking seemed to create a mellow glow, enhance mundane reality, make time spin, not drag.

At times, and with the right amount, it also gave me energy to do a lot of household chores. Also, helped relieve my back problems and knee pain.

2. What do I hate about my addiction? What bad things does it do to me and to others?

I loathe the act of buying, getting liquor -- I feel shame and guilt (probably because my father was an alcoholic & I hated it, swore I'd never do that).

I hate the hiding, the subterfuge, the sneaky way I drink. Mostly alone, but occasionally (toward the end) when others were here. And near the end also, I hated being unable to get out of bed, the overwhelming depression and suicidal ideas. Worse, I hated the detox suffering, something I never want to go through again. Worse than awful. I hate the way I neglected my pets occasionally, though never to the point of harm. My sisters only learned of the drinking problem a few weeks ago, because I kept it so well hid. They were shocked and disappointed in me when I told them. That was a difficult time too.

More tomorrow.