Hormones and the cycle of change – Part of a woman’s recovery that’s rarely talked about

Most people in recovery have heard Prochaska and DiClemente’s Stages of Change, but what about the monthly cycle. I have spoken to many women whose periods stopped during their using but came back with a vengeance when they started their recovery journey. “I mean as if us women don’t have enough emotional shit to deal with.”

Let me take you back to before the drugs – My periods and mood swings have plagued me for years and had gotten notably worse after having kids, but I’d learned to live with them. My emotions and body could fluctuate like a frigging swinging pendulum. One minute I could be calm, collective, rational and feel great. I’m in a mental place where I am happy to accept my body, stretchmarks, and all the wobbly bits. The next minute, I could be an emotional wreck, I would mentally tear strips of myself. The self-hatred and self-loathing thoughts were made worse with the fluctuating weight gain, which left me feeling like a fat fucking Umper Lumper.

 

A plus sides of using – is that I didn’t suffer any of the emotional crap that came with the dreaded monthly cycle, let alone everything else that was going off for me. Using had become my coping strategy. It helped to numb my feelings. I was a hollow shell. I didn’t care about myself, let alone anyone else – well, that’s what I’d told myself. I now realise that behind the face of every addict, is in fact, someone who cares deeply but doesn’t know how to cope with their feelings.

 

A downside of recovery – There was one particular day. I remember the day well like it was yesterday.

 

I was in the psychiatric unit and into the second day into withdrawing from amphet when I came on my period. All was going well; I felt the usual sense of physical relief enveloped me like it had every month for the past few years. I felt that good. I even wondered if the doctors might have misdiagnosed me and wondered if I had been suffering from a “VERY BAD time of the month” instead of drug-induced psychosis!

 

Earlier that day, I’d been on the phone with my ex earlier and asked him to send some Tampax with mum when she visited later that day. I’d been frustrated during the call because all he was concerned about was when I was coming home. I vividly remember reminding him, and he “promised” not to forget before replacing the phone.

 

I was in a good place, much to the relief of Mum when she arrived. (the poor cow was still coming to terms that she had to visit her daughter in a psychiatric unit) So, when I asked after the Tampax and realised he’d forgotten, I totally lost my shit.

 

And I mean, I literally lost my shit…

 

I was kicking chairs in the canteen area and was about to throw one of them before a staff member came to try and calm me down. The emotions were overwhelming. I was shaking with rage; I couldn’t control myself; it took me ages to try and calm down. The staff suggested Mum should leave. I could tell she was shocked, scared and worried. I couldn’t blame her; I mean, who reacts like that over a Tampax!

 

“Me that’s who”

 

Looking back, I now realise that it wasn’t the Tampax, but that at that time, the last thing I needed to deal with was my hormones. My head was already fucked from withdrawing from the drugs, my life was a mess, and I was already emotionally raw.

 

It’s been years since that incident happened, yet I still remember it like it was yesterday. I have worked in the recovery field for over 25+ years. In all that time, I have hardily heard a professional have conversations that took into account women’s hormones, especially in recovery.

 

Emerging research suggests that some hormones may enhance the likelihood that some people will become addicted to a substance or behaviour or will struggle more with addiction in general. In particular, the hormones a woman produces during her menstrual cycle may make women more vulnerable to addiction and relapse than men. – That’s not an excuse to use every month, by the way…

 

Over the years, as well as having to deal with all the cause and effect of my using, I have had to learn to understand and come to terms and try managing ‘That time of the month’, and it has not been easy. I am not ashamed to say that I have to take Prozac, I have done for years to help manage my symptoms. I just wish more people talked about periods, peri-menopause/menopause, hence why I am sharing this. 

There is an old saying in the recovery community.

‘The best thing about recovery is you get your feelings back, and the worst thing about recovery is you get your feelings back.’

So, to all you women out there, who are smashing recovery, please remember that as well as being kind to yourself every day be, extra kind to yourself especially at “that time of the month

Remember, try not to be afraid of who you truly are, be proud of your recovery and remember, if you would like to receive post as soon as they are written CLICK HERE – I promise i will NEVER send you any spam, i’m not into all that shit, i just like to write!

Love Fordy

 

 

 

 

Growing up on the Valley

Did this for the Valley Kids Facebook Group, reminiscing about back in the day when a bag a SPICE were a ten penny mix…

Growing up on the Valley

I was brought up on the Valley

Back in the day when I was a scally

Sheffield born n bred

I’ve tried to not let life get to me head

I’m proud of mi grassroots

And life on the estates

That’s the place I met some true mates

Back in the day when we fought wi our fists

But we’d soon make up wi a big sloppy kiss

When no-one would dream of picking up a knife

Cos, back then we valued life

Hedging hopping neighbours gardens

Or playing knock a door run

God, I miss those days, they were so much friggin fun

Once a year the circus came

N all the animals appeared to be tame

More than once a year the fair would arrive

Attracting other kids, bringing the Valley alive

The estate was surrounded by woods

In those days our highs didn’t come from drugs

Cos back then, none of us were mugs

Back in the day when life didn’t get in the way

And you could say what you wanted to say

Without fear of offending

There were none of that pretending

But then we all had to grow up

Some went their separate ways

Others stayed

Some say it’s rough

But I’d say it made me tough

I’m all grown up now, Christ knows how

I’ve made some mistakes

But life’s given me some breaks

Some mates are no longer here

But in our hearts, they will never disappear

My heart will always be in the valley

And in my head, I will always be a scally

Cos some of the best days of my life were made in a place called Gleadless Valley

Love Fordy x

Remember, try not to be afraid of who you truly are, be proud of your recovery and remember, if you would like to receive post as soon as they are written CLICK HERE – I promise i will NEVER send you any spam, i’m not into all that shit, i just like to write!

 Oh, and If you liked this post please share it on social media and with friends – and if you didn’t like it then do nothing that’s ok too

If life was a cake, what would you be?

On the inside I would be made up of colourful layers, laced with buttercream and covered in marzipan and a royal icing layer.

 

We aren’t born anxious, scared or consumed with self-doubt, this is learned behaviour, reactions to past traumatic events.  The ingredients in my cake contain acts, and scenarios that have festered in my psyche and accumulated over time. 

 

If life was a cake, I could divide my life into slices, some parts have been delicious  and I have savoured them whereas others slices have made me sick and emotionally, mentally unwell.

 

My childhood, for instance, I mean I didn’t have a bad childhood; fuck me, I know people out there that have had far worst. But there were things in my childhood that happened, or that I witnessed that impacted how I coped and reacted in social situations. Sometimes my behaviour was out of control, family, friends, saw me as being unruly. I could be aggressive and used my fist and words to push people away. At times, my attitude stank, which was often  put down to being a hormonal teenager or simply not caring. – which wasn’t the case, in fact far from it. At the time; I was quite simply unable to recognise how I was thinking or feeling, let alone process them. – I was confused as fuck

 

Unhappy, Unhealthy Relationship. –within months of leaving school, I fell into a relationship I wasn’t emotionally ready or prepared for, and I certainly wasn’t emotionally/mentally prepared for being a mother. I knew the difference between a healthy, loving relationship and an unhealthy one. I’d fallen into the trap thinking that I had been lucky, that I had found my healthy. But I was wrong, it was a one-way relationship, its foundations based on coercion and control and when the cracks started to show, it was too late, and I couldn’t find a way out. That is until I found drugs.

 

My recovery was mainly about discovering myself – It was time to get honest, but it wasn’t always easy. Trying to  work through past events and emotions, sometimes felt like I was in the middle of one fucked up jigsaw puzzle. But I was lucky to have people around me help search for some of the missing pieces which helped me put myself back together again. I learned to tame the anger, understand the hurt and process it differently which gave me a whole new perspective, outlook on life, I talk about it here 

 

Losing my father to addiction – I worked in the addiction field, which looking back made it more challenging at times, especially when I was surrounded by people who were doing well in their recovery. I often wondered what I must be doing wrong. I can still have flashbacks, which take me back to a time when I felt powerless. To a time where I naively thought that because I had found myself, I though i could help my Dad do the same. But alcohol won. It still hurts now to this day, when I hear about someone, I knew who died due to their addiction. Even worse, I feel for the families, the ones left behind. – This is where the passion to write a book about it comes from

 

Trauma doesn’t have to be physical; there are so many different trauma layers; sometimes, we don’t know how to recognise them.

 

Our past can still haunt us, but it doesn’t have to continue hurting us.

 

So try practicing some compassionate refection

By undertaking some compassionate reflection, I have come to understand and more importantly accept that more often than not, how I’m feeling or reacting, is just an enactment of something that happened in the past. Talking helps, finding your tribe, people who have been in similar situations. I am in a better place to understand that whilst the past can still haunt us, but it doesn’t have to continue hurting us. – my writing helps me with this.

 

Try not to spend too much time in the past. I know! I know, I have been harping on about the past, but seriously make some time for the future, for the unknown. Take all those lessons you have learned from your past to help you navigate yourself through your future. Learn a new subject, read a new book. Go walking, take new routes, venture places you would never consider before.

 

Spend more time in the present – Feast on the here and now and

try practising some mindfulness, or as I like to refer to it as #Haveawordwitheesen. What are you doing today? Write a list of all the things to do and DO em!  When was the last time you did something YOU enjoyed? Feeling low, Bang on some music to lift you up.

 

Make some new friends.

We might be in the middle of a pandemic, but there is still the internet, there loads of amazing people out there who can help inspire you. There are now more than even online support groups and free training. Try sometime new, be open to meeting new people. You might never know how that one person could change your life’s direction. – Just stay away from the shitty news and social media

 

But most important of all – BE YOU

Remind yourself daily that there is nothing wrong with you and that you are still working/figuring yourself out, so give yourself a fucking break OR better still go bake a cake! 

 

Remember, try not to be afraid of who you truly are, be proud of your recovery and remember, if you would like to receive post as soon as they are written CLICK HERE – I promise i will NEVER send you any spam, i’m not into all that shit, i just like to write!

 Oh, and If you liked this post please share it on social media and with friends – and if you didn’t like it then do nothing that’s ok too

Much Love 

Fordy x

Letting go of Anger…

Haruki Murakami was quoted as saying that “once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive…But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in”

This quote resonates with me, but what Haruki doesn’t mention or talk about is some of us walking out of the storm are still a little battered and still piss wet through and that we still need time to dry out. For some of us, there will be feelings and emotions during the storm that have left memories. Some still painful, unresolved that we haven’t had a chance to put then to bed and finally allow then to lay to rest.

I wish I could walk away from some of my storms without knowing or questioning how I made it through or how I managed to survive, but I can’t.

One of the best things for me that has come out of my addiction experience has been the recovery process. I have enjoyed the discovery of recovery, learning new things about myself. Understanding where my triggers and cravings came from, which was usually driven by an unmet emotional need. The best and most challenging parts have been learning to love me and accept my flaws, which has helped me draw a line in the past and carve a future path.

Writing has really helped with this process, being able to extract and dump all my thoughts onto paper has become a coping strategy. And up until recently, writing the book has been cathartic. So much so, I no longer suffer the torturous nightmares I used to have about Dad since I started writing the book.

But I hit a wall, writer’s block they call it. I fell out of love with writing, I found it hard to find the right words or articulate how I was feeling, I tried to write, but it wouldn’t come. At first, I put it down to hormones, COVID, being stuck in a rut, too much time spent alone, working from home, overthinking, I thought I was going fucking mad. But after a lot and I mean ‘A lot’ of soul searching, I realised it wasn’t any of these. You see I was stuck at a particular chapter, a part of my past, something I thought I had dealt with, put to bed, but then I realised that there was a wound that it hadn’t yet healed properly.

Now I have dealt with many emotions over the years, sadness, worthlessness, loneliness, shame, guilt you name it, the list goes on. I will spare you the specific details about the chapter as the details don’t really matter. What matters more was understanding why it still hurt so much.

I’m generally not a romancer I am a pragmatist at heart. Still, this memory had me romancing memories, stolen memories laced with regrets. For the past week, my days have been consumed recreating memories. Memories that I had missed out on because I was too wrapped up in meeting another man’s needs and demands. But this time something was different and after a lot of soul searching and patience, I finally realised what it was, it hit me, it was ANGER.

It took me totally unaware; I hadn’t realised just how angry I had been, I’d been blinded by it. I felt angry at myself, foolish even that I allowed myself to be manipulated, used, and no amount of self-compassion seemed to help. For some reason, I just couldn’t let it go.

I hated feeling this way, continually feeling unsettled, unsure about myself. Usually, an optimist I found myself being pessimistic about everything. I felt physically lethargic, I could feel myself withdrawing, and I needed to find a way out and quick, the only problem was I didn’t know-how.

But then the penny dropped – I needed to let go of the anger.

This revelation came to me at my weekly Monday Morning Writers group. I love this group, but that morning on the 1st Feb 2021 had been the first time since I joined that I didn’t want to be there, I had nothing to say, I hadn’t made any progress. I was stuck.

As usual, I was greeted by familiar faces, people I have grown to trust. I tried to be positive and my usual upbeat self, but instead I withdrew after saying my usual “hello’s”. I muted myself waiting for the session to start.

January had been a tough month for everyone for many reasons, so our writing prompt was to think about all the potential positives that February could bring. I took pen to paper, nothing came, looked up, and sat busy writing, they seem to have a lot to say, but I was stuck. Trying not to overthink I let my words flow…

I don’t want to think,

I don’t want to write.

I just want to board a plane and jump on the next flight.

I feel like I’m on the brink.

Life fucking stinks

Nowhere to run

Life’s stopped being fun.

I need to have a word.

Gi me head a wobble

I know thinking this way will only get me into trouble.

I need to find a way to pop this fucking self-pity bubble.

Fuck it I don’t know how!

It was time to feedback – At first, I was reluctant to share, everyone else’s seemed so positive and upbeat, and I didn’t want to bring the mood down, but I had to be honest.

‘I’m sorry folks I’m feeling like a Mardy Bastard today, and I’m not sure if I want to share.’

After a little encouragement, I shared what I’d written, I felt compelled to share the root of my anger, I continued to share the part of the story that was causing so much pain. I stopped sharing conscious I was taking too much time of the group, mindful that others hadn’t shared yet. Bev spoke first

‘It’s bound to be hard to write parts of this book because you’re taking yourself back to difficult places. You need to look after yourself while you’re writing it.’

‘You don’t have to be positive all the time,’ said another member of the group. ‘Thanks for being vulnerable.’

‘You have to remind yourself, as well as writing this book you have an emotionally demanding job too’ said someone else.

‘What might help here?’ asked Bev.

It didn’t take me long to respond ‘Well, for starters a baseball bat (to his head) might help or a small dose of COVID?’ I laughed, but deep down I meant i

‘No seriously, joking aside, I know I need to just let this anger go, I know I can’t change it, I know this’ – Just whilst as I said those words, I could feel a weight lift from my shoulders, but also in my heart.

DA Scottish guy who always makes me smile, laughed warmly ‘Tracey, we all struggle at some point and let’s face it, you aren’t writing a fictional story, this is real life’. And I knew he was right!

You see, I preach on about practising self-compassion and yet for the past week I hadn’t done any on myself. In fact, all I had done is berate myself. For the past week, I had allowed myself to live in the past. Worst still I hadn’t even really shared with anyone how I’d been feeling, let alone thinking. Well, not until that morning. It was no fucking wonder I felt like I was going to self-combust.

The session ended, and I was so happy that I’d made the decision to go along, despite my initial misgivings. And after a day of work-related meetings, I headed out for my evening walk or should I say stomp! As I gathered speed, instead of taking my usual turning up Birley Lane, I continued walking, heading for the narrow path on White Lane towards Ford. I turned on the torch on my phone to help navigate the narrow and uneven path, the roads were quieter than usual, and I was grateful for that. Every so often I stopped and took in the sky, every time I stopped, the clouds’ sequence seemed to have changed and the colours too. The further I walked the lighter I felt. with each step I was mentally letting go of a part of my past was just that ‘The past’. When I got back home, I went straight back to my room and revisited the words I’d written that morning and turned it into something else

I cried today 

But that’s ok

You see, my past caught me out.

I thought I’d moved on.

Always assuming I was strong.

Turns out I was wrong

I went back in time when I felt vulnerable and weak.

Back to a place when life seemed so dark and bleak

could choose to not revisit the past.

could leave it where it belongs.

But something inside me needs to rewrite all the wrongs.

A need to make sense of a past

For me to clear a way forward

But I’m working out this isn’t always fucking straightforward.

I know thinking this way will get me into trouble.

So, every so often I have to give me head a wobble and pop the self-pity bubble.

I know deep down that once I’ve drawn that line in the past.

I will be able to stay in the present, which feels a lot more fucking pleasant.

I’m learning that to continue

I need to practice some more self-compassion

Something that of late feels like it’s gone out of fashion

It was time to have a word wi me sen.

So, I gave me sen a big mental cuddle.

Told me sen that I’ll be alright

And reminded me sen of others who are going through worst plights.

I have just strayed off course.

And on reflection, life could be worse.

I’ve come so far and I ain’t going back.

Just for today, I made a promise to give me sen some slack.

I took some time out.

I had a word wi me sen

And finally found some of me lost yen

I’ve learned a valuable lesson this week, and that’s “Whilst our past can haunt us, they don’t have to continue to hurt us” That is only if we let them. Me writing and sharing this the final part of me letting go and leaving the past in the past, where it fucking belongs –

A special thanks to my Daughters, Danielle and Lauren and to all the guys in the Monday Morning Motivation Writing group.

Remember, try not to be afraid of who you truly are, be proud of your recovery and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up for emails.

 Oh, and If you liked this post please share it on social media and with friends – and if you didn’t like it then do nothing that’s ok too

Much Love 

Fordy x