Writing for Therapy

Over the years, whilst working with addicts and their families I have often promoted and advocated the value of being able to help offload mindless thoughts that have plagued people’s minds, especially when their thoughts have started to cloud their judgments.

Writing is recognised as being an integral part of therapy, we would encourage the use of thought record sheets and mood or activity diaries. These are particularly good for helping people to self-identify triggers that might be causing negative behaviours that they were looking to change.

In addiction ‘getting our thoughts onto paper and out of our head’ can allow us to be able to see things from another perspective, but it doesn’t just help with Addiction, it can serve to help anyone regardless of their personal circumstances.

Also, writing doesn’t have to be about just negative stuff either, some people find it helpful, (myself included) when they’re feeling well, when they are in a good place and able to cope with daily life, to write a letter to themselves sharing and capturing any personal achievements. And as well as being positively affirming, the same notes can also be used to refer back to when you are not feeling so good or are struggling to cope.

It is like the stable and strong you, writes a letter to the more vulnerable you and reminding you that you are stronger than what you think.

Writing can also help when dealing with others who might be causing you distress, it might be to those who are no longer here or those who are. Writing a letter to then can allow you to voice your true feelings and tell them how they really made you feel, especially if you feel unable to tell that same person face to face.

Some people find it helpful to burn the letter, watching the smoke rise up, particularly if the person has died or just imagine the letter arriving at its destination to the person in questions and seeing the reaction you want them to have or maybe it’s enough just to have written it.

You don’t have to keep a daily journal either, you can do more spontaneous writing, or a ‘Mind Dump’ as I prefer to call it, just writing down whatever comes into your heads, perhaps for a certain period of time – 10 minutes or half an hour. It may read like nonsense, and that’s okay. That’s how our minds work.

By just writing down all the random, feelings or thoughts even if it seems apparently nonsensical just write anything that comes to mind. Once finished you might find that there is something that’s worth spending more time thinking about, or you might decide that it’s okay to just leave it there, on the paper.

Again, you can choose what you then do with the paper – you can either keep or destroy it, I chose to save it, on my computer of course and at the last count my personal journal contained over 114,850 words!

How you write isn’t important either, your use of grammar doesn’t matter, I can attest to this after being expelled on numerous occasions from school, being in the bottom class for every lesson, I would sometimes re-read back what I had written and scorn myself for poor spelling or for talking utter shit. In fact, had I not had the help and guidance from a close friend who was more academically inclined than me, who helped edit my uni assignments I wouldn’t now be the proud owner of a degree.

Over the years, I have started to care less about ‘how’ I write, focusing more on ‘what’ I’m writing. So much so I decided to bite the bullet and go public, to create my own space, my own blog a platform where my writing, my thoughts, feelings, and opinions could be heard and thanks to the help of spell checking and apps such as Grammarly, I can tend to string a sentence together without the grammar police turning up to arrest me.

I started journaling again two years ago I turned one of the kid’s old bedrooms into a makeshift writing space, which gives me some respite from the external world and everyday struggles. I have been known to occasionally refuse the offer of going somewhere preferring to spend time alone writing. At first some people, the ones closest to me thought the act of sitting alone writing was antisocial and questioned how could writing possibly help me?

Which brings me to this fucking book.

During dad’s active addiction, I turned to writing, there was many a night I found myself unable to sleep, being kept awake worrying and stressing if he’d be dead by the following morning. I found that the only way I could find sleep was if I offloaded everything I was thinking and feeling and ‘mind dumping’ it onto paper. When dad died, I no longer felt the need to write, my sleep returned life slipped back to normal, whatever the fuck normal means!

Over the past two years in addition to the journal and after taking some advice from friends who are ‘accomplished writers’ I started to chronicle my life story, starting with my earliest memories. I had managed to write over 18 chapters, containing over 40,435 words.

I have always felt the urge to write a book, especially about my own personal journey of addiction, but also the journey I took with my dad and his alcoholism. Unfortunately for dad he pushed his addiction to the furthest any addict could result in him developing end-stage alcoholism, which basically means there is a 0% chance of him ever fully recovering or reversing from the physical damage caused to his body.

After fifteen years since dad passed and I have piles of A4 notes containing the ramblings of a mad women. and since restarting journaling I have taken a giant leap and enlisted the help of a local author and writing coach, ‘I might be successful in many areas of my life but pulling together a book isn’t in my repertoire or skill set’.

Writing for oneself is one thing but I am found writing for others quite challenging. One of the main obstacles has been overcoming the personal barriers of self-doubt and fear are something quite different and this is turning out to be a labor of love and hate at times.

People have often asked me ‘doesn’t it get you down reflecting on the past?’ but my answer is always the same ‘no’ because I actually find it all very therapeutic and if I can translate my personal experience and help even just one person then this labor of love will all be worth it.

Its early days and with the help of my coach I have finally found a structure for the book, a way of telling ‘my’ story, I have found a way to share dad’s story and the horrors he and those around him endured as a result of his alcoholism.

If you are feeling in a dark place and want to explore ways to help yourself, then I would highly recommend taking pen to paper.

I would recommend the following sites as a starting point and if you do start to write I would be interested in how it has or hasn’t helped you, Ps thanks for listening.

Love Fordy

Writing as therapy

Compassionate kit bag

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, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too 

 

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What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger

We have all heard about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), well I wanted to talk about something called Post Traumatic Growth (PTG).

Please note I am no psychologist and have no desire to be one. But I am fascinated about personal development so when I came across this term Post Traumatic Growth, I read a little more, I found that there were many parallels and similarities with my own recovery journey, and I wanted to share this with you.

So, what’s the difference between Post Traumatic Growth (PTG) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) refers to individuals who find no benefit from their trauma only pain and anxiety.

Post-traumatic growth (PTG) refers to the positive life changes that may come about from trauma or traumatic event. PTG is about being able to maintain a sense of hope that not only can a person who has experienced trauma survive but they can also experience positive life changes as a result.

Addiction can be a result of a traumatic event and/or Addiction can cause a traumatic event.

I am a firm believer that for some people the addiction in itself can be a traumatic experience. Now I am not for one-minute excusing the addictive actions and behaviours of addicts. But I do believe that at the core and one of the more often-overlooked consequences of addiction (albeit) self-inflicted is the emotional abuse/trauma on the addict as a result of the lengths they have gone to feed their habits. For example, living on the streets, living in constant fight or flight mode, losing children, being involved in violent relationships, sexual exploitation, Christ the list goes on an on…

What I am trying to say is that sometimes recovering from addiction can be as traumatic as the event that might have triggered the addiction in the first place.

There is a saying “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” well I don’t know about any of you, but I am personally grateful for all the shit/trauma I have been through because I truly believe that I am a better person for it. And I know for certain had it not been for some of the personal trauma that drove my addiction, I wouldn’t have found the hidden abilities and strengths that existed within me, for me this is Post Traumatic Growth (PTG) in action.

And I am not alone, over the past 20+ years I have supported, worked alongside, and had the privilege to witness others who have successfully been able to walk away from highly addictive substances. I have seen broken men/women morph, from caterpillar, chrysalis, to then transform into a butterfly with colourful exquisite wings that allow them to fly.

Did you know that in order to be able to become a butterfly, the caterpillar has to fall apart completely, decompose down to its very essence, devoid of any shape or consciousness. It literally dies. There is nothing left of it. And from this liquid essence, the butterfly starts to put itself together, from scratch? Now that’s recovery.

 Below are some of the  benefits reported from Post Traumatic Growth;

Feeling stronger and finding hidden abilities and strengths; this changes the person’s self-concept and gives them the confidence to face new challenges “If I can survive this, I can survive anything”

Relationships are strengthened, which is reflected in how people often speak of “finding out who their true friends are” after they have experienced a trauma

Peoples priorities have shifted, and philosophies concerning the present day and other people are altered, e.g. “living for the moment and prioritising yourself and your loved ones

For those of you in recovery reading this, does this sound familiar?

There is a misconception out that people’s recovery journeys start when they stop abusing substances. But in fact, people’s recovery journey’s start when they start doing some self-exploration, when they start to learn about themselves.

Post-traumatic growth it doesn’t mean that there is an absence of distress quite the contrary, sometimes our recovery can feel as risky as some of the risks we took when using. There had been many a time I felt like throwing in the towel and saying, “Fuck it!”. Trust me exposing ourselves to our own truths can be one of the most daunting and scary experiences we will ever go through

Recovery is hard and can be a very traumatic experience for most involved, but it is worth it and with support, recovery can offer us the opportunity not just to resist taking substance, but it can give us opportunities to grow and be a the very best version of ourselves.

Just like the Butterfly, be proud of your recovery transformation and fly

Love Fordy

 

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, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too 

 

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Boundaries aren’t just an enforcement tactic but a form of self care

I don’t ever recall the word boundary being mentioned much growing up, my interpretation of a boundary looked like rules. Rules that had consequences if tested or broken – and trust me I broke many. 

People misunderstand the purpose of boundaries; more often than not they are perceived as being a tactic or an enforcement tool in an attempt to manage another person’s behaviour or actions. And whilst setting and enforcing boundaries can do that to a certain extent, boundaries are only ever effective as the person enforcing them.

‘Why are boundaries are always seen or used as the last resort in an attempt to manage difficult behaviour or actions?’

I would advocate or even argue that we need to start looking at boundaries differently, in the first instance let us start referring to boundaries as an act of self-care. Using boundaries to help us build and restore our physical or emotional wellbeing. Especially, before we even attempt to apply them to others especially if you are using them to change someone else’s behaviour or actions.

I see this it all the time, particularly around families of addicts. Often the family’s attempts at establishing, enforcing, and maintaining boundaries almost always fail at the first hurdle, mainly because they are trying to enforce and manage boundaries at their weakest point.

“Life is hard enough being the person who has to think about, or even consider boundaries especially when it’s not your behaviour that’s the problem, let alone enforce them.”

Often addicts on the receiving of boundaries will go to great lengths and will do anything and everything they can to resist your efforts; they will argue, blame, ignore, manipulate, threaten, or physically hurt us.

“Trust me there is nothing worse than an addict who doesn’t get their way.”

Below is just a selection of some of the most common characteristics of addicts that families are up against

  • Frequent lies
  • Ignoring your boundaries
  • Manipulating you to get what they want
  • They don’t consider other people’s feelings or needs
  • Feelings of entitlement
  • They rarely apologize and if they do, it’s shallow, coerced, or worse – fake
  • They will blame others and don’t take responsibility for their actions
  • They will overreact
  • Make unreasonable demands
  • Have temper tantrums or fits of rage when they don’t get what they want

In a nutshell, their actions can create so much stress, anxiety, pain, which can affect your health, your ability to work, and your overall general wellbeing.

People often find themselves becoming co-dependent focusing more on how someone else can meet our needs rather than focusing on how to take care of ourselves.

And this is dangerous territory, its dangerous because quite often many family members or loved ones of addicts don’t seem to recognise just how bad their lives have been affected until it’s too late. They have been so consumed with fixing the addict and putting the needs of the addict first, that many are left feeling disorientated, disillusioned, and frustrated, with little or no energy left.

By establishing boundaries for ourselves we have a better fighting chance to start enforcing those boundaries that involve other people. This is particularly important when you are dealing with some of the above characteristics previously mentioned.

3 Points to consider 

  1. The starting point for anyone living or dealing with an addicted loved one is first learning to accept that sometimes “nothing we do or say can or will prevent people from acting a certain way.” This can often be the hardest pill to swallow especially when someone has been stuck in rescue mode for a long time.
  2. The second point is learned to accept that what we can do is learn to set clear boundaries for ourselves, to take care of ourselves, protect ourselves, at least that way at we can and give ourselves a fighting chance to feel stronger and more empowered to take on anything that is thrown at us.
  3. Thirdly, when setting boundaries, it is vital to recognise your feelings and learn to differentiate yourself from the other person.

Benefits of personal boundaries 

  • When we set boundaries, we’re less angry and resentful because our needs are getting met
  • Boundaries help us make our expectations clear, so others know what to expect from us and how we want to be treated.
  • Boundaries are the foundation of happy, healthy relationships with others
  • More importantly, boundaries are the foundation of a happy and healthy relationship with our selves.

Remember the purpose of setting your own personal boundaries is to let someone know you are not okay with their behaviour and the person who is one the other end of your boundary may still react. I know this all too well from personal experience.

When you are setting healthy boundaries, you are coming from a place of self-care and you find yourself in a better position to be able to acknowledge the other person’s reaction as opposed to trying to fix it.

I have come across this great No BS Guide to Protecting Your Emotional Space as a starting point to help start you off.

And my final WORD remember this is about YOU not them

I was recently asked to go on BBC Radio Sheffield to advise a lady called Louise whose life had been affected by her husband’s addiction to opiates you can click here to listen in (be warned its 20 mins long)

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Social distancing could be a recipe for relapse – But it doesn’t have to be

A lot of people’s recoveries from drug or alcohol addiction have relied on routine, being able to mix, socialise, share common experiences, talk through personal challenges. Support groups which were once a safe space to offload have been replaced with isolation and the physical distancing can pose a threat to people, particularly those in early recovery and who are still working on understanding their own personal triggers and cravings and developing coping strategies to manage them.

Whilst social connection is a valuable part of recovery, let’s not forget that fundamentally our recovery journey starts with ourselves, learning new ways to understand and cope with our own

Thoughts

Feelings

Emotions

Actions or Reactions

Making healthy choices

Finding new distractions

YES, support groups are a great space to hear similar stories, to be able to relate to other people’s experiences and stories can offer comfort knowing that you are not alone, not abnormal, that what you are experiencing is perfectly normal, support groups are helpful, vital in some cases.

But a lack of human connection doesn’t have to be a reason to lapse back into unhealthy behaviours. You know those same old unhealthy behaviours that brought us into recovery in the first place, the same behaviours that we know don’t serve us, that we know deep down are only temporary fixes and not solutions to deeper problems.

Whilst in isolation you can STILL be working on your recovery

Writing down a plan which will help support you and prepare for tough times should you hit bumps can be really helpful

List your top reasons which I choose to be clean today 

Things I can do to stay clean – distractions such as reading, putting on some music that lifts your spirit

These are actions I can take if and when I have cravings: (examples: call a friend, eating if hungry, going an online meeting, reading recovery material, reminding myself that cravings can be intense but pass, or thinking of the consequences of using)

My Triggers or Early Warning Signs – Things I need to look out for include: (examples could be, cravings, changes in attitude towards recovery, or behaviors)

Create a contact list of names and numbers of people I can call who support my recovery AND USE THEM if you need too.

Pretty much everyone has access to technology (if you don’t please get in touch, our providers have been working hard to try and resolve this), people are staying connected via WhatsApp groups, telephone calls, text messages, FB group chat, and the NEW Zoom meetings, that can be found on Sheffield Recovery Community Facebook page.

Our Sheffield local providers have been reaching out to clients by telephone offering welfare checks making sure that those who are on prescribed medication to ensure that they can still get scripts, or if self-isolating making sure scripts are being delivered to the door.

And many of the local face to face support groups have now gone online, offering a chance to connect with peers and familiar faces from their usual support groups Find out more

Listen, this COVID isn’t going to be around forever and our addictions don’t need to either.  Please rest assured our communities WILL go back to some sort of normality soon.

This too will pass

But you DO have a choice you can either go back to using/drinking and wait for the COVID shit storm to pass then resume your recovery OR you can continue to utilise the alternative sources of support that are still available – But remember the most important source of support you have is yourself.

Recovery IS still there and like before our recovery only works if WE/ YOU are willing to reach out.

If you want you can subscribe to  any of my new blogs by emailing me at

Tracey@shithappens.me.uk

 

In the meantime, stay safe

 

Love Fordy x

 

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Our emotions are not threats but informants.

 

In a world that does not teach us how to adequately process our feelings is it any wonder we learn to create our own coping mechanisms. We rely upon and take our learning from others, who have learned from others before them. Some people live a lifetime without ever knowing what they really feel, acting out by way of expressing themselves or using words by way of trying to describe how they are feeling.

Our emotions are an essential part of who we are, but they can be messy, complicated, and downright confusing, is it any wonder people run away from them, block them out, lash out at the ones they love, or the people that are trying to help them?

My belief is if you are not in touch with your feelings, or don’t know what and how you are feeling how the fuck are you supposed to deal with them? It’s like driving a car without a steering wheel – You are not in control.

In my early years, actually up until early adulthood, because I didn’t know what I was feeling I would seek validation about how I felt from “others” If I didn’t get it only served to reinforce the thoughts and doubts that I wasn’t important and thought nobody cared. I walked around with a chip on my shoulder and angry at the world, I often felt I hadn’t been seen, heard and misunderstood!

A Quest for validation

I was on a never-ending quest to try and get others to make me feel better about myself and allow them to be responsible for my feelings.  But it never worked. I never really got what I needed. I just looked like I was being dramatic, always negative, focusing disproportionately on what was really going on. The validation for my feelings that I sought from others just looked like attention-seeking, always fishing for compliments (I think this is why now, I struggle with accepting compliments, it takes me back to a time when I thrived on them, depended on them to sustain my self-esteem)

The truth is that the more I sought validation about my feelings from others, the more disconnected I became from myself, I had jack shit self-esteem. I used to think my feelings didn’t matter, feelings were a dirty word, talking about feelings was an act of weakness an inconvenience. I became an expert, was able to push them to one side, until years later I found that using drugs was more effective, they stopped me from feeling altogether. They helped me not to give a flying fuck about myself and anyone around me, they worked for a while. But it was all fake!

A large part of my recovery and about the person who I am today has been about learning to reconnect with myself and learning to validate my feelings as opposed to seeking validation from others. Personal inquiry, or like I prefer to call it #Havingawordwithysen is not just essential for someone in recovery, it is essential for everyone.

Our feelings are a core part of who we are, but if we ignore them, don’t take notice, acknowledged or validated them we can start to question ourselves, doubt ourselves. And here is the dangerous part we can start seeking validation from others again.

“Christ some of the people I sought validation from were as fucked up as me for crying out loud!”

There are occasions when I don’t make time for me sen and slip back into old behaviours. The past few weeks have been no exception, I noticed the same familiar negative validation pattern return, what with all the uncertainly in the current climate has unsettled me. I have found myself getting frustrated and haven’t felt able to find a healthy, balance, resolution or outlet for my anger, I have let it fester resulting in me self-imploding on more than one occasion.

I can see it in my behaviour and how I have been reacting of late, being needy, overworking, seeking perfection, I have lost the desire to write, the creativity, the spark I had only a few weeks ago seems to have slowly died. I know that deep down that seeking external validation never fixes the problem; I am still left never feeling good enough. And I know that deep down, I will only feel better when I start validating myself again.

Amid fucking COVID 19 I had let go of the steering wheel and felt out of control so for the past few mornings before work demands start, I have forced myself to have some time out, #Haveawordwimesen I have ignored many calls, private messages (sorry I will get back to you) but I have been busy trying to turn my attention back onto myself.  Now I have found it and have a better idea of what direction I am going in, whilst I do not yet know the final destination, I am in a better place to know where ever it is, it will be ok because I’m ok I will be ok.

Time 

I hear a lot of people complaining that they have far too much time on their hands, can’t go outside, cant see friends or loved ones when they could be using this valuable time to go visit themselves, #Haveaword just saying…

So use this time wisely and make some time for some self-inquiry and remember the only person who can validate how you are feeling is yourself, so if you have been feeling shit of late, stressed just take a little time out of your day for YOU

Self-inquiry isn’t always easy, it takes practice, but it is possible 

  • Remind yourself that it is human to feel things that we don’t always understand, but it is important, and we can help ourselves by taking the time to explore what it is you are feeling, “Validating your feelings” sounds like a big term, but it really means one thing: Letting yourself feel.
  • Remind yourself its ok to feel aggrieved and pissed off and irrationally mad – it is our emotions at play, acknowledge them, ride them out, they will pass.
  • This can look like taking a few minutes to journal each day, spending time by yourself where you can simply experience how you feel—without judgment and without trying to change anything.
  • Often once we acknowledge an emotion, it will often go away on its own. If there is no course of action, there will be other times where our feelings can linger for longer.
  • Our emotions are not threats but informants. They show us and remind us what we care about and what we want to protect. Only by validating ourselves can we become stronger.

So the next time the shit hits the pan! Try taking a deep breath, take some time out and #Haveawordwithyse

Try not to be afraid of who you truly are and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too – Keep Safe AND more importantly Stay Sane 

 

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#ShitDIDHappen

A few weeks ago, there was a lot of uncertainly, the news about COVID19 was starting to get more and more serious. Looking back, I think many of us (myself included, I wrote about it) were in a state of denial. But as the worst-case scenarios were becoming a reality and if we (front line staff) thought we were under pressure before we are all certainly now, no fucker was immune, we are ALL having to adapt to conditions of crisis

My last day in the office comprised of being as productive and practical as I could, dealing with ongoing work and sorting an alternative/temp email address and gathering as many of my contacts as I could before saying goodbye to my desk for god knows how long…

The thought of working from home would have been bliss a few weeks ago, but truth be told now I have been forced to do it, I have found it even harder than I ever anticipated. 

I was fortunate I already had a space to work from at home, my own laptop, desk which was reserved for me, it was a sanctuary, my quiet place, a place to write. I hadn’t given using this space as an office a second thought, until a couple of days in, working from home until I realised that what was once my safe space had become a place of stress.

I had turned my place of sanctuary from a space where I could think freely, write freely to a fucking war zone, franticly firing out emails one after the other and waiting anxiously for a reply. 

Christ, it’s been fucking hard– now don’t get me wrong I’m feeling a whole lot better. I can spout tips about self-care to others, but I have had to seriously apply some of my own advice to myself over the past two weeks. The self-imposed pressure has laid heavily on my chest, at times I have felt unable to breathe, my mind was and still is running at one hundred miles an hour trying to figure out the best way to be productive, helpful when at the same time feeling fucking powerless.

Torn not being able to offer my face to face skills and experience to other colleagues on the front line to offer some respite who desperately deserve it has been heart-breaking. Truth be told I didn’t realise just how much I depended on connecting with others face to face.

The only saving grace has been purchasing ZOOM which provided some virtual contact and connection with others some sort of normalcy in a world of insanity.

I have found myself working some unhealthy hours and have struggled to stay away from the computer, which for me has become my only source/conduit to continue to help and communicate with the outside world. 

I would love to be on the front line, physically helping, but I can’t, so I am finding myself constantly looking for other ways to try and be useful – this is hard. I’m missing the challenging face to face meetings, the office banter, craving for a sense of life as it was before.

And I know that for many of my colleagues the challenges are even harder, having to care for kids, loved ones self-isolating and looking after the family – I class myself lucky.

The reality is whether people accept it or not is that the legacy of this pandemic will live with us for years, perhaps decades to come. It will change the way we move, build, learn, and connect – fuck it already has!

Aisha S. Ahmad an expert in global crisis recently explained that “No sane person feels good during a global disaster, so be grateful for the discomfort of your sanity”. Well, I for one am trying to go with the flow of this discomfort, ride the way as they say until the storm dies down, whenever that will be. I’ve heard talk about things going back to normal, but things will never go back to exactly as they were before, there will be some similarities, but it will never go back to the way life was before.

One week in working from home, I am slowly learning to adapt, after many futile conversations and arguments with negative Nancy, I have finally (I think) started to come to terms with the fact that this is how things are going to be for a while and I’m going to have to stop feeling fucking sorry for myself. 

I find myself always looking for positives out of negatives and in all this insanity there have been many.  

I have shared my vulnerability with others and learned that I am not alone, that I am not the only one who feels like they are losing it! 

I have never been afraid to take a risk, try something new, this crisis is the perfect breeding ground for working differently and the opportunity to try something new, think differently. 

After hearing of so many deaths of late I class myself extremely fortunate that I haven’t lost touch with loved ones forever, I might not be able to hug them or kiss them, but I am I can facetime them, see their faces I can still be there for them emotionally.

Christ, I am actually saving money! the gym membership has been canceled, I am now working out from home taking advantage of the free HIIT sessions widely available, I have walked around my neighbourhood and walked paths I never knew existed. 

But the best positive I can take away from this whole disaster is a stark reminder that its ok to not be ok! I am not the only person freaking out!

I am going to just have to get my head around it, I will need plenty of #Havingawordwimisen sessions (we all are) – but I also know that won’t readjust overnight and that it is going to take time – something I have shit loads of at the present moment, I am just re-evaluating how I spend and use it not just for work but for myself and my own personal self-esteem. 

Fuck me “What I wouldn’t do to be able to go back to work, to log onto my computer right now…”

Try not to be afraid of who you truly are and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too – Keep Safe AND more importantly Stay Sane 

 

Love Fordy

 

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Fear on the unknown and our thought’s can spread faster than any virus

There is no denying these are scary times and with so much doom and gloom we face pretty much no one is immune to the sense of fear that has enveloped and wrapped our society as we once knew it! I cannot deny it myself for the past few days I have questioned my mental health, I haven’t felt the anxiety-like this for a long time. Surrounded by my colleagues and friends in permanent reactive mode fighting the unknown, the future has felt very uncertain at times.

Most of the things people are currently questioning I have questioned before in my recovery journey. So here’s me, giving me head a wobble and having a word wi mesen,

Habit – We are creatures of habit, many of us don’t like change and feel that we are being asked or forced to change and some habits re harder to change than others.

Isolation – We thrive on human connection but we are being asked to isolate, there are many reasons that people are fearful of isolation, isolation implies we have to stop doing something but in my early recovery this was essential in order for me to flourish.

Isolation has implications for many in a very practical sense too…

  • Lack of contact with loved ones – in some cases this is life or death
  • being forced to spend time with people we fear  
  • Families are having to reevaluate how they spend more time with their kids 
  • The restricted activity can leave people feeling like they no purpose 
  • The fragile economy – impounded by images of businesses closing
  • Empty shop shelves 

But what is as dangerous as the virus, is that many of us as a society regardless of your ages, health status, wealth, or lack of it is that many of us are being forced to have a re-think. There are many similarities when we think about addiction. The difference is we are being forced into a period of self-reflection, and trust me, there are a lot of people out there who are afraid to think for themselves or who have lost the ability too because it has been so much easier to allow others to do their thinking for them. 

People are having to re-evaluate, consider change, adapt, think of better coping strategies, second guess the difference between right or wrong, questioning themselves, questioning others? they’re motives or lack of – There are many similarities when we think about recovery!

This is also the perfect breeding ground for people to deflect and blame others to protect and shield them from what’s going on for them. I do worry for the vulnerable, people on the streets whose only source of human contact is from strangers and fellow mates on the streets. Or for those natural-born carers forced to switch the attention on themselves before others, this can feel alien for many who thrive on helping others or feel they have lost what once distracted them from themselves. – There are many similarities when we think about codependency! 

But there ARE opportunities and some positives that we can reflect on during the time of uncertainly 

We can treat isolation as an opportunity to reflect on ourselves, evaluate our priorities (i mean having the latest iPhone or flash care won’t protect you from the fucking virus) Its an opportunity to reflect on the things that many of us took for granted, simple things like buying bog roll from the shop for crying out loud!

Neighbours don’t have to be strangers there is an opportunity to learn more about your local community and who lives in it.  Speaking to people we might normally ignore because of our previous preconceptions = Reducing stigma 

Even in isolation, we can still communicate, in fact we have more time to make that call that we have been meaning to make for ages, to check on friends and family – We can still reach out.

There are opportunities to work smarter (I believe that this IS a positive, with cancelled meetings, priorities have changed, it has helped some colleagues refocus on the needs of the clients before policies and procedures). 

Amongst all the negative press on TV and social media, in particular, there has been a surge in compassion and willingness to help out strangers, a real sense of camaraderie and willingness to work together like never before. There is an opportunity to form some new habits, healthier ones. – We can search out the positive news stories – be inspired.

We have to start learning to accept that regardless of status or power, no fucker ever gets it right, there will be many unforeseen casualties from the current crisis, but it is also an opportunity to make a difference.

I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, even when life gets shit and feels dire we can always take some positives out of any situation. This is our opportunity as a society to think differently, act and behave more compassionately with each other. 

At some point life will settle back to some sort of normality, there will be scars and casualties that we will all be able to reflect and dwell on, but what will we have learned? 

Shit Happens that’s a fact of life, our societies have experienced far worse and survived the key is how we respond to the challenges is what’s going to make a difference, learning to channel our concerns into actions to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities.

Spreading fear and scaremongering doesn’t help anyone we have to try our best to focus on the positives, so on that note what positives can you take from this difficult time?

Keep Calm, Look after yourselves, look out for others

Much Love Fordy xxx

PS I have provided some helpful links below from the World Health Organisation 

Myth Busters

Frequently asked questions

Try not to be afraid of who you truly are and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too – Keep Safe 

 

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When tough love is no longer an option – Understanding End of Stage Alcoholism

I find it hard sometimes working in the recovery field, in one breath I am promoting recovery and that it is possible, but in the other breath, I know that this isn’t always the case.

I use the Prochaska and DiClementi’s cycle of change a lot in my work (see diagram below) it is a great tool to help people identify where they are at in their addiction. For a couple of years, dad went around the cycle like a fucking Catherine wheel, with every relapse brought hope, an opportunity for change, but it never lasted long.

After about 18th months into dad’s alcoholism, his cycle started to go anti-clockwise, I hadn’t heard about End Stage Alcoholism, none of the medical staff mentioned it (Or maybe they did and we were too stressed to take it all in) this cycle takes the addict and the family on a very different journey.

I have come up with a new cycle to help people understand the End Stage Of Addiction

1. Denial – Dad knew he wasn’t well, but it was never the alcohol, he would try to minimise the levels of drinking from the doctors, even though his deteriorating health, failing liver was because of his drinking. He had been told on numerous times that “If he continued to drink he would die” but the fact he was still breathing was evidence that anything the doctors said was a lie, only enforcing his rational that drinking wasn’t the real problem – I recall the time as if it was yesterday when dad took a sip of his Jack Daniels and coke refusing to take paracetamol on the grounds that it was bad for his liver, the level of denial was insane.

5. Body Failing– His liver was no longer functioning, he had no appetite, he started losing control of his bowels, His belly would bloat making him look pregnant, his skin turned yellow looking like Homer Simpson, his skin was also getting thinner and bruised more easily. And despite all of this “it wasn’t the drink”

4. Deaths Door – Hospitalised again, with what seemed a never-ending cycle of health problems, enforced detox to treat his alcohol-related health conditions. Following the detox, his mind would be clear free of the alcohol toxins and he would swing between apologetic or angry that he was back in the hospital.

3. Recovery – Dads back, sometimes he would have a newfound sense of determination, this time would be different, he would go Alcohol-Free, or stick to a beer, promising to stay away from the top shelf.

2. Complacency – I’m feeling loads better, I’ll have just one, it won’t be the same, I’ll stay away from the spirits and stick to cans of beer. But it never last, before long he would be back on the spirits and the cycle would start all over again.

1. Denial – back to square one

When tough love is no longer an option

Unlike say an opioid overdose death that can happen in a matter of minutes, dying from end-stage alcoholism is usually slow, painful and undignified. We had done our mourning for the person he was before the drinking had taken ahold. Tough love wasn’t an option for us now, some of the health conditions, side affects of his drinking could not be ignored.  Enabling and caring was the only option. We talked a lot with dad, about what he wanted, he didn’t want to be sent back to the hospital, he was as sick of the cycle as much as we were, he had accepted defeat and wanted to die at home, unfortunately this didn’t happen overnight.

Here are some of the  comorbidities that dad suffered 

Cirrhosis of the liver caused others near-fatal side effects

Korsakoff syndrome -is a neurological condition found in end-stage alcoholics. It develops due to a thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency (although this wasn’t diagnosed, dad definitely displayed many of the symptoms) 

Malnutrition – his body was preventing him to absorb the nutrients it needed

Hepatic Coma was given days to live, he survived but then contracted MRSA, resulting in bedsores which required new dressing every day.

Ascites – where fluid accumulates in the stomach

Jaundice – a resulting from Liver Disease

Esophageal varices -coughing blood

Peripheral edema – a build-up of fluid causing swelling in his legsWernicke-

We resigned ourselves and essentially started providing palliative and end of life care the best we could between us. But this was hard, it went against everything I believed in, I felt like an accomplice assisting dad to slowly kill himself which was the last thing any of his loved ones wanted for him.

Caring for someone who is at end-stage alcoholism can be traumatic, often the addict is so out of it they are often unaware of the severity of their condition, but the carers are.

It’s at this point that the carers of someone who is at end stage, need support, not well-meaning advice or ideas about how to get your loved one into recovery, it has gone way past that, the bottom line is that unfortunately, not everyone recovers from addiction.

Try not to be afraid of who you truly are and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too.

 

 

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Negotiating Boundaries in Recovery

 

I used to be afraid of setting boundaries, mainly out of fear, but mostly because I was out of practice, or did I ever practice even? I was fearful of hurting, upsetting, disappointing, worried I would come across as being selfish, you name it the list goes on and on.

I did have boundaries but they were in my head or heart, invisible to others because I didn’t let people know what they were. I found myself doing things I don’t want to do, or not saying what I wanted to say. Then I would get resentful and angry at the other person when in all fairness it was my fault, I was allowing myself to be used and hurt, eventually keeping everyone out.

I was essentially just people-pleasing consistently putting other people’s needs before my own, which only contributed to damaging my self-esteem and recovery in the longer run. 

I am fortunate that boundaries are not required in a lot of my relationships nowadays, I am respected and my needs are met, the word boundaries goes unspoken, I don’t need to explain my expectations or ask to asked how I want to be treated. But I have still have relationships where my boundaries are currently to the limit

For me, there are four key boundaries, that I keep in check 

Time – Making time for me and having it

People  – I am clear about the kinda people I want in my life and the ones I don’t

Emotional – having strategies in place that protect my feelings 

Drama – I decided what drama I will engage in and what I won’t 

I know life would be so much easier if people could assume and know what our boundaries were, but people are not mind readers, I know It feels shit and that some boundaries are harder to implement and stick to more than others, but if you are searching for some peace and want to nourish your self-esteem, YOUR recovery you will have to.

So how do you identify your boundaries?

I always advise someone who needs to establish some boundaries, to first negotiate with themselves, asking 5 simple questions, 

  1. What do I want? 
  2. What I can do
  3. What I can’t I do
  4. What I will do
  5. What I won’t do

Answer these questions and will have a clearer idea of what boundaries you will need to set if you are clear about the above answers. 

The next step is communicating it – now this can be the hard part, but you need to remember that our lives are a series of negotiations and we were given a voice for a reason, but to enforce our boundaries we have to voice them.

The truth is that some people won’t like your boundaries (especially if you’ve let them walk all over you in the past). However, many people in your life will adjust to your new boundaries. Some may initially be confused by your new-found assertiveness. Or they may not take it seriously and assume you’ll back down and go back to your old ways if they resit.  Remember this understandable, especially if you haven’t enforced your boundaries in the past. 

Some times I can feel like things get worse before they get better. But most people will adjust to your boundaries and learn to respect them. Some, of course, will continue to resist. It is at this point you have to decide whether or not you will continue to have that person in your life and say GOODBYE 

On a final note 

The boundaries you need to set are unique to you, sadly there are no rule books, so you will need to identify your specific boundaries, (talk to a trusted friend) practice asserting yourself, learn to continuously refine and update your boundaries as your needs and relationships change.

 

Try not to be afraid of who you truly are and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too.

 

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