Finding my True Self

Postby Julia Stretton » Wed Jun 08, 2016 4:31 pm

After 27 years of smoking weed on a daily basis - and a number of aborted quitting attempts - I have come to a point where change is inevitable. It has become more and more obvious that I will need to kick my old habits and change my associated behaviour patterns, if I don't want those habits to destroy ME.

After asking a friend for advice a few weeks ago, I decided that it would be best to train my will before effecting any permanent changes, so after each of the last two purchases (both times an eight, which lasted me about 2 1/2 - 3 days each) I had a voluntary break from smoking weed for three days. After waking up in the morning and walking my dog, I would usually have some breakfast and smoke a roll up, before going to sleep for a few more hours. I've been sleeping from about 4am to 8am each night, so together with my daytime nap I have been getting a standard amount of sleep each day, but with a break lasting several hours in between..

Each time I woke up again in the afternoon, I felt more motivated to do something with myself than in the morning, and I have been reading some books which I started in the past without finishing them. I hadn't been reading for quite some time, but I have a very obsessive streak, and at the moment I can easily spend most of the day with my face tucked into a book. Although I am aware that nowadays most books are available to read online for free, I far prefer holding a physical chunk of paper, glue and ink in my hands. Currently my main interests are Western esotericism, Taoist meditation practices and psychology, and I can tell how adding to my knowledge in those subjects is helping me to feel empowered. I've also been ordering new books, each time I come across a new reference that tickles my interest, and I have set aside half an hour for practice each day.

Smoking tobacco without weed makes me feel incredibly sick, and yesterday, when my last three-day phase of not smoking weed ended (but after I had bought myself a tenner, i.e a gram), and I only had a few roll ups left in my pouch , I decided that I wouldn't be buying any more tobacco once I had run out. Today I have found myself picking the dog-ends out of my ashtray, so I would have at least some 2nd hand tobacco to roll a couple of single paper joints with. But from tomorrow onwards, I am determined to be tobacco-free. What place - if any - weed is going to have in my life, is something I haven't decided on yet.
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#1

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Wed Jun 08, 2016 7:20 pm

Julia Stretton wrote: What place - if any - weed is going to have in my life, is something I haven't decided on yet.


Not having a clear outcome in mind is a key factor in achieving any goal.

Saying you need to lose some weight is much less successful than saying you need to lose 24.5 lb. And saying you need to lose 24.5 lb. is less effective than saying you need to lose 24.5 lb. by XYZ date.

I recommend you start setting specific, time bound goals with milestones. You need to take some time to decide what role weed will play. Resolving that issue will help give you a higher chance of success.
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#2

Postby Julia Stretton » Wed Jun 08, 2016 8:27 pm

Thanks for your input, Richard. Any well-informed advice is most welcome.

You are, of course, completely right. Whenever I tried to quit in the past, it seems to have been exactly that indecision and lack of clarity about my aims which made me go back to the same dark place again. I have a large number of unresolved issues stemming from my long-term addictions, non-binary gender, past abuse, social anxiety, depression, my radical social and political views, physical health, and many other factors. Despite the fact that I have on occasion displayed some astonishing mental abilities, I would be fooling myself if I told myself that I am capable of resolving all the complexities surrounding my bruised psyche on my own.

Due to my health after nearly three decades of smoking, I have no other choice than to stop smoking completely (and thankfully so, as I have no urge to carry my problems and their contributing factors around with me any longer). That includes weed, particularly after I fell into a state of severe depression during one of my previous quitting attempts a few years ago, and after I still wasn't able to fend off the severe cravings that I had been getting for a whole month, I finally caved in and smoked some pipes, which soon led to cravings for a big joint with tobacco. Last year I was initially stunned by how much I was able to suppress the desire for smoking tobacco by getting myself an e-cig, but it soon had the opposite effect, and it made me want something stronger.

I decided a few weeks ago that I want to see a psychotherapist, but since then I have not felt quite ready yet to see my GP so I can ask for a referral. For nearly two years, I haven't been further than a mile from my home, and as my GP's surgery is on the other end of town, it is quite a big thing for me to get the bus there and back. But nevertheless, I feel that it won't be long before I give myself the necessary push. It would definitely be a huge leap forward, and one that I'm pretty excited about, despite all the fears raging in my head.
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#3

Postby Julia Stretton » Wed Jun 08, 2016 10:15 pm

It is not even midnight yet, and I already feel like going to bed, unlike the past two weeks or so, when I didn't get to sleep until around 4am each night. I've felt pretty weak and lethargic all day, which I put down to the weed I've smoked (less than usual - about half a gram all day) with just a bit of manky tobacco that I salvaged from some butt ends, combined with the knowledge that I'll be smoke-free tomorrow, and the associated insecurity and fears. But I am also aware that I have made some very positive decisions, so that there is simultaneously a sense of excitement lingering in the background.

For the past fifteen minutes, I've made sure that there are no more cigarette butts or crumbs of tobacco lying around which could tempt me in the morning. I guess all that I can do now is to rely on the resources that I have to help me relax as best as possible, and to create small changes every day to improve my life, even if I'm not sure at all where I am heading. But I have no doubts that things will be better than they have been in the past.
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#4

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Thu Jun 09, 2016 4:48 pm

Julia Stretton wrote: But nevertheless, I feel that it won't be long before I give myself the necessary push.


Similar to your first post, you are being passive. Do it now, don't wait to "feel" or wait for some push. That is just avoidance, procrastination. If you want to lose weight, you don't wait to start your diet when it feels right, you start immediately, you start today. Same with any other goal related to personal development. Start today.
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#5

Postby Julia Stretton » Thu Jun 09, 2016 6:41 pm

Richard@DecisionSkills wrote:
Julia Stretton wrote: But nevertheless, I feel that it won't be long before I give myself the necessary push.


Similar to your first post, you are being passive. Do it now, don't wait to "feel" or wait for some push. That is just avoidance, procrastination. If you want to lose weight, you don't wait to start your diet when it feels right, you start immediately, you start today. Same with any other goal related to personal development. Start today.


It seems that not wanting to over-complicate things, and failing to mention my financial situation in that respect, has led to the wrong view that I am still procrastinating about the issue. While that certainly was the case in the past, the only thing that is really holding me back at the moment is the fact that I'm skint until next week, so I can't afford the bus fare before then. But if 'today' is replaced with 'at the next possible opportunity', I whole-heartedly agree.

Before my recent experiments with three-day periods of not smoking weed, I would have also been without money by now, in addition to having racked up plenty of debts which I would have had to pay off when I next get paid. But instead, I used up nearly all of my last payment for ordering loads of food, and I also got myself some extras such as lecithin granules, and a whole kilo of vitamin C powder. Maybe not setting enough aside for the bus fare was another subconscious attempt at once again postponing the GP visit and subsequent referral, but I really want to go there on Tuesday (my next pay day), and I haven't got any excuse not to. I'll also have the advantage that I won't have any debts to pay back this time, instead of the usual £120-£150 that I tend to owe for weed.

After waking up this morning, I felt pretty good, and I thought that the day was going to be easy. But as soon as I had finished breakfast, a whole roller-coaster of emotions started. I don't want to go into any detail right now about my feelings and thoughts, and how I dealt with them, but in general I am feeling positive about the fact that I haven't had any nicotine all day, and no weed since about mid-day. I did use up the small bit of weed I had left this morning, and it was unusual for me to smoke it without any tobacco. I'll be continuing my practice of getting just one gram at a time, and then having three days without once I've used it up, That means that I'll be completely smoke-free until Sunday, and I will be doing whatever I need to do in order to never have to go back to smoking tobacco again. But I'd be asking too much of myself if I decided to completely quit smoking weed as well at this point.

My main problem has been that at times my neck feels like a huge twisted knot, so I can't afford to slack when it comes to maintaining my posture and breathing exercises.
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#6

Postby Julia Stretton » Fri Jun 10, 2016 11:43 am

Today I keep thinking that I'm just unnecessarily torturing myself by trying to quit smoking, and that any endeavours to change my life for the better are just doomed to fail, like they have been in the past. I spent the morning extremely scared and worried, thinking that I've probably already caused my body irreparable damage, and that any efforts to try and improve my health by not smoking are pointless. I'm feeling slightly better now, but I still keep ending up with intense feelings of emptiness and hopelessness. It is difficult for me to describe how messed up my life is, and how a number of traumatic experiences and external circumstances have driven me more and more into isolation, while being unable to enjoy anything for any longer than just very short periods of time, if at all. Sometimes I feel so weak that every movement appears like a huge chore, and I often struggle with dragging myself through the day. When I reflect on my past experiences, and my attempts to change things for the better, just to end up with failure each time, I keep coming to the conclusion that there is nothing worth living for, and that I've got nothing to look forward to.

One of the things that I am most certain of, is that I will probably never have the courage to commit suicide, even though I often have feelings of despair raging inside me, and I get plagued by intense thoughts of jumping from my 15th floor balcony. But luckily - at least in this respect - I am capable of distinguishing fantasy from reality.

Not sure if any of this makes any sense to anyone else, but I just had to voice my frustration. After a day without weed, and 1 1/2 days without tobacco, I'm really struggling. Although I was feeling worse a couple of hours ago, when I wouldn't even have been able to write these lines.
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#7

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Fri Jun 10, 2016 1:24 pm

Keep focused on your wins. Keep focused on just the next 24 hours. You can't change the past, the future is not yet written, all you have is now.

A common problem with any goal is allowing the mind to wander. When you are thinking about past experiences, that is not helping you. When you are thinking about a day far into the future when you no longer smoke weed, that also is not helpful as it makes the goal appear daunting. The only thing you need to manage is today.
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#8

Postby Julia Stretton » Sat Jun 11, 2016 5:16 pm

Today the cravings are manageable, but that doesn't mean that I haven't had to deal with plenty of unpleasant thoughts and emotions. The main underlying feeling is that of disassociation and being lost and disconnected from real life. As much as I know that these thoughts aren't helpful, I keep finding myself wondering why I am here (i.e. alive in general, and at this specific place in space and time), and the bizarreness of my apparently random existence never fails to baffle and confuse me.

The sense of detachment and lack of belonging is made more difficult through the environment that I am in. In particular, last night I had to call an emergency plumber, after a leak in my bathroom (that I had been ignoring for the past week) had got out of hand, and the whole bathroom became flooded. I cleared out the whole utility cupboard, thinking that all the junk in it was blocking the access to the water mains, only to discover afterwards that the tap was in my bathroom. Now I've got bed frames, carpets, bits of laminate flooring, lamps, old electrical items and other stuff lying around all over the place - I keep telling myself that anything I find might one day come in handy for my artwork or other purposes, but in reality nothing ever gets used, and only tends to take up space (not just physically, but also in my mind). But I guess that last night's emergency at least provides an opportunity to finally have a good clear out, and get rid of most of the items I've been hoarding. Until then, the whole clutter just adds to the weirdness of my surroundings.

Something I often wish for is simplicity. Most of the time my life seems far too complicated, and I have often thought how nice it would be to spend the rest of my life somewhere in a Tibetan monastery, just meditating all day and spending time out in nature. But in reality, I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't last a single day, and that those kind of fantasies are just a way for me to escape from reality.

I really don't believe that I've got much of a future, considering that I'm 43, I've never had a satisfying intimate relationship (and I've stayed away from all sexual relationships for over a decade), and I've increasingly ruined my health and destroyed all my childhood dreams over the years. But there still seems to be that little bit of will left which has so far kept me alive, even if I don't feel as if I really have a life.
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#9

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Sat Jun 11, 2016 6:43 pm

Julia Stretton wrote: - I keep telling myself that anything I find might one day come in handy for my artwork or other purposes, but in reality nothing ever gets used, and only tends to take up space (not just physically, but also in my mind).

Something I often wish for is simplicity.


I live a life of simplicity.

I have 8 shirts, all the same. I have 8 pairs of socks, 8 pairs of underwear, 3 pairs of shoes, 3 pairs of pants, one sport jacket, and two pairs of shorts. That goes in my carry on, tortuga backpack. In my other backpack, my personal bag, I have my office equipment. This includes my MacBook and iPad. Besides a small storage container in Texas, the above is all I own.

I have been traveling the world now for over 4 years. I am typing this message from Ecuador. My life is simple.

If you want a simple life, do it. Throw away anything you have not touched for 6 months. It does clutter both the physical space and the mind. Unlike the bus ticket or waiting until a pipe breaks to call the plumber, do it now. Do it today.

Your latest post once again demonstrates how much time you are dedicating to living in your past and thinking about tomorrow, while failing to live today. The purpose of life? A Tibetan monastery? Those are just distractions that result in nothing. Those thoughts don't build a bridge, they don't help your neighbor, they don't result in living your today.

I recommended you focus on just quitting weed, don't let yourself get overwhelmed. But, I think you need a goal, a small goal you can focus on that builds your today, that is a useful activity that results in useful thoughts. One such activity is throwing things away, simplifying your life. Another activity would be to paint with the goal of putting your artwork on display. Those activities can occupy your mind and they are productive thoughts, active thoughts that involve what you are doing today to create a better tomorrow.
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#10

Postby Julia Stretton » Sat Jun 11, 2016 7:57 pm

I like that idea. A lot.

A cluttered environment seems to be strongly connected to a cluttered mind. I discovered that a long time ago, but each time I have a clear out, I seem to be overly careful about what I throw out, and I retain lots of stuff that has no function in my life other than obstructing the free flow of energy (however one wants to interpret that term).

1 1/2 years ago I broke off all contact with the people I knew (which included deactivating my Facebook account) after not being able to get hold of my dealer for two consecutive days, and I kept to myself for about six weeks. During that time, I threw away over 30 large bin liners of stuff. It was an incredibly strange and at times very emotional experience, but it felt liberating to have freed myself from all that physical and emotional luggage. Since then, I haven't accumulated nearly as much junk as I got rid of at the time, and I've been able to appreciate the fact that everything has become a lot more tidy and accessible. Nevertheless, especially after clearing out the utility cupboard, and after you described your life of simplicity, I have realised how many obstructions I've still kept, which will need to go.

I would love to get into my artwork again, but with all those distracting thoughts I've found that impossible. People have pointed out my talents to me all my life, and it seems like I'm the only person who doesn't believe in me / myself, so that I keep on boycotting any success I might have. My surroundings are rife with unfinished projects, and once again this is something where I have made things unnecessarily complicated for myself, by not restricting myself with regards to what media I use. I love painting with oils, and I'm interested in painting with acrylics as well, so that I can achieve more immediate results, rather than having to wait for weeks for each layer to dry (and half a year before the final piece can be varnished). But I also fantasize about making sculptures, stained glass panels, and so on, which just adds unnecessary layers of complexity (mental and physical), so I need to discard those ideas.

I'm once again without Facebook, after de-activating it again two months ago, and I only have one friend whom I have contact with (possibly my only real friend). All other people whom I know are seriously addicted to weed (and some of them to alcohol), or they are simply on a different wavelength without the possibility of establishing deep and meaningful relationships. As much as I often wish I had more of a social life, I equally cherish the fact that I am capable of being on my own, rather than feeling the need to engage in constant shallowness, just so I don't have to be on my own. At least that provides a good foundation for the kind of clearing out effort that I'm about to embark on.
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#11

Postby Julia Stretton » Sun Jun 12, 2016 2:43 am

3.30am and I've been unable to sleep. I'm scared and angry. Very angry. Especially when I think of my parents, and the role they've played in me and my life becoming so fuсked up. I feel most of the time like I'm in hell. I know that it's not my fault that I've become the way I am, but it's my responsibility to change things, if it isn't already too late.

I can't see myself waiting for months until I am able to see a therapist, so I'm wondering if I should tell a healthcare professional that I'm suicidal, so I can get myself sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
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#12

Postby Anewchapter » Sun Jun 12, 2016 3:52 am

Hi Julia

I just lost the reply I was typing, I'll try again...

I can't sleep tonight either, things on my mind.
I kind of know where you're coming from with you being annoyed with your parents, my parents were abbuisve and neglectful, and I have no love for them. The way I see it is they ruined my childhood I'm not going to allow the way I was brought up to ruin the rest of my adulthood, it's made me a strong women who can overcome adversity. Use it to your advantage. You're right, it is up to us to overcome the past. And no it certainly isn't too late, you've still got many good years left in you.

With the thought of having yourself sanctioned, I've been in one of them places and it didn't help me, it made me worse, it isn't a pleasant place. Your handing control over to people you don't know, many of them have no real interest in the outcome of your mental health, that was my experience anyway. If you can avoid it, do, you have to do what's right for you if you truly believe that's your only options... Could you maybe give a helpline a call, they are volunteers and would be more likely to listen with compassion.

I know it's hard with all the racing thoughts and lack of sleep, it makes you feel like you're going crazy, It will ease with time. If you go into hospital they'll just pump you full of medication. What helped me at the start was reading fiction books, it helped clear my mind, it can be difficult to focus at first but with practice and once you get into the story it can really help.

I hope you mange to get some sleep, and you feel a bit better tomorrow.
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#13

Postby Anewchapter » Sun Jun 12, 2016 3:56 am

Another thought, if you like to paint, could you possibly try and release all that anger into a piece of artwork? some artist produce their best pieces when going through emotional turmoil.
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#14

Postby Julia Stretton » Sun Jun 12, 2016 9:54 am

Thanks for your reply, Anewchapter. I was actually shocked when I woke up this morning and I noticed what I had written, so I thought I'd delete it again, before I saw that you'd replied.

I agree with you. I've only been to a psychiatric hospital once, after asking my GP to refer me and getting a referral for the same day. At the time I was living in Germany, and the hospital was high up in the hills behind Frankfurt, surrounded by a beautiful forest. It consisted of a number of 19th century buildings, and during the first night it snowed heavily, so that during the six weeks I spent there, everything was covered in a thick white blanket of snow. From the second day, I was allowed to leave the ward / building I was in, and from the third day I could leave the hospital with written permission from one of the members of staff. There were Christmas trees, frozen lakes, a gallery with fireplace and grand piano, a separate piano room where I spent a lot of my time, and the Christmas market in the nearby village - so I guess i have a rather romanticised view / memories of what it is like to be in a psychiatric institution. Of course I know that I was exceptionally fortunate, and that most places are more like impersonal high security prisons. And even in the place I've described, I didn't feel comfortable with handing over responsibility for my life to people I didn't know. There are probably very few people whom I'd find empathetic enough for me to be able to open up about my feelings.

Fear is my greatest enemy, but I can feel it inside me nearly all the time. I keep waking up in a state of shock at night, drenched in sweat and thinking I'm about to have a heart attack. I feel malnourished - although I've been ordering in a lot of my food when I get paid, I just don't seem to be able to get it right. I'm hungry most of the time, but I tend to only get an appetite for certain things, mostly high-calorie fast food. The previous time when I placed an order, I ran out of sweet things very quickly, and ended up craving sugar a lot of the time, so at the moment, my freezer is full of ice cream (and vegetables), and I've got far more yoghurts, chocolate mousse, cake and so on than I can possibly eat before the 'use by' date, but nothing that I can make into a quick meal! :shock:

I could go on and on about all my different issues. But my friend (whom I sent a message to last night, similar to the one I wrote on here) has invited me round for a cup of tea, so I'm going to get myself ready for some fresh air.
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