Sunday, November 15, 2009

Better starts to the day. A stupid thing? Timing tablets. Damp nights.

I feel a bit brighter this morning - working on changing my morning routine is having an effect.

I've still got my ditch and it takes an effort to climb out of it, the pull of habit and routine is mightily strong, but I'm making small steps.

This morning, for example, I got up and instead of going downstairs and sitting smoking in the moping seat, I got up, had a fag and came back upstairs and did 10 minutes on the exercise bike and 10 press ups.

I've started in on my first self-esteem book. I chose the thinnest one first, Gael Lindenfield's Self Esteem and I've read the introduction.

I recognise a lot of the examples of poor self-esteem she uses and the causes. Next I'm going to have to do some work on emotional healing. I love the idea of this and I'm excited by it - so many things in my past fester and rot in my mind; that's what I do on the moping chair.

I'm a bit at a loss about what to do about the expression of some of this past pain that needs to be exorcised, I just don't have those sorts of friends at the moment. But, I'm going to find a notebook for self-esteem today and damn well do it - not just think about it, not just read about it, but actually do it. Hell's bells, that'll be a step in the right direction all on its own.

Quite independently of this I've emailed my ex-girlfriend. This might be a stupid thing to do but somehow it felt right. She's my biggest emotional hurt - a terrible break up and a terrible attempt to get back together that were the immediate triggers for two suicide attempts.

She was my first love and my biggest love, I still think about her every day. I thought if I could establish some sort of adult contact with her as a friend I might find some peace from it.

She's emailed back, very tersely, and I'm guessing that she doesn't much relish hearing from me again - I was an alcoholic all the time we were together and I must have made her life hell. Must have? I know I did.

We'll see how that goes, it might be a huge mistake to even pick at those wounds and it's led to disaster in the past, but I want some sort of closure and the ability to move on properly, which I'm yet to do.

The timing of my Trazadone is still off. My antidepressant 'causes drowsiness' according to the box, in fact it whacks you over the head with a sleepy hammer. Its action used to be so fast that I couldn't take it at any time other than when I was actually ready to sleep. Now, I've got some tolerance to it and as a result I've ended up taking it too late, leaving me with a terrible pill hangover in the mornings. I need to find a better time and to make it a routine.

I'm sleeping as well as ever with the Trazadone but in the last couple of weeks I've been suffering from night sweats again. Mrs CD assures me it's not as bad as when I used to drink but it's a bother and I'll ask the doctor about it when I see her at the end of this month.

The probable reasons I've come up with are the lake of tea I drink every day, lots of fluid. Perhaps it's the dope (another routine I'm changing, I don't smoke during the day if I can manage it - which on many days I don't).

If you spent it, thank you for your time.

Cardiff Drunk.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

So, this drinking thing

I haven't regaled anyone much with anything on drink of late have I?

And for a drunkard's blog that's not flipping well good enough. It's always there in my mind though - a constant hum and siren song. Time's the trigger. Some mornings I might walk past a pub at around opening time and remember the endorphin rush of the first drink of the day.

Sport too - always a good excuse for me to go to the pub in the past - strums a few strings. I've managed to watch a Wales rugby international in the pub, but all the way through I was thinking how much better it would be if I had a drink.

Occasionally too, anxiety has made me want to drink. When the streets are full of shrieking youths in the afternoon and I'm confining myself to my room and praying for sleep, I'm aware of how much better I would feel if I could just go and hide in the pub.

But, I haven't drunk. Not a drop. And, with Antabuse in my veins I can't. Without the Antabuse I don't think I would have done it and without the supervised way I'm taking it I don't think I would have managed to stay on the pills for so long.

I'm committed to the six months I've almost managed - about two weeks now. I'm also likely to ask for an extension to my Antabuse to see me through Christmas and the New Year too.

At the bottom of all the efforts to get well is the knowledge that I want to get well so I can drink again - enjoy it, socially and responsibly, not as an instant cure for fear or a hiding place from self-hatred, but as a social lubricant.

That may well make me an idiot, but that's my feeling at the moment, that if I can fix my messed up head I won't need to self-medicate and won't be an addict. There are medical opinions both ways, but, I think most professionals would, after looking at my history with drink, advise me to not drink ever again.

The big thing is, that in a couple of months it will be my choice.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Deciding to be happy

I have decided to decide to be happy - ok, no-one gets to walk through the flowers under the sun every day of their life, but I have decided to be happier.

Taking this decision is, I think, an important change for me.

I had previously believed a number of things about my illnesses (for want of a better word), which I no longer believe to be true.

I still believe that I suffer from clinical depression - that is, I don't believe it's all psychological, I believe there is probably a chemical element to my sadness, adiction and anxiety. But, I now accept that's it's down to me to do something about it.

I used to sneer at self-help books, and part of me believed that depression was a political act - it's your duty to be depressed in this world of war, injustice, suffering, Manchester United title wins and so on.

Not any more.

I came back from the library today with three, count 'em!, self help books. All recommended by the local alcohol and drugs service.

They are:

10 Days To Great Self Esteem by Dr David Burns
Self Esteem by Gael Lindenfield, and,
Overcoming Low Self-Esteem by Melanie Fennell

I'll let you know how I get along with those, I feel uncharacteristically excited about reading them.

I heard an interesting show on the radio about happiness, three journalists but one was a doctor and another a Positive Psychologist.

Again, I used to sneer at the idea that you could control the way you feel and I actually considered it cheating in some way. Not any more.

The positive psychologist was interesting. Practise feeling good and you probably will.

She kept a gratitude diary she said, and I'm not yet ready to go that far, but I am pleased with a couple of things in the last couple of days.

I have managed to break a couple of unhelpful routines; I spend much less time sitting in the moping seat for example.
I've attended nearly all my appointments and kept up with my blogging.

So, I'm not swinging from the tree tops in the unalloyed joy of an Oran Utang's giant ginger hug, (Anybeth) but I am coming round to the idea of taking part in this battle. I'm more accepting of things I can't change and learning a little to ignore some of the things that were previously making me anxious.

Long way to travel I guess but I feel like I've started.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.

The Cardiff Drunk.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Why I am so sad when Jeff Bridges can make me so happy

We went to the cinema the other day. Quite spontaneously! Wow. We were just in town and I just said, why don't we go to the cinema, and we did! The exclamation marks are justified, this happens literally almost never. Never!

We were just in time to catch The Men Who Stare At Goats - a comedy about United States military research into the use of psychic powers in warfare. Not you would have thought an obvious subject for the comedy film maker. Well, it turns out you'd be wrong. Acclaim and Oscars for screenwriting shall surely rain down upon this film.

I always get a bit carried away if I like I film because I currently like so few. I say currently because I hope that's yet another of the things I can put down to my illness and whatever it is that makes my head such a donkey's nest of twattery.

So, that's a good thing then. Yes. It is. Indeed, part of my homework after my last counselling session was to try and engage with my withered and neglected emotions in a 'safe' way by watching a bit of a weepy now and then or by laughing to the point of vomiting (I paraphrase) with some super funny DVD.

And, laugh I did. Out loud and genuinely! (The exclamation mark is more for the genuinely than the out loud - I often go through the physical act of laughter, I rarely feel the rumble of real mirth currently - another hopeful currently.)

Jeff Bridges just makes me smile. If I could buy a Jeff Bridges and let it roam around my house and garden, I think I'd have the best cure for what ails me there is. Can't this be done in this magical internet age? I suggest someone starts working on it with the highest priority possibly imaginable.

I won't drag you by your hand through the whole plot - and I hope you go and see it - but, I ended up crying almost uncontrollably at this comedy. I currently do when I see goodness - and Jeff plays, in his beautiful bouncing bearlike way, a good person who believes in love and peace and gentleness. Goodness makes me horribly sad. So does happiness and I'm not just being flippant there, it's true.

It's not conscious. I had to explain to Mrs CD that I had tears in my eyes when I looked at some photos of her as a little girl because she looked so happy.

Something about goodness and happiness brings me out in the weeps and it's that I feel so alien from it - even in joy I feel the sadness of its passing. Goodness makes me so aware of all the badness there is in the world.

I could, I think, bore you now with a very long and tedious recitation on why I think I feel like this but I don't think I should bother because I would, bore you.

I'd like to change it though and over thinking is a big part of it.

Sometimes I think I'm just a miserable bastard.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.

Cardiff Drunk.

Still a bit down in sober towers

You tell lies thinking I can't see,
You can't cry because you're laughing at me,
And I'm down,
I'm really down.

Thank you Macca for that, very nice. Unlike Beatle Paul no-one's hurling obvious falsehoods around, or writing them on placards seeing as Paul reckons Miss Down-Causer (as we shall call this horrific slattern) thinks he can't see them. No-one's chuckling either; sniggering while they should be joining me in empathetic melancholy.

Yet still, I'm down. Yeah thanks Paul, you'll get paid mate don't worry - yeah, thumbs up yours too.

A bit melancholy me. I'm sure the reasons are the usual, which are too archetypal to bother listing again, and it, like all things (royalties for George!) must pass.

The atypical, and therefore interesting factors in this, of all the downs, are a bit of cognitive dissonance (I'm quite verbose tonight aren't I) and the fact that I feel more relaxed about it than maybe I should feel.

I'm probably misusing cognitive dissonance, but, never mind, it's a phrase I like so I'll go on merrily misusing it all I damn well like. I've been down the pub (orange squash) this evening and discovered I've been misusing winsome. I'd been saying my mate D liked winsome girls, thinking I meant rather wholesomely appealing women. D said he'd looked it up and it just meant pretty - I'm not convinced.

Cognitive dissonance though, I'm a bit stronger on. Down to D again. I gave him a book called The Psychology of Military Incompetence which he, an anarchist by leaning, has devoured and praises so highly that he's lent it back to me to try and get through it again.

Cognitive dissonance - which quite often afflicts our martial leaders so the book would lead us to believe - is an inability to cope with a change in circumstances which contradicts the plan of action. In the case of our generals it would appear this often leads to massive tragedy - sending troops to die futile deaths after an objective has become unreachable because the commander simply cannot accept failure is a possibility.

That sounds just like my favourite film, Paths Of Glory, an extraordinarily moving account of an episode in the First World War in which French troops are tried for cowardice for failing to take an enemy position against impossible odds. I get the feeling the First World War is filled with cognitive dissonance, and on Armistice Day it seems right to mourn all those who have died in war, whether the reasons have been given a fancy psychological name or not.

My cognitive dissonance is of a much smaller order with far lesser consequences, but I'm sure when I get round to reading this fascinating tome of which D is such an evangelist I'll discover that the outcomes for individuals with a touch of the old cognitive dissonance are Not Good Things.

So, I'm having trouble matching the man who tells his counsellor so brightly that he's going to do this or that, and the loathsome lethargist who spends most of the next day in bed or sitting, spliff paralysed, by a window or in joyless masturbation (apologies for the unpleasantness, I'm trying to be honest here).

The loathsome lethargist seems to be winning the battle at the moment, so, I've got to make sure he doesn't win the way.

In some ways I think I deal too easily with these dual personas of mine - and do occasionally worry that it could be a sign of a more serious mental health problem. With over-protective parents and terrible social anxiety I've grown quite the expert at appearing to be not what I am - oh, the disguises and deceptions I've played out. And, I think of this as quite natural, to the extent that I believe that if I'm not observed then nothing I do matters at all or has any consequences - at it's crudest level this is why I so often fall apart when Mrs CD is away. There is no reason to appear kempt, clean, engaged.

And, as I said, I feel quite relaxed about this, it's another routine in which I can hide, like not going to the doctors if I can't get there by noon, like always walking the same way to the Community Addiction Unit, like always going there before anywhere else, like always listening to Radio Four on my headphones as I go to sleep and countless, countless others.

Something to be thought of there. And, something to be challenged: my weapons? Well, I'm awaiting my three book prescriptions on self-esteem and if I start to believe I matter then there will be motivation to look after myself, enjoy myself even - God, that would be good, I miss enjoyment and it comes along so rarely now.

Perhaps, as my other two bestest imaginary friends say, I should turn off my mind, relax and float down an octopus's garden in my yellow submarine?

Now, there's a thought.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.

Cardiff Drunk.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hello keyboard, whatcha knowing?

It takes such little effort to blog and I know the good it can do for me that I don't know why I don't do it more often.

A rhetorical question that, because I do.

The little effort is a teensy weeny blob of a falsehood. It comes easily once I'm sat here tapping away but getting into this seat with this window open and something to say takes a fair amount of soul searching, which is why - today being an example - I'm much more likely to blog after counselling.

The rhetorical answer to my rhetorical question is that I know why I don't do it more often and it's because I stop myself from doing it. As I know why I screw up so many days by having a recreational cigarette before lunchtime and sending myself into misery - it's me. I do it. It's not alcohol, it's not a symptom, it's a choice which I make.

Now, I'm not about to turn into one of those - what's the word? The word is too rude for a family blog, so I'll leave it at git. One of those gits, who I've seen of late, publicising books claiming that alcoholism and the like are simply bad choices made by bad people.

Nah. That's enormous bollocks of the worst kind - way to attack the 'therapy industry' by the way founders of the anti-therapy industry, you unconscionable feckwits.

However. My recent down - guess the trigger? Mrs CD going away - did precipitate me giving myself a stern talking to about some of the choices I make.

I think getting better is going to have a lot to do with taking more responsibility and making some better choices.

The reasons why I don't do so are simple. Same as the kids round here have the manners of Greek dogs and can only communicate by shouting obscenities - that's what they learn off their parents.

I'm not going to go down the whole miserable childhood path, because my childhood wasn't miserable, but it did leave me with a terrible lack of self worth and belief.

So much for self knowledge. Now, let's change it.

Counselling this morning, so I've got something to work on. My task after the last session was to try and get through a structured day, which I haven't managed to do so there was a fair amount of talk of regret and self-loathing as ever.

But my counsellor is a star and she gets me onto practical solutions - this is cracking and quite new to me. I want to get better and I'm starting to take little staggers towards it.

I haven't managed to get through a day, so let's try changing one little thing - my sitting in the moping seat first thing every morning. Change that. One little piece of the huge framework of safety catches, routines, time-tabling, avoidance and rituals that makes me feel safe - miserable, but miserable and safe.

So. I'm on it.

I've also been given a book prescription list. I've written about this before - I think the scheme is gaining popularity - and I'm enthused again.

Sadly, I went to the library and successfully ordered my three books on a better self-esteem before browsing and spending a good half hour reading a couple of books on societal breakdown and yob culture which left me fearing for my safety on the streets again.

Hey ho. At least it was different.

Back soon, cos this is good for me. And, I'm playing football tonight too, which is also good for me. Hells bells, I'll be prime minsiter by this time next week.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.

Cardiff Drunk.