Quote

Today’s Quote

Is “The Day I Tried to Live” on Superunknown a heroin song?
No, I don’t have any heroin songs. It’s about trying to step out of being patterned and closed off and reclusive, which I’ve always had a problem with. It’s about attempting to be normal and just go out and be around other people and hang out. I have a tendency to sometimes be pretty closed off and not see people for long periods of time and not call anyone.

It’s actually, in a way, a hopeful song. Especially the lines “One more time around/Might get it,” which is basically saying, “I tried today to understand and belong and get along with other people, and I failed, but I’ll probably try again tomorrow.” A lot of people misinterpreted that song as a suicide-note song. Taking the word live too literally. “The Day I Tried to Live” means more like the day I actually tried to open up myself and experience everything that’s going on around me as opposed to blowing it all off and hiding in a cave.

~Chris Cornell, 1964-2017

Chris Cornell: The Rolling Stone Interview, by Alec Foege, December 29, 1994

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The Past 48 Hours

So, we are in the process of selling our house and finding a new place to live, primarily for financial reasons.  Monday evening, after my husband got home from work, we drove roughly an hour away to look at places with a realtor we are working with.  After looking at three places and driving to the fourth, my husband started mentioning he wasn’t feeling well… I was not feeling 100% myself, but attributed it to several nights running of little sleep.  Well, we arrived at the fourth location and he started saying he thinks he needs to throw up.  Now, mind you, in 22 years of being together, I think he has thrown up all of three times.  This is not something he does.  So, he stopped in the bathroom and I stepped out back with our agent.  My husband finally joined us and said he only dry-heaved, and he sat down on the concrete porch.  The three of us were chatting away, and all of a sudden my husband projectile vomited then fell backwards.  As I walked closer to him to make sure he was ok, I noticed his eyes were wide open, but rolled back, and he was choking on vomit.  I squatted and while still holding our baby tried rolling him, and watched as he became completely unresponsive.  I was yelling at this point – yelling at my husband, and yelling at the agent to help me roll him and call 911.  His body was very stiff and he kept wretching and was struggling to breathe.  I literally thought I was watching him die right in front of me.  I have never been so scared.  When he finally came to, he had absolutely no recollection of what had just happened and asked what was wrong, why was I yelling.  The EMT’s finally showed up and after they worked on him for a bit, we were off to the local ER where they ended up running tons of tests and could not figure out what was wrong.  His blood pressure was low and kept plummeting when they tried to sit him up or have him stand.  There was also something wrong on the multitude of EKG’s they kept repeating.  They ended up admitting him to the hospital, and around 1:30am, I had no choice but to head home since the baby was still up with us and we have an elderly dog I had to tend to.  Finally getting to bed around 3:00am, I was up again a few hours later to get ready to head back to the hospital.  By this point, I was starting to really feel like crap myself and was getting dizzy.  Again, I figured lack of sleep plus the extreme stress was the culprit.  Long story short, I actually ended up sick myself, and my husband was discharged early yesterday evening with the doctors still not 100% sure what was the cause of the previous night’s events.  He was still tachycardic upon discharge which was concerning to them since he is a runner, so there will be follow up appointments with the cardiologist who saw him in the hospital.  This now makes two major health scares with him in less than six months… I am thankful for now that he is at least back home and starting to feel better.

My Story II – The Downward Spiral

For the most part, I had a typical rural, small-town America childhood.  My family was middle class, religious, strict, close-knit, conservative and judgmental.  My parents were still together, I had siblings and a family dog.  We lived on the edge of town in a heavily wooded area on a decent chunk of land.  I grew up learning gardening, how to use most shop equipment, cooking, and doing lots of chores.  There were constant get-togethers, cook-outs, days on the lake, etc. with our very large extended family.  I was forced to go to church every week with the family.  I never liked going to church, and quit as soon as I was out of my parents’ house.  While I do not subscribe to any religion at this time in my life, I am a spiritual person and believe in a higher power.  I feel that religion and/or spirituality is a very personal journey and should not be something one is coerced into, or forced to believe simply because someone else believes their way is the right way or the only way.  But, I digress.

I got excellent grades in school, participated in art and honor society, a little in choir (though I am not a very good singer but love performing), and was on several competitive athletic teams.  I was never part of the ‘in’ or ‘popular’ crowd – in fact, I was often their subject of ridicule.  Quite truthfully, I struggled to fit into any group, period.  I did have a few friends, though.  I pretty much always had a boyfriend, usually someone who was not good for me or someone whom my parents did not approve.  I attended a private Catholic school from kindergarten through fifth grade, and then went on to the public school system after.  I was picked on by the kids in elementary school, and that only got worse in middle school.  I found myself hanging around the ‘tough’ crowd in sixth grade, and would continue to run with them until high school.  Of course, my parents were horrified, which only made me want to hang out with these kids more.  Looking back, I know part of this was rebellion, but some part was also necessity, or at least what I felt was necessity…if I was mean enough and tough enough and had enough of these types of ‘friends’, then everyone else would leave me alone and would respect me.  What else goes hand-in-hand with a tough demeanor?  Obviously – smoking, drinking, and drugs.  So, began the experimenting, often in the girls’ bathroom or behind the gym in between classes or at lunch.  None of these things stuck, though, at least not at that time.  However, the need, the craving to be altered and escape for a while was awakened.  It was also during this time that I started struggling with depression and anxiety, and I found myself regularly having suicidal thoughts.  My parents picked up on this and tried taking me to a therapist which I absolutely hated and refused to continue.  I also started questioning my gender; I often wished I was a boy and I remember even asking my mom on multiple occasions why I was born the way I was.  I regularly styled my hair just like the guys from the heavy-metal bands I admired and dressed similarly.  Although this is played into my being bullied, I enjoyed standing out and being different from everyone else.  Most my friends were guys; I struggled to get along well with most girls, and often acted and joked around in such a way that I became just ‘one of the guys.’  (Sorry, but fart jokes are funny)

In high school, I distanced myself from the rough crowd and hung out more with the ‘skater’ crowd.  I continued participating in competitive sports and started thinking about college and what to do with my life.  Although many of my friends were into drinking and drugs, I did not partake.  I started dressing more ‘goth’ and grunge.  The bullying continued in high school, and became horrific; I was constantly taunted and humiliated by members of one of the athletic teams I was on, and it spread to others in the school, so much so that even walking down the hall or outside would bring on jeers.  One day during my junior year, I was late leaving the gym after practice.  Everyone else had already changed and left.  As I made my way to the locker room, I was followed by one of the boys in our school, who then pulled down his pants and tried groping at me.  I hit him and yelled for him to get out.  Thankfully he left out of fear that one of the coaches could hear.  I tried to tell my mom about the incident, but she wouldn’t believe me.  She knew him and his mom and stated he would never do such a thing.  I had no one else to confide in at the time and didn’t know what to do, so I suppressed the memory and the feelings associated with it.  I was assaulted by two other guys at different points of my senior year, but I buried those occurrences too.  My senior year was a whirlwind.  I had a nasty break-up with one of my boyfriends which deeply hurt, occasionally ditched classes, and continued trying to find myself.

I started college the fall semester following high school graduation.  I found myself having a very difficult time coping with being away from some of the friends whom I had grown so close to during my last couple of years of high school.  I also began working part-time to help pay for school.  Shortly before the semester began, I started dating a guy I worked with who would eventually become my husband.  I loved college, and I became addicted to reading and learning.  I couldn’t get my hands on enough books or read them fast enough.  I never drank in college, I also never went to any college parties, was not in a sorority, nor did I live in the dorms on campus.  I still had a hard time fitting in, and often felt that I was missing out on the full college experience by not living on campus (I was still living at home with my parents and commuting).  I never wanted college to end…even though my friends were few, I loved the feeling of walking around campus and the sense of having so much in front of me as far as life was concerned.  There were a couple of instances that were particularly rocky.  I lost a close family member during my third year, and my sister became anorexic.  My mom was in denial about my sister’s condition, and at one point informed me that it was my fault she had this problem.  That comment still hurts to this day.  After five years, I graduated with two majors and two minors, married my boyfriend just before graduation, and was accepted to medical school.  Part of the reason I ended up with more than one major and minor was because I struggled to settle on one thing, another reason was because almost everything I leaned towards didn’t seem to be good enough for my parents.  College was largely a positive experience, though I continued to deal with depression and anxiety.

After graduation, my husband and I relocated to where I would begin medical school and he would begin graduate school.  This is where everything started spiraling down.  We got hooked into an online MMORPG, which I became very addicted to, and the drinking slowly but surely began.  While he successfully completed his degree, I was struggling with mine.  I had one class that I had an extremely difficult time with, and subsequently, my other classes suffered as a result.  After one semester, I took a leave of absence to try to figure things out.  I was regularly seeing the school’s psychiatrist and therapist, and was placed on an anti-depressant.  I decided to go back to school that following fall, thinking I was ready, but I was not.  I finished out the first year, and my grades were not what they should have been, and I had to leave.  Before it was all said and done, I had been on multiple different anti-depressants, some of which I feel made things worse rather than better.  Also, the drinking…my husband and I started out light with the occasional beer or wine on the weekend with dinner.  We went to parties that the school I attended hosted and there were always kegs and an open bar.  I got drunk for the first time, and I loved it.  I started drinking more and more because I needed the release, the relaxation that came with it.  Such a beautiful escape.  The hangovers were horrible, but with time and experience, I learned how to drink without having a hangover the next day, or at least not a bad one.  That occasional glass of beer was soon replaced with whiskey, tequila, vodka, whatever fit the mood.  We started getting drunk on the weekends a little more regularly.  Eventually, I would find excuses to drink during the week too.  Upon my exit from med school, I was in my worst depression yet, and for the first time in a while, I was suicidal.  I discontinued the anti-depressants and stopped seeing the therapist.  I was in a very dark place.

After another year, my husband and I relocated again so he could continue his education.  I began a job that was originally supposed to be short-term because my goal was to eventually go back to school myself.  I really wanted to brush up on the sciences with some graduate level work and go back to med school.  Well, I did take some of those classes in the evenings, but as the years went by, I realized that going back to med school was just not in the cards.  I made some very close friends where I was working, but also put up with terrible sexual harassment, and bullying from some of the other employees.  Again, I just repressed everything, feeling that telling someone would do no good.  I eventually shared with my husband some of the things that were going on and he was livid.  He did not understand how I could just sweep it all under the rug; truth is, retaliation at that place was bad and we needed me to have that job to pay the bills.  I eventually started seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist again and once again started the trial and error of anti-depressants.  My drinking continued to increase:  three times a week, then 5 times a week, to eventually every day.  I couldn’t imagine getting through an evening without drinking.  We had a large pantry that was around the corner from the kitchen and kept an entire shelf full of hard liquor – almost anything your heart desires could be found there.  At one time, my parents were visiting and we showed them the shelf because we thought it was funny that we had so much alcohol in the house.  My dad commented that we needed to be careful or it could turn into a real problem.  Of course, I laughed this off because as far as I was concerned, this was one problem I would never have.  Having the pantry located where it was was very convenient for me.  I would mix myself a drink and would always pour up a large quantity and even started taking swigs straight from the bottles, without anyone knowing exactly how much I had consumed.  If I started emptying bottles faster than they should have been emptied, I would just buy more and discreetly replace what was in the closet.  I never shared what I was doing because I felt ashamed, but I was already to a point where I just couldn’t quit.  I didn’t even tell my husband, with whom I would share everything, out of fear of what he would think.  As time winded on, I would no longer be replacing just one bottle, it would be multiple bottles.  I would start purchasing the largest bottle something came in since a fifth would be gone much too quick.  I would hide the empty bottles in the back of my car and knew places all over town that had dumpsters in the back where I could dispose of the bottles without being caught.  I was almost caught once – I forgot that I had a large box of empty bottles in my trunk and my husband saw them.  He immediately questioned what was that about, and I quickly mumbled some made up excuse and vowed to myself to be more careful.  I also started making my purchases at different places around town because I got to the point that I was having to buy daily and was embarrassed that the same liquor store employee saw me every day.  At some point, I started hiding bottles in the closet behind boxes and in a book bag.  The first thing I would do when I got home from work was hit one of my hidden bottles.  I would go back to it all night long while my husband was busy doing other things.  Since I was paying the bills, the purchases went unnoticed.  He did notice, though, that my behavior was becoming strange and erratic, but I explained this away as being exhausted and stressed.  I also made sure to always have mouthwash on hand to help cover the smell on my breath, never mind that it was also coming out of my pores…but he did not notice.  On occasion, I would even resort to drinking mouthwash if I ran out of alcohol.  I would get very stressed out if we had something going on, and would have to figure out how I was still going to drink while doing activity x, y, or z.  I did begin talking to my therapist about my drinking, but only up to a point.  I remember telling her I have no desire to quit, I just want to control it.  Her comment back to me was ‘that is something an alcoholic would say.’  I was very angry at this – how dare she accuse me of being an alcoholic!  I simply needed to figure out how to get a better handle on my drinking.  I also confided in a couple of close friends that I felt I was struggling with how much I drank, but I still did not go into the extent of my drinking.  I knew I had a problem, but I could not come to grips with the thought that I may be an alcoholic.  Towards the end of the eight years that we lived in this location, I had started slipping out to my car on my lunch breaks and 15 minute breaks while at work where I had started keeping yet another bottle.  I think some people at work were catching on that I was up to something, but no one ever said anything.  I had started drinking to the point of blacking out almost every night.  I would wake up the next morning with absolutely no memory of how I got to bed.  My husband would usually tell me how he found me and that he helped me to bed and would then ask if I remember any of it; I never could remember a thing.  Then the big news came, he landed a great job, and we would be moving halfway across the country.  I was excited, feeling that maybe this fresh start was all I needed and I would finally be able to get my drinking under control.  I did stress out about the long drive ahead of us and how I was going to manage to sneak the amount of alcohol I needed to get through the day without having the shakes.  Of course, I did manage to work out the logistics.

During the extra hot summer of 2011, we embarked on our new journey.  I was elated, life was good.  Only, it wasn’t…I had no clue what the next year was about to bring.  We got moved and settled into our new lives.  We felt almost like we were starting fresh; the only problem was that we didn’t know anyone where we were, but that slowly changed with time.  I set out to find a job, but the market was still tough at that time and there wasn’t much in our location.  It took almost a whole year before I would be back to work.  During that year, my drinking escalated as I found myself alone during the days with not a lot going for me.  My husband and I began arguing a lot because it was taking so long for me to find work.  A lot of pain and dark emotions started to boil over inside me.  I started keeping bottles in my side table next to the bed.  The first thing I would do every morning, usually around 6:00 am, was hit the bottle to get the shakes under control.  I would barely eat during the day because I did not want food to interfere with the effects of the alcohol.  I eventually worked my way up to drinking around a fifth of 100-proof bourbon or vodka per day.  Some days it was more.  I started up once again with a psychiatrist and therapist, but the drinking continued.  I would often black out at some point in the afternoon and then wake back up for a while in the evening to drink some more.  Every night I would judge how much alcohol I had for the next day so I could make sure if I had enough or needed to get to the store first thing in the morning.  One morning in December of 2011, I started my day the typical way.  But I felt really awful, not like the normal crappy feeling I had grown accustomed to.  My husband was home, working in his office, and our dog was acting strange around me, like she knew something wasn’t right.  After I had been up for a couple of hours and had already chugged a fair amount of vodka, I threw up.  I violently threw up a large quantity of bright red blood.  The bathroom looked like a scene straight out of a horror movie.  My husband was confused and tried to rationalize what was happening.  He asked if I was sure I didn’t eat or drink anything red.  I was almost in tears from pain in my abdomen and from freaking out because I was scared I was going to bleed out and die before we could get to the hospital.  I told him it was blood, I could taste it.  He rushed me to the hospital where I was immediately admitted; he still was unaware of my drinking and I had to explain the situation to the medical staff and beg them not to say anything.  I had to tell them out of fear of going into DTs.  They did a scope and found I had multiple tears in my lower esophagus that were a direct result of my drinking and regular vomiting.  You would think that this near-death experience would be enough to end the drinking, but it wasn’t.  After a few days, I was discharged and one of the first things I did was head for the bottle.  I was so miserable, I started to realize I desperately needed help, that I needed to open up to my husband and family, all of whom had become very concerned about me over the past couple of years.  The final straw for me happened that following spring.  I had passed out once again from heavily drinking the day away.  My husband was at work.  I woke up completely confused and disoriented.  I thought it was the next morning and frantically thought my husband never came home from work.  I immediately rushed to his place of employment and saw his car in the parking lot and kept trying to call his cell with no answer.  I found security who ended up driving me around looking for him.  It never dawned on me that it was getting darker outside, not lighter.  When we finally found him and he informed me it was not, in fact, the next day, I was embarrassed and it became crystal clear I had to put a stop to this.  The next day, I finally laid it all out for my husband.  He was beyond angry.  I asked him not to tell anyone in the family yet, that I wasn’t ready for that.  Of course, he did tell our parents, and our relationship became very rocky.  I had already been going to AA meetings for a month or so, thinking that would take care of all of this, but I just couldn’t stop.  I swore I would quit and continue going to meetings, but the damage was already done.  I felt relieved to finally get this off my chest and not have to keep this horrible secret anymore, but I still just couldn’t stop drinking.  After a few more months, I was hit with an ultimatum – either check into rehab and sober up for good, or my marriage would be over.  I had finally started a new job and was scared to take off for an extended period so soon.  Problem about that, though, was I couldn’t stay sober at work either and people were taking notice.  I was on very shaky ground there too.  My husband took away my car keys thinking that would do the trick, but I would simply walk to the closest liquor store on my lunch break and buy what I needed and kept it in my large purse.  I finally hit bottom.  I was so tired of not remembering what happened the day before, of always feeling like shit, and sad that I was missing out so much of life and was selfishly sucking the life out of those who cared about me.  Many more things happened during my years of drunkenness, but I don’t need to go into every detail to get the point across.  Plus, I will share more with time.

On Friday, July 13, 2012, at the age of 35, I checked into a hospital specializing in detox and mental health disorders.  So began my journey to sobriety.  I was terrified and happy at the same time.  After spending an entire week in detox, I was checked into rehab.  I will not be talking much about this phase because my personal experience with rehab was not a good one.  But the important thing was it got me sober.  To the person still suffering who may be reading this, know that there is hope, and that you can achieve sobriety.  Be inspired by the amount of time someone has under their belt, but realize they are no further away from that next drink than he/she who has only one day sober.  Remember, we only have today and need to take life one day at a time, and sometimes even that is too much, so we take it one hour at a time or one minute at a time – whatever is necessary to get by.  Also, there is a huge network of alcoholics out there who want to help, so please reach out, and if you need professional help, those people are out there too.  I would urge anyone who has been drinking large volumes of alcohol for an extended period of time to seek professional medical help – detoxing from alcohol and certain drugs can be very dangerous and even deadly.  If you have a drinking problem, or even think you may have a problem, please get help, it does get better and a sober life is a great life!  If you want to find an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting near you, or want more information, you can find it at http://www.aa.org/.

Despair

Despair.  The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as “to lose all hope or confidence.”  I would say that this perfectly sums up how I have felt as of late.  Although I have had similar feelings in the past, only to put on a ‘happy’ face to hide how torn up I was inside, this time feels different.  I feel like I am suffocating under the weight of stress and anxiety.  Many days I feel very isolated, yet I have zero desire to leave my home.  I don’t even want to go for a walk around the neighborhood, even though I know how great it feels to get out, get fresh air, and rejuvenate my mind, body, and soul while taking in the beauty around me.  I don’t want to talk to anyone, engage in conversation.  I look at myself in the mirror, and I don’t like what I see – age is creeping in, excess weight is still there, my hair color is in desperate need of touch up, and I wonder where all the years have gone while realizing I have not accomplished anything close to what I set out to do many years ago.  I often feel that I was meant for something big, something that would bring change for the better in the world somehow, but I still have yet to figure out what that is.  If I were to die today, what kind of mark will I leave?  As I go through my day, I often get lost in my thoughts and ideas; there is so much I want to do, but at this time these things are just not feasible – between caring for an infant and an elderly dog, money, and trying to pack up my house, there is simply not the time nor the finances.  I am saddened, depressed, ashamed, and full of guilt over the failures in my life.  Even after years of therapy, some things are just difficult to accept and deal with.

Lately I find myself frequently reminiscing about a particular moment of time in my life in which I was truly happy and carefree and felt like I had it all – my last year of college.  The particular memory that keeps coming back revolves around a 5:00 am kickboxing class that my fiance and I were in.  There was always great music during the workout, we absolutely loved the people in the class, and then on my way home afterward, I enjoyed the sunrise while more great music played on the radio.  We were excitedly planning our wedding, getting prepared for the continuation of our educations beyond college, moving to a larger city, and buying our first place.  We didn’t have much as far as material things and money, but we were happy.  I was happy.  Life was good.  Little did I know that within a couple of short years, I would face my first major failure in life, and it would mark the start of my downward spiral.  So here I am, more than 15 years later, still trying to figure all this out, and desperately trying to cling to that person from that time to try to understand what happened and where do I go from here…

 

“Despair.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2017.