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bipolar Dual diagnosis Forgiveness hams harm reduction Inner demons mental health mental illness moderation NAMI pandemic psychosis Recovery relapse schizoaffective schizophrenia sobriety suicide

What I Have Been Up To Lately

I had therapy last week. I started seeing this therapist after the pandemic, so all my sessions have been virtual. I forget what she asked but I mentioned I remember mistakes from the past, 20, 30 years ago or more and they torment me. She wanted me to share but I am not comfortable with that. I feel such shame and they were mistakes that I feel are unforgivable. If I did not feel shame there would be something wrong. But, I don’t want to delve into them.

My father did not believe in mental health treatment even though schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and bipolar run in our family. When I started therapy he discouraged it saying talking about the past just makes everyone sad. I did not understand what he meant until now.

My therapist wants me to work on forgiving myself.  I have to explain to her that some of these things are best kept hidden.

 

 

I have been able to stay alcohol free after my planned intoxication in April.  My plan is sobriety until our wedding anniversary in October.  It was pretty easy to get back to it.

 

 

I posted a link to an In Our Own Voice presentation I did for NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness, in a different post. I have not been speaking much lately. I saw a different program by NAMI called VOICES. It is geared towards first responders. I signed up to be a speaker, but am having trouble figuring out where to start. My initial interaction with mental healthcare and police was not until I was 39, but since mental illness runs in my family that was not foreign.

My brother had a psychotic break in college at 20 (I was 15). He refused treatment and would get picked up by the police for 72 hour observational holds in the late 70s. His is a sad story. He was severely symptomatic for 6 years when he finally was placed on a different medication that he responded well to. But, he started becoming symptomatic again, paranoid, edgy, and probably needed his medication adjusted. He went to Yosemite while symptomatic and fell at a waterfall. I don’t know if it was accidental or not, but he died from the fall.

This is supposed to be a story of hope, but it is part of my story.  If I had not seen him so ill for so long I may not have accepted treatment, but I did not want to be stuck in psychosis like he was.  I think it is okay for first responders, but not sure if it will scare the general public who may be worrying about their own children.

My story is much different.  I did go in and out of psychosis for 3 years, but I have been stable since 2006.  I have not been hospitalized for 16 years.  I am married, have healthy grown children, work part time.  I still have some doubts about what was real from the past, but I can function.

 

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keto mental health mental illness moderation schizoaffective schizophrenia sobriety Therapy Weight loss

Medical ketosis for psychiatric illness

Image of highlighted brain

I have been on a ketogenic diet to treat type 2 diabetes, through a company called Virta for about 3 months. I have lost about 1 lb/week, my fasting glucose has dropped 20 pts, and I feel good.

My friend was pushing me to try the diet and now he has been pressuring me to find out information on medical ketosis for psychiatry. He says it has greatly helped his depression. My provider from Virta agreed to talk with my psychiatrist about how a keto diet can affect mental health. But, I started wondering what am I doing. I have schizoaffective disorder controlled with medication and also take medication and use coping skills for anxiety. I don’t know that I want to change anything.

My therapist coached me on how to tell my friend thanks, but I feel pressured. I am not great at setting boundaries. I took her advice and he was cool. He said it is not his business what I decide to do and he is just making suggestions.

Then, I read a post on Reddit where someone is working with a dietician from the Charlie Foundation on a keto diet for schizophrenia. They work on keto for epilepsy in children and have expanded. I emailed and they gave me info on a dietician and I made an appointment for a zoom call on Wed.

The diet I am on now is 30 g total carbs, 13 oz protein containing food and fat to satiate. I am sure the dietician will have something more precise with macro g or percentages. Right now I weigh some but estimate amounts, where I will be measuring more.

My therapist gives me homework. The last thing she gave me was to give examples on where I could be more assertive, like with my friend. And to think of things I am grateful for and proud of. I am grateful for many things. The people in my life, especially my husband and even my pushy friend. My car, dog, food, home… i could go on, but proud of had me stumped.

I work and take care of my family but there is nothing I can identify as I am really proud about. I thought some more. I am proud I have been alcohol free for 6 months and have a plan for moderation. I am proud I have been able to stick with keto 3 months and with the results.

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12 step AA alcoholism career Co-occurring keto mental health mental illness peer support sobriety

Taking a Break From AA

Virta supplies

I have had problems with the spirituality part of AA.  I am not religious and don’t feel comfortable praying.  I am okay with the Serenity Prayer at meetings, but don’t usually pray on my own.  I also started getting busier in my life. 

I started a new job this month and am also starting the ketogenic diet. It is fewer days, but 8 hr shifts so I have to plan lunch. I have been bringing nuts and cheese and making it more of a break. So far that is working well. But, I do have to think more about meals and planning until I get keto down.

I have lost 10 lbs in a month, which is great for me, but the main reason I am doing the diet is for type 2 diabetes. When I stick to the plan, 30 g total carbs moderate protein and fats to satiate I am good, but the store bought “keto” products that go by net carbs, not counting sugar alcohols and fiber, still raise my blood sugar a little. It is still better than when I started.

I am in a program through my insurance called Virta.  They provide me with supplies, a health coach, a dr and a forum.  I report weight, glucose and blood ketones daily.  At first the additional fat in my diet upset my stomach, but I think I have adjusted.  My sister started when I told her how well it worked for my blood sugar, so I have someone to talk about keto.  It is a huge change for me. I am a big fruit and sweets eater but I don’t get many cravings and rarely feel hungry.

The job is going well. I am a peer advocate in mental health crisis stabilization unit. Basically, a mental health urgent care.  We just opened and it has been quiet,  sometimes they send me home early because I have nothing to do,  I have been making a binder of resources,  I will be providing therapeutic communication when we have patients,  so far, I have only been there with one patient who was not very talkative.

As far as AA, I had cut way back in going to meetings because of things going on in my life. My sponsor suggested I go to more meetings and pray every morning and evening. I thought about it and decided to take a break from it all. I can meditate but I don’t want to pray every day and I felt pressured about going to meetings, I have not been drinking. I just don’t know if it is the right program for me.

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12 step AA alcoholism higher power sobriety

60 Days

I made it to 60 days sober. 

I heard someone say their higher power comes to them through meditation.  That is something I can believe in.  Some kind of intuition, or inner wisdom.  I can’t define my higher power.  I don’t think I have to.  I am finished with step 2.  My sponsor has me reading stories from the Big Book.  We go over them once a week.

I have bought a kindle version and paperback of the Big Book.  Neither of them match pages with the hardback,  I am debating getting another copy. The kindle is convenient because I can take it anywhere easily, but it is a totally different version.  Different stories.  The paperback has the same content, just different page numbers.

My mood has improved. I just had some sad days. I guess everyone does.

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12 step AA alcoholism depression Dual diagnosis mental health mental illness schizoaffective schizophrenia sobriety

Moods and Sobriety?

I noticed it in the tone of my texts. I am insignificant I told a friend. Another friend asked me to be on a podcast. At first I said yes, but now I am having second thoughts. No one would be interested in anything I have to say

My husband held me, the dog licked me and my son texted he loves me. I can’t feel it. I just feel sad 

I have schizoaffective disorder and take antidepressants and an antipsychotic.

Maybe it is a response to sobriety?  I am not going to drink  I will probably try to get sleep instead

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12 step AA alcoholism higher power mental health mental illness peer support schizoaffective schizophrenia Uncategorized

My head is spinning

I have been thinking of a higher power and talking with people and now I don’t know what to think. My sponsor says all I have to do is believe something, anything, outside of myself could, possibly restore me to sanity. That I can do, but choosing what to believe in is more complicated. I have trouble believing in a man in the sky. I started with the Universe or nature. I feel more connected with the world outdoors. But, I don’t know how the Universe could help me. They say you can have the fellowship of AA as your higher power but I don’t know about turning my will over to the group

I talked to.my therapist about my issue with psychosis and she reassured me that it is unlikely I will start getting delusional. It has been 15 years since my last psychotic episode. She thinks my issue is with religion I am getting support and staying sober. I don’t like going to meetings every day and calling my sponsor everyday. My therapist thought maybe I should cut back but do something with that time I have trouble expressing what I want. My sponsor said I don’t have to do anything and that they are suggestions.


The meeting tonight was on step 2 and our higher power. People spoke about their faith or issues with religion. One woman said she can’t define her higher power but it helps her. I have been reading “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle. In the book she listens to an inner wisdom that she calls God. I know my inner voice could help me, but that is not something outside of myself.


My friend does not think I have a problem and should not identify with an illness. That gets me wondering if I really need something outside to restore me. Is that something you can do on your own? I think my mind is shattered in a way and I have been searching for someone/ something to repair it.


So far I am staying with AA because it is not hurting anything and I am sober

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12 step AA alcoholism mental health mental illness psychosis schizoaffective schizophrenia

A thought on my higher power

The Universe is my higher power. I am tasked with describing how the Universe can help me. I had a point where I was seeing messages everywhere. I thought my therapist was suggesting things and guiding me by controlling the media and my environment. I imagine the Universe could guide me, but how do I trust it is not a delusion

ETA: I spoke with my sponsor about my concerns. She told me to stop for now.

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12 step AA alcoholism mental health mental illness Recovery sobriety Uncategorized

Gratitude

My sponsor has me send her a gratitude list. Five things I am grateful for every day, except when I forget. I have so much to be grateful for. My family, our dog, a home, food, furniture, our health and my sobriety, I am grateful my sponsor is understanding. I feel like my thinking is clearer. I have not had any other changes since stopping drinking that I have noticed.

I have moved onto Step 2. We read about agnostics and spiritual experiences in the big book.  She gave me an assignment but I will have to think about it.  I am not religious so she had me choose a higher power. I chose the Universe.  She wants me to write about how the Universe can help me.  I don’t know.  I will blog once I figure out what to write.

Today is Thanksgiving. I was invited to a relative’s but I have a cold, and my daughter wants to stay safe from Covid so we stayed home. I went to an AA meeting about gratitude by zoom. I am grateful for zoom meetings.I missed everyone but hopefully we can see them sometime soon.

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alcoholism anxiety Co-occurring Dual diagnosis mental health mental illness peer support politics Recovery

What did I sign up for?

I volunteered to lead one day in my AA group. It is not very complicated. They have a format and I pick a passage from AA literature to read, talk about 5 minutes and then open for discussion. But, I have social anxiety. It is much better than in the past but I am still nervous. On top of that, I told my friend I would speak on her podcast in January. That I am a bit terrified about.

I picked a chapter from the Big Book, More about Alcoholism, and will talk about doubting we are alcoholics. I think it will be good for me to hear others experiences. I just finished step 1- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.

In my youth my life truly was unmanageable. I had rules for myself about when and where I could drink, by the time I stopped, to keep my drinking from getting out of hand. It is hard for me to see my life as unmanageable. I made a list and will continue to add to it, about being powerless and my life being unmanageable. I will refer to it when I have doubts.

As far as the podcast, I am going to be talking about myself, my experience with mental illness. I had an older brother who has passed away, who had a psychotic break in the 1970s. I am going to talk about his story, too.

My friend called to discuss the podcast with me. I froze on the first question. She asked me about being a mental health advocate. I think of myself more as my job title, a peer support specialist, or someone with lived experience. I have written letters for certain bills but am not very politically involved. We are going to talk again and hopefully I can relax. She can talk enough for the both of us. I just want it to go well.

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12 step AA alcoholism Recovery sobriety Uncategorized

1 day at a time

I made it past 30 days of sobriety. My sponsor mailed me a chip. It says 1 month on the front and the serenity prayer on the back. I just see her on zoom or talk over the phone because of Covid-19. I am still working on the first step. I wrote down reasons I am powerless over alcohol and my life is unmanageable in my last post.

Everything I wrote is true, but I still have trouble. I identify as an alcoholic in the meeting, but I don’t completely agree. They say all you need to join is a desire to quit drinking, which I do. So, I am part of AA day by day. Today I will go to a meeting and call my sponsor. I won’t worry about tomorrow until it gets here.