Friday, July 31, 2009

Handling the down swing

I haven't posted here for a few days because I've been busy. That's not entirely true. I'm always busy, but the real reason for my absence is that I've been descending from my pink cloud.

I've been on such an emotional and physical high this past month, and then Tuesday I woke up, and it was gone. For no reason other than my damn brain chemistry. What gets me is that after all these years, practically my whole life, of living with depression/bi-polar, I'm still shocked when the down swing happens. I'm taking all my meds, being active, making progress toward my personal and professional goals. Things are going great. Then they're not.

What I have to remind myself is that things are still great. It's just that I'm going through a depressive time after an incredibly manic phase.

There are people who think that depression/bi-polar disorder are bullshit terms or excuses, but anyone who really knows me and has lived through this with me, knows how painful it is. I no longer make apologies for the way I am. Nor do I dwell on it. I write about it for two reasons.

1. Writing is my release. It's how I unburden my soul.
2. There are other people, some addicts, some not, that go through this exact thing.

That's the main reason I wrote my memoir - to let others know they're not alone.
There's still so much stigma attached to depression, and frankly it's probably the main reason I've spent years of my life self-medicating with drugs. If it's difficult to live with mental illness, then it's probably harder to watch someone you love struggle.

I know how helpless my family feels, and it kills me that this affects them.
When I'm feeling good, I still have almost daily cravings for meth - even after two and a half years of sobriety. When I'm on the down swing, the first thing I want to do is load up and numb out.

The longer I stay sober, though, the easier it is to work through my highs and lows. When I'm going along and things are great, I tend to forget that it's the highs AND the lows that allow me homeostasis. So when I wake up on some random morning, and depression smacks me in the face saying, "Remember me?" that is what I need to remember.

The good news is that I'm better at recognizing what's going on, and that makes it easier to get through the lows. These days, the good days far outweigh the not so good, so there's that. At least I've got that.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Brits Use Vending Machines to Distribute Methadone in Prisons

I found this article via a Twitter post. I'm stunned. I can see the thinking behind the idea. Not the logic, the thinking.

Brits Use Vending Machines to Distribute Methadone in Prisons by John Lee — Published: July 26, 2009

Candy bar, chips, cola...methadone; decisions, decisions…
British inmates may find their vending machines stocked up with an extra little something in the months to come as the Labour government implements a 4 million pound scheme to install methadone vending machines in roughly half of all prisons, nationwide. So far, machines are in place in 57 of a planned 140 prisons.

The machines are used to administer the opiate substitution medication to prisoners who have been assessed as opiate dependent and who would benefit from the substitution therapy. Supplying methadone to inmates reduces levels of illicit opiate use in prisons and helps opiate addicts manage their dependency.

To ensure that the medication is not diverted, the methadone vending machines will require a biometric identification, through the use of a retinal iris scan or a fingerprint, before they will dispense a day’s medication.

Although opposition politicians have ridiculed the vending machines, a Department of Health spokesperson defended their use, saying, “Methadone dispensers are a safe and secure method for providing a prescribed treatment. They can only be accessed by the person who has been clinically assessed as needing methadone and that person is recognized by a biometric marker, such as their iris.”

Opposition MP, Dominic Grieve, lambasted the plan, saying, “We need to get prisoners off all drug addiction -- not substitute one dependency for another. The government's approach of trying to 'manage' addiction is an admission of failure…The public will be shocked that Ministers are spending more on methadone vending machines than the entire budget for abstinence based treatments."

Although methadone is proven the most effective treatment for the management of opiate addiction, its use has always prompted controversy. Abstinence treatments for heroin addiction have shown very little long term efficacy, but tend to be an easier political sell.
Roughly 6400 Britons reside behind bars on drugs charges.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Thick, Chewy (and healthy) Oatmeal Cookies

The person I originally started posting these recipes for hasn't even read these posts. As predictable as he is, though, he'll come undone again any minute now, and I'll direct him back here.

I have received some great feedback from other people. Some addicts, some not. Maybe it has to do with the economic climate right now, but eating cheap while eating well seems to be going over well. So I'll continue.

These cookies are healthy, filling and yummy! You can use them as breakfast cookies, if you want. I think. Hell, to me, all cookies are breakfast cookies...and lunch cookies...and snack cookies...

Thick, Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1 cup butter, softened (use margarine to cut cost. I like Imperial, but whatever. $.75 max)
1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar (buy bulk $.50)
2 eggs ($1.30/12 = .11 per egg = $.22 cents)
1 tsp. vanilla (if you don't already have some, borrow it or do without. It's better with, though)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour ($.25 - buy bulk)
1 tsp. baking soda (nominal & you should already have)
1 tsp. cinnamon (see note for vanilla)
3 cups rolled oats ($.75 - bulk)

1 1/2 cup raisins ($1.50 - bulk. If the raisins are a little dry, boil them in water, drain, use.)
1 cup chopped walnuts ($2.00 max - bulk) Raisins and nuts are the biggest expenses and both can be left out, but both add to the nutrition of this cookie.

1 Tbsp. ground flax seed (optional)

Cream together wet ingredients with electric mixer. (If you're really poor, put the bowl in the middle of a smallish table, insert a large mixing spoon into the ingredients, and run around the table as fast as you can 100 times while hanging onto the spoon.)

Add dry ingredients and mix well.

THIS PART IS IMPORTANT: chill the dough in the refrigerator at least 2-3 hours. You want the dough to be pretty hard. This is what will make the cookies really chewy.

Use a spoon to scoop out dough, roll it into a ball with your hands and gently press down as you put them on the cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes. Makes appx. 2 dozen, depending on how big your balls are. (I slay me...)

So here's the breakdown: $5.22 or about $.21 per cookie.

This recipe is obviously vegetarian. To veganize, use Nucoa margarine and Ener G, powdered egg substitute. It's about $5 for a box, but it will last forever.

You can also use any other dried fruit you like. The last batch I made has raisins and dried cranberries. Yum!

Monday, July 20, 2009


This is for everyone, addict or normie, but it's especially for Bobby*. Hang in there, man! Also for Karen**, because I know you read this regularly and love my cooking. ;)
*not his real name
**her real name did the bread go over? Did anyone make it? (Is there anybody out there?)

Well, the best thing to go with warm, homemade bread, is hot, homemade soup - yes, even in the summer. Keeping in line with yesterday's post, it's also cheap to make, filling and 'souper' nutritious. (I know, I know... you don't have to say it.)

Get out your chef hats and aprons, 'cuz here we go!

Healthy Vegetable Soup

You'll need a big-ass pot. The kind your mother made spaghetti or soup in when you were a kid.

(What? You don't have a big-ass pot? Shut the hell up and read yesterday's post.)

This soup is simple and it's also vegan/vegetarian.

1 small bag frozen corn ($1.25 for cheap stuff - corn is corn)
1 small bag frozen mixed veggies ($1.25 tops - see note above)
1 small bag frozen green beans ($1.25 - see note above, above)
1 cup pearl barley ($.50 - buy it in bulk)
1 jar salsa ($3.00 - this will be the most expensive ingredient, but it's worth it)
1 cup chopped celery ($.50 max)
1 cup chopped carrots, frozen or fresh ($1.25 max)
1 large potato cut into small cubes - skin and all ($.50 max)
salt & pepper to taste

Throw all this into your big-ass pot, fill almost to the top with water, simmer until the barley is done and the potato is fork-tender. That's it! If you're single, you can eat this a couple of times a day and it will last over a week.

Grand total: $18.28 for a good week's worth of nutrition. If it lasts 7 days, and it definitely will, you're looking at $2.61/day. Less than a McDonald's combo meal.

I usually throw in some ground flax seed, too. I use flax in almost everything because it's my source of Omega 3 and a great source of fiber for the little amount you'll use. Being a vegetarian, I don't eat fish, so this is how I cover the Omega base. Flax is optional. Just as cayenne pepper, Tabasco, fresh veggies or anything else you want to throw into the pot. I don't recommend pasta, because by the second or third day, those noodles will turn to an unappetizing mush.

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Little Help for my Friends

This is for everyone, addict or normie, but it's especially for Bobby*. Hang in there, man! Also for Karen**, because I know you read this regularly and love my cooking. ;)

*not his real name
**her real name

A couple of threads on the KCI board recently have me thinking about something that may seem off the topic of recovery, but really isn't. Addicts who've used for most of their lives usually end up starting over, and sometimes, over and over again. Speaking for myself, starting my life from scratch in the middle of my life, (yikes!) really bites. Realizing how much time I've lost is almost enough to make me want to go back out again.

A huge part of re-building revolves around money. Some had nothing for years except for the chase. Some of us had money and possessions that were lost or thrown away. Whatever the reason, we are, for the most part, starting from scratch. People don't spend their whole lives as addicts and then smoothly transition to the normal world as if nothing ever happened. The point is, being poor sucks. Especially in this economy.

There are people I talk to in forums who are barely managing to feed themselves and their families. Which brings me (finally) to the point of this post.

When I lost my job about a month ago, the first thing I thought, right after I realized that blowing up a building would totally be against my probation, was: how am I going to feed Andy? Not only that, but with limited funds, how would I feed him nutritiously?

I'm baking today. I've been making the following recipes every other week since the day that I********e made the egregious error of letting their best employee go. (I'm not bitter. Just pissed off.) So I thought I'd share these low cost, nutritional recipes. Enjoy!

Simple Whole Wheat Bread

6 cups warm water ($0.00)
4 packages of yeast ($1.50 max)**
1 1/3 cups honey or molasses (molasses are cheaper $2.50 for a bottle)
16 cups whole wheat flour ($.41/lb. bulk - $2.05 for 5 lbs.)**
6 Tbsp melted butter (buy margarine - 1 stick= $.50 max)
2 Tbsp salt ($1.00 for a whole box, so actually nothing)**
appx. 3 cups regular flour ($1.00)**
(I always throw a bunch of flax seed, ground of course, but that's optional.)

Use molassas and Nucoa margarine to veganize, if that's your thing.

**Buy in bulk! Save $$$$$!

Mix water, yeast & half the sweetener, (2/3 c.) with 6 cups w.w. flour together in a big-ass mixing bowl. Let it sit for half an hour or so until it gets bubbly. It will get huge, which is why you need a big-ass bowl.

What? You don't have a big-ass mixing bowl? Haul your butt to the thrift store and pick one up for a buck.

Mix butter, 10 cups w.w. flour and the other half (2/3 c.) of the sweetener with the goo in the big-ass bowl. Knead the hell out of it. If you use regular white flour for the kneading, it will be cheaper. You'll 'knead' a lot of it. (sorry, couldn't resist)

Let it rise until it doubles in volume. Punch it down, knead it again & divide into 4 equal pieces. Slap those puppies into 4 bread pans either greased or sprayed with non-stick...uh...spray. When done, remove from pans immediately and lightly grease (butter, margarine, shortening) on top and all four sides. Otherwise, it'll dry out. Blah.

What? You don't have bread pans? If you can score dope on the streets of San Fransisco at 2 am, you can figure out how to get some bread pans for next to nothing. Spray the pans really well if you've just bought those cheap ones at the Salvation Army.

Let rise until it looks like raw bread. Bake at 350 for 25 - 30 mins. If you're unsure if it's done, flick the top with your finger. It should sound hollow.

TA-DA! Four loaves of VERY nutritious bread (whole wheat, no preservatives & very little fat) for the grand total of $1.88 per loaf. About $7.55 for the whole shebang. The best part about this bread is that it's so dense, it's not only filling, but it's easy to cut into thin slices - something that hard to do with more airy bread.

Tomorrow on The Next 24, Thick, Chewy Oatmeal Cookies & Vegetable Soup. (mmmmm...soup!)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Inspiration in Lyrics

This is another song that, although most of the lyrics aren't relevant, helps me in recovery. It's a love song - I think. Or you could listen to it as a break up song from your addiction. But it's the chorus and the last part of the song that have a way of invigorating me. Sometimes I'll just skip to the last part. I love the energy that's built all the way through and is so powerful at the end. Dorky? Guilty.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I'm Not an Addict

Over at the KCI discussion board today, some of us were sharing music that's helped either get us sober, or inspired us to stay sober. Today I thought I'd share my favorite song that fits both categories for me.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Feelin' stronger every day

I'm having a fabulous day! Nothing specific. Maybe all my planets are aligned or something. Whatever it is, I don't care. I feel great!

I have 500 more words to write, and I'll get it done, did my five miles, the day is all about bright blue sky and warm summer air.

This is when I have to be most careful, though, because it's when I'm feeling my best that it's easiest to sabotage myself. In the past, it's been easy for me to forget my meds when I'm feeling this good. Some counter-productive part of my brain tells me I don't need them. I'm cured! No more depression I've struggled with all my life, no anxiety, nothing. All better! Woo hoo! And all it took was one perfect day. If only I'd known years ago.

The thing I have to remind myself is that these days haven't come easily. They're the result of self discipline. The kind of discipline it takes for me to know what I need to do to take care of myself. For me, it means staying actively sober (some call it working a program) and attending to my health - mental and otherwise.

So good for me! After all these years, it's about time I take care of myself. And I deserve it. That's what I keep reminding myself, anyway. And I do need to remind myself. It's been a long, hard journey, and the thing I still struggle with most is believing I deserve a good life - that it's okay for me to take up space on this spinning rock, and it's okay for me to be happy. In fact, it's vital. For my recovery, my sanity and my life, it's vital.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Setting Goals

What a lame title for a post! I couldn't come up with anything better, though.

I just got back from my walk, during which, I decided to write about my new goals. During my walks, I'm always thinking of writing: either whatever I'm currently working on or what my next post will be. Sometimes, it's what I'll say in an e-mail to someone. Whatever comes to mind. I usually think of something just perfect and then lose it by the time I get home. (I need to get a little voice recorder to take with me.) Anyway, this is the most recent topic I thought of today.

In early recovery, my goals were minute to minute and grew to day to day. I lived with my parents that first year and I remember Dad and I counting the number of days I'd been sober. Ten days, for me, seemed like an eternity. Then fifteen, twenty, thirty... I didn't count in months until I had ninety days of sobriety. The goals were small, but maybe the biggest I've ever set for myself.

As I got more sober time, my goals became more global in the sense that they were bigger than the next day. I set goals for getting a job, getting an apartment for my son and myself, etc. People in recovery, especially AA, are big about the whole "one day at a time" thing, and it's true. There comes a time, though, when thinking long term becomes necessary.

At first, I felt so pessimistic about everything. Certain I would fail, it was hard to push myself beyond my comfort zone. Every time I succeeded, it became a little easier to push myself even further. But sometimes, it's the little things that are huge.

New goals: every morning I get up at 5 am and write 1000 words toward whatever project I'm working on. Then I drive people to developmental therapy, come home and walk 5 miles. Everything after that is gravy. That's it. Simple things, but huge to me, and when I follow through, I'm elated.

Next goal: shaving my legs more than twice a year.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Now I lay me down to sleep

There are a lot of things I hate about being an addict. I hate BEING an addict, I hate the cravings, I hate that I have regrets...

But for me, the worst of the worst are the using dreams. I've been having them all night long, every night for over a week now, which is unusual for me. I've had them from time to time since getting sober, but they've faded with time.

This past week, though, they've been bad. In them, I've been using and want to stop but feel like I can't ask for help because people are so proud of me for getting and staying sober. The dreams are filled with glass pipes, bags of meth and me sneaking around. I'm hiding things and always on the verge of getting caught and I feel so awful, it's hard to describe. As I write this, I'm crying. I'm sad for two reasons. One, because I'm so afraid of blowing everything I've worked so hard for and never getting another chance. I'm afraid I'd lose everything and everyone I love. The second reason I'm so sad right now is because I have these dreams at all. When will all this stop? When will I stop being haunted by fear and shame?

Maybe never. So what do I do? How do I deal with these God-awful nights?

I do my best. I don't put myself in ANY situation that may provide the opportunity to fail. I know people in recovery who spend all their time with their "using" friends (who are also in recovery) and do nothing but talk about the old days. I know people who've been sober for years who send money to their friends who are serving time, who write faithfully to those people and anticipate their release. I know meth addicts who think it's okay to go to bars, who let down their guard. When nothing happens to them, it makes it that much easier for them to put themselves in harms way again. Then, it's just a matter of time.

I'm no one to judge anyone else, and I don't, but this is what I mean when I talk about respecting my addiction. I hate it. And I respect it, because if I don't, if I get complacent and decide that I've conquered it, that's when I'm in trouble.

This is why I write about my meth addiction and all this everyday, seemingly trivial bullshit. It helps me stay sober. I'm not crying anymore because I've gotten it all out, and that's a good thing. It's the things we keep inside ourselves that have the power to kill us.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Just for fun

In my last post, I said I'd talk about why meth is so addictive, and I will. But not today. Today is the 4th of July and I just wanted to share something fun.

This is a direct rip-off from a post on Kristin Nelson's blog, but I figure she won't mind if I link to her site.

More than 200 dancers performed their version of "Do Re Mi", in the Central Railway Station of Antwerp. With just 2 rehearsals, it is a promotion stunt for a Belgian television program where they are looking for someone to play the leading role in the musical of "The Sound of Music".

My dad sent me the link to this a few weeks ago. It sent chills up my spine. Have a great day!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Drugs vs. medicine

Addicts often have underlying mental illness issues. I.E. depression, anxiety, OCD and even schizophrenia... Some were diagnosed prior to their drug use. Some only found out when they finally got sober. The question of which came first (the drug abuse or the mental illness) is almost irrelevant when talking about meth. Of all illegal substances, meth is particularly damaging to the brain. (more on that tomorrow)

I was diagnosed with major depression at age 12, and have been on and off a smorgasbord of medicine since then. When I was first diagnosed, depression was treated with tricyclic antidepressants, so named for their three atom molecular structure. These carried more side affects than SSRI's, which are more commonly prescribed today. Tricyclics are still used for a variety of medical conditions including irritable bowl syndrome, specific types of chronic pain, insomnia and fibromyalgia.

SSRI's, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, are widely used today in part, because they have fewer side effects. (as I said, I'll talk more about brain chemistry tomorrow...and NO IT WON'T BE BORING:)

When I was using, I took my meds haphazardly, at best. I had reasons for this that made sense to me at the time, like meth works on serotonin and so do my meds, so it would be wise for me to not mix the two. HUH?? Like I said, it made sense at the time.

Now that I'm sober and living on a small cocktail of anti-depressants, mood stabilizers and anti- anxiety meds, I've finally reached homeostasis. But here's what I find bizarre, at least for myself: It took me a long time before I began taking my medicine every day. Now, understand that if I go two days without my drugs, I'm a complete mess. I plunge into deep depression which then leads me to not care about them because, why bother? This will never go away... I'll always be this way (depressed) so it doesn't matter...blah, blah, blah ad nauseum.

When I'm in my right mind, though, this is what I think: I NEVER forgot to smoke meth! Not once. No sirree, Jim Bob, I was faithful to my love, even though it almost killed me. So why can't I be faithful to medicine that makes me feel and live better? Even now, after almost two and a half years of sobriety, I have to constantly remind myself to take them. I've tried everything: putting them in the bathroom by my toothbrush, putting them on my nightstand, putting them in those little "days of the week" pill boxes...

Now, I have them on the top of my microwave and so far, that's working out. I still have to consciously remind myself to take them. Just yesterday, I realized at 5 pm that I still hadn't taken them. It's just weird. I'll see them multiple times a day and think oh, I need to take those now, and then I'll get distracted by something as simple as brushing my teeth or finding lint on the floor. (ooooh, shiney!) Oy.

I've always hated the stigma that goes along with taking medicine for my mental illness. (which reminds me of a personal ad I've thought about running somewhere: overweight, mentally ill drug addicted single mother seeks male....) It seem like everyone these days is on Prozac, Paxil or Wellbutrin. People even put their dogs on anti-depressants. So maybe that's why it's such a struggle for me. Do any of you have the same problem?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Facts about meth

This is from the web site. It's just some general information that I think is worth posting here. I've added some facts of my own to update the information.


Fact: Women are more likely to use meth than cocaine.

Fact: Meth is metabolized by the kidneys, and can lead to severe kidney damage. Other drugs, including alcohol are metabolized by the liver.

Fact: The average meth "cook" annually teaches ten others how to make meth.

Fact: Every pound of meth produced leaves behind five to six pounds of toxic waste.

Fact: DEA has identified 20 Mexican meth trafficking organizations in the Midwest.

Fact: Methamphetamine accounts for up to 90 percent of all drug cases in Northwest/Midwest communities.

Fact: Methamphetamine kills by causing heart failure, brain damage and stroke.

Fact: Methamphetamine can produce hallucinations.

Fact: Meth users are the hardest to treat of all drug users.

Fact: Meth lab site cleanups can cost up to $150,000.

Fact: Meth use increases risk of child abuse and neglect and domestic violence.