Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Anxiety, Addiction and Withdrawals: How Positive Affirmations Got Me Through the Darkest Chapters

A few years back I never would have thought I would be writing a blog regarding Positive Affirmation as anything considered self-help did not fit my personality, I probably would have told you it is because that was for the weak minded but the truth is I was the weak one, always living moment to moment, feeding my body any cocktail it craved to keep an even keel and calm demeanor.  I never thought long term as it was too scary of a concept to tackle because I knew in my heart I was in a sinking ship, years of alcoholism and pill use to keep my anxiety at bay was starting to really take its toll on my health and the lie to myself of cleaning myself up "someday, just not today" had become apparent was never going to happen.  I would die in my 30s and anxiety for once really was going to kill me but for me this was easier to accept than to strip away my tools and face the world sober, it was difficult enough in the mornings to get down enough toxins to get me going. I was fully aware of the demons just waiting for me every time if my body ever caught me sober.  What changed all this and motivated me to change is for another post but what I would like to share is my darkest days and how applying affirmative thinking became my only tool.        

On the night of 10/09/09 I entered into a detox/rehabilitation center.  People who suffer from anxiety know that the thought of their next encounter with anxiety is enough to trigger an attack.  Well, this was no different for me and I was already in full blown panic mode just knowing what was in store for me prior to going into my 5 day long, for lack of a better description, strange& nightmarish land of detox from alcohol, benzos and painkillers.  Thanks to my insurance not wanting to pay for any of this I was brought out of the heavy sedation I was under several days early and moved into the rehabilitation half of the program.   This was my re-introduction to life and I had not felt panic so strong since I was a young teenager when my episodes first began.  Confusion, uncontrollable tremors, disassociation, auditory & visual hallucinations were my life and the scariest part was I knew that it was not all withdrawals but I was facing my new reality and since giving up was not an option I tried my best at functioning with the senses I had working.

 We were brought to nightly meetings and in these meetings I was unable to tell who was speaking as every voice had no beacon of direction from which it was coming and all voices sounded the same to me and had a sort of electronic feedback tone to it as if I was listening to a bad digital recording, this was something that lasted a few months and I remembered hearing people’s voices sound like this as a young teenager when my anxiety first began hitting me and was untreated.  There were a few things I kept hearing over and over again in these meetings however, they were mostly stories told from people who were supposedly once in our shoes and how they came out the other side.  The common denominator for most that spoke was that they were brought to the brink of sanity and when they had no other option they had thrown themselves to their knees and prayed.  A sense of calm came over them, all symptoms ceased and since that moment they have never lost this peace nor had a craving thanks to divine intervention they were given.  In my desire to escape what had become my twisted reality I would have tried anything, had it been suggested that being circumcised a 2nd time was helpful I would have been the first to sign up for round 2.  So, every evening after hearing this I would go into my assigned room and throw myself to my knees and since I was not only on the brink of sanity but I feel a bit past it I asked in all sincerity for help in hopes of this sense of calm to fill my body and mind. Well, something did happen…I hurt my knees, badly.  So for me there was no quick fix blessing.  But at this point I had yet to be introduced to the concept of Positive Affirmation.

I do not know how many days into rehabilitation I was when we were having a group session and the movie “The Secret” was played for us.  I am sure the majority of this audience is somewhat familiar with this movie or at least the underlying concept which is Positive Affirmation.  It talks about believing in something, visualizing it, attracting it and it will manifest.  It sounded as likely at the time as me being cured by throwing myself onto a concrete floor knees first, but since they had not yet suggested circumcision I of course tried it the first chance after our meeting.  It is at this point I am able to remember in much greater detail my experiences in the hospital.  I was the only patient allowed to take showers throughout the day as the rehabilitation portion is meant to teach structure to those who have none in life but it was apparent to the staff that I had been pulled from the detox unit pre-maturely and soaking in hot showers helped with my spasms and shaking.  Rather than visualizing the million dollar check that the movie spoke of doing I began to say to myself in the shower that I was so grateful I feel calm, I was so grateful I no longer had anxiety, I am grateful my body is not tense, it is so nice to no longer feel confused and so on.  This was my holy sh*t moment, because it was really working for me.  I did not feel like I could thread a needle or bob my head on beat but I felt myself take several steps back from that brink I keep mentioning.  The following morning when I woke I said the same things and the Nurse who was handing out meds in the med line noticed I was able to use one hand to put my meds in my mouth without having to guide it with other and was also able to drink from my Dixie cup to wash them down one handed.  I had actually not noticed myself that I had done that but it was my first time since arriving that I had some motor skill function back.  From that moment on multiple times daily I said these same things and pictured myself and the confidence I once had when medicated by my own devices, I said I was grateful for having recaptured that feeling sober.  Again, these were not leaps and bounds but it did have a drastic effect on my mind and body. 

Today, so grateful to be reflecting on these moments rather still living them but I still use this technique when feeling anxious as well as in many other aspects of my life such as my current goal to achieve financial independence and to not have to work for anyone other than myself.  Again, I am not there yet but I am so much closer than six months ago.  I know in the midst of a panic attack rational thought is hard, if not impossible to use but I cannot stress enough the effect it has had on my life for the better and I do not think I am an isolated case.  Please, if any of you try this then leave feedback as I am sure the readers would love to get other opinions or experiences weighing in on this or at the very least I would love to hear about your experience.  **I input a link on blog to order "The Secret" through Amazon if you are interested in having this book, I cannot recommend it enough..

Thanks again for reading and please feel free to hit me up with any questions, comments or suggestions you may have.   I am an open book on this forum and would love to help in any way possible. 


Anonymous said...

This was passed on to me from a friend and I originally meant to skim through it. I can relate to so many aspects of what you have written but something beyond that seems very special about what you wrote. I can't put my finger on if it is the passion you use or your level of honesty but this article has something very unique that stirs emotion in me to want to share my story and feel okay doing this which normally I would never be able to share the way you did here. Bravo!!

AJ said...

Thank you very much for the positive feedback and kind words. I am truly glad that this post helped you!