Tag Archives: childhood trauma

Stress, writer’s block, and Wellbutrin, oh, my!

12 Aug

11:58 pm

On a positive note, first: tonight I had both pizza AND cake. Yay! Yay, cake! With homemade buttercream frosting! (Nope, it never gets old.)

So, that dip? The one that started about 10 days ago? Welp, it’s still here. I’m still dippin’.

I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but I think this community can handle my sad, sorry rants by now! And, I DID have fun tonight, and I DO sort of just take this all in stride. But man, the days have felt long, hard, and…extremely agitating.

After some pondering lately of my past, I think I may have had an at least notable chemical imbalance for most of my life, which was exacerbated by abusing wine. These days, I just can’t seem to shake the foggy brain, and I’m wondering if this was basically my base state and I used wine all along–about 15 years–to “fix” it. I feel like sobriety has sort of killed my fire. I NEED that fire, you know? It’s not that I want to drink wine; it’s more like I want to inject it directly into my brain.

I don’t feel very motivated. At the very least, I feel (much?) less motivated than I used to, before I quit drinking. Days like today, when the brain fog takes hold, it’s hard to find any motivation at all! The things I do do, I find myself doing more out of necessity than any true sense of pleasure or reward. Maybe this sense of authentic pleasure or reward is so unfamiliar to me that I don’t recognize it when I see it? Keep your eye on the prize, I keep telling myself. Yet, I’ve been waiting, and waiting, and waiting…for the other shoe to drop–where the hell are my pink clouds? Sobriety just feels flat. Worse is, *I* feel flat.

I’ve been figuring, I can either go on an antidepressant (Wellbutrin sounds exactly like what my brain needs, a “dopaminergic” jump start), or I can go back to drinking. (Or, of course, I can wait it out and muscle through, which is 99.5 percent likely what I will do. Why the black-and-white thinking, I’m not sure; it just seems like after all, there’s not that many more choices in terms of immediate solutions…) It’s more bitter than sweet to realize that I probably drank (and did a lot of other self-soothing behavior) not just to self-medicate normal negative feelings but to self-medicate abnormal brain chemistry.

It’s no secret that a LOT of people self-medicate trauma with drugs and alcohol. For some reason, I tend to dismiss my past as irrelevant to my current place, as if it was totally my fault. My past, I’ve come to see, definitely predisposed me to addiction: recurrent stress in the form of childhood emotional trauma. I don’t remember a time when my parents weren’t angry or sad or upset; I remember the yelling, and crying. I remember trying so hard to please, putting my introverted self out there in plays, musical competitions, dance recitals; succeeding in all of it but being so emotionally taxed in the process. (I hated performing so much that after almost a decade of playing piano, and performing, it took me almost another decade to pick it up again. Sadly, I never play musical instruments in front of people, and I think my past has something to do with it!) Onto college, with more overachieving and ridiculous striving. (Who gives themselves a literal semester of recurrent heart palpitations? Someone taking a heavy pre-med courseload and getting 4 hours of sleep a night, that’s who!) I probably messed things up way more than I can understand by being a binge eater for several years during my late teens and early 20s, too.

Stress (especially as a kid) causes your body to make all sorts of adjustments, and you end up both more sensitive to it (lower amounts of stress can now cause a greater response) as well as being unable to produce normal amounts of dopamine (and probably others, like noradrenaline, which is what Wellbutrin works on improving). You–well, I–end up being always in deficit, feeling a lack.

I drank to feel better, plain and simple. Could it be as easy as finally getting the meds I need to fix my dopamine depletion, let’s just call it? And, even if I didn’t start out this way, and drinking caused me to mess up those circuits, wouldn’t I be justified even more in getting a prescription for meds?

I must admit, I fear the side effects. Every time I’ve taken a pill, I’ve gone crazy. Xanax is not my friend. Vicodin is not my friend. Chloroquine is DEFINITELY not my friend. All the side effects of Wellbutrin sound…horrifying. And, believe me, those “rare” ones DO occur, and it’s not a fun trip.

Has it really come to this? Wellbutrin versus red wine? I’ve had ONE bottle of wine on ONE night in almost a year. I don’t know if this is going to “right” itself. How much longer should I wait? In sobriety, I feel less motivated and less able to find motivation to work the way I once did. I can’t focus, and this is a problem. I’m at the point where I really need to find that mental oomph, otherwise I’m going to have to change professions and call it a fucking day.

That’s what’s been up over here. It’s not a fun post, but I know that I won’t drink. Maybe it’s just a gnarly case of writer’s block?

Have a great night, all. Tomorrow is another day…to hope it gets better and a firework goes off inside my head. (A girl can dream, right?)

Shamanic journeying through acupuncture? Yes, yes, YES!

18 Sep

11:43 am

Wow. Another KUH-RAZY experience during my acupuncture session yesterday!

(Warning: Psychobabble ahead.)

So, I’ve been to acupuncture three times now (with a new, and highly trained, it seems, therapist). Each time, I noticed an near-instantaneous buzzing feeling all over my body, and an immediate “delving” into self — the physiologic calm that acupuncture provides turns on my brain and makes me able to think deeper, more profound thoughts. Thoughts I’ve been putting off — or dreading, and therefore, TURNING OFF.

Yesterday, I realized that I’m a trauma survivor. I know, I know. WHATchu talkin’ ’bout, Willis? Come ON, DDG, give me a buh-reak! Seriously. I grew up within a very volatile, ugly marriage. My parents would yell and scream and sometimes even wield knives (true story). Everyone knew. They’d often tell us to go outside and “play,” which was code for, We’re going to shut the windows and scream at each other now. It was usually my mom screaming at my dad, and it usually happened when we were in bed, “sleeping.” It usually ended with her thrusting our living room doors closed with a loud BANG, and going to bed alone while my dad slept on the couch.

This went on for as long as I can remember (from about 5 to when they finally separated at 14). It was ugly. I would often and regularly hear things like, “Go fuck yourself if you even know how.” When they’d fight at night, I would weep in my bed. Silently. I learned how to cry really hard without making a sound. I was afraid, and I was also ashamed — my brothers slept in the same room (we had no doors on our two-bedroom upstairs), and I never heard them make a sound, so how horrible would it be if I did? Repression was the name of the game.

(I often wonder why kids blame themselves, or at least, internalize their parents’ anger and guilt and sadness when it comes to divorce? Here’s what I now think (thanks to my acupuncture “meditation”): kids KNOW that they represent the connection between their biological (and perhaps even nonbiological) parents. They know that they somehow make up each, and are (or were, LOL) the union between them. Thus, if there is a schism between the two, it’s somehow their fault. Somehow, it comes back to them, and they feel/take on the responsibility to “fix it.” It’s hard to explain, but I definitely KNOW that this is true, on an emotional level, even though intellectually — even as a kid, when we were told again and again that it wasn’t our fault — I might not believe it.)

As you can imagine, this kind of environment came with a lot of not-talking-about-the-elephant-in-the-room, tiptoeing around landmines, and (guessed at) battle lines not being crossed. I spent a good part of my teens feeling VERY ashamed and full of self-loathing (I had entire notebooks of hate poems to myself), and I wonder if that isn’t related to other, deeper trauma, but anyway… The trauma was never properly dealt with, I now believe. It was never confronted, handled, resolved, on the level that I needed it to be. So, I think I’ve spent my entire life putting up that early-learned stance, the one of me crouched, gut clenched, breath held, arms covering my face — ready for the punch. I was never physically abused, but I think emotional and psychological abuse — however inadvertant — can be just as bad. I know it was for me.

As I lay on the table, I realized that perhaps I have been hiding from this trauma my whole life, as a way to “make it” or “live my life,” never realizing that I hadn’t fully embraced it. And, without having fully accepted what happened to me, I was never able to let it go. Like, it now seems that ALL of my jobs, ALL of my romantic relationships have been situations that have helped SERVE my denial, my hiding from the trauma. (Hiding from being overly sensitive? Find a partner who doesn’t seem to notice anything! Not wanting to deal with feeling unloved? Become an overachiever and work yourself to the bone!) And, drinking has not only been a way of hiding from it when it bubbled up too close to the surface, but also a way to *experience* it. Too bad I was digging in the wrong hole.

Digging in the wrong hole? There came a point toward the end (last two or three years) of my blackouts where I was wanting the release, the unguarded expression of what I thought were authentic feelings. I wanted to express my trauma, but I was using booze to do it and that only served to hide myself from it further. On the table, I saw how traumatized I was as little girl. I saw myself on the table, and I saw the little girl (almost as a dream, but more real). I wanted to go and hug her and tell her she had nothing to be afraid of, that she was protected. I felt sorry for her. Which made me see clearly that, for some reason, as a little girl I think I just never felt protected. And I never realized this could have trickled down into every corner of the rest of my life. Yet, it has. Hence, the panic stance that I’ve been carrying myself in my entire life.

It was then that I realized that the “soul retrieval” aspect to shamanic journeying is not such the load of bullshit that I thought it was! Like, I honestly felt that I had been living in two “pieces” my whole life, one being myself, the person who works and lives and loves and tries to make it through life; and the other, the little girl self, the one who has been stuck back there, living in that trauma day in and day out for the past 33 years! In journeying, they say that soul retrieval is about picking up a part of your lost self and fusing/fixing the splintered whole, or schism, within. I need to subsume that girl and make us whole again, I thought. (Have you ever seen “Insidious?” Astral travel? Along those lines.) By doing so, I realized that yes, my trauma can be ended, that it IS over, that I don’t have to keep trying to find it OR hide from it via booze and blacking out.

I felt really sad, very emotional (cried all afternoon), and well, tired. I went to bed at 9 pm and finally dragged myself out 12 hours later. I woke up with a huge headache (that may be a caffeine headache, though). In essence, I felt hung over. BUT, I felt like I really did have a powerful experience of healing that has MADE ME WANT TO DRINK TO BLACKOUT LESS.

This is profound, to me. It makes me see that rehabilitation surrounding booze IS real and CAN work. It flies in the face of “rational recovery,” which basically says that there is nothing behind your drinking besides your selfish, overindulgent hand. NOT THE CASE. I honestly believe, at this moment, that drinking to excess would NOT be preferable to me now, mainly because I no longer need to dig deep to bring out that trauma; I’ve recognized it, and now, I can let it go. Wishful thinking?

This doesn’t mean that I’m going to drink — or even want to — but it does mean that I’ve finally begun feeling the real, authentic shit behind my desire to black out, which in essence, means that I won’t be striving — secretly wanting to simultaneously fill AND empty the void — to black out when I drink. Which means, this desire may have nothing to do with the substance itself. Which may mean that in a few months, or years, from now, I WILL be able to pick up a glass of wine and put it down. Wishful thinking? Maybe. Maybe not.

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