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How do you know if you're making progress?


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I have my tdoc appointment tomorrow, but I've been reflecting upon the appointment we had 2 weeks ago.

My tdoc asked me, "How will we know that you're making progress?" and I know he asked it to make me think. And I've been trying. But in all honesty...I dunno.

Meds are starting to work, I think, but time will definitely tell whether it's the meds or if I'm in mood-limbo.

I wanted to make a list of theraputic goals, but I really need help with this. What should I talk about? How much should I talk about it?

I dunno...I feel really nothingness right now....and while I do feel different, I don't know if it's normal, stressed, or whatever. I've started SI'ing again...

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Sounds like your therapist has a Solution Focused bent. Good, cause your 'problems' are like a hall of mirrors. Easy to get lost. A lot of Solution Focused folks ask it a different way: You wake up tomorrow morning and a miracle has happened and your life has been transformed. How would you recognize it? Might sound trite, but it may help you focus a bit better. My spiel is "Do you want to change your feelings, your thoughts or your actions?" Honestly, you can't change one without the others, but it may help as a starting point.

Bottom line is: don't worry about establishing perfect goals/objectives right now. These will become clearer over time.

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go back a few days to your "I feel good today" blog. What do I see?

- NOt feeling bad.

- feeling relaxed

- Cleaned room

- Planned refurbishing, bought new furniture

- Laying plans for your business

- Able to coordinate with your business partner

- Not snarled up with parents

- Not abusing drugs, alcohol or meds

- improved sleep

- Forward looking rather than immersed in depression or past events

sounds like progress to me. Even if its for just a couple days.

;) a.m.

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I suppose I am getting better. But on the inside I feel like I'm not changing...and if anything...getting worse :\

does anything in particular feel worse? not self-medicating can make life really hard at the beginning. and therapy is no easy task. so it may not be "worse," so much as just facing a lot of hard stuff in the face. maybe?

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I suppose I am getting better. But on the inside I feel like I'm not changing...and if anything...getting worse :\

I think it takes some time for a person to begin to feel differently about themselves, when they decide to recover from any kind of addiction. At least it did for me - because I was used to thinking of myself as a "bad person." Plus you're dealing with the bi-polar stuff (I personally deal with MDD - unipolar depression.)

Give yourself some time - just keep doing whatever you're doing as far as dealing with the addiction - because it seems to be working. You're not using.

SI isn't something you sound like you want to continue doing - but that is why you have a therapist, right? If you've done that for awhile, maybe they can help you come up with another "game plan" to deal, when you feel like doing SI.

Try to remember to give yourself proper credit for dealing with all of this, instead of just saying to yourself (for instance):" Well, I was such a screw up - I should be dealing with it!"

The fact is, some people don't deal with it. Ever. But you are...I think that counts for something (a lot, actually.)

In my experience, it can take awhile (weeks; usually months) to start feeling differently about yourself. Just because you're not used to it, for one thing. At the beginning, you may be waiting for the "other shoe to drop" (or for yourself to screw it all up somehow, so to speak) - **but really, if you keep doing what's been working for you, you will just continue to get better.

You really will feel better. Because you will really start to realize it's "okay" to feel good (if that makes any sense.) Intellectually, you might already know that - but processing (what I call) "addiction residue" emotionally, can take time. I think it's great you have a therapist. They will help you with this stuff.

Plus, after awhile you actually WILL feel better, physically, too -I hope that doesn't sound patronizing (it certainly isn't meant that way.) At least that is what happened for me.

I am no expert at your particular situation, but I dealt with a mean alcohol addiction (am in recovery for that) - just sayin':

Good for you! Hang in there. You're worth it!

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Maybe it is me coming off coke. Or the meds. Or my anxiety that this means another episode is coming on.

I am trying to stay calm, but all I can think about is work, SIing, and nothingness....blegh

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Maybe it is me coming off coke. Or the meds. Or my anxiety that this means another episode is coming on.

I am trying to stay calm, but all I can think about is work, SIing, and nothingness....blegh

Well you might just be going through a blah and icky period - and you are dealing with an addiction, so maybe it's just an icky phase you need to ride out BUT -

What do you do for fun? Maybe make a list of things that either relax you, or that you enjoy - to do (or at least try to do) - when you feel this way.

I'm not trying to minimize what you're feeling in any way - but, for instance - do you have a favorite movie you can watch (or rent)? What other things do you enjoy? What solitary actvities relax you when you feel kind of balhhhh? Think about it. Or just pick something that sounds like it might be good, and see if it helps. Try some activity. Even taking a nap (if all else fails...)

Things like that...Hang in there! IMO, you're really doing good - even if you might not feel like you are - IMO you are! You're not using, and you're talking about how you feel, and you are dealing. That's a wonderful thing.

It is possible you might need your meds tweaked (I dunno) -I wouldn't overlook that possibility, if you think that might be an issue, too.

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I guess maybe things are getting better. Maybe life has to get better before my brain gets better.

I just feel so stuck and I feel like I'm not entirely present. And so I cut myself on my ribs. How do I tell my tdoc tomorrow about the fact that I've started cutting again for the first time in 4 years? I tend to clam up when I talk about things. Should I just pull up my shirt and show him?

I wish my insides would shut up and leave me alone...

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I just feel so stuck and I feel like I'm not entirely present. And so I cut myself on my ribs. How do I tell my tdoc tomorrow about the fact that I've started cutting again for the first time in 4 years? I tend to clam up when I talk about things. Should I just pull up my shirt and show him?

whichever makes you feel more comfortable. if it helps, try to remember that you're not the first person he's seen who's handling these sorts of things. he'll work with you.

have you checked out the self-injury board? there's a bunch of suggestions of ideas...i dont' know if any are appealing, but it might be helpful.

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Guest Vapourware

I think sometimes you have to take it one day at a time, one step at a time. You've gone quite far already with quitting coke and going back to school already, and I think those are significant steps to your recovery. You shouldn't be looking down at them.

You should stay in therapy. You don't need to find the solutions to your problems RIGHT NOW, you just need someone there to support you and get over your most pressing issues, which sound like your anxiety and your SI. Get those sorted first before you start thinking of anything else.

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For me it's looking back and seeing 2 steps forward and 1 back...then I'd go through a period of 5 steps forward and a pause, then 2 steps and then total chaos with 3 steps back.

I have to look at the overall picture. I used to SI pretty bad, get high all the time and was reckless with so many parts of my life. Then I cleaned up, had kids. Then time passed and I started using again. Then I'd get better. Weave some bipolar blips in there and it's no wonder I was in and out of the psych ward so much.

Now it's been since 1994 when I SI'd last, it's been almost 6 years sober off of pills and since 01 for my last drink. My last inpt in psych ward was ...ummm I think in 2004. Before that it was psych wards all the time, just total insanity.

Things DO get better, then they change. Little slips w/ drug and alcohol can sometimes lay a firmer foundation for getting clean/sober at last.

It really is just a one day at a time deal. Gathering tools and using them as I go along the way.

I also look at the frequency, intensity and duration of my self hatred today compared to ...back when.

If you're SI and you want to show someone that you SI, you're asking for help. If you're willing to put the coke down...that's growth compared to just flat out saying fuck it and using ...right?

So yeah, you look hard enough and you'll find progress but I think at the end of the day you have to compare yourself with...yourself. Maybe getting some outside perspective would help?

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I wouldn't quit therapy. IMO, you need to give it a good try.

I mean, things didn't get automatically better for you without therapy, right? But you don't know for sure they won't improve if you just keep going to therapy - so I'd keep going, and see where it leads. You deserve to give yourself the best chance.

Addicts are notorious for finding ways to sabotage themselves, especially in early recovery.

Quitting therapy would be a perfect way to screw yourself over - but why do you NOT deserve to give yourself the best chance to feel good, and make some changes that will improve your life, long-term? You're worth helping! - even if you might not always think so, or feel like you are worth it.

If after something like 3-4 months, you find you really don't appreciate your therapist - and they are truly not helping you (and you're giving your all to the therapy) - then I'd say quit then (or better - find a different therapist.)

I doubt your therapist is gonna be shocked that a client of theirs does SI - like someone else said, they've most probably seen this before.

If perchance, they cannot deal w/your SI issue - then find a different therapist who can. Because, IMO they need to be able to help you with that.

You are going to therapy for their help, right? So - let them help you. It's their job. They trained for it - try to trust that process - it can be slow sometimes, but maybe you can talk to them about your fear that therapy won't help you. See what they have to say about that. IMO, it's definitely worth mentioning. I bet they'll consider it a good thing that you brought it up - they've probably had other clients who feel that way as well, is my guess.

You're doing so well - I'd hate to see you give up on therapy so soon. Because it could really end up helping you - you don't know it won't. Therapy can be some work, but you deserve to feel better, long term - give yourself the best chance. You deserve it!

Hang in there!

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I feel like I'm wasting my time in therapy...because I don't know what I can ACTUALLY do to make my life right. It seems like every decision I could make has severe repercussions...

Let me grab my funnel.....

Yep, your body and brain chemistry are in flux. This is not going to feel good. Not even feel 'right'. It's a period of time you must slog through. Hopefully now and not at some later age.

I'm half glad that cutting didn't make you cry. If it is losing that kind of reinforcing quality you'll have a greater chance of putting this behavior to bed.

Don't fall into the mindset of getting your head on straight and THEN changing your life. Both happen simultaneously. Once you start making healthy choices and healthy actions your goals will become much clearer.

And yep, every decision carries numerous repercussions. Even the most mundane. Think of the Butterfly Effect on a purely personal scale.

As always, Thimk!

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We'll see how my appointment with the tdoc goes today. I don't want to quit, I just kind of feel like I'm not accomplishing anything.

Looking back at everything, I HAVE accomplished a lot. Quit coke, cut back on booze, trying to do well in classes this semester, got out of a boring relationship, quit having affairs with married men, quit prostituting myself...but even though I've done all this, I FEEL like I haven't accomplished anything.

In fact, getting rid of everything I used to do has made me feel empty. At least when I was doing these things I had goals set to get what I wanted and always had something to do. I'm trying to fill that void with my design work, and I LOVE my design work and it will ultimately bring me money...but at the same time...I just feel like....I'm nothing.

And part of me wants to get back together with my ex. He's super needy, he definitely guilt trips me, and he gets what he wants or throws a hissy fit....but he's the one person that's been there all the time these past few months saying, "You're not nothing, you're something special. I still love you."

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Aanga,

When the chaos stops, what are you left with? Yourself.

And that can be a truly scary thing. Maybe you don't like what you see. maybe it hurts you to think of what you missed on. Maybe it makes you angry that so many people have taken advantage of you. Maybe you feel like you're not much of anything at all, you're a bit of a void, so much of life has been about chasing the pain away that you don't know who you are or how you really feel about anything?

It's a really frightening time, uncovering what is left after the madness in your life stops. And it's tempting to point the finger at therapy or meds because you didn't feel so lost without them, even though the chaos had it's own downsides.

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Aanga,

When the chaos stops, what are you left with? Yourself.

And that can be a truly scary thing. Maybe you don't like what you see. maybe it hurts you to think of what you missed on. Maybe it makes you angry that so many people have taken advantage of you. Maybe you feel like you're not much of anything at all, you're a bit of a void, so much of life has been about chasing the pain away that you don't know who you are or how you really feel about anything?

It's a really frightening time, uncovering what is left after the madness in your life stops. And it's tempting to point the finger at therapy or meds because you didn't feel so lost without them, even though the chaos had it's own downsides.

I was just going to post something like this. As the crazy stops you realize all the other crazy you had going on. Some of it is tough to accept. Why the fuck did I do that? Lot's of questions follow and a lot of them can be hard on yourself. It takes some time, but eventually you realize that you did what you did to survive. It's forgivable. Life moves forward, always. Sometimes it's hard before it gets better. But much of life is that way.

Maybe one of you goals can be to accept what you had to do to manage the symptoms, to let it go, to really move on. I guess that's more than one goal, but it's a string of steps you may need to go thru to get to the other side.

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I am glad for you that you are not leaving therapy (sorry if I misunderstood you.)

Well, in my case, it took me awhile to believe that I did deserve a better life - because even after I quit drinking, I still felt like _rap - because of some of the things I did to myself (and other people) when I was drinking. It took awhile for me to process that yes - I had actually changed, and I was not the same person anymore who did irresponsible, self-destructive things.

The one thing someone (my sister) said to me that made me really want to change my life-style, was:

"Are you gonna be doing this stuff when you are fifty years old? Are you gonna be some pathetic bar-fly?" I pictured it - and it really scared me.

I suddenly realized that my life wasn't automatically going to "right itself" at some appointed time, without my effort.

I wanted to get married, have a career and a house in the suburbs, etc. - but that was certainly NOT the path I was on, at the time. People had said things to me like that before - but for some reason, that moment was a real "epiphany" for me.

I mean, what do "bad" people do? Bad things - right?

But you're not bad - and good people do good things (for themselves, too! Not just for other people) - but maybe it will take a few months to really feel like you've changed - and feel it inside.

You are Definitely not "nothing". Hell yes, you've accomplished a lot! From what I have heard, cocaine is one of the hardest addicitons to try to kick. Plus, you're dealing w/the bi-polar. Giving up married men and prostitution cannot be a bad thing, either.

IMO, you seem like you are doing really well. Don't give up - just keep hanging in there. Yeah, it might get boring sometimes, but you really will feel better (promise.)

Maybe work on getting more new hobbies - think about what you like to do - or try something new. Now is a perfect time, IMO - is there anything you've always wanted to learn how to do? Think it over...have fun with it!

As for your ex-BF - I dunno - the only reason I would hesitate to get back with someone like that, is if there were going to be repercussions with my sobriety - like if you had a fight with him, would it make you feel like using, or cutting, or something?

If so, I'd stay away - for now. I really don't wanna preach - but many people think dating in the first year of sobriety is not necessarily a great idea, because you're changing so much, and just trying to stay sane and sober, etc. Throwing dealing with a relationship into the mix can complicate a life that is already complex, etc.

Unless - you just wanna be friends with him. But he might expect more than that (from what you'd said before, about your past relationship, as I recall.)

Maybe it would work out - I dunno. You're the best judge of that. I wouldn't do it - but I am not you.

But you can also make new friends, too. There will be more people who appreciate you - you don't seem like a bad person to me; I am sure you can make new, good friends, eventually get a new BF, etc.

It's an adjustment period. Just try to be patient with yourself.

Keep the faith! You can do this. You owe it to yourself.

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