A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Friday, July 15, 2016

God And Intelligence

Perhaps you are in pain right now.  Perhaps you are lost.  I go in and out of that, too.  Depression, the pain of it, can serve a purpose.  We live in a world of contrasts, of duality.  Darkness helps to define the light.  Depression can help to give clarity to happiness, when happiness comes, and happiness does come back.  The key to clarity can be found in cultivating awareness.  The path to awareness is through receptivity to the present moment.  That means you have to come to a stop.  A lot of people seem to have trouble with this - stopping.  I learned about this from Jon Kabat-Zinn.  He wrote a book called Wherever You Go There You Are and I bought an audio recording of the book and listened to it many times the year before I became psychotic.  It was a meditation tape and it helped me in my own meditation practice to learn the art of mindfulness.

It's been a long time since I meditated by stopping and doing nothing, letting the world around me go on its way without any effort on my part.  I do meditate, but there are multiple ways to meditate.  I am meditating right now while I write this.  But sitting in my living room and doing nothing has in the past been a special form of meditation for me.  My voices are uncomfortable with me even considering doing this again.  I feel so different from myself back then when I only had voices now and then.  Now they are always there moving from foreground to background and back again.  I am never alone, nor do I want to be anymore now that these voices have become my friends.  I do stop and listen for some kind of guidance throughout the day and night.  That listening is subtle and intuitive.  I remain receptive and I wait.  And I have faith that not only my voices are listening and being receptive to me.  Some greater intelligence is always there, listening, ever aware of my small life.

I want to improve my conscious contact with this intelligence.  My understanding of God is still abstract.  I don't know what it is or where it came from.  I do not anthropomorphize my idea of God.  I do believe intelligence is God given.  Or in other words, no God, no intelligence.  From intelligence comes understanding and I yearn to understand.  There is so much harmony within understanding and that is really what I yearn for, harmony, which, to me, is the essence of God.  This is not a random universe.  We do not live in chaos.  There is a sense and a logic to even the smallest things.  The atom is the smallest miracle.  And then there is the beauty in discovering the logic behind all life and its actions.  There is a logic to all life.  Discover the logic to make the sense to gain the understanding to find the truth.  Seeking the truth is my motivation for engaging in my life.  There is grace in understanding the truth in anything or any living being.  All the interconnections express God, lead back to God as I understand God.

Nothing exists in isolation.  Even black holes exist in relation to all that is not a black hole.  I believe that there is intelligence in space.  Intelligence is not biological; it has no heart, no brain.  We are a materialistic species afraid of the unknown, of what lies after death.  We are experts at distraction.  And yet wherever we go, whatever we do we cannot escape our own intelligence.  Our spirits are intertwined with our intelligence.

I'm going to try writing in this blog more often, just explore some of my daily thoughts, work with my intelligence.  I took my nighttime anti-psychotic medication before I began writing this and I am feeling quite tired.  It's time to get some rest.  I just wanted to put some ideas out there, some food for thought for whoever reads this.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

My Dysfunctional Family

Sometime in the last year one of my voices was guided by the Higher Powers to tell me that I had been raped by my brother when I was around 7 years old and he was around 10 or 11.  My brother had begun using drugs when he was 9.  I was told that he was high on something when he raped me, but I have no recall of it and can't quite believe it.  But I have a history of not remembering a lot of my life which is pretty common for people who have endured through trauma.  There are certain memories I can remember, but they are always the same ones.  Lately it has been bothering me that I can't remember so much of my experience because without the memories I can't access the feelings and without the feelings I feel a lack of depth to my life.

The idea that something so traumatic might have happened to me as a little girl does make sense.  I didn't develop in a healthy way when it came to interacting with the opposite sex.  My first examples of the opposite sex were my father and my brother and they were both wounded.  My father was very emotionally withdrawn I believe because his father had been an alcoholic and a compulsive gambler. It was almost as if I didn't have a father, but rather a kindly man who lived in the house with us and just minded his own business when it came to me.  Yes, financially he was very responsible.  He took care of his family that way.  Yes, I did go on bike rides with him, to the movies, on vacations, but a true intimacy was not there.  My mother was openly resentful of him.  When she and my brother would gang up on him, I felt a surge of compassion for him and stepped in to defend him because he was not good at defending himself.

I intuitively knew, as children often do, that my father was emotionally handicapped.  My mother knew, too, hence the resentment.  She had to raise my brother and me without a lot of emotional support.  And my brother started showing signs of being "emotionally disturbed" when he was just a little boy, possibly when I entered the picture.  I know he was jealous of me.  In the beginning I was cute and cuddly, but I soon learned that my parents were not so cuddly as I was.  My father appeared to be less threatened of me than of his son and showed me affection openly till I was 4 or 5.  Something negative seemed to happen to me around that time.  We had just moved from Brooklyn Heights to Park Slope Brooklyn.  My brother turned 8 that summer and I started kindergarten at P.S.321 that Fall in 1966.  My response to going to this rather large school was to dislike it immediately.  There were a bunch of kids and some teachers, all strangers.  I had little preparation for going there and I refused to fit in.  I felt abandoned by my mother for the first time.

My mother was not so easy to be intimate with either.  Like my father, she was very responsible about the practicalities of raising me.  Emotionally, past a certain point, she was invariably guarded.  And so I became an insecure child.  When I felt her pulling away from me, I clung to her and she really disliked that.  But who could I turn to if not her?  My father was so withdrawn and my brother was often hostile towards me.  Somehow, despite the neglect, I managed to fit in in school by being a good girl.  I was pretty and polite and I did my work.  I must have been bright, too, because I was always in the more advanced class.  But I was also withdrawn and repressed at school a lot.  I did develop friendships, which did help, both on my block and at school.  And, of course, there were always my cats.  I felt more bonded to my cats than to my family.  They were always open and affectionate and accessible and I could touch them.

My brother and I lived on the top floor of a three story brownstone.  His large room was facing the street and my medium sized room was facing the backyards.  There was a sliding door that connected the two rooms, but that stayed closed, except for the times when I would sneak into my brother's room when he wasn't there.  His room fascinated me because it was not at all like mine.  I had a neat and orderly room and he had a room that looked like a tornado had gone through it.  All his stuff spread across all corners of his room was more interesting than my stuff - leggos, wooden trucks, plastic soldiers, MAD magazines, home-made flip books, records etc...   And I was curious about him.  Who was he this alternately kind and then angry hyperactive boy?  I was a bit jealous of him and his friends on the block and when they were in our house I tried to tag along.  It didn't work and my brother always told me to go away.

It's true my brother had sickness in him.  He followed my mother and acquired her same resentful orientation.  He was perceptive enough to see that my parents had emotional problems that they weren't dealing with and he felt like a scapegoat for the family.  He was the problem child and the rest of us were just okay, which I knew wasn't true either.  Neither of us were getting our emotional needs met.  So he got frustrated and angry a lot and my mother got frustrated and angry a lot and fought with both her son and her husband.  I was in the weakest position; I was the youngest and I was a girl.  My brother took priority over me with my parents.  And so I watched them and often stayed silent.  I didn't feel as if I belonged in this family and later speculated that I had been adopted.  Not true, my mother showed me the band that had gone around my wrist as a newborn with my name and date and time of birth.

It was the 1960s in New York City.  My mother was a frustrated feminist, my father a staunch Democrat and my brother a hippy kid.  I was a hippy kid too in some ways, but too young to engage in the politics and music of the times (except for the Beatles).  My brother was very engaged in part because he was so bright and was going to a lefty school called Woodward.  He was fascinated by many things especially music, politics, soccer, astronomy, gardening and the space program.  But this very bright, verbal boy could not really read and write until he was eleven years old which was something I just didn't know at the time.  And, as I said, he began tripping and then smoking pot when he was 9 years old.  Later he would try downers and speed.

When I was 6 years old my mother went back to school to get a library science master's degree at Pratt Institute.  She hired a housekeeper to do the housework and keep an eye on my brother and me while she went to school for two years.  I was miserable without her and I did not like the housekeeper, an efficient, humorless West Indian woman, who had left her children to earn income and send it home.  She may have had her reasons for not bonding with my brother and me, but that really hurt me and again I felt abandoned really by both parents.  There was no one at home to turn to for guidance and comforts, there were only my friends and my cats.

If my brother did rape me while on some messed up drug like PCP it would have been during this time period.  It could have happened when my mother wasn't there and the housekeeper was busy at work on the first or second floor.  My brother had on several occasions been violent towards me and I was generally wary around him.  But I just do not remember.  I've told some of my friends and my therapist and my sponsor.  My therapist and sponsor think it happened, especially since I went in such a dysfunctional direction in life and became severely mentally ill.  They've asked if I've told my brother about this, but when I wrote to him once about the possibility of me having experienced sexual abuse at home and with some of his friends, he became very defensive and didn't want to discuss it.  And really, I don't want to talk about it with him, especially since I have no memory of it.  But here I am stuck wondering about it all with no answers.  I've heard it said that people who experience trauma often don't remember sometimes until years later when they're ready to remember. All I can do is keep exploring what memories I do have and wait.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

What Is It To Be In Love?

"Love is our true destiny.  We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone -- we find it with another....We will never be fully real until we let ourselves fall in love -- either with another human person or with God."    Thomas Merton, Love And Living, p.27

My reality is that I am in a love relationship with my voices.  I see them as all aspects of one personality belonging to a person I have never met.  He is a person who was deeply wounded by personal experience at a very young age to the point where his mind split into separate personalities.  Our psychic connection was established nearly 18 years ago.  The first 3 years of this connection led me straight into psychosis where fact and fiction mingled.  Then there was a long period where I rejected the idea that I was connected to a person though the voices remained despite taking high doses of antipsychotic drugs.  I committed to studying Buddhism, to pursuing visual arts, to writing in this blog.  Three years ago there was a shift.  One of the voices asserted that it was indeed this same person and had been with me all those years.  Though I knew virtually nothing of channeling, that's what began to happen.  He spoke through me aloud and we began a dialogue.

I realize that for most people this is not believable.  My official diagnosis is schizoaffective disorder and based on the common understanding of this illness my voices are merely audio hallucinations, completely unreal and just a split off part of myself.  Taken from this perspective my story is just that, a story, made up but deserving of some compassion due to the fact that I am ill.  I do not deny that I am ill, but also I have yet to meet a truly healthy person.  My illness is no longer due to the voices in my mind, it is due to being dysfunctional in our culture.  I struggle to take care of myself, to brush my teeth, to clean my clothes, to pay my bills, to live in a clean and ordered home.  I appear to be alone and isolated, but my reality is that I am in a relationship and am never alone.

I believe in God.  I believe that there are other non human sentient species connected to this world.  I believe these beings were directed here by God.  I believe these being are telepathic in a way that humans are not and yet they have the ability to join two people together psychically.  Is my belief in God and "aliens" just a delusion?  Of course, I do not think so and I have to write from a place that strikes me as true, so bear with me.  If this story has truth in it the question comes up -- why would these beings connect two people together psychically?  I don't know and yet not knowing doesn't remove the lessons I have been learning.  The story of this person is complex and involves other people.  Perhaps our connection is serving to influence more than ourselves.  I wish that to be true if the influence is healing to us and them.

The lessons are about the nature of love and loving.  How far can a human go in loving another person?  I think we have all heard stories or experienced ourselves how far someone will go for the sake of someone they love.  People have sacrificed themselves for others and are doing so now all over the planet.  Love is even worth dying for.  That is how powerful a true love can be.  But the real goal is to survive and thrive in love.  In order to do that a lover must be willing to go through all kinds of trials and tribulations, willing to sacrifice self for other.  For a true lover the sacrifice is worth it if their beloved grows spiritually.  What is sacrificed is never a person's true self, the parts of self that know instinctively the value of love.  If that had been sacrificed there would be no motivation to sacrifice for another.  This is the difference between true love and codependent "love".

I believe my love of this person is a true love.  I have endured through insanity and hell with the Higher Power's permission in order to reach inside another person's soul.  The reason this worked, the reason I survived, is because I placed God above him and let myself be directed.  And what has happened since the point where I fell down so deeply into his insanity?  Spiritual growth for both of us.  I loved my enemy and now my enemy is my friend.  Mostly we coexist in peace.  But we are both not well yet.  I know that I love and respect myself, but I still struggle to take care of myself.  I have more lessons to learn.  And so does he, the greatest one being how to love and respect himself, to love himself unconditionally.  Parts of him continue to accuse other parts of being evil, though those parts have quieted down a great deal and have also stopped calling me evil, which they did for many years.  He cannot manifest a true love for me or anyone until he cultivates a true love for himself under the guidance of God.

This is his journey, his calling.  This is everyone's calling to love ourselves, take care of ourselves and extend that love out to others from our true, healthy selves.  This is the only path to transforming this world from a world of sickness to a world of peace and love.  The revolution starts individual by individual and grows into a collective movement that covers the globe.  When people can stop blaming the enemy outside themselves and turn their focus onto the enemy within with the intention of making peace with themselves, then war will end in the world.  Some people say that these are the end times, but I say these are the beginning times.  Being in love with yourself, another, with God is not about intoxication, lust, not about the world falling away and the beloved being put on a pedestal to worship.  Being in love is not the blissful stage before the hard work of love begins.  Being in love is the spiritual practice for daily life and follows all of its ups and down.  You are your own eternal witness and the more present you can be to all your thoughts, feelings, words and actions, the more you train yourself in the ways of love.  To be in love is to be unconditionally accepting.  If you can accept yourself as you are, you are then free to go to work on developing yet a deeper love of yourself in the world.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Are Addicts Not In Recovery Weak?

Last week I was having a challenging discussion with a new friend of mine.  I told her that I believe that violence is a form of mental illness.  She didn't agree and cited self-defense and also the necessity of military intervention in some situations.  My orientation about human attitudes and behaviors is about health and sickness.  Her orientation is more about strength and weakness.  Her brother is an addict and, as far as I can tell, not in recovery.  They grew up in a troubled home with a mother who suffered from a psychotic illness and who was violent towards her children.  My friend survived that experience and became hard working and self-reliant.  Her brother didn't fare as well and became an addict.  She believes that her brother is weak whereas she learned and chose to be strong despite adversity.

I think it is a common misconception that addicts who are active in their addiction are morally weak. I think that it is a misconception the addicts who use agree with and that misconception hurts them.  Addicts discover that they are addicts when they try to control their addiction and fail to over and over again.  The 12 Step program emphasizes that addiction is a disease and not a moral failing.  I believe that addicts who use are not weak, but sick with an illness that affects them on all levels, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.  They live with a daily handicap, one that many people won't acknowledge.  The illness shows itself most destructively in addicts behavior.  Because addicts behave badly, people judge them, but their judgment is truly superficial.

We cannot live each others' lives.  People may grow up in the same circumstances and go in opposite directions.  When there is abuse in the home, the chances of the children developing addictions goes up.  Each child's response to the abuse is unique.  Children vary in their sensitivity.  One instance of abuse can affect one child just as much as a child who has suffered through repeated abuse.  Genetics play a part too.  One child may have a predisposition towards addiction while their sibling does not.  It's not about strength and weakness.

Addicts in recovery are very strong individuals, but then so are addicts who use, if they survive.  Using addicts also vary widely as they try to cope with their illness.  Some are highly effective in their work and in using their talents, others struggle to earn a living.  Some addicts are highly respected members of their communities, others live on the edge of society and are looked down upon.  They both have an untreated illness and they both deserve respect for trying to survive each day.  Their greatest failure is to themselves for not loving themselves enough to move into recovery attitudes and behaviors, for not reaching out to others who are in recovery.

After I got home from spending some time with my friend I felt disturbed by this idea of seeing people as strong and weak.  That kind of thinking led to the rise of Hitler with people making prejudice into law and condemning, tormenting and murdering those they saw as weak.  Today I might see my friend again.  I would like to talk more with her about her brother and her family so that I can understand her orientation more deeply.  I would like to gently warn her and encourage her to rethink her position.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

All Human Beings Are Mentally Ill

Imagine that we are not alone in the universe as an intelligent species.  Imagine that there are other species who have evolved spiritually far beyond us to the point that they are highly aware, highly intelligent, well organized, dedicated to health and balance and peace.  Imagine that they have found us years ago and have chosen to remain hidden from us.  What would they conclude after watching us all across the globe for only one day?  They would see the devastation of war, hunger, poverty, disease and addiction.  They would see violence in the home and outside the home.  They would see overpopulation and pervasive pollution.  They would see mental illness in the forms of neurosis and psychosis.  They would also see effective intelligence, the ability to be empathetic and great creativity, but they would see a world of human mammals in a state of spiritual crisis.

The greatest spiritual crisis is to be out of balance and we are deeply unbalanced and unhealthy.  The manmade climate change we are experiencing is a huge symptom of this.  The earth itself is trying to get our attention, to force us to acknowledge that we are sick and irresponsible due to our collective sickness.  We are destroying our very home, yet so many of us stay hiding in denial.  If all of us were healthier, we would see that one of the first things that would need to end is war.  There is no way we can all join together if we continue to try to dominate each other.  The solution lies in effectively coming together to solve common problems.

Most of the world’s population is not doing much about climate change.  It is still predominantly  business as usual.  But there is an illness that is pushing individuals all over the world to face up to the fact that they are indeed very ill and in need of much support in order to recover.  That illness is the illness of addiction.  For most addicts if they continued business as usual in acting out in their addictions they would find themselves incarcerated or inside a psychiatric ward or dead.  Once inside an addictive lifestyle it tends to spiral downwards to some kind of bottom.  Hitting a bottom is a call to action, an opportunity to cultivate enough awareness to find a way to change.

I encountered the 12 Steps after one of my bottoms during an on going abusive relationship with an alcoholic.  I live in a poor, rural community with not a lot of services, but one thing I could find was an AA meeting which led me to an Al-Anon meeting.  My impression now of 12 Step groups is that there are many of them in the US and possible many of them in the world.  Awareness of these groups have found their way into popular US culture in books, TV and films.  A lot of rehabs model themselves after the 12 Steps or at least include 12 Step meetings as treatment.  There are those who swear by these groups and those who attack these groups.  Just how effective 12 Step groups are in treating addictions is yet to be found.  Because these are anonymous groups anyone can be a member who acknowledges that they have a serious problem with a substance or behavior, but there are no dues, you don’t sign up or register and there is no official count of all the members.

I did find out through a google search that out of the 196 countries in the world Alcoholics Anonymous have groups in 181 countries.  That's quite a large number considering the diversity of countries and cultures.  And yet one page of statistics I found, the only one I found, made the number of members worldwide out to be around 5 million.  I find that to be a unlikely assessment.  Another statistic I found was that approximately 6% of the world population is addicted to the internet which comes to about 420 million for internet addiction alone.  Now there are many types of addiction and the true numbers of how many are addicted from all those groups is not easy to find.  My impression and assumption right now is that addiction is a major health/spiritual crisis all over the globe.

My other impression and assumption is that 12 Step programs are solidly helping a fair number of those who seek out the programs' help.  Of course it seems as if the majority of addicts are caught within their addictions and not reaching out for any kind of help.  There is still a lot of stigma around being an addict and most people don't advertise their particular addictions.  But those that do go to 12 Step meeting often identify themselves as addicts as a form of greeting.  They face their illness head on and do not continue in shame but stay open within the group.  They fight shame by acknowledging that they are not bad people, but sick people trying to get well.

People within these groups are perfectly aware that we live in a addictive world and that there are challenges in the form of temptations all around them.  The reason the 12 Step program has left a mark on my spirit is because it has helped restore my sense of integrity.  I have come from several places of despair to a place of much greater contentment and balance.  It's been about 24 years since I went to my first Al-Anon meeting and in all that time I have not gone through all of the 12 Steps.  It's only recently that I found a sponsor and I don't go to meetings a lot and yet I have been faithful to reading 12 Step daily readers and other recovery literature.  I have cultivated a daily spiritual practice because I have been influenced by the 12 Step program at key points in my life.  There's a group slogan that reads "Progress, not perfection."

That could be a slogan of what we need on this planet.  A spiritual crisis can lead to that if we set aside denial and admit that we are all sick and in need of help from each other.  People in recovery have a lot to teach about overcoming illness day by day, about creating a support network, about having a daily spiritual practice, about learning to love and respect themselves and about being of service to those in need, especially other addicts, of which there are many.  It's called living a life in such a way that you practice peace.  Health and balance, there can be no overcoming the devastation in the world without them and the greater the number of individuals who embrace the practice, the greater chance we can stop this world from dying.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Documentary Film Review: Vegucated

Vegucated is a short documentary film that came out in 2011 directed by Marisa Miller Wolfson.  Marisa moved to New York City and became a vegan.  She decided to make this film and interviewed a bunch of people to participate in a 6 week study.  She selected three people, all dedicated meat, cheese and milk consumers, to go vegan for the entire 6 weeks.  The film starts out very funny and playful as Marisa gets to know these three people.  She visits them in their homes and checks out what kinds of foods they have in their refrigerators.  She takes them to visit Dr. Joel Fuhrman (who wrote the books Eat To Live and The End Of Diabetes) where they get a physical done and blood tests.  She takes them to see several people who are very knowledgeable about practicing the vegan diet.

After several weeks of trying the diet and testing out the foods, Marisa takes them to see a film about what goes on in slaughter houses with cows, chickens, pigs and fish.  This was a pivotal part of the documentary for me because I had never seen anything like it.  It was horrifying to discover what is going on on a daily basis in this country.  I had to avert my eyes on a number of occasions because I couldn't take looking at the examples of what people actually do to these creatures.  It is very hard to look at, but very important to look at, too.  I knew right then and there that I could not go on eating animal products.

The three people in this film became more and more committed to becoming vegetarian or vegan by the end of the film.  They, too, were horrified by the practices in the slaughterhouses.  Though it wasn't always easy to eat a totally vegan diet, all of them managed to do so.  At the end of the six weeks they returned to Dr. Fuhrman's office to get another physical and do another series of blood tests.  Bad cholesterol went way down along with blood pressure and one woman lost 10 pounds on the diet.

This documentary is well worth watching.  It is only an hour and 16 minutes and it truly is an education.

I've been on a mostly vegan diet for two weeks and have lost about 5 pounds.  I have been using two cookbooks, the Eat To Live recipe book and the Plantpure Nation recipe book.  I believe Dr. Fuhrman's Eat To Live recipe book is the better one for losing weight, but the Plantpure Nation book has some tastier recipes because the author uses more pasta, bread, sweeteners and salt.  Both are good starts.  I've been doing a lot of cooking lately.  Last night I prepared a chili to slow cook in my croc pot and also prepared a hearty oatmeal for the following morning.  My kitchen and refrigerator is stocked with fruits and vegetables which is a pleasing sight to wake up to in the morning.

I have yet to do a blood test to establish a baseline.  This coming week I will see a nurse practitioner and will start the process.  I'm hoping that 3-4 weeks of eating vegan will have dropped my bad cholesterol, reduced my blood pressure and dropped my weight even more.  The more I study and practice this diet, the more I think it is the right choice.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Diabetes And A Mostly Vegan Diet

I found out last week that I have diabetes.  I picked up three books by a doctor named Joel Fuhrman:  The End Of Diabetes, Eat To Live and the Eat To Live recipe book.  Dr. Fuhrman claims that diabetes can be reduced, even eliminated, through using his diet plan.  It is a diet plan that is mostly vegan, that is, very little animal products.  Not only is he critical of relying on animal products, but he  does not believe that the medications are truly helpful and with extended use could be harmful.  So he is targeting both the animal product industries and the pharmaceutical industries.  Huge companies that affect our daily lives.  He believes that good nutrition and exercise should be the primary treatment for all kinds of illnesses and disorders.  This approach requires a serious commitment to a lifestyle change.

It's been a little over a week that I began eating a mostly vegan diet.  I am not following Dr. Fuhrman's diet exactly, but close enough.  I invested in a high speed blender, a Blendtec, which cost over $250, but which, so far, has been very worth it.  I usually have at least one smoothie a day with fruit and lettuce and flax seeds or chia seeds and soybean milk.  It's a fast way to get fruit and greens into me and it is filling and tasty and simple.  I also made up a few recipes, a broccoli mushroom soup with blended cashews to give it a creamy texture and a vegetable stew with sweet potatoes, onions, chick peas, zucchini, stewed tomatoes.  Taste wise these two recipes were okay and filling, but not great.  I just have to keep trying out the recipes to see which ones I respond to.  I definitely enjoy the vegetable wraps as well as the smoothies.  I think I also need to get adjusted to different flavors, awaken my taste buds, so to speak.

Dr. Fuhrman says that it is possible to lose 20 pounds in the first 6 weeks and then continue to lose weight over the year.  He includes in his books many success stories especially from very obese people trying to combat multiple health issues, losing a great amount of weight more quickly than other diets.  One of the keys to fighting diabetes is to first get down to a healthy weight and to maintain that weight.  Insulin is the means that allows glucose to be released into the cells.  The more fat around the cells, the harder it is for the insulin to be effective.  Removing the fat also removes the stress to the body.

There are quite a few documentaries on Netflix about the incredible value of eating a mostly plant based diet.  One very good documentary I watched was called Plant Pure Nation.  A study group went into several communities in the Southern United States and found volunteers to eat pre-prepared plant based meals for 10 days.  First they did a blood test and at the end of the 10 days they did another blood test.  The results were astonishing.  For many people bad cholesterol plummeted.  I believe that blood pressure was reduced as well as glucose levels and people lost weight in just 10 days.

In my diet before I did not eat red meat or many eggs or a lot of rice, pasta, bread and salt, but I did drink a lot of milk, including chocolate milk and some cheese and ice cream and a fair amount of yogurt.  For years I've used Splenda until I heard negative things about it and stopped using it.  I did not eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and drank a lot of coffee.  Now I'm mostly drinking water and eating mostly fruits and vegetables.  It just seems like common sense to go on this mostly vegan diet and yet I had never considered it before.  When I did eat vegetarian meals, they often had a lot of cheese in them and oils, some salt.  Now no cheese, little oil and no added salt.

I'm monitoring my progress using a calendar and will continue to do so for 5 more weeks and I will weigh myself once a week.  This is not a portion control, calorie counting diet.  Dr. Fuhrman believes that you should stick to a 3 meal plan and not snack, but I'm finding that I prefer to eat four to five moderate meals during a day, but that might change as I find recipes that I like.  It does take work, shopping a couple of times a week and food preparation, but I'm finding that this is a good thing for me, keeps me aware and involved and appreciative of my food.

I walked three times this week and am hoping to work my way up to a daily constitutional.  I also have some exercise equipment to work out with when I'm home.  But getting out and walking has been quite nice, something I would never consider before.  And now in Spring it is a great time for diet and exercise.  I got myself a small backpack with a water bladder and a couple of walking sticks to use in the woods.  I feel pretty committed to this.  I still have to see a doctor and get a baseline blood test done.  Initially I am not going to take any medication.  Truly I am suspicious of medications, though I do faithfully take my anti-pyschotics and anti depressant.

The strange thing is that a diagnosis of diabetes might be a blessing in disguise.  I have been obese, not eating well, not exercising and smoking for many years and now might be my chance to reverse the damage I have done to my body and finally head back towards a healthy weight.  The amazing thing about the body is if you treat it right it responds in health.  A true miracle.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous Inspiration Line

SLAA Inspiration Line # :  215-574-2120

This is a telephone number that is available 24 hours, 7 days a week.  Different members of Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous leave a recorded message nearly every day and talk about how this program has helped them to recover from their addictions.  They often talk about their personal lives and the lessons they're learning.  The message lasts for a maximum of about 6 minutes and at the end of the message there is a beep and then, if you are willing, you can leave a message of your own.

I found out about this line through getting a bunch of literature and audio programs from SLAA.  They also have The Journal which is a booklet of people's shares they send out to subscribers every two months and in it they usually list this number and explain how it helps.  I started calling it sporadically a year or so ago.  Recently I have made calling the number and listening and sometimes sharing every day as a part of my spiritual practice each morning.  It is especially helpful to me since I am socially withdrawn or as they say in SLAA, anorexic.  Anorexia of this sort is usually related to social, emotional and sexual anorexia.  I relate most strongly to social and some emotional anorexia.  Sexual anorexia usually includes an obsessively strong dislike of sexuality, which I don't personally feel but I think is common for many people who have been sexually abused as children and teenagers.

I think one of the reasons I switched over to listening to the Inspiration Line daily is because a week and a half ago I got my first SLAA sponsor through one of their telephone meetings.   It was a weekly meeting with a focus on anorexia, which I've gone to each week for 4 weeks.  One of the first things my sponsor said to me was that I had to call her everyday of the week except on weekends.  In one of my shares at the meeting I talked about the Inspiration Line and no one had heard of it and wanted the number.  So I've been calling her and listening to the line.  Both reinforce my deepening realization that I am socially anorexic and need to push myself to reach out to others.

The Inspiration Line lets me know every day that there are people recovering from sex & love addiction, leading spiritually oriented lives that focus on daily lessons in their life experience.  They are a wonderful bunch of people who do this service work.  If you listen often you will get to know each of them.  I feel proud of them and their self revealing honesty.  Each one has said that people sharing on the line really helps them in their own recovery.  I know that listening to them and sometimes talking to them indirectly helps me in my recovery and I am grateful.

These people have come from hard places.  Some have gone to jail and prison for acting out.  In their shares it is obvious how far each one has come.  It is not that now their lives are problem free because they aren't; it is that now when problems arise they quickly turn to recovery attitudes and behaviors.  Top on that list is reaching out to other safe people, often their sponsor or friends in the program.  They don't hold the sickness in and let it continue to do damage to their spirits, they let it out and share with others the pain that they are feeling.  This strongly helps them by broadening their perspective and just the act of being heard can heal very deeply.  It gives them the chance to redirect themselves towards health and away from sickness.

Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous (Website) is a very organized and accessible group.  Their website is smartly done with lots of links and whenever I have ordered from their store, they ship my order quickly and I get it quickly.  You can even download a month's worth of Inspiration Line messages (Link) or buy them inexpensively on CD.  If you have a problem with sex and/or love addiction, I strongly urge you to check out their website.