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.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Years Eve

Midnight in about two hours.  I am quieting down from being borderline anxious.  Really just barely, but I felt some negativity.  The negativity came from me not knowing what I wanted to do.  Restless.  Next to the last night of smoking cigarettes for me.  Maybe that has something to do with it.  I’m avoiding cleaning and organizing the house.  It is still my choice and I choose to not do.  I don’t dislike myself for it, but I do feel a slight drop into depression when I walk by opportunities to change my pattern.

The primary compulsive pattern to stop is, for now, smoking cigarettes.  This is a deeply ingrained pattern in my life.  And that is why I pray - pray, to whatever Higher Powers are out there and in us, to help me stop.  I want now to be the right time to quit for good.  No more quitting and then picking up again.  Just let go and move on through the grace of God and by whatever effort I can commit to on a daily basis.  I forget that because I am no longer tormented and feel so much better than I used to that I am still not truly loving myself when I  breath tobacco into me.  I’ve heard people call the body a temple, but I don’t treat it that way.  I have respect for my body at the same time I hurt it.  I have turned off thinking for so long, thinking about what it is exactly that I am doing to myself when I smoke.

I’m just like any other self harming addict, living amidst amnesia and denial.  Only now there’s a dent in the denial.  I believe that the denial will begin to melt away after I destroy the final cigarette in the house and walk away from it.  Millions of people are walking away from their addictions right this second and I want to follow them.  They know where they’re going.  To someplace better.  But first - The Change - stopping the behavior and redirecting the attitude towards gratitude for having yet another chance to commit to health over sickness.  And after I stop, there will be discomfort.  The truth is that I feel discomfort now while smoking.  I cough horribly and clear my throat many times a day.  It’s not like I don’t have practice sitting with discomfort, only now it will lead to liberation instead of prison.

Yes, smoking, or any addiction, is about living inside a kind of prison, tied perpetually to compulsion and living not quite in reality.  I want to think that I’m mostly sane, but taking pleasure breathing in car exhaust is not sane.  And I do love myself and it is time that I show it to myself every day.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Night Before New Years

December 30th, 2015 Wednesday 5:35pm

I threw away the bag of tobacco today along with some filters, two ashcans and two plastic cigarette holders. I bought 3 packs of American Spirit non additive cigarettes and have some loose tobacco left to hold me till midnight on Friday. I’ll probably have extra which I will destroy one way or another. I got my Quitting Smoking For Dummies book a little while ago and I just downloaded a quit smoking visual meditation and affirmations meditation. I have been posting on the QuitNet site telling some of my story and supporting others. Last night I made a mind map using my computer of all the actions I can take to stay quit.

I’m a bit anxious about doing this, but I will do it nonetheless. I’ve told several people about it, including my brother, and that’s always a good sign. Two more days to prepare and then I dive in. The QuitNet site is interesting. I went there years ago, but they changed it dramatically early this year. Now it’s streamlined. There’s ongoing postings 24/7, people sharing and supporting each other. I can tune in any time I like and usually get support. And the people, who come from all over, share all kinds of stories, not just about quitting smoking, but personal details of their daily life, successes and struggles. The only things I don’t like is that one, some people use scare tactics to encourage people to commit to quitting and I don’t need that negativity and two, it is not politically correct by some members to use e-cigs which I will be using. But those are minor things and I can detach from those people whose message I don’t respond to.

So it will be New Years Eve for me this time tomorrow and I will be home alone same as a bunch of other people. I’m not planning anything special, just want a quiet, uneventful night. I will be reading my quitting smoking book. That will focus me and help me to psychologically detach from my addictive compulsion. I will be relieved the night after tomorrow when I finally quit and start the day fresh on Saturday morning. Quitting smoking is a big opportunity to change myself on multiple levels towards being more and more healthy as the year progresses.

I’ve been uncomfortable this holiday season with my parents both gone and my brother away in Florida. Christmas didn’t feel like Christmas. No snow, though to tell you the truth I was relieved that there wasn’t any. And no family, but still a good therapist and a dear childhood friend to turn to and of course my household of cats. My home is still a dirty, cluttered mess but it is dear to me and I’m so grateful to have this home. Plus, my childhood friend agreed to visit me for a week at the end of January, which will motivate me to do a major cleaning and that, on top of quitting cigarettes, will give me a big surge of accomplishment which will boost up my self-esteem. I just have to keep the attitude in the front of my mind that I can do this.

Next week’s challenge, besides not smoking, will be to get the heat turned on in the studio. My two electric ceramic heaters just didn’t heat the space and I can’t work and do yoga and dance in a cold space. I’ve been dragging my heels about committing to that space, partially because of the holidays and the onset of winter, my weakest season, where part of me just wants to stay indoors and hibernate. Yesterday I began feeding the birds, late this year because we’ve had a lot of warm weather here. The warmer weather has allowed me to be around a few people more. I had no excuse to stay inside. Still, mostly I do stay inside, but I keep myself occupied with creative thinking and some creative doing.

So on this night before New Years Eve I wish you all a safe and happy entry into the new year. The beginning of the year is a good time to make positive changes and I wish that for you, too, positive changes towards health, peace, balance and harmony. Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Preparing To Quit Smoking...Again

My quit date as of today is next Saturday, January 2nd.  I chose that day in honor of my mother who died January 2nd, 2014.  She quit smoking around the time I was born when she was 34 and lived to be 85.  I quit in 2007 and stayed quit for about 3 years.  If I could do it then, I can do it now.  I'm going to have to coach myself for the next 6 days.  I'm not very confident today, but I'm going in the right direction.  I will use the e-cigs.  I'm getting a quitting smoking book to guide me.  I'm looking around for online support since there are no face to face meetings in my area.  I think it's important to take the One Day At A Time approach.

Though I have been smoking over a pack for several years, I may not be as physically addicted to nicotine as some.  I know I can go 5 hours without a cigarette and be okay.  Mostly I smoke at home, which is where I spend a lot of my time.  This means I need to change where I sit.  I have established a pattern of sitting in front of a window in  my dining room area.  Luckily I have a drawing table in my living room that I can sit at instead when I stop smoking cigarettes.  No window, but a comfortable spot.

I think it will be a relief when I gather up all my smoking supplies on the first of the year so that I can remove them from this house on the second.  It will take so much pressure off me if I have no temptations nearby.  I will have to find other ways to work through my compulsive nature.  I practice gratitude each day, but I will have to step that up and focus on all that is good in my life.  This is a golden opportunity for me because though I have a bad smokers' cough that comes and goes, I am still relatively healthy.  This could be a turning point for me towards living a healthy life.  I pray to the higher power for help in committing to this.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Black & White Film Photographs - Out West 1996

Temporary Standstill

This time last year I was inside psychosis, i.e. I was deluded and paranoid.  Because I was paranoid about everyone, I cut off contact with everyone.  I stopped taking my medications, stopped seeing my therapist, deleted this blog among other negative actions.  I listened to the voices in my mind, which were intentionally leading me astray.  Inside my home I went in and out of mania.  I was so caught up in a delusional world.  I suffered trauma and for a little while I began to split up in my personality.

I'm not sure what got me to turn around away from sickness and back towards health, but I did.  I went to my psychiatrist and was honest with him and just returned to taking the medications again.  For a couple of months I had no therapist, then an online therapist, which didn't work out and then found a new therapist very close by.  I started going to an Al-Anon meeting once a week 40 minutes away from my home.  I reconnected with several friends.  I began a morning routine of taking my medications, thanking God, praying for myself and others and reading from several daily readers.  I returned to writing my blog.  And there were other things I did, which I won't go into.

During this time my father moved into the nursing home, my brother and I took on the large job of clearing out my father's apartment and then, in July, my father died.  Because I had experienced so much trauma, my father's death was not so disturbing to me.  He was 88 years old and had lived a good, long life and had been very kind to me and to my brother.  I had been preparing myself for my parents' deaths ever since they reached their 80s and so, in some ways I was prepared.  So my parents were gone, I was not as close to my brother and my uncle had lived in another state for many years and I did not keep in close touch with him.  And so the isolation that I had begun last year with was still lingering.  Despite now having a very good therapist and developing a closer relationship with an old friend, I see myself standing alone.

I have my voices for companionship.  They have matured this year as I went through the recovery process again.  For the most part, they don't try to lead me astray.  I know they live with a pain that goes deep, deeper than the pain I go in and out of.  In some ways we are recovery partners.  I want to be a good influence on them and I tell them what I appreciate about them and there are many things to appreciate.  But still it comes down to daily/nightly practice of recovery attitudes and behaviors.  Right now I am quiet, peaceful, yet depressed.  And so I stay patient and as open as I can be.  I can see that I have come a long way in a short time this year.

I know this time of year, the Fall into the Winter, the holiday season, is hard for me and many people.   But I do have faith that I can get through it.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Song Lyrics: "Two Steps"

Two Steps

Two steps out the door
You know you’ve been here before
In another lifetime
With a different kind of rhyme,
A different kind of face,
But in a way it’s all the same place.

It’s already been seen,
But it still feels so new to me.
It’s already been done,
But it keeps coming back
Like the rising sun.

Two steps out the door,
This is a place of peace and not war.
The valley waits for my footsteps
Forgiving all my past debts.
I’m free at last to run,
To follow the moon and the sun.

It’s already been seen,
But it still feels so new to me.
It’s already been done,
But it keeps coming back
Like the rising sun.

(Kate Kiernan  2015)

Song Lyrics: "Higher Power"

Higher Power

I don’t know your name,
You never told me.
I have heard you called
God and the Devil.

From Allah to Beelzebub
From down below
To up above,
I don’t know your name.

Brilliant and deniable,
People turn towards you
And away.

Mystics see you everywhere
In the earth, the water, fire and the air.
They swear by their lives
That you care
About everyone, everywhere.

Other people walk the tightrope
From mountain top to mountain top,
Balancing through their fear,
They don’t believe you’re here.

It’s always darkest before the dawn.
People take for granted each and every morning sun.
Those who are for and against you as the One
Will have to face the truth when all is said and done.

We don’t know your name,
You never told us,
But we’re here just the same,
And you hold us, hold us,
And you hold us.

(Kate Kiernan  2015)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Poem: Sanctuary


Do you pray, my friend,
When you rise in the morning from your bed?
Do you light a candle or some incense
And think of someone you hold dear?
Do you look up into the sky as I do?

I say to the sky,
"Great Spirit, thank you for my life.
Please show me the way."
And then I think of all that I have:
Food, shelter, heat, all wrapped up
Into a home for me;
My place, my sanctuary.

Where is your sanctuary?
Your wounded soul has gone
To many places both real and imagined.
Which places gave you comfort?
Which places give you comfort now?

So you were born with too much Saturn in your blood
And your tipping point came much too soon.
Given no choice, only an instinct for survival,
You fell into pieces you delicately preserved
And lived your days and nights fragmented.

But each fragment was charged with spirit
And each part contributed to the whole
And no one knew you were a kaleidoscope inside,
Shifting from one color, one shape to another
Within the flow of all those moments.

Where are you now, my friend,
Now that decades have gone by?
Your whole cast of characters I know still shines,
Some hidden inside,
Some coming to life in all of your senses.
It is amazing what you have done
Each time, after each instance of abuse,
To still turn yourself around
To still look up at the sky and the sun,
Then to wait to see the stars and the moon.

Listen To Audio Here