Thursday, December 4, 2014

The First Step- Brutal Honesty

The first step of the 12 steps reads: 

"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol (or any other mind altering substance) that our lives had become unmanageable."

Time for some brutal honesty here. I have not been completely sober this past year. 

I have been sober from my drugs of choice for the last year, yes. But, I have not been completely sober. 

First admittance, I have had a few "run ins" with ambien. I was prescribed ambien to sleep by my doctor, and there have been a few times over this last year where I have abused ambien. I have taken more than prescribed at times, and there have been times when I have been sick where I took it all day and all night for a few days straight. I told my therapist about this and we actually called my pharmacy and cancelled my refills and then we called my doctor and told him that I have abused this substance and to put into my chart that I cannot handle ambien.

Next admittance, when I was in treatment, I was prescribed a drug called Suboxone. I was prescribed this because I was dealing with chronic pain in my back and neck when I went into treatment and a low dose of suboxone helps with chronic pain. It is a narcotic that does not produce as much of a "high" as other narcotics like oxycontin. It is also 20 times more powerful than morphine at low doses, so it effectively masks pain. The problem is, when I first started suboxone, I knew that I liked the way that it made me feel. It helped with anxiety, sleep, and of course the pain. Since I got out of treatment, I started taking more than prescribed and abused the medication. I rationalized this all year long, because it was prescribed by my addiction doctor. However, I have been telling my therapist for months that I was going to get off of this, but I haven't taken the steps to begin tapering down from this medication. When I got my wisdom teeth out a few weeks ago, I was taking suboxone and ambien all weekend long to deal with the pain. I went in to my therapist and told her about this. She finally called me out and said that I had a dependence to this drug and I needed to get off of it. I denied this like crazy. I rationalized that I needed it and it wasn't a problem to take more than prescribed. Over the course of the session, I finally admitted that I had a problem with this drug. 

This triggered so much shame. This made me so upset, because I realized that I haven't been completely honest with myself and I haven't been completely sober like I thought I had. Immediately my first thought was, "well if I haven't been completely sober, then screw it, I am just going to use my drugs of choice." I was really close to relapsing. 

After a week of processing this, I am finally to the point where I am ready to be brutally honest with myself and others. The truth is, I have no control over my medication management. I wish more than anything that I did, but the truth is, I don't. I have been sober from my drugs of choice for almost a year now. This is something to be proud of and celebrate. Is there room for improvement? Absolutely. I am ready to admit that I cannot take ambien any more. I am also ready to admit that I have a problem with suboxone and it's time to start tapering off of this medication. 

The first step is the hardest step. But, it's also the most important step. I am powerless over these substances. Fortunately, I believe in a higher power than myself that can help me remove these substances from myself. Brutal honesty is essential if I want to live a life in recovery, which is something that I have been striving for this past year. AND, I have done a dang good job at recovery this past year. 

I am so grateful for my recovery journey. This is just a bump in the road. This is a growing and learning experience. This has taught me even more about myself and what lies ahead in my recovery journey. I know I can do this. It's all about taking the first step.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Giving My Life to Recovery

 So, I have recently begun working as an intern for an out patient drug and alcohol treatment program. Most of our clients are people who were recently in residential care and step down to coming to group therapy three evenings a week in our program. Some were able to just start doing outpatient work without the needs of residential care. This type of treatment is fun, because our clients are celebrating every day the fact that they are still sober in the "real world". This can also be very hard, because we see quite a bit of our clients relapse in their early recovery while they are trying to figure out life in recovery. I relapsed right out of being in the house, so I know exactly what they are going through. Early recovery is the worst.

I have had a moment of enlightenment as I have observed different clients who are killin it in their recovery and others who continually fall and get back up. I really think it boils down to this simple fact: When I was in my active addiction, there were multiple times where I overdosed and almost lost my life to this disease. I was simply willing to give my actual life for my addiction. Not only did I exclude myself from loving relationships, I wasn't dependable, I was beginning to lose it all. I was literally living from one high to the next. So not only was I willing to die for drugs, I wasn't even necessarily living due to the amount of energy I put towards using. My life was dedicated to my addiction.

I think in recovery, we have to use this same mind set. If I was willing to go as far as dying for my addiction, then I need to be willing to live for my recovery. Give my entire life to this. This isn't easy. This means finding reasons to fight for my life every single day and not go back. The hardest part is just simply deciding that I am worth it and deserve it. I have never felt that before. I was so caught up in this insane shame cycle, that I was unable to love myself enough to change and stop these behaviors. 

I think the people who are successful in recovery have put all of their energy and efforts towards living for their recovery. I see that with those who have been in recovery for years and years and still show up for their recovery. They don't just talk about what they should do or need to do, they actually do it and give it their all. They are open to advice and suggestion constantly. They follow advice and humble themselves to the fact that they are powerless to this disease, but they 100% have the power of their recovery, and they live accordingly. 

Even though it sucks sometimes, I am still fighting like hell each and every day. I still fear my addiction and the fact that it is a relapse prone disease. I fight every day as if I am fighting for my life...because I literally am fighting for my life and getting my life back. 

This can apply to any behavior that needs to change. Don't just talk about what needs to change and what you SHOULD do. You won't get very far. FIGHT for change and what you want. Give your entire life to that fight, starting with daily habits. 

Anyway, just some thoughts this week as I have tried to figure out why some people make it and some don't. Complacency is my biggest enemy and the biggest enemy of every addict who has committed to a new life. Continually moving forward and being humble enough to recognize weaknesses and change them, no matter how hard it is or how much they don't want to. 

Some Pics From A Couple Weeks Ago: 

Fit to Recover had their first bootcamp at the new gym. Here is a solid group of people giving their lives to recovery and making it happen. This is the strongest group of people I know!

The women of FTR are some of the most amazing women I have ever had the chance to know. They lift me up and carry me on their backs when I don't know if I can move forward.

Erica and I needed to get out of town one weekend, so we went to Park City and had a girl's weekend. Erica has been a huge strength to me of recovery. I met her while I was in treatment and have looked up to her ever since!

Canyon's spa is BOSS!

I'm actually super stoked on beanie season and hittin the Bird!

While we were up there, we went to see Richie. Richie was in treatment with me and has been a constant support to me all year. He's crushing it!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Death Anniversary

The past week or two has been such a strange range of emotions for me. It's so crazy to think that a year ago everything went down, I hit my rock bottom, and I decided to go to residential treatment for my addiction. I walked into treatment with an honest belief that I would forever be an addict and there was absolutely no possible way that I would ever be in long term recovery from my addiction. I had tried so many times on my own, and literally accepted the fact that I would be a chronic relapser.

After I got out of treatment, I had two relapses. The thing about those relapses is that they were both so different than the other times that I would commit to sobriety and relapse. This time, I sincerely wanted to be sober and didn't get the same euphoria or pleasure that I used to get when I took pills. I actually just straight up blacked out as soon as they were in my system. They provided nothing for me like they once had.

That means, the death of my addiction occurred exactly one year ago. I had always looked forward to this milestone and believed that I would feel so much joy and happiness that I had accomplished and entire year of sobriety. That feeling is definitely there. I am so glad that I decided to get treatment a year ago and have been able to stay sober and enjoy my new life. That feeling is definitely there for me. I am very humble and grateful to make it through my first year of recovery.

At the same time, I feel like I am going through the process of grieving a death anniversary. It is the strangest thing and it's something that I have really pondered. Pills, for 8 years of my life, were my one true love. They were there for me when I experienced every emotion. But, they mostly served me when I was depressed and sad and could not cope with my life. I always had pills to comfort me in those dark times, as twisted as that sounds. I was also unable to have any other intimate or committed relationships, because of my deep love for pills. They were my number 1 best friend and lover. While I am glad they are out of my life, I can't ignore the fact that some grieving happens when I decided to get out of that dysfunctional relationship and move forward with a new life in recovery. It's the strangest thing. That love was real for me and it was extremely hard to give it up, just like escaping an abusive relationship. In many ways, the pills served me and made life bearable when I didn't have the coping skills that I learned through treatment and therapy. That's why the relapses that happened after treatment were different, because they no longer served me like they had in the years past. 

Anyway, those some of my thoughts this last week as I have had these different feelings blow my mind. After a year of looking forward to this anniversary, I never expected myself to feel these feelings of grief as well. I think sometimes people in recovery only focus on how great life is in recovery, but they might not give a voice to how difficult it is to let go of the addiction and let go of that intimate relationship that occurs when you become addicted. I think it's important to give a voice to everything, because then I don't have any secrets that I am trying to keep about my feelings that come up when I do get triggered or crave that feeling of euphoria. Those feelings are just a real and deserve to be acknowledged. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

361 Media Preview

361 - Kelli Preview from Max Forrest on Vimeo.

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to get interviewed by 361 Media. 361 Media is a company that is dedicated to sharing stories about addiction and recovery from the addict's perspective and their family's perspective. The people who founded this company are also in recovery and felt it was important to share these stories of hope for people who are currently struggling with addiction in their lives or their families. They are launching the full videos this winter, but this is a preview of my story. I think it's awesome that these stories are being shared so that the stigma of addiction can be challenged. Addiction is affecting everyone in one way or another, yet it is not being talked about. The root of all addiction is shame, yet the stigma perpetuates further shame. People are struggling in secret, which further perpetuates the problem. Something I am very passionate about is spreading the message that this is an epidemic and public health crisis that needs to be talked about and this video campaign is just that. I am filled with gratitude that these secrets didn't kill me in an environment that was very hard to survive with all of the stigma surrounding this disease and the secrets that almost killed me because of all of the shame I had about my problem. I felt so liberated and free the day that I first posted about my addiction and my heart goes out to those who suffer in secret. I will forever spread the message if that means I can help save lives in the future by diminishing the stigma and talking about this epidemic that is killing more people in Utah than car crashes. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

One Year Ago- An Inside Job

To start- Turn on "Greater" by MercyMe

Pictures are worth 1000 words: 

 Exactly one year ago from now: No twinkle in my eyes whatsoever. Dead inside and not willing to reach out for help.

In my active addiction:

Constantly passed out, unengaged in life.

Down to 110 pounds from eating pills all day instead of food. 

Super unhealthy. Withering away.

Just Existing.

My Life in Recovery:

Doing the things I love

Surrounded by LOVE

Healthy and happy

Enjoying life

Surrounding myself with strong women in recovery

Going on climbing trips with people in recovery

A part of the recovery community, doing what I love, and staying healthy while sharing my recovery with others

Exactly one year ago, after a pretty traumatic relapse, my Therapist convinced me to go with her and my sister to a place called Turning Point and speak with the Admissions Director. We met with him and toured the facility. The whole time I was rude, distracted, and belligerent. I was hell bent on refusing to be locked up in a treatment facility. I didn't think my problem was "that bad" and I could fix it on my own without going to treatment. 

As I reflect on that, I can't help but think about the difference in the two paths. 

Where I would be without treatment: 
Likely Dead
Dealing with DUI or other drug charges
In Jail or Prison
Estranged from all family and friends
Out of a job
Dealing with severe health problems
Suicidal, Depressed, Anxious, and a bunch of other mental illnesses
Unhappy and empty inside
Spiritually Empty
No meaning or purpose in my life

Where I am Today: 
Going to school to become a counselor
An intern counselor at Turning Point
Have a great job at Chase Bank
Involved in an amazing community with Fit to Recover
Sharing my story and message (I interviewed with Channel 2 news tonight- stay tuned on the air date)
Engaged in healthy relationships
Continuing to learn more about my weakness and strengthening them
Close with my family
Living a life of purpose and meaning
No longer in chronic back and neck pain
Truly at peace and happy

What a contrast huh!? I am glad that God intervened in my life and brought me to my knees. This gave me the humility I needed to accept that I had an addiction and needed the proper treatment to put it into remission. 

One thing I want to always remember is that life will always get better. Change involves humility and self work. Without putting in the work, we can never expect change to happen in our lives. Happiness is an inside job. It doesn't come from anything on the outside or any amount of money or success like I had always believed. 

I believe the secret to engaging in a happy and peaceful life is humility. This is a trait that is unnatural to man. Luckily, I believe that since we are children of God and humility is a spiritual trait we can inherit through him. God will continually give his children the opportunities to become humble and submit to his plan for us through our trials and triumphs. He knows our potential and the more that we remember this, he will guide us as long as we remain humble and teachable in the trials that he gives us. Humility is a powerful driver in all change. 

Two years ago, I lived with blinders on. I didn't see the negative beliefs that were driving my self destructive behaviors- both addiction and other behaviors that were not serving me or my life. I didn't think I had any problems or issues that I couldn't change if I had enough will power. I just needed to be stronger. I didn't notice my weaknesses, because I wasn't open to them. Now, I am continually recognizing weaknesses that are causing me to live less than optimal. Once these weaknesses are brought into my awareness, I am now able to recognize the core issues that are driving them and work on those issues to change my behaviors. It has been truly amazing. This is all because I have been able to be humble enough to recognize that I am never going to be in a place where I won't need to be working on myself. 

It's crazy to see how far I have come as I have engaged in recovery and learned believe that I truly am worth it and deserve peace and happiness.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The New Job!

Alright, let's talk about the new gig. So...when I left my last job, the intention was actually to go back a few months later after I dealt with my medical issues that were causing me to miss quite a bit of work. Well...things there didn't end very well and I actually was burned out from mortgage lending in general. I started looking for low key jobs while I was going to school. I was actually just planning on being like a teller or something chill and making no money for the next year. Well...then then Mortgage Lending Manager for Utah at Chase Bank called me and wanted to meet with me. After the first interview, I was very impressed and very interested in continuing the interview process with Chase. I honestly didn't think that I had a chance since they normally hire people with 10 or more years of experience in the industry, but I continued to interview. Six interviews later, I was finally given a solid offer at Chase. So, now I cover two Chase branches in Utah. I cover the Fashion Place Branch (it's really not good to be working so close to the Loft two days a week..) and I will be at the District in South Jordan three times a week. I am really excited for this opportunity. I am working for such an awesome bank, don't have to work in a phone bank anymore, and I have the flexibility to work anywhere since they gave me a work laptop to work out of. Also, I am the youngest on my Utah team by like 10 years. At first I was intimidated by this, but now I see it as a great compliment that my boss saw something in me that he normally sees in people with much more work and life experience. I look forward to working for such a large bank and having solid lead sources. So...that's the plan! I see myself being here for quite awhile. Even though I am also going to school to be a counselor, if things work out here, I will most likely stay here and do some addiction counseling on the side for the time being. 

Now for pictures:

After a month of interviews, I was stoked to get this letter! After this, it took another month of background checks and what not before I got to start. Gotta love those big banks.

I went to my sister's during Conference and Rylie was playing on my phone. After she gave it back, I had like 50 selfies of Rylie. Love that kid. 

Worst part of my job: I don't get to wear all my cute clothes from the Loft! Grrrr

I will now have my credit cards and license with me wherever I go. Stupid thieves. 

Is there really anything better than wearing flannel and drinking pumpkin spice hot chocolate? Nope. 

This kid is a gameaholic. I went over one night to say Hi and got roped into all sorts of games and puzzles!

I had to go to Chicago this week for training. I got sick the day before and was throwing up all week. It was awful traveling sick. What made it even worse? The kid in the plane that screamed bloody murder for the ENTIRE flight. I really considered killing him.

And here's the official Chase headshot.

One thing about working for such a big bank? LOTS of Conference calls. So...I figured I might as well paint my nails to get through the call!

These are the Chase stats. Pretty amazing!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Katy Perry Concert!

Yesterday, after work, I hit up the Katy Perry concert with my Mom, Katie, and Melissa. It was awesome! We have waited a LONG time for this concert. I remember last January, I was just out of treatment when my sister called to tell me that she got us Katy Perry tickets for the fall. I remember thinking that I probably wouldn't make it to the concert and still be sober. I was still in the thinking mode that I would probably be dead any day. It's crazy to think about that and look back over the past few months and see how different my perspective is today. I am so grateful for sobriety and the opportunities that I am getting as a result of this new life I have created. I am slammed with work and school and all of the other craziness of life, but I can't help but be grateful that recovery has lead me to all of these amazing opportunities that I never would have thought were possible a year ago. 

In other iphone picture news...

My parents and I went here when we were in St. George and it's amazing! Lo and Behold...there's one right by my house!! Who wants to come up and go to breakfast with me?!?!

Now, rebelling consists of wearing a U shirt at my parents house. Seems harmless compared to other ways I have rebelled in the past!

Last weekend, we had a girls night and watched the Women's conference. Afterwards, we played Bingo. Rylie was my teammate ;-)

On Sunday, I decided to be all nostalgic and do stadiums at my old high school. So many great memories came back to me!

Chase has much higher dress code standards than I would like. I will only be seen in blue preppy shirts for the next year at the very least. 

Good thing I work at the Fashion Place location and the Loft had a sale. Double win!

These are all the pics from the concert. So much fun!!

I just finished up my midterms. I can't believe I am halfway through the semester!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Time To Catch Up

So it's been almost a month since I last posted on here. I was doing so good there for a little bit! So, I am going to catch you up on my ever so exciting life by dumping a million iphone pics on you! Enjoy!

First: I went on an amazing Labor Day weekend camping trip up to Rock City in Idaho with some of my all time favorite friends!

We climbed to the top of that 400 foot mountain. It was rad. 

Shout out to Erica for being a boss at starting fires!

I'm really loving this climbing stuff. 

Second, I have loved all of the trail running this summer. I would be sad that it's ending, but I am stoked to snowboard this winter!

Bell Canyon Reservoir

I'm all about reppin my favorite community EVER: Fit To Recover

Next, I came down from a trail run and found this: my window shattered and my credit cards stolen along with a gym bag. I have terrible luck. Two robberies in a single year. YIKES!

So frustrating!

Little Miss Charlee has been my best buddy lately, even though she refuses to take pictures!

I started my job at Chase as a Mortgage Banker. I will be covering two branches in Salt Lake Valley. I am stoked for this opportunity after going through SIX interviews and then the entire offer approval process. 

I feel like this is my first actual real person job. 

We got Char some Hello Kitty "Posicles" That's how I win over children's hearts.

We have a fire pit in my parent's backyard and love to make s'mores on Sunday nights. 

She would only let me take a picture of her if she could pose with her dolly. Still couldn't convince her to smile though!

This semester is almost halfway over! I'm pretty OCD about my notes/assignment organization!

I got a new daily meditation book and this is what it said on my Sobriety date. Pretty crazy!

I went down to St. George with my parents for one last weekend before I get insanely busy between work, school, and my internship. 

Whenever I can, I try to support the Fit To Recover movement. We do stuff almost every day. On Mondays, we have a group and a run. On Wednesdays, we do circuit training. On Thursdays, there's a women's only group. On Saturdays, there's a bootcamp. Come support the movement with me!

First day of work was this week. My wardrobe from DC is coming back! Pencil skirts and high heels are my new work clothes! I'm going to miss casual days for sure. 

Shout out to one of my top ten favorite people: Dana!

Fit to Recover was on the news this week. This movement is gaining A LOT of traction lately. It's fun to be a part of something that is going to help hundreds of people stay sober. 

I am so glad I no longer have a tiny cubical. I am actually important enough to have my own office!

So there you go! My month in review! I will try to be better about posting on here. Whenever I get a couple of weeks behind, the task feels so daunting to try and catch up! I need a nap now!