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.