Inspiration/Motivation

REMAINS OF THE DAY

As an actor, I had to pretend, imitate, hide, steal, keep secrets, and even transcend. I created believable characters and delivered Oscar-worthy performances.

Ooops, wait a minute . . . did I say, “Actor”?

I meant, “Addict”.

“As an ADDICT I’ve learned to pretend, imitate, hide . . . “.

Although, after 40 years of addiction I’ve become quite the actor. I was so good that when I stopped acting, there was no one left. There was no one remaining. I’d lost the central character . . . me.

It’s said that addicts have to hit rock bottom before they can begin recovery. Trouble is, I didn’t recognize rock bottom even when I slammed into it.

I thought it would BE like in the movies; when the alcoholic wakes up face down in a ditch, with no memory of how she got there.

I never embraced a ditch, but I did pass out face-down in a bowl of Fruit Loops once.

And I thought it would LOOK like in the movies; like the crack addict with sores and discolored teeth who eventually blows up her house while brewing chemicals.

Although I never had sores or blew up the house; I did lose a lot of teeth, and I did set the sofa on fire by falling asleep with a cigarette in my hand.

The tragedy is that I never saw the similarities between them and me.

As a result, I co-failed in marriage, spent a lifetime in a foggy buzz, and lost most of my memories. I was constantly using drugs, pursuing them, or desperately trying to hide my addiction to them.

My addiction was accessible, convenient, socially acceptable, and kind of legal. And it only required two things: my willingness and a reliable drug dealer.

And I had both.

I was lost and floundering, and he was greedy and available. So together we entered into a relationship in which neither of us acted or looked the part.

We never spoke in drug code on the phone, or met in a dark alley in the hood, or in the bowels of inner Detroit. And my dealer wasn’t paranoid, dressed in Goth black, or covered in tats and piercings; and his pants did NOT hang below his butt.

Nope. He was confident and clean-cut.

And he wore white.

My dealer was my doctor.

And my addiction was to prescription drugs.

*

I took my first pain pill when I was fifteen years old and suffering with a migraine.

Three things happened:

  • I felt the buzz of codeine.
  • My addiction switch was flipped on.
  • I lied about feeling relief because I already wanted more.

It was that quick and easy.

Over the next 40 years, I lived on a daily cocktail of medications prescribed for pain, muscle tension, anxiety, sleep, depression, and seizures.

And because of the migraines, finding a dealer doctor was easy.

As with all professions, there are good doctors and bad ones. The good ones won’t prescribe pain meds if they aren’t truly warranted. They will work with you to reduce pain and eliminate or control the cause of it.

And the bad ones won’t. They won’t take the time. But they will take a quick moment to write a script and take your money.

I don’t blame my doctor for my addiction, but I will say:

“I couldn’t have done it without him”.

Now, four years later, I take full responsibility for my health, behavior, and life. I volunteer my history of addiction to my doctors because once I do, there is no turning back. And every time I own it, I’m a little proud; because I’m reclaiming myself.

I don’t oppose mainstream medicine or the legitimate use of prescription drugs. Pharmaceuticals save lives, manage diseases and disorders, and relieve pain. If I could tolerate an effective bipolar medication, I would take it in a minute. And if I was having surgery, I would take pain medication during my recovery.

But my pills ceased to be for pain and morphed into a crutch and a habit.

There was always a reason to take one; if I was insecure, upset, depressed, or even just bored. And I was not discriminating about what I ingested. I quickly discarded the inconvenience of discrimination, along with my dignity, judgment, and self-confidence.

As long as I felt . . . better. Or numb.

I didn’t know about bipolar disorder and self-medicating, or about masking and delaying grief, and I didn’t know about addictive personalities or that it can be genetic and run in families.

I couldn’t be an addict . . . because my drugs were prescribed.

“These are needed”, they said.

And I was hurting and without tools to cope with the pain of life or death . . . so I pretended to believe them.

And I took a pill.

And another.

And another.

EVERY SINGLE DAY, for years.

I don’t know what spurred me, but I slowly weaned myself from one medication at a time until, eventually, I stopped taking all ten medications (Do this under the supervision of your doctor!).

Today, I still take pills. The ones I need; for thyroid and migraine (a migraine med, NOT a pain med), and Xanax for sleep or extreme anxiety.

I’ve been clean now for four years.

Boy, what a different world.

It’s all brand new. And I’m doing everything for the first time.

Now, without any fog to act as a buffer, I’m living in a world FULL of people with issues. It’s difficult, as I’m still finding and developing tools for coping and interacting with them.

Sometimes, I miss the warm fuzzy fogginess of codeine. Things seemed easier. Nothing really touched me. When I felt things, it was dreamlike.

But I’m awake now.

And that means I’m seeing all of life’s beauty for the first time. But I’m also feeling my bipolar disorder; acutely. And my grief. And now, living an inactive, disabled life has become much less tolerable. It was easier when I didn’t care.

But getting clean makes you care. It also makes you restless and uncertain of your next step.

Yes, I’m awake now. And I have a small window of opportunity to try to live an entire lifetime . . . again, the right way.

Why am I sharing all of this?

Because America is suffering from an epidemic of addiction.

Prescription drug addiction is the #1 addiction in the USA today   (NOT marijuana, alcohol, or heroin). There’s an estimated 20,000 prescription drug-related deaths annually.

SO WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?

  • START AT HOME by setting an example. Watch your child’s behavior. Be diligent. Keep all medications inaccessible or you will become your child’s drug source should they become curious or depressed.
  • BUCK UP. Feel life. It’s okay to be sad or experience pain sometimes. When physical or mental pain persists or interferes with your quality of life, THEN it’s time to visit your doctor.
  • STOP SHARING your pills. Your friends may become addicted or have a bad reaction. You might be well-intentioned, but that’s not the way to help.
  • BE WILLING TO DO THE WORK OF LIVING healthier. Whether that entails diet, exercise, quitting smoking, stress management, or physical/psychiatric therapy. Seek natural and alternative therapies.
  • DON’T SELF-DIAGNOSE. You’re not a doctor and your friends aren’t either. And however educated, they don’t know your medical history; online information is ambiguous at best, and every patient is different. Consult a doctor.
  • OVER-PRESCRIBING DOCTORS WILL QUICKLY OFFER YOU PAIN MEDS. It doesn’t mean you have to take them. You can “just say no”. If pain meds are needed, remember that they’re not a long-term solution.
  • RECOGNIZE your addictive personality or family history.
  • BE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR LIFE. Dr. Random doesn’t care if you live zoned-out and in a stupor. Protect and contribute to your quality of life.

This is 2014 and there’s a new addiction in our country.

It’s lured us with its legality and promises of a quick fix for whatever ails us. With the pop of a pill, we don’t have to feel even remotely uncomfortable ever.

But is that what we want?

And is that the legacy we leave our children?

I spent 40 years spinning my wheels and going nowhere. I wasted a lifetime.

Don’t you.

Rewrite the script to your life story. If you don’t know how, find someone who does and ask for help. There are plenty of us around.

I was nearly 50 years old when I stopped hiding from the pain of life and took my first baby step towards change. And then I took another. And another. I shed the dealer. And the addict. And I stopped playing the victim.

And when the fog cleared, I looked around. I thought that there was no one left. But I was wrong.

I’m directing my own movie now. And at the end of the day, there IS someone left.

Me.

I remain.

And that’s a start.

Advertisements
Categories: Addiction, Inspiration/Motivation | Tags: , , , | 45 Comments

PURE MICHIGAN MAGIC – Look Closely

Here is my first narrated, 2.30 minute slideshow featuring my voice (eeek!), some beautiful music, and my favorite wintery Michigan photographs.

Please take a moment and share with me. Thank you!

http://youtu.be/DZy-Jd6bBLU.

xoJulia

Categories: Downriver/Detroit, Michigan, Inspiration/Motivation, Nature, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

A VIDEO SLIDESHOW – WALKING OUT OF THE DARKNESS

Misery loves company.

A miserable person likes to be around other miserables so they can all congregate and be miserable together, right?

The ailing and broken-hearted can assemble, share their horror stories, and dwell on their misfortunes as a collective rather than singularly, right?

Being of the strong-natured, private type, I never felt the need.

Sometimes those who need help the most, don’t even know it. And sometimes, we don’t know what we need, until we find it.

Or it finds us.

I’ve learned that it’s not that misery loves company; it’s the Alcoholics Anonymous thing. It’s the, “people just like you . . . helping you”, thing.

Because there is a healing that happens only when you gather with those who share your unique brand of suffering.

For those of us who have lost someone to suicide, our pain is difficult to explain. We don’t dwell on it; we live with it.

Last year I attended the “Out of the Darkness Community Walk” which raises funds and brings awareness to suicide prevention. And even though I lost my sister to suicide, I didn’t attend for any other purpose than to blog about it.

Oddly, I hadn’t anticipated the overwhelming emotions I’d feel. The moment I arrived, I wanted to leave. But I didn’t. I stayed but I was tightly wrapped. I didn’t speak to anyone. I didn’t share my story. I never said my sister’s name. I walked the walk, took my snaps, went home, and blogged it. Please read, “Out of the Darkness”, at: http://wp.me/p2ckKM-gC.

It didn’t touch me. Too much.

This year, I didn’t know that I was ready.

And on Sunday, October 13, 2013, at the AFSP Downriver “Out of the Darkness Walk”, I found out that I was. Ready . . . to be touched.

I had planned on my usual modus operandi of hiding behind my camera, but soon found that instead of it being my shield, it was providing an unintended gateway.

I took my photographs alright, but I was talking to people. And sharing. Repeatedly, I heard myself say, “I lost my sister, Chris, to suicide. I understand and I’m so sorry for your loss”.

There were hugs and tears, and names and laughter, and more hugs. There were strangers who became friends, and then as friends, we became a kind of special family.

We weren’t there to dwell on our misery.

We were there to feel the comfort of being with people who understand and know our pain. We didn’t need to explain anything. And no one here would say the wrong thing or fail to understand. Or tell us to just move on.

We did not gather to share our misery.

We gather with all of our grief, pain, and love, and with the life and power of a tsunami, and we walk. We walk to change.

We walk to honor those we’ve lost to suicide. And to bring suicide out of the closet’s icy darkness and into the warm light of day. The ugly stigma cannot live in the light.

Only hope lives there.

So we walk. And we find community. And we make new friends, who understand.

And Out of the Darkness . . . comes hope.

PLEASE WATCH MY VIDEO SLIDESHOW OF THIS YEAR’S “OUT OF THE DARKNESS WALK”:  http://youtu.be/7gkddRgN8Ug.

***************************************************************************************************************************

“Thank you” to Event Coordinators Gerri Trager & Tanya Duffy, and their amazing volunteers for a truly healing event.

And to my dear friend, Pat Petroline, who knew what I needed even when I didn’t, and then got me there despite my excuses and all of my quirks. Thank you, girlie.

***************************************************************************************************************************

*The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: http://www.afsp.org.

*Also see: http://www.outofthedarkness.org & survivoroutreachMI@gmail.

*Donations accepted at:

http://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=2358

*If you have lost someone to suicide:  http://www.afsp.org/survivingsuicideloss

*IF YOU ARE IN SUICIDAL CRISIS, CALL: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at:  1-800-273-TALK (8255)* 

*** BECAUSE EVERYONE MATTERS ***

***************************************************************************************************************************

Categories: Downriver/Detroit, Michigan, Grief/Healing, Inspiration/Motivation, Suicide | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

SENSITIVE STEEL

I have bipolar disorder.

I am constantly challenged by my own intense emotions.

I feel everything you feel . . . times a thousand.

The good, the bad, and the ugly . . . times a thousand.

The loneliness and depression can be devastating, and the endless and exhausting struggle to cope, pure torture.

The statistics confirm it. One out of every five people afflicted with bipolar disorder successfully takes their own life.

My life consists of agitated anxious thinking and tormented isolation, with brief intermittent bursts of joy.

Even the happiness is heartbreaking. So erratic. And fleeting.

When I feel a joyous moment, I try to grab hold of it and capture it like a lightning bug in a jar. I embrace it. I consume it and feed it to my hungry heart. I am a quiet little hoarder of happiness.

Because I don’t know when I’ll see another lightning bug again.

Maybe never.

When most of you meet new people, you get to know them and then you judge whether or not to trust them and let them into your heart.

I do the opposite.

I take people at face value, and after a quick scan of my instincts, I pretty much let everyone in. And then I judge, as they prove dramatic, unstable, or hurtful, which ones are unhealthy for me.

It’s an awful way to live, but I’ve tried being careful and guarded, and it’s just not my nature.

I love quickly and with a wide open heart.

I view everyone as being unique and magnificent, and I let them come in, and I celebrate them loudly. That’s how I am.

But I forget.

I forget that people don’t always say what they mean. And sometimes they’ll say what they mean all day long until you need them to, and then they won’t. People are funny like that.

I also forget that people misuse the word “love”, and when they hug me and say it, they mean it casually like, “It’s been nice to see you”. They don’t really love me.

And I forget that people don’t feel as intensely as I do.

And when I am reminded, it breaks my heart.

I am a constant victim . . . of my own brain.

So I strive to make better choices about people. Who I let in. Who I believe. And trust. And love.

And when I get hurt, as surely I will, because I will always love quickly and hugely, I will take the hit to my heart, lick my wounds, adjust, and then get right back out into the world.

But I will remember this pain.

For a little while anyway.

And then I’ll forget again.

Because that’s just my nature.

I love quickly. And I have a terrible memory. Sheesh.

The irony is, that as sensitive as I am . . .

I am as strong as you are . . .  times a thousand.

We bipolars are funny that way.

*****************************************************************************************************************************************

(Read, “Being Bipolar” at: http://wp.me/p2ckKM-hF).

Categories: Bipolar/Depression, Friends, Inspiration/Motivation, Kindness & Compassion, Mental Health, Suicide | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

ONE STEP BEYOND

Can you imagine how dull life’s travels would be if all the roads were straight? WINDING ROAD

I used to feel anxious and off balance by life’s many twists and turns, and navigating them was as much fun as trying to drive through quicksand.

But I know that beautiful and astonishing discoveries are not going to come and find me at home on my sofa where I am safely tucked away in my comfort zone.

I have to take a deep breath and put my uncertainty aside. I have to make the effort and physically leave the house.

I have to take one single step . . . beyond the familiar.

I have learned that with a new point of view, a few tools, and a little practice, that these twists and turns, these disruptions and deviations, can teach me fun new driving skills and lead to wonderful and exciting experiences.

Instead of anxiety, I call it excitement. And instead of fearing the unknown, I now seek it. And embrace it. I celebrate the newness and am giddy with anticipation.

Sometimes, the greatest joy is in the journey . . . and the destination is just a happy consequence!

Categories: Adventures, Inspiration/Motivation, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

ABOUT ME & MY JOURNEY

In this blog I bear my soul. I’ve suffered some rather traumatic family losses in my lifetime and have overcome some rough stuff: the loss of my only child; an infant son, a 40-year dysfunctional, (but comfortable), relationship with grief, suicide and drug addiction in the family, and everything from quitting a 35 yr smoking habit, to overcoming prescription drug addiction, to my challenges with bipolar disorder. smiling glasses allieGOOD

Now, at the age of 54, I’m facing a whole new world through clear eyes! Everything is fresh and exciting, and challenging and scary . . . and I’m embracing it all!

In this blog, I share (purge) my past experiences, however painful, raw, or revealing. And I share new adventures . . . both emotionally and physically out in the world. I take you into the world of bipolar disorder . . . or maybe to the local cancer center to meet cancer patients who heal through their art, or to an art gallery exhibition, to the local park to snap pics, or maybe downtown to our wonderful City of Detroit!

I’m on the cusp . . . of change.

I believe in celebrating the people and places around me. I will seldom vent, rant, or approach something in a negative way. If I don’t enjoy an art show, or a new business, or a new artist, I simply won’t blog about it. Anything else is just too easy. I look for the good, the funny, the kind, the loving, and the inspirational things; and they are EVERYWHERE! I hope to make you laugh, or cry, or maybe even think about things a bit differently.

So, please, join me on this beautiful, incredible, painful, and amazing journey called life. And please, share your thoughts with me by leaving a comment on my blog! Also, to “Follow” me on my journey, just enter your email address in the “Follow” box and you will be notified by email each time I post a new blog entry.

Thanks for visiting! Be safe. Be careful. And please . . . remember to be kind. xoxoJulia

*Blog content & photographs © 2013 by Julia Kovach, unless otherwise noted.

Categories: Addiction, Bipolar/Depression, Downriver/Detroit, Michigan, Humor, Inspiration/Motivation, Kindness & Compassion, Mental Health, Suicide | Tags: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

AN itty bitty PAY IT FORWARD

I had family come into town and stay with me for a holiday weekend. I drink a cheap brand of instant coffee, and knowing that they had already silently choked through one morning of it, I decided to sneak out early the next morning to Tim Horton’s to pick up some real java.

With puffy late night eyes, disheveled early morning hair, and clad in sweats and a hoodie, I sat at the drive-thru window basking in the afterglow of an enjoyable evening with family.

As the young male employee at the window handed me my change and a cardboard tray containing my order, I had a thought.

“Hey, buddy” I queried with a smile, “what’s the total bill for the car behind me?”

“$1.75” he said.

“I’ll pay it!” I said as I handed him my money, “Tell the guy that I said, ‘Happy Holidays!’”

And off I went, grinning big, and feeling giddy and mischievous.

I thought about it as I quietly snuck back into my apartment and placed the rich, aromatic coffee on the counter to surprise my niece. And I remembered again later that day and smiled at the thought of the unsuspecting recipient sharing his experience with a friend.

I probably enjoyed this small gesture even more than he had.

That’s the funny thing about giving – you always receive more than you give.

Secretly I hoped that maybe he took a cue from me and paid the tab for the car behind him in line.

But, no matter. The deed was done. And complete in its entirety. No strings. And no expectations.

That was the best part. He couldn’t even thank me.

A random act of kindness . . . it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or be some grand elaborate expression; all it takes is a little creativity and a moment’s thought about someone other than yourself.

One Tim Horton’s small cafe mocha: $1.75.

My return on investment: Priceless!

Categories: Family, Holidays/Birthdays, Inspiration/Motivation, Kindness & Compassion | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments

PLEASE, MISTER, CAN YOU SPARE SOME CHANGE?

PLEASE, MISTER, CAN YOU SPARE SOME CHANGE?.

Categories: Addiction, Family, God/Spiritual, Grief/Healing, Inspiration/Motivation, Kindness & Compassion, Love, Mental Health, Suicide | Leave a comment

BEING BIPOLAR

BEING BIPOLAR.

Categories: Bipolar/Depression, Friends, Inspiration/Motivation, Mental Health, Suicide | Leave a comment

WHY LIVE IN OKLAHOMA? I KNOW WHY!

WHY LIVE IN OKLAHOMA? I KNOW WHY!.

Categories: Family, God/Spiritual, Inspiration/Motivation, Kindness & Compassion, Nature | 2 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.