One minute ago, I used the last of my drug of choice that I had in my possession. I am trying to make good choices – or rather, healthy choices – in my life. This past weekend has been a [string] of unhealthiness, one choice after another, starting with and stemming from, acquiring said drug of choice. From Friday, until this morning, Monday, I was sober for less than an hour. Even while sleeping, I was intoxicated. Surprisingly, that is the worst of it. Laziness and poor communication take over the rest of the weekend. Yelling at and with the parental figure with whom I reside and doing next to nothing productive.
To say I enjoyed being intoxicated the whole time I was intoxicated, well, would be a lie. It was not fun or comfortable the whole time, not even for most of it. I didn’t like how I was feeling but didn’t like what I got when I changed it either. I tried to change it with chemicals, food (or lack of), and shopping. Anything that would change the torture my brain was putting me through. As much as I wanted to cut my arm or leg and let the black evil flow straight out… as much as I craved it, I managed to not. Not do that. But that craving did not dissipate even when I was sober for a part of the day today. I need release but I am trying to make healthy choices in my life. Healthy does not include self-harm or drugs, that’s for sure. But then, replacing those with food and shopping is not a decent choice, either, and straight up taking away these things I rely on and throw them out the window with no replacement in sight is not smart, either. So the real, healthy question is… what is it going to take to replace self-harm and drugs, to a point where they go away for good? A final goodbye to them and hello to… what though?
Coping skills are some of the most annoying things in the world to try to learn, when you were never taught them and only gathered the maladaptive ones into your arsenal.
For years, twenty to be exact, I’ve been in and out of therapy and psychiatric offices, with frequent detours to the psych hospital mixed in. And over those 20 years, I have gathered at least the knowledge of many other coping skills. Using cold temperatures to snap my brain back online, using video games or books or artwork to pull my attention off the unhealthy urge and redirect that attention to doing something else, using my five senses to connect my brain back to my body, and to the world around me, using the care and concern of those around me to build or even maintain my motivation to only make healthy choices, while checking the facts of the situation. I could keep this list going for quite a while, but only because I am not in crisis mode right now.
If I enter crisis mode, I love all connection to the healthy skills I know, deep down. That knowledge disappears. Not completely, not anymore. Every so often, an insane idea will plant itself in the dirt on the ground of my mind and grow and sprout into an inkling of an urge, and spring up, budding motivation to try something different. Something healthy. Something that may actually work. Something that could genuinely help. And help longer than the short term, immediate gratification of the maladaptive coping skills to which I usually resort.
The biggest thing I can say, after twenty years, is do not give up, do not give in, and the fight will be worth it, in the end. I would love to be able to say that it will never hurt and you will never struggle. I can say, making the healthy choice each time you are able, makes the healthy choice less difficult each subsequent time.
So to practice, what I preach, I am sitting in my room, writing pen to paper, in the glow of a video game streamer, as they run for their life in an asymmetrical horror survival game. The sound of their Aussie accent tantalizing the little hairs in my ears, attempting to draw my attention away. And they make it out alive, so I think, tonight at least, I will make it out unscathed this time, as well.