Archives for Addictions
It is so amazing how organizations are popping up all over the world helping us join forces to tackle mental health diseases. I was privileged enough to speak in Athens, Greece a few years ago about iFred's rebranding depression work, and learned from countries around the world just how important it is we work together to solve our greatest challenges. I've just recently been asked to join their advisory board, and continue to be amazed and impressed by the work of all throughout the world. It was celebrated across the U.S. when we were able to get mental health parity law passed. I don't by any means intend to minimize this work - but do we realize that what we accomplished was to treat the brain in a similar fashion to the heart, liver, and intestines? Should we really have to fight that hard for that? Those that were involved in the legislation understand the intense work, dedication, and challenge this simple piece of legislation involved - and unfortunately the rest of the world is so far behind us in many different ways.
I have been addicted to just about everything, and have quit these addictions because of one primary reason; I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. Granted, I found tools that worked and helped me along the way, but the thing that stopped the addiction wasn't AA, a patch, advice from friends and family, or a divorce. It was something inside me; a true exhaustion from the up and down of the addiction itself. There are really no miracle cures for anything. There are tools that can help you overcome challenges in getting there, but the only thing that can truly make you stop something is yourself. And then by surrounding yourself with people and things that support that type of healthy vs. unhealthy behavior. I do think it's different for each and every person.
Fine. I am totally ok admitting it to the whole world. I have an addiction to texting that try as I may, I cannot seem to beat. I am admitting now I am completely helpless over it - and asking all of you to help. Why? Because there doesn't seem to be many great solutions out there - and I find the best way to overcome something is to find someone else who has done it successfully and build on that. We don't have any NIH studies that show success rates of different treatments, so we need to join together and find solutions that work.
The discipline of Psychology has come up with some fairly simple rules to follow for fighting fair, and it amazes me how each and every day we ignore these rules and suffer again and again from their lessons. The recent shooting in Arizona has brought up a lot of this, but I am reminded when I hear of bullying, the divorce rate, and the constant battle of the media and politics. While Psychology is far from perfect, it is an evolving discipline (as are we) and I would think we would take at least what we do know, and use it to our advantage. Fighting fair is an art, and it needs to be taught in school and practiced throughout every relationship. Yet it takes a great deal of discipline, and it seems few have it. The amount of hurtful words we are constantly spewing out of our mouths, on an hourly basis, is creating a majorly toxic environment. Our kids are learning how to treat each other through the television, politicians, adults, and teachers - and what kinds of fighting are we doing every day?
I don't know how to say it any other way. I've been fortunate enough to have gotten treatment throughout my life while continuing to develop coping skills, yet it's the reality of my situation. Some days I wake up sobbing, a feeling so intense from the nightmare that I feel I can't breathe and I can't quite imagine how I will make it through the day. The PTSD was easy to diagnose, and it happened early on so thankfully I've had comfort in at least understanding on some level what is going on in my brain. The nightmares, various escapes, intense pain, depression, and necessity of my body to shut down when that pain is triggered is pretty clear. While I still have all of those issues, my capacity to endure pain, ability to understand and care for others while in that pain, and reduction of escape routes grows daily.
My post the other day on texting and driving brought many responses, both good and bad. One of them, however, blew me away. The individual's ability to recognize the problem from both sides of the spectrum, acknowledge the challenges that each group faces on a regular day, and taking all of it into consideration allowed them to provide an innovative solution. Often times, extreme views happen because we don't understand another person's perspective, and instead of trying to be a better listener we become a louder talker. We find others on our side that agree with us to make us feel better about our own position, and condone anyone that thinks otherwise. It's a normal human defense, but not one that is very productive to solving the many issues in society; all it does is shut off listening and polarize views further.
I've written recently about the issues that those with ADHD have with texting, including myself, and have been reading some startling statistics about texting and driving that must be shared. As those with ADHD have increased distractibility, I think it's especially important that us ADHDers know this startling statistic and take serious note; Research shows that texting and driving can actually be worse than drinking and driving, and laws banning texting is doing little about saving lives. I've always known it isn't exactly safe, but until it was put in that context it didn't register with me just how great the potential to destroy lives really is. I've done things like limit my texting to when I am on the highway and at stoplights, readily making excuses for why I can afford to look away a few more seconds on long stretches and when I'm stopped. But invariably my few seconds at the stop light turns into just one more after I've started, and before you know it those very restrictions I have put in place are over ruled by my impulsivity, excuses and justifications.
Does ADHD effect your sex life? Have you ever even thought about it? I didn't, until recently reading that it can have both positive and negative influences on your overall sexual experience. So the question it than raised for me is "Is ADHD a blessing or a curse for your sex life?" It is such a complicated issue, perhaps it is both a blessing AND a curse? I'm interested in hearing all of your thoughts after you read a bit more, and see how it applies to your own life.
My problem with texting is ongoing. It scares me, because I KNOW it's not good for me yet I still do it. It is embarrassing and humiliating and my lack of management is getting me very down. Even with all of my education and experience and knowledge of addictions, I continue to treat it as something I can control, instead of understanding the chemical reactions in my brain that are producing the 'high' that keep me at it. My guess is it's the ADHD, and as much as we want to 'control' our impulsiveness we still have our brain chemistry that overturns our objectivity for immediate gratification. I'm now reading that over 50% of all kids text, and about 10% send over 100 messages a day. While it makes me feel a little better about my own habit, it seriously concerns me as kids are missing out on learning how to effectively communicate in person and are also setting themselves up for addictive behaviors.
I'm writing today as a reminder to both myself and everyone else in the world that we are all a work in progress. Beating ourselves up does absolutely NO good, in fact it usually makes things quite worse. It is quite easy for me to say that to others, but so infrequent that I take time to remind myself. I had a pretty severe therapy session yesterday. I mean, I was hating me. Everything about me. I was especially focused on my inability to control my texting even after continual negative consequences on my romantic life.