Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The 8th and 9th Step for both AA and Beepers

When I quit drinking, doing the 8th and 9th steps was easy. All the people i upset with my drinking saw me sober up abd after a year or so when I finally started this step, all of them said "No biggie". Most of them said the only amends I needed to make was to stay on the path. No one took anything from me, only to give me adivce to "Pay it forward."

They understood. My behavior was because of the grape.

With depression it's different. When I am depressed, I isolate. I take the phone off the hook and don't want the world to see me. I don't want to go to friends houses, I don't want to let anyone see me. While I isolate, it feeds on itself. It gets worse as it goes on, snowballing to something sinister. I'm not seeing anyone, why should I change my clothes? Why should I shower? Wash my hair? Brush my teeth, wash my face, moisturize? Even do my nails. Why bother? Hours turn to days, which turn to weeks.  It gets worse as I get more and more depressed, until I am hyper-sleeping and no longer eating. The last cycle lasted a month. By the time it's at it's worst, it becomes a Herculean task to shower, change clothes. Change the sheets on the bed. Move.

I have to move, keep moving. I lay in a hospital bed for 25 days last November and December when my kidneys failed and I lost the ability to walk because my muscles atrophied. I have to keep moving, I am starting to feel them atrophy. This is not good. My feet are swollen with edema from the kidney and bladder medications, and I have to wear T.E.D socks when I go to bed, so it's really important that I keep moving.

One of the things that makes it hard is because of my isolating, I've lost most of my friends in real life. "Friends" on line can only do so much for you. I know it's hard to maintain friends in real life, I've lost contact with most of my friends when the children came. I just didn't have anything in common with them anymore. And as much as I love children, being around them makes me uncomfortable, it reminds me of my own barrenness, and the dream I had  of being a mother, now lies in ashes at my feet. When my ex left me, I crumpled, part of me knew it was the best thing, and part of me knew that as much as I love being alone I needed someone in my life to keep me social. I could easily wind up being the only person on an island and love it. The sad fact of life is humans are social animals. We need other humans to survive. The ex was a social creature, he needed to be around people. I didn't, and I was often upset that he would invite people over when I just wanted to be alone.  

Like I said, the isolation adds to the depression. It feeds it. And like ice cream, you keep feeding it until you cannot stop. The depression then eventually transmogrifies into despair, then suicidal thoughts come in. If you aren't careful, you can give into their Siren voices. 

Here's where the 8th and 9th steps come in. The steps are:

  1. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  2. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
I've harmed everyone I know in real life by isolating. Not answering the phone. Not wanting to do anything but lie in bed, on the pity pot. I can apologize. 

Only this time it's not so easy. My family and friends know I do this behavior. A lot. They know there is something wrong with my wiring that I prefer to be alone than with others. They know, but don't understand, that when I am with a group of people, I am absolutely miserable, I want to be home, alone with the cat. Why should I ask forgiveness for something I know I will do again? 

So basically I'm left with this. There should be some type of 12 Step program for people with depression. I want to complete the 8th and 9th steps, but it would be in vain. Until I can beat this monster, the monster has me. Pills aren't going to cure it, but sheer will. Each episode gets worse and worse, longer and longer, and I fear the day will come, where, like Virginia Woolf's last words*, I will just exit stage right. That's not acceptable. To me or anyone else. 

*According to her suicide note,Virginia Woolf's last words were- "I feel certain that I'm going mad again. I can't go through another of those terrible times. And I shan't recover this time." 


Anonymous said...

I wish I had something more constructive to say, but all I have is that I can relate. I isolate and I hide from everyone. And I feel guilty for alienating my friends but I just don't want to be seen. But I also have a cat, and its crazy how much it helps. I wish you and I both, the strength to overcome this.

Sallyo said...

It's good to see you writing! Sometimes I feel like isolating, too. Take it one step at a time, and practice gentle, healing love and acceptance for you!

susan said...

Monique, You are the first person I've ever met that does the exact thing. The cat does help, though, isn't it amazing? I wish for you the same. Let me know how you are doing.

susan said...

Sally, thank you. You are right, like AA says, one step an at a time, one day at a time.

Phil @SUPPORTbuddy said...

I appreciate your well-articulated message. The 8th and 9th steps were very important for me as I realized that when I make amends to someone it is for THEM not ME. A sponsor once told me that the 9th step is never over - and how could it be? We're never perfect. I tell people, "progress is the closest I will ever get to perfect." I'm glad you're reaching out.

Unknown said...

I don't know what to say, actually. I somehow can relate with you. Thank you for letting me know that I am not alone in this struggle; it helps a lot. I hope counseling would offer great help to us in this area. All the best for you, dear. :)

Mary LA said...

If there was more understanding of depression, there would be no need for those suffering from depression and isolating to feel they need to make amends. This kind of isolating is not selfish, it is part of the depression.

Hoping this is a good birthday for you my dearest friend. You make so much effort -- heroic effort -- to reach out.

Unknown said...

I do exactly the same thing. I have a husband and two kids so it's not as easy but the avoiding the phone, not showering, the whole "what's the point?" thing. Isolating myself is the only way I can avoid trying to explain how I feel because I can't explain it.

nicole said...

i have family with the very same thing. I on the other hand have a little monster too. Thanks for offering me a glimpse of their world. Now, maybe I can reach out a bit, since maybe they can't.

nicole said...

i have family with the very same thing. I on the other hand have a little monster too. Thanks for offering me a glimpse of their world. Now, maybe I can reach out a bit, since maybe they can't.

Gianna said...

frankly, I'm by no means convinced there is something wrong with "isolating."

Sometimes we need to be alone. Sometimes we need it more than other times.

And NO you shouldn't apologize for your nature.

sorry...this is actually something that gets my goat...there is nothing wrong with spending time alone...some people celebrate it if they're not surrounded by people who think it's pathological.

if and when you want to spend time with people, you will...otherwise...I LOVE being alone and often prefer it to being with people. The difference is I don't call it "isolating."

peace to you!!

Counselling Southampton said...

chronic pain is a serious problem- complex illness. this pain maybe worsen due to misinformation, negative emotions and negative beliefs. In order for you to overcome this pain,first- you must know how to accept it so that you can reduce the pain and less anxiety. Second, you must have a regular visit with your doctor so that you may be able to tell him what you are suffering and he can give an advises/ treatment unto it.Third, you must have an enough sleep- 8 hours a day to lessen stress/ fatigue. Fourth- you must have an exercise so that your body may able to move/ your body can stretch well. And lastly, never ignore it so that it will not develop another pain.

Counselling Southampton said...

Isolating ourselves from others is a way of escaping reality and the truth of every thing on it. Life is full of ups and downs. And most of us prefer to left the downs and move on with our ups. But, we really have to consider the down part of our lives for us to be successful. Try to contact a counselor for more serious and good strategies.

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