15 years

It is no secret that my days 15 years ago were comprised of needles, vodka, knives, blood, vomit, powder, pills, and self-destructive behavior. It is all a blur, but I know that sometime soon (15 years ago) I almost died and became handicapable. As I reflect on my life tonight, I can honestly say I’d change nothing. Indeed, I am supremely happy with my life. No, I don’t have a great deal of material possessions, but  I am supremely content within; something I lacked for much of my life. If I tell you something it is this: you’re alive; if anything be grateful for that. We so often chase that which is elusive; feel inadequate and never enough. You ARE enough! Don’t sell yourself short 🙂 To my friends struggling: you are not broken; maybe scratched, but you’re worth  salvaging! I am not special; if I can come from THAT, trust that ANYONE can! Whatever you do, believe and have faith that anything is possible!

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Me

In early November of 2003, I had reached my lowest point and attempted suicide by overdosing on drugs and alcohol; I awoke from a coma about a week later. Unable to move or make noise, I found myself as one sees a newborn baby. I was extremely anorexic and malnourished; I was also very addicted to drugs and alcohol. What strikes me now as no coincidence is this: my family was holding vigil over Thanksgiving dinner in the hospital cafeteria when I came back to life.

My life had completely taken a downward spiral since my days as a glowing college philosophy student. My dream of becoming a professor had been replaced by the hellish torture of alcoholism, drug addiction, and an eating disorder. While in school, I modeled myself after the great philosophers and truly thought the greatest thoughts were derived from the use of some sort of substance. I imagined myself holding council with the greats in absinthe bars across Europe and sharing my brilliant two cents with those around me. As an adolescent, I was an avid athlete and won many scholastic awards; I graduated ahead of my class and the future was in my hands. My addictions had other plans:  a dentist’s daughter, private school and university taught, I often found myself homeless and at the end of my addiction, living to drink and drug. My dreams had been replaced by nightmares and it all came to fruition that bleak November night. No longer could did I care about my mental or physical health; I was physically addicted and drinking to live. How dark it is before the dawn!

Upon overdosing I found myself in a coma on life support; unable to breath on my own, my systems were shutting down. Recently, I found out that one night, they prepared my family for the worst. It is very important for posterity’s sake that one takes into account what atrocious shape I was in, as you may find the later portion of my story rather uplifting. After awakening, my living nightmare began, I had cut off the oxygen supply to my brain and was unable to move or make noise, due to the large holes now in my cerebellum. I wish I could say that was an a-ha moment, an awakening of sorts; sadly it was not. I did not drink, drug, or practice my eating disorder for  three years, as I was physically unable and due to mobility issues had moved back home with my mother (my father committed suicide in 2001). After three years, I was walking with a walker, and ready to live on my own again… so I thought. By 2007, I had destroyed what little progress I had made; I was once again drinking and practicing the eating disorder, only this time I was severely disabled. In the spring, I found myself, once again, in a psych ward. Guardianship was relinquished to my mother; I know not why, but all of a sudden a switch flipped on inside of me and I decided then and there I would “get better”, so to speak.

I remembered the philosophical teachings of Epictetus, how one creates their own circumstances and of the great psychologist Viktor Frankl who claimed that “He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.” I began inpatient hospitalization to nourish my body and uncloud my mind. Once I was well enough, I began working with a nutritionist and attending support groups; I abstained from alcohol and drugs, but faltered with the eating disorder. Honestly, it was difficult to let go of all of my unhealthy habits. Resisting drugs and alcohol, I remained sober for 3.5 years. On December 14th of 2013 I, again, drank; that is an important date for me; that is the day I took my life back. I decided enough is enough and all but wore out my copies of my motivating philosophical books. The next few months found me sober, quitting smoking, halting the eating disorder, becoming vegetarian, and obtaining a gym membership. It’s truly amazing as to the things we can do when we apply ourselves! All this while, I’ve held onto the notion that there is reason for one’s suffering; if anything, it is to share hope with those who may well be fighting their own battles. For the first time in 20 years, I myself began to see hope. I sought refuge in the works of William James and studied Joseph Campbell’s “The Power of Myth”. These works led me to believe there was an immutable sense underlying all; it was not up to me to figure my life out, but I could, indeed, live to show others that hope is for all, not simply the worthy.

In 2014, I was doing so well all around that I set a new goal for myself: to go back to school to be a personal trainer. You must remember that from 2003-2004 I could barely move; so this was a lofty goal. I gained my certification on the first try, joining only 10% of my class; next up, find employment. Believe it or not, I applied at gyms and health and nutrition stores. I secured a position in a health store and took the paratransit bus to work; I remembered stories from my childhood: these helped me overcome adversity. Aesop’s Fables, morals, and abstractions guided me through troubled waters. CS Lewis is another favorite who I studied intensely, not for his religious, but philosophical teachings. I believe now that “Even at night there are stars that shine”.

I have not had an eating disorder or used substances since 2013; neither have I eaten meat or smoked. As I now know, there is meaning in the suffering. Life happens; it is up to us as to its meaning. I know today that I make a choice everyday as to the path my life will take. “I am the captain of my soul; I am the master of my destiny.” Hope is available for everyone; take heart; it is yours if you want it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My story

In early November of 2013, I had reached my lowest point and attempted suicide by overdosing on drugs and alcohol; I awoke from a coma about a week later. Unable to move or make noise, I found myself as one sees a newborn baby. I was extremely anorexic and malnourished; I was also very addicted to drugs and alcohol. What strikes me now as no coincidence is this: my family was holding vigil over Thanksgiving dinner in the hospital cafeteria when I came back to life.

My life had completely taken a downward spiral since my days as a glowing college philosophy student. My dream of becoming a professor had been replaced by the hellish torture of alcoholism, drug addiction, and an eating disorder. While in school, I modeled myself after the great philosophers and truly thought the greatest thoughts were derived from the use of some sort of substance. I imagined myself holding council with the greats in absinthe bars across Europe and sharing my brilliant two cents with those around me. As an adolescent, I was an avid athlete and won many scholastic awards; I graduated ahead of my class and the future was in my hands. My addictions had other plans:  a dentist’s daughter, private school and university taught, I often found myself homeless and at the end of my addiction, living to drink and drug. My dreams had been replaced by nightmares and it all came to fruition that bleak November night. No longer could did I care about my mental or physical health; I was physically addicted and drinking to live. How dark it is before the dawn!

Upon overdosing I found myself in a coma on life support; unable to breath on my own, my systems were shutting down. Recently, I found out that one night, they prepared my family for the worst. It is very important for posterity’s sake that one takes into account what atrocious shape I was in, as you may find the later portion of my story rather uplifting. After awakening, my living nightmare began, I had cut off the oxygen supply to my brain and was unable to move or make noise, due to the large holes now in my cerebellum. I wish I could say that was an a-ha moment, an awakening of sorts; sadly it was not. I did not drink, drug, or practice my eating disorder for  three years, as I was physically unable and due to mobility issues had moved back home with my mother (my father committed suicide in 2002). After three years, I was walking with a walker, and ready to live on my own again… so I thought. By 2007, I had destroyed what little progress I had made; I was once again drinking and practicing the eating disorder, only this time I was severely disabled. In the spring, I found myself, once again, in a psych ward. Guardianship was relinquished to my mother; I know not why, but all of a sudden a switch flipped on inside of me and I decided then and there I would “get better”, so to speak.

I remembered the philosophical teachings of Epictetus, how one creates their own circumstances and of the great psychologist Viktor Frankl who claimed that “He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.” I began inpatient hospitalization to nourish my body and uncloud my mind. Once I was well enough, I began working with a nutritionist and attending support groups; I abstained from alcohol and drugs, but faltered with the eating disorder. Honestly, it was difficult to let go of all of my unhealthy habits. Resisting drugs and alcohol, I remained sober for 3.5 years. On December 14th of 2013 I, again, drank; that is an important date for me; that is the day I took my life back. I decided enough is enough and all but wore out my copies of my motivating philosophical books. The next few months found me sober, quitting smoking, halting the eating disorder, becoming vegetarian, and obtaining a gym membership. It’s truly amazing as to the things we can do when we apply ourselves! All this while, I’ve held onto the notion that there is reason for one’s suffering; if anything, it is to share hope with those who may well be fighting their own battles. For the first time in 20 years, I myself began to see hope. I sought refuge in the works of William James and studied Joseph Campbell’s “The Power of Myth”. These works led me to believe there was an immutable sense underlying all; it was not up to me to figure my life out, but I could, indeed, live to show others that hope is for all, not simply the worthy.

In 2014, I was doing so well all around that I set a new goal for myself: to go back to school to be a personal trainer. You must remember that from 2003-2004 I could barely move; so this was a lofty goal. I gained my certification on the first try, joining only 10% of my class; next up, find employment. Believe it or not, I applied at gyms and health and nutrition stores. I secured a position in a health store and took the paratransit bus to work; I remembered stories from my childhood: these helped me overcome adversity. Aesop’s Fables, morals, and abstractions guided me through troubled waters. CS Lewis is another favorite who I studied intensely, not for his religious, but philosophical teachings. I believe now that “Even at night there are stars that shine”.

I have not had an eating disorder or used substances since 2013; neither have I eaten meat or smoked. As I now know, there is meaning in the suffering. Life happens; it is up to us as to its meaning. I know today that I make a choice everyday as to the path my life will take. “I am the captain of my soul; I am the master of my destiny.” Hope is available for everyone; take heart; it is yours if you want it.

 

Watch me go!

I have been very busy since the end of June, for good reason: I AM WALKING AGAIN!! Yes, I use a cane, but the freedom from not having my walker is priceless. I am beyond blessed and grateful. 16 years ago, I was told I’d have to spend my days in an assisted living facility and would be fortunate if I could perform menial tasks. I have lived on my own for 14 years, I am walking on my own, and I went to school 4 years ago to be a personal trainer. I have always been one to not do what I was told; I suppose this worked in my favor. I have very large holes in my cerebellum which drastically affect my motor coordination. However, this will not stop me. I encourage everyone :young, old, minor or major illness to  reach beyond the confines and never allow yourself to be limited. I said no to all medical opinion. I am no super specimen; I just work very hard and refuse to settle for the status-quo. ANYONE can live this life if they just put in the effort. You don’t need to disappear into the ether, simply live your damndest.

What will be

“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” – William Shakespeare
We are each ourselves up to this point; yet the present is malleable and the future not yet written. That which will be is unknown. We all have a choice as to our situation; one can choose positive or negative. Trust that the former me did not have the present me on the horizon. I knew what I was, which was absolutely a wreck, but absolutely! had no idea what I’d become. Quite frankly (I was told this by medical professionals) if I had continued my lifestyle, I would have been dead by age 24. I did not expect that I’d be healthy and happy at age 37. I realize each day is but a gift, today I appreciate each day I’m alive and choose to live to the fullest. I am no longer in mental anguish; no one is required to be, yet so often are. The philosopher Epectitus held the idea that a person is free if they choose to be, despite the confines that restrict them. I am quite fond of Epectitus, as his values hold court with mine. I truly believe each man and woman cannot control external circumstances, yet has the power of choice regarding their minds. I know well, we cannot control our brain chemistry, yet we choose things such as deep love, gratitude, and whether or not we will be positive in the face of adversity. Whatever we presently may be is subject to change. If you are clinging to pessimism, negativity, and formerly or presently horrible situations; there is no time like the present to change and be what you may be.

Past

No amount of dwelling in the past, wishing for things to be different, or harboring resentments will change that which is. Everything that has happened to me has made me who I am today, and all in all, I love me today. I love my life today; yes there are things I have done, were done to me, or simply occurred in my past that I find wholly disagreeable; I would change nothing. These things only have power over me if I allow them. Today, I will not live in my past; it is April 17, 2018. It is not 20 years ago and I need not let past misdeeds effect my present. I have a horrible and destructive past, but I have forgiven myself; thank God for second chances and redemption. It is never too late to begin again; this requires taking responsibility for your actions and being blatantly honest with others. I am far from perfect; I am fortunate that people close to me love me despite my shortcomings. As someone with an awful past, who has rebuilt their life, I can say that I see the beauty and possibilities in others that have walked or currently follow a similar path. Events in the past cannot be changed; it is about the here and now. This moment; what can I do NOW? Not 10 years ago or even 5 minutes from now, but right now.

Experiences and illness

I am a composite; of experiences, influences, personal relationships, things I’ve read and seen, people’s influences, etc. For good OR bad. It therefore makes sense to me, that I would do my utmost to make my impact on the world a positive one. I have issues that keep me from doing everything I would like to do,but it feels good to the the best I can with what I have been dealt. I have said this before (let me emphasize!); I am not special. I am not unique. Everyone in the world has good and bad in them; it is simply a matter of clinging onto and nurturing the “good” part of you, bringing it to the forefront: LIVING IT!

Mental: Realize that you are in a constant state of change; don’t feel as though you have to cling to old idea because they have defined you or you are used to them. I am not the same person I was yesterday, and that is ok. Each person is constantly changing…evolving. Especially if your mental state is one of pessimism; it is often hard to change…just practice literally doing things to change it. Usually our actions effect our mental state,try doing the right thing simply because you would want it done for  you and it feels good, not because (sigh) you HAVE to.  It helps me to put situations in perspective; is it REALLY that difficult?

Physical: I touched on this the other day; it seems like in my area, there is a rampant cold. Colds and flus, etc. can especially effect those with compromised immune systems (i.e. those prone to illness, already ill, the physically disabled, elderly,etc.)… they are no fun for ANYONE, period. And those who spend time outdoors as well as athletes (let’s not forget them!). I HATE being sick; I don’t think many people like it. I will keep you all abreast the more I figure out, but for  now (like I said) lots of vitamin C, echinacea, and LOTS of water with lemon (to detoxify) seems to keep my immune system healthy (and washing my hands with ANTIBACTERIAL soap.  Goldenseal (it is not only used for drug tests…) is a good herb to use when your sick; it helps get junk out of your body.

Goldenseal caution : Goldenseal has an affinity for mucosa, and is cooling so should not be used if an infection is at an early stage or there are more chills than fever.Goldenseal should be used with caution only while sick with illnesses that respond to hydrastine and berberine. It should generally not be taken for an early stage Upper Respiratory Infection (URI), but reserved for illnesses in which there is yellow or green phlegm.Generally a two-week maximum dosage is suggested.Taking goldenseal over a long period of time can reduce absorption of B vitamins. (Wikepedia)

Echinacea and goldenseal for colds. I AM NOT A DOCTOR! I know alot about herbs and vitamins, but please check with someone in the medical field.

Social: If you DO get sick (and I  am telling MYSELF,too!), it is a good idea to avoid public places, if possible. It is hard,especially if you are very social and/or easily get cabin fever. But just think,  YOU are probably sick because someone else publicly spread something; try your best not to perpetuate the cycle. And think of the fact that even something that minorly effects you can SERIOUSLY effect certain people.

Change

In hearing something last night, something was impressed upon me that I KNOW, but sometimes forget. That is that I am in a constant state of change; me (even a day from now) is different than before. I have different thoughts, have experienced more and been exposed to more than previously. I used to pigeonhole myself, think that “this is how it is and always will be!”. Some of the things I do today… if you had told me five years ago, I would be irate at the audacity of the suggestions. Whether you’re 15 or 90, the fact is you are not who you were yesterday. If you have changed for the worse, tap into the you that you KNOW you have in you; if you question your ability, do the next right thing and soon it will come naturally; if you have changed for the better, keep going (you can ALWAYS improve 🙂

Mental: Your mentality plays an important role in your quality of life ; believe in yourself even when it’s hard. For me,when I am down, it  helps to think of others who have persevered through difficult situations; it reminds me that it can be done. If everyone consistently gave up…well there would be no motivation in the world. I am constantly seeing everyday citizens (younger,older, all ethnicities, genders, orientation, etc.) better their lives and the world around them; it is very inspiring!

Physical: Having strength, big muscles,and a great physique may make for a big ego, but may NOT equate to quality physically. If you look good and have size AND stability, that is great! But if you lack stability and control of the corpus, such other traits may serve no real purpose in daily life. If balance and stability are lacking, physical compensations will occur as well as muscular imbalances. I have stated before, it is of great importance to have proper core stabilization.What are the core muscles? Program for beginners:exercises or advanced:http://www.trainonline.com/advanced-core-strength-work-out-workout

Social: Realize who you are in this world, not on social media sites. There is a disconnect between you and the person/persons at opposite ends of the internet. As seen here! it does serve a great purpose,but should not be a substitute for  complete lack of social interaction. I have seen instances of people being completely different on and off a computer; it is awkward, to say the least. Try not to be so seduced by the internet that you cannot function and interact separately.- I need to elaborate! This does not pertain to people with serious mental or physical limitations!

Knowledge

Without knowledge action is useless and knowledge without action is futile.– Abu Bakr

I have found,especially recently, the importance of knowledge of a situation. Contemplation and knowledge helps one keep abreast of their circumstances. But simply being armed with this knowledge does no good if it is not beneficially used and/or acted upon. If I was sharing my experience blindly without having taken action in my life…well, I’d just be saying many words that would not be in accordance with my life. I have found (for me) knowledge without action is completely futile; self-knowledge especially. Yes, there are causes for states of being, but what can I do to change said state of being (if negative).

Mental : Do not dwell on root causes; question what you can do about your present circumstance. Live in the present, not the past; you cannot change your (or the worlds’) history.Concentrate on making the present the best it can be.

Physical: Be aware of your physicality; limitations and abilities. Do your homework,but be careful not to rely on one single source. Compare outlets, opinions and stated research can vary widely, it is wise to question (to a certain point; too much can lead to confusion and annoyance).

Social: Do not waste the present moment. Time goes by quickly; best not to live with regret. Often, we find ourselves ruminating on our pasts, living in it. Our pasts do influence us, but people are not their pasts.  Just because you have lived a certain way prior to this point does not mean that you cannot change the here and now.

To know-Copernicus

Be the change

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

Mahatma Gandhi

A simple and popular,yet very important quote. Change in one’s universe begins with the individual themselves, this can lead to alterations in the world around said person. Changing oneself, worldview (for the better) can have a HUGE impact on the way the world receives you. Negative attracts negative and positive attracts positive. If you are tired of the negative ways of the world, react not aggressively,but with kindness and love in your heart. As the quote says, “Be the change you WISH…” And change is an action word. Notice it doesn’t say “Wish for change”. Without action, no change is made. Little by little, you can make a difference.

Mental: The former can be a scary proposition, as it often means stepping into unfamiliar territory. Do not always feel like you have to do everything at once. Sometimes you do just have to dive in, but not always. Change is uncomfortable, mentally especially;growing pains. Unfortunately folks sometimes,to change one’s life, this requires facing your fear head on and just doing it. This can be hard, but the more you practice doing things differently,the easier you will find situations.

Physical : Realize that each individual is created differently, we all have imperfections. No one is perfect; in our world that doesn’t exist anyway. Beware of those who claim perfection or offer you such,as this is an illusion and can lead to feelings of inadequacy. Accept who you are at the present moment and use negative comments as motivators, rather than as a means to define you or make you feel less-than! Don’t give anyone the power to define you as an individual. You are YOU,flaws and all; accept that 🙂

Social: Look for something other than another person to complete you,whether romantic or platonic. This is hard to grasp in a culture so deadset on instilling the importance of this. As human beings, we are prone to have issues; putting faith and your all into an individual will possibly let you down. The old saying “You can’t love someone unless you love yourself” definitely resonates. People outside of you will not make you permanently happy; it starts with YOU.

be the change