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Wed, Jul. 25th, 2012, 10:56 pm
Today's Check-In (Wednesday): Three for the Price of One

Just for the sake of charting it later, I'm going to throw in the Monday & Tuesday check-ins.
Monday List of Tasks
run, stretch, grooming, meal, Spanish, chore, coping = all no

Medication = 1/2 points
sober = no
compulsions = no
extras = no
TOTAL SCORE = 0.5/13 = 4% Did I mention I didn't do ANYTHING toward my recovery?

Tuesday List of Tasks
strength = no
grooming = no
meal = no
therapy = Yes, I still went... and cried the entire time.
Spanish = no
chore = no
coping = yes, I was reading my latest book

Medication = yes
Sober = no
compulsion = no
extras = no
TOTAL SCORE = 4/13 = 31% interesting, I thought I was just as defunct as Monday, but apparently the awfulness and depression were lifting although I didn't realize it.

Comprehensive List of Tasks

  • run = nope
  • stretch = no
  • grooming = no, still unable to take care of myself in even the basics, I've been laying in bed most of the day
  • meal = 1/2 points, I've finally eaten, and though it was takeout (Indian) I picked some okay options
  • chore = no
  • Spanish = no
  • coping = yes, I'm reading a great book on how to change, called Changing for Good.

Medication = 1/2 points, I didn't take my vitamins again, which I know is bad because I get depressed if I miss even one day, and when you are depressed it is almost impossible to start taking them again (and it takes about three consistent days of taking them before I feel better again, rotten deficiencies)
Sober (no drinking/drugs/cutting) = yes
No Compulsions = yes, did okay here
Extras = since I spent ALL of my awake time reading and thinking, I think I will count that toward my extras

TOTAL SCORE = 5.5/13 = 42% still getting better and tomorrow is another day

Today's Revelations

Nothing has been right in my relationship with Trouble since my suicide attempt.
Even though he visited me in the hospital later, he still broke up with me, called me terribly selfish in how many people I hurt, and said I'd caused more damage to his life in one hour than anyone had ever managed, ever. And it's true, I screwed up both of his jobs, hurt a bunch of people, caused a bunch of people harm in the way it happened, and I think just hurt him, period. Much like KT barricaded herself in so her friends couldn't stop her, I did also punch him in the gut because I wanted him to hate me so he wouldn't be sad about me killing myself. Which I'm sure wasn't exactly good for a future relationship. Ever since then, I can't do anything right in his eyes. Things that don't upset other people, he just finds fault with. It breaks my heart but I may just have to find some way to move past this relationship and I don't think I can. I have loved in many different ways, and the way I love Trouble (no pun intended here) is not one I've been able to leave behind. Because I loved Loopy like that and still do; it has not faded one inch in all the years. I really screwed up, but I don't think he has mastered forgiveness enough for this to work. And dammit, now I'm crying again.

Group therapy didn't work for me because I was in the wrong stage of change. For that matter, I am further along in the process than I thought. I just skipped some stages, and, according to this new book, skipping stages of change almost guarantees failure. I guess I should explain the stages of change, huh?

Six Well-Defined Stages of Change

  1. precontemplation -- basically, you don't want to change, you may not even see the problem (some places call this denial, but the problem with that verbiage is it automatically sets up a conflict situation. You are more likely to trying to 'force someone to see the truth' and they are more likely to be defensive. This is entirely counterproductive in most situations.)

    "It isn't that they can't see the solution. It is that they can't see the problem."
    -- G. K. Chesterton

  2. contemplation -- maybe you have a problem, or you know you have a problem, but you aren't ready to fix it just yet (people can get stuck here easily, and self-changers usually take quite awhile)

  3. preparation -- you have a problem, you are moving forward into actually taking that step into action, maybe you have researched the problem or looked into programs, or started a few small steps forward (this is the step most often skipped, this is what I skipped when I went from contemplation right to action, and failed miserably in group.)

  4. action -- fix the problem, stop drinking, stop smoking, whatever

  5. maintenance -- work to consolidate your gains, and struggle against relapse (people often fail at this stage because their support networks fades at a critical time. Everyone congratulates you and helps you when you first quit smoking, but after a bit they just assume you've quit and the problem is solved. Maintenance can last from six months to a lifetime.)

  6. termination -- problem solved, you no longer have a desire to go back to that bad lifestyle habit. Not everyone reaches this stage with every behavior.


According to this book (which was written after an extensive study), certain kinds of 'processes of change' work better for different stages. A process of change could be a type of therapy (and, it seems, they are all beneficial, the study found no evidence that one type was overall better than another), social activism, self-evaluation, etc. It is basically some therapeutic tool you use to enact a change. Group therapies for drugs and alcohol are apparently best for contemplators, even though traditionally they are used for the action phase. All the back and forth stories about drinking/drugging, both good and bad, is helpful when deciding if you have a problem and if you want to quit, but can lead to relapse if you have newly stopped. Better to be in a type of group that teaches sobriety skills but does not allow for much storytelling.

If you had asked me, I would have guessed I was stuck in contemplation, but according to the self-assessments in the book, I'm actually in the action stage. The problem is, I went from about halfway through contemplation, directly into action, and then failed repetitively, and figured I was a failure or didn't have enough willpower or something.

"Willpower isn't enough." You can have all the willpower in the world, but if you aren't doing it right (maybe because you don't know how to do it right), you might not get very far and you'll just make yourself tired and depressed. I did all this contemplation, but I never did a final, formal re-evaluation. You have to contemplate and write it down (helps to solidify it) and figure out that you probably do have a problem.

You can't skip the preparation stage. I totally did this backward. I jumped into action (quit compulsive behavior, quit cutting, quit drugs) without a real plan of 'just how am I going to do this?' I thought a program or some group therapy would show me what to do, not realizing that most groups are sadly lacking in knowledge of how change occurs. Of course, now I'm having a totally 'duh' moment. Of course you have to make the plan BEFORE you take action. You have to really have it mapped out, and maybe you can test a few skills by taking small steps here and there, but if you jump into action without a solid plan you'll be lucky to succeed. It works for everything else, why is it so many of us believe we can stop some kind of bad behavior or addiction simply through willpower, with no plan other than 'just quit'?

So I jumped into action, failed, looked around for something else to try, and made this recovery plan more out of my OCD need to plan things than because I knew this for a fact. I got lucky. Now I have this crazy (or not so crazy really) metric system for tracking success, which is VERY important, a definition of what success is, and this blog, which both helps me track my success and hopefully helps a few other people too. And now I know I have to go back and finish re-evaluating myself, just so I can tie up the contemplation stage. When I'm done, I will change my 'about' page and put my finalized goals online.

"It's a spiral, not a train." -- The book calls this the 'spiral of change' because it seems relapse (or, in book lingo, re-cycling) is a part of change. It doesn't mean you have failed or are failing. Most people don't change any behavior overnight, or even over months. They work hard, they slip back, they work hard some more and get further ahead, and eventually they will succeed, but not without a bunch of slips. Even three steps forward, two steps back, gets you somewhere eventually and that is how most people succeed. No wonder it is one step at a time!


"Action followed by relapse is far better than no action at all. People who take action and fail in the next month are twice as likely to succeed over the next six months than those who don't take any action at all."
-- from the book Changing for Good

"The single most frequent reason cited for relapse to alcohol, food, or tobacco abuse is emotional distress; former smokers who drink double their chances of renewing their habit; and weight gain is one of the most frequently cited results of quitting smoking (and one of the primary reasons women give for returning to smoking)."
-- from the book Changing for Good




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