C is for ..

Connect. Idiots. 😂

And also Chris Brown.

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed over the last couple days, watching as other people reflected on the past year and some, the past decade. I briefly reflected back on the last year by posting a bunch of pictures on my Instagram story, 🥴 but I very quickly annoyed myself and deleted 🤣.

I then convinced myself I wouldn’t fuck around and would actually get my laptop out, sit at a desk I don’t have and write this fire blog post to start of my highlights idea with a bang.

🚫🔥

Well LOL my highlights idea was made in a fit of mania 🥳 and only half thought out. 🥴 I literally just formed the idea, played around with my website for 20’min – couldn’t figure out how to reformat it, gave up and then 2 weeks ago said oops better get on that now that I have a collection of people’s writing in my email. 😬 I have no actual idea where this is going. So basically I’ve roped you all into my nonsense and am hoping something will come of it. Yeehaw 🤠🐎

My intention was to help generate connections among people.

Now please follow my thought process: 🧠👩🏼‍🦯

So many of you guys that read my stuff and interact with me online have reached out over the years to talk about similar situations or sometimes simply, to shoot the shit. So in my half manic state I planned to middle man connections . I thought if people wrote in about addiction or anxiety it could connect them to other people dealing with it, or if you wrote about your mental health, it could be a place for support. I wanted it to be a place where you could share your biggest accomplishment, something that you’re proud of and want to tell the world. It’s not really anything formal, it might not even go anywhere but it’d be cool if it did. I just know I often feel alone or like people don’t understand what I’m going through, and many times throughout my life it has been the support I’ve built through connections in person and online that have gotten me through my roughest days.

I mean its you guys that have been there while I wrote my first book, you guys were there to cheer me on while I got clean, and again when I relapsed. You all congratulated me on the birth of my daughter, it was you that prayed and sent good vibes and Red Bulls when she was sick. It’s been you guys there cheering me on to write all these years. So I don’t know I just thought anyone who wanted to, should give it a whirl. It’s pretty freeing to just spill your guts to a bunch of strangers. Plus, you meet a bunch of interesting and cool people and get to help some too – and that’s gold ponyboy👌🏼🖤

Now without further ado I will give you my first highlight: Chris. I met Chris down in a Florida treatment center about 6 years ago,- he now has a masters in social work and is working as a therapist at a treatment center. He also writes much more formal than I do, so I was very excited when he sent me this piece on establishing connections – he writes much more eloquently than I. And with that, Chris ….

Thoughts of a Therapist

By Chris Brown

 

Addicts experience something breathtaking when they can stretch their vision of themselves from the immediate present back to the past that shaped them and forward to a future that’s attainable and satisfying  Marc Lewis

 

How do you convince someone that their ability to make decisions is compromised as a result of something in their brain that is influencing the determination of their decisions before they even make them? This phenomenon becomes more prevalent on a daily basis when working with those who are suffering with substance use disorders. The predicament arises in the fact that because individuals are conscious, they believe they are in complete control over the decisions that they make. These decisions that are made, to the individual, are grounded in reason and rational thinking that is aimed with their best interest in mind. Unfortunately, these decisions have the capacity for self-destruction because due to the troubled history that each person has encountered. Memory has an integral role in decisions. Memory utilizes the past to understand the present to anticipate the future. If an individual’s past has had trauma and many forms of distress, their memory is going to ensure that their decisions are protective in nature. This means that decisions will be geared towards the avoidance of pain, avoidance of discomfort, the avoidance of stress, and ultimately, the avoidance of change. This is troubling because when exploring healthy life changes with someone, a therapist will encourage that individual to identify changes that can be made that will hopefully improve that person’s quality of life. That is where the challenge arises. Ideally, someone can gain insight and harness motivation to change to make positive life adjustments. The thing is, this does not always work out because something stops that individual from drawing power from their insight and turning it into behaviors that are conducive to a new way of life. This leads to frustration, shame, guilt, and eventually depression as someone who has all of the desire to make changes, just cannot put it together to make a difference. One begins to learn that the unconscious mind often has a completely different agenda than the individual. One learns that there is comfort in the chaos because it is familiar, even to the point where the chaos leads to complete isolation, socially, physically, and emotionally. 

When looking at the benefits of using substances/alcohol, it cannot be ignored that the effects of the high, produce such a powerful feeling of safety and security. The high is a safe experience and no matter how much pain an individual encounters, the high is there to shield them from the full impact of the situation. It is impossible to isolate addiction to one singular event in time, however, different forms of trauma arethe one trait that all of my clients have experienced. I have learned that addiction always begins with pain and always ends with pain. The high feels like that surge of warmth and protection that comes from the embrace of a loved one or the love that was missing for an individual who never had the opportunity to experience it. It is no surprise that opioids are the endorphins that are released in the human body when a mother is holding and begins to soothe her distressed infant. Unfortunately, the high turns on the user and the individual becomes even more trapped in walls of isolation that are reinforced by bricks of shame, fear, and despair, but this is still a state of being that is desired because life on life’s terms is too overwhelming and unbearable. The frustrating part of addiction is the desperation to get clean when using, but also the desperation to get high when clean. Where does someone turn when stuck in this persistent state of hopeless of always knowing where they want to be, but never being where they are?

The effects of the environment on the individual are impactful. Fortunately, this is something that can be utilized to foster change. I have heard that the goal of psychotherapy should always be security. This is a challenge in itself because if someone has grown up in a toxic environment with abuse or neglect, the body is going to not allow the individual to feel secure and thus change is ultimately prevented. I have seen and explored this problem through my work and through my own experience. The answer has to be connection. Connection to a person, who provides unconditional positive regard, like Carl Rogers emphasized. This person can be the therapist or another person, who can provide the stability and unwavering support that conveys the message that I am here with you no matter what your emotions and feelings tell you. The therapist/person has to show the individual through their personality and support, that they can be the safety net the person needs. This happens through sending cues of safety that help the other person start to turn off that flight or fight response system or the withdrawal system. This is not an easy process, but through consistent support, it can be accomplished. If an environment caused an individual to make decisions that are protective to adapt to that environment, an environment can also be fostered to illustrate to that person that they don’t always have to protect themselves and that there is so much power in vulnerability. Through trust and support, a person can learn how to tell his or her body “calm down, were not in danger,” and allow themselves to experience the freedoms that connection can offer. Through co-regulation (learning how to manage emotional states with someone else) with someone, a person can eventually learn self-regulation (self-soothe). They can learn that they can manage the pain that is inevitable in life. People will always experience pain in life, that is a reality. The growth starts when people lead that they don’t have to face the pain alone. Through connections with other people, those suffering with substance use disorders can learn that they do not need use drugs to get their needs met because they can get those needs through other people, naturally. Change will always be hard, but through support change doesn’t have to about suffering and can lead to new meaning.

•|| if you’d like to be a part of my nonsense please send your stories to theSmiLfdiaries@gmail.com ; be sure to mention if you’d like to post anonymously and please attach a photo or two if you can 🙃 ||•

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