Another Year, Here and Gone…

Well blog world, today is the first day of a brand new year–2012. That said, Happy New Year! And belated Merry Christmas. I planned to post sooner, but with the holidays and all, things have been pretty crazy.

It hasn’t helped that I’ve been nursing a horrible toothache the past couple of weeks. Rather I should say, wisdom teeth-ache from hell. It has not been fun. I found out a couple of months back that they’re impacted, which basically means that they’re not coming in vertically like teeth normally do so yeah–unlucky me. I probably should have had them out years ago before they were even a problem, but I have this irrational fear of going to the dentist. Now I wish I hadn’t been such a big baby about it because the pain is definitely an issue now. Anyhow, because they’re impacted, I was told they’d have to be surgically removed. So last month I was scheduled with the oral surgeon to have them out, no big deal. Yeah, right. They were supposed to take all four out at the same time so I didn’t have to have separate procedures. Only things didn’t go as planned. If you ask me, the way they do the procedure is just weird. They call it “conscious sedation”–which basically means that you’re aware of what’s going on, but at the same time, you’re not. They give you Valium first to essentially calm you down, then give you something in an IV that makes you sleepy. The doctor doing my procedure wasn’t too helpful when it came to explaining the process and his bedside manner completely sucked. I remember asking him before the nurse started the IV whether I was going to feel anything during the surgery or not. He gave me some glib response that wasn’t the least bit reassuring at all, then said not to worry that I wouldn’t feel or remember anything.

Well, he lied. I’m not sure how exactly or what happened, but somehow I came out of the anesthesia during the procedure. I’m a little fuzzy on the details, but what I do remember clearly is the pain. It was excruciating–which is pretty bad because I generally have a high tolerance for pain. Later on, my aunt who had been in the waiting room told me that she’d heard me scream. I guess the doctor went and talked to her and explained that there were complications and that he felt it was best that he finished the one side and wait to do the rest another time. Sooo, I’m going back under the knife again–literally–on Wednesday. It’s not exactly the way I wanted to start off the new year, but I’d rather just hurry up and get it done and over with. If for no other reason than I’ll finally be able to stop taking these stupid pain pills that keep me all doped up. They take the pain away which is good and all, but they make me feel weird. Numb.

Another place–another time–I wouldn’t have minded the numbness one bit. Until the situation with my wisdom teeth recently, I’d been doing really good. I’d been clean and sober for months. No pills. Nothing. Saying that probably makes me come across as some junkie or something, but honestly–it wasn’t like that. Not really. It was a problem though. There were things that happened and to put it simply, I chose the wrong way to cope with those things.

I was in a bad way. A really, really bad way. I wasn’t eating. I barely slept. Because of that, I started taking these over-the-counter sleeping pills. And they worked. At first. But soon one pill became two and then three and so on. Before I knew it, I was taking the pills like candy. I’d developed a tolerance for the pills, so they stopped working. I was stressed out and exhausted–physically, mentally and emotionally. I can’t explain it really, but the pills would give me this really good high. It was weird. Instead of making me feel sleepy, I’d feel really awake. Overly alert and aware. But at the same time, I’d feel completely numb. I couldn’t feel anything. If I had to describe it, I’d have to say it almost felt like I was floating. Like I was there, but not really there. I was aware of what was happening and of my surroundings, but at the same time I wasn’t. Like I said, it was a really weird feeling.

For months, I refused to even acknowledge that there was a problem. I didn’t think it was a big deal. Or that I was hurting myself. A medical doctor would say that was probably the addiction talking. That I was in denial. Looking back, I’d probably have to agree. I didn’t want to accept what I was doing and that it was wrong because for the most part, it felt good. I mean, I was numb. I didn’t have to feel anything. I didn’t have to face what had happened or what I’d done. Without the pills, I had to face all of it. I had to feel all that pain and hurt and shame and regret. It was just easier not to, you know? I hid it well. For months, no one had a clue. I guess it helped that I’d pushed practically everyone close to me away at that point–including my friends and family. It was easy with my friends. I simply severed all ties with them. With everyone. I didn’t see or talk to them in almost a whole year. As far as my family was concerned–I kept visits and calls short and sweet. For months, I kept the truth a secret from them. But eventually, they started to notice. That’s when the worry and the lectures began. Which naturally, only had me pushing them away more and more. I didn’t want to hear it. Any of it.

I knew I had a problem. I knew. To be honest, I was terrified. More so than I think I’ve ever been in my entire life. Things spiraled out of control really fast and I wasn’t prepared for any of it. I thought I was in control, I really did. And I guess at first, I was. But what started off as something small and harmless had, without me even realizing it, turned into something far worse than I could have ever imagined. It wasn’t just the sleeping pills. I started mixing other pills with them. Pain killers mostly. Prescription pills. From there, it only got worse. I started having panic attacks–at least, I think that’s what they were. They weren’t too bad at first. I’d mostly just start to hyperventilate for a few minutes and that was it. I didn’t like having them, but eventually I got used to them–as crazy as that sounds. I started carrying around those little brown paper bags wherever I’d go–just in case. I could sometimes feel an attack coming on–usually when I was really stressed out over something. But then they started happening more frequently and got worse. They’d come out of nowhere, with no warning–no nothing. It was hell for a while–scary hell because there was no way to predict when I’d have one or where or what I’d be doing when I did. One happened when I was babysitting my nephew, who was only about 2 years old at the time. As usual, it came out of nowhere. One minute I was perfectly fine–just taking my nephew for a walk outside of my apartment building–and the next I couldn’t breathe. The attack that day was different from the ones I’d had before. This time I felt completely paralyzed. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t even speak. Everything was spinning and I felt like I was going to pass out. I remember being terrified of what would happen to my nephew if I passed out on the sidewalk–that he’d run in the street or get hurt or god forbid, someone would grab him. I felt completely helpless. I can still see the scared look on his little face when I tried talking and telling him to get my phone out of my purse. I could hear my voice and my words sounded all slurred and jumbled up. Somehow I managed to call my sister who came right over to help. My brother-in-law had to carry me to the car so they could rush me down to the ER–that’s how bad a shape I was in. The doctors couldn’t find anything wrong, so they said it was just another panic attack. To this day–I still don’t believe it. That wasn’t a panic attack that day. It was something a hell of a lot worse. I just don’t know what. After that though, I was pretty freaked out. Naturally. I didn’t trust myself around anyone, the kids especially. It sounds ridiculous, but I was even afraid of driving for fear that I’d have another attack and cause god knows what. to happen.

The stress from all of that and the fear of more bad things happening only made things worse. It gave me even more of a reason to take the pills–to make me want to be numb and unaware even more than I already did. I thought that I could control the situation–control my addiction–but obviously, I was only fooling myself into thinking that I could. Things like that–you can’t control it. You can try–and I did–but you just can’t win. Ever. Even after I knew it wasn’t okay–when I knew that something was seriously wrong–I couldn’t stop. I didn’t know how to. It wasn’t just the pills that I was addicted to. It was the high. That numbing high that seemed to make all my problems just fade away. It was all I had at the time. I’d lost everything else.

My wake up call came one night a few months back. It was as if someone had suddenly turned on the light. I don’t know for sure what happened. All I remember is waking up one morning and getting ready to leave and go to my grandmother’s house. I remember unlocking my door and that’s it. The rest is a complete blank. The next thing I knew, I was waking up on the floor in my apartment, keys still in my hand, and it was nighttime. The only logical explanation–and I use the term very loosely–for what happened was that I passed out. Whether it was from the pills, the not eating, or just the stress from everything combined–I honestly don’t know. All I know is that it scared me senseless. I left my apartment, got in my car, and drove to my grandmother’s–shaking uncontrollably the whole way. When I got there, I just broke down completely. I confessed everything–about the pills and what I’d been doing and what was really going on with me–everything. I cried for hours. I was so scared.

I stopped completely after that. I had to. I didn’t have a choice. What happened confirmed everyone’s fears–I wasn’t okay. I was sick. I needed help. I needed to stop. I was too afraid to admit it while it was happening–but what I was doing–I was killing myself. Slowly. Literally. It wasn’t in my head. It was real. And it was happening to me.

I’m better now. I think. I haven’t had a panic attack or anything like that in months, thankfully. I stopped the pills–which was really hard, but something that had to be done. Like with most addictions, the temptation is still there. I can feel it sometimes. I can’t count the number of times I’ve almost given in. Sometimes if I’m having a really bad day or it all just seems too much, I think of how easy it would be to get that back. To feel numb again. But then I remember waking up on that floor and that scares me more than facing reality does.

I’ve come a long way since then and I’ve worked really hard to get this far to screw that up. There’s too much at stake–too much of a risk to take. Looking back, I still don’t have all the answers. I still don’t know why I did what I did or how I let it get so out of hand and go as far as it did. I don’t know whether it just happened, or if in some way, it was intentional on my part. I ask myself over and over that question–if I was trying to kill myself. If I was trying to punish myself for my role in what had happened. But no matter how many times I ask myself or think about it–I don’t know. I just don’t know what I was thinking or what I was doing. I wasn’t myself. That’s all I know. I was a different person then. A shell of someone, of a girl who was. Or, if we’re being honest, a girl who NEVER was.

That having been said, I think my greatest accomplishment of 2011 is that I survived–barely–but I survived. I can honestly say that I’ve been to hell and back–numerous times. And I have. I’m not perfect. But no one is. I’ve made mistakes and I have regrets. My resolution for 2011 was to live. And I did that. I’m still here. I’m a little more jaded, a little more flawed and damaged. But thanks to a lot of glue and well-placed band-aids–a little less broken. In my book, that’s progress. So yay me!! And goodbye 2011!!

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