Thursday, February 19, 2009

Use a Feather

I went on a little trip last weekend. An unplanned, undesired but voluntary trip to a nearby psych ward/detox. Despite my best efforts, my depression continued to worsen, my mind spiraling downward like water through a drain, being sucked by forces I could no longer control and making a midnight swim in Flathead Lake in the middle of winter seem like a better and better idea. I don't think I would ever do that. But the thoughts were there, like comfort food - macaroni & cheese and chocolate cake for the unbearable quality of my feelings. So I checked myself in last Thursday in an act of fear and desperation borne of the delusion I've been living under for years. I'm sure I have many delusions, but I'm talking about the big one, the alcohol one, the one I've been writing about here, the one I thought I could handle, control, abate or just learn to live with.

I want to tell you something about the people in a psych ward. The majority of them are people just like you and me; people who at one time were living their lives more or less successfully, peoople who finally reached an impasse they couldn't manuever alone. People who had lost or were losing spouses, people who had lost jobs, people who had one domino fall and sat helplessly or fought valiantly to keep the rest from crashing down on them. Good people.

I wanted out within 24 hours. Oh yes, I'm sure I can handle it now, I'm sure I'll be okay, I'm sure I won't dive right back into a bottle of vodka. I stayed until Monday and by then I was realizing my mistake. I had sought means of moderation where none existed. I had thought that because I didn't drink and drive or drink at work or drink a pint of vodka a night like I used to, I was making progress. I had willingly embraced concepts that aren't true for me: you can analyze this thing away, you can get to the core of it and heal it, you can drink normally, you can, you can, you can. All the while drinking, drinking, drinking.

Grace had re-entered my life last November when I went 35 days without drinking. But I couldn't sustain it; it slipped from my grasp like a slippery fish from a mountain stream, splashing back into the water and swimming away from me, becoming a tiny speck in the cool green, and then gone. I've been sober since I got out, but I'm not under the illusion anymore. I'm not kidding myself that I can sustain it without further help and so I'm going for it. I will go for further treatment. I will go to AA meetings. I will re-join LSR. I will follow doctor's orders. I will use every means at my disposal to get sober and stay that way before there's nothing left of me. I'm one of the lucky ones.

I have an appointment with my therapist tomorrow where I hope to obtain a referral to a state-run chemical dependency facility that I've heard good things about. A place where I can rest, re-educate myself about this thing I live with, and re-gain the strength I need to keep ahold of that grace when it comes calling. And if I feel the need to beat myself up about it all, I will use a feather.


Jules said...

Hi Angela,

All I can say is good for you. I want to say more but don't really have th words for it at the moment. You are in my thoughts.


Sherri said...

You are a brave person, Angela. I hope this is the path to lead you out of the darkness.

Anonymous said...

Stay in touch and take care.

Love to you.


Claudia said...

You are amazing Angela. Just amazing. Thank you for writing this and all you've written and shared.

love you, you know.


Olivia said...


I agree with all of the previous commenters. There are no words for how I admire your transparency, authenticity, and willingness to share your journey with us. You are courageous and inspirational. You will also be in my thoughts and heart. Much love, O

vicariousrising said...

Good for you. You need to learn to be kind to yourself and take care of yourself. It's no small task and it takes courage.