If we get through this alive, I’ll meet you next week, same place, same time.

I stayed away from sharp things. Suffered from the codeine; entirely self-inflicted, and I’ll never be proud of shoveling bright red pills down my throat until the anxiety stops. Binged on Kits Kats and plain crisps at 3am. Lay awake in bed on Wednesday night, swimming in a sea of chemical highs and sweating out every last bit of water in my body, determined to sleep but flying too high from the codeine and dope.

I don’t know how it works elsewhere, but in the UK codeine can only be bought mixed with paracetamol; 500mg per pill. More than two tablets is therefore an overdose, and I usually need eight or so to give me enough chemical serenity… and I know my liver is paying for it. My addiction… once, I thought I’d be okay, that I wasn’t like other people who had to rely on drugs to get by in life. I convinced myself that I wasn’t addicted. I could stop any time.

 

Now, the lower back pain and constant diarrhoea is telling me otherwise. The headaches and nausea and bloating… it baffles me how I can be terrified for the health of my liver, but still continue to assault it with large doses of paracetamol.

I’m not a stupid woman. For all my failings, I know I’m pretty intelligent. However, I have the ability to create my own strange logic; to remove myself from situations and become convinced I’m okay and won’t damage myself so long as I take the occasional break. And on the whole, I’ve been doing well – since deciding to give up codeine, I’ve managed months at a time without even touching the stuff. Recently though, it’s been harder to resist. The world has been heaped on my shoulders without my permission – with the tendonitis and the fraud allegation – and I’ve retreated to the old habits in order to cope.

This is what relapse feels like.

I intend to make it as short as possible, because cutting myself and overdosing instead of coping with situations isn’t emotionally or physically healthy. Thinking about purging is a dangerous road to travel down; I made myself sick a few months ago, and don’t want to get back into that habit so soon – or at all – because I’ve been doing so well. It’s one of the few things I feel I can be proud of, and I’ve let myself down far too many times in the past. Over a decade of bulimia, and I’ve almost cracked it… I don’t want to go back there; don’t want the puffy face and swollen fingers and constant taste of bile in my throat.

 

Sixteen years, in fact. Sixteen long years since I first stuck my fingers down my throat in a tiny blue cubicle, skipping a lesson so I could throw up everything I’d eaten. Sixteen years since I first realised that fat = unhappy,  and I had to do everything in my power to prevent it.

Seventeen years since I first cut myself. Since my first overdose.

The codeine? That began when my relationship with O started falling apart, six years ago. I would stay awake at night, smoking out of my bedroom window and waiting for the chemicals to kick in and squash the rising panic dead. If O didn’t call, I’d take a handful, knowing it would take away all the anxiety and paranoia that he was cheating on me. When I found out he was cheating on me, I stepped it up; packets of amitriptyline, diazepam and co-codamol, taken as and when I needed to calm down. Days and nights spent tripping on Tramadol overdoses.

I’ve had a lot of abnormal liver function tests. Still, I punish my body so my mind can feel okay.

When you’re young, you think nothing truly awful can ever happen to you. When those bad things do happen, you still think you’re invincible and no amount of abuse could ever harm you. Even years later, when the dentist points out the eroded tooth enamel… it’s not real. Bulimia, self harm, pills… they’re all an addiction, and the brain plays cruel tricks so you don’t give the bad habits up.

 

This weekend, I plan to sit down with S and tell him what’s been going on. About all the stress and bad thoughts. I’ve told him a little about the rising anxiety, but brushed it off somewhat. I don’t like talking about these things in person, and I’m always afraid he’ll find it too much to deal with.

Most people do.

 

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45 Comments

  1. Oh how I understand the denial you speak of so well.

    I take my hat off to you – coming so far as you have with the ED. That’s truly inspiring. Refusing to give up the battle -
    You’re a fighter & it’s never too late. It’s not the end until it’s the end and until then there’s always possibility that things can be different.

    I think that talking about things openly is the first step towards kicking denial out on it’s ass. It brings everything out. It makes everything real.

    I hope that your talk with S goes well.

  2. I’m sorry you’re suffering right now. Coping with life is difficult and it’s easy almost natural to fall back into old behavior patterns. But I want you to know I think your amazing and intelligent and I hope that you continue to fight for your life because I like it that you’re here.
    ;)

  3. Wow, I didn’t realize how much you were taking! I just figured the codeine was the less of the two evil you were talking about. But now I understand the severity of it all.You can’t replace your liver! I know you know what you have to do. And I know you can beat this! You’ve conquered so much so far, you can over come this addiction!

  4. here is the US you can not get codeine without it being in a prescription form. It is in a lot of the pain meds that doctors fearfully prescribe because so many sell the pills on the streets, or take them themselves to get high.
    I understand where you are at and how the mind works to keep us from knowing that we are self destructing. I think of you often and you are in my thoughts and prayers.

    • I wish it was the same in the UK; it’s too easy to walk into any pharmacy and buy painkillers with codeine in. I have a note on my medical records saying I’m not to be prescribed codeine by a doctor (as I’m addicted), but that doesn’t stop me buying a 28 pack of co-codamol for about £3. Painkiller addiction is a huge problem in the UK.

      Thanks, luv. I think of you often too. Take care <3

  5. Hey, brutally honest account of yourself there. Far be it from to tell you what you already know but I did work in a pharmacy until very recently and paracetamol isn’t exactly “bad” for your liver in the sense that alcohol is bad: rather it can kill you very quickly and horribly without any going back. Not so bad if you really are sticking to the 8 a day, two at a time. You can go a very long time like that, don’t worry. But never – oh please, never – be tempted to take more, or more than two at once, or less than the right number of hours apart (4 hours).

    Are you scared to talk to the doctor about this? Pure codeine is available on prescription if you really need it.

    Please use the drugs properly.
    x

  6. Ah, just read your comment about not being able to get this on prescription. Sorry. So you must have been through the list of services for dealing with this addiction then? I used to serve a guy on methodone who had become addicted through codeine. You deserve to get yourself whatever help there is, surely? Go on, be brave. You’ll like yourself even more if you do :)
    x

    • To be honest, I’ve never even considered addiction services; I’ve had such negative experiences with the mental health system that I don’t trust any NHS service not to make things worse for me. My doctor knows about my codeine problems, so I know the help would probably be there if I wanted it. I just really don’t want to get into anything which messes things up for me. I’m doing much better than I used to be – I was addicted to morphine a couple of years ago – and I trust myself more than I trust any services.

      Despite this, thank you <3 I really appreciate the support.

      • Hey, totally hear you there. Think I’m lucky enough to live in a region where the services for mental health are considered “good” but that is a relative term – they aren’t that good. To an extent I only get out what I put in, there is no one there with enough skill and understanding to provide all that I might really need.

        But a safer alternative to co-codemol is one thing they probably could come up with.

        Personally, I find my worst obstacle when trying to get off something I rely on is my own assumption that I SHOULD feel great most of the time. Once I accept the shitty feeling going without gives is MY choice, I feel more powerful about it and can ride through it better.

        I worry I might be lecturing now though, so let me just wish you best of luck. Stay safe, whatever you choose.
        x

  7. This all sounds so hard, I really feel for you.
    My thoughts are with you and I’m sending you strength and the ability to be honest with S, from what you have mentioned of your partner, I think the reaction will be supportive and caring.
    ♡♥♡

  8. Keep being honest like you are my friend. I can totally relate to the tramadol tripping, ugh! I hated it too. It sucks being an addict, but take hope in the fact that you CAN help others by your honesty and the things you do to help yourself. When you find something that works to help you, please share it with us. There are many of us out there that need help.

    Try the 24 hour thing. Tell youself I won’t use just for today. If that’s too long for you, then cut the day into parts. Such as “I won’t use until 12″. Then at 12:00, tell yourself I won’t use until 3pm…..etc.

    Whether you know it or not, you touch alot of people’s lives through your blog. Don’t beat yourself up too much. You are human. But please don’t get so sick you put yourself in the hospital either. We all care about you and God loves you too.

    Michele :-)

    • Thank you Michele; you’re a sweetheart. 24 hours works well for me, and I can often go week or even months without touching anything but dope and the prescribed medications I’m on. I just find things build up until I reach for the emotional release. The Tramadol tripping is awful, isn’t it? I can’t understand how anybody functions on that stuff! I was given it as a painkiller years ago when I had my gallbladder removed, and even on a normal dose I was flying. Sweating and hallucinating; I don’t envy you having experienced it too.

      Sometimes you know, it’s hard for me to accept that I can affect anybody’s life. I certainly never planned to, but it’s always wonderful to be told so. Your words really touch me, I hope you know that <3

      • Thank you saying that because I am really in the dumps myself right now. After all my encouraging words to you, I wound up relapsing a couple days ago. I went on a 24 hour binge and don’t remember much except I spent all my money and lost my job. I’m very depressed right now and really hating myself. I actually thought about you the other day and how you struggle with life like I do. I’m glad to know you and that we can lean on each other.~~~Michele

        • Oh sweetheart. I’m sorry. I know there’s not much I can say to make things better; wish there was. Have you spoken to a doctor, or would you prefer not to? Either way… we all relapse at some point; some more than others. Heck, I’ve been relapsing and recovering in cycles for a long, long time… but the important thing to remember is that just because you slipped – and you didn’t, not really, it wasn’t your fault – and things got a little hairy, it DOESN’T mean you’re not doing amazingly well. Remember that.

          How did you lose your job? Quit or cause trouble? Eh, the trials of life :/

          You’re going to be fine. Deep breaths, and remember we’re all in it together. You’ve picked me up enough times just by your kind words :) Much love, and stay safe, okay?

  9. It’s good to read that you’re “Breaking the Patterns of Depression” ;which is also the title of a good book by Michal D. Yapko, PH.D. You can find it on amazon if it’s not in your local book store in your area.

    Thanks for you for testimony and remember to have a great day in spite of yourself.

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  11. Incredible how much alike we are in ways, this post perfectly illuminated parts of myself I’ve been trying to express, but couldn’t do it quite as elegantly as you.
    It’s okay to feel down, to enjoy feeling down, so long as you let yourself enjoy the natural highs, too.

    Take care,
    Ivy

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