A matter of days
Tuesday was one of my worst days to date as a Case Manager. It was only exacerbated by my anxiety being in full flare. The stars collided perfectly and tragically, as it were.
Case Management in Addiction is a numbers game. Simply put, while there is never an expectation of 100%, if the successes outnumber the losses (we don’t use the word failures) then it is a rewarding use of your time. Even a ratio of 51/49 is fairly aggressive. For the sake of this conversation, success is a patient who buys in, makes an effort to dedicate themselves to healing, or at least surrenders (addiction treatment is about relinquishing control above all else) themselves to the process and completes all or most of the recommended continuum of care. We have ZERO control over what happens after they leave us but the numbers support that a full stay tends to lead to a more positive likelihood of positive outcome.
Tuesday I myself seemed to have ZERO control of ANYTHING. I was pushed to my absolute emotional limit. I went home questioning everything. Fortunately, I didn’t go home alone. I had Miss Anxiety with me and she was piling on.
You should quit!
No, I love my job.
Then why are you so upset?
Because I have no control.
Like your patients?
They have to be there…
You think you do too. Maybe you don’t?
I can handle it. I think.
Fuck you, I have skills.
Not today you didn’t.
Of course I am, I’m always right. Especially when I tell you that you suck.
Tomorrow will be better. LEAVE ME ALONE BITCH!
I questioned everything and argued with myself for hours. I was low, lower than I’ve been for a while and it bothered me. Then it came to me. Late of course, as it always does.
Change your mindset. Do what you tell your clients. Worry about what you can control, put behind you what you can’t. Stop trying to save the world, help the ones that let you.
For the last 2 days I managed to keep the duct tape over the mouth of Miss Anxiety and focused on positivity. It must have oozed out of every pore of my aura because the last 3 days were so much better. I came home tonight knowing that I did some good and at the very least did nobody harm. Perhaps most importantly, I know that I did the absolute best that I could. And that, on a anxiety-free day, is all that matters to me.
In my last post, I referenced view here that I am vulnerable to going down the Rabbithole of anxiety. It being a positive post, I touched on it only briefly, limiting it to the issues I had with negative thinking while using Marijuana. In short, I stopped using it when I noticed it started to enhance, rather than subdue my anxiety. Now I feel the need to delve into the bigger picture, which is the recent revelation that not only do I have an abnormal level of general anxiety, but that I have had it forever, and that it is undoubtedly the greatest obstacle I face in my life in the way of finally moving forward and reaching my full potential.
I don’t know how many people my age are focusing as intently on self-improvement as I. I suppose that many men my age are on the “back nine” of their lives and their careers and find themselves in a decent, at least acceptable place in which a take me as I am or leave me alone attitude is the rule. Perhaps they are too settled in their ways to seek and elicit change. Most likely, a lot of men my age are settled into good habits because they made good decisions that have resulted in a satisfactory life. That is not me. I am ALWAYS trying to make change for the better in all aspects of my life, personal and vocational, because I did not make good choices in my life and I am not at all in a place in which I am willing to accept it as “it is what it is”.
It wouldn’t be fair to say that I am completely unhappy with myself. I am comfortable with many aspects of my life. Certainly, the obstacles I have faced have taught me strength, and positivity and have given me an outlook that I could never have attained otherwise. But I know I am capable of more. Unfortunately, I will not be able to grow outside my metaphorical terrarium because my anxiety has boxed me in.
How did I not recognize until now the blatantly obvious fact that I was not just “in my own head”, but instead suffering from crushing anxiety for most of my life?
My Social Worker at the Transplant center is a wonderful resource and I consider her a friend. I generally don’t believe in therapy but her services are part of my monthly visit. At first, I merely accommodated her, but 11 months later we have in-depth conversations and she really knows me. She has observed that I am one of the most self-aware people she has ever met. That is to say that I know everything about myself and I know what to do, my only problem is actually doing it. I agree. I trust her judgment. That is why I place enormous value in her evaluation that if I don’t make serious and sincere efforts to control my general anxiety, I will never get to where I want to be.
The first step was to recognize that I have it. That wasn’t difficult. What I didn’t recognize how bad it really was. Now that I do, let the healing begin.
I am proud to report that I am in an extended period of excellent health. It’s no accident, I have been focusing on it. It all started 2 months ago when my transplant doctor told me that he believes that my new kidney was potentially viable for the rest of my life. I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me before that moment; I can only surmise that after the crushing and prolonged anger and disappointment I experienced after my previous transplant failed after only 5 years, maybe I was subconsciously waiting for this one to as well. I reacted to this revelation by vowing mentally to double down on my already successful efforts to attain and keep good health. Recently, I had become less anxious and more confident when my monthly appointment arrived that my lab results would be excellent, as they have been consistently since the surgery. I am now 11 months and my numbers are phenomenal.
I left the office that day with a renewed purpose. I knew that I had to do change my remaining bad habits so that I could continue on this path. I changed my diet. No more fast food takeout, watch my salt, cut down on my snacking, cut out the alcohol (not completely but I was falling back into an everyday pattern), and most important I stopped using marijuana. Weed helped me a lot when I was sick on dialysis. It eased my anxiety and helped me sleep. I was an anxious insomniac for quite some time and the health effects of weed didn’t matter to me because I really didn’t care if I died or not at that point. I quit the weed for another reason beyond health. It was affecting my thinking, which was never a problem until recently. Previously, I got stoned at night and watched TV. I was numb and my brain slowed down to a fast walk. I loved it. Until recently. At some undefined point, the high produced more anxiety.
I have been looking for my next gainful employment. Drug testing had already crossed my mind and I was planning on stopping. But when the negative voices began, and I spiraled down “the Rabbithole” of negative thinking my motivation to quit increased. My brain spoke to me. It said things like “you can’t do it.”, “you’re not good enough”, you’re too old and lack the skills”, dangerous shit to a guy who already suffers from anxiety. It scared me. It happened enough when I was sober, it was threefold when high. Weed was now a liability. So last month I just quit it Cold Turkey. In addition to my lungs feeling better, I now have clarity of mind that I have missed for years. I am enjoying it. My job search is going well, I have performed well in interviews, I’m blogging again, so many good things. The job I will likely be taking doesn’t require a drug test. At one recent point, that factoid may have allowed me to light up again. Still, I don’t want to. I may again at some point but not now. I got through the withdrawal period (YES weed is addictive), it wasn’t easy but willpower got me through and now I can even fall asleep. That was my biggest reason for doing it in the first place.
Now I feel absolutely great. Mind and body. I feel strong, fit, and confident. Good things are going to happen for me. For the first time in years, I feel like I have a future. Soon I will be a functioning, contributing member of society again. Look out world, that is all I can say. I and my potential lifetime kidney are going to be a force.
As long as I can avoid going down the rabbit hole of anxiety. But that is a topic for another blog.
Not right away of course, but eventually. That revelations was notable, it was a perfect example of