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  • I just wanted to numb the feelings!!!

    This is a space visited by peer workers who have a lived experience of addiction and recovery and is an opportunity to relate to and draw hope from those who have been through similar things as you.
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 763
    Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 3:14 pm

    I just wanted to numb the feelings!!!

    Thu Mar 24, 2022 10:17 pm

    This story comes with trigger warnings and mentions suicide and loss

    This week I’ve had to work through some really difficult times. My niece was admitted to hospital after a suicide attempt and spent two days on a ventilator. It was touch and go and the doctors couldn’t guarantee she was going to make it. I’d spoken to her two days before and we worked through some stuff……..did I do enough??? Could I have done more???

    When I got the news I was already in a tough situation. I was part of a group sprinkling the ashes of my mate who died last year. He was living interstate at the time and this was the first chance for us to get together. As it happened we went to the pub for lunch after this, I’m comfortable in pubs but it’s still a challenge and I rarely end up in one. This was an occasion amongst friends where I felt supported…….but it’s still difficult. My phone rang. It was my sister and I let it go to message bank but there was this nagging feeling……….I knew what the news would be. I didn’t want to hear it so I ignored it for a while but ten minutes later it rang again and it was mum. That confirmed it but still I ignored it. I was numb. I excused myself from the table and listened to the messages. I went and sat in my car and rang my sister.

    I hung up and sat in the car and cried. I rang mum and she cried. My sister and her family live interstate so we couldn’t be there and until we knew more there was no point in jumping on planes. I composed myself and went back upstairs to the pub where I couldn’t tell anyone because it was private family news and I didn’t want to detract from the reason we were there, to celebrate my mate’s life. It was a difficult space to hold. A number of years ago I had a near miss. Privacy is important at these times so it’s hard to turn to people for support. I rang my boss and told her I wouldn’t be at work the next day. I felt all the emotions. Isolated……….helpless………angry……….sad……fearful…….resentful…..confused……..and very triggered.

    As I was driving home the thought of numbing myself was forefront in my mind. It’s the strongest urge to drink I’ve had in my recovery. Who would know?? I could go home and drink to forget. To take away the feelings I had. To numb the fear I was riddled with. I live alone so no one would need to know. My mind was racing and I was battling these thoughts hard. Maybe I could get some weed and numb the thoughts??? That would do less damage than a drink. Maybe I could go and sit in the TAB and distract myself with some bets????...................but what would any of this achieve??? What would it change???? When I straightened up my niece would still be in ICU and I’d be feeling worse that I was at that moment. I was desperate for ways to distract myself from the reality of what was happening.

    So what did I do? I realised I was around the corner from IKEA and there had been something I’d wanted so that’s where I went………..and I hate walking around IKEA!!!! I walked the maze from beginning to end. I sat on couches and chairs. I looked at storage and things I didn’t need for the kitchen. I looked at the gadgets……….and I walked out of there with nothing because they didn’t have that one thing I went in for. I’d gotten my distraction though and the whole time I was in there I’d been thinking about the reasons for me not to go and get wasted……….I’d created a gap. As I continued my drive home I turned the music up loud, listened to some Metallica and screamed out some more emotion.

    I walked in the door and paced around for a while feeling lost so I grabbed my stuff and went for a swim. The laps got my breathing back into a rhythm and burned out some excess energy. As I swam I thought about my niece and how I could be most helpful………….and that wasn’t by drinking or using. That would only cause more stress for others if they were to find out and that was the last thing I wanted to do. A sauna gave me more space to collect my thoughts. I just sat, closed my eyes and sweated it out. My journal got a work out before bed too.

    Work is usually a distraction for me but my mum wasn’t coping so the next day I drove down to see her. I have a strained relationship with my mum and find it difficult to spend extended time with her but at times like these we need to support each other. I knew she’d need company but the truth is that I needed company too. I needed some purpose for the day and the two hour drive gave me some time to gather myself. We didn’t talk a lot but I drove her to do some appointments and we got lunch. At one point I just sat staring at the clock watching the time tick by second by second. It was just enough to get us both through. I got updates throughout the day which weren’t positive but mum and I were able to keep each other thinking positively. Finally late yesterday afternoon we got news that my niece was breathing on her own again and was through the worst. I stayed for a while but was emotionally drained and needed to get home. More music therapy for the drive home but I still wasn’t settled and had a build up of unused energy so it was back for another swim and sauna to burn it off. More journaling.

    I would normally have pushed myself to work today but something in me was screaming self care and I really didn’t sleep last night. I needed to give myself permission to reset and let the emotion of the last couple of days settle so I took another day off work. I layed in bed for three hours and binged a series………I never stay in bed like that anymore and it felt comforting. I debriefed with someone close to me. I cried and let out some of the emotion that had built up inside me. I went for another swim and sauna. I’ve watched movies. I’ve napped on the couch. I haven’t resorted to eating crap. I haven’t given in to the cravings. I’ve had the opportunity to share this here on the forums and hope that maybe someone else will benefit from it some time in the future.

    None of what I’ve put in place for the last couple of days came easily. It was an effort to keep pushing forwards and taking it minute by minute, moment by moment. Everything I’ve learnt in the last 6 and half years of recovery was put to the test in the last few days. I’ve asked questions of myself, of the universe and about spirituality. I’ve questioned why things turn out like they do. I’ve ridden waves of emotions. This was the closest I have come to using substances again. I just kept reminding myself that it wouldn’t solve anything. Wouldn’t change anything. Would only lead to trouble and would definitely make things worse for me.

    So I guess what I take away from the last few days is that no matter what happens I don’t need to use substances to numb my pain. I have to sit in the discomfort and work my way through it. I have found ways to help me through the difficulties. I was able to use healthy eating, exercise, talking to others, music, journaling, movies, naps, driving……….bloody IKEA!!! I just did what I needed to do.

    Life sucks sometimes……….that’s just the reality. I can’t hide from that. I can’t prevent that. Appreciate the good times because there’s going to be some tough times too. Life in recovery isn’t all roses but it’s better than addiction. I’d still be stuck in the anger and resentment if I’d turned to substances……..nothing is worth giving up on recovery.

    I’m relieved right now to have got through a tough couple of days with two highly emotional situations thrown at me. I’m proud of myself.

    What do you do when times get tough??? What will help you???

    If you’re struggling call Lifeline, Directline, Beyond Blue, a friend………….call anyone……..don’t go through it alone
    1 x

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