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Mental health strategy



Short version: The problem is that I don't know how to take care of myself. Drinking is one manifestation of this problem, but if I treat it as only a sobriety issue, further damage will be done because I will still not be learning how to meet the needs I am currently numbing out with alcohol. Therefore:

1. Find pdoc who will look at problem as opposed to only symptoms.

2. Cultivate better habits

3. Accept imperfection. Improvement is enough. Harm reduction is better than giving up.

4. Achieve some short term goals before trying to set longer term ones.

5. Excessive drama is a signal to step back and re-examine. Unchecked this makes self destructive behavior more appealing as an escape.

Thought process: I grateful to be finally on meds that help me think clearly. I attribute getting better to the meds because I am better than before meds, and I am feeling more hopeful, which leads me to take action on my own behalf. It's a virtuous cycle, as long as I do my part. The advantage of a virtuous cycle is that it is self reinforcing. The disadvantage is that every phase of the cycle is a single point of failure. A break in any step can turn the cycle downward into self destruction instead of upward into improvement. Helplessness is a very dangerous place for me to be in, need to take action even if it might not be the wisest action when feeling paralyzed.

With that I am trying to create a plan now, in preparation for the point when I will slide downward again. Better to be prepared and not need it than for the reverse to be the case.

Although I am getting better I still have a long way to go. Part of this will include meds and must see a pdoc before current meds run out. In the short term: stabilize by establishing healthy routines. Goals center around clearing out the damage that has accrued in past years of unhealthy, self destructive lifestyle.

Will need pdoc that sees me as more than a single diagnosis, regardless of what that diag. is. Don't know how to do this except by truth and error. Lessons learned from past experience is don't tell whole story until they are listening. Giving too much information initially has led to pdoc discounting my contribution to my own progress.

Replacing self medication with relaxation techniques: Yoga, meditation, moderate physical activity. This is prevention not correction. Whereas I drank to relieve feeling overwhelmed and helpless, healthy routine is a success if it prevents these states. I suspect mistake in the past has been to treat these as direct substitutes, trying to find healthy coping methods to employ against pain that has already occurred. I was waiting until the flood came to build a boat, and then wondering why I couldn't get the boat together. Easier to build before the storm comes.

After cleaning up the current mess, I hope that deeper values will emerge that will allow me to make longer term plans. I seem to lack a goal or direction in life, in light of which it is unsurprising I find little reward in expending the effort to keep body and soul together. I am not going to worry about this for now. Got to clean up after the storm before planning to move to an area less prone to flooding.


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I am reading Pema Chodron's new book, Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears. She is the one who brought us tonglen. It is a small book and about simple mindfulness training and the power of interupting ourselves in our habits. She has a very deep background behind her simple technique.

We're rooting for you, Ralph!!! :o

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