One Step At A Time

30 Days of Personal Reflections

By Jason Lada

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Trigger Warning

This story contains sensitive content regarding alcoholism, addiction, abuse, and suicide.

I’m Jason; I was born in Germany to two loving parents and then divorced. So, I went to Huntsville, Alabama with my mom. She raised me. She raised me pretty well except she yelled some. And then I went as far away as I could to Caltech to study physics. And then I changed my mind because it was so difficult. The first time my life, something was difficult. So I went to Stanford, got an English degree, thought I’d write, ended up working in a tech job [which was then] bought by Microsoft. After a couple of years, I sold all my stock and went driving across the country to see my friends. I’ve never felt more free in my entire life. Then I ended up in Nashville and things got bad. And then I went north and things got worse. So I went to Denver, and I worked at the coolest book and music shop you can imagine for five years ’till I screwed that up too. Then I went to my mom in California. She was sober after so many years of drinking; and I was close to her, I was near her, I dialed 911 when she couldn’t breathe — it was like I added time to how much time I could spend with her and I spent 10 years and then she died. So I was free again, but it wasn’t the kind of free that I wanted. So I moved to Tucson where I knew a friend and here’s where I am right now.

[Storyburgh Note: Jason is planning to record his reflections for 30 days straight.
Click any tab below to listen and/or to read the transcript of his daily reflection during COVID-19 pandemic in December 2020. The tabs will be added when the reflections are ready to be published. Thank you.]

Suffering is the feeling of being isolated and alone. Did your addiction lead to a feeling of isolation? At the end, were you all alone in your self-created disconnection?

Well, when I started, I started drinking alcohol, it was supposed to be a social thing. It’s supposed to make me feel more relaxed around other people and I suppose it did for a while until I started drinking too much and smoking too much marijuana. But still, those were socially accepted. And at the same time, then I got introduced to cocaine and cocaine took away– I was in a manic episode at the time, months long– and my boss and my friend’s supervisor kept asking me if I was doing cocaine, and I kept lying to them, and lying, and so I pushed them away. I lost my job. Then the only people I got to see were my coke dealer and a couple of people who came over to use some of my coke, just so I could be around someone. And then, then I found myself walking back in the snow from visiting the house of those drug friends. And they weren’t home, and I was out of everything. I was walking through the snow. And the wind just went right through me so cold, and I felt completely alone. I wanted to kill myself. The only reason I didn’t was because I didn’t want to do that to my mom. That was what I was thinking. And then just this past two years ago, I was living with my mom. And I started drinking secretly, started using cocaine and meth secretly; and, again, pushed my friends away. So with my mom during the day, I would interact with her, but then night would come and it was just me and whatever movies I could watch or I’d walk around and it’d just be me.”

List of things that have disappeared from your life due to your addiction.

First, I think it was my dad because of all those years that I was just caught up in my own self. And the funny thing is that I heard he died, and I couldn’t find his phone numbers so I was stressed out for a couple weeks ’till I finally found it and I called. And he asked me if I was high, and I said, “No, I wasn’t” although I was high on cocaine. And we hadn’t talked in years. And it was good to hear his voice, but he said he’d been having some liver and kidney issues, no big problem. And then I get a text from my half sister saying he’s dead about a year later. And I didn’t call him between the last time I talked to him and then I didn’t call him; I think I was embarrassed. So, that’s what I lost.

Suffering is feeling unworthy. Has unworthiness affected you? In what ways?

Ever since I was a teenager, like, every woman I ever wanted, every woman I ever loved; I felt there was something bad inside me. Three quarters of the women that I’ve cared about, I’ve had them cheat on their boyfriends, or their fiance’s. I felt just not capable of being the person that they would actually want to spend time with; a person they would actually want to care about. And that led me down a dark road. I’ve been in mental hospitals three times. That’s not what normal people do. That’s not how normal people feel.

Have you contemplated or tried to take your own life and attempt to be rid of pain?

First time I was in Nashville and it was because a woman rejected me and I was back in my apartment, and I was contemplating slicing my wrists, but I managed to go to the hospital. And I was there for six days. And by the time I came out, I wasn’t quite suicidal, I was still depressed. But the second time was, again when a woman rejected me and I thought about jumping into a stream but it was a stream that was full and overflowing and moving fast over rocks, and it would have drowned me and I wanted that. But I went to another mental health center, I had some ECT and that really brought me back to life. The third time, I, my job was making me miserable, making me feel worthless. So I cut my wrist and then I got taken to the hospital. And after it was, after, they’d sent me up, the doctor asked me if I still felt like taking my own life, and I lied and said no, because I didn’t want to go to another mental institution. Fourth time, fourth time, I was manic and depressed and manic again, all at the same time. And my mom was in serious — having serious problems too, and I just wanted to do something to make it look like an accident that I’d died. And I got taken in the mental hospital for two weeks and then I went to sort of an emergency house after that for two weeks so I missed my last Christmas with my mom. But right now, things are difficult, I want my life. I want to live it as long as I can.

Was there physical abuse or verbal abuse in your home? What did it feel like to be there?

There was no physical abuse. But my mom, once it was just the two of us, and she got drunk and she was angry, which happened most of the time she was drunk, she would yell at me. All these kinds of things, they were very upsetting. And she wouldn’t stop, like, I would want to go to bed and she’d still be yelling at me and, like things like, “Listen to me!” And I honestly don’t remember what the content was, for most of it. But I remember that it made me feel just afraid. Just like I was constantly tiptoeing around, trying to be in my room, hoping she’d stayed out all night drunk and didn’t come home. I hated that feeling and I — and part of me hated her. And I didn’t feel so good about that. Years later, I went to a therapist, and I came to realize that I couldn’t — I could blame the fact she was addicted to alcohol — but I couldn’t blame the loving person she was when she wasn’t drinking. The last time she was really drunk, a year before she died, she started screaming at me in the same way. And there’s nothing I could do but get up and leave. When she was dying I told her I forgave her everything and I meant that with my whole heart. 

Is there a family history of addictions alcoholism? What was it like growing up with that legacy? How did it affect you?

For me, my mom, my dad, my granddad, they all drank. The one feeling I got from most of it was just missing them then not being there on Christmas. My mom didn’t come on Christmas Eve day, my grandma had to come over. And it was such an absence. When I was in Germany, my dad would come home and drink and then he would pass out in the bathroom. All these things created this void inside me. So I started reading so much, and I became convinced that I would never, ever go down the same path that they did. So when I was 30, of course, I started to. It’s a legacy. It’s something that they do through me. And I have to be aware of myself to stop it and start a new path.  

Suffering is feeling superior, better than, or above others. List the ways you have felt superior.

My first real experience of this was in academics. Once I got past elementary school, I just — everything seemed easy to me. I became valedictorian, went to a college of my choice, I transferred to a different college, to Stanford, got a BA in English. And that made me feel that my writing was better than anyone else’s. Even though I haven’t published one thing, just one thing, and also, in relationships, sexually, just that I’m able to seduce women from their boyfriends or fiancés. It’s been so much a part of pushing people away, because when they’re my friends, they’re my equals. But when I feel superior to them, I push them away and it it gets even worse when I’m manic, much less manic and using something. I — sometimes other people would play into that, play into my ego, and I was all too ready to let them do that. And now I know there’s differences, but that everyone has the same fundamental needs and wants and it takes work though for me to see that. I have to remember that.  

Suffering is feeling less than, inferior, or beneath others. List the ways you have felt less than.

In school, high school, earlier, I rarely had any friends; I felt socially inept. And it was hard for me to connect with anyone. And some people told me that I was standoffish because I was snobbish. But the opposite was true. I just felt completely lacking. And then, in college, I barely graduated. My depression just put — I had to put everything off to the last minute. But I somehow managed to graduate and then at the graduation ceremony, my mom said, “Why didn’t you graduate cum laude?” And she was drunk at the time. But for a while, I just took it to heart and then, time passed. I had this job in Nashville, like the one of the highest paying jobs I’ve ever had. And I missed weeks of work because of my depression. And they politely fired me. And I just felt so worthless. Like, I have this, this degree and, and I can’t find the kind of jobs that a lot of my fellows who graduated with me at college did. In — when I went to Denver, I was working at the coolest book and music store in town, but it was a bookstore. I got fired from taking cocaine and lying about it. My friend said, “You’re acting like white trash,” and I felt like it, too. Jobs have always come easy to me but then I worked one at a grocery store that I was inept. My supervisor told me that I was about as fast as an old man who’d just walked in off the street at stocking stuff. And I couldn’t get faster. I just used and used. And that’s what I’ve felt like lately, is that I try to stop and I can’t. And now I’m doing everything I can to stop drinking and using. But that’s how I felt. 

Suffering is hurting yourself. List all the ways you hurt yourself.

When I was younger, in my teens and 20s, I would kick and punch objects, walls, when I got angry. I, sometimes, I would, I never broke a bone, I don’t think, except maybe twice. And once I put my hand through a window and it almost killed me, the blood I lost. When I really started to hurt myself was when I started drinking. And just this feeling of spiraling, like, toward death. That’s what it felt like at the end when I was doing cocaine, smoking, and drinking. And I knew it was hurting me. I knew it was destroying me and I saw different parts of my life just fall away. And I’ve also hurt myself by driving people away, by choosing to be with women who are unavailable. So I’ve hurt myself by slicing my wrist once. And it didn’t kill me but all the ways I’ve hurt myself have been because I’ve hurt inside, and the feeling there is fear. Fear driving me to destroy myself.  
Day 10: Suffering is the feeling of hatred toward oneself. List all the things about yourself you’ve ever judged or hated.
I hate my depression. It’s a physical and mental thing that drags me down and looks like laziness to everyone until I judge myself for being lazy. I hate my mania because it launches me into obsession, and things that just spirals out of control. I hate myself for how I’ve treated my family. I didn’t visit my half sister for years and years when she was growing up. I didn’t call my dad when he was dying. I didn’t go to the hospital or the nursery home enough to see my mom. I hate my sense of superiority that I judge people so quickly sometimes and I judge women by a different standard than I judge men just because of my own perversity in going after women who are unattainable, and feeling that is somehow real. I hate that I can’t think sometimes, that I can’t put down on paper what I want to relate to other people. I hate being alone and knowing that I put myself there.
I read the word addiction, and I just see obsession. I’ve been with very few women in my life. With the exception of my ex-wife, I’ve been obsessed with all of them, each time, one at a time. First, there was one from Caltech, I kept in touch with her for 10 years before finally driving to have sex with her in her fiance’s apartment while he was away. Then again, again, in Denver, and two different women, and each time it was this black hole in me, the same one that I poured books and alcohol and cocaine into, the same black hole just I tried to fill it with, with women, and it’s, it’s just not a clear way to see reality when you’re obsessed. And the sex was just so linked with the obsession, that they were almost one. So like, every word I would say would be somehow dripping with, wow, with a romantic intent, like subtle and overt in both ways to try to seduce them. And then one in California and cheating with her. And my obsession was so bad that when she would break it off, I would go nuts. Once I went into a mental hospital– not her fault, my fault– but just from being so obsessed with her. And who would blame her for wanting to break it off because how must it feel to be the object of obsession, objectified, not permitted to shine as you are which is somehow a lesson I have learned.
Day 12: Suffering is the thought that I cannot be happy until I get x. What are some of the things you think you need to be happy?
Everything that I can think of, material possession wise, just boils down to money. Like if I had more money I could do stupid things. I’m horrible with money. I know at this point that my happiness is independent of how much money I have. For a few months, last year, I was able to get by with so little, and I was in such a good place. I was washing my own clothes in a bucket. I was. So I know that that’s not the answer. But money just ports into whatever things I could I spend it on and it just disappears right through my fingers. I don’t know, I could not be happy until I get a car. I used to, I used to drive when I was younger, like everywhere, you know, in the middle of the night. And then I’d drive long trips cross country. And I love driving and it’s been so many years since I’ve been behind the wheel that I’m not even sure I’d make a decent driver. But that comes again down to money. And so I think that’s not the answer to what I need. I think at some point I thought if I have a wife, if I have a connection, then that will automatically make me happy. And love is great, and it sometimes works out and sometimes doesn’t but my happiness seems to not even depend on that. Which is why I keep trying to push into trying to meditate, to think about what peace I do seek. And I’m still working on it.
Day 13: List the ways you put yourself or someone else in physical danger because of your addiction.
A lot of these for me would be with driving. I would drive when I was drunk, high on cocaine. One time after work, I was this drunk at work that I I drove one of the other workers, a friend of mine, down back home, but he saw how badly I was driving and I just dropped him off at a gas station. And then I just had maybe a mile to drive south, eleven o’clock at night, on not a huge road but a main road, and I remember for all that I had my brain telling my body what to do that I was still drifting across lanes. And it’s only through the grace of Hermes that I’m even alive and that I didn’t hurt someone. Once, only once that I remember doing this, but when I had my ex-wife and her son, five years old, and he wanted to get a movie, and I was high, so I strapped him into the backseat of the car and I drove high to get the video. And I mean, I wasn’t bad. I was driving fine, but just even doing that was insane. I’ve done other things just being drunk and walking around. Physical coordination, falls. Once I fell out of the backseat of a car. When I was trying to get out I tripped over the front seat belt and I smashed my face in the concrete and broke my two front teeth. Once I was at home waiting for someone to pick me up. And then she got there and before I went outside, I decided to do one more hit of nitrus. And I did it while standing up which was idiotic, and the next thing I know I’m waking up sitting in a shattered mirror. And I didn’t have any cuts on me. I managed to miss the sharp corner of furniture that was right next to it. When I’m under the influence of anything, I can just do so many stupid things. And I just can’t do that anymore.

I went to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. Two hours, I’ve been going to them every day since I stopped drinking 16 days ago. There, they have suggestions to go to 90 meetings in 90 days, I’ve been trying to do that. And also to get phone numbers at the meetings, people to reach out to in case things start going sideways, and I want to pick up again. I’ve gotten several numbers. And I texted one of those people who I’ve been communicating with and it showed the message was blocked, which at first was dismaying. And then I decided not to take it personally. And I don’t know what’s up with that. But I texted someone else and heard back from them, and got recommended to contact this other guy who’s also a writer to have someone to talk to in the program who’s at least more similar to me. Everyone in NA is similar to me in the way that they have to struggle with this same curse of addiction. Many of them think it is some sort of blessing because it makes them reorganize their lives and it seems not to be a bad thing.

Today it’s been sort of difficult in that my sleep schedule is still so messed up. I’m waking up just as the sun sets and I need to go to the grocery store to get some of my prescription drugs that I take for my bipolar disorder. I woke up and contemplated going there, to the grocery store to get them, but I just felt so anxious. I knew I could go get them tomorrow and hopefully I’d be able to do it then. So I just procrastinated and put it off even though I’m out of one of the four and I have been for two days. And I know that enough of it stays in my system. It’s not like totally horrible. But at the same time I still couldn’t quite get myself together enough to go today. But I’m trying and it’s really late and I have to wake up early and I’m not sure if I can. I’ll try to get it done tomorrow. It’s just been– it’s just been difficult.

Day 16: Did I learn about any new triggers for me today? What are they?

I’ve started doing this online meditation retreat for the next four days. And one of the leaders of the groups who’s guiding us through them is this older woman. And she was speaking. And I just got this, this huge feeling of being judged. And I had to turn off my camera so I could smoke during a Buddhist retreat. And I’ve seen this woman in person before when I’ve been on physical retreats, and she’s quiet, but got this very determined sense of her opinions. And I’m unsure why she affects me this way, when it’s clear that it’s not something that’s real. She’s not a very judgmental person. She’s very Buddhist. And she asked me to read some sections of text for a ceremony later in the event. And so, in my mind, I’m sure that it’s not what’s happening, but the emotions running through my body, that’s what I feel. And if any sort of drug were sitting right by me when she was talking, I would have used. It’s just such a powerful emotion because I feel like I haven’t done all I can to embody the precepts that I proclaim, that I claim to value. And that’s what I learned.

I think the one I’ve noticed most, at least in the past couple of hours, is just how critical I can be. Just a running commentary when I’m listening to other people in a meeting, just their grammar, their usage, how loud they’re being. And it just puts me in this negative mind space. When thoughts like that occur to me, I’ve come to refer to a part of myself as Zeke, like a shadow, like a demon, the perverse part of me that wants to just use. That wants me to cast out on other people. And I’m glad I can be aware of when it’s not my better self speaking in my mind or speaking out loud. It’s just constant though, that I have to be aware. And if I’m not, then I just spiral down in the same behavior– that same behavior that got me into using too much. And I want to find a way to integrate myself, to be not happy, but together, sincere, honest, thoughtful. And that’s what I aspire to.

Pretty much. I had three. One was to go to the retreat and do some reading out loud for part of a ceremony. And then to go to an NA meeting. And then to record this. I went to the retreat zoom thing, before, and asked questions I was supposed to read. And I did that. And not not long after I just had to drop out of the meeting. But I but I did that. And then I’ve been going to NA meetings, sometimes for two and a half hours. And I was okay just going with one meeting today. Because otherwise, today the clock has ticked by in the upper left of my cell phone, and time has crawled so slowly, and I have not been relaxed or spiritual or meditative. I’ve just been smoking cigarettes. And I think I have a tendency to overextend myself, and especially just interacting with people, there’s so much I can do and then I just feel exhausted. I think setting modest goals right now is probably a smarter thing than trying to get everything done in one day. But it’s something I still have to work on. And part of me wishes that I could set ambitious goals and accomplish them. But I have to live in reality with what I can do now.

I’m grateful that I’m clean today. And I have been for 22 days. My mind feels like it’s coming out of fog. I’m grateful for a very good friend who’s also my Dharma sister. And I’m grateful for her compassion and her honesty about truth I can’t always see myself. I’m grateful for my spirit wife who’s always a comfort to me when things seem bleak. I’m grateful for friends, new and old, with whom I talk to on messenger, sometimes phone calls. I’m grateful that I have a safe place to live where I’m not stirred by loud music or toxic people. And I’m glad to so many members of Narcotics Anonymous because when they speak, I can hear their pain and also seeing them like the hope that I can, that I will be better. This does get better.

One thing I noticed is that I’m sometimes too brusque with my friends. Whether I’m communicating with them by typing or speaking, I just need to try to have more patience, to be able to communicate my thoughts. I bought food today when I really need to be cooking for myself. It just seems intimidating. In the same way, I should have taken a shower today. But my depression, it sometimes just makes that feel like a monumental task. I need to journal. I was in the habit months ago of doing it every day. But I haven’t been even since I started getting clean. And I think that would be a very good thing to do. I also meant to wash some clothes today. That didn’t happen. What happens is that all of it feels like I should be doing all of it at once. When I just really need to pick one thing and work on that for the day.

The first one I’m doing right now is just going to NA meetings and staying there for a couple of hours and listening. And what I want to do is start working out again. Because I’m really out of shape. And writing, writing’s something I have only done sporadically throughout my life. And it’s something I can put my full attention into. And I think that would be good. Meditation is something I practiced for several years and I haven’t done in it months. It really helped to clear my head. I suppose, eventually, I want to try to volunteer for someplace like suicide prevention hotline because I really empathize with people who are going through a rough stretch. And just doing something for other people sounds like something that I need to do that would reinforce just getting out of my head and my self centeredness. Maybe one day buy a used car. So I can drive again. I really used to enjoy that, just driving for the hell of it. Those are the things I can think of.

I have many who do believe that stopping using, as I’m doing now, is the best thing I can do for my life. And I listen to them. My spirit wife and my Dharma sister support me and are honest with me. I try to return that. During a Buddhist retreat, which I barely went to any of, the one thing I did find was that I spoke and the others there shared that warm feeling. And they expressed that the 12 steps are a good thing and I’m not somehow shunned by my spiritual community. Then my friends, most of them out of the area, I talk with them once or twice a week just so I don’t feel alone in this. And also through NA I’ve been able to get phone numbers of people I can text with and that I can call if I get a craving. And all these people I want to be accountable to. I want to share on the days that I have cravings, which thankfully have not been many. These are the people I want to surround myself with that I want to, I need to, talk to and, maybe more importantly, listen to.

I have been sleeping too much, like 12 hours a night. And my sleep schedule has been backwards. I go to sleep at dawn and I wake up at dusk. Today I got up at 2pm which was difficult. And I drank a lot of caffeine which is maybe not healthy. But I just need to get up earlier and go to sleep earlier. What I should do is when I wake up think about how I feel and what I want to do that day. I wasn’t able to do that, though. I had– I should have gone to the store to get a couple of medications I’m out of, but anxiety was too high. I went for a short walk. And that helped some. I talked with friends today, and it was good to have interaction. Also I’ve been messaging with people from NA, and one guy said I should go ahead and get a sponsor and not delay it, that it’s dangerous to have too many days clean and not get a sponsor. So my knee jerk was just to say like, you know, I’m going at my own pace. But then I realized I don’t want to get too comfortable. So I decided to go and do that this coming week. And just the act of making a decision makes me feel less depressed because when I’m truly down, I can’t function. I can’t even think of what to do next. And I’m allowing myself some time to relax too. Even though it feels like I’m just goofing off because I need that too.Trying to balance that with getting stuff done is difficult. That’s what I did today.

One thing I have is loyalty from my friends. I don’t get to express it as much as I would like, not being around them in person. But I support what they do so much. And I care. I care that they find what’s good for themselves and what brings them meaning. That matters to me. I’m compassionate, empathetic. I listen to people and I feel how much they hurt. And if it’s experiences that I hadn’t been through, then my imagination, just by itself, works over time. So I can try to imagine what they must have been through. One thing I have, seemingly, is courage. I share what I’ve done wrong, what I feel too, to anyone out there. I’m hard working. I’ve been devoting myself to go to NA meetings every night, sitting there and listening to people, some of whom I don’t agree with, but it doesn’t matter. I’m putting in the effort. And I’m still clean. I’m starting to feel different about myself. One thing I’ve learned to become is humble. Humility just seems natural. When I share, I realize I share so much with all these people. I don’t know people from all walks of life and I’m no better or worse than them and it really shows through. And then I’m hopeful. Not hopeful for any one specific thing and I don’t think I’ll ever be optimistic. But there’s other people who’ve come through difficulties and who have come out the other side, and I feel I can too.

Day 25: How will your life be better without drugs and alcohol?

I think the first thing is clarity of thought. So I can focus on taking care of myself, cleaning out my place, trying to accomplish the things I want. Being able to write, being able to still have my bipolar to deal with. And that’s not something I’ve been able to navigate my way through while using. Also just being able to feel, to be emotionally present so I can maybe finally mourn my mom. And so I’m accessible to my friends, my wife. So I’m able to enjoy the days. There’s a lot of things I don’t know about what happens next. I’m just not sure. It’s uncertainty that I’ve drowned previously. But uncertainty is life. Maybe I can finally start taking responsibility for mine.

I’ve been really depressed for about 10 days. I don’t have energy. I feel numb. I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix, just passing the time. It’s just something to do besides laying down. I don’t have energy for anything. Today I just laid down for four and a half hours. I didn’t sleep. I just lay there. And it’s all I want to do now. Maybe watching stuff makes me more numb. I don’t know. I’m already not feeling anything, already not caring about anything. I just want the days to be over. Like sleep is the only thing that seems like a relief. And I want to get stuff done. I want to do things, and I just can’t. And I know it’s only supposed to last for so long at a time, it’s depression, but it just keeps going on. And it’s hard to remember. It’s hard to remember that I can get through this because it just doesn’t feel like I have anything in myself left inside me.

One thing that happens when I’m depressed is I stop moving forward in every aspect of my life. This past time, when I’ve been depressed, I haven’t been going to NA meetings. I haven’t worked at all on that. Also I just haven’t been able to get anything done around the house. I haven’t been able to go anywhere. And part of me has to wait for the depression to pass. It always does. It’s just, I never know how long it’s going to take before I get through it. And when I’m in the thick of it, it’s hard to even remember that. And it’s harder still to remember what things I can do to try to just survive. And things like exercise, just to move physically, and writing. When I write, I get emotion out. And that’s something I generally don’t do when I’m depressed. I’m so numb. But when I write, the painful things come out. It’s hard to remember what I’m supposed to do. I should write it down like I’ve written it down before, and things to do, and I’ve lost it. And it’s just so hard to remember while I’m actually going through it.

Although I wasn’t able to shower or shave, I did manage to brush my teeth. Just any kind of self care really seems to help. I was able to walk some, get outside. And any sort of exercise helps when I’m depressed. I was able to write for 10 minutes with the aid of a friend who called me and encouraged me to write while she was writing as well, just silently over the phone. It felt good to get anything out even though it was bad writing. It doesn’t matter. I was able to go to an NA meeting. So I feel like I’m starting to do recovery again after just not going to any meetings for days on end. And I was able to go online, play a game with my friends, which is about the only kind of social interaction I get– which, again, I haven’t done for a couple of weeks. So it’s good just to hear other voices. And finally being able to record this feels good because I haven’t been able to record these every night like I wanted to.

I’m thankful for being able to still see and to breathe. My heart’s still beating and my fingers are still capable of typing. And just being alive. And after all I put myself through and after all the things that could have killed me. So I’m grateful to whatever power or spirit or whatever that has washed over me so somehow I can keep going on. I know this life won’t last forever, so I just want to be alive. I’m glad my depression has ended for now. So I’m clear headed again. And I can actually get things done. I’m thankful for Narcotics Anonymous because I can go and listen to people who are struggling and people who have some hope to offer. I’m so thankful for my friends who called me and supported me while I’ve been depressed and are always there for me. I’m thankful to have a home where I can find peace and not be homeless as I once thought I might be. One person I heard in a meeting say was that gratitude is open mindedness. And so I try to be receptive to everything I can, as positive, and it seems to help.

I see through some insight by a friend that I’ve been performing all my life for others, for my mom. High expectations she had. And for my dad, just not knowing exactly how he thought of me, and just trying to get his attention. My writing even has been stymied by some need to prove myself as a good writer, when what I really should be doing is just writing. Not constantly judging myself for how good every sentence is, every paragraph. And I think I also try to perform with my friends to make sure they like me. I’ve felt like that before. And with jobs, always the same thing, trying to be the best I can and the most friendly, and it’s just been exhausting. I hope I can take this inside and change.

Day 1 - Suffering

Suffering is the feeling of being isolated and alone. Did your addiction lead to a feeling of isolation? At the end, were you all alone in your self-created disconnection?

Well, when I started, I started drinking alcohol, it was supposed to be a social thing. It’s supposed to make me feel more relaxed around other people and I suppose it did for a while until I started drinking too much and smoking too much marijuana. But still, those were socially accepted. And at the same time, then I got introduced to cocaine and cocaine took away– I was in a manic episode at the time, months long– and my boss and my friend’s supervisor kept asking me if I was doing cocaine, and I kept lying to them, and lying, and so I pushed them away. I lost my job. Then the only people I got to see were my coke dealer and a couple of people who came over to use some of my coke, just so I could be around someone. And then, then I found myself walking back in the snow from visiting the house of those drug friends. And they weren’t home, and I was out of everything. I was walking through the snow. And the wind just went right through me so cold, and I felt completely alone. I wanted to kill myself. The only reason I didn’t was because I didn’t want to do that to my mom. That was what I was thinking. And then just this past two years ago, I was living with my mom. And I started drinking secretly, started using cocaine and meth secretly; and, again, pushed my friends away. So with my mom during the day, I would interact with her, but then night would come and it was just me and whatever movies I could watch or I’d walk around and it’d just be me.”

Day 2 - My Dad

List of things that have disappeared from your life due to your addiction.

First, I think it was my dad because of all those years that I was just caught up in my own self. And the funny thing is that I heard he died, and I couldn’t find his phone numbers so I was stressed out for a couple weeks ’till I finally found it and I called. And he asked me if I was high, and I said, “No, I wasn’t” although I was high on cocaine. And we hadn’t talked in years. And it was good to hear his voice, but he said he’d been having some liver and kidney issues, no big problem. And then I get a text from my half sister saying he’s dead about a year later. And I didn’t call him between the last time I talked to him and then I didn’t call him; I think I was embarrassed. So, that’s what I lost.

Day 3 - Unworthy

Suffering is feeling unworthy. Has unworthiness affected you? In what ways?

Ever since I was a teenager, like, every woman I ever wanted, every woman I ever loved; I felt there was something bad inside me. Three quarters of the women that I’ve cared about, I’ve had them cheat on their boyfriends, or their fiance’s. I felt just not capable of being the person that they would actually want to spend time with; a person they would actually want to care about. And that led me down a dark road. I’ve been in mental hospitals three times. That’s not what normal people do. That’s not how normal people feel.

Day 4 - Suicide

Have you contemplated or tried to take your own life and attempt to be rid of pain?

First time I was in Nashville and it was because a woman rejected me and I was back in my apartment, and I was contemplating slicing my wrists, but I managed to go to the hospital. And I was there for six days. And by the time I came out, I wasn’t quite suicidal, I was still depressed. But the second time was, again when a woman rejected me and I thought about jumping into a stream but it was a stream that was full and overflowing and moving fast over rocks, and it would have drowned me and I wanted that. But I went to another mental health center, I had some ECT and that really brought me back to life. The third time, I, my job was making me miserable, making me feel worthless. So I cut my wrist and then I got taken to the hospital. And after it was, after, they’d sent me up, the doctor asked me if I still felt like taking my own life, and I lied and said no, because I didn’t want to go to another mental institution. Fourth time, fourth time, I was manic and depressed and manic again, all at the same time. And my mom was in serious — having serious problems too, and I just wanted to do something to make it look like an accident that I’d died. And I got taken in the mental hospital for two weeks and then I went to sort of an emergency house after that for two weeks so I missed my last Christmas with my mom. But right now, things are difficult, I want my life. I want to live it as long as I can.
Day 5 - Abuse

Was there physical abuse or verbal abuse in your home? What did it feel like to be there?

There was no physical abuse. But my mom, once it was just the two of us, and she got drunk and she was angry, which happened most of the time she was drunk, she would yell at me. All these kinds of things, they were very upsetting. And she wouldn’t stop, like, I would want to go to bed and she’d still be yelling at me and, like things like, “Listen to me!” And I honestly don’t remember what the content was, for most of it. But I remember that it made me feel just afraid. Just like I was constantly tiptoeing around, trying to be in my room, hoping she’d stayed out all night drunk and didn’t come home. I hated that feeling and I — and part of me hated her. And I didn’t feel so good about that. Years later, I went to a therapist, and I came to realize that I couldn’t — I could blame the fact she was addicted to alcohol — but I couldn’t blame the loving person she was when she wasn’t drinking. The last time she was really drunk, a year before she died, she started screaming at me in the same way. And there’s nothing I could do but get up and leave. When she was dying I told her I forgave her everything and I meant that with my whole heart. 
Day 6 - History

Is there a family history of addictions alcoholism? What was it like growing up with that legacy? How did it affect you?

For me, my mom, my dad, my granddad, they all drank. The one feeling I got from most of it was just missing them then not being there on Christmas. My mom didn’t come on Christmas Eve day, my grandma had to come over. And it was such an absence. When I was in Germany, my dad would come home and drink and then he would pass out in the bathroom. All these things created this void inside me. So I started reading so much, and I became convinced that I would never, ever go down the same path that they did. So when I was 30, of course, I started to. It’s a legacy. It’s something that they do through me. And I have to be aware of myself to stop it and start a new path.  
Day 7 - Superiority

Suffering is feeling superior, better than, or above others. List the ways you have felt superior.

My first real experience of this was in academics. Once I got past elementary school, I just — everything seemed easy to me. I became valedictorian, went to a college of my choice, I transferred to a different college, to Stanford, got a BA in English. And that made me feel that my writing was better than anyone else’s. Even though I haven’t published one thing, just one thing, and also, in relationships, sexually, just that I’m able to seduce women from their boyfriends or fiancés. It’s been so much a part of pushing people away, because when they’re my friends, they’re my equals. But when I feel superior to them, I push them away and it it gets even worse when I’m manic, much less manic and using something. I — sometimes other people would play into that, play into my ego, and I was all too ready to let them do that. And now I know there’s differences, but that everyone has the same fundamental needs and wants and it takes work though for me to see that. I have to remember that.  
Day 8 - Inferiority

Suffering is feeling less than, inferior, or beneath others. List the ways you have felt less than.

In school, high school, earlier, I rarely had any friends; I felt socially inept. And it was hard for me to connect with anyone. And some people told me that I was standoffish because I was snobbish. But the opposite was true. I just felt completely lacking. And then, in college, I barely graduated. My depression just put — I had to put everything off to the last minute. But I somehow managed to graduate and then at the graduation ceremony, my mom said, “Why didn’t you graduate cum laude?” And she was drunk at the time. But for a while, I just took it to heart and then, time passed. I had this job in Nashville, like the one of the highest paying jobs I’ve ever had. And I missed weeks of work because of my depression. And they politely fired me. And I just felt so worthless. Like, I have this, this degree and, and I can’t find the kind of jobs that a lot of my fellows who graduated with me at college did. In — when I went to Denver, I was working at the coolest book and music store in town, but it was a bookstore. I got fired from taking cocaine and lying about it. My friend said, “You’re acting like white trash,” and I felt like it, too. Jobs have always come easy to me but then I worked one at a grocery store that I was inept. My supervisor told me that I was about as fast as an old man who’d just walked in off the street at stocking stuff. And I couldn’t get faster. I just used and used. And that’s what I’ve felt like lately, is that I try to stop and I can’t. And now I’m doing everything I can to stop drinking and using. But that’s how I felt. 
Day 9 - Self Harm

Suffering is hurting yourself. List all the ways you hurt yourself.

When I was younger, in my teens and 20s, I would kick and punch objects, walls, when I got angry. I, sometimes, I would, I never broke a bone, I don’t think, except maybe twice. And once I put my hand through a window and it almost killed me, the blood I lost. When I really started to hurt myself was when I started drinking. And just this feeling of spiraling, like, toward death. That’s what it felt like at the end when I was doing cocaine, smoking, and drinking. And I knew it was hurting me. I knew it was destroying me and I saw different parts of my life just fall away. And I’ve also hurt myself by driving people away, by choosing to be with women who are unavailable. So I’ve hurt myself by slicing my wrist once. And it didn’t kill me but all the ways I’ve hurt myself have been because I’ve hurt inside, and the feeling there is fear. Fear driving me to destroy myself.  
Day 10 - Judging
Day 10: Suffering is the feeling of hatred toward oneself. List all the things about yourself you’ve ever judged or hated.
I hate my depression. It’s a physical and mental thing that drags me down and looks like laziness to everyone until I judge myself for being lazy. I hate my mania because it launches me into obsession, and things that just spirals out of control. I hate myself for how I’ve treated my family. I didn’t visit my half sister for years and years when she was growing up. I didn’t call my dad when he was dying. I didn’t go to the hospital or the nursery home enough to see my mom. I hate my sense of superiority that I judge people so quickly sometimes and I judge women by a different standard than I judge men just because of my own perversity in going after women who are unattainable, and feeling that is somehow real. I hate that I can’t think sometimes, that I can’t put down on paper what I want to relate to other people. I hate being alone and knowing that I put myself there.
Day 11 - Obsession
I read the word addiction, and I just see obsession. I’ve been with very few women in my life. With the exception of my ex-wife, I’ve been obsessed with all of them, each time, one at a time. First, there was one from Caltech, I kept in touch with her for 10 years before finally driving to have sex with her in her fiance’s apartment while he was away. Then again, again, in Denver, and two different women, and each time it was this black hole in me, the same one that I poured books and alcohol and cocaine into, the same black hole just I tried to fill it with, with women, and it’s, it’s just not a clear way to see reality when you’re obsessed. And the sex was just so linked with the obsession, that they were almost one. So like, every word I would say would be somehow dripping with, wow, with a romantic intent, like subtle and overt in both ways to try to seduce them. And then one in California and cheating with her. And my obsession was so bad that when she would break it off, I would go nuts. Once I went into a mental hospital– not her fault, my fault– but just from being so obsessed with her. And who would blame her for wanting to break it off because how must it feel to be the object of obsession, objectified, not permitted to shine as you are which is somehow a lesson I have learned.
Day 12 - Things I Need
Day 12: Suffering is the thought that I cannot be happy until I get x. What are some of the things you think you need to be happy?
Everything that I can think of, material possession wise, just boils down to money. Like if I had more money I could do stupid things. I’m horrible with money. I know at this point that my happiness is independent of how much money I have. For a few months, last year, I was able to get by with so little, and I was in such a good place. I was washing my own clothes in a bucket. I was. So I know that that’s not the answer. But money just ports into whatever things I could I spend it on and it just disappears right through my fingers. I don’t know, I could not be happy until I get a car. I used to, I used to drive when I was younger, like everywhere, you know, in the middle of the night. And then I’d drive long trips cross country. And I love driving and it’s been so many years since I’ve been behind the wheel that I’m not even sure I’d make a decent driver. But that comes again down to money. And so I think that’s not the answer to what I need. I think at some point I thought if I have a wife, if I have a connection, then that will automatically make me happy. And love is great, and it sometimes works out and sometimes doesn’t but my happiness seems to not even depend on that. Which is why I keep trying to push into trying to meditate, to think about what peace I do seek. And I’m still working on it.
Day 13 - Physical Harm
Day 13: List the ways you put yourself or someone else in physical danger because of your addiction.
A lot of these for me would be with driving. I would drive when I was drunk, high on cocaine. One time after work, I was this drunk at work that I I drove one of the other workers, a friend of mine, down back home, but he saw how badly I was driving and I just dropped him off at a gas station. And then I just had maybe a mile to drive south, eleven o’clock at night, on not a huge road but a main road, and I remember for all that I had my brain telling my body what to do that I was still drifting across lanes. And it’s only through the grace of Hermes that I’m even alive and that I didn’t hurt someone. Once, only once that I remember doing this, but when I had my ex-wife and her son, five years old, and he wanted to get a movie, and I was high, so I strapped him into the backseat of the car and I drove high to get the video. And I mean, I wasn’t bad. I was driving fine, but just even doing that was insane. I’ve done other things just being drunk and walking around. Physical coordination, falls. Once I fell out of the backseat of a car. When I was trying to get out I tripped over the front seat belt and I smashed my face in the concrete and broke my two front teeth. Once I was at home waiting for someone to pick me up. And then she got there and before I went outside, I decided to do one more hit of nitrus. And I did it while standing up which was idiotic, and the next thing I know I’m waking up sitting in a shattered mirror. And I didn’t have any cuts on me. I managed to miss the sharp corner of furniture that was right next to it. When I’m under the influence of anything, I can just do so many stupid things. And I just can’t do that anymore.
Day 14 - Recovery

I went to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. Two hours, I’ve been going to them every day since I stopped drinking 16 days ago. There, they have suggestions to go to 90 meetings in 90 days, I’ve been trying to do that. And also to get phone numbers at the meetings, people to reach out to in case things start going sideways, and I want to pick up again. I’ve gotten several numbers. And I texted one of those people who I’ve been communicating with and it showed the message was blocked, which at first was dismaying. And then I decided not to take it personally. And I don’t know what’s up with that. But I texted someone else and heard back from them, and got recommended to contact this other guy who’s also a writer to have someone to talk to in the program who’s at least more similar to me. Everyone in NA is similar to me in the way that they have to struggle with this same curse of addiction. Many of them think it is some sort of blessing because it makes them reorganize their lives and it seems not to be a bad thing.

Day 15 - Challenges

Today it’s been sort of difficult in that my sleep schedule is still so messed up. I’m waking up just as the sun sets and I need to go to the grocery store to get some of my prescription drugs that I take for my bipolar disorder. I woke up and contemplated going there, to the grocery store to get them, but I just felt so anxious. I knew I could go get them tomorrow and hopefully I’d be able to do it then. So I just procrastinated and put it off even though I’m out of one of the four and I have been for two days. And I know that enough of it stays in my system. It’s not like totally horrible. But at the same time I still couldn’t quite get myself together enough to go today. But I’m trying and it’s really late and I have to wake up early and I’m not sure if I can. I’ll try to get it done tomorrow. It’s just been– it’s just been difficult.

Day 16 - Triggers
Day 16: Did I learn about any new triggers for me today? What are they?

I’ve started doing this online meditation retreat for the next four days. And one of the leaders of the groups who’s guiding us through them is this older woman. And she was speaking. And I just got this, this huge feeling of being judged. And I had to turn off my camera so I could smoke during a Buddhist retreat. And I’ve seen this woman in person before when I’ve been on physical retreats, and she’s quiet, but got this very determined sense of her opinions. And I’m unsure why she affects me this way, when it’s clear that it’s not something that’s real. She’s not a very judgmental person. She’s very Buddhist. And she asked me to read some sections of text for a ceremony later in the event. And so, in my mind, I’m sure that it’s not what’s happening, but the emotions running through my body, that’s what I feel. And if any sort of drug were sitting right by me when she was talking, I would have used. It’s just such a powerful emotion because I feel like I haven’t done all I can to embody the precepts that I proclaim, that I claim to value. And that’s what I learned.

Day 17 - Problem Behavior

I think the one I’ve noticed most, at least in the past couple of hours, is just how critical I can be. Just a running commentary when I’m listening to other people in a meeting, just their grammar, their usage, how loud they’re being. And it just puts me in this negative mind space. When thoughts like that occur to me, I’ve come to refer to a part of myself as Zeke, like a shadow, like a demon, the perverse part of me that wants to just use. That wants me to cast out on other people. And I’m glad I can be aware of when it’s not my better self speaking in my mind or speaking out loud. It’s just constant though, that I have to be aware. And if I’m not, then I just spiral down in the same behavior– that same behavior that got me into using too much. And I want to find a way to integrate myself, to be not happy, but together, sincere, honest, thoughtful. And that’s what I aspire to.

Day 18 - Setting Goals

Pretty much. I had three. One was to go to the retreat and do some reading out loud for part of a ceremony. And then to go to an NA meeting. And then to record this. I went to the retreat zoom thing, before, and asked questions I was supposed to read. And I did that. And not not long after I just had to drop out of the meeting. But I but I did that. And then I’ve been going to NA meetings, sometimes for two and a half hours. And I was okay just going with one meeting today. Because otherwise, today the clock has ticked by in the upper left of my cell phone, and time has crawled so slowly, and I have not been relaxed or spiritual or meditative. I’ve just been smoking cigarettes. And I think I have a tendency to overextend myself, and especially just interacting with people, there’s so much I can do and then I just feel exhausted. I think setting modest goals right now is probably a smarter thing than trying to get everything done in one day. But it’s something I still have to work on. And part of me wishes that I could set ambitious goals and accomplish them. But I have to live in reality with what I can do now.

Day 19 - Gratefulness

I’m grateful that I’m clean today. And I have been for 22 days. My mind feels like it’s coming out of fog. I’m grateful for a very good friend who’s also my Dharma sister. And I’m grateful for her compassion and her honesty about truth I can’t always see myself. I’m grateful for my spirit wife who’s always a comfort to me when things seem bleak. I’m grateful for friends, new and old, with whom I talk to on messenger, sometimes phone calls. I’m grateful that I have a safe place to live where I’m not stirred by loud music or toxic people. And I’m glad to so many members of Narcotics Anonymous because when they speak, I can hear their pain and also seeing them like the hope that I can, that I will be better. This does get better.

Day 20 - Improve

One thing I noticed is that I’m sometimes too brusque with my friends. Whether I’m communicating with them by typing or speaking, I just need to try to have more patience, to be able to communicate my thoughts. I bought food today when I really need to be cooking for myself. It just seems intimidating. In the same way, I should have taken a shower today. But my depression, it sometimes just makes that feel like a monumental task. I need to journal. I was in the habit months ago of doing it every day. But I haven’t been even since I started getting clean. And I think that would be a very good thing to do. I also meant to wash some clothes today. That didn’t happen. What happens is that all of it feels like I should be doing all of it at once. When I just really need to pick one thing and work on that for the day.

Day 21 - Replacements

The first one I’m doing right now is just going to NA meetings and staying there for a couple of hours and listening. And what I want to do is start working out again. Because I’m really out of shape. And writing, writing’s something I have only done sporadically throughout my life. And it’s something I can put my full attention into. And I think that would be good. Meditation is something I practiced for several years and I haven’t done in it months. It really helped to clear my head. I suppose, eventually, I want to try to volunteer for someplace like suicide prevention hotline because I really empathize with people who are going through a rough stretch. And just doing something for other people sounds like something that I need to do that would reinforce just getting out of my head and my self centeredness. Maybe one day buy a used car. So I can drive again. I really used to enjoy that, just driving for the hell of it. Those are the things I can think of.

Day 22 - Other's Support

I have many who do believe that stopping using, as I’m doing now, is the best thing I can do for my life. And I listen to them. My spirit wife and my Dharma sister support me and are honest with me. I try to return that. During a Buddhist retreat, which I barely went to any of, the one thing I did find was that I spoke and the others there shared that warm feeling. And they expressed that the 12 steps are a good thing and I’m not somehow shunned by my spiritual community. Then my friends, most of them out of the area, I talk with them once or twice a week just so I don’t feel alone in this. And also through NA I’ve been able to get phone numbers of people I can text with and that I can call if I get a craving. And all these people I want to be accountable to. I want to share on the days that I have cravings, which thankfully have not been many. These are the people I want to surround myself with that I want to, I need to, talk to and, maybe more importantly, listen to.

Day 23 - Dealing with depression

I have been sleeping too much, like 12 hours a night. And my sleep schedule has been backwards. I go to sleep at dawn and I wake up at dusk. Today I got up at 2pm which was difficult. And I drank a lot of caffeine which is maybe not healthy. But I just need to get up earlier and go to sleep earlier. What I should do is when I wake up think about how I feel and what I want to do that day. I wasn’t able to do that, though. I had– I should have gone to the store to get a couple of medications I’m out of, but anxiety was too high. I went for a short walk. And that helped some. I talked with friends today, and it was good to have interaction. Also I’ve been messaging with people from NA, and one guy said I should go ahead and get a sponsor and not delay it, that it’s dangerous to have too many days clean and not get a sponsor. So my knee jerk was just to say like, you know, I’m going at my own pace. But then I realized I don’t want to get too comfortable. So I decided to go and do that this coming week. And just the act of making a decision makes me feel less depressed because when I’m truly down, I can’t function. I can’t even think of what to do next. And I’m allowing myself some time to relax too. Even though it feels like I’m just goofing off because I need that too.Trying to balance that with getting stuff done is difficult. That’s what I did today.

Day 24 - Good Qualities

One thing I have is loyalty from my friends. I don’t get to express it as much as I would like, not being around them in person. But I support what they do so much. And I care. I care that they find what’s good for themselves and what brings them meaning. That matters to me. I’m compassionate, empathetic. I listen to people and I feel how much they hurt. And if it’s experiences that I hadn’t been through, then my imagination, just by itself, works over time. So I can try to imagine what they must have been through. One thing I have, seemingly, is courage. I share what I’ve done wrong, what I feel too, to anyone out there. I’m hard working. I’ve been devoting myself to go to NA meetings every night, sitting there and listening to people, some of whom I don’t agree with, but it doesn’t matter. I’m putting in the effort. And I’m still clean. I’m starting to feel different about myself. One thing I’ve learned to become is humble. Humility just seems natural. When I share, I realize I share so much with all these people. I don’t know people from all walks of life and I’m no better or worse than them and it really shows through. And then I’m hopeful. Not hopeful for any one specific thing and I don’t think I’ll ever be optimistic. But there’s other people who’ve come through difficulties and who have come out the other side, and I feel I can too.

Day 25 - If sober . . .

Day 25: How will your life be better without drugs and alcohol?

I think the first thing is clarity of thought. So I can focus on taking care of myself, cleaning out my place, trying to accomplish the things I want. Being able to write, being able to still have my bipolar to deal with. And that’s not something I’ve been able to navigate my way through while using. Also just being able to feel, to be emotionally present so I can maybe finally mourn my mom. And so I’m accessible to my friends, my wife. So I’m able to enjoy the days. There’s a lot of things I don’t know about what happens next. I’m just not sure. It’s uncertainty that I’ve drowned previously. But uncertainty is life. Maybe I can finally start taking responsibility for mine.

Day 26 - Depression

I’ve been really depressed for about 10 days. I don’t have energy. I feel numb. I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix, just passing the time. It’s just something to do besides laying down. I don’t have energy for anything. Today I just laid down for four and a half hours. I didn’t sleep. I just lay there. And it’s all I want to do now. Maybe watching stuff makes me more numb. I don’t know. I’m already not feeling anything, already not caring about anything. I just want the days to be over. Like sleep is the only thing that seems like a relief. And I want to get stuff done. I want to do things, and I just can’t. And I know it’s only supposed to last for so long at a time, it’s depression, but it just keeps going on. And it’s hard to remember. It’s hard to remember that I can get through this because it just doesn’t feel like I have anything in myself left inside me.

Day 27 - How to keep going

One thing that happens when I’m depressed is I stop moving forward in every aspect of my life. This past time, when I’ve been depressed, I haven’t been going to NA meetings. I haven’t worked at all on that. Also I just haven’t been able to get anything done around the house. I haven’t been able to go anywhere. And part of me has to wait for the depression to pass. It always does. It’s just, I never know how long it’s going to take before I get through it. And when I’m in the thick of it, it’s hard to even remember that. And it’s harder still to remember what things I can do to try to just survive. And things like exercise, just to move physically, and writing. When I write, I get emotion out. And that’s something I generally don’t do when I’m depressed. I’m so numb. But when I write, the painful things come out. It’s hard to remember what I’m supposed to do. I should write it down like I’ve written it down before, and things to do, and I’ve lost it. And it’s just so hard to remember while I’m actually going through it.

Day 28 - Accomplishments

Although I wasn’t able to shower or shave, I did manage to brush my teeth. Just any kind of self care really seems to help. I was able to walk some, get outside. And any sort of exercise helps when I’m depressed. I was able to write for 10 minutes with the aid of a friend who called me and encouraged me to write while she was writing as well, just silently over the phone. It felt good to get anything out even though it was bad writing. It doesn’t matter. I was able to go to an NA meeting. So I feel like I’m starting to do recovery again after just not going to any meetings for days on end. And I was able to go online, play a game with my friends, which is about the only kind of social interaction I get– which, again, I haven’t done for a couple of weeks. So it’s good just to hear other voices. And finally being able to record this feels good because I haven’t been able to record these every night like I wanted to.

Day 29 - Gratitude

I’m thankful for being able to still see and to breathe. My heart’s still beating and my fingers are still capable of typing. And just being alive. And after all I put myself through and after all the things that could have killed me. So I’m grateful to whatever power or spirit or whatever that has washed over me so somehow I can keep going on. I know this life won’t last forever, so I just want to be alive. I’m glad my depression has ended for now. So I’m clear headed again. And I can actually get things done. I’m thankful for Narcotics Anonymous because I can go and listen to people who are struggling and people who have some hope to offer. I’m so thankful for my friends who called me and supported me while I’ve been depressed and are always there for me. I’m thankful to have a home where I can find peace and not be homeless as I once thought I might be. One person I heard in a meeting say was that gratitude is open mindedness. And so I try to be receptive to everything I can, as positive, and it seems to help.

Day 30 - Insight

I see through some insight by a friend that I’ve been performing all my life for others, for my mom. High expectations she had. And for my dad, just not knowing exactly how he thought of me, and just trying to get his attention. My writing even has been stymied by some need to prove myself as a good writer, when what I really should be doing is just writing. Not constantly judging myself for how good every sentence is, every paragraph. And I think I also try to perform with my friends to make sure they like me. I’ve felt like that before. And with jobs, always the same thing, trying to be the best I can and the most friendly, and it’s just been exhausting. I hope I can take this inside and change.

Jason’s Closing Reflection:

Since I’ve started this, I’ve had a chance to review so many memories that hurt. And I went through depression for a couple weeks. And I couldn’t tell which way was up. And through recording these, I’ve just come to believe that I’m more than the sum of the parts of my past, that I’m more complex than I thought, that by continuing to examine myself, by continuing to try to push down my ego and embrace hope, greater power, be led instead of leading, I might find something more. I’m not sure how this works. I go to NA and I listen to people and I still have much to do with regards to that. I’m still trying new drugs for my depression. But there are things that keep me sane, my friends, and this whole process has really helped me too. And so that’s all for now.

Resources

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and/or is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please consider the following list of resources:

SAMHSA Helpline1-800-662-HELP
Crisis Text Line Text HOME to 741741

Story Credits

Editor: Mary Beth Spang
Photography &
Web Producer: Will Halim

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Disclaimer: the narrative expressed in the article is solely those of the author(s).
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