So I’ve been off the anti depressants for over a month now, and mentally I feel really good. I’m feeling much better and taking the leap of faith to get off them was one of the best decisions I made in 2014. I’ve organized to back to work, and for the first time in over a year I’m actually feeling relatively comfortable with the idea of working again. I’ve signed up for a social work tafe course starting in February and i’m also really looking forward to that. I feel like I only really have one stone unturned, one obstacle to overcome, one more hurdle to jump over. That stone would by my chronic back pain. I’ve had non stop upper back and neck pain for over 8 months now. It’s awful, it hurts like hell, and there is almost no release from it. It’s arguably one of the main reasons I became addicted to codeine in the first place, what started out as simply trying to manage the pain turned into trying to manage the pain and an addiction.
While I don’t believe in the man in the sky, It does feel like I’m being tested to my limits. How is one meant to balance pain management and addiction when they cross over on so many levels, both physically and psychologically. For the past 2 weeks I’ve been using Endone (oxycontin) which was prescribed to my by a GP in Melbourne. While it works absolute wonders in managing my pain, and has allowed me to stay mentally stable and able to function normally, I can’t help but feel conflicted as It like all the opiates has addictive properties and it can be extremely difficult to know when you need it or when you just want it. It’s something I have to think about, carefully, all the time. It makes me feel guilty, even though when I think about it I know that my number one priority is to resolve the pain, and manage it. While it doesn’t do anything to resolve the pain long term, and I need to and will seek other action in finally doing that, it does allow me to function more or less a normal life short term. Right now I have three main priorities; 1) To maintain a healthy and stable mentality and lifestyle, 2) To successfully integrate myself back into the working routine, and 3) To successfully resolve and manage the pain. It’s a tight web of implications, each action I make on each one greatly affects the other 2. I need to stay in this mindset to be able to work, and I need to work to stay in this mindset. I also need to manage the pain to be able to work and stay in this mindset, but I also need to be careful with how often and when I take powerful painkillers in order to keep this mindset, but then I also need to be able to manage the pain successfully in order to work.
How does one manage such a complicated dilemma? I’ve found that the key to success is based on honesty. You need to trust yourself, you need to trust the people around you, and you need to be honest. I talk with both my parents, and close family friends, explain exactly how I’m feeling and my concerns, and see what they have to say. I’ve definitely found that being totally honest gives you the best chance of making the right decision. After all the people who love you only want the best for you, but they can only really give their true insight and help if you are willing to be completely honest. Everyone I know is aware that I’ve struggled over the past year, with pain, depression, anxiety, and addiction. I’d like to think though that everyone knows I have tried to be as honest and upfront about it. I haven’t tried to hide anything, because my intention has never been to deceive or lie, but simply to get by as best I could. I can tell you that no one is capable of making the perfect decision all the time, if we did we wouldn’t have a reason to be on this earth. We are not computers, we can’t always calculate the right decision, and much of the knowledge required to make good decisions comes from the experience of making mistakes. I guess my point is, if you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up over it. It’s true that you need to accept the consequences and face them, but don’t judge yourself. Don’t hold yourself to it because we are all human and we all make mistakes.
I am optimistic this 2015 is going to be a good year for me. I’m off most medicine and feeling much better and more normal. Thankfully I still have a job to go back to. Even after an entire year my boss from my old job is willing to allow me to return. I’d like to think this partly because I worked hard for him and I was loyal and did my job to the best I could, but I’d be kidding myself if I wasn’t grateful that he has a kind and generous person, something many people might argue is a rare quality these days.
Things are looking up, the pain is dark but my horizon is bright. I’m feeling energetic and enthusiastic, something not long ago I thought I would never feel again. It kind of shows with determination, love, and support you can overcome almost anything. My dad said to me a while ago “You have to believe you’re going to get better” and that stuck with me. The brain is powerful, very powerful. They say you can make your memory better just by believing it is improving. So I have to believe 2015 will be a better year if I want to be. I have to believe I will overcome this final boss in order to prevail.
It might sound weird, but in some respects I can say I’m actually glad that I’ve had to go through everything over the past year or so. I feel it will help me to relate with people who I meet through working for social services in the future. After all, is there a better way to understand something like drug addiction or depression that going through it yourself?
I’ll be back in Sydney on Monday 5th, ready for work and ready for 2015.