Addiction’s sibling: Mental Illness

                          schiz·o·phre·ni·a

[ˌskitsəˈfrēnēə, ˌskitsəˈfrenēə]

NOUN

   a long-term mental disorder of a type involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behavior, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation.

    From a decently young age I can remember hearing things that weren’t real. I knew that if I focused on the voices then I could properly hear what they were saying.

 I can’t remember what the voices started saying, but as I got older the voices got louder and more frequent. I always thought that those with Schizoprenia or DID (dissassociative identity disorder) were such interesting characters, but I never dreamed I would be one of them.

    The voices started around age 12, but they only showed up once every 3-4 months. The rarity of them made me think it was something normal and what everyone went through. After the voices came the visual hallucinations and the paranoia. They paranoia was always under the surface while growing up , but it truley showed its self around age 19. Like most people at 19 I figured that it was all in my head and could be drowned in alcohol, but of course I was wrong. 

    While drinking I wasn’t conciously aware of the voices or hallucinations, but the day after is a different story. I would wake up and the visual hallucinations would come with a vengence with the paranoia. As I got older rather than indirect paranoia, and just all out fear it started to get paranoia of very specific objects.

    I never liked mirrors, they always seemed to show something that was watching, waiting, and planning to get me. At my best a mirror unsettles me, and at my worse I have to cover it up or break it to keep the thing from gettting me. The mirrors always seemed to breath and want me. To this day I can’t say why mirrors, but I will always fear them even a little. I’m still scared to turn my back to one.

    Mirrors being the break from reality, my periphrial vision was the culprit that aided my visual hallucinations. Always just out of the corner of my eye, just bearly out of sight were the shadows. Nothing with a true or set form, but always there ready to get me at any moment. It happened most with there was something I had to focus on it felt. Something that was grabbing my attention so I had to let my guard down and then the shadows in the corners would start to stir.

    I was 23 when i had my first psychotic episode. 

We just refer to them as episodes in the family cause there is no set term for what happens. The episodes start the same with hyper awarness, and then the paranoia. Hyper awarness is when all of your sense are trying to focus on everything around you at the same time. The mental stress it can cause is excruciating, and is often a symptom of PTSD. While my senses are over loaded the paranoia kicks in, the fear that I’m missing something. Some crucial bit of information that will keep me safe.

    The voices will start, but they aren’t word or even cohiesive they are just loud screams. I feel them building and getting louder till I can’t hear anything but them. Thats when the self harm comes. I begin clawing at my torso, my head, and anywhere else I can dig into myself. I always feel like if I get deep enough, if I can claw deep enough iI can bleed the voices out. Outside of the episodes I know how impractical it sounds, but during an episode I need to be restrained and calmed down.

    After three psychotic episodes I was admitted to a psychiatric ward in Indiana. I had clawed at my chest and left cuts across it, and my fiance took me to the ER to get checked in. During my short stay there I was able to get medication, and understand to help “stay grounded”. Stay grounded is the term used to stay in connection to reality and to help prevent other episodes from happenning.

    As for dealing with it completely there really is no rule book for guidance. It’s not a easy treated illness and every day is different. That being said, having the family I do and having such a strong Fiance I’m sure that I will be okay. The future is unknown and filled with much needed therapy and medication, but it’s much better than being committed.

I asked my son to write this. For many of us, sharing our story is helpful in recovering, whether it’s addiction or mental illness. I am proud of his courage and determination to do whatever he must, to learn how to live with schizophrenia.

It is heart-breaking to know that he’s dealing with this. I hope and pray that he’s ok. I am incredibly thankful for the strength he has, and the amazing people God’s placed in his life. 

As promised: Q & A with the Director & Executive Producer of “Surrender”.

​Interview: Mark Renshaw + Christopher Carson Emmons

Chris, as the director, you brought forth a patient yet striking visual narrative with this short film.  How were you able to achieve the vision you sought with the numerous effects shots and other stylistic challenges that the film required?
The team tried to achieve many unconventional things with this project, it is essentially a silent film from the point of view of an unreliable narrator (due to his alcoholism we see some things that are only in his mind) and is also a mental health and addiction awareness piece masquerading as a horror/thriller film.
I felt that showing literal manifestations of the main character’s inner demons throughout would help communicate why as an addict he consciously makes the wrong decision time and time again. The temptress character at his office is a living manifestation of the addict’s impulse to do the wrong thing while being aware it’s wrong, perhaps seeking ultimately punishment and intervention from external forces before the darkness inside completely consumes.
I also wanted the viewer to experience what a day in the life of this man was like from his point of view, in an effort to hopefully help them empathize with what otherwise may have been a deeply unsympathetic character. To me, the core issue of the character was a lack of self-love, which caused him to lash out at loved ones because he didn’t feel he deserved them and he simultaneously punished and medicated himself constantly for this with alcohol.
We tried with the visuals to thematically imbue a sense of not trusting the world around the lead character or the character himself early on. Even the water bottle he puts clear alcohol in is misleading, but alcoholics viewing the film would know that there are many ways such as this to disguise addiction. With the sound, we tried to really illustrate the decay inside this man physically and spiritually. Every time he takes a drink of alcohol, you hear the sound of his insides burning. The music is really the dialogue, which communicates most of the emotion throughout the journey.
Mark, as the writer and Executive Producer, you drew from some personal accounts when you envisioned—and eventually scripted—“Surrender”. Please tell us about your personal journey that led to the genesis of this unique and important film.
At the time of writing this, I’m three years, nine months and two days sober; not that I’m counting or anything!
I was a functioning alcoholic. I had a successful career, a fantastic family and a lovely home. At face value my life was perfect. I seemed like a happy, normal guy.
Inside I was dying.
Physically, mentally and spiritually, I was a wreck. I couldn’t cope with the real world, so I started to rely on something which took me out of my anxiety and into my own version of reality. The only thing keeping me going was the promise of that bottle at the end of each day. It became my solution to everything.
Eventually I had my rock bottom, I reached my jumping off place. To quote from Pulp Fiction, “I had what alcoholics describe as a moment of clarity.” I admitted defeat, reached out for help and began my recovery.
When I wrote “Surrender”, I wanted to encapsulate how it feels to exist as a functioning alcoholic. I wanted to show how different they are from the stereotypical, drunken tramp-like figure most people imagine when they think of an alcoholic. My goal was to highlight how ordinary they appear at face value, as well as how deceptive and manipulative they can be.
The main character, Dave, isn’t me, but he does represent key elements of my battle with the booze. “Surrender” also drew on many shared experiences I’ve heard from alcoholics over the past few years.
However, I wanted to avoid a potentially dull narrative were we simply observe a character drink heavily and wind up in trouble. I initially wrote about a guy who existed in a completely isolated world when he was sober. The only way he could cross into the ‘real world’ and interact with people was to take a drink. This would allow him to operate normally for a while but he would eventually spin out of control and wind up back in the ’empty zone’ when he woke up.
After reading this script, Chris suggested that I try a more horror-based approach, in which we could see his fears, anxieties and all his inner demons materialized. I loved this idea. And thus, “Surrender” was born. 
What do you hope audiences leave with after viewing “Surrender”?
Chris: My hope with this film is that people take a moment to question what the differences are between someone’s surface demeanor and their inner lives. What is the person who publicly seems happy all the time really thinking and what does this temperament do to their soul? What are the depths of compassion the person you deem awful or irredeemable is actually capable of?
Functioning alcoholics are often masterful at seeming like they have it all together, which makes them incredibly difficult to diagnose let alone get to seek treatment. It is an internal struggle that I think deserves examination and awareness.
The film unapologetically presents an addict who is self-destructive in all aspects of his life on his road to rock bottom. When presented with the concept of rehabilitation by his wife, we end the film on his response, which is simply “How?” This is one of the most important questions we should all be addressing about addiction, and it is my hope that the film ultimately contributes to that dialogue.
Mark: This may seem strange but I would like viewers to have a strange taste in their mouth when they watch “Surrender”. I want them to be hooked into Dave’s journey but be slightly uncomfortable about the ride. 
Dave represents the ‘Yet Factor.’ I drink a bit too much, but not during the day…yet. I drink but at least I’ve not lost my job…yet. Well, I’ve passed out a few times but I’ve never woken up in a strange place…yet. Etc.
My hope is that anyone struggling with addiction, both personally or through someone they know, will identity with Dave’s struggle. When they get to the end of “Surrender”, I want them to realize that no matter how far down the ladder they may have fallen, they can always climb back up. I also hope that they are as curious as Dave as to how this can be accomplished and seek the help to do so.

12 Steps & Christianity

​Are the 12 steps for a Christian? 

Can they be used in a Christ like manner to bring us to a closer walk with Him? I say yes…the steps are Biblical in nature and this is how I view them as a Christian. 

1. I am a sinner. My life is broken and chaotic.  

2. Jesus I believe (trust in, rely on, adhere to) the fact that you can restore me to right thinking, action, speech, and relieve me from self destruction. 

3. Jesus I turn my will and my life over to You. 

4. I look to the past mistakes (sins) I look to the past victories and assess them all. 

5. I share with God, myself and a trusted individual those things of my past. I confess and bring them to the light of exposure in humility. 

6. I become ready to have God remove these defects of character. This sin nature. 

7. I become willing to allow Him to remove my shortcomings. Those things that don’t glorify Him. We all fall short yet in Him by His grace they can be removed. 

8. We make a list of those we have harmed and become willing to make amends. Sometimes it is just by the change that He produces that we becoming a living testimony, a blessing a true amends to family and friends whom or sins or shortcomings have affected. Also there might be financial amends but we should not let that hinder us from taking this step which releases us and mends our fears of the past. 

9. We begin to work with Him on the amends and the healing process. This takes time, prayer and humility. 

10. Daily we take into account our actions and reactions, if we fall short we promptly admit it. Honesty open-mindedness and willingness is a key to unlock this step. We don’t always have to be right we should be willing to admit our faults. This will free us from sliding down the wrong road. 

11. We pray, we continue to search His will for us through the meditation of His Word, and we seek the power of the Holy Spirit to carry His will out in our day to day life. 

12. Having been set free or a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps we carry this message and practice these principles in all our affairs. We walk the walk not just talk the talk. Spiritual progress.  

I’m definitely not a person who holds perfect adherence to these principles yet they to me are filled with Spirit and Truth and if worked in order continually can produce right relationship, right standing, or in biblical terms righteousness with Christ Who is our Righteousness. But that’s all contingent upon our spiritual maintenance. If this helps someone praise God. Be blessed and be a blessing.

3 Truths Recovery Taught Me ~ a guest post by a Recovery Rockstar ~ Rose Lockinger

   When I first got sober the only thing that I really wanted was to figure out how to stop drinking and get my life back. It was the driving force behind entering into treatment and if that was the only thing that I got from sobriety that would have been enough. But sobriety has offered me so much more, so much that I didn’t know I was going to receive.

 

Being sober and involved in Alcoholics Anonymous has given me a new way of life, with new principles and a better understanding for who I am in relation to the world around me. And it has taught me some important truths that I probably would not have learned otherwise.  Recovery has also helped heal from trauma that haunted me for so many years.

 

The first major truth that being sober taught me is that I do not have to be perfect. I am not sure if other people learn this quicker than I did, but for me perfection was always the goal, whether conscious or not. I’m not sure where this need for perfection stemmed from but my ability to accept my failings as a human being has always been lacking. For most of my life, I have been extremely hard on myself, and anything that did not measure up to the level of perfection that I was seeking was deemed a failure.

 

This thought process is not unique to me, and one of my favorite principles of the program is that  of progress not perfection.  This has helped me combat to some extent this type of thinking, but accepting this was always difficult for me. It is one of those strange dichotomies of being an addict or alcoholic that doesn’t seem to make sense. In one regard I ruined pretty much everything during my addiction, yet I always sought to be perfect. If I couldn’t be perfect I didn’t bother trying at all. Once I got sober and learned that seeking perfection was a fool’s errand, my attitude changed.

 

I learned that all that I could expect of myself was my best effort and that if I could honestly say that I tried my best then the outcome was good enough for me. This is not always easy for me to accept but being sober and understanding that I am not perfect has helped greatly in this aspect.

 

The second major truth that I learned in sobriety was that I actually am a good person. A little over two years ago you could not have convinced me of this, in fact, for the most part, I thought I was one of the worst human beings on the planet. I felt as if I could never be forgiven for the things I did. This changed however once I got sober and I began to see that many of the actions that I took during my addiction were not me, they were uncharacteristic for the person that I actually am.

 

Learning this truth took some time but when I finally began to see that I actually do care about people and their feelings and that what I want most out of life is to help people and see them succeed, I began to reevaluate my own appraisal of myself.

 

This was a huge truth for me to learn and going from thinking I was the worst, to thinking that I was actually a good person completely changed the way that I interacted with myself and with others. I found that I no longer berated myself as much, although I still can from time to time, and I also found that I was more forgiving and accepting of others as well. I don’t always operate in the mindset that I am a good person, but for the most part, I am aware today that this is the truth.

 

The third major truth that I learned from being in sobriety is that I, of myself, am enough. I don’t need to pretend to be anyone else, I don’t need to try to please you so that you will love me, and I don’t need to feel less than every other person on the planet. When this truth truly entered into my understanding my entire world changed.

 

For most of my life, I felt like the outsider. I felt like there was something wrong me and there was some fundamental lacking that I had to make up for through other’s acceptance. No matter how much I tried to acquire the knowledge that I was enough through other’s opinions, it never brought me the fulfillment that I craved. It was only after I came to realize for myself that I am enough that I began to be at peace with myself.

 

If you think about it from a logical standpoint, being enough with what you currently are makes sense. I mean why would God, or whatever you choose to call your high power, create a being that was not enough? What sort of cruel joke would that entail making a person, who locked within the essence of their being was not enough for the world? When I realized this, I realized that I no longer had to strive for approval and while I could continue to try to grow as a person, my growth was not contingent on my ability to be loved.

 

Behind almost all of these truths is the fear that I was not someone who could be loved. I believe that it is most people’s greatest fear: that they are too terrible, too broken, or too lacking to be loved. Getting sober showed me that none of this was true and above everything else I was worthy of love because I was worthy of love. I didn’t need to be anything other than Rose and understanding this, took some of the pressure off of me that I felt throughout my life as I tried to figure out how to be someone else.

 

I know that if you get sober you will find your own truths and that these truths will transform the world that you live in. This has been the case for all of the people that I have met during my sobriety and I am excited to hear what truths a life of recovery will bring you.  
 

Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.
 

You can find me on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/rose-lockinger-6a0a23109?trk=hp-identity-name), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/rose.lockinger), & Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/rlockinger/ )

“Sit With Us”

I just had to spread the word about a brilliant app created to help kids find someone to sit with at lunch, thereby reducing the likelihood of their becoming a target for bullying.

I know that those who stop by wondrland are some of the most compassionate and creative folks around, and I want to ask you to share the info about this app with any – and everyone you can. (The link is at the bottom of this post.)

Too many of us grew up being bullied, and those scars don’t go away. Thanks. My Tribe is the best. ❤

​http://sitwithus.io./#!/News

The life-changing events of my time living in Europe

As a young Midwestern girl, I dreamed of living in Europe for as far back as I can remember. The countryside was far greener, the people more friendly, diverse and interesting, and even the architecture was amazing when compared to the cookie-cutter neighborhoods to which I’d been accustomed. It looked to be just about Heaven, as far as I could tell.
My friends and I sought to expand our knowledge and understanding of the (small but hard) world around us via copious amounts of weed, alcohol, and acid, while dreaming of our eventual lives -doing all those same things, of course- overseas. Heck, I was young enough then to believe in the dreams of my friends, if not my own.

Listening to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, The Lizard King, and of course, The Wall, we gathered our ideas of what was, and what had been, and what could be…
So, when I found myself in a position whereby all I had to do to get to The Promised Land (Europa) was get my live-in boyfriend, who was signing up for the Army, to marry me, I somehow made that happen. As young as he was, I’m pretty sure it was via bedroom intimate private “negotiations” that he was easily persuaded.
After he left for boot camp, I spent that period and the 6 months after that smoking, snorting, dropping and  drinking everything I cound get my hands on.
The codependency and depression of my youth exploded, and I went into a pretty fast, downward spiral. Then, to my in-patient “hospital” stay. It was more like a spa, I suppose, than what I’d imagined a psychiatric place to be, and I remember feeling relieved, somehow. Within those walls, I could Just. Be. Me.
After a week to get “stabilised” (I supposed that was the intention, or maybe just supervised detox) on antidepressants, they cut me loose. I hadn’t felt it necessary to talk about my previous chemical intake, and as I left, it felt like an aside when someone suggested  I check out Alcoholics Anonymous.

Meh. That wasn’t my problem! That was my solution!!

Soon after returning to my little studio apartment, I realized that the medication was causing me to blackout sooner, so of course, I nixed the Prozac. (Duh.)

image

The house where I lived. Gotta love Google maps!!

Upon arriving in Frankfurt, my husband took me to (of course) one of the usual bars in Saxenhausen. I had a really large glass of Pils (German ale), and a hit of acid. (Right about now was when the music began playing from when Dorothy discovered the Emerald City)

I had effin arrived!!!

It was in most ways, every bit as magical as I’d imagined.
The experience of living in Germany and seeing bits of France (and Amsterdam of course) sealed in my heart a longing to return, which even 24 years later, hasn’t subsided. It would be tres interesting to go there clean & sober, no?!

The short story of what comes to my mind when I think of how that year & a half changed my life forever is this:
My Dad took the opportunity to come for a week (or two?), during which we did some site-seeing…the experience of his driving on the auto-bahn left me with a quote I’ve not yet forgotten. We were headed toward France at the required break-neck speed (so it seemed at the time), and decided that we weren’t necessarily on the road that we wanted. Dad quipped “Well, I’m not sure where we are, but we’re really making good time!” (It may have been more hilarious because I was HIGH. You can be the judge.)
Dad had put together only a few months of sobriety at this time, and in hindsight, I’m positive I was set-up; maybe not by Dad, but nonetheless. He “needed me to help him find a meeting” in Germany. He knew I wasn’t ready to quit, yet. But he needed to get to his safe place, and I know he wanted to share this new fanily with me.
I left that meeting feeling confused and somehow hopeful.
That was one way my life was changed. My first AA meeting, in Frankfurt, Germany.

A few months later, the other life-changing event of my time in Europe.

I discovered I was pregnant.

image

Blessed and confused

Posted from my cabin in the mountains.