Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Lost Soul

The Lost Soul is a true story of one of my clients, written by me and being published with her consent. I believe her case history will be an eye opener for many of us.

I am 30 years old and my story is really sad and tragic. This is what I feel but others might not feel this way because everyone has a different perspective of life. I think life is pleasurable and one should enjoy life. If I look back starting from early childhood till today I can't recall a single day of pleasure or joy in my life. I wanted to enjoy life: my childhood, my education, my career, my marriage and my children but I couldn't. I was a little kid when I lost myself and till today I am in search of myself. I don’t think I can find myself now because I have been diagnosed with drug abuse psychosis: a condition, which is known to be as "bipolar". I think others can learn a lot from my experience and it might help them from getting lost.

I was the only child of my parents. My father was not doing anything except for smoking hash the whole day. My mother was a house wife and we were living in a joint family system, a middle class family. I always saw everyone fighting at home and the target used to be my father. My family used to blame him for being an addict and not doing anything. As a result my father used to react at my mother and I always saw my parents having fights almost every day.

Moreover, my other family members always blamed my mother for my father's addiction. I always saw my mother crying or feeling depressed. I remember my mother left house for a number of times and took shelter at her parents' place. But after a few days my father used to bring her back. The whole situation at home made me feel frightened. I was a neglected child; there was nobody to take care of me. This is not the end of the story rather the beginning. I was a frightened child…..this was the time when I lost my childhood. No pleasure, no excitement and no joy, which is a child's basic right to my understanding.

I remember going to school at age 3 or 4 feeling frightened, disturbed and confused. I was a shy and totally withdrawn girl having no confidence and no friends. Despite being an intelligent girl I couldn't complete my studies. I went up to matriculation. Why did I remain unable to complete my studies? Things at home used to bother me. At times I used to feel sympathetic for my father as he was living a miserable life. No one at home was pushed for his treatment but blaming him and hash was his escape. The other times I used to feel for my mother as she always remained depressed and there was nobody to help her out. I needed to help myself to overcome those miserable feelings, which I developed in my early childhood. I wanted to enjoy and build my confidence. I wanted my childhood back. I was aware of one thing that my father used hash whenever he felt low or upset because of my other family members at home. So, I decided to use hash. My first experience with hash was at age 13 and I used to take my father's stuff. I don't think hash helped me in any way but created more problems. My performance at school went down and I lost myself as a student. No education, no career and no goals in life. Everything just shattered.

No one at home could make out that I was using hash till I was 15 years old. When they got to know I was abused so badly that I decided to leave my home and I ran away. Not knowing where to go and what to do. I had an idea from where one can get hash and reached there. I took my stuff used it and was sitting there feeling confused about my future. There I met somebody who took me to his house and I started living with him. He wanted to help me out. He wanted me to quit hash but I was unable to do so. He used to go for his work in the morning and immediately after that I used to leave home to get my stuff. Now I was not only using hash but garda and alcohol also. Finally, he took me to a hospital and I remained under treatment for 10 days. After that we got married. My family didn't try to search me or may be they couldn't find me out if they ever tried.

I was married now! I was a house wife but I still had a strong urge to use drugs. I went back to my previous routine….going out, getting my stuff and using it. My husband was quite upset at it and we also started having problems and fights. History was being repeated….what I saw at my parents' house was going on in my home. My husband kept trying to help me get rid of drugs. He sent me to different hospitals for a number of times but I used to go back to drugs again. I used drugs for 15 years and I always blamed my parents to push me in this situation where I started using drugs. I was not using drugs to get fun out of it but to overcome bad feelings, which used to bother me a lot. No drug gave me pleasure but more and more pain.

While using drugs, I became a mother also but no pleasure, no excitement and no joy. My focus was not my son but my drugs. Because of my childhood experiences and obviously because of my drug use I was unable to feel anything but pain….only and only emotional pain….shame, guilt, anger, resentments and self pity. I was ashamed because of my drug use. I was guilty because I couldn't do well in my life. I was angry and resentful because my parents couldn't handle me properly. I used to pity myself for not getting what I wanted to get in life.

My son became my husband's responsibility. He was working, taking care of me and looking after our son also. Deep inside I knew he was doing a lot. I always felt guilty for not being a responsible wife and mother. At the same time I felt myself helpless. I was helpless because things were not in my control. I wanted to quit, I used to make an effort but each effort was a failure. I was totally broken. I lost myself as a wife.

Despite all that my husband remained helpful. He wanted me to live a drug free life. Finally, I got admitted at a clinic and I remained there for three months. My in-laws never accepted me as their daughter in-law. This was for the first time they came to see me when I was hospitalized. May be for the first time in my life I felt happy. But my sense of happiness disappeared in a moment when I was told that they wanted their grand son to be with them. They blamed me for not being a good mother. They took my son back with them and I lost myself as a mother too.

I managed to overcome drug problem. No more hash, garda and alcohol but there I was diagnosed with drug induced psychosis. I was told that I was having delusions and hallucinations. I get indulged in self talk or I am talking to somebody who is not present. I am not aware of it. I think I am perfectly alright. I can assume my responsibilities. Still I am on psychiatric medicine. I don't know for how long….the only thing I know is that I am a lost soul.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Learn to Cope with Anxiety

Bright Stars

In my previous post I mentioned that young students start using drugs because of anxiety. At the same time we see females using psychotropic drugs too. Aghaz-e-Nau carried out a pilot project to establish treatment and rehabilitation services for females and it was indicated that 41% females were using drugs because of stress, tension and anxiety.

Today I will give a few suggestions to cope with anxiety. Before I start let me tell you that anxiety has genetic reasons at the same time environmental factors play a great role to learn to experience anxiety in certain situations. Mostly, we learn to be fearful or anxious in early childhood.

Parents, Teachers and Other Significant people pay an important role by: Keeping high expectations from their children as a result children learn to become perfectionists . physical, verbal or sexual abuse is also one of the causes of anxiety, any other traumatic experience, children learn to feel shy and don't discuss with others.

In early childhood they manage to cope with it, some get out of it with time. But others feel that the problem has become severe to the extent they feel themselves to be helpless and many of them remain unable to continue with their studies or work.

Techniques to overcome anxiety

1- Learn that anxiety is a normal and natural bodily response

2- Accept that fight and flight response is Nature’s way to help you

3- Learn to break the vicious cycle, the moment you feel a “trigger”

4- Learn to relax through deep breathing, relaxation exercises and imagination

5- Overcome past unpleasant memories and learn to reprogram your mind

6- You can reprogram your mind by using imagination

7- Kill your perfectionism and stop becoming self conscious

8- Expose yourself to difficult situations and Just do it

9- Practice yoga and hypnosis

10- Remember having some anxiety is healthy and it will remain with you for some time and will disappear soon