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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2005

    Default Panic Attacks, Pills and Playing the Tape Forward

    My Dear Smarties

    As some of you know, I’ve been sober and clean for quite a few years. And another thing I’ve shared here is that I’ve got chronic leukemia, which can sometimes get pretty scary. In the past few months, I began to have deepening anxiety and often panic attacks and insomnia. I was feeling like the victim of my irrational thoughts. I was losing touch with the idea that I always have a choice to respond to each situation, that nothing can make me feel a certain way or act in response to something unless I allow it.

    So here’s what happened. As my sense of helplessness grew, I began to entertain the idea that I might want to get a prescription for tranquilizers and sleeping pills. At first it was just a quiet buzz somewhere in the back of my mind that I would pretty quickly dismiss. But the thoughts grew louder and visited me more frequently. Then I found myself discussing this idea of taking meds with a friend who is not in recovery and did not know me when I was using and drinking. I wasn’t going to Smart meetings at this time as I saw myself as someone who had “moved on”, as we sometimes say here.

    As my daily interest in these pills began to increase, I got concerned. Now I do know for some people taking prescription medicine is perfectly all right. For me, it’s all wrapped up with my addictive behavior. For a number of years I was addicted to amphetamines and later in my life I felt I couldn’t get through the day without my codeine fix. During all that I was also smoking dope and drinking heavily.

    I finally started paying serious attention to what was going through my mind. I was having thoughts like, if I could only get on tranquilizers, then I could end this anxiety fast, fix all my problems. I didn’t like what I was hearing.

    So, I decided to come back to the online meetings and found myself sitting in front of the computer one Sunday morning at Mike Massey’s meeting. And I started really paying attention to what other people were saying. I finally was able to ask myself, “When was the last time I was able to take prescription meds and not get high on other things?” The answer was obvious – Never. So why would this time be different? I had been trying to tell myself that because I had been clean and sober for so many years, that this time it would definitely be different. Oops. I think I’ve heard that one before and the outcome is usually not very good.

    So then I dug up my favorite tool. Playing the tape forward. And I watched my ‘movie’ as my life went forward after getting on pills to calm me down and pills to help me sleep. And it wasn’t a pretty picture. It seems the door just flew open as I immersed myself in Pandora’s box and I simply fell down a slippery slope. At the end of this movie, I saw myself getting wasted once again on booze, pot and yes, ecstasy which I had never tried in the past but always wondered about. And I was a train wreck. Despondent, alone, tired, angry, sad. And very ashamed.

    What was the outcome of watching this movie in my mind? It was powerful. I decided not to get a prescription for meds and I'm so glad I didn't. I realized that what I needed right now was to come back to Smart and go to some meetings, increase the amount of time I spend meditating, sit with and accept my anxiety, do ABC’s, have a look at my CBA, tell more people who support my sobriety that I’ve been concerned about my behavior lately etc etc - Whatever it takes to do what is most precious to me, to protect what’s at the top of my Hierarchy of Values, my sobriety. Indeed it is something that I value above everything else. It is my foundation for everything I build upon it.

    So I am learning that it really is true, I’m never too sober and clean to come to a Smart meeting and use the tools. And it's more clear than ever that I have a choice about how I react to events inside and outside myself.

    I have deep gratitude for all of you out there who listen to me, who share your stories, who struggle with your doubts and fears. I’m so grateful to be on this journey with you. And I thank you MT and all the people who volunteer at Smart and give me a place to go to express my feelings and to listen and to grow.

    With love
    "The central human drama is not wanting the experience we are having"

  2. #2


    Sounds like you have a solid plan in place. Excellent. You have come to far to.... I think you already answered your own questions. Yep, Heirarchy of Values is one of the first tools I learned here. Not complicated but very powerful. Glad you are here. Best wishes.

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