I Want to Feel Better

There are two common questions I’m asked; two common answers I’ve spoken more times than I can count.

Why did you start using?

Because it was fun.

Why did you keep using?

Because I wanted to feel better.

Even if I didn’t feel bad, I wanted to feel better. Always bigger, always better, always more.

So when I was with Luke the other day and he asked, “Why do you keep doubling up on your meds?” I wasn’t the least bit surprised when “Because I want to feel better” came out.

That’s what everyone wants, isn’t it? To feel better. To feel good, all the time.

It’s no wonder an addict’s mind can’t differentiate the regular bad days from the end of the world.

And that’s my problem. My addict takes over when I don’t feel 100% and I just want to feel better.

I don’t know how to feel normal anymore. If I have a runny nose, I should take more Suboxone. If I have a headache, I should take more Abilify. If I’m anxious and cranky, I should take more Celexa. If I yawn I take more Suboxone. Everything that isn’t absolutely perfect is obviously a sign of withdrawal and I need more medication.

That’s how my mind works.

I honestly don’t remember why I started using in the first place. I remember the first time I smoked weed. My friends did it and it looked fun so I tried it. The first time I did coke it looked fun. The first time I did heroin I had already done nearly every other drug so why the hell not? I don’t remember trying to self-medicate or having any underlying problems that drove me to the bittersweet arms of narcotics. I was simply surrounded by them and they seemed fun.

When I think about it, I’m sure there was some sort of underlying issue that drove me to want to feel better, but at the time I didn’t realize I felt bad. I just wanted to have fun.

Now that’s over. Now whenever I have a craving or double up on my dose it’s not just because I want to have fun — it’s because something isn’t right. After being a heroin addict for so long, my body has gotten itself used to self-medicating every single time something feels off. I can’t handle not feeling perfect anymore. Even though I’ve been sober for years, it all comes back to me when I don’t feel well. Obviously the solution is to take something (or more of something).

This is the problem I have with my medications. They’re not working the way I’d like, so I take more. I know I shouldn’t take more. I know it’s dumb to take more and I know I’ll run out sooner and actually withdraw and everything will suck and it’s the worst possible idea I’ve had in a long time.

I just can’t stop myself from aching to feel better.

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38 thoughts on “I Want to Feel Better

  1. Remember that it takes patience. Celexa takes a full month after a dose increase to actually start working maximally. When you run out and suffer the withdrawal symptoms (not because you are addicted but because your body gets used to how the medication affects your neurotransmitters), then when you restart the med you are starting back at ground zero. You also don’t want to be so medicated that you cannot feel at all. A common mistake is to try to make all of the bad go away when that also, by definition, must make the joy go away too. The goal with medication is to make the bad tolerable, something that no longer paralyzes you while still allowing you to feel appropriately disappointed or angry or happy. When you screw around with your dosing you body cannot get used to it and it makes recovery all that more difficult.

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    • I know all of these things are true, but my brain just won’t stop in thinking that one more will make me feel better.

      And I know USUALLY it takes a month or so for the full-effect of meds to kick in, but for some reason everything I’ve ever taken has worked within the first two weeks and then stopped. When I was doubling up on my meds last month things seemed to be much better than they are now.

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      • Other meds act much faster. You may have been feeling that temporary “better” from them. I hear the complaint from patients a lot… Two weeks and they feel bad again. Usually from women, usually near their period.

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        • I’ve only been on Zoloft and then the combo of Abilify and Celexa, but it happened to me both times. I felt better almost immediately for about two weeks, and then went back to feeling bad. With the Zoloft I went right back to how I was beforehand — with the Celexa/Abilify I am feeling at least somewhat better than before, but still not as well as the first two weeks. It’s only when I double my dose of Celexa (which I’ve been trying [and succeeding] extremely hard not to do over the past few days) that I feel somewhat okay.

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          • Remember that it takes time and titration to find the right dose… and as women we have the hormone issues mixed in. We are not the same people biochemically from day to day, not like men. If a lower dose doesn’t work, then in a month you try the next higher dose, and so on provided you don’t have terrible side effects. Stick with it and communicate with your doctor. :-)

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          • I hope to! Sadly I don’t see him again until December, and even if I were to convince the nurses to talk to him before then he’s out of town until the 20th. But, you better believe if I’m still struggling like this on the 20th I’m going to the nurses and telling them what’s up. I’ve been on the same dose of Celexa for about two months — Abilify dose went up two weeks ago.

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  2. I’m not an addict but have a partial understanding about self medicating to feel better. I worry I am doing that too much with alcohol these days. I do it cause it makes me feel better. Only a doctor can help you along this path. I finally got to a point with the prescription meds where I wanted to see what it was like without them. It’s easy to stay on than come off or down, that’s for sure.

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  3. Ugh. I’m sorry for your struggle. My issues are different, but I definitely know how frustrating it is trying to find the best medications along with the right doses. I tend to get overwhelmed and convince myself that I’m way better off without any of them — for the record, I’m not. It really is best to be upfront with your doctor. I’ve learned this the hard way.

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    • Sadly I don’t see my doctor again until DECEMBER, and I can’t even try to get the nurses to talk to him before the 20th of this month because he’s out of town. I definitely want to be on them — I can tell I’m doing much better, just not as well as I want to be.

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  4. Tempest, you so often surprise me.

    I’m on a significant number of prescription meds, some psychoactive, but have them well managed by my healthcare professionals and never vary them on my own (since the one time thought I was stabilized and went off them for a year, only to crash and burn after a heart attack), so I don’t see myself having a drug addiction problem, and yet I found myself fully resonating with the pattern you describe: I find that to “medicate” myself with soothing thoughts and fantasies produces a similar reaction — always wanting to feel better, and especially when taking shelter in a soothing fantasy at the first sign of feeling any sense of dissatisfaction in my life.

    Your description of the progressive development of a constant search for feeling good (or better) seems to me to apply as fully to other ways we soothe our discomfort. Knowing we manufacture feel-good chemicals in our brains, it should not surprise me, but your description is so specific and powerfully rendered that it did surprise me; I was surprised to recognize you were describing my own experience of addiction in my frequent search for soothing chemicals from within my own mind and body, always simply to help me feel good, or feel better.

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    • I guess my brain has trouble producing those chemicals on its own, because I’m convinced only medications can have those effects now. I think a lot of people can resonate with this — and it’s natural to want to feel better, but it becomes dangerous when you cannot handle any discomfort at all, like me.

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      • I don’t know enough about the brain on chemicals, internally or industrially produced, to know if yours can no longer produce them, simply can’t respond “normally” to those it does produce, or some third (or combination) of alternative states. (Mine obviously doesn’t produce everything I “need”, or I wouldn’t be on Rx’s, but I guess I’m lucky for whatever I’ve got.)

        What was amazing to me was to realize how clearly your description of addiction parallels what I experience as “psychological addiction”, which I assume functions on the brain’s reward response to dopamine and other feel-good chemicals.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s hard once you’ve felt THIS, to be cool with ‘this’. I fuck around with my meds too, but even taking them ‘as prescribed’ there’s no miracles. Stay strong chicky, look at other avenues is what I would be thinking, maybe a new doc, therapy if your not getting any, just a thought. I know right know I’m doing the whole damn thing trying to figure out where it started and where it ends and I’m sure you’ve done your fair share so I’m probably not telling you anything new. But I’ve been consistently frustrated with meds for the same reason, they work, then they don’t. Then you have to consider say external factors, someone else mentioned hormones, I. My psychiatrists just did a bunch of blood work, always good to be thorough, Just hope you have lots of support whatever the case, good luck.

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    • Thank you! Yeah, I go to therapy once a week, love my therapist, love my psychiatrist, and am going to a regular doctor for the first time in YEARS in two weeks. My main problem is that I can only see my psych once every 8 or so weeks, so I figure out that I’m suffering long before I ever get a chance to see him. I’m going to talk to the nurses once he gets back from wherever the hell he is (on the 20th) though.

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  6. That’s good, you can’t get into your doctor any sooner than 2 weeks ??? That’s BS!! I know I see my Psych every 6 weeks, but if shit really needed tweaking I could just go to my doctor, he’s a moron but he’s available. Hold tight missy lol! Mental illness and addiction is a fucked up ride.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah I don’t have a regular doctor yet, I just made an appt with one and the first opening they had was in two weeks. Also my suboxone doctor, but I don’t have the money to see him for two weeks, and my psych is on vacation until the 20th AND is so fucking busy I’m supposed to see him every 6 weeks but from the last time to the next time will be 9 weeks. Everything’s a bit of a mess lately. Haha but thanks! I’ll figure something out. I can always talk to a nurse if need be.

      Liked by 1 person

    • i love that line: “It sucks because we can’t save each other.” So true, but thank goodness we can offer real support by keeping watch with each other, witnessing each others suffering, and validating it. It means so much to know someone else sees and understands, even if they can’t cure us. The validation is so strengthening, helps us honor our own reality, and ourselves in our valiant struggles with it, with ourselves. We survive, and often even thrive, in spite of our brokenness, if we are recognized and honored in the middle of our struggles.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Reblogged this on mariajay76 and commented:
    I love Tempest ‘ s blog. I relate to her and look up to her as the accomplished and award winning blogger that she is.

    In this post she has encapsulated addiction in a way that I have not been able to. Check out her blog. It’s really very good!

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  8. Love your site. It’s Wednesday night and yesterday I dosed at 240mgs of methadone and got two take outs. Naturally, well actually it’s probably not natural anyway, as usual I’m out already because “I’ll just take 50mgs” happens every couple of hours. Which leaves me waiting in line at 3:30a.m. Friday and the process repeats itself. So, I absolutely relate and love your blog. 💊💉💊💣💣💣😭

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