Leisure time for good health

Exercise by the sea, photo by Adam Kurzok, trinec, Czech Republic, wellbeing We can get swept up by work commitments, which results in emotional and physical burnout. We are not aware of this happening because usually the process is enjoyable. Having purpose and direction is very potent for us human beings, whether paid or voluntary activities. However, without leisure time for good health, we can become sick. This can creep up on us, manifesting as common illnesses, depression, addiction and/or moodiness. Being vigilant about these symptoms? can be an early remedy. Better still is prevention, so we need to have a balance between our work and leisure time – no excuses.

I was chosen to run a new program and
we had great success with it which was
most beneficial for the clients involved
I was on call 24 hours a day
for their safety and that of the workers
and after 2 years at this pace
my weight increased and I got
chronic bronchitis and diabetes
my moodiness was not apparent to me
then I developed depression
which took 6 months to recover
I realised how run down I had become, so
I quit the job and found more relaxing work
to this day I am amazed at how intoxicating
that project was that I did not notice
how hard I was working and how
my leisure time had become minimal

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90 meetings in 90 days

Chairs 1, photo by Anka Draganski,  London United Kingdom, http://www.fofiles.co.uk, 12 Step meetingsRegardless of which addiction we are afflicted with, a trusted and true recovery method has been to go to 90 meetings in 90 days with a willingness to abstain. Just getting to sit in 12 Step meetings, until the message gets through to your subconscious, is the key. As you sit with the feelings that were the reason you needed to self medicate, you own them as being your feelings which releases the fear about them, then you can relax. Relaxation brings us peace in our inner turmoil. The other powerful influence of attending meetings is that when we identify with others’ experiences they model solutions for us and “monkey see monkey do”. If we don’t do 90 in 90 then at least 3 meetings a week are absolutely necessary.

he told his therapist that he was
really pissed off with her because she
set homework for him to attend
7 meetings a week with other tasks
such as writing, reading, walking and
affirmations on a daily basis
a therapist himself, he felt he lived
the program and 1 meeting a week
would be sufficient, however
he surrendered and was amazed
that this meant he had needed to
let go of the control that had been
ruining his recovery
and it worked
a proven remedy

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Isolation

Black 5, photo by Ana Labate, Santos Brazil, alone timeIt’s so easy to justify isolation as being time alone. When you prefer to be alone rather than being a part of the community and feel intolerant about everything and everyone then it’s a warning sign that all is not well. To ignore that is to toy with serious consequences. Many people would rather suffer than do whatever it takes to heal. Sometimes all it takes is writing about how we feel until the core anger or fear is released. Other times it may take joining a group to share similar interests or hobbies. Another solution is seeing a doctor or therapist to sound out your innermost thoughts. Perhaps there may be a need for a change in diet, exercise, or taking supplements (vitamins). It could be you need medication or anti-depressants under doctor’s supervision. Or all of the above. Whatever it is, don’t let the dysfunction or ill health ruin your life and that of others. Deal with it and turn your life around to be more joyful and fulfilling.

she’s in her eighties and totally alone
full of complaints about her family
whom she feels has abandoned her
over the years she’s had interesting friends
for short periods of time because
she constantly ‘leaves bodies in her wake’
her dysfunctional behaviour shows as
meanness and blame levelled at all ages
any suggestion for therapy or medication
incurred her wrath
then one day as a result of some
medication for vertigo for 2 weeks
she seemed so sane and serene
then she stopped taking the meds and
life was misery again, for her and others
yet she could not see the difference!

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Addiction symptoms regardless of nationality

World map, photo by Brian S, Jakarta, Indonesia, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/653075, worldwide diseaseAn interesting fact is that people suffer similar addiction symptoms regardless of nationality, that is, whether we are European or Australian or Chinese and so on. The need to use or self medicate increases as the illness of addiction progresses and the illness can only be arrested by abstaining. Some of the symptoms are: depression, aggression (violence), resentments, isolation, paranoia, neediness, self-pity, poor anger management, and disorders in sleeping, eating and sexual behaviour. When feelings or behaviours are exhibited to the extreme then people would do well to explore the extent to which they use substances or processes to cope with them – this only makes those feelings worse.

during the day he was a successful businessman
but his behaviour was becoming more and more
aggressive, dishonest and unbelievably mean
towards his family, friends and staff
during the day it did not appear as though
he was drinking alcohol, but he did at night
that was the only time he was jolly
then his doctor said that his drinking had to stop
or his damaged liver would cause his death
for a few weeks he was sober and went to AA
the change in him was amazing and once more
his wife saw the man she had fallen in love with
but he was bored with his authentic self and
he gave up his recovery and that lost him his wife
his only salvation has been that
he’s minimised his drinking, however
his behaviour is obnoxious and yet
he knows what needs to be done when he’s ready

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Addiction and anorexia

Mannequins, photo by Marco Michelini, Firenze, Italy, beauty mythMuch has been written about the effect that thin models and movie celebrities have on young women. In an effort to look like these role models young women develop eating disorders. Addiction and anorexia are the same condition. When a person suffers from anorexia it is on the same eating disorder continuum as compulsive overeating. Just as life threatening as other addictions anorexia results in a distorted perception. The afflicted person does not see themselves as being thin and continues to do without food in order to lose more weight.

she was such a loveable person and
so thoughtful too, not to mention how
talented she was in writing
poetry straight from the heart
however, she battled addiction and anorexia
she managed to become free of the heroin
but not of the need to avoid eating
no matter what she tried it worked only
for a short time and then she was back
to her old ways which eventually led her
to her heroin addiction and death from starvation
some more fortunate are rescued from this fate

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Nothing is as it appears

Jaguar, photo by Kristof Degreef, Nieuwerkerken, Belgium, feline fancyThe jaguar is popular and as people admire its beauty they forget how dangerous it can be. Nothing is as it appears. Within seconds it’s capable of ripping its prey apart, as many animals can do. To a certain degree the same can be said of the human animal. Usually humans try to present a persona which is attractive, lovable, and successful so that they can get what they want. Some though are dangerous because they can easily become violent, either emotionally or physically or both. Prevention is best – we need to go gently into a new relationship until we are sure of the other person’s temperament. We also need to be prepared to get out of the relationship fast if it proves inappropriate and not wait until it’s so dangerous that we can get hurt.

they came to see me and by the end of the session
it became apparent that he was not willing to change
even though he had violent tendencies
and she was not ready to leave him
when they came back to see me I made it clear
that I could not see them together any more
because it was as though I was holding her hand
while he continued to be violent with her
I recommended that she contact the Helpline
for this type of dangerous behaviour and
stressed that her life depended on
her taking urgent action, my words annoyed him
she came back months later and wanted
to undergo therapy on her own as
she had legally removed him from her life
she had a pattern of attracting similar types
and she wanted to stop, so we began the work
today she lives the life she’s always wanted

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Maintain vigilance

Owl eyes, photo by Kristof Degreef, Nieuwerkerken, Belgium, nothing missedOne human weakness is the need to stop doing what works when things are going well. Usually people who have found their sanity by taking the relevant medication will, against medical advice, stop taking the medication when they feel well, with horrendous consequences. Others will find solutions to their problems through counselling and once the situation improves they stop doing what was necessary to achieve the results, again with horrendous consequences. We need to keep vigilant about unacceptable changes in our wellbeing and once we find solutions then also maintain vigilance to ensure that improvements are not lost.

the last time I saw them they had after a few sessions
resolved their difficulties and made a checklist of what
they had done to sort things out so that they could
continue what worked and maintain the improvement
intelligent, successful, people meant commitment to
the system for success, or so you’d think
why should they be any different to the rest of us
a human frailty is becoming overconfident
and stopping what works
it can happen to me too if I don’t maintain
the vigilance and even then I am prone!
a year later they were back almost ready to divorce and
full of resentment, anger, defensiveness and vengeance
they had time to each tell their version of the problem
having expressed themselves we looked at their checklist
maybe one or two items had been maintained
but the rest had been grossly neglected
although it seemed hopeless we began again
and bit by bit things got turned around
after a few sessions they were back on track
back to basics always works yet we have
a tendency to complicate things

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Generation gap

Mummy and me, photo by sanja gjenero, zagreb, Croatia,  parent  childTake back your authority as a parent, regardless of the age of your children. Even adult children need to feel that there is a healthy generation gap. You are the parent they are the children. You can be a friend but that role is governed by your role as the parent. They have friends who are there to share in their fun and foibles but do not confuse that role with the role of being a parent. In this way you keep good boundaries for yourself and also role model healthy boundaries for your children. Otherwise, children take on parenting roles towards their siblings or even towards their own parents – they become the parentified child. So, before long the roles are reversed, with children becoming critical towards their parents or feeling overly responsible for them and this is all due to the ambiguity. It is the parents’ responsibility to ensuring this does not happen by not relinquishing their role as the parent.

she wondered why she felt fear around her adult children
unable to express her needs to see them more often
she became depressed and confused
their claims that she was being needy felt accurate
until we discussed it and she became aware that
her expectations were quite normal for a mother who
had spent her life dedicated to the wellbeing of her children
now that they were adults it was not unreasonable
to expect her love to be reciprocated accordingly
expecting her busy offspring to reach out was unrealistic
yet trying to arrange visits was being met with
resistance and sometimes intolerance
until she realised that she had to take back
her role of mother and correct the imbalance
before more harm was caused to her and
to her adult children by being role modelled
ineffective parenting skills
in taking back her role of parent she became
confident, nurturing and specific about
what her needs as a mother were
resulting in renewed respect from her children

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‘busy’ addiction

Busy people, photo by Melanie Kuipers, Meppen, Germany, another addictionIf we are saying we’re too busy then it’s an excuse to be on the addiction treadmill. The busier we become the more unmanageable our life becomes. Too busy to sit and talk to family and friends. Too busy to answer emails. Too busy to telephone or visit. Too busy to remember to be relaxed. All this makes us more stressed and obsessed with being busy. Before we know it, we suffer emotional and physical burnout. Then we are forced to stop and take stock of our hectic life and how incompetent we have become. We must not let it get that far, because the road back is then a slow one and it takes so long to become relaxed, healthy and efficient once more. Stop and make an action plan to slow down before it’s too late.

I did not notice how busy I had become
and the more I did, the more I wanted to do
I was a runaway train and everyone noticed
except me
how excited I became with my newfound energy
nothing was too much as I spread myself thinly
I was also snappy, and other people’s
inefficiencies were insufferable to me
then my world crumbled – loss of money
loss of purpose, loss of efficiency
my self esteem was affected, my health suffered
the road back to emotional, physical and financial security
was slow and laborious
nevertheless I found my way
with the help of my family and friends
from that day on I watch out for the
signs of busy addiction because
the consequences are horrendous
for me and those around me

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Sex and love addiction

Heels, photo by Marko Matovic, Cacak, Serbia, obsessive compulsive So many people nowadays suffer with sex and love addiction and yet are in denial about it. They are seen as rogues and the behaviour is condoned. Or it seems easier for people to believe that a person is worthless because they lose control of their desires for sex and love. Whereas if there was more understanding that this behaviour is a disorder or disease which can be treated, then it could be corrected. It is described simply by the need to have sex and love in order to get a thrill, only to feel guilty afterwards because the consequences are bleak and people are hurt. At times it is life-threatening when those involved are careless too.

he said that he couldn’t understand
what happened and that he took such a chance
he had not intended to have a one night stand
and yet he felt driven and what’s more
he didn’t use a condom
now he was stressed as he may have
signed his own death warrant
this was not the first time this had happened
and yet he is a good looking, successful guy
any number of women are attracted to him
something had to be done and right away
he agreed he couldn’t do it alone and needed help
he’d been to have his Aids test and
now he made a commitment to go to
Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous which
he had resisted for so long
when I saw him next he seemed
more serene and spoke about how
surprised he was at meeting people
he respected and some who had
been through the same thing as he had
but were free of the madness
and now he felt there was hope for him
I saw him again one year later and he
was in recovery and grateful for his health
emotional physical and spiritual

[SLAA Sydney telephone: 9358 6605]

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