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Addiction Alcohol Drugs Mental Health Mind Sobriety Wellness

Overcoming Addiction: Your Deceptive Brain

Overcoming Addiction Is Possible

It is not easy and it is not quick but overcoming addiction it is possible. As you start to chip away at addictions and bad habits and give your brain more space and time to think you start to undercover the true reasons for why you have problems with addiction.

As you start to remove the false pleasures and painkillers from life, you start to free your mind and uncover the ugly truths that you have been hiding from this whole time. Bit by bit the world that you have created for yourself begins to unravel.

Addiction: Your Deceptive Brain

It’s a highly unpleasant process and the brain, being the astonishingly deceptive and manipulative organ that it is, starts latching onto anything that it can find. Your alcohol consumption decreases, your cannabis consumption increases, your cannabis consumption decreases, your caffeine consumption increases. Your caffeine consumption decreases and your sugar intake sky-rockets.

Sex, drugs, and rock and roll, your brain will find any way it can to regain the pleasure it is so desperate to feel.

The brain is the master of mind games and will try to confuse you and avoid the truth. It will do whatever it can to mask your insecurities. The brain will go to extreme measures to trick you into thinking there is nothing wrong with you and stop you from overcoming addiction.

It is only when you remove these cheap pleasures that your brain has nowhere to hide. It cant hide behind false euphoria and distraction. You are forced to confront what you have been hiding from. As you begin to remove your masks any pain, trauma, and negative emotions that you have bottled up will surface and there is no way to stop this.

Questioning Yourself

You start to question your relationships with people. You start to question how you have treated people and how they have treated you in return. You start to realise the damage that your selfish actions have been causing yourself and your loved ones.

The resentment you hold towards those you believe to have mistreated you is totally inversed as it dawns on you that the one doing the damage has been you. By damaging yourself you have damaged those that you care about, whilst believing that you are in fact the victim in this situation.

Addicts are selfish, self-centred, and self-absorbed because their brains have put them in survival mode. They are unable to view the outside world for what it is and how their actions affect others, as this causes them even more mental damage. The shame, self-blame and guilt is bottled up and thrown down a deep ravine.

Playing The Victim

Addicts play the victim because they are victims, victims of their own self harm, self-loathing and self-hatred. Victims of their own selfishness and the problems they burden themselves with. When you see repeated patterns of selfishness, lack of empathy, lack of understanding and sometimes outright ignorance in a person you believe to be a good person, understand why.

Understand that that person’s internal struggle and addiction has caused their stress levels to rise, which in turn shuts down the brain, and puts the person into a state of self-protection and self-obsession.

The brain expends no effort taking into consideration other people emotions or feelings because it is totally inundated with its own stress, anxiety and fear.

There are no moments of silence, no time for self-reflection, and certainly no space for loving, healthy relationships or friendships.

The Brain In Survival Mode

The brain is doing everything it can to keep itself safe from external threats and so the outside world becomes the enemy.

The problem is that the brain likes this state. This state of high stress is a deep-rooted intrinsic survival mechanism. We are born to survive, and our brains will do anything they can to protect us. The safest way for the brain to ensure protection is to consider its own needs before the needs of others.

A World Filled With Addiction

Unfortunately, when you have a world filled with addiction, a world filled with people trying to escape reality and a world distracted from reality, you end up with a damaged world filled with greed.

Greed, another key characteristic in the addict´s survival handbook. Addicts need money, they don’t just want it they need it. They need to consume – food, drugs, clothes, material objects. This need to purchase and consume is just another way to satisfy the brains craving for that metaphorically cheap dopamine fix. Depleted levels of natural Dopamine and Serotonin caused by the consumption

The outside world cannot make us happy. Only we can make ourselves happy, and we do this by beginning to truly understand and accept ourselves. To accept our flaws but learn to love them. To work through our wrongdoings and regrets.

This whole process takes a lot of time, patience, support and willpower. There can be breakdown after breakdown and days, weeks or months without any feelings of happiness but never let go of that glimmer of hope for better days.

Overcoming addiction is an arduous path to take but no matter how many times you fall, once you make the decision to begin you will not want to turn back.

We are a work in progress, but just putting the effort in to chip away at the outer greedy, selfish shell we can begin to focus on the wonderfully creative, intelligent, and truly confident person that we are waiting to become.

By just trying to change, we are always as perfect as we can be.

Each new day.

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Categories
Addiction Alcohol Atomoxetine Atomoxetine (Strattera) Drugs Mental Health Philosophy Sobriety Strattera

Removing Your Three Masks

First of all, I would like to apologise for abandoning the blog for such a long time. I was undergoing a lot of changes mentally and was really struggling to get anything done. I knew I had to just ride out the tough times, try to learn as much from it all, and emerge stronger on the other side. During this time, I began to unknowingly chip away at the three masks I will talk about in this article.

I know a lot of people have been waiting to hear the rest of the story with my experience with Strattera (Atomoxetine) and so I apologise for keeping you waiting. I felt like it would be unfair of me to write anything before the journey had properly ended.

I am glad to say that the story has a happy ending, and I am beginning to return to what I believe is a new and improved version of my “normal” self.

Since my decision to quit drinking alcohol in September 2017 I have been on a tumultuous path towards what I hope to be a life free from addiction and the mental burden that comes with this.

Along my path I have been forced to face the ugly truths and explore the deep parts of my soul that I had kept hidden even from myself. By doing this I began to unknowingly demask myself, and I am now trying to live a life as faithful to my true self as possible.

masking
Typical Carnival masks. Click here to read “What Actually is Carnival”

It Is Believed That We Have Three Faces or “Masks”

The First Mask

The first mask is what we show to the world, the person that we want everyone to think we are – often: flawless, confident, and happy. This first mask is fuelled by: alcohol, drugs, caffeine, nicotine, sugar, and all other stimulants or false pleasures that give us false confidence.

The more substances you consume, the thicker your mask will be.

The Second Mask

The second mask is reserved for close friends and family and reveals us at a more intimate level. We feel comfortable enough to reveal some of our less pleasant characteristics and a deeper insight into our personality is observed.

The Third Mask

The third mask is what we believe about ourselves before spending time to introspect and really get to know our true self. The third mask often suffers the negative effects of the substances that we put inside ourselves. The anxiety, fear, and depression that all substances -even sugar- cause.

Interestingly, what we believe about ourselves is often far worse than the actual truth. We often focus in on every possible negative aspect and extrapolate them into the ugly picture we paint of ourselves – to ourselves. It is curious that we do this, but it is possibly because we have evolved to air on the side of caution, often underestimating our ability to save us from harm.

This third mask is by far the most dangerous and harmful.

We tell ourselves that we are not capable, not smart enough, not good looking enough, not strong enough to achieve what we truly desire even though deep within we know that of course we are capable.

masking

The True Self

Beyond the third mask and deep within is our true self. It is often a part of ourselves that not even we know and understand. It is the part that we try our hardest to hide from the world, and even from ourselves.

The true self carries all the suffering that we have ever endured. All the regrets, past trauma, and negative emotions that have impacted our lives.

Connecting with your true self can be very painful because once you begin to remove the masks the pains of a lifetime can return to haunt you. Your entire view on the world can begin to change as realisations completely knock you sideways.

Freeing Yourself From The Past

You are held accountable for all your wrongdoings as repressed memories flood back. As you try open your mind again to the world you begin to allow yourself to experience all the trapped emotions inside.

This process can be very unpleasant, but you know that it is worthwhile as you can feel yourself evolving and releasing the emotional burden that has been weighing you down.

Freeing yourself from addiction is a long and painful process but once you embark upon your journey and you get a taste of freedom you won´t want to turn back.       

This end goal is now even closer than ever as I am on my final week taking Depakine (Sodium Valproate / Valproic acid) – hopefully the final stage of my medication process.

Read more about coming off Strattera (Atomoxetine) in the next article .

I am trying to keep my articles shorter so that they are easier to follow,.

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This blog and other related projects require a lot of time and money but I do it because I want to help people.

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I would love to hear from anybody that is considering going through this process or if anybody has had similar experiences.

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Addiction ADHD Mental Health Mind TQFW Blog

#13 ADHD and The Addiction to Everything

I was speaking with a friend recently and we were talking about how our 20s just seem to be getting tougher instead of easier. She said to me, “literally is anyone actually happy?”.

We are bombarded with so much information nowadays, and social media means there is literally no escape from the horrible things that are happening in the world. From Elections, to Wars, to Poverty, to Cyber Bullying we see it all and I don’t think many people in their 20s are really mentally prepared to handle it all.  

Bursting the Bubble of Happiness

For me as I trundle through my life trying to understand and control my brain and ADHD, I feel that every so often I reach a stage of happiness and then a bubble bursts, I discover something new about myself, and have to start all over again. This feeling is exasperating as I just never know when it will end. How many more bubbles are there to burst?

The more I learn, the more confused I get, the more issues I find out about myself, the harder it is to live my life knowing these things. Sometimes I feel that I am burdening myself with too much at once, but then other times I feel like it is the only way.

I am determined to overcome my addiction to everything, my “addictive personality”. I want to be able to relax and enjoy stimuli like a normal person, but I know this will be a long process.

Not Knowing How to Handle Emotions

Having spent my whole teenage years and early 20s drinking and taking drugs as much as possible I feel I never learned to handle emotions. Any time I felt any pain, hurt, rejection, shame, guilt – I turned to the bottle.

Untreated ADHD made it absolutely impossible to understand and know how to deal with emotions. It is a constant bombardment of every sound, every feeling, every thought all at once. It is completely overwhelming and unbearable at times.

Avoiding Pain or Negative Emotions

After I quit drinking and spent some time sober – self reflecting and analysing – I thought I was “cured”. I felt happy and fresh, I was distracted, and I was living in a beautiful city. What I didn’t realise was that this pattern of pain avoidance continued. I continued to avoid my pain or negative emotions from my relationship break-up with any possible stimulus.

negative emotions

Sex, drugs, exercise, dating apps (validation), or anything else that would give me a little buzz. I was much more cautious of drugs and had this under control but the other stimuli which fed my addiction to pleasure were still rife and I was oblivious to this.

The feeling of addiction is essentially just an addiction to Dopamine. We can experience this Dopamine rush from any stimulus that is exciting to us.

Addiction to Video Games

Interestingly enough, my Psychologist mentioned to me the role that Video Games have with people with ADHD and Addiction problems. She explained that a lot of people experience the intense Dopamine rush from video games at a young age, and this can actually change the brain chemistry.

Although they can be very beneficial in many ways, they can feed an addictive personality and lead to the quick reward system behaviour of addicts. Studies have shown that people with ADHD have no problem sitting and concentrating on a video game because of this quick-reward system.

I realised that when I was young, before I had a chance to become addicted to alcohol or drugs, I was insanely addicted to video games. I spent every second playing or thinking about video games. This is just another coping mechanism to hide from your brain, and a way to feed the pleasure system.

ADHD & Nicotine Addiction

After quitting alcohol, I hopped straight on to nicotine and started smoking shisha alone for at least 2 hours a day. My whole day revolved around smoking and getting this massive hit of Nicotine.

I was too naïve to understand the power of nicotine and after a few months I started to feel sick all day every day, until I smoked, due to the withdrawals. I was angry, irritable, negative and obsessed.  Having this addiction to anchor me meant that I could avoid my emotions still, as this had taken over my life.

I had to quit smoking shisha after a year and when I went cold turkey, I decided to punish myself by quitting caffeine at the same time. The withdrawals were horrible – I had no energy for weeks, gained a stone (6.5kg), had the horrible feeling of loss – which I can only describe as the feeling of a friend dying – and was majorly depressed.

ADHD & Addiction to Work

As I overcame this and saw the addiction unrolling and my life returning back to normal my brain began to rapidly search for any new distraction and I started working insane overtime hours (by choice), 7 days a week. Working 70+ hours a week in an office completely drains you mentally and physically, so I had no time or energy to deal with the emotions I was experiencing.  

As I never learned to deal with pain, rejection, guilt, shame, or any of the other negative emotions that people learn in their teenage years, I feel like these are all things that I have been intensely experiencing recently.

I am sick of running, self-medicating, acting selfishly and hurting people around me. It is time now to accept that sometimes I will be miserable, sometimes I will be depressed and that is okay!

I am also sick of letting ADHD control me and not being in full control of my mind. I am sick of searching for quick fixes and quick highs.

Learning to Live In The Present

In a recent meeting with my Psychologist we spoke about living in the past and future. She explained to me that living in the past causes depression, whereas living in the future causes anxiety. This made total sense. The regrets of the past can only bring us pain, and living constantly in the future causes us to panic, fear failure, and try and protect ourselves from any potential pain.

learning to live in the present

The real struggle, and what I am trying to learn to do now, is to live in the present. Question my motives for doing everything, question how my actions will affect other people and question if what I am doing will have a positive effect on my life.

This may seem obvious and simple for some people but I really struggle with this. ADHD generally makes you think of a million things, sometimes very abstract and unique things, but often this means that you can miss the obvious. Sometimes its easier to think of the bigger picture but impossible to think of what´s directly in front of you.

I am trying to avoid anything that does not make my life better, and anything that is a quick easy high. For normal people that is the obvious things like drugs and alcohol. For an addict with ADHD it is absolutely everything, from Whatsapp messages to over-exercise. It will be a tough learning curve but with the new year coming up I know it is time to take the plunge.

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I love talking to people about their experiences and stories, and I love answering questions. We are not alone in this!

I love to chat to people that feel overwhelmed and misunderstood.
Please get in contact ASAP, I will always reply and no question is ever stupid or embarrassing!

I would also love to hear any advice, suggestions, criticisms, ideas etc. I absolutely love to be criticised as it helps me to improve and create better content.

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Strattera changed my life
Taken in the Barrio Gótico in Barcelona