Monday, March 17, 2014

Hooked: When Addiction Enters Your Life

            This is a bit of a sensitive topic in a highly verbose blog post.  You don't have to read it if you feel uncomfortable about addiction, but you might want to as addiction has about as many flavors as fear does (just google "phobias").  I know that many people are going to say, "Bullshit!  You can only be addicted to illicit substances!" or something like that, but you have to understand that there is a thin line between dedication to what you enjoy and addiction that chains you to your vice.  For that I have the optional playlist of mine that I titled Addiction Blog Post Mix.


            For me, it's a touchy subject: Dad tends to say that I am "addicted" to the Internet.  And that really rubs me the wrong way, the same way that someone says, "I can't do that because I'm disabled," or "I'm Autistic," or "She's retarded—stay away from her!"  To touch a bit on this subject: GODDAMMIT!  You are a person, not a problem!  What do you like?  What do you want to do in life?  Do you want to travel?  Meet people?  Do you have dreams of doing something you've always wanted to do?  Well then, fuck the "being disabled," because you've allowed it to define who you are; you've allowed it to own you, instead of you owning it!  Much like Johnny Blaze in Ghost Rider: the curse owned him for a while, but once the Devil said, "You are no longer my pawn," or whatever, Johnny went, "Fuck you, I'm not your pawn!  I own this shit, it doesn't own me!"  Your disability is a part of you, but it shouldn't define you.  That's why I say that I have Asperger's and a hearing impairment and depression and ADD!  I'll never ever say, "I'm an Aspie girl who is deaf and depressed and ADD."  Because that's not who and what I am; I am the Jedi warrior I make myself to be.  I want to look in the mirror and see what I want to be, not the traits I know I have that people don't like.  Yes, I put "Aspie" in my Twitter profile, but only because I'd run out of room otherwise!  It's easy shorthand!

            Anyways, sorry for that sideways segway into my rant about disability-and-identity.  But it does irritate me how Dad says that I am "addicted" to the Internet, because I don't like the negative connotations; in fact, for a while I used to say, "I'm connected deeply to the Internet," because I was hankering for the "social interaction" from Second Life.  (Mom's way of describing it is better: I would "get lost" in the Internet.)  But then I read about addiction in Chris Hardwick's book, The Nerdist Way, that, for some reason, I can't stop referring to all the time!  (JUST GET THE DAMN BOOK ALREADY!)  *Ahem!*  In the chapter titled, "Addiction-ary," he describes how he experienced addiction to beer; for many of us, the scientific term is "alcoholism."  And it opened my eyes up to what addiction really is: it's not the item that's the problem, it's the problems that a person has that they are trying to hide from by using the item.  What that means is that you can become addicted to anything, if you have the genetic predisposition for it, according to some non-Gallifreyan doctors.  Have you ever seen "My Strange Addiction"?  There are people who are addicted to collecting things, people addicted to eating things that aren't good for them at all, and there are people addicted to certain sensations that would just make this blog sound super creepy and weird if I ever mention it.

            And yet, once you get thinking about it, how can a crackhead's addiction be the same as alcoholism and Internet addiction and also addiction to food or sex?  It's not really the item; it's the feelings that the object of eternal siren-like desire that it brings to these people.  They're hooked on the good feelings that eating a lot of food or having sex or drinking or doing drugs brings them.  The equation is the same for everyone:

Problem → Need to feel good → Use of desirable object → Feeling good

But here's a tricky twist: addiction is itself a problem, especially if it interferes with your everyday life; so, in a sense, it turns into a thick, gummy, nearly concrete, manipulative frosting layer on the cake of problems and lies (PORTAL!) that you're dealing with.  So, there comes a time when you have to just sledgehammer that shit open in a giant epiphany moment of "What the fuck am I doing to myself?!"  For those of you having substance or gambling abuse and are thinking that, I shall include a list of numbers at the bottom that you can call for help.

            Anyways, I have discussed this with one of my witchdoctors (head-shrink!  HA!  Get it?!  #badpsychiatrypuns) and he did share with me this penny for my thoughts: you can enjoy something a lot, like sex or the Internet and that wouldn't be addiction; but when you enjoy it so much that you start to ignore your daily responsibilities that are needed (like hygiene, eating, work, family, real life friends), that's when it becomes an addiction.  You know the people who many of us label as "homeless," and  seem to just always drink or do drugs or whatever?  They are homeless because they were too busy being drunk/high to shower, eat, interact with family, pay rent, or go to work, and they got kicked out and have no place to go or no back-up plan for getting evicted out of their dwelling.  They're just stuck on feeling better and crave it so much that they can't quite move on from getting that fix.

            For Big C, it was alcohol.  He got into the never-ending party scene, he felt like he was in control of his forever yammering mind, he felt good, he let it get in the way of his daily responsibilities, his credit was ruined, he wasn't in the best of shape (besides round); essentially, he was a living buffet for a horde of zombies.  (He calls this phase of life "Peter Hardwick," aka "Chad Softwick," aka "Chris Fatwick," aka the fat drunk brother he never really had but someone kept alluding to during the early days of the biographical Wikipedia article about him.)  But on October 8, 2003, he was watching The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, with Jenny NOT-AN-EXPERT-ON-AUTISTIC-SPECTRUM-DISORDERS McCarthy as the guest.  At one point, at the end of the interview, Stewart says, "Oh, by the way, Chris Hardwick works here now."  To which she responded with, "Really?  Cool!"  Stewart shot back with, "Yeah.  He gets our coffee." [audience laughter]  "Fu.  Cking.  BALLS!" Big C shares next in the text.  He was called out on one of his favorite shows for being a loser, "and the worst part was, he was right."  That sent him on a journey to sobriety and fitness, and 10+ years later, he's on top of the world as the sober attractive-yet-out-of-my-league-in-more-ways-than-one COO of Nerdist Industries, hosting a shit ton of shows like Talking Dead and @midnight, as well as the Nerdist Podcast!

            As for me, I will admit (wincingly) that I have an addictive personality thanks my half-Vulcan father's side.  And it is a little easy for me to get hooked on things that allows me to feel good (which I will not dive too far into because it's a little uncomfortable for me to talk about) but now I know better.  I've done a paper on drunk driving and I learned that alcohol can magnify the effects of antidepressants.  And with that in mind, along with my being prescribed with antidepressants and that looming genetic predisposition hanging over my head, I make sure to never really hit the point of "durrunk," (I never want to be Dalek-hugging drunk, but I'm such a lightweight that I'm sure that I'll pass out before then.) because I don't want to fuck myself over.  Which I'm actually making into a rule for myself right here and right now: never ever create a tolerance for alcohol that's above 24-oz of something.  I actually don't even drink
socially; I'm not anywhere close to being social drinker, as I am pretty much a lightweight in terms of alcohol tolerance and terms of how much out of shape I really am; so Musikfest is really only the time I would have 24-oz. of alcoholic something and just drunk dial my sister and go "I'm drinking lots of water," 3 times in the conversation (true story).
            But on the flip side, I was actually typing this post up at home instead of surfing the webs at the library on a Saturday because Monday-Friday this past week (the week of March 9th, 2014, when I posted my review of the premiere of Cosmos ASTO), I was there, getting some semblance of Internet access.  Every single day, during that time period.  And it got to the point of "I need to not go there!  I need to take a break!"  The reasoning behind it is that I felt that it started to really tug at whatever part of me that many Christians call my soul, the siren call of the Internet was really sounding itself until closing time passes.  So, I needed to #SEPARATE myself from the library on a day that it's actually open so that I don't wind up going over that edge of self-destructive library-internet addiction spiral of DOOOOOOM!!!!!

            It's an interesting idea to talk about and I really do think that everyone shouldn't have a vice.  I remember having on my old blog, a very explanatory blog post about the whole Straight Edge movement (It's a movement, Mom!  It's not a club confined to my college, but a movement that was all over the country!) being positive about "not drinking, not doing drugs, beware of the asshole hardliners!" and to be honest, I would never have been able to be truly straight edge.  Jonah Ray was, but I really wasn't because I got lost in the Internet that was Second Life, Twitter, Facebook, MMO games, etc.  And I can't just let myself get to that point again, because it created this black hole that swallowed the path I was on to "apparel design and merchandising" in my Family and Consumer Science major.  But perhaps I didn't want it; perhaps, super-subconsciously I wanted to do pure art, or something else that would satisfy what kind of future I would want, and I, instead, went, "I'll go into fashion!" to people to get them to stop saying, "You'll starve as an artist," and, "You'll never have a real future," to me, and then I set up some red-matter dynamite on that career path I was on, pushed down on the plunger of the detonator box and created this void that I could not cross that I'm sure four-dimensional me would be able to cross somehow in a way that I would not understand.

            Wow, that was a convoluted creative over-exaggeration of Freudian thinking of subconscious desires that I just described in half of a paragraph.  I think I'm turning into another version of the Bloggess.  OH CRAP!  JENNY!  HELP MEEEEEE!!!!!  I CAN'T HAVE TAXIDERMY IN MY APARTMENT!!!

            But yeah, if you need me to shout at you to give up your vice for fuck's sake, here: DRUGS/ALCOHOL/INTERNET/(INSERT VICE HERE!) IS NOT THE SOLUTION FOR YOUR PROBLEMS!  PLEASE GO GET HELP!  BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!!!  YOU CAN DO BETTER BECAUSE YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN (INSERT VICE HERE)!

Just Because the Phone's Right There: Some Helpful Non-Finger Digits

Here are some numbers you can call:

Alcohol Anonymous (AA): Okay, AA is good for people who need structure for getting back onto the "right" path, but it's not for everybody.  Big C admitted this in Nerdist Way and on one of his podcast episodes (the number of which I don't really don't remember) that it's just not the program he needed, he just did his own thing because AA never really resonated well with him.  He still got sober, stayed sober, and is doing well.
            Website: http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org

Narcotics Anonymous (NA): Spin-off of AA that helps deal with drugs and substance abuse.
            Website: http://www.na.org

IntheRooms.com: This is a social network for those in recovery.  It's a thing that Big C discovered that he hasn't used, but it does allow you to connect with similar folks at varying stages of recovery with at any level of privacy that you would prefer.
            Website URL: http://www.intherooms.com


A Confession

            I have to say that I'm not an expert, much like Dr. Drew Pinsky and Dr. Phil McGraw are experts.  I'm just sharing my experience, adding in my thoughts and knowledge so that you may know of my views of the whole addiction landscape.  I still don't consider myself to be addicted to the Internet; but there is a danger for me to start drinking like it's going out of style.  For that, I must be careful.  So don't take my entire word for it as "expert advice," beyond "get help if you're suffering."  So don't be afraid to confide in people such as sisters and friends and therapists and faith leaders.  They can help you get started on the right path.  It takes a lot of support to get over addiction and to solve the core problem, so I ask of you all to also accept the support and help that works for you, or, if it's someone you know, just be there for them, without enabling by providing drug money, a place to stay, providing the drugs, etc.  They will thank you in the end.  Just don't give up because the journey to sobriety is a long, hard, rough hike through mostly charted territory that is easy to just give up on.

            Another confession: Most cigarettes are flavored with ambergris.  That's whale vomit.  Think about THAT the next time you light one up, readers!


            ENJOY YOUR SOBER TACQUITOS!  Unless it's tiramisu.  Or cheese fondue.  Or you're in Colorado.