Attempt at quitting smoking…

I began taking the prescription medication Chantix about a week ago to help me with my quitting smoking cigarettes. The only side effect I’ve noticed is nausea. Although, I’m not sure if it’s from the medication or if it’s a result of my newfound ability to smell most everything. I’m down to 2 or 3 cigarettes a day, currently. Although, I’m a bit discouraged about my level of “success” being more out of a lack of having the ability to purchase cigarettes more so than my desire to quit. Now, I believed that I was never going to have a desire to quit. I have been smoking since age eleven and am currently thirty eight years old. I do, for the first time, want to quit. Perhaps, I’m a bit discouraged because it would show more “strength” in myself if I had the ability to have more cigarettes during the process of quitting. I used to tell myself that I’d quit when the cost of one pack was up to $5, although they are currently over $10. I was smoking about a pack a day prior to starting my attempt to quit and am happy about reducing my intake that much. I suppose that it shouldn’t matter how I quit, so long as I do. In most other areas, such as in recovery, for example, I believe in “whatever works”, so this really should be no different. My anxiety has been up and down lately, but managed to make it to the Pathways to Housing program’s “restaurant club” last week with some other participants & staff. We went to an Italian restaurant in South Philly this month. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Traveling to the office from home was very difficult and nerve wracking, and caused me to feel quite ill. I even had stomach pains, which caused me to wonder if I was getting really sick. It turned out that it read only my anxiety causing it, because as soon as everyone got to the restaurant and I was able to sit and relax while we waited to eat, I felt so much better. I was worried that the trip would’ve been wasted if I couldn’t eat, but, luckily, that was not the case. I ended up getting chicken breast with pancetta & a white wine sauce. It was very good. Another little “treat” was later in the week when one of my Pathways staff team members had picked me up & took me to a couple of stores for some, much needed, necessities in the house. I even got a couple of very much needed clothing items, as well. Last year, I had the only clothing I owned (and was wearing) cut off of me by hospital staff in Emergency immediately following my accident, when the car hit me. I also only had one shoe, because the car had knocked me out of the one in the street. I was also only approximately 95 pounds at the time of my accident, as well. So, throughout my recovery, I have gained back both muscle and fat that I’d lacked while homeless and in active addiction. So, even the clothes that were donated to me last year, wouldn’t fit me now, since I weigh around 150 pounds currently. I am so grateful for the help that I have had throughout this process. I went through all of the clothes that no longer fit and separated them to give half to my oldest daughter and to donate the rest for others in need. I am not able to do much to “give back” but I try to do what ever I can. Hopefully, someone in as desperate a position as I was will benefit from it. I’ve also been blessed to be able to have a holiday meal prepared at my house this year for Thanksgiving (with much needed help, of course). It’s been too many years since I’ve been able to do that. I am so excited that my daughter said she’ll be here to spend and share the holiday with me. Nothing “worth it” in life is ever easy, but I try to remind myself that “it can always be worse” & that even if I don’t have what I want, I still tend to get what I need, which is vital to any level of success for me. I may not have the “typical” family support, although couldn’t be more grateful for the support of my “Pathways family”. Pay of their motto is “reclaiming lives” & that is exactly what they are helping me to do.

Thank God for my Support System…

I’ve been so anxious & unusually emotional lately. I am really against using most medications/ pharmaceuticals for myself that are needed long term to treat chronic issues. Although, last week, I began a new mood stabilizer to treat my bipolar disorder. I’m the last person who would be able to truly “see” any difference it’s making, good or bad. I learned when I was quite young that those around me would be able to notice any change much better than I could. Yesterday, one member of my case management “team” at Pathways to Housing came out to do my “home visit” & check to see how I’m doing, plus, to see if I needed help with anything. She was super helpful with helping me set up a day to come into the office next week and get a few things accomplished at once. I have some stuff to do to get into school again, get into the Head Injury Program through the state of Pennsylvania, plus an going to speak to the doctor there about some alternative medicine options. They always manage to help me feel like i not as alone as I feel sometimes. I say all the time that I know they mean more to me in my life in comparison to my importance in their lives, but, thankfully, it’s been enough to keep me going in the right direction. I was, apparently, one of their “difficult” clients to get started in this program, due to my disbelief about the validity of the program. I’m sure that my preoccupation with my drug addiction, at that time, didn’t make either side any easier at all. I have been given a chance at life again that I truly believed was lost. I would feel like I was “spitting in their face” if I didn’t focus all my attention on getting and doing better for myself. It’s so not easy, and takes a long time, but, with their support, it makes it all feel possible. I could never express the gratitude I have for the opportunity and support I’ve been given throughout this process.

Anxiety can be debilitating…

I apologize for not posting recently. I’ve been struggling with PTSD & Panic Disorder symptoms. I have a hard time leaving to go places alone all the time, but it usually gets done, even if I just push myself to go. I did get my 13th vivitrol injection at my doctor’s office this past Friday. I also had my yoga classes for Traumatic Brain Injury patients and their support people (if any). This is the first Thanksgiving I’ll be here, also & was truly blessed with getting some help with being able to prepare a Thanksgiving meal here. I struggle a lot, compared to many, but nowhere compared to where I’ve been. I’m so grateful for all the ways that people have come through to help out, even though, it’s still next to impossible to ask for help… still, even now. “You may not get what you want… but, if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need…”

Kensington’s “Resilience Project” anniversary…

I was asked by Pathways to Housing …to speak at an event in Kensington. I wasn’t given much information prior to, although knew I’d be sharing my story. It was almost surreal to be where I was today, because only one year prior, I’d once been living under the bridge behind where I was speaking & where I once used drugs, as well. The moral painted under the bridge showed birds taking flight that were once “tethered down” as one artist explained. It certainly expressed a part of my life’s journey extremely well. I was not expecting news cameras and Mayor Kenny to be there. It made me quite nervous, plus, being one of the last to speak also didn’t help. The project helped address the opioid epidemic by clearing encampments under the bridges, provided housing for many of the homeless population, & by helping beautify the area with artwork. It felt so great to be an example of how helping really can make a difference.

Busy, Busy…

I had my neuro psych test last Friday at Einstein’s Moss Rehab Elkins Park. The test was over four hours long. A lot of puzzles, numbers, & memory activities. I get the results before my appointment with my “Brain Injury” doctor next week. I’m hoping it helps give me ideas on how to do better both in school and at home. Then, Monday was the stress test offered by the cardiologist. That, technically, looked pretty good, but after the test, I was sick to my stomach, even vomited, and slept most of the day afterward. I also heard from my daughter on Monday saying she was at a treatment facility trying to get help. I just keep hoping and praying that she keeps trying to do better for herself. I also was nicely surprised by Pathways to Housing by being invited to go see the new Joker movie with Joaquin Phoenix this coming Friday. I’m so super excited to see it. It’s supposed to be really good.

Better Days Ahead…

I am looking forward to a trip scheduled with Pathways to Housing this month to visit the Philadelphia Zoo. I really enjoyed the Marvel Comics trip & the Penitentiary trip. I also have another 6 week course of Love Your Brain Yoga classes in South Philly starting soon. They are being held Sundays this time instead of Tuesdays as it’s been in the past. Other than transportation being much slower on Sundays, I don’t believe it’ll be much different. Pathways also offers various events each month. The theme for the restaurant club they have is Thai this month. I’m unsure if I’ll be able to attend this month yet, but I’d like to. I’d also like to get my daughter more involved as well. I believe I already mentioned the zoo trip. I can only hope and pray that things like that will be helpful to us both. I’m excited to go either way, of course. It’s been years since I have been to the Philadelphia Zoo. I’m sure it’ll be a fun day.

Taking Baby Steps…

My oldest daughter is now twenty two years old. I’m so glad that she got her place before her birthday. I went downtown to my doctor’s office yesterday and got my 12th vivitrol injection. It’s so hard to believe that it’s been almost an entire year since my accident. It felt so good to hear my daughter tell me how proud she is of me. I just keep hoping and praying she continues taking baby steps in the right direction. I have a neuro psych evaluation coming up this Friday. I’m slightly nervous, but it helps that I’m familiar with the person administering the test. I was introduced to her while I was impatient at Einstein. I’ve also had several interactions with her during my outpatient therapy, as well. I scheduled my ride for next Monday, also, for the stress test that the cardiologist ordered. I’ve only gotten this far taking baby steps myself & with the continued positive support of everyone who has been involved since the start. Between my daughter, Pathways to Housing, the Angels in Motion, & staff at Prevention Point, I’ve had an excellent support system.

Been, Yet Another, Busy Week…

Last Saturday was the first time in about 3 years that I was able to go to the annual Pro-Act Recovery Walk. It felt so good to be back there. I was so blessed to be able to walk with Pathways to Housing, as well. I was hoping my daughter would go with me, but I have my fingers crossed­čĄ× for next year. I even helped carry the Pathways to Housing banner, also. I was so preoccupied while writing my last blog post with the Board Meeting I attended, that I’d forgotten to even mention the Recovery Walk. The banner for Pathways was so cleverly made with representing lives both lost and saved this past year. I also saw some other people there who are also in recovery. It feels so beyond wonderful to see them doing so well. I, also, managed to visit my daughter’s new place this week. A little bit of an emotional rollercoaster, but what in life isn’t that way? I am so very proud of her and all she’s trying to do. I cannot believe that her 22nd Birthday is tomorrow. I’m so glad that she’s heading in the right direction in life. She’s about an hour away from my house, but that’s probably better. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason & have enough faith to trust whatever that reason may be.

Better Days

I am so beyond blessed to have such a wonderful support system behind me. I was so fortunate to have been asked to share my story tonight at the Pathways to Housing Board Meeting. I was a little nervous about speaking tonight, but was made to feel so welcome by the staff & board members. I believe that I was nervous about expressing exactly how crucial their “Housing First” model has been (and still is) in my journey in all they do to help us participants in “Reclaiming Lives”. I’m working on going back to college and obtain my psychology degree and possibly even obtaining a certification to become a Peer Specialist (with their assistance). A year ago, that wasn’t even a possibility. I could never thank them enough for this opportunity that I believed was long lost. My daughter just got housed through Pathways to Housing, as well & is now given the same support and opportunities that I have through them. I truly am so beyond grateful for them and all they do. When they say that they are “Reclaiming Lives”, they truly are. I hope that I was able to express just how important they are in giving us “lost causes” another opportunity at having a productive life. The hardest part was the initial disbelief that anyone would truly help. Once I sat long enough to listen and give them the opportunity to help, my entire life has changed for better than I could’ve hoped for. These are the reasons I continue to work so hard in my attempt to show them that what they are doing really can work and work well.

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