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Creativity Can Play an Important Role in Addiction Recovery

A novelist in recovery said he believed drinking made him a better writer. He followed in the footsteps of literary heroes who drank too much and justified their habit by saying alcohol or other drugs helped them tap into their creative genius. It had the opposite effect. He lost a contract with a major publisher and almost lost his wife.

Contrary to popular belief, alcohol and other drugs do not make people creative. In addition to geneticscreativity stems from “the combined consequence of early exposure, exceptional instruction, constant practice, family nurturance, and a child’s intense will to learn,” writes David Shenk in The Genius in All of Us: New Insights into Genetics, Talent, and IQ.

Addiction stifles creativity, but creativity can play an important role in recovering from the disease. Many people who become addicted to drugs or alcohol have alexithymia, a term that describes people who don’t understand what they’re feeling or how others feel or can’t put their feelings into words.

Creative approaches such as art therapy, music therapy, and psychodrama allow people to express difficult thoughts, memories, and feelings without being constrained by words.

Having a creative experience has been shown to be healing in many ways. Here are a few examples:

  1. A pathway through shame. Addicts carry a great deal of guilt and shame that can be difficult to put into words. Creative approaches can help them process these feelings so they don’t trigger a relapse. Research with sex addicts, for example, has shown that shameful feelings are often more easily expressed through the use of imagery or symbolism than words.
  2. A chance for vicarious healing. People who have experienced traumaand are not yet ready to talk about it may be able to describe their pain through art, writing or role play, or they may see their own pain in someone else’s creative expression. With a therapist guiding the process, creative approaches can be a stepping stone that allows people to eventually talk about their pain rather than escape through drugs or alcohol.
  3. Regulates emotions. Engaging in a creative activity can open a new channel for people to connect with their emotions. For example, studies show that listening to music can foster a healing environment and reduce stress. One study found that partaking in music, such as singing in a choir, reduced negative emotional states.
  4. Assists in coping with loss. Talk therapy has long been a standard approach for helping people through loss and life transitions. Studies have shown that writing about one’s experience is another form of traumatic disclosure that can be cathartic. One study followed people who were recently unemployed and found that those assigned to write about thoughts and emotions related to being fired or laid off found new jobs faster than those who did not participate in expressive writing exercises.
  5. Supports mastery in other areas. People who participate in creative pursuits not only fuel their creativity, but they may also become more proficient in other aspects of their lives. A study of employees in non-creative jobs who sought creative activities like writing and art showed improved job performance and ability to recover from work stress.
  6. Increases playfulness. People are often so wounded by life that they forget what it is like to be childlike and carefree. Creativity can help connect people to a more fun, lighthearted part of themselves. Creative activities that promote play such as dance, rock climbing or chess also have been shown to help people feel more in control of their environment.
  7. Creates opportunities for “flow.” Many artists describe getting lost in the creative process. Studies show creativity changes the brain and allows people an uninterrupted or purer focus. Creativity research calls it “flow.” And it’s described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi as the experience of “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake.” This optimal experience can help people feel more present and fulfilled.

Every individual recovers from addiction in their own way. This is why it is so important for addiction treatment programs to offer a mixture of therapeutic approaches. Some will rely on verbal expression, like cognitive behavioral therapy, but some may be less verbal like art therapy. For people who can’t articulate their thoughts or experiences to a therapist or group, creative therapies can help them break through and slowly begin to find the words.

by: David Sack M.D.


Creativity Can Play an Important Role in

Equilibrium, Truth, and Hope:
What It’s Like to Be a Writer in Recovery

We speak to four accomplished writers about their writing process and how it relates to their recovery.

Writing has been the greatest gift of my recovery. Seven years ago I sat at my desk — as instructed by a sponsor who’d asked me to start journaling — with my pen poised, but with a numbness between my mind and the paper.
I just didn’t know where to start — what to write, or how to say it. I was numb. My mind felt blank and my hand wouldn’t move. My sponsor told me to start small: write a plan for the day, or express how I feel. Record what you’ve done right each day, she said.

Once I started, I couldn’t stop. Words flowed out of me like a dam had been removed from an overflowing river. Seven years later, I’ve filled many journals, become a full-time writer and journalist, published hundreds of articles online, and have begun writing my memoir.

Writing is my number one means of expression — I often choose it over an in-person conversation. Some kind of magic happens when I place my fingers on the keyboard. Writing helps me to connect my mind and body, to ground myself.

It gives me the breathing space to process my thoughts. Writing shows me how far I’ve come, but also what’s left to heal. I can’t imagine a life without writing.

AWP 2019, Portland, OR

As I’ve started to take myself more seriously as a writer, I decided to venture out into the world of my peers. I recently attended an Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference in Portland. It is the largest literary conference in North America readings, panel discussions, and lectures.

What struck me the most about the conference was the sheer volume of people—there were 12,000 attendees. If you’re new to the writing world, AWP can leave you feeling a little out of your depth — looking out the lens of comparison as opposed to shining in your own light. For this introvert and empath, it was way too much. I hate crowds, and I struggle to make meaningless chit-chat.

While I found I’m not alone in my feelings of overwhelm and my desire to lock myself in a dark room surrounded only with books and a flashlight for the next month, I did take the opportunity to indulge my curiosity about the emerging cohort of writers who have spoken openly about their recovery.

I wanted to know if it was possible to co-exist in a world that is usually associated with copious amounts of wine, and whether these writers’ pain from addiction could be used as a catalyst for healing in the world.

Writers in Recovery

I spoke to writers Kerry Neville, Randall Horton, Kelly Thompson, and Penny Guisinger to understand their writing process and how it relates to their recovery.

Kerry Neville

Addiction Poetry

Kerry Neville is the author of the books Necessary Lies and Remember to Forget Me. She is the recipient of numerous prizes in fiction, a former Fulbright Scholar, and the coordinator of the graduate and undergraduate creative writing program at Georgia College & State University, where she is also an assistant professor of creative writing.

How has recovery influenced your writing, and in what ways?

When I write out of my own experience, out of my own complicated relationship with bipolar disorder and about my recovering from an eating disorder and alcohol use disorder, for instance, I often navigate between the implicit bias I have that comes out of my own factual experience and the imperative to try to translate that into a more universal felt understanding.

I am interested in how such struggles with these types of disorders might reveal something more about what it means for us to be in connection or disconnection with each other. When I am “inside” my own experience of this illness, it’s isolating — insularity prevents insight.

So in my writing, I try to understand how grief, loneliness, and depression, the tightrope many of us walk regardless of a mental health diagnosis, might link us together and how we can help each other to continue on.

Conversely, in what ways has writing helped your recovery?

In my movement toward recovery and stability and back into my writing self, I understood that while it might be desperately lonely out there, we have an obligation to reach out for each other, to pay attention, to live in truth and integrity.

This understanding, once I emerged from that bleak, dark well, fueled the writing, helped me find my way back through words that built sentences that created paragraphs that imagined stories — and writing is an act of hope.

How do you deal with the ups and downs of being a writer (rejections, etc.) in a healthy way?

In terms of dealing with rejection? One day at a time, one submission at a time. And remembering I write not for acceptance but for connection — to myself, to others.

Randall Horton

Addiction Poetry

Randall Horton is the author of several books: The Definition of PlaceLingua Franca of Ninth StreetHook, A Memoir and Pitch Dark Anarchy: Poems. He is the recipient of various poetry awards and prizes, including the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award. Randall is a member of the Affrilachian Poets and an associate professor of English at the University of New Haven.

How has recovery influenced your writing, and in what ways?

To be honest with you, I don’t know that it has. However, when I was in JAS (Jail Addiction Services) in Montgomery County, I was introduced to the idea of writing through a group session we used to have with a social worker. This person took an interest in my writing during this time and encouraged me to continue the path that I now currently follow.

Conversely, in what ways has writing helped your recovery?

I will say this: Writing helps me to not want to sell drugs, pick up a package and hustle, or the myriad things I thought were necessary for me to live. For me, writing shows me how to be human; even when I resist, the writing is my equilibrium.

How do you deal with the ups and downs of being a writer (rejections, etc.) in a healthy way?

Well, the first word I learned as a little child was “no.” So rejection doesn’t bother me one bit. I have been to prison. I have lived on the streets and had a whole alternate existence as a human being in this society. With that said, writing and the writing life is easy because I’m playing with house money, so I never lose. Feel me?

Kelly Thompson

Addiction Poetry

Kelly Thompson’s work has been published in GuernicaEntropyThe Rumpus, and various other publications and literary journals. Her essay “Hand Me Down Stories” was nominated for a Pushcart. Kelly curates Voices on Addiction at The Rumpus, where she also serves as a contributor.

How has recovery influenced your writing, and in what ways?

Recovery is a way of life. My recovery determines my writing, relationships, daily life, and choices. I prioritize my sobriety over everything else. It comes first. My recovery is based on certain principles. As Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

So that, as well as other principles like honesty, openness to new ideas, and nonresistance constitute a daily practice in my life. That flows into my writing practice as well. So I really can’t separate the two. For me, it is all one thing. Recovery helped me uncover my truth, which led me to write.

Conversely, in what ways has writing helped your recovery?

To write is my heart’s desire. My passion. By writing, I am doing what I was born to do. Once I peeled away the layers of conditioning that kept me from writing —and there were many — once I committed to writing as a lifelong practice, doors began opening, and any obstacles in the way of my writing began to dissolve.

I have learned that purpose is integral to recovery, so by fulfilling it, by following my passion, so to speak, my recovery is strengthened. They inform each other. My recovery and writing go hand in hand.

How do you deal with the ups and downs of being a writer (rejections, etc.) in a healthy way?

I think it was Barry Lopez who said, “Despair is the great temptation.” I can’t afford to go there. It’s a numbers game, so in the beginning, I started by submitting my writing frequently to publications I admired. I set a goal of getting as many rejections as possible and considering that a win.

The rule I set for myself was that upon receiving a rejection, I would immediately send the piece to the next tier of submissions. By doing that, I was able to transition into not taking rejection personally. I also learned from the process. I learned that I was often sending things out prematurely. I learned to sit on my writing for a bit and then return to it.

Now, as a curator for The Rumpus and “Voices on Addiction,” I’m on the other side of it, as well. That experience has taught me firsthand that rejections often have nothing to do with the quality of the writing. It’s usually more a matter of timing, fit, and the column’s needs.

At the same time, the best submissions are truly final drafts and need little to no edits. That continues to teach me a lot about my writing and submission process. If you can become a reader for a publication, go for it, because you’ll learn from it.

Penny Guisinger

Addiction Poetry

Penny Guisinger is the author of the book Postcards from Here. Her work has appeared in various publications, such as River Teeth, Guernica, the Brevity blog, and Solstice Literary Magazine. She has been nominated for a Pushcart, has won the Maine Literary Award, and was twice named a notable in Best American Essays. She is the assistant editor at Brevity Magazine, the director of Iota: Conference of Short Prose, and the founder of the popular and hilarious blog, My Cranky Recovery.

How has recovery influenced your writing, and in what ways?

I’m a CNF [creative nonfiction] writer, and so am constantly mining real life for writeable moments. Recovery demands that we dig deep into ourselves and develop a clear understanding of our own minds and how they work. As I go through life as a person in recovery, I have learned how to experience the experience of every experience, which is a ridiculous thing to say but it’s true.

I am always taking several steps back to maintain awareness of what’s happening and how it might be impacting my sobriety. As such, it’s honed my self-observation skills which I also use as a writer. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say that recovery makes rich material for writing. (Is that cynical?)

Conversely, in what ways has writing helped your recovery?

Writing has not helped my recovery at all, but publishing about recovery has helped a lot. There is a lot about 12-step programs that I don’t find useful, but one very useful thing that happens at meetings is this thing where we admit our addictions out loud by saying (in my case), “I’m an alcoholic.”

Saying those words helped make it real for me. Publishing this particular truth is like saying that to the whole world. It’s terrifying and, ultimately, very freeing.

How do you deal with the ups and downs of being a writer (rejections, etc.) in a healthy way?

I take the little downs in stride: rejection is part of the job, and usually it doesn’t bother me. (There are some significant exceptions: a few that I’ve taken pretty hard!) I get more weighed down by the big ones: imposter syndrome, comparing myself to other writers, feeling let down after this-or-that publication didn’t manage to transform my life.

I manage that exactly the way I manage my recovery: through community. I would be as dead in the water without my writing community as I would be without my recovery community, and what a gift it is when those two communities overlap.

By Olivia Pennelle 05/16/19

Equilibrium, Truth, and Hope: What It's Like to

Five Mindfulness Practices to Step Up Your Recovery

Ready to take your recovery from alcohol and drug addiction to a whole new level? Practice being mindful with these tried-and-true activities—they might be just what you’re looking for.Heard in a Twelve Step meeting:

“Sometimes I feel like I’m just going through the motions. I mean, I’m working the program but I’m not getting as much out of it as I used to.”It’s a common experience—no matter what the context. We start a new diet or join a fitness club or enroll in a class, and before we know it our enthusiasm fades and the stress ramps up.

We’re hit with the reality that there are no quick fixes. That self-improvement is a life-long journey.That’s precisely the moment when adding mindfulness to your addiction recovery program could reboot your enthusiasm and re-energize your journey.

What is Mindfulness?

Introduced by the Buddha as a path to spiritual enlightenment more than 2,500 years ago, mindfulness is essentially the art of being present in our own lives. It’s a gentle way of opening our mind to greater awareness; to a truer, deeper understanding of our self and our world. So why should we care about being mindful in today’s world?

Studies have shown that mindfulness activities can actually reshape our brain in positive ways, improving physical and mental health and promoting overall well-being. It can help tame anxiety, provide a greater self-awareness, and help us acknowledge and cope with emotions that may not be rooted in reality.

What’s more, incorporating mindfulness exercises into treatment is especially helpful for those of us who have struggled with addiction to alcohol, drugs, porn, unhealthy relationships, or other destructive behaviors. Here’s why.

The Mindfulness-Recovery Connection

The brain is the only organ specifically designed to be shaped by experience and practice, much like a muscle gets stronger with exercise. In the past, when we repeatedly engaged in the thoughts and behaviors that propel addiction, we unknowingly shaped our brain in ways that worked against us and prevented us from being mindful.

Mindfulness exercises empower us to intentionally reshape our brain in ways that bring greater control, awareness, and happiness to our life.

Getting Started

One of the strengths of mindfulness is that we can practice it any time, any place. We don’t have to adopt a particular belief system or invest a great deal of time and energy to take advantage of this expanded awareness. We need only be willing to try new ways of experiencing the world.

These five core practices are a good way of getting started:

1. Be Present

“Be where you are; otherwise you will miss your life.” The Buddha

Is it possible to be somewhere without actually being there? Of course it is. It’s the way most of us live every day. We’re talking to our kids or watching TV or sitting in a meeting, but our mind’s a million miles away. Usually, we’re feeling stressed about something that happened in the past or feeling anxiety about what might happen in the future. Or we’re distracted by our phones, our attention splintered by the relentless urge to type, tap, or swipe.

Only rarely do we focus on the present moment. Yet when our attention is continually somewhere else, we go through life on auto-pilot, never really seeing the richness of life or fully realizing our own potential.  It’s like living with blinders on.

Being mindful is about being present, increasing our awareness, and opening our eyes to the reality of now. This moment.

Why it supports recovery: Most of us in addiction recovery are former escape artists looking to avoid the stress and anxiety that comes with daily life. We’re good at not being there. Being present helps us learn to cope with reality as it actually is—not how we perceive it.

Getting started: Being present starts with paying attention to ordinary things—the sensation of your feet rising and falling as you walk to the car, the feel of soapy water sliding over your hands as you wash the dishes, the taste and texture of food in your mouth as you eat a meal.

Remembering to do this regularly may take practice, but ultimately it is one of the easiest mindfulness exercises we can do. Noticing the little things grounds you in the present moment—the place where we live our lives.

2. Focus on the Breath

Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” Thích Nhat Hanh

Life is full of stress. Whether it’s the daily grind, a difficult relationship, a sudden calamity, or the relentless onslaught of the 24/7 news cycle, life gets to all of us sometimes. We constantly feel overwhelmed, and before we know it we’re exploding in anger or retreating in a sulk—or worse, turning to alcohol or another drug to cope.

There’s a simple remedy for all this: focusing on our breath. Instead of getting upset by external things over which we have little control, we can center our attention on an internal thing that we can control: our breathing. Mindfulness teaches us to use our body’s natural healing powers to manage stress.

Why it supports recovery: When we’re stressed, it’s easy to get sucked into a damaging spiral of self-defeating thoughts. We need to actively take care of our emotional health in these moments. Focusing on the breath can restore a sense of calm and control that keeps our recovery on track.

Getting started: Try taking small “breathing breaks” throughout the day—while you’re at a stoplight or waiting in line, for example, or before you open your email or go to a meeting. Inhale through your nostrils and exhale through your mouth, making your exhalation a little longer than your inhalation. Notice the sensation of air entering and exiting your body again and again, always there to calm and sustain you.

3. Recognize Your Thoughts as Thoughts

“Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are just that—thoughts.” Allan Lokos

Most of us give little attention to the thoughts that fill our head. They’re just sort of there,like background noise we’ve learned to tune out.

But whether we notice them or not, our thoughts are the driving force behind our feelings and actions. What we think about ourselves and others determines how we carry ourselves in the world, how we interact with people around us, and how effective we are at managing our life.

It’s easy to confuse our thoughts with reality—to believe that what we think is always true. In fact, we’re all prone to false assumptions, misconceptions, and unfounded beliefs.

Mindfulness teaches us to become aware of our thoughts, empowering us to let go of harmful ideas that work against us.

Why it supports recovery: Negative self-talk is a common activity—and it’s destructive. Thoughts like “I’m no good” or “Everyone’s against me” drain the hope and energy needed to sustain positive change in addiction recovery. Recognizing and then challenging such damaging thoughts allow us to see ourselves in a more hopeful, more accurate light.

Getting started: Check in with your thoughts throughout the day, especially when you find yourself becoming anxious or depressed. Ask yourself what thoughts triggered your feelings. Remind yourself that thoughts are just thoughts. Then work on letting them go.

4. Expand Your Circle of Compassion

“Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek.” Dalai Lama XIV

We humans are born to connect. Studies have shown that when we feel emotionally connected, we thrive mentally and physically. When we feel disconnected, we suffer.

Mindfulness helps us build connections by teaching us to view ourselves and others through the lens of compassion. We let go of the judgments, stereotypes, and prejudices that build walls and practice the tolerance, kindness, and empathy that build bridges.

This doesn’t mean that we have to like or approve of everything others do. It simply means that we think in terms of “us,” not “them.”

Mindfulness teaches us that all beings deserve loving-kindness because we are all part of the greater whole.

Why it supports recovery: Addiction limited our ability to connect with others in any meaningful way. Compassion strengthens our ability to build healthy, healing relationships, which ultimately positively affects our inner emotions.

Getting started: The phrase “just like me” is sometimes used in mindfulness meditations to promote compassion. Try remembering this phrase in your interactions with others, reminding yourself that they have hopes and fears, dreams and sorrows “just like me.”

5. Be Still

“Now we will count to twelve/and we will all keep still.” Pablo Neruda

As a society, we tend to equate busyness with goodness. The more activity we engage in, the better. We see multi-tasking as a virtue and admire people who somehow manage to “do it all.” After all, the more we do, the more worthwhile we are. Right?

Not exactly. In fact, philosophers have always known—and science has more recently confirmed—that there is tremendous value in allowing ourselves to step away from the busyness of daily life and simply be. It is in stillness, not in continual activity, that we are free to discover our own personal truths that give meaning and purpose to our life.

Mindfulness reminds us that in stillness we find the wisdom to become a human beinginstead of a human doing.

Why it supports recovery: Recovery is a journey, not a destination. Stillness opens our hearts and minds to the vast potential within us as we move through treatment.

Getting started: Mindfulness meditation sessions, yoga practice, and religious services can all promote a sense of inner stillness. So can gazing at the night sky, watching the ocean’s waves, or immersing yourself in activities like exercise, gardening, woodworking, painting, or playing music—any moment you can take for yourself.

The important thing is to find whatever works for you—your special connection to that quiet place in which to listen to your heart and renew your spirit again and again.

“Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it,” wrote the meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg. By remembering to take part in these mindfulness practices every day, our journey of recovery can become ever deeper, more meaningful, and more rewarding.

By: Beverly Conyers

Beverly Conyers, author of Addict in the Family, Stories of Loss, Hope and Recovery, is the mother of three grown children. She began writing about addiction when she discovered that her youngest daughter was addicted to heroin. She knows first-hand the anxiety and heartache that families endure, and she has gained deep insight into the process of recovery from addicts who share their experiences in her books.

Above all, she knows that there is no such thing as a hopeless case. Everything can change even when we least expect it, and the miracle of recovery happens every day.

Five Mindfulness Practices to Step Up Your

The Power of Imagination in Psychotherapy

Therapy emphasises the importance of exploring our minds, seeking truth or clarity and uncovering our past. This exploratory process takes place in the hope that we may unburden ourselves from myriad of complex thoughts or feelings.

Sharing our thoughts, ideas and imaginative processes is important in therapy, because it provides a platform to think about those thoughts and experiences, which if shared in the outside world, may not be understood. Imagination enables us to view or interpret experiences with a variety of different lenses which we can change or shift as our mind explores further.

Imagination matters because it is fundamental to who we are. It is inherently linked with dreams, ideas and what makes us individual. No one will ever see, understand or engage with our imagination as we will ourselves. We are connected to imagination throughout life from an early age and it assists with development and growth in infancy, helping us learn the boundaries of the world we are exploring.

In therapy some may benefit more from working with metaphor and imagination, than exploring what is more factual or ‘real’. The idea that progress can only be made if one is real with oneself and explores absolute truth or absolute untruth, is not an absolute and imagination is rarely this black and white. In fact, abstract or creative patterns of thinking, can lead to meaningful avenues of self-exploration.

Imagination in therapy not only assists with healing, growth and understanding but also contributes to personal and mental development and actively assists with transpersonal development, meaning it allows people to understand experiences which extend beyond the personal level of their psyche. It can assist someone in making links between their experiences and help them form detailed connections.

Free association, metaphor and imagery

Freud believed in the importance of imagery, metaphor, symbols and dreams and thought much could be deciphered from a person’s unconscious processes, and that these became clearer through an individual’s use of language, imagery and metaphor.

Exploring the mind without hindrance, censorship or embarrassment is a key tenant of Freudian therapy, and is known as Free Association. The idea is that by speaking freely, a person will, through imagery, metaphor and language, reveal deeper aspects of their unconscious mind.

It could be said that in therapy no image, thought or idea is too small, and all hold value and meaning, and that expressing any thought that floats in our minds is worth examining. Of course this is not always the case, and to quote author Allen Wheelis, ‘A cigar is sometimes just a cigar.’

Metaphor in therapy is not easy to define, and depends on each client and therapist relationship, and how a therapist or client may understand particular metaphors used. For example, a therapist may use their own understanding or knowledge of theory to infer meaning to a metaphor which a client did not mean, or a client may have several understandings for a metaphor. Through imagination, we can add or remove meaning as necessary, and there is no wrong or right.

The reason imagination matters in therapy is because it allows a client to express how they are feeling about something when the direct use of words may be too painful. Symbols and metaphors can be used in place of complex and difficult memories or feelings. A brief fictional example of this is below.

Client – Sometimes I feel like a decaying rusty anchor, lying on the ocean floor.

Therapist – Can you say a little more about what the image of an anchor might represent?

Client – It represents feeling unused and forgotten. It represents feeling heavy.

Therapist – Can you say more?

Client – I feel unable to stop decaying, that I am destined to remain on the ocean floor.

Therapist – Does the anchor represent you and your depression?

Client – Yes, and right now I feel chained to it. I do not know if I will ever leave the ocean floor. I may rust over so much, that I will be incapable of life.

As the above example shows, the metaphor of a rusty decaying anchor, held powerful feelings of helplessness, depression and sadness. The use of imagination in place of words enabled this person to explain the depth of their sadness, which was equivalent to the depths of the ocean itself.

In closing

Imagination could be viewed as providing a symbolic bridge between our conscious and unconscious thoughts, as a container or a conductor of psychological energies, feelings and sensations. Ultimately, it gives us a platform for expression, offers a wide array of tools to understand ourselves at greater depth, and when used within therapy, provides us with the chance to consider and reflect upon what could be, what might have been, what was, and what is.

The Power of Imagination in Psychotherapy Therapy emphasises

When Sorority Noise sang, “Just last week, I slept 8 hours total. I barely sleep.” I felt that.

Back when I was taking 120 milligrams of Adderall per day, I stopped sleeping. Literally.

I’m talking 72 consecutive hours of uninterrupted consciousness. Most of which was spent staring at a computer screen.

I knew it was nuts as I was doing it. But the rush of Adderall, the sweet alertness and confidence, held sway over both human biology and my sense of logic.

I would wander into work with deep circles under my eyes, voice hoarse from dryness.

Hunch over my computer screen, frantically pounding out emails, social media posts, blog content, and so forth for my employer – a tech startup run by friends from college.

One time, I had a one-on-one with my boss, who’d been my friend for a decade.

“What’s the number one thing you want to see out of me going forward?” I asked.

He paused. A weird, sad expression crept over his face.

“I want you to look less tired.”

Road to Recovery

In the summer of 2018, I experienced the biggest blessing of my life: amphetamine psychosis.

Full-blown paranoia. Grandiose delusions. Imaginary threats. All gradually escalating to a crescendo over a matter of 3 months.

Even though I was mentally insane for its duration, I vividly remember the thoughts, feelings, and sensations of psychosis.

How real it all seemed. How strongly it overtook the rational side of my brain.

I was a high achiever with a law degree, a solid professional reputation, a loving family, and tons of friends. And Adderall still broke me.

In breaking me, it forced my hand. I spent 6 days in a psych ward, at my parents’ behest once it became evident I was losing my mind.

I never would have agreed to go had I not hit rock bottom.

In the days before entering the ward, I was at my lowest.

My parents took my paranoid delusions in earnest and prayed over the phone with me for God to protect me from whoever was after me.

He came through. As He always does.

That morning, I took Adderall for the last time.

Forty-eight hours later, I was in the psychiatric ward.

One week after, in rehab.

Where am I now?

Sharing stories of my addiction with you.

Grateful for my rescue from the days where I’d abuse my body and mind with Adderall.

Sleeping like a baby.

When Sorority Noise sang, "Just last week,

As children our kind could not
control what we saw felt and heard.
Especially in love.
When older we tried to slow it
down with self-medication.

Valentines Day in first grade.

I addressed all thirty cards to her.


My mom saw her name on each
envelope and opened up a few.

She gently said, “Let’s do them over.”

I didn’t understand.

She went to the store and bought another blank set.

In the middle of the night I retrieved them from the  garbage can.

I gave them to Lisa the next day in class anyway.

As children our kind could not control

For so many a ceaseless revolving door.

The same guests always check in.

Prideful and reckless sons that flew too near the sun.

Decaying vets sitting on the porches.

Those who arrive and disappear in an instant.

Permanent denizens with nowhere else to go.

Schizophrenics and their imaginary friends.

The young who are already old.

Most of them are not done yet.

Back on the street soon.

For so many a ceaseless revolving door. The

Defying the laws of driving probability.

Donnie and me cruise down to San Fransisco.

I’m twenty two.

We have a little too much of this and too much of that.

Actually way too much.

Donnie’s out cold.

I throw him in the back seat.

Feels like I can fly a helicopter when I turn the key.

Three hour flight.

ACDC till the speakers explode.

Sixty two now.

I’m still a pilot.

Defying the laws of driving probability. Donnie and

One delirium tremens I thought I was in a Fellini movie

Carnivale in Brasilia by myself.

No one told me it was in Rio.

The odd shapes of the buildings once promised the future.

The midnight deserted streets echoed the haunting of my party horn.

I lead my own parade marching in front of all the clowns of my past.

One delirium tremens I thought I was

Bottomless vessels no matter how much
we poured down.

Ten years old.

Nothing we couldn’t do.

Walk on quicksand
and never sink.

Push it to the brink.

Bullet to the heart and
never bleed away.

Run the race of madness each and every day.

Hanging out with our new friends
Jack Jim and Brandy girl.

Bottomless vessels no matter how much
we poured down.

Late Friday nights fell on our faces but never bruise.

Saturday morning sports stars
that never seemed to lose.

Sixty years now.

Can’t get off the floor.

Eviction notice hanging on my door.

The cat steps on me and complains it’s four in the afternoon.

He’s still waiting for breakfast.

Bottomless vessels no matter how much we poured