Surviving but not living?

By Calliope · Mar 20, 2016 · ·
  1. Calliope
    Humans have basic needs. Physical sustenance: Nutrition, water, air, sleep, exercise. Identity and place: Meaningful work, community, family, respect. Connection: Physical affection, sex, love. And hope for the future. Is it possible to live without these? Clearly some are nonnegotiable requirements for life. But what happens when someone goes without one or more of the somewhat more optional things for an extended period? Is that living or just surviving?

    Drug abuse and addiction often disrupt many of the basics. We don’t eat, hydrate, sleep or exercise adequately. But even if these are carefully managed and kept up, often work and family are corroded, if they weren’t before already, and ditto for our need for connection through affection sex and love. As to hope for the future, there is nothing that eliminates it quite like feeling trapped in a cycle of drug use that you know is fucking up all (or even just some) of the above. That isn’t living. At best it is surviving.

    Lately I find myself confused about whether my problems related to these things--which are mainly in the last set of things, connecting--are the cause or consequence of my drug (ab)use. And I also wonder, or worry, or, well, honestly, obsess that the answer really doesn’t matter at this point because after so many years it is just too late. So, even though I am largely free of the feelings of entrapment due to addiction now, I don’t feel much hope for the future. I have what I need to stay alive. I can get and stay physically healthy, do respected work, and have a solid place in my communities such as they are, I think. Yet this doesn’t feel like living. It still hardly feels like surviving.

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  1. detoxin momma
    i like this blog, alot to ponder.
    i almost wrote one nearly identical, but i was going to call it," happy vs content"
    whats the difference??
  2. aemetha
    This is exactly how a person feels after a long term high dose anti-psychotic regime. Hollow inside. Doctor's try to fix bi-polar by levelling things out, but what they don't understand is that you have to be a bit sad sometimes and you have to be a bit happy. Not manic or depressed, but there has to be some. Ask many bi-polar sufferers why they go off their meds, and the answer is always "to feel something again". I imagine it's much the same for addiction and recovery.

    Content is absolutely not enough for anyone in life in my opinion. We're supposed to have more, sometimes its good and sometimes its bad, but we need it nonetheless.

    Good blog Calli.
  3. prescriptionperil
    Calli, I know life has dealt you a living horror. Just want to extend my support, to let you know you can vent
    in a DM to me anytime. You re an intelligent asset to this community, for which I am grateful.


  4. summertime1960
    I feel as if I am just surviving.

    I don't have a lot of happy days. I have lost my career due to a sour background check, that is irreversable.

    I'm on bipolar meds and they make me lazy. I try hard to do something and for about a week each month I do have things that must be done, like laundry, groceries, pharamacy, etc.

    But I also wonder since I've had bipolar since a teen , and I am now 55, if it was the bipolar that made me drug or the drug that made me bipolar.

    Recalling my wild days as a teenager, I revert back to the issue being all about bipolar. I grew up in Miami in the 70's , so the dope was everywhere, and we took advantage of it. It was easy to set up your own shop, with high school friends as clients, to fund your habit.
    The stuff was everyone, and it was not today's war on drugs. The DEA was newly formed and out numbered.

    But for today, I am not a happy person. I over analyze my situation, and then I get depressed. When the depression is more than I can stand, I go out and score H. That is one of my happy days.
    I only do that a few times of month, due to my budget.

    But I can spend hours, sometimes days, re examining all the mistakes I've made and continue to make, I ask myself when am I going to get a grip on this and stop this madness.
    Or my switch goes off, and I say, well I will have bipolar for the rest of my life, so what harm is it to go score a few times a month and try and have a few happy days?

    I don't like myself for this, and I hate myself for being so unproductive. I can't talk to anyone about it, obviously, they would freak out if they knew the H thing. But the bipolar meds don't take me to a happy place, and they never did, they just keep me at an even keel. It sucks.
  5. Calliope
    Thanks for the comments detoxin momma, aemetha, prescription peril and summertime1960. :vibes:

    Happy vs. Content: I think to me 'happy' picks out not a hedonic state of pleasure but a way of being in the world that indeed involves positive feelings like joy and pleasure but is more about having a life that includes intrinsically valued things like friendship, respect, autonomy and more; it is about feeling one has a meaningful place in a life with value. 'Content' to me is similar but much more just a positive (but not extreme or even joyful) feeling about some aspect or part of your life or experiences.

    I guess then that the contrast between living and surviving is related - really living appears to invoke some connectedness to activities, people, a community, meaningful work and so on. Things that I think are necessary ingredients for happiness. On the other hand merely surviving has connotations of just getting by with the essentials needed to not die and not having those intrinsically valuable things necessary for happiness.

    Not sure if that illuminates anything for you detoxin momma, but it is what i found myself thinking when I considered your question.

    Aemetha, as you know I have little experience with anti-psychotic drugs beyond several short-lived and failed attempts by my shrink to use them to treat my depression and insomnia. But what you say rings very true of what I've heard from those prescribed such meds (esp the first generation ones like thorazine). It is one of the largest contributing factors in noncompliance with meds of this kind.

    PP thanks for your supportive message. I'm actually on the mend more than I feared I would be. My eyes are much improved and the meds seem to be working quite well. So for that I am very grateful.

    summertime1960 I am really sorry you are going through all this. And I for one certainly don't begrudge you using heroin now and again to give yourself some relief from the flat nothingness that your bipolar meds seem to cause. Have you talked to your doc about trying a different medication, one that might not just keep you on an even keel but allow for some more range of feeling and motivation? I have no expertise on this but there are many good people on DF that do.

    Also, try to keep in mind that you deserve a break, to forgive yourself for past mistakes. If you are able to you might find a big difference could come from neither obsessively focusing on past mistakes nor letting that negative voice we all carry bully you into disliking yourself for seeking relief in drug use. I don't mean to endorse drug use as a simple and totally fine way to give ourselves a holiday from crippling depression or bipolar or the way medications make us feel. But if it helps to do so now and again I strongly believe no one should be judged for taking them. :vibes:

    And, finally, just my personal opinion but being 'productive' is an overrated quality. Much of what is considered productive I would call counterproductive, a trap. Indeed a trap set to catch us and make up more pliable employees, more acquisitive creatures. But those things are not the measure of us. I know all too well the isolation of having noone to talk to about these struggles because there is so much fear and shame and judgment piled on to things like heroin use. I hope you at least find here on DF a place and people where you can say how you are feeling. I know I do. Without DF I dont know where I would be but there is a good chance it would be six feet under.
  6. Delia
    'Sometimes maybe you need an experience. The experience can be a person or it can be a drug. The experience opens a door that was there all the time but you never saw it. Or maybe it blasts you into outer space.' - Melvin Burgess, Smack

    See nothing as a mistake Calli, view it as a learning curb no matter how terrifying or hard. I don't think the issue lies with drugs (ab)use, l feel that it lies within ourselves. A gnawing desire to feel or not to feel, the escape, the ultimately release from the mind even if for a short period of time.

    I think your feelings are ones we all have, that stage when we reflect on our decisions and thoughts on our life in which we internalize the experiences.

    You're an amazing individual, the insight and depth you have on the world around you is incredible.
  7. summertime1960
    Nice words, from Calli, Thanks.
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