Category Archives: Addiction

You don’t know where you are until it passes you by

tree of life, sketch, drawing, ink drawing, sketchbook, journal, art by jessica doyle

And you don’t know where you’ll end up until you take that leap of faith.

Last July life got a whole lot busier for me. I began working more at the City Market producing and selling art at the stall and Chris became a full-time parent overnight. Our lives changed instantly as Chris scrambled to find a way to look after his son while he was at work full-time. His son turned 12 shortly after and was then able to spend a few hours alone here and there so that helped.

It hit me hard. Chris went from sharing custody 50/50 with his ex to having his son full-time with no extra money, support or anything. It took a toll on our five month old relationship but it also opened it in another way and I got to see how wonderful this man really was. I also got to know his son better and saw how great of a kid he was.

While dating and single from 2007 to 2012, before Chris and I got together, I swore up and down not to date a man with children because of the experiences I had with them. These men were completely absent in their children’s lives or kept me a secret from their kids and/or their ex or were dating multiple women and lying about it. These things didn’t bode well for me as I wanted to someday have a child of my own and very much wanted an involved father in that child’s life.

So I began dating men without kids and usually these men were kids themselves who were more interested in their boats, bikes and pensions than in finding common ground to walk on together. I managed quite well to attract men who wanted no commitment.

I then quit smoking and quit drinking shortly after and began to see “I” was the reason for not attracting a quality man into my life. Well… half the reason… at least.

I’ve known Chris a long time… since I was 19… so 20 years… long… time. We grew up in the same neighborhood. He went out with a good friend of mine as a teenager. He was also a mutual friend of my ex-husband and I. I can remember sitting on the couch talking with Chris while my ex was engrossed in video games. I was never just Jessica. I was Andy’s girlfriend then wife… then ex. This all seems so long ago. A lifetime ago.

We all attended college together and Chris hung out with my ex at our apartment. We partied together but mostly I stayed home as I was sick a lot during college with Chron’s disease and physically could not handle the late nights and party’s. We all studied Graphic Design, surface design and illustration.

After Fredericton we both went our separate ways. Chris spent some time in Toronto and then had his son here in Saint John. He married and raised his two step-children and his own child. All the while I divorced and partied my ass off for five years in Saint John, Fredericton and Vancouver, perhaps making up for losing most of my twenties to severe illness and for marrying a man who didn’t share the same values and morals as I did. And there is no fault in that, it’s just the way the cards played out.

And now, 20 years later Chris and I find ourselves expecting a baby, dealing with extensive child custody and divorce issues, managing two homes, three cats and simply doing our best to keep healthy organic food on the table, the bills paid up-to-date and all the while we both are doing it sober.

Our life may seem mundane to some but it’s our life and the one we are choosing to live. Chris partied lots during his teens and early twenties while I got the partying out of my system in my late twenties and early thirties. And while I miss the parties on occasion, it’s a rather nostalgic feeling of been there done that, had fun and moving on now to the next stage of my life kind of feeling.

And I’m so grateful and lucky to have this man to share this stage of life with.

I love you Chris.

To drink or not to drink and how this relates to crohn’s disease

heart broken drawing by artist jessica doyle inside a fabriano quadrato artist journal

After a couple of weeks of reading too many self help sites and reminicing over what doctors, councillors, and other medical professionals and what family and friends have said or not said or suggested I find myself thinking back to when I was healing after a second surgery for Chron’s Desease which saw 11 inches of ileum removed, the right fallopian tube and ovary scraped of inflammation and one ureter put back into place. I weighed 95lbs at the time of surgery.

The doctors told me I would be sick for the rest of my life. That I would relpase within five years and most likely have another major surgery within eight years. That I’d be medicated on 5-ASA, Pentasa, antibiotics and/or steroids indefinitely that (in 1998) were costing me $300 to $400 per month. I really considered going on welfare so the meds were covered by the government.

With the support of a few close family members and friends I bucked the treatment after six or seven months and began seeking an alternative to the naysaying specialists who, yes, did save my life by removing the rotting intestine and gangrenous apendix but who, by no means offered any words of encouragement or even considered that there was an alternative to taking medications that were causing more side effects than doing good.

I’m happy to say I’ve been in remission of crohn’s since September 1997. That is 15 years. I learned that drinking a bottle of Bio-K and taking pro-biotics on a daily basis for one month straight was enough to ween myself off of the drugs after having followed a strict diet set out by a nutritionist. She first instilled positive knowledge by saying “try it out” and “introduce one food at a time and pay close attention to your body in how it reacts and adjust what you eat or don’t eat as needed”.

I learned that fast and processed food were what may have triggered the crohn’s disease to begin with. I learned that I can eat popcorn, raw vegetables, potatoes, drink milk, eat whole grain products and savour crunchy nuts and fresh fruit with seeds. And to this day eating excess white flour, white sugar, soy and processed or fast foods set me off and cause me to either vomit or have diarrhea which are hallmark symptoms of crohn’s! How odd. I still ingest Bio-K during a potential flare-up and take Natural Factors Acidophlis and Bifidus capsules everyday.

But, the biggest change of all happened on the inside after the surgery. I mentally shifted the hopelessness into repetitive reafirming positive thoughts followed by action.

It meant leaving a husband and his family behind, dissolving a legal business partnership and losing all the graphic design and illustration clientele after my hard drive was mysteriously wiped and moving back to my hometown in 2001. I never looked back.

I’m a fighter and will by no means let the disease of addiction ruin me. It may cause spiritual, emotional or physical pain for short periods of time during my lifetime, just as crohn’s does, but it also makes me sensitive, empathetic and courageous when faced with both adversity and this feeling of emptiness that comes along when you have nothing else to lose but yourself.

brain void drawing by artist jessica doyle inside a fabriano quadrato artist journal

In Saint John they don’t look at the fact that I was a social user of alcohol for five years after cleaning up from addiction in 2006 followed by one year of problem drinking that lead to detox this January. Whether I return to drinking or not is something I will decide on my own with the help of those who are closest to me. I guess if I can control and moderate eating only one peice of cake or one piece of white bread every now and then why can’t I moderate what I drink? The clean up process of addiction feels eerily similar to cleaning up from Crhon’s. You simply learn what works and what doesn’t and adjust accordingly or experience a relapse and need hospitalization.

I am a firm believer that this abstinence from alcohol is allowing me to think more clearly on whether I even want to test the waters or not, just as abstaining from certain foods gave my body, mind and soul time to recover from crohn’s to make healthy decisions on how to proceed.

Rest assured that if I began eating fast and processed foods on a daily basis that I’d likely need another bowel resection and that if I return to what I drank before I would need to detox again.

Tomorrow, on May 25th I’ll be four months sober.

The two drawings in this post were drawn shortly after being released from the hospital. they were drawn with coloured pencil and india ink.

Gulp – simple fish sketch

simple fish drawing by artist jessica doyle

You gotta swallow hard when what’s around you is changing more rapidly than you are able to handle. This is the point when you realize you can not go back, but are terrified to more forward, and more than that, numb to the present. For me this point hit on Day 4 while detoxing in late January.

You can’t breath and you can’t exhale.

1. Sobriety and Addiction
2. Yin and Yang
3. Alpha and Omega

I forced myself to draw while in detox for fear that if I didn’t I would not know how to afterwards.

Detox – Day 1

fabriano quadrato artist journal sketch by jessica doyle - day one detox

Sometime in January I knew things were not right and that a climax was on it’s way.

I phoned the local drug and alcohol detox facility on January 22nd, 2012 and self admitted myself three days later for seven days. For an entire week, I went through the rather uncomfortable detoxification process, and survived.

I’ve been sober off over-the-counter medications and alcohol ever since.

I didn’t think a relapse would happen this way. I mean… this coming August I’ll be seven years clean off hard drugs and five months cigarette free later this month… and now on the 25th I’ll be 90 days clean and sober off of everything.

And that feels foreign and most naked to me.

The Artist’s Drug of Choice

What’s your poison? Chocolate? Video-games? LSD?

Self-consciousness?

Artists have become notorious for substance use, addiction, and a good measure of crazy, which is probably intertwined with our ability and our need to make art. Not that all of us are crazy (yeah, right) and not that we’re all addicted to chemical head changes.

Or… are we?

As artists, our way of processing things, everything, is a bit different than people who don’t have the inclination to make art. We feel everything strongly, we see color differently, we look past reality into a world that doesn’t exist without our imagination. That in itself is a bit trippy, and we wouldn’t have the wherewithal to make grand, fantastical statements out of paint, thread, or music without a tendency to latch onto the emotional vibration of life. It’s not that everyone doesn’t do this to a degree, but artists take emotion to a whole new level. We breathe emotion into life. Often in beautiful, awe-inspiring ways. There’s an ebb and flow to be sure, with much of our time spent in frenzied creativity, overflowing with inspiration and ideas, high on nothing more than our need to create.

But there’s a flip side. Sometimes, if not properly nurtured, our emotional processing skills get broken. Sometimes everything gets black and dull and scary. Continue reading

At this time of year anything is possible

Three Wise Men, Christmas Owls, Hoot Hoot, turquoise, red, cute art, wall decor, jessicadoyle

And at this time of year anything can happen.

Over the last month or so I haven’t wanted to talk about me or what is going on in my life online save for the occasional tweet or Facebook update. I’ve been doing my best to pay attention and more than that just to be present with what is happening around me and within the circles of people that I spend time with in real life.

It was a needed break from online activity and this change of pace gave me a chance to attend and sell my art at five live art shows and sales during the months of November and December. These shows were amazing and I got to speak to many people and fans and it made me feel very humbled to be able to create for a living but more than that break out of a stagnant routine that was ultimately killing me.

I quit smoking five weeks ago. Passing that one month mark last weekend was almost more than I could stand. The moment was surreal as I was prepping for my fifth and final art show of 2011 in a neighboring city, planning a first date with a man (whom I’ve since been on two more dates with BTW) and fighting mental exhaustion from producing enough stock to bring to the shows to sell.

And shit has happened over the last five weeks and people have been mean and things have occurred that would have easily made me smoke in the past but for some damn reason I don’t care about any of you who want to see me fail or anything that wants to undermine my health or safety. I don’t wish any of you ill or harm or anything bad I just need the space from the negativity and harsh judgements that you seem to have.

I began the year 2011 talking about not being afraid and I must say this year caused me more angst and fear than any other in recent memory. But what a beautiful year it has been and what a wonderful time it is to be alive and to be not afraid.

I am fortunate to have not have lost my house this year.
I am fortunate to have regained my health.
I am fortunate to have conquered the last addiction that I had.
I am smart enough to know the difference between a good a guy and a bad guy.
And I am so lucky to have family and friends who love me.

I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season. I’ll be transitioning into blogging and working online more over the coming weeks. I miss talking with you all.

Merry Christmas from Missy two the cat, Little Orange the cat and myself!

xo

The Three Wise Men are available matted in the shop!

Eleven Days After Qutting Smoking and how I tricked my brain to stay smoke free

Artist Jessica Doyle goes crazy while quitting smoking

Somewhere in between determination, heart palpitations, lethargy and giddiness I stopped smoking cigarettes eleven days ago. Oddly enough I feel more level headed than I’ve felt in a long time, albeit a sleepy time.

I slept 16 hours per day during the first three days of the quit and sporadically puffed on a Nicorette Inhaler and on a nicotine-free electronic cigarette. I also thought about bookmarking a national directory of treatment centers on my browser in case I needed further help quitting.

The constant dizziness from quitting didn’t subside until day four and it’s still lingering today. And I can’t beleive the manufacturers of the Nicorette inhaler want you to use 12 cartridges per day! I’ve been using one per day since my quit and puffing on an electronic cigarette five to six times per day. And now, eleven days in, I’m weaning off both the Nicorette and the e-cig.

I’m not really sure what prompted me to stop smoking on November 19th, and can’t really say why I feel good or how come I haven’t gone crazy or regressed back into smoking again. I guess when the time is right you just do it and say frack off to everyone and everything else that gets in your way of completing the task at hand.

There are numerous reasons this quit is sticking…

Continue reading