Category Archives: sobriety

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.

Spring Cleaning Original Art Sale

Please note that this sale has ended.

It’s a lonely road we all must walk after coming clean with ourselves then our family and friends. And truly no one else really understands because they are each walking their own paths too.

And the plan is to ignore the banter and move forwards and not be so hard on myself. I can’t count how many people have said that to me lately… people who know me well and people who know me not so well. I must be wearing my emotions on my sleeve.

Where exactly is one to put their emotions? And yes, the sleeve is a metaphor. I always try to use a kleenex when necessary but will resort to using my sleeve when I’m running away from the zombies! Haha!

Look, I started a sale in the shop. All originals are 50% off. I really need to clear these wonderful original artworks out of the studio and make room for new creations both physically and emotionally. The prices are already marked down.

Happy Springtime Everyone!

Chasing the dragon for the last five years

Chasing the Dragon Illustration by artist Jessica Doyle yellow, blue, green

Today marks five years sobriety for me off of GHB.

I drew this dragon five months ago. I added the watercolour five days ago and the image just screamed chasing the dragon once the colours began popping it to life. It still needs more work mind you… Subconsciously, I still chase that illusive dragon when working, creating or even when alone thinking or researching. When what I’m working on, creating, thinking or researching climaxes, I certainly do, feel high and struggle to get to the end. I almost can’t contain myself at times and must run outside to smoke a cigarette and sadly, nicotine is the worst drug of all, as it doesn’t even make you high.

I silently research drugs, their uses and legalities. I consider it a hobby and when I feel the need to use a substance that most certainly will cause me angst, I read back in my journals about the gruesome detox and agony I suffered through for months when sobering up from GHB.

It’s not a pleasant experience to break out in painful large blisters and pimples all over your back, arms and legs and to lose feeling in your extremities and watch your fingers and toes go blue from slowed blood circulation as you reduce your dose of GHB slowly and by half each day for one week at home. It’s not human to recoil into an infantile state regressing to points in one life while awake or asleep when bad things happened only to have to vividly relive them again and again until you aged and moved onwards to the next abuse or trauma.

Process of chasing the dragon illustration by artist Jessica Doyle winsor and Newton watercolour blue green

And I certainly don’t miss the need to dose every half hour at times and the need to overdose just to sleep for two hours at a time or the constant fear of knowing that I would die from sudden withdrawal without GHB running through my system if my drug dealer ran out of it or I forgot my bottle at home after leaving the house for that day. I would return home for the bottle. Always. You hit a certain point with GHB addiction where there is no turning back to just recreational use. Missing a dose can send you into convulsions. Missing a dose can stop your heart from beating. Missing a dose can take your breath away forever. While taking too much can make you fall asleep and go into a coma.

I do miss the first five months of the addiction; the time when everything was wonderful, my brain worked properly and life seemed easier even if it was only a charade.

And most of all, I DO NOT REGRET taking GHB or becoming addicted to it as there were times when it, was perfect.

Over the years people have said to me why not take a Xanax or a Valium to calm down. Are you kidding me? Really, offering a sedative to someone who was addicted to them for two full years (albeit the illegal kind) is like offering a recovered heroin addict a T1 or an alcoholic a just a small shot of whiskey.

Studio of artist Jessica Doyle showing chasing the dragon illustration paint watercolour acrylic

So, chasing the dragon is akin to being amongst the living.

Chasing the dragon is a work in progress. Thus far the mediums used are Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pens and Winsor and Newton watercolour on Arches watercolour paper. It measures 8×10 inches (20,3cm by 25,4cm). And I do not ever smoke inside. My household is a strict non-smoking and scent free home.

The programs offered by addiction treatment centers are designed to help treat addiction to any kind of illicit drug.

Last night I went out and used copious amounts of illegal drugs

And today I am paying for it, needing to dose every half hour or so, so as to not go into remission and suffer through withdrawal.

It’s awful. I thought I’d be OK going to that party last night where I knew there would be GHB. Someone asked me if I wanted a shot and I said no then another person asked me again and I said no again. I should have just left that party. I should have just walked home. Then another person asked saying “Oh, Jessica, it’ll be OK” proceeding to explain that he was addicted to and now only takes it when he’s around other people. I caved, and said yes thinking it would be OK just this once.

And just like that…

…I’m completely addicted to GHB again.

I’d be a FOOL to even try that drug again with 1679 days sober off that stinking drug.

The end of innocence or why we grow potatoes

Many anniversaries precariously show their face to me during this time of year when summer begins to end and everything alive turns crunchy beneath your feet as it withers and dies.

What am I trying to say? August 26, 2009 passed just as any other day yet it did mark four years sobriety and it was nine years ago that day that I moved out and left my ex-husband. September 5, 2009 still looms in the near future and with it comes the painful memory of my appendix rotting and doctors telling me there was no sign of Crohn’s and that it was just a bad case of gangrenous appendicitis. Right! Three weeks later in 1997 I was having 11 inches of bowel removed and weighed a ghastly 98 pounds. Sorry, but you doctors at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Halifax should never have sent me home to Fredericton. I wasn’t even eating solid food eight days post-op after you silly doctors cut and stapled my abdomen crooked.

If I had remained a wife, September 5th, would’ve marked my eleventh wedding anniversary.

Today… today…
I, saw him again
Today
Today…

So what do you do when memories cloud your judgment? I turned inwards and let it ride and grew some purple skinned potatoes with my mom.

967 days later…

Memories accumulate over time interlacing overlapping each other causing fog to form at the base of one’s understanding. We see people in passing who at one time understood us; perhaps even loved us and whom we used to love to. They dwell between the nether regions of our souls; a place dark perhaps distraught from years of neglect and solitude.

When you see what it really is
that is what you’ll “get”
Got it?

I don’t know why I saw her tonight. I don’t know why she was there dancing. I couldn’t understand the memories that surged yet understood why and how they became.

We ingested copious amounts of drugs together. We partied days at a time. Not hours. Nor evenings. Days. 72 hours? 3 days turned into weeks for me. Months. Years. Passed.

It broke tonight. The craving for intoxication. Annihilation. Emptiness. I saw her and all that was is. All that will be was forgotten.

Nine hundred and sixty seven days later I remain sober of GHB.

Fuck, the last two weeks became stupendously hard for me and I don’t know why. It was all I could do but work, draw, write, sleep, not sleep, be, not be, freak silently while the cravings raced over me, through me and around me. How can this be? How!!! Talking to someone here in this freaking city is irrelevant. People here in this small town have no clue. NONE.

So, I will talk to you. You who will not judge, nor react. You who will accept. You the unknown, the present tense of life.

It melted away tonight. As quickly as it hit, two weeks later it melted, evaporated. It’s been a long long time since I’ve craved like this. Maybe the longest it has ever lasted since I quit. The whole of the month of April, 2008 has nearly strangled me with… the words just don’t exist to continue writing right now.

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