Narcissistic personality disorder

I dislike “self diagnosing” patients who come to me and tell me they have “bipolar” because they are a bit moody, or lupus because they have a spot on their face.

And I try hard not to diagnose myself – I have a wonderful GP and I trust her 100% tomake sensible decisions about my health. She is secure enough not to be challenged by the fact I am a colleague, humble enough to come to joint decisions when required and mature enough to be firm ! 

BUT. I’m now going to do exactly what I hate others doing and do a bit of armchair Psychiatry with respect to my ex P

Narcissistic personality disorder: wiki definitions in italic, my observations in plain type

According to the DSM-5, individuals with NPD have most or all of the following symptoms, typically without commensurate qualities or accomplishments: 

1. Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from others. Yes yes yes. He expects others to treat him with the utmost respect and deference, yet shows little to others. He really believes he’s had a successful career when he has sold two works in the last 6 years, and has earned no money

2. Fixated on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc. He has  a whole load of completely unrealistic expectations as to how he can take small comments forward, believes he will be a global success without putting in any of the spade work

3. Self-perception of being unique, superior and associated with high-status people and institutions. He was once and I don’t think he has got over the loss 

4. Needing constant admiration from others. Always always, especially me. Have to tell him how wonderful everything he has done is…

5. Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others. Enormous sense of entitlement to be supported financially whilst he does very little. Expected everyone – including me – else to do as he wishes. Shows no respect to my kids, but excpects them to respect him

6. Exploitative of others to achieve personal gain. Hmmm 6 years or not working not contributing and having everything paid for, absolutely no remorse or understanding as to how that could have been detrimental to me. Note debt in the 10,s of thousands … 

7. Unwilling to empathize with others’ feelings, wishes, or needs. They are so unimportant to him he won’t even discuss them

8. Intensely envious of others and the belief that others are equally envious of them not so sure about this one

9. Pompous  and arrogant demeanor, Oh yes, extremely 

So where does this get me? I sent this to my friend K ( without the annotations) and she saw immediately the traits within ExP. I also asked if it mattered what you call it ? She thinks it does, and I’m beginning to believe her – it helps me to know I’m not going mad, that this is him not me, that he will never change because these are fixed personality characteristics and he doesn’t not, cannot , see where he is wrong ? In which case I have to give up any faint hope that he will change, do anything different, understand what I’m saying and why I am upset. 

I have to let go, and understand that I can’t win. K also pointed out to me that I sound like I do not LIKE him much, and I realise I don’t – he has few of the personality traits I admire and many I positively dislike ; and that I don’t have much respect left for him. 

So maybe I’m going to go ahead , inside me and say that I believe my ExP has a narcissistic personality disorder. And that just maybe I’ve had a lucky escape. 

Magic

I’m writing this in Chinatown London between the two “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” performances that I am enjoying  with son #2 today. I’m sure most, if not all,  of you will have at least heard of Harry Potter. The play which opened recently in London is delivered in two separate performances (part 1 and part 2) which can be seen on the same day or separately. As sons 1&3 are away, I have taken the opportunity to do something special with #2 , and spent a huge part of yesterday afternoon sourcing tickets.(The show is completely sold out until the end of the run in May 2017)

So here we are. The show was fantastic, and we are grabbing a coffee ….

One of the themes of the show is about “what might have been”. I won’t say much about the show at all – the plot lines have been extremely closely guarded –  but it has made me think. Like many people recovering from addictions, I have a lot of regrets. Things I have done, said, not done, neglected. There are many regrets for missed opportunities and seriously stupid decisions made. Not all of these were decisions when I was drunk, but they were all decisions taken when my self esteem was Rock bottom – at least partly as a result of drinking.

In the show, the “what might have been” is invariably worse than what actually is. And that’s a way that I don’t often look at things. When I’m blaming and criticising myself for decisions I made, I always imagine that the alternative would have been better.. That if I were not a woman unable to control my alcohol intake … I would have made better decisions, that would today see me in a better place than I am …

Maybe that’s not the case. Of course we will never know, but perhaps if I had done other things, taken different paths, things would NOT be better, but as in the show, quite a lot worse ….

Maybe this is an allegory I am meant to draw- to remind myself that I am lucky – blessed – and that things are as they are for a reason

Onwards

I woke up this morning feeling rough. I had a pounding headache, a dry sticky mouth and Felt just like I used to when I was hungover. Seems very unfair when I only drank Becks blue last night. 

I wonder how I managed for so long waking up every single day with a hangover? Starting each morning feeling so ill – stuffing down paracetamol and Diet Coke first thing in the morning then , standing in the shower hoping that the steam and hot water will revive me. Cleaning my teeth with loads of toothpaste and swilling double quantities of mouthwash so that my breath doesn’t smell of ketones and stale wine. Always tired, always struggling to get up in time, always rushing to get the necessary done before rushing out the door to work. I would usually feel better by lunchtime – and by 4pm be looking forward to the ‘reward’ bottle of wine… And the cycle began again.

I literall could not conceive off how o would cope WITHOUT drinking every day. I felt it was necessary to me, why is that? What other activity that makes you feel so awful would we ever have to struggle to give up ? 

My partner stopped drinking for June. There was no angst, seemingly no struggle. When I asked him he said he felt better not drinking, clearer and more productive. But he had a drink last night, and that also seems to have been a non event. No worry about what might happen,  no anxiety snot triggering a fully fledged fall into a huge binge; just a couple of drinks at an exhibition. 

Along with ‘moderation’ I have to accept that this is something I just cannot do. The only safe level of alcohol consumption for me is none – yet I would have said he has a drink problem – certainly he finds it hard to stop at one or two. It made me wonder if I am creating a problem for myself. That if I just chilled out about alcohol there would not be a problem. 

I know that way madness lies- I’ve proven it to myself too many times- and if my “problem” is that I take it all too seriously- then that is still a problem … I had to think for several minutes about how many days I have under my belt today – it’s 113 – but that I think is progress, and I’m not inclined to risk my relative peace of mind for another experiment which I know in my heart is doomed to failure …

Sigh

Community

It’s 4 am in the morning , and I am NOT asleep. This is completely bonkers and very annoying . Periodically I suffer from insomnia – but this has not happened since I got sober 110 days ago. I’m Pretty annoyed that I’m Lying here wide awake for NO reason . 

In an attempt to soothe myself to sleep I listened to a bubble hour podcast about community and the importance of ‘connection‘ in maintaining sobriety. The podcast failed to send me off to sleep, but it did get me thinking. 

Last night I realised how much I have valued the comments and support I have received on this blog. I mean really REALISED,how  important the input of other recovering people has been. Everyone’s comments , from those  earlier in recovery than me , those faltering and the members of the wonderfully long term, established  sober community, have something to offer me. And more than that, by their posts they cast light over parts of my life that were in shadow, and by allowing me to contribute to their lives they boost my fragile self esteem. 

We use the JoHari window in professional Development, to illustrate the ‘unknown unknown’ areas of learning need, ie those things you don’t know that you don’t know. Unsurprisingly these learning needs are the hardest to uncover and we often use feedback from others to help uncover these needs. 

I see a parallel in my life, my sobriety and my blog. I wrote about what I feel, what moves me and how my decision to stop drinking is impacting on me. That’s all ‘known’ to me. (the known known) There are lots of things that I am aware I don’t know – like how to manage my relationship with my mother (this is a known Unknown – I am aware I don’t know what to do about it) ; there are things that others know about me from my posts – that they can see are unhelpful but about which I was previously either not aware or only dimly so. Lastly there are the nuggets I pick up from others posts that strike a completely unexpected chord with me, that open up a thought process that I had never considered before. These are JoHari’s unknown unknowns and their discovery is a gift.

I get all of this from Interaction anonymously on line. This is my ‘community’ that supports my sobriety. The podcast I listened to talked about the pivotal Moment where one of the presenters discussed sobriety with a REAL LIFE PERSON. She described how this interaction literally changed her future and provided the stepping stone to a full and positive life of interaction with others.

I get that, I really do. But I just don’t feel ready to ‘share’ my sobriety. I have reflected on this and will Return to the theme of isolation in another post. I guess for now it’s enough to say I’m Not ready.

The theme of community and community support and the tension between the intensely personal nature of addiction and sobriety against the isolation caused by shame, and the positive impact of loving support is one I will be returning to. 

And now it’s 4.30 am, I have had one hours sleep so far and I need to get up in 2 hours… Time for some valerian and another attempt at sleep.

Lily🌷

 

The dog

Today I have been thinking about things- introspective again.
Sober mummy commented a few days ago that there are three distinct ‘phases’ to getting sober.

The first, that probably lasts for a 100 days or so is the sheer ‘getting through’ it part. When a huge amount of your focus is on just not drinking, managing social occasions without alcohol and just gritting your teeth and riding e roller coaster of emotions and physical / psychological symptoms.

The second, which is where I definitely am now, is a phase of introspection and self analysis. How did I get here? Am I an alcoholic? why am I like this etc etc. In many ways, where I am now is a great deal easier. I definitely think about drinking much less – sometimes a whole hour will go by without the thoughts of “I’m not drinking” , “it’s day X ” etc initially I reckon I thought about alcohol about every 10 seconds.

In my introspection I have been walking our dog quite a bit. I have posted a photo of Lola at the top of this post as she is so important to me and my recovery. Lola is a 2 year old border collie bitch. We have had her from a puppy and she is just the best dog ever. She adores everyone in the house, and no matter what disagreements we humans have, Lola shows no favouritism. She is always delighted to see everyone , even if you have been away for 5 minutes. She us loving, loyal and cuddly and she never tells any secrets.

Watching Lola run this morning I was reminded of childhood, it’s simplicity. All she needs is food, company and exercise – and she is completely and perfectly content. No substances, no artificial highs, she lives in the moment and enjoys everything for what it is.

Today I went on a school trip with number 3 son and his classmates. Their 11 year old enthusiasm, and infectious, irrepressible curiosity about the world around them was really cheering to my rather jaded mind. They too live a simple life.  Listening to their chatter and ideas it seemed sad to me that in the next few years they will become anxious and stressed about the future and that as their world expands from the safety of primary school and home, they will absorb the tribulations and first world concerns that affect adults.

We should all take a tip from Lola’s book of life, and live in the moment, content with what we have.

Halves …

You know that saying “she never does anything by halves” ?

That’s me.

All my life I have been driven and competitive with myself. As a child I liked to win games, not because I wanted t beat others, but because I wanted to do the very best possible. I would run to take messages at school, because it was faster than if i walked; as an adult if I’m running each 5k time has to be better than the last 5 k time… More negatively, when I buy stuff, I never buy the perfectly adequate  middle of the road version – it’s ALWAYS the top of the range model …

This coming week I’ve taken a few days annual leave. Already my time is filled with those things I never get the time to do when I’m working, see the dentist, optician, take the dog to the pooch parlour, doctors appointment, blood test, take dog to the vet, hair cut and colour, school day out with number 3  … And in addition I have decided that it is ESSENTIAL that I spring clean the entire house …(why WHY??? )

Now we don’t live in a mansion, the house is about 200 sq m (that’s 2000 sq feet), but there are 5 people and one collie dog living here as well as assorted friends colleagues and sundry folk through the house …and we have a cleaner, who is great but she just keeps on top of stuff day to day … So, after my mammoth bedroom clean yesterday, today I tackled the utility room.

I took virtually everything out, washed the floor, shelves, woodwork and cupboards. I threw away loads of stuff that we don’t actually need (shhhh don’t tell anyone !)  Then I re populated the shelves / cupboards with stuff we do need, in an ordered and logical way. Then my competitive edge came to the fore again and I decided we need a steam cleaner to lift the dirt-of -ages from the floor – once again , no second rate, middle of the road steam cleaner for me; no I bought the most expensive one in the shop,(maybe this is why I have ongoing financial problems) 

Now you might ask why I feel that I have to clean on top of all the general maintenance things I need to do. With a few precious days off I could rest, read a few books, walk the dog in a leasuirely way, get out my art box and start a new painting (or finish the three that are “almost there”)   Do some baking / cooking to a) eat good food and b) fill up the freezer. It not that I’m short of ways to fill my time ….

It’s not like I don’t believe I deserve a rest. I work FT running a practice with my two partners. I’m a Busy busy GP; I have 3 kids, I have a home to keep, a struggling relationship and friends who need my support … Maybe I feel that the mental stress if I don’t sort the house out, will be worse that the effects of doing it … Alternatively, tomorrow morning I get in the car and disappear somewhere for a few days on my own …. No, I recognise that I do a lot, and that most people would struggle to do what I do and it’s reasonable for me to have “time out” ( at least logical I know this)

But I literally cannot ignore this now, the pull to complete the house cleaning will not let me be … Of course this leaves me vulnerable to the T (ired) part of HALT ; but also the A (ngry) because I feel like no one else In The house is pulling their weight in keeping the place tidy. This leaves me feeling L (only)  … Sigh. 

It’s served me well countless times, this internal drive to succeed; right now I wonder what it would be like to be a middle-of-the-road, good enough, sensible person….

Lily 🌷

Here we go again

Today has been a very productive day. I like days like this, when I’m motivated, have clear things I want / need to achieve, and do them without procrastination. It feels good. So today I was up quite early, went to Pilates, packed the kids off to their dads and CLEANED the bedroom. I don’t do this as often as I should, so today was a very thorough, washing the paintwork, polishing the wooden floor type, clean. I washed everything, hoovered, dusted and threw away loads of rubbish. Very satisfying.

Then the trouble started. Early evening I decided to take the dog for a walk. The kids are all out, things are strained between my partner and I so I head for the park with the dog. It’s a beautiful evening and as I’m walking I start musing about drinking. Generally I allow myself space to do this as its too tiring pushing all the alcohol thoughts away. Generally my thoughts are about how pleased I am that I’m sober, and generally my thoughts are supportive of my decision not to drink. But not today , no, today I find myself missing drinking 

I’m thinking that it would be easier to talk to my partner after a few drinks, that we might manage to communicate better after a bottle glass of wine … Really ?.. And then, almost before I know where my brain is leading I’m thinking that “I’ve done 106 days, I could maybe drink for a week and then give up again ”  and I’m SERIOUSLY thinking that this is a good idea. I’m planning to go home via the supermarket ….. 

Don’t worry. I didn’t.

But it was quite an effort. Possibly the biggest effort I have had to make since the first couple if weeks. And it came from nowhere.  What saved me was the memory that this is exactly what happened last time I was sober – just one day having a drink,  and it took me  21 months to get sober again… 

I was walking the dog FFS. Not at a party, at dinner, not with others who were drinking . Just walking in the park. 

So I’m working through the checklist …. Initially I though none of the HALT emotions could be the cause of this Left field craving for alcohol …

BUT…

I guess I am tired after cleaning – but a ‘good’ tired (physically tired, not emotionally exhausted ) ; although come to think of it ….. It hasn’t been the easiest week…. : not hungry; Angry … Hmmmm well yes, still pretty angry with my partner , and no way to let that out right  now. Lonely : well, yes I guess I do feel quite lonely .

OK, OK ,ok it’s perhaps not so unexpected  … I probably need to be a bit more self aware 

So… Early night, Becks blue, nice shower, movie in bed … Night all 

Lily 🌷

The grip of alcoholism

This morning I have spent two hours in a child protection conference. One of the parents is deeply addicted to alcohol. This was one of the most painful conferences I have ever attended. Both parents are deeply in denial about the risks posed to the children as a result of alcohol; one is permenantly drunk and the other so co-dependent they are not able to take any steps to do what need to be done to protect the children.

The alcoholic parent is an educated, attractive, articulate empathic person. Everything bad that is happening to them, involvement of social services, removal of their parental responsibility, separation form their children, admission under section to a psychiatric ward, arrest, police caution, frequent admissions to hospital with vomiting blood, liver failure, and shortly death, is entirely and completed attributable to drinking alcohol. And they will NOT seek help. Will NOT engage. Will not consider residential detox. Wail and rail and moan about what is happening to them, but will not, cannot, accept responsibility to change themselves. My comment at the end “I know you love your children, but sadly at the moment you love drinking more” was brutal, but accurate. 

I’m a bit fragile myself at the moment, and this is horribly close to the bone. 

I have been in my profession long enough to know that I can advise, support, offer guidance – but until people are willing to listen it’s all to no avail, but this is one of the hardest things I have ever had to watch.

Thank god, or thank a higher power, or thank luck that I am not in that persons position. That I retained insight sufficient to call a halt before any of these awful consequences came to me.

And what of the codependent one ? Actually I’ve been there too. My ex husband was / is a drug addict and alcoholic. I turned a blind eye to his drug taking for far too long – deflected from actually dealing with it by fear, denial, cowardice and optimism. Only when his aggression, paranoia and hostility spilled over into actual violence, physical and emotional did I act. And I always had the financial and practical wherewithal to deal with the fall out. 

All the while I drank, to escape from the brutal reality that I couldn’t change him, couldn’t make him want to change, and that the responsibility for acting came down to me. The consequences, for myself and my children were my responsibility. As a drinker I was never an aggressive drunk; more a sloppy, sleepy, oversharing , over emotional, impetuous drunk. I don’t doubt that I have done harm,but it was easy to minimise when compared with the other adult who lived with us. 

And now I love with a man who does not work, is super critical of my children to the point  that last night we all sat in our separate spaces with no communication at all. Because the kids don’t want to be shouted at. He won’t change. I need to “grow a pair” and change what I’m not happy with. 

The dangers of codependency have been displayed to me this morning. I know what is happening inside my own life – only I can change it. I’ve taken the first step by getting sober. Now I need to be strong for my kids. 

Lily🌷

100 days

Today is the 100th consecutive day I have not drunk alcohol.

I’ve been looking forward to being able to write that. 100 days. It feels like a long time, and conversely no time at all. 

I stopped drinking on the day I did, following a fall at home, of which I have no memory at all. In fact I don’t really remember much about coming home that night. My partner tells me I was stumbling around, and that I fell, narrowly missing my head on a sharp object. It was that one ‘last straw’ blackout that made me decide ‘enough’, but in reality it could have been any one of a number of pretty shocking, embarrassing and sometimes dangerous things I did in the last 18 months. I have the list. I wrote it shortly after I decided (again) that absolute sobriety was the only answer. At present I haven’t felt the need to revisit that list – its pretty much burned into my brain – and as such I’m still very clear that I can’t drink at ALL. 

I started this blog, because whilst I knew I could live without drinking, I wanted to WANT to live without drinking. To me that’s the only way to stay long term sober. It’s no good denying yourself something you want indefinitely – we all know diets don’t work for exactly that reason. No, being AF has to be a positive choice, made with conviction and commitment to see out the rough and the smooth – not a self denying exercise in will power. 

So where am I , 100 days in? The positives are undeniable – I sleep well, my skin is better, I look better and take better care of myself. I am more flexible and have better balance thanks to the yoga and Pilates I have attended and practiced. My children at least the youngest feels happier. I have lost the shame and fear about what I might have done the night before , I can put the recycling  out without shame. Bigger anxieties have abated; what’s happening to my liver? Exactly how much alcohol IS in my system this morning ? Am I ok to drive ?. Do I smell of stale wine ? The absence of these worries is a tangible and measurable benefit that I am thankful for…

BUT – and maybe don’t read this bit if you are newly stopped and hoping for a woman still on the pink cloud … My emotions are all over the place (they probably always were, it’s just that I was too drink to notice) I feel sad and flat quite a lot of the time. I’m also bored, and unmotivated which makes the self critical part of me berate myself a lot. I am unsocial, and often agitated and (inwardly) irritable when in company. I feel self conscious, inadequate and socially inept, in a way tha I don’t recall when a couple of glasses of wine were swiftly downed at every social occasion. My relationship with my partner is thrown into stark relief . The good , and the really not so good. I feel I can’t trust what I think or feel at the moment. 

I’m not about to renege on my commitment to sobriety; I know that I can’t. I just hope it gets better than this. 
Lily 🌷

Therapy?

Yesterday I wrote that I was planning to start therapy. My reasoning being a) no one can be as interested in sorting me out as I am, and I need some help ? (B) there is just so much ‘stuff’ in my head right now that I feel I need some help to unravel it (c) vaguely I’m hoping it might improve My self esteem by helping me be less self critical. 

One or two warning type posts have suggested to me that this might not be the best time to start therapy / ‘self analysis’ as its early days in my new sober life. I’m guessing this is along the same lines of don’t make any major decisions in the first year of sobriety …

Does anyone else have any thoughts ? Experiences ? Good or bad ?. I do feel quite ‘raw’ and ‘suggestable’ at the moment … 

OTOH I have avoided dealing with a heap of stuff for a very long time, by drinking to forget. I think I am afraid that with no drink,  a well of self criticism / hostility and sabotage will somehow overwhelm me …. 

Hmmmmm 
Lily 🌷