Pixie is a resident of Nahlaot in Jerusalem.
Body:To be cyclical bi-polar is hell. How else can I describe it? Statistics show that 40 percent of bipolars' commit suicide. I understand. I tried to kill myself, seriously, as a teen during my first bi-polar episode, and would often relieve myself from the unbearable pain by reciting, "I can end it, just hold on and if it doesn't pass, I can end it."
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The 12-Step scene
Boy, am I out of it. My co-sponsor finally got me out of bed after six calls at 1:30 pm. I planned on taking a much-needed shower, but by the time I got dressed and eat never skip that one, unfortunately it's 2:30 p.m. and I'm supposed to pick up my meds, work on an article and meet my co-sponsor for coffee at 3 p.m.
Why does this always happen to me? Ten years of recovery and basic functioning seems to elude me. My sponsors assure me I'm on the right track, though, explaining that recovery keeps me in the game of life. Still, it doesn't make me an easy winning.
I run to get my bipolar and anti-depressant meds just to be rudely told they are out. My body twitches from not having taken my anti-depressants for two days.
"Come on, I really need my drugs!" I beg the Russian pharmacist who pretends she's a native Israeli.
She clucks her tongue and with a shrug of her shoulder turns away, ignoring me, busying herself with nothing.
I hand the prescription to another Russian pharmacist who also behaves in communist fashion. Checking several times for the meds, looking them up on the computer he shakes his head authoritatively, then clucks his tongue with finality.
I'm still chasing mind-altering or rather, "mind- correcting" substances. Supposedly that's an improvement. Sometimes I wonder especially looking in the mirror at the "pudge" I've added to my appearance while taking the meds. I notice it on all my medicated friends, too. It's not just a weight gain, I've been in different branches of Overeaters Anonymous for over 10 years it's a bloated puffed-up look. Once one addiction is down for the count another one seems to bounce up. The life of an addict!
If you're living in Jerusalem or planning to visit, rest assured the 12-Step scene is active and present. You can find meetings in English, Hebrew and even Russian. What's unique about meetings in Israeli is that over Christmas the walls aren't decorated and no one is sharing about "the holiday."
Also around Pessah and Purim, both trigger times, everyone in the room is expressing the need for support. Come for the recovery experience in the Holy City what a strange trip it is!
Pixie's guide to recovery groups
AA, Alcoholics Anonymous: Just about everyone has heard of AA. The founding body of the 12- Steps, it has influenced millions and is the backbone of all 12-Step programs. How does one know if one has a problem with alcohol (and yes there are plenty of Jewish alkies)? You can click onto the Israel AA site at www.aa-israel.org. Listings include both English and Hebrew meetings. Also, if you are in doubt go to an open meeting and see if you can relate. Open meetings are listed on the website, as are people to contact.
Al-Anon: For people who have a close alcoholic in their life. This program deals with co-dependency issues. As one Al-Anon speaker said at an international convention, "We're sicker than the alcoholic!" I went to Al-Anon for years to learn to live with my alcoholic self! You can call the AA numbers to find meetings and contacts.
NA, Narcotics Anonymous: No you needn't be a heroin addict to attend, though heroin is a problem in Israel. Plenty of "upstanding citizens" have developed addictions to legal "prescription" drugs given by well meaning, manipulated, or uneducated doctors. Check out their website at www.na.org.il plus in Jerusalem give Dan a call at 0547 278 806 for local meetings.
SA, Sexaholics Anonymous: This is the only anonymous program in town that deals with sexual compulsions. There are several others out there, such as SAA and SLA that take a laxer approach to what constitutes sobriety. SA never lists meetings due to the sensitive nature, and potential newcomers are "interviewed" by two old timers to confirm that they are really seeking help and are not journalists or merely curious. People go to SA for a variety of reasons: compulsive masturbation, disturbing sexual fantasies, obsessive use of internet and other pornography, use of prostitution and having problems with being intimate in spousal relationships. Look up their website www.sa.org.il for more information and an email contact for Israel.
Overeaters Anonymous: There are three branches of OA in Jerusalem. Plain OA, HOW and Grey Sheet. Plain OA deals with the emotional aspect of binge/overeating and each member will devise his or her own eating plan to deal with individual problems. Call (02) 500 0848 for more information on meeting times and locations.
HOW is a bit more structured. You're given a food plan by a sponsor and then asked to take it to ones doctor or nutritionist to ensure it is medically adequate. When you are is sponsored you are given a daily question and reading to work on, must attend three meetings a week and make daily outreach phone calls to others. Call (02) 645 6713 for meeting locations and schedules.
Grey Sheet is considered the "strictest" when it comes to a food plan. Everyone eats according to the same food plan, which cannot be altered until all the extra weight is taken off and no carbohydrates of any kind will be allowed on the food plan. As hardcore as this might seem, I have a friend in Chicago, an ex-biker, who has maintained straight abstinence from carbs for seven years although he eats in diners (with his scale, measuring cups and spoons on hand). He has a 30-kilo weight loss and says, "If I can do it, anyone can!" Call Batyah on 0544 590 949 for more information.
Emotions Anonymous: deals with emotions that seem to drive ones life in excess. Their main book is quite spiritual and gives much insight and guidance. Call (02) 623 5436 for more information.
DA, Debtors Anonymous: In debt, feel hopeless? You're not alone and you needn't think it's "just the way it is in Israel." Plenty of Americans are in debt too. I have 12 years of solvency. There is a way out of the cycle. Call Avraham, 0522 676 080.
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