My Name is Doreen, and I’m an Addict

As much as I wish I was as hip as a tragic, dysfunctional artist, I’m not talking about substance abuse. I’m talking about something that is perhaps a bit more universal – my dependence on creative highs. Followed by, of course, inescapable what-am-I-doing-with-my-life lows.  tragedy-comedy_01_446A friend compared the closing of her show to post partum depression. And I knew what she meant. It’s what used to drive me from show to show to show, looking for my next “high”, so I wouldn’t have to feel . . . nothing – the worst place for an artist to be. There’s nothing like that creative “mosh pit” called a show to make you feel alive! I flitted about unconsciously. Like it was something that was just done. Over and over and over. This is what actors do, right? But I was unaware.

It was just before I moved to LA that I began gravitating towards a place of balance. It was unfamiliar territory. Using Julia Cameron’s the Artist’s Way, I started to experience periods of calm without restlessness. Paper-boat-4d677a1e20b7f_hiresI let the Universe guide me, like a paper boat in a stream, to undertake a 560 mile bike ride. I worked a full-time job for the first time in my life, and didn’t do a show for a year, I think. I still took classes and had acting gigs, but they gave me a sense of satisfaction as opposed to a “rush”. Needless to say, when I got to Hollywood, I fell off the wagon, the adrenaline kicked in, and I got back on the the treadmill of creative “highs”. And of course, the extreme of lows kicked in right on cue.

Six years ago, on the advice of a dear (since departed) friend, I did the Master Cleanse. It culminated with the odd realization that I no longer needed to eat meat. Huh? Yeah, just like that. If you would have told me this ten years prior – me, a Chicago girl through and though – I would have choked on my Maxwell Street Polish. Look it up. Two years ago, the “extremes” took a relentless toll on my skin, and a drastic change had to take place. I amputated the usual suspects from my diet (gluten, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, etc. – yes chocolate!), and cleared away any stress with daily meditation. I had regular acupuncture treatments, and swallowed a colorful lineup of probiotics and supplements several times a day. The diet modification was the toughest change I’d ever made in my life, but it put me face to face with one CookieMonsterawful truth: I was eating to get high. My naturally slim exterior hid my chaotic interior. Daily intake of buttery pastas, cream cheese laden bagels, toasty garlic bread, cheeses of every variety, cereal & milk – no wonder I had brain fog, was irregular, and felt like everything was a chore!

Two years later, my skin is fully healed. I’ve gradually brought some goodies back into my diet (like replacing Snickers bars with organic dark chocolate), but my recent awareness has taught me to listen to my body. Mostly I hear it say, “Give me balance.” Meditation is a permanent part of my life, and I host weekly Action Groups, where creatives lead with their hearts instead of their adrenaline. My current relationship with food has inspired me to introduce a new segment to my Newsletter and Facebook Page called The Recognized Body. I hope you find it beneficial and heartening. Peace.