Friday, July 07, 2006

pci - personal craziness index

i was reading at deb's abiding blog and she mentioned that she was in a bit of a dry spell and asked people to leave questions to inspire her blogging. i too LOVE questions - they give me a reason to dig deeper. i have been pretty surface lately. content to just sit in the peace after so much tumult this past year. i don't think it's denial, but it definitely isn't effort either.
one of the questions i left for deb was 'do you have any good tools that help you identify 'red flags' to let you know if you're nearing a danger zone in your recovery?" (or something like that?) i thought that would be a good question for me as the tool i use has the THE MOST HELPFUL for me to keep my recovery stabilized and balanced.

it is taken from my guru - patrick carnes - a gentle path through the 12 steps (AGPTT12S)- it truly was the book that changed my life. and this tool he developed is the 'red flag' that keeps me from careening back into my addictions. it's called a "personal craziness index" or PCI (the people who use it call it "picky").

i hope i'm not interfering in any copyright territory - i made the graphic myself (without any help from liam, the graphics master. i'm so very proud of me!) and i'm giving full credit to carnes - AGPTT12S, pgs. 212-223.

he says on pg. 212:
"The Twelve Steps will help you learn the necessary skills, but you also need to develop a lifestyle that builds up reserves of strength and endurance.

Think of your life as having an addiction "set point" - the point at which the imbalance leaves you vulnerable to addiction, when you are too stressed or overextended to maintain your recovery.

By developing a sense of what your own personal set point is, you can be alert to maintaining the balance that makes you less vulnerable to the "friends" of your addict. The PCI on page 214 will help you develop some criteria for recognizing when you have passed that point of sanity and are at risk. The PCI thus can become a set of "training" guidelines under which you train for anticipated stress. In addition, by keeping track of your own PCI for a period of time, you will get better and better at maintaining lifestyle balance and having some fun."
there are then three parts to establishing your own PCI - preparation, recording/charting your pci, maintaining/tuning your pci. the book is set up in workbook style, so you fill in the blanks as you read (GO BUY THE BOOK! really, it will change your life!)

preparation tracks 10 areas of your life and personal behavior that could have danger signs or warnings that you are close to the edge. he writes:

"Addicts and coaddicts are particularly vulnerable to the "insanity" of loss of reality from having neglected the basics. "Keep it simple" and "a day at time" are not shopworn cliches, but guidelines borne out by the experience of many recovery people. The PCI helps you to remember what you need to do each day. It helps you establish good recovery habits. Without a structured process to keep you on track, "cunning and baffling," self-destructive behavior patterns will return. You'll also find the PCI helpful during periods of stress and vulnerability."
the 10 areas are:
  1. Physical Health
  2. Transportation
  3. Environment
  4. Work
  5. Interests
  6. Social Life
  7. Family/Significant Others
  8. Finances
  9. Spiritual Life and Personal Reflection
  10. Other Addictions or Symptom Behaviors
each person is asked to list 3-4 things in each area that are signs of danger. an example i can give from my own PCI preparation would be:

3. Environment - To not have time to do your personal chores is a comment on the order of your life. Consider the home in which plans go unwatered, fish go unfed, grocery supplies depleted, laundry not done or put away, cleaning neglected, dishes unwashed. What are ways in which you neglect your home or living space?
-beds unmade
-dirty dishes on the counter
-laundry not put away

for each of those areas i have listed similar, embarrassing, honest answers. identifying my danger zones allows me to identify when life is getting out of control.

after those 10 areas are listed carnes provides charts to track your behavior - you choose 7 of the 30 that are the highest indicators that life is getting out of control. my seven are:
  1. bad hygiene
  2. avoidance of the telephone
  3. avoidance of finances, balancing checkbook/paying bills
  4. critical of others
  5. no ordered quiet time
  6. dishes piled up
  7. pushing responsibilities on liam so i can stay home/isolation
i personally wasn't great at the charting and actually writing those things down - i just personally remember the 7 things - i have them tattooed on my brain. when i walk in that kitchen and see the dishes piled up i know doing them will help me maintain my sobriety. i know when i'm spending and not keeping good accounts i'm entering a danger zone. i know that when i don't sit at the side of my bed each night and read the next portion of 'the message' before bed i WILL slide back into my addiction (i have been able to maintain this now for over five years!).

this tool, like NO other has given me the red flags i need to check myself and avoid the craziness that drives me back into my addictions. when i maintain them i am able to keep my reserves charged up.

i have no idea if i've left parts of this out or if it makes sense to someone who hasn't read any of carnes. this is definitely not something you begin your recovery with - it is a maintenance tool. if you're actively working the steps it will help you to maintain your sobriety. my guide gave me this out of sequence (because of her love for it) early on in my journey and it made no sense at all to me. i was offended at the "crazy" term used in the name and bristled at all of the work involved. when the timing was right though it has become the 'level' in my toolbox of recovery tools.

please - ask questions - i will edit this if it doesn't make sense - and like i said above - GO BUY THE BOOK!! patrick carnes is a fellow addict - this really works.

you can find some of his great resources here.


Amy A. said...

There is a lot of addiction in my family, so I was raised and have chosen as an adult, not to drink or do drugs. I do, however, struggle with food issues and feel there is a problem there I should look at. I live in a small town, so AA and OA are not available to me.

I think I could benefit from the steps and would like to be able to examine myself this way. I can see that I could let my addictive tendencies take control if I were to let them, but because I have been semi-aware, feel like I have never been at the hit bottom point but do recognize problem areas.

Do you think a person in my type of situation could benefit from this book, or would it need to be something that works in conjunction in meetings?

bobbie said...

hey amy, thanks for the question. nothing can replace a meeting - going to tell your story and people don't run out of the room - that is important. but this book is a great start.

i had a guide (counsellor) to help me stay focused. it took me a LONG time to get through it (3 years, 3 months & 8 days to be exact!) i dated everything i did in it - so that i could see my progress. but any step forward is progress.

i find that one of my other best tools is "next" - answering the "next" question, going to the "next" meeting - just one tiny step linked to another tiny step - it's progress on my journey.

i don't know your background spiritually, but this is an all-encompassing book. it is not from an evangelical background (i am). what i found was that the exercises that made me the most uncomfortable (in the beginning) were the ones that stretched me the most and healed places in me that i doubt would have ever had healed if i hadn't stretched like that.

i personally think EVERYONE should go through this book. it is truly life giving.

there will be a place in it (step 5) where you will need a trustworthy person - giving away your step 5 is THE MOST FREEING part of recovery. terrifying, but freeing. do NOT worry about this though - when you need that person they will be there. i spent so long ignoring recovery (steps 1-4) and stalled out for quite some time because of the fear i had in not having someone trustworthy. please don't let this part worry you. there is an old buddhist saying 'when the student is ready the teacher will arrive' (or something like that).

you will be in my prayers!

see-through faith said...

timing of this is excellent and I loved the graphic

I'm reading a book on sexual addiction now - so many similarities to alchohol and scarily prevalent in Christian circles.

be blessed and keep on writing

pci dss said...

I've just came across to your blog.
Helpful blog!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post! I just came from a meeting where someone mentioned this tool, and yours was the first description on the search list. And a very clear one, I might add. Thanks much... I'll go find the book now.

Ed said...

Hi, it's late I know, but now there is an app available to track the personal craziness index. Its called My Craziness Index. Check