Monday, October 30, 2017

Off the crazy train! 10/30/17

After doing nothing yesterday and wasting a gorgeous day, I do feel better. I feel ready to take on my day and not let this weekend screw up keep me down.  I actually feel a little proud of myself for not beating myself up a ton and moving on.  I am also glad that ultimately I know I am a better person and happier with myself when I don't drink.  Those couple of hours of drinking can bring some relief of boredom, anxiety, depression, lethargy but is then followed by insomnia, headaches, regret,  laziness, anxiety and depression. I know that the only way to get past the anxiety and just feeling blah and down is to stop soaking my brains in alcohol.  This would not even be a question if someone were sitting here writing the same thing about heroine.  It would be like - duh, dumbshit - stop taking the drugs - are you stupid? I just hate how much social pressure (self imposed) I feel around alcohol. I just feel awkward and out of place when everyone else is drinking. I also hate how alcohol really does temporarily make me feel better.  I think this weekend really made it clear that I use alcohol to self medicate. I really did know that drinking right in that moment would relieve my feelings of feeling down in the dumps and it didn't matter the way I would feel the next day (physically or mentally because I drank). I wanted what I wanted and I wanted it right then.  It is pretty scary to look at it as a drug addiction.  That is exactly what it is - just bc it is alcohol doesn't make it any different than being addicted to pain pills, cocaine, heroine, etc. 

I am happy, once again, to be off the crazy train!

This is how my addicted/drinking brain feels!  Crazy..

Image result for crazy train of addiction

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Drank but learning experience 10/29/17

Dang it! I did drink wine last night.  Why?  I'm not sure. I know that I had been struggling with anxiety all week but had gotten through the week without any cravings.  Yesterday (and really all week) I just felt like I was dragging myself through the day - through my life.  I felt down, depressed, tired, just crappy.  I had the thought yesterday, "This is how I was feeling while I was sober but still drinking - just down, depressed, tired, no joy.....if I 'm going to feel this way and not drink, then I might as well feel this way and drink bc at least I can look forward to the drinking and have fun while drinking."  That thought (and how down I was feeling) was really all it took. I just decided I was going to have some wine with my sister on the back patio of her new house.  And I did. I even announced to my husband and and son (who had been so proud of me for not drinking), "I'm going to have some wine.  Don't worry. It will be fine. It's my life and I can do what I want." Then we went to dinner at a nice restaurant and I had two more glasses. Then we went back to her house and I had one more glass.  I was in bed by 10:00 but slept terrible, was awake at 4:00 with a headache and stomach ache and now I am hungover. 

What did I learn?

I don't really like myself when I drink.
I already knew this but it was just reaffirmed from a more objective place.  I noticed at dinner that I was a little loud but didn't care and wasn't paying close attention to individual conversations.  My cousin was trying to have a real conversation with me. I was really trying to focus but I couldn't.  My brain was like having ADHD or something.  It kept trying to focus on the louder voices at the table.  I felt like I was sitting there with a stupid look on my face and he could tell that I wasn't 100% present in the conversation.  He wasn't drinking so I felt like I really had to try hard to focus but just couldn't. It is the weirdest feeling to be sitting there participating with the group but at the same time not really fully present bc your brain is under the influence of a drug.  It wasn't that bad and I didn't wake up with a feeling of embarrassment, but I also didn't feel great about the whole night. I can't fully remember the conversation. Not because I blacked out but because I lost the ability to be fully present and focus on what was being said. It feels like a tornado is going on in my head when I drink.  I can't figure out what I like about that. Maybe it  also distracts me from felling sad, depressed, anxious and tired.  It does give me energy, which I like, but don't like how that energy gets displayed by being loud, impatient and probably a little annoying.

I can't control my intake. 
I also already knew this, but was reaffirmed. Last night there was not one thought of - maybe you shouldn't have that 2 or 3 or 4 glass of wine. Not even a thought. There also wasn't a thought of - well if you are going to drink, you might as well drink. I just didn't think about it at all and jumped right back in where I left off - drinking however much I wanted. It's almost like it just came naturally to me. It was familiar. You would think that if I wanted to start drinking again, I would be super careful and not drink too much. Nope!  It was weird, but I have to be honest - once I have the drug in my system, I really lose the ability to even have a rational thought about how much I am drinking - even to the point of not even considering that I might have a hangover if I keep drinking. I hate hangovers but it doesn't even register after the first drink. I don't think. I just drink.

So, what does this mean?  This means that I am back to sobriety.  I am not going to start over with my counting.  I have still been sober for 130 days (minus 1), I just had a little hiccup. Starting over at day 1 feels like failure and I am not going to beat myself up.  In the past, beating myself up about it only leads to more drinking which starts the whole cycle over again of drinking to feel better while it is actually making me feel like shit about myself.  I made the decision to drink. I now have the consequences. I just have to look at what I can learn from it and move on.

I learned that I like being sober better. I would rather be fully present and in complete control of my behavior (even if it means being little bored) than loud and not able to focus on anything.

I learned (reaffirmed) that I am unable to have a rational thought about how much I drink once I start.

I learned that I have to try to figure out how to deal with feeling sad, depressed, tired and anxious without alcohol.  I think I used to self medicate these feelings away by drinking.  It caught me off guard that I was feeling this way again after 4 months sober and I just couldn't shake it. After five days of feeling that way, I was just down in the dumps thinking that life sucks. Drinking was a way out of those feelings. I know drinking only makes those feelings worse, so  I need to figure out another way to deal with them.

Lastly, I learned that these feeling could lead to a relapse if I let them.  I need to be hyper aware of that and do what I need to do (avoid all social activities, get a massage, do absolutely nothing, take care of myself, leave a social situation immediately before I let those feelings get the better of me) whatever it takes to not let being down, depressed, tired and anxious lead me to drinking again.  Next time I feel this way for a few days and thoughts of drinking enter my brain bc I think alcohol will make me feel better (which in the moment actually does), I need remind myself that I don't like myself as a drinker and that alcohol is not going to make me happy. Next time I will recognize the feelings, see my addicted brain talking to me and just say no.  It's not worth it. I need to give myself time for the feelings to pass (hoping they actually will) so I learn that they will pass without the aid of a drug that will actually make it worse in the long run.

I will get up, dust myself off, learn from my mistakes and keep figuring out how to live my life sober!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Accomplishments this week 10/28/17

My anxiety is better than it was at the beginning of the week - thank goodness.

We had a family funeral Wednesday and I had to take off work.  A couple of cousins flew in for the funeral that we hadn't seen in years.  After the funeral two of them (one with a new girlfriend) came over to our house.  It was 1:00 in the afternoon, the sun was shining, my back patio table was cleaned off and we all sat outside to visit.  The new girlfriend is my age, super nice, friendly, talkative and a drinker.  She probably drank 10 beers from 1:00-9:00 while we were talking, went out to dinner and came back to play cards.  I'm certainly not judging -  I just wonder if she woke up the next morning wondering if she had made a fool out of herself (she did not even thought she was pretty loud and opinionated) or felt bad because she really was the only one drinking by the end of the night and she was putting them down - like another beer every 20 minutes.

I felt like I was obsessed with watching how much she was drinking and how she was acting - which wasn't that bad but it reminded me so much of me.  I kind of felt like I was looking at myself and it made me glad I wasn't drinking. Sorta jealous and sad that it would have been so much fun to party with her but even more glad I wasn't drinking because I don't like myself like that, I felt much more in control of my behavior and BIG PLUS - I didn't get up and go tot work with a hangover the next day.  If I'd have been drinking with her - my Thursday and Friday would have been miserable.

The fact that I did not drink  is actually amazing because this would have been a perfect scenario for me.  A weekday off from work, sitting in the sun with a new drinking friend (the kind of friend I always looked for - that could keep up with me and didn't want to stop drinking) and an excuse of a funeral. I actually can't believe I wasn't craving more than I was.  It wasn't too bad.  I was actually enjoying being the sober one of the group, just listening to everyone else buzzed political debating, knowing I wasn't being loud, interrupting and trying to dominate the conversation.  Also, everyone else 's hotheadedness wasn't bothering me as much.  Rather than getting really loud and trying to make everyone see everyone else's side, I just sat back and enjoyed the show. 

It is funny how some situations which should cause terrible cravings like these didn't affect me too much but something as silly as driving past a brewery can send me into a tizzy of feeling sorry for myself, second guessing my decision to be sober and case panic state craving.  It doesn't even make sense.

Second accomplishment - My sister is moving and I went over to help her unpack her kitchen Friday after work.   I get there and she has 15 bottles of wine sitting on the counter.  Again I wasn't that tempted and didn't really have any cravings but I did have some sad/melancholy thoughts about how it would have been fun/nice to have some wine with her in her new house while unpacking. I had thoughts like, "Well, I guess I won't ever sit in the sun on this back patio and have wine." As I was driving home last night, I was thinking about what would have been different if I had been drinking wine - really nothing.  The only thing that would have changed is my perception of the experience bc I would have had a buzz.  That's it.  The events wouldn't have changed. I know one thing that would have been different - I would have drank Wednesday, felt crappy Thursday and Friday, drank again on Friday, felt crappy today and would have drank again tonight at dinner leaving me feeling terrible for a good part of next week.  It would have put me right back were I was 4 months ago. Not worth it.

Monday, October 23, 2017

4 months and terrible anxiety 10/23/17

Image result for anxiety

I have felt terrible this weekend. I am not sleeping well at all, having terrible anxiety, can't seem to feel happy doing anything and am depressed.  I even stayed home from school today bc I feel extreme internal anxiety and only got 2 hours of sleep last night. 

Saturday I woke up (after not sleeping well) and just felt down, sad and depressed for no apparent reason.  We went out to dinner and I just stared longingly at all the people sipping on their wine glasses not caring about how long the food was taking.  I miss just the release of stress that drinking brings.  It was not enjoyable at all.

It's like I don't get any relief anymore.  Drinking allowed me to let go, it relieved my anxiety for a bit. It was just kind of like....ahhhhh.....relaxation. I know it caused way more anxiety than it actually relieved and I remember these same feelings when I quit smoking.

Yesterday was a bit better bc I tried to stay busy. Today I woke up feeling like I am in the middle of one of a 3 day hangover - my who insides are shaking with anxiety - felt like crying and yelling and not getting out of bed. 

From past research I'm pretty sure I am experiencing PAWS.  I just want it to go away.  I don't want to drink but I can certainly see why this way of feeling would cause a person to drink.  It would just provide some relief.  I do realize that my symptoms are my brain freaking out without alcohol and it is my addiction trying to get me to drink. I realize that drinking will not solve anything but these feelings are awful. 

How long will it last???

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Past stress and drinking 10/21/17

People who have some problems with regulating their emotions as adults will often have had lots of stressful experiences as children, which have caused them to become ‘dysregulated’. The button in their brain that controls anxiety, mood, and even motivation, has been pressed too much and is now worn out. They might need to drink lots of coffee to get going, or they might need to drink a lot of alcohol to calm themselves down.

Exposure to ongoing stress means that our brains produce less dopamine over time, and so we can feel flat and empty – which can cause us to seek out the ‘high’ of alcohol or drugs. Having a sip of alcohol sends excitatory projections to our nucleus accumbens, part of our reward pathway. A complex set of interactions occur which result in that ‘good’ feeling we can get from drinking, and in people who are vulnerable, it can be a really intense and rewarding experience.

Perhaps at the beginning it is about having pleasure and getting enjoyment, and later on it may become about taking away unpleasant emotions and discomfort from not having the alcohol – which is a good indicator that a problem is starting to develop, and some support is needed.

I was reading the above article and these three ideas mad me think about my life.

I had a pretty stressful and chaotic childhood - seven different elementary schools because my dad was a teacher and an alcoholic and would loose his job.  We would move to a different part of the state with the promise that everything would be different this time.  We never knew if my dad would be happy and drunk, happy and sober, depressed and sober, angry and sober, angry and drunk (fighting with my mom and sending us to bed at 6:00 only to listen to the fighting and crying), hilarious and playful and drunk, reckless and drunk (teaching us how to shoot guns and drowning kittens). We got up at 4:00 am and slept in the back of a station wagon while my  mom delivered newspapers to earn a little extra money.  My mom finally left him when I was in the 5th grade and we moved in with my grandparents - new school again.  Then we moved into a small house (new school) when I was in 6th grade. We were on food stamps and basically latch key kids so my mom could work. I was responsible for getting housework done and dinner started in 6th grade with two younger sisters that were not going to listen to "bossy pants" me. I grew up super fast, having to take care of my younger sisters and never wanting to show any emotional neediness because I knew my mom had enough to deal with. I got straight A's, never got in trouble and tried to be perfect so I wasn't creating more work for my mom. I basically felt alone and lonely my entire childhood. No close friends bc we moved so much, with an emotionally unavailable mother, a father who I loved dearly but was also unavailable to me and later was prohibited by my mother to even have contact with me (he died a few years ago when I was just beginning to get to know him again). My mother was not only emotionally unavailable bc she was trying to raise three girls on her own but because she is of that German upbringing with not a whole lot of concern for my emotional well being (kind of the  type who would "do" anything for you but has a hard time just listening and showing love, caring and compassion). Her idea of listening to any problems in my life is to talk about how her life is just as hard or pointing out that all of my difficulties could be worse and they will pass - never just really listening, trying to understand and showing empathy. Even now - she asks me how I am - I tell her it has been a really hard week with conferences, etc. She tells me how hard her week has been and that I only have one more day until the weekend.  I never really feel like she hears me and feels for me. I can tell when she asks me how I am she really doesn't want to hear about anything negative but is always willing to tell me about how difficult her day has been.  It's not really her fault. She was raised like that - but I have always needed so much more and had no one to get it from.

Then my mother got remarried to a man with three older boys who were not great influences on us.  It was great for her - new husband, new house, new income, but for me it was just one more different school (starting middle school no less) and being thrust into another situation where there was no one emotionally available for me.  My mom was busy with her new husband doing things she enjoyed which she felt was much deserved after all she had been through. I felt completely alone but didn't ever want to share any of these feelings as I had learned to not burden others with my feelings. Even now I know everyone has there own shit to deal with so I try to keep mine to myself. No one really cares about my shit. I don't think anyone really cares about anyone else's shit. Just deal with your own shit and keep it to yourself.  We all have problems - OMG!! That sounds like my mom who I am determined to not become! I am 100% emotionally available to both my my kids but maybe not to anyone else.  I should work on that.

So anyways, in high school I found a group of people that I could drink with. All of a sudden I felt accepted, wanted, liked and mattered.  And....the alcohol made me happy.  I related my weekend drinking to belonging, less stress, letting go, having fun, kind of a release and actually having friends who cared about me. They actually called me to set up plans.  This had never been the case for me before. I think I did this so for so long (10 years) that my subconscious started connecting alcohol with happiness.  

Then I had kids and drank less for a few years. But..we moved into this brand new neighborhood, met new people who also had little kids and liked to party.  I now had "adult" friends who liked me, thought I was great and wanted to hang out with me.  I belonged!  I became the party planner and hostess.  Everyone was always invited to my house for a party and I could pull off some last minute food and drinks like a pro.  It was awesome! I was popular, well liked, fun and...could drink with my fiends every weekend but still be a responsible mother because my kids were playing with their kids and no one was driving.  

This lasted until about 10 years ago - kind of "it's fun until it's not".  I had lost contact with many of my high school friends bc I had traded them in for my new neighborhood friends. Many of my neighborhood friends had either moved away or just got so busy with high school/college aged kids that we stopped hanging out so much. Plus, my drinking was becoming much less enjoyable for me so I started cutting down which meant less party planning and hosting which meant it wasn't happening as often if ever. Maybe nobody thought is was a great as I did.  It kind of happened slowly - my increasing issues with debilitating hangovers, embarrassing night befores, my isolation and self obsession with my alcohol consumption and the lack of neighborhood parties.  The more I tried to control my drinking - the more I would weekend binge drink - the worse the hangovers would be - the worse my self loathing and anger and disappointment would be. I kind of started living in my in my own little personal prison.

Now I am not drinking, feel way more in control of my feelings and actions/reactions to situations.  I feel more in control of what I do with my time. I also feel sad and stressed and a bit depressed about my pathetic past. I think I might have used alcohol to deal with all of those feelings and now they are just with me without any relief.  Gotta find a way to deal with them differently.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Do you miss drinking? 10/15/17


I really do miss the relaxing but at the same time energetic (letting go) feeling that alcohol gave me on a Friday and Saturday evening. I really do miss it...a lot.

But...I don't miss the hangovers, the selfish way drinking made me act and feel, the preoccupation with drinking/recovering from drinking, the depression, anxiety, insomnia, heart palpitations, night sweats and general sadness that came with drinking.

My brain is starting to clam down, to be able relax in a healthy way, not a hyped up, drug induced way.  It is kind of weird that while I used alcohol to "relax", I did anything but relax while drinking.  It made me hyper, super social, loud and go to bed way to late only to sleep crappy. That seems like the opposite of relaxation.  And....if made me more tired the next day.

Plus, I am way less bloated, working out, eating better and have lost 5 pounds.

So do I really miss drinking in a rational, logical, healthy, intelligent way....NO!.  I guess I don't really miss addiction misses it...and my addiction is not going to win.  My healthy brain is going to win this time.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Fighting boredom vs overly busy 10/7/17

I am going to try to blog at least once a week.  It has been so busy with school starting again, conferences coming up, my dd moving back in to finish up college, and my ds moving into a college dorm.  All good...but busy.

I do think, however, I am too busy. For example, Friday after work I now go to the grocery store and do any other running around I need to do. While it is nice to get it done, I don't get home until 7:00 and am exhausted and grumpy.  I think part of the reason I do it is so that I don't get bored, sit around on a Friday thinking about a drink and feeling sorry for myself that I can't have one.  It is easier to keep myself distracted.  I drove past the liquor store last night, on my way to the store, and saw a man carrying a case of micro beers and a bag of ice.  I got a little jealous. I would frequent the liquor store on many Fridays.  It felt celebratory to end a long work week. To sit down, relax, talk to friends and celebrate the weekend. Now I seem to "celebrate" by running myself ragged on Friday evenings.

I think I need to be careful about running my "battery" too low. If I don't stop to relax, I may find my cravings becoming worse because I am tired and grumpy?  Gotta figure out how to relax with out alcohol and without feeling bored.