Saturday, June 30, 2018

6/30/18 - 2nd Group Meeting and Support Groups

From Anne - "Bottom is when you stop digging." Thanks for that I needed that today.

I was much less nervous this time. I even shared a bit. It is weird that I can be sitting in a room full of meth addicts, cocaine addicts, weed addicts and alcohol addicts and we all speak the same language to varying degrees.  I wouldn't think I would have anything in common with a meth addict, but sometimes he says stuff that I find myself nodding my head to.

On the other hand, I kind of find myself feeling not as bad as anyone else in the room. Many, maybe all, of the participants are court ordered.  They refer to DUIs or court hearings or just getting out of inpatient. They talk about isolating in their house and using all day every day. They talk about losing family members and jobs and licences.  They are needing to get paper work filled out. My mind keeps going to, "What am I doing here? I am not this bad. Geez, I am not going to talk about myself...they will just secretly laugh."

I try to remind myself exactly what Anne said - my bottom is when I stop digging. The therapist said that I will only get I try to stop rationalizing bc that will lead me to drinking and be proud of myself that I am getting help before I did get to the place many of these people have gotten to. Maybe they were all where I am at one point and wished they would have gotten help sooner. When I mentioned that everything in my neighborhood focuses on alcohol, one lady was totally nodding her head. She said that they even play kickball with a cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other. She said it is great fun, until you get stopped for a DUI on your way home.  Now she is facing a court appearance on Monday and is scared her licence will be revoked. That really could have been me on numerous occasions. In fact one of our neighbors asked us to join an Bocci ball team with him. He even said, we drink as much as we play lol.  That so could have been me or could be me in the future. Do I really need to have the legal troubles these people have before I stop drinking?

I can't imagine the shame I would feel if in her situation. How I would have let down my kids, my husband, my family, most of all...myself.  How embarrassed I would be. How mad I would be at myself. It would be just horrible. It almost makes me cry to think about it. I need to stop trying to fool myself. That is exactly where I was headed. Plus, these women look a little rough around the edges. Alcohol certainly doesn't do anything for your appearance.

Yesterday was about support groups. There was a discussion about AA and about other different types of groups. They were talking about sponsors and having someone to call. I asked about SMART meetings and someone said that you need to have someone to call. I said that I didn't think I would call anyone, I just need to figure out how to deal with my own addictive voice through CBT. The therapist then said, straight to me, that I really should consider joining some other type of group when I am finished with IOP. She said that it is helpful because (1) it gives yo a place to talk to people that truly understand what you are going through and (2) it gives your family a break from hearing about it.  I really heard that. She is family doesn't really get it and I do feel like it is a worrisome burden for them sometimes to always listen to me bc I do need someone to talk to.  Even though it really scares me to join an outside group, I will think about it. Everything I have done so far was all super scary and I have survived.

Also, I really liked this therapist so I scheduled an appt with her for next Tuesday. Four appt/meetings in four days! That was a lot to handle. Now I get a break for the weekend. It will be interesting to see how I feel on Monday morning.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

6/28/18 1st Individual Appt and Distractions

This was just ok. The first 30 minutes was her trying to figure out how to make additional appts for me on the computer. The next 20 were me telling her about myself and the last 10 were a couple of pieces of advice. Not sure how well we connected. She seems nice enough to talk to and share stuff with, but might be a little to casual for me. I really don't need a sympathetic ear. I need more of a get done to the nitty gritty of how strategies. She did say a couple of things that stuck with me:

You can't out think a thinking problem with more thinking when your thinking is the problem. When I want to drink or start trying to convince myself that it would be ok, I need to distract myself with something completely different.

Every person she has seen that is similar to me and hasn't stopped drinking had ended up being a daily drinker. It gets worse. For everyone.  That was a little scary.

PS - two weeks later - I am not sure I agree with this. While I agree that distraction is helpful, I don't think it is a long term solution. I do think that I need to figure out what is wrong with my thinking to address the reasons I keep going back. My new therapist is more in tune with this view.

6/28/18 Told My Sister and Mother

Yesterday I sent the following text to my sister and my mother.

Yesterday I went to a four hour chemical dependence appointment downtown.  I saw a therapist and a psychiatrist. I was diagnosed with moderate alcohol use disorder, OCD and anxiety. They want me to complete an intensive outpatient program (three hours a day, three times a week for the next four weeks), see a personal therapist once a week for the next four weeks along with a couple of psychiatric appointments and medication.  I just wanted you to know. I've been in a pretty dark place in my own head for a very long time and I am sick of it. Even thought it scares me to death and is going to be hard, I decided to ask for help. 

I wasn't quite sure how they were going to respond.  I was worried my sister would be like - oh brother, she is so dramatic and my mom would just be like - well we all have our problems.

The responses were better than I expected.

From my mom, "I am so thankful you have reached out for help. I know this has been going on for a very long time and has been difficult for you. It is hard for people that don't have the same issues to walk in your shoes, but we all have issues and faults. You are very strong and I am so proud of you for seeking out the help. It sounds very intense and I am here for you. Please talk to me whenever you need to. I can't help if you don't ask. I love you."

Other than the comment of "we all have our faults" I think that was a pretty positive response. The thing that bugs me a little is that if she knew this has been a problem for a long time (and I know she has bc I have told her before) why doesn't she ever ask how I am doing. Sure she says, "How are you?" but she never says, "How is the sobriety or issues with alcohol going.  How are you really doing?"  I have never really gotten emotional support from my mom. She asks how I am doing but doesn't really want to hear anything other than "fine." She doesn't deal very well with listening to my struggles. Sometimes she projects them onto herself, "I was a bad mom" or starts going off on how hard her day was or just says things like "you will get through it - this will pass." I have never, ever felt true empathy from. When I would call her at work as a child and tell her I was sick, she would only say, "Do I need to call the school?" She never really nurtured and showed a lot of love toward me. And my dad was an alcoholic who abandoned She cares for people by doing. I think she is a little emotionally unavailable to everyone (not just me), so the response was better than expected. I hope, that with sobriety, I will become a little more forgiving and a little less sensitive  around my mom so our relationship can improve....just to be able to accept her for who she is and not feel so hurt all the time.

Also, for those of you that have been reading for along time, my other sister still isn't talking to anyone in the family (except our mom) and is in town this weekend. Part of me felt like, "See, mom, she isn't the only daughter you have that is struggling so don't you dare make me feel guilty for not reaching out to her while she is here. I am working on my own shit over here and might need a little of your support and compassion as well. It's always been all about her. Well here I am, not your perfect little daughter who you expect to make everything right in this family. Maybe somebody can show me a little care and support right now or do I always have to be the strong one?" Wow! That just came out. Oh may sound immature, but it's true.

From my sister, "That is great news! I think it will really help you to talk to somebody else vs you continuing to diagnose yourself. I'm glad you are doing it."

That was way better than I expected! I knew she would be supportive, but I don't know if she has ever truly believed I had a problem.  I think she has thought that I do have issues with obsessive behavior and this was just my latest thing to fixate on. I think she has had a hard time seeing the severity for the same reason I did. Because I am a binge drinker, I don't drink everyday, I don't have any of the classic "alcoholic" symptoms like our father, I haven't lost a  job or gotten a DUI, and I quit for long periods of time. Therefore, she doesn't understand why I can't just control my intake. She really has no idea the mental anguish alcohol causes me. I have told her some of it before, but as much as she would hate to admit it, she is a bit like our mother in terms of emotional availability.  My sister is just a pretty black and white, I won't complain about my problems so I would rather not hear about yours kind of person.  I love her dearly and know she supports me, but she certainly is not the emotional mush ball that I am.  She is also the sister that I always relapse with. It is not ever her fault. She doesn't try to get me to drink, but she also doesn't discourage me when I decide to.  I think she likes to drink with me and might be a little disappointed when I don't. I hope that by telling her, she understands the gravity of my issue...that it isn't just my latest obsession...that this issue is killing me mentally and emotionally. I am also going to work hard to create a new sober relationship with her. We have always drank together, so it might take some work but my relationship with her is worth it.

BTW - my husband, daughter and son know everything, have known a lot of it for a long time and totally support all of it.  I do have a great support system in my immediate family.  My husband has been a bit of an enabler through the years. He drinks every weekend (not usually to a binge level) and I think he likes when I drink. I have always been able to talk to him and he has always been compassionate about my struggles. He has always reminded me of my struggles and has told me he thinks it is better that I don't drink but, until that Sunday two weeks ago, has been pretty sympathetic of my hangovers and struggles....never any tough love. Remember two weeks ago he was pretty mad at me from the night before and said "You choose - quit drinking or be an alcoholic!" He has never said anything like that to me before, and I was so hurt. He felt so bad, but I told him it might have been the thing that pushed me to making that call four days later. He totally supports my sobriety because he knows how much anguish it has caused me for so many years. My 23 yo daughter is my rock. She has an amazing way of being gentle yet firm with me. She knows everything and always tries to talk me out of trying again and tells me she is disappointed and worried when I do. For a long time I felt guilty about talking to her but she says, "Mom, I am 23 yo, you are my best friend, I am glad I can be there for you, you have always been there for me, we help each other, I feel so special that you can talk to me and I am a lot like you. I have learned so much from you, which is probably why I don't drink."  My 19 yo son still keeps trying to tell me I'm not that bad. He doesn't want me to drink but is trying to get me to feel better about myself. I tell him that comments like that don't help. I know he means well, but it turns on my addicted voice that says, "Maybe he is right. Maybe I'm not that bad. Why am I doing all this. This is stupid."

It seems I am having to educate my whole family that just because I am not the stereotypical image of an alcoholic doesn't mean that I am not one.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

6/27/18 1st Group Therapy Experience

First of all I was terrified to even go - I had anxiety all day and did nothing but lay around worrying.  I had no idea what to expect and that is always hard for me.

The first 75 minutes were spent in a small group session. I walked in and it was just as I dreaded - the chairs were arranged in a circle.  There was only seven of us - one other female. I really did not feel a great connection with the group. No one welcomed me. They all knew each other as it wasn't a new group. I felt like the outsider and super uncomfortable.  The session was mostly spent with the therapist telling her own stories about guilt and shame. Occasionally somebody would say something but it was a lot of uncomfortable silence with no eye contact. It was pretty uncomfortable. Whatever, I am sure if it isn't better next week, I can join a different group. Or maybe it doesn't even matter as long as I learn something. I did learn something - shame is when you feel like you are a bad person and guilt is when you feel like you have done something wrong. In addiction we may feel guilty about things we have done and need to make amends but we shouldn't feel shame. I do feel shame that I can't do better, be stronger, try harder, control alcohol. I have lived in this shame for a long time. I heard that just because I am addicted doesn't mean I am a bad person.

The second 75 minutes were spent in a bigger room with tables and chairs arranged in rows. There were about 45-50 people. It was family night (which I didn't know) so everyone had family member s there except about four of us. All the the previous seven people were there along with maybe 15 others and their family members. This one was a little less uncomfortable - more people talking and asking questions. I liked the therapist better (btw is who I am seeing tomorrow). We watched a 30 minute video called "Pleasure Unwoven". It was about a doctor who was also an alcoholic and was trying to prove that addiction is a disease. That addicted people have something different in the middle brain (the survival) that hijacks the cortex (decision making) part. That no one chooses to be addicted, it's not some moral failing, that we should be able to try harder not to be addicted. It isn't our fault we became addicted, but only we can fix it by choosing not to drink, getting educated and working hard. Recovery isn't just going to happen by being stronger and trying harder.

Then a cool thing happened. This lady, who by chance was sitting right next to me, raised her hand and asked about binge drinkers and if brain research also applied. She said, "I can go weeks without needing to drink, but I can't ever go forever and then I drink too much."  It was all I could do to not stand up and say, "Me too!"  The therapist said, "Absolutely, the brain research applies and the additional difficulty with bingers is denial. Since they can quit for periods of time, it usually takes them longer to recognize they have lost control."  Well, when the meeting was over, that woman (probably close to my age and looked just as normal as me) introduced herself and asked if it was my first time. I said, "Yes and I am a binge drinker just like you." She said it was also her first time and asked if I was coming back. I said, "Probably." I asked her and she said, "Yes." Then she said, "You should come back." Somehow we had made this weird connection by chance and I really want to talk to her again. I thought that was pretty cool.  Someone just like me :)

6/29/18 Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

I am just wiped out today. Still didn't sleep well last night. I just feel physically exhausted and emotionally drained. Part of me woke up thinking that I just don't want to go through with all of this. It is just so much. By the time this week is over I will have had 10 hours of therapy. And this is just the first week of the next four. I don't want to drink, but I just don't feel like putting in all the time and spending all the emotional energy it is going to take.

Then I flip the switch and think...No, you are doing this. You are going to see this through. I am sure it is difficult and exhausting for everyone that goes through it. You have an opportunity right in front of you - valuable resources - individual therapist, group therapy, doctor's input and the time to actually do it. It isn't a coincidence that you going on vacation in four weeks, right as I am wrapping this up. You made the call. You went yesterday. You did the first two hardest parts. Today will be hard and scary - going to a group thing and tomorrow will be a little scary - meeting the individual therapist, but after that it might still be hard but maybe not as scary.

I need to put in the time and do the work. I have always said I am kind of an all or nothing kind of person. I probably would have been disappointed yesterday if they would have said, "You aren't that bad. Let's just get you set up with a therapist once a month. See you in three weeks." That would have not felt good and I am 100% sure I would have ended up trying to moderate again ending up right back in the same place. My addicted voice would have been immediately excited and relieved and planing, but my soul/true self would have been sad. I would have used that as an excuse to drink.

I am secretly glad I was actually diagnosed with moderate alcohol abuse disorder, OCD and anxiety disorder. It felt kind of like a relief. I could hear them talking about me in the hall and they sounded genuinely concerned for me which was a huge relief. I know that sounds weird but I almost felt like someone else saw it. Someone else recognized how sick I was and was will (and thought it necessary) to get me such intensive help.  It felt validating in a way. Kind of like - I knew I wasn't just imaging everything or blowing things out of proportion. I know I'm not supposed to care what others think, but I kind of feel like, "See, I told you I had a problem and it isn't just my latest obsessing and trying harder."

I got the proof I needed yesterday and the gift of all these resources. I am not going to waste this opportunity - as scary and exhausting as it may be.  Maybe it will really help me attain my ultimate goal - to be happy and peaceful and joyful in sobriety.  To not feel the need to drink and to be truly happy and secure in my choice not to drink.  I obviously can't do it by myself.  I certainly have proof of that.

    Image result for out of comfort zone quotes                     Image result for out of comfort zone quotes

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

6/26/18 Initial 4 Hour Evaluation

Well...that was really hard and exhausting and took four hours but I'm glad I went.

First I met with an addiction counselor. He listened to my history even through my tears. It was really hard to admit to a stranger how long I have struggled and how hard it has been. He was a pretty straight shooter, which is good for me. He suggested that I stop trying to figure out the "why" of the problem and instead focus on the solution to the problem. He also said that my "rock bottom" was when I made that call to Kaiser. I was on such a dark place, was so sure I was quitting the day before, started rationalizing why I could drink that weekend and had an anxiety attack from all of it.  He is correct because in  a moment of mental crisis I just picked up the phone and called before I could change my mind - much like how I pick up a beer, in a moment of mental crisis, before I can change my mind. It felt the same - Just do it! Quick! Do it! Before you change your mind! Like there are two voices in my head fighting with each other.

He recommended an intensive outpatient program consisting of 3 hour group sessions focusing on early recovery and relapse prevention 3 times a week for 4 weeks.  That sounds like a lot of time and pretty scary but I'm going to do whatever I need to do to get better. Those appointments are Mon, Wed and Fri starting tomorrow.

He also got me set up with a therapist for individual therapy. My first appt with her this Thursday.

Then I saw a psychiatrist. He was very matter of fact and to the point. A little rough around the edges but we communicated well.  We had a long talk about medication and addiction vs mental issues. His opinion was that fixing the mental issues will not fix the addiction and fixing the addiction will not fix the mental issues.  Both need to be dealt with independently but at the same time. He said I am an alcoholic. When he saw my reaction, he said - call it what you want but alcohol causes you problems.
We talked about naltrexone which I have tried before and didn't like. We talked about antibuse which shocked me. I seriously don't think I am to that point. We agreed that if all this therapy doesn't keep me from drinking, then we can discuss going to that.

We also talked about how my mind works, how I obsess about everything, constantly worry and ruminate on things, get completely distracted and go down rabbit holes. Also my mood and energy swings. He said that he doesn't think it sounds like bipolar but more like OCD and anxiety. He asked if I would be willing to take Zoloft for a little while to help my brain calm down without the alcohol. He said I don't need to be on it forever just maybe for a little bit to get through this initial stage.  I agreed and have another appointment with him next Friday to see how that is going.

That means I have at least 7 appointments in the next 10 days. That seems a little ridiculous but whatever it takes, right?

Oh, also, my first breathalyzer test.  Kind of embarrassing.

6/26/18 So Scared

I am super nervous. I couldn't sleep at all last night. All of my joints were aching and I was having hot flashes. I just tossed and turned all night. I woke up this morning with pretty bad anxiety.  I can feel the nervousness in my chest and the dizziness in my head. I checked my appt time last night and it said it was for "chemical dependency".  That kinds freaked me out. It's not like I'm a drug addict (well maybe). I hope no one knows why I am there. I am just super scared and embarrassed to walk in there.  I wish I didn't have to go alone.

Well, I just have to pull on my big girl pants and do it. Just let go. Try not to control the whole situation - which I usually do. Trust that someone else may know what is best for me - which I don't usually believe. Be brave and have an open mind. Be open to the process. Remind myself that I am not weak and broken. I am strong and brave.

I am so scared I actually feel like I could cry. I also kind of want to cancel and crawl back in bed.

Self-compassion quote by Kristin Neff

Monday, June 25, 2018

6/25/18 TED Talk on Gray Area Drinkers

Gray Area Drinking

Great TED Talk about "gray area drinkers"  who find themselves between the rock bottom every day drinkers to the occasional, rarely over drinking drinkers. They don't appear to have a problem to the outside world but live in a place of anxiety over their drinking.

Here are some insights from the video that I found fascinating.  I feel like she was totally talking about me!

Gray area drinkers love the "off switch" drinking provides to an anxious brain.

Gray area drinkers drink to regulate neurotransmitters. 

Gray area drinkers don't have a hard time quitting, they have a hard time staying quit.

Gray area drinkers constantly stop and restart periods of drinking. They stop for awhile, then try to to be a social drinker again only to return to a level of drinking they regret. 

Gray area drinkers don't need another set of cognitive hoops to jump through or to focus out will power in an attempt to fix themselves. 

Intellectualizing doesn't help\, instead nourish neurotransmitters.

GABA - anti anxiety neurotransmitter - when low - anxious, worry, ruminate - drink to relax

Serotonin  - antidepressant neurotransmitter  - when low - depressed, crave alcohol and carbs,  insomnia - drink to have fun

Dopamine - focus and motivation neurotransmitter - when low - unmotivated, unfocused - drink to connect and engage with others

How to naturally boost neurotransmitter - NOURISH - scientifically proven

N - Notice nature - 20 minutes in nature with trees and water

O - Observe your breath - boosts the calm response - regulates neurotransmitter

U - Uniting with others - social bonds, community, physical touch

R - Replenish with food - protein contains amino acids which replenish neurotransmitter,  Omega 3 fatty acids from fish, flax seeds, walnuts make neurotransmitters, carbs such as leafy green vegetables break down into B vitamin which make serotonin

I - Initial movements - boosts neurotransmitter - 60 min yoga up to 80% boost

S - Sitting in stillness - meditation - replenishes neurotransmitters

H - Harness creativity - pick a single focus activity that ends in "ing" - not drinking, overeating deplete neurotransmitters

I quit drinking because I choose to not because I have to

6/25/18 All Over The Place

I feel like kind of a mess for the past couple of days. My sleeping is all over the place (nine hours to 4 hours-up at 3:00 am). My energy level is all over the place (cleaning out my crawl space to laying in bed watching stupid reality tv). My emotions are all over the place (sad/depressed/worried to positive/motivated/calm). I don't want to drink and didn't have any craving this weekend but just felt really out of it and lethargic. Hopefully today will be better. I am going to force myself to work out, mow the grass, mop my floor and walk my dogs. Hopefully some forced activity will help with my mood.  I think I am also a bit worried about tomorrow.  I wish I had someone to go with me. I am kinda scared.  I have only gone to therapy once for two appointments and it wasn't successful. I think she was just telling me what she thought I wanted to hear instead of giving be real objective feedback. If felt it was more placating than counseling.

My appt tomorrow is one hour with a psychiatrist and one hour with a therapist.

I have two questions. I would love to hear everyone's opinion.

What if the psychiatrist want to prescribe me medication for depression or anxiety? I really am anti medication for myself. I don't ever judge what others do - everyone is different. I just don;'want to take it. They scare me. I am afraid of long term side effects and becoming addicted to something else.  Should I not take any medication for a year of sobriety to see if the alcohol was causing all of my other issues?  Then, if it isn't better after a year, consider medication? Or is it better to take medication for the next year to be able to remain sober, then stop taking them to see if the other issues are better?

How do I help pick out my own therapist? How do I make sure that the counselor I am assigned it right for me? I do better with someone who will tell me like it is.  I don't always like it at the time but I think about it and it is helpful. The only time I went to therapy was for two visits. I feel like she was just placating me rather than truly objectively counseling me.  I would rather have a woman. Male energy is not always the best for me bc of past trauma. I either don't trust them or try too hard to get them to respect me. I would want her to be close to my age. I would prefer it not to be some young girl (like I had last time that doesn't have very much life experience). It might be good if she has some personal experience in addiction. Many people I know that aren't addicted can't even begin to understand the mental, emotional, obsessive side of the addiction.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

6/24/18 Rough Sat and Complete History with Alcohol

Yesterday was rough. After four straight days of have a tom of energy and cleaning out almost my whole house, even after being up at 4:00 am, I hit a wall.  I was to tired and lethargic yesterday. The swing in energy level was so dramatic. I need to talk to the therapist about this. Is it normal?

Yesterday afternoon I thought to myself, "Alcohol would definitely help my energy level. If I had a beer right now, I would get a surge of energy and good/happy feelings.  It would make me feel better. When I thought that thought, I could actually feel myself feel a little better. It was weird..that even just the thought of having some alcohol improved my mood.  So I did something that is really hard for me. I didn't react. I just allowed myself to feel tired, played the whole thing out in my head if I did actually have a beer, and made a cup of coffee. I do know that having that beer would have improved my energy and mood but it just isn't worth the cost.

When I was getting ready for bed, I found an old journal from 2003 and 2010 and read through all the entries (probably the coffee keeping me up). Back 2003 I made vague references to being a better person, being more healthy, being a good role model for my kids. I know I was talking about drinking less, but I would never actually write it down for the fear that someone would find my journal and I would be "outed" as having a drinking problem. In 2010, I started writing more about wasting days with hangovers and drinking too much. By 2011, I started this blog to be able to write "in secret".   After reading the entries, I realized just HOW LONG I have been fighting this fight. It has been 10 years of hard core fighting (as much if not more of a thinking problem as a drinking problem) and somewhat for the 5 years before that. That is a long time...10-15 years. But it really isn't that long in the big picture of my life. I just need to figure it out this time or it will end up being 20-25 years of my life (or longer) living in this self inflicted torture chamber. Also, I wrote down my weight and I have gained 20 pounds in 8 years....urghh!!

I am only writing all of this down for my own record keeping...not bc I am obsessing :). Trying to get more of my history down here.

1996-2004 - numerous family vacations with tons of drunk drama, many nights on gross bathroom floor trying not to be sick, faking not being hungover the next morning and then drinking again

10/4/01 - Appendix out - not drinking but kinda hooked on pain meds-kind of a mental breakdown- really started my slow decent into 17 years of increasing darkness -2 months of severe depression/not getting out of bed/almost getting divorced/not taking care of my kids/attempt at therapy
1/4/02 goals - be more healthy. Wrote "part of realizing these goals is to stop drinking. When I drink I become a person that I don't really like."
1/1/03  - goals included drinking less, take better care of myself
12/13/03 -  Christmas party at the Elks club - got completely wasted, threw up in the bathroom.

5/27/03 - We had a neighborhood BBQ yesterday for Memorial Day. Once again I am not very proud of myself. I drank too much and even smoked cigarettes. I will stop behaving like this at neighborhood events. I will be more careful with how much I drink. I should be setting an example for my children. I will just have to say NO! I will choose to take care of myself and be a good responsible person. I love myself and my family too much to behave this way anymore. (This was also a time when my good friend was going through some major stuff. I was there for her - 3-4 times per week - drinking heavily for 1-2 months)

2/2/04 - Went out with work friends. Ended up shutting down the bar. Terrible hangover.
4/3/04 - Neighborhood Pub crawl - terrible hangover
7/3/04 - Hysterectomy to remove a tumor (got a little hooked on pain meds but stopped)
1/05 - Found out I have DNA mutation MTHFR - can;t metabolize folic acid
2/05 -  Wrote "I am little disturbed how much alcohol comes up in my journal"
5/8/05 - Mother's Day - drank too much

5/22/05 - So many times I have a beer or two and all pf a sudden I want to have party. When this happens I lose focus on my family. It almost seems like it becomes more important. I only drank 3 beers yesterday but lost focus . It seems like my behavior changes earlier in the day so that I can create the opportunity to party later. I am always so afraid I will miss a party I really need to stop drinking to be at better wife mother and person.

6/21/05 - Renaissance Festival - drank too much
12/31/05 - New Year's Eve party as our house - drank too much
6/06 - Lake Powell Trip - drank way to much all week.
7/06 - Steamboat - drank too much - fighting with sister
1/1/07 - Terrible hangover
4/07 - Mammogram scare
4/21/07 - Neighborhood pub crawl - drank too much
6/07 - Trip to Orlando - stayed up one night by myself watching the Sopranos and drank at least one bottle of wine while everyone else was asleep.

1/1/08 - Terrible hangover. Wrote " I need to grow up and be a better role model!"
1/19/08 - 40th bday party - got wasted
2/23/08 - Went to the mountains - drank too much
7/08 - Renaissance Festival - drank too much embarrassed myself  - temper tantrum about leaving

7/21/08 - I am now an older version of the same me in all the previous entries. You can't expect things to change it you don't change your behavior. You first must change your mind. I have struggled with this issue for far too long. It needs to stop. I am in my forties now It is time! Day 2. (First read about the man standing in the bridge analogy)
8/08 - Lake Powell - drank all week
8/08 - Wrote "I am no longer a partier"
8/08 - Lake Powell - drank all week
8/09 - Snowmass - fighting with sister p drank too much
7/09 - Lake Powell - drank all week

8/8/09 - I think I might be an alcoholic. I make promise after promise to myself and break all of them. I am ashamed of myself and my behavior. I am a terrible role model for my children and not a good mom to them. The thing that scares me the most about coming to this conclusion is that I can't imagine ever having a glass of wine or a beer ever again. I want to be able to enjoy alcohol without it being a problem. I think I am beginning to realize that this is not possible for me.  I can't seem to go more than three days without drinking. One drink never stays at one. I lose control and stop paying attention to how much I drink, drink too much, wake up with a hangover, feel terrible about myself, promise not to drink anymore...repeat. I think I have a disease I can't get rid of. No matter how much I want to enjoy that glass of wine, I can't. It will put me back on the same track. Maybe not that day but eventually. I am a strong, intelligent person, I can do this! I can be an inspiration to others! I can be a good role model! I can be proud of myself! I don't drink! Last night was my last drink of alcohol! I promise!

11/25/09 - You can't expect things to change if you never make a change. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. Wednesday, 11/25/08, is the day I take care of myself. Today I become the person I have always wanted to be. We are the choices we make. Be the light that inspires others. Day 1!

4/18/10 - Broke my wrist snowboarding - drank and took pain pills
5/15/10 attempted a 30
6/2010 - Cancun - got wasted one night - completely lost my mind - embarrassed
7/2010 - Mountains - wasted - huge fight with sister
1/1/11 attempted a 30
8/2011 - Joined MM
7/12 - Punta Cana - drank all week
2013 - Drank almost every weekend - many terrible hangovers - only 7 posts all year
6/13 - Florida - Jensen Beach - drank all week - dd graduation present
7/13 - Florida - Marathon - drank all week
7/13 - Vail - fighting with sister - drank too much
11/13 - Hot tub with friend - 2 bottles of wine
11/13 - Breckenridge - Thanksgiving - embarrassingly drunk
4/14 - Beaver Creek - made a complete ass of myself - drunk - switched hotels
7/14 - Punta Cana - made an ass out of myself - huge fight about the room
2/15 - Granby - didn't drink - instead used edibles
3/15 - Edwards - sneaking and guzzling in room
6/15 - DC - drank all week
12/15 - Las Vegas - complete drinking disaster
3/16 - Keystone - sneaking/guzzling at bar while sister went to bathroom
7/16 - Alaska - embarrassed myself in front of new family
7/16 - Florida - Ft Myers - drank all week - terrible kayaoke night
3/17 - Glenwood with sister - so hung over couldn'y ski
5/17 - Glenwood - son's graduation present - so hungover couldn't get out of bed
6/17 - Alaska -wasted on the plane - realized that alcohol is sucking the joy from my life

Friday, June 22, 2018

6/22/18 Blood Work and Drug/Alcohol Test

I went to Kaiser yesterday for the liver function/drug screen as required to start the process.  I was a little embarrassed as I am sure the phlebotomist could see what I was getting tested for but I just sat there, did it and went home.

I'm not gonna lie, there is part of me that wanted to call the whole thing off - probably because I have't drank in 13 days and feel better. Not because I want to drink but because I feel like I can do it without all the tests and therapy and time involved. It's simple...just don;t drink for a year and then see if there is any mental health issues that need to be addressed.  I was pretty close to canceling, but then I remembered why I made  the appt in the first place. Not only bc of the feeling of sadness, defeat and anxiety I was feeling last week but also the real reason....I don't need to figure out how to stop drinking, I need to figure out how to stay stopped.  I printed my history post to bring with me and it reminded me just how many times I have tried to be sober for one year and how many times I have failed and what that is dong to my soul. So I'm going to keep the appt. What can it hurt? Right?

Yesterday I had another thought which might be helpful. When I stop drinking I usually say to myself that it is to let my body heal. I'm not sure that is super helpful as, after a couple of weeks, my body feels just fine. I think a better phrase might be - to let my mind heal. My mind is not ok and I do worry about the long term effects of alcohol use on memory, mental illness and cognitive functioning.

Also, I told my neighbor we can't go to the cabin next weekend.  I just told her my dh had to work. I don't feel like getting into all the alcohol stuff and does it really matter what she says?  I just need to not go.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

6/21/18 Day 12 - Can't Sleep...Anxiety

Up at 3:00 am...don't know why...well a least it isn't from a hangover.  I did wake up feeling a lot of anxiety and worry but not sure why. I know that I need to be vigilant because I am especially vulnerable when I get tired and cranky and a weekend is approaching. Alcohol will cheer me up (in the moment) and make me feel more "normal". I know that it is a short term solution that creates long term problems, but I know that if I get tired, my resolve starts to fade.

We were watching Star Trek Discovery last night and one of the character something that I immediately had to write down so I would remember it:

"Just as repetition reinforces repetition, change begets change...Sometimes the only way to find out where you fit in is to step out of the routine. Because sometimes, where you really belong was waiting right around the corner all along."

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

6/20/18 Alcohol Voice Whispering

Two things happened yesterday that caused my AV (addicted voice) to start whispering at me. First, I was talking about my appointment next week with my son. He asked if I was still going to keep the appt.  I have not drank in 10 days and he knows that after a few days I feel better and change my plans to stay sober. I told him yes.  He then asked "to find out why you can't moderate?" That question caught me off guard for a second. My AV said,"Well, maybe. That actually sounds like a good idea. You actually aren't an alcoholic just a problem drinker so why not? Why not use the therapy to see if it can help you moderate?"  Bam! One question and my brain had rationalized drinking again, out of the blue. 30 seconds previously I was still set in my sober plan. It totally caught me off guard. I thought about it for a second and responded, "I know why I can't moderate....because I am addicted to alcohol. I don't need a therapist to tell me that and it isn't going to change. I'm not ever going to get un-addicted to alcohol. No, I am not going to see why I can't moderate!  I am going to see why I can't stay quit." He just looked at me like "Wow...ok...sorry I asked".  He meant well, he just didn't expect that strong of a response.

Second, my neighbor asked me, "Hey, so you guys are coming up to the cabin next weekend, right?" What? I don't remember saying that. She said, "At the bar 2 weeks ago, you said you guys wanted to come up the weekend before the 4th." Well, I don't remember saying it, but I'm sure I did. I had had a few beers that night and I do like going to their cabin...when drinking. They ask us all the time and I kinda feel like we should, but they are both pretty heavy drinkers. I am pretty sure he is an alcoholic who drinks almost everyday and many times until wasted.  She drink a lot because of her husband, but I know she doesn't like drinking as much as she does and worries about him. I adore her and consider her one of my good friends. I have hung out with her sober before. She knows I struggle with alcohol and is always supportive of me when I'm not drinking. Anyway, that question made my AV whisper, "To bad the cabin trip isn't before the therapy appt. You could just last time. . It would be hard to justify after the appt. Who cares. It would be fun. Besides you aren't an alcoholic anyways. You aren't that bad. Just only drink light beer and be super careful. You're a big girl. Do what you want. Who cares what anyone thinks. Just prove to them you can moderate. One more hangover and you will quit forever. Just be more careful. Go...have fun!"

OMG! Shut up! I don't want to drink and I am sick of listening to it! My addictive voice just waits for a little crack to form (one small question) and then squeezes its way into by thoughts. Man, I'm going to need to build a wall with NO cracks.

I don't know what to do about the cabin trip. My dh can go either way. Regardless, I will need to talk to my friend. I think I will talk to her and explain that I am not drinking...again...she is used to it....and that my concern about going is that I will be tempted to drink.  I do want to go (I love going to the mountains) and have a fun sober experience (try to build those new sober pathways) but am also worried that it is too soon and I will be wanting to drink the whole time. It might be stressful and upsetting that I can't. Maybe I will decide after I see what she has to say. If she says, "Ok, I understand. Maybe next time" then I won't go. To me that means she cares more about drinking than about hanging out with me. She doesn't want me to be a buzz killer. I don't judge, bc as unsupportive as it sounds, that is totally something I would have said.  If she says, "That's ok, just bring up your seltzer waters and don't drink. It doesn't matter to me" I will have to think about it bc that means she won't push it on me but that she will still be drinking which might be hard for me. The best thing she could say would be "Cool, I won't drink with you" but I doubt that will happen. We will see.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

6/19/18 Obsessing vs Drinking?

Ok, so here is my question for today.

How do I stop obsessing, and remain sober? I will ask the therapist this next week, but also wanted your ideas. 

Many of you are telling me to stop analyzing, stop overthinking all of it, stop trying to figure it out...just don't drink, be patient and the rest will come.  I totally get that and wish I could but...

I have obsessed about alcohol for so long wether I am thinking about drinking, drinking, recovering from drinking, contemplating sobriety, trying to remain sober, contemplating moderating, trying to successfully moderate, etc.

When I stop thinking about it, reading about it, blogging about it....I end up drinking again. It's almost like I am in a mental sword fight with my addiction and if I put down my weapon (obsessing) it can more easily take control of me and win. I really want to stop thinking about it, but when I  do...I tend to drink again.

Monday, June 18, 2018

6/18/18 - Addicted to being addicted. Codependent on my own dependency.

A feeling that I have when sober is really hard to explain, but I'm going to try.  When I am sober and am certain I will stay sober (not battling myself about when I'm going to drink next or worrying about some upcoming event) my mind makes a shift. I am talking about how I feel in this state compared to how I feel when sober but actively drinking on the weekends. I am not talking about my super selfish, conversation dominating, egotistical, socially incompetent, self serving buzzed self, but when I am sober for those few days in between the weekends.

It is almost like I see the world a bit differently. I am way more likely to text an encouraging message to a friend when I think they might need it. I am more patient and able to hold my tongue when I want to say something snarky to a family member. I actually think about a place we could go next weekend for dinner to try something new. I feel more content to just have a calm conversation with someone. It is so weird and hard to explain. There is a calming sense to not drinking and knowing you aren't going to drink. Something opens up in my mind, frees up space, allows my thoughts to untangle, allows me to thing about others things and just be a better person..more compassionate, empathetic, accommodating, selfless and patient.

When I am sober, but drinking, it is almost like I have ADHD inside my head. Like I don't want to focus on anything for too long. I think about sending that encouraging text, but then procrastinate and never do it. Why is that? Why do I procrastinate about everything when sober but drinking even when not hungover? I am super reactionary and then just blow off what I say because either "who wasn't a big deal" or "they deserved it". Or I am super hesitant to make any sort of plans for the following weekend because something "better" (by better I mean some sort of fun drinking activity) might come up and then I have already committed to something that might not be as fun (by fun I mean drinking) and feel bad for breaking it or mad I couldn't do the "drinking activity". It's almost like the only thing I could really focus on was the alcohol. The researching, blogging, reading, analyzing the past, worrying about the future, getting excited about drinking, drinking, recovering from drinking, worrying about drinking, beating myself up, trying to do better. It kinds feels like I was codependent on myself. My addiction was my life. It was woven through every thought I had (good or bad), any plans I was making, and certainly how I thought/felt about myself.

I think I have been addicted to being addicted. Codependent on my own dependency.
Does that make sense?

Sunday, June 17, 2018

6/17/18 Rock Bottom

I was reading this article in my Facebook feed this morning. He saus at the end,"Even if I fail, I'll remember that on that day I succeeded. If I did it then, I can do it again."

If if you search it in Facebook there are 2,400 comments left by people who have been effected by addiction. I only got through a couple hundred but most were others talking about their sobriety birthday and how grateful they are for making the decision and sticking to it.  One person said, "Remain guarded for the unguarded situation." I like that because it is that "unguarded" situation, that all of a sudden, intense craving that makes me cave...that I don;t seem to be prepared for.

Another person talked about a rock bottom. It got me to thinking about my "rock bottom." In the past I have wished that I would have a serious heart problem, developed breast cancer or been diagnosed with some terrible illness that made it really stupid for me to drink....and gave me and everyone around me a definitive reason as to why I had to quit. I guess, in all honesty, I wanted people to be proud of me for not drinking bc of some bigger issue than to think I was a broken person with an addiction. I also have, in the past, wished I would have a seizure from front of someone, no less, so there was proof. It would be proof to myself that I really was "that bad" and proof to everyone else that I wasn't just making my problem up in my head...that it wasn't my latest obsession or that I was giving myself anxiety about drinking bc I wanted to...not bc I was addicted.

Maybe that could be a type of rock bottom...when you wished there was something seriously wrong with you to give you and everyone else "proof" that you are "that bad" and that you need to quit. It's kind of ridiculous.

I would love to hear what all of you think your "rock bottom" was?

Also, feel so much better than last Sunday :)

Saturday, June 16, 2018

6/16/18 Chasing the Buzz

Last night I had dreams about alcohol. For awhile I was with people (can't remember who) and feeling ok, a little stressed, down and tired, but ok. Then one of my drinking buddy neighbors came over all hyper and happy ready to have a beer with us. All of a sudden my mood shifted. I, a split second I decided I was going to have a beer and I was happy and I used to be.

I am trying to think about what to ask the psychiatrist/counselor/therapist when I go. I don't think my real problem is stopping the is staying stopped. I do think that I am trying to chase a younger/party girl/popular/outgoing/in shape/happy version of myself.

In my 20's I was super happy. My dh had a very lucrative job based. We had a new house and two new cars by the time I was 21. He was also helping me get through college. During this time I was the perfect example of "working for the weekend".  I worked my ass off Monday through Friday afternoon. I was going to college, eventually earning a master's degree. I was working part time, going to college, grocery shopping every Monday, cleaning my house every Wednesday, doing yard work every Thursday, working out 5 days a week, and getting all of my homework done. I was in great shape and had a great group of friends that we hung out with every weekend....and drank....every weekend. We had so much fun. Parties at my house, parties at our friend's houses, drunk bowling, drunk roller skating, drunk 4-wheel driving through remote areas in the middle of nowhere (which ironically is now the overdeveloped suburb I live in), drunk planetarium, drunk camping, drunk boating, drunk cruising, drunk dancing in bars. I'm not going to lie. It was a blast! Sure, I was a little hungover Saturday, but I had worked so hard during the week so I could enjoy my weekend. I could afford to get up at 11:00 am, lay around and rest until the evening and then get the party started again. Sunday I also had a little hangover but it was my "cheat day" so I allowed myself to eat crap food and relax. I hardly ever got the debilitating hangovers I get now. I would drink wine coolers and schnapps every Friday and Saturday and barely feel it the next day. Monday I would get up and start over.  I am sure there was some bad parts - fights with dh, drunken fights with friends, embarrassing moments like when I threw up in a stranger's house plant, drunk driving way too often...but these aren't what I remember. I was happy, productive, social, confident, looked good, got a lot of attention and had a lot of fun. I was the good looking, super fun, hyper party girl. Those were the good old days.

I think part of why I continue to drink is because I am trying to get that "me" back. I realize that alcohol has a different effect on me now  both when I drink as well as when I am recovering from drinking, but that does not negate the fact that I still see glimpses of my former self in the anticipation of drinking. Just like in my dream. When my friend walked through the door, I hadn't even put alcohol to my lips yet, but the anticipation of it happening gave me energy, excitement and happiness that I have a hard time finding in sobriety. When younger, it was the anticipation of the weekend drinking that gave me all the energy and excitement to get my work done during the week. When sober I just seem to slog through my days and weeks, struggling to get things done bc I don't feel like I have anything to work towards. Vacations don't even seem as exciting. In all honesty I know that part of my "slogging" is due to weekday alcohol withdrawals that I didn't get when younger, but I can't even find that feeling after months of sobriety. I still have this romanticized image in my head that makes me try to repeat the days of my younger years.

I think that is why I always go back. I am trying to get that feeling back. I suppose it isn't any different than a heroine user that is always chasing that first high. I am chasing my first decade of drinking. That feeling of excited anticipation. It gave me energy and made me happy.

My question:

How do I either experience those feelings without drinking or learn to live without them?

Friday, June 15, 2018

6/15/18 Why did I call?

Yesterday was rough. I cried so many times. I cried when I told my 23 yo dd who is so proud of me. She worries so much about me (which I feel guilty about). I cried when I told my 20 yo son who is also proud of me. I cried when I told my dh, who told me not to cancel the appointment and that all of this is exhausting for him too. I did not tell my sister as I just don't think she understands. I don't know if she doesn't want to hear about my problems (she is kind of like that), or she secretly wants me to keep drinking, or she doesn't want to look at her own drinking, or she just thinks I am making a big deal out of nothing. I told her last weekend how bad I felt and she said, "that sucks" and then changed the subject.  When I told her later I was just going to go to bed, she replied "lol".  This is anything but a laughing matter. I have opened up to her in the past about the bingeing and the sneaking and the mental anguish I have been going through. She just isn't ever really all that receptive and/or compassionate about it. She does not think the answer is quitting forever. She just hinks I need to try harder.  I don't know what I am going to do about my relationship with her. I love her dearly, really enjoy hanging out with her and don't blame her for my drinking, but EVERYTIME I relapse after an extended abs period or drink wine when I have promised myself I wouldn't, it is with her.  She doesn't push it on me, I just don't have a lot of will power around her...something to ask the therapist about I guess.

So what made me call yesterday? I wasn't in the grips of a hangover which is usually when I make these grand statements about never drinking again. Although I have stopped doing that as well because a few days later I feel like I fool for saying anything when  I decide to have a couple beers on Friday. I was just starting to keep all of my drinking thoughts to myself. I really did call while in some kind of crisis, panic attack mode. I started calling four times and hung up before I finally did it.  I said to myself, "Do it before you change your mind." It kind of worries me that I called in such an anxious state. Usually when I make rash decisions like this, I change my my mind when I calm down. Afterward I said to myself, "What have you done?" So why did I call?

1. I drank too much, again, on Saturday (with my sister no less). I had a debilitating hangover Sunday. My dh said some harsh, but true, words to me that morning that shook me to the core and caused me to cry much of the morning. I am sitting in the bathroom sobbing but telling everyone I just had to "go". I swore I was done drinking again on Sunday and Monday. I didn't get anything done Sunday, Monday or Tuesday (after being a crazy person cleaning out every closet in my house last week). I just felt so tired and depressed and unmotivated. I had said to myself a few day ago "here comes those feelings of not being able to find joy in everyday living knew this would happen even if you are successfully moderating...alcohol is a depressant" but I just pushed those thoughts away. Wednesday rolls around and all of a sudden I decide that I was doing so well moderating before Saturday night that it was just bc I drank wine. That I can still drink light beer and be able to drink as long as I don't drink wine and I am careful. I was already starting to plan my weekend...go on a hike Friday afternoon with my neighbor drinking buddy bc it would be a good excuse to have a beer afterwards, take my dh out to his favorite brewery on Saturday for Father's Day (never mind that my 20 yo son has already said he isn't going to go sit in a brewery while we drink and it is Father's Day) and have a BBQ at my house on Sunday which always invokes drinking.  Then, yesterday, I woke up with this contradictory feeling of gratefulness for being sober. I had finally slept well and was glad that I hadn't drank since Saturday. My brain is just all over the place and I had had enough. How can I go through so many extremely different emotions concerning alcohol in just five days?? And thiss has been going on for 10 years! When will enough be enough? When will I be sick enough of this to do what I need to do to quit?

2. I ran across this article in my flipboard new feed yesterday morning.

NHS pharmacy worker, 37, died of alcohol poisoning on the first day of her holiday

I have to be honest, it kinda scared me. I have absolutely drank that much on vacation, if not more.  I am at my worst on vacation...breaking all my rules. My dh and I have absolutely "familiarized ourselves with the destination" by walking around and drinking all day. I absolutely did this the first day we got to Vegas for my 21 yo dd birthday. My dh and I drank all day (familiarizing ourselves with all the different casinos) and then we had jaggerbombs (not my idea) around midnight when she turned 21. I couldn't even walk unassisted back to the room. How horrible would it have that been if I would have died on her 21 birthday!!! And I drank at least as much as this woman. I did spend her birthday, the next day, feeling like complete garbage but it was vacation so I just started drinking again. I have been at this level of intoxication maybe 25 times in my life. What's worse was I was trying to get her to drink with me...mother of the year! Another time was on vacation in Cancun drinking rum punch all day. I got in a huge fight with my dh, could barely get back to the room and passed out while they went to dinner. Another time I was so drunk from slamming grape-a-ritas (which I don;t even like but are high in alcohol and easy to slam) in the car on the way to the mountains for a vacation to celebrate my ds high school graduation. I didn't even remember that we had stopped at McDonalds (which I never eat) on the way up. I just sat in the car wasted (still drinking) with headphones on singing super loud thinking I was the shit! I woke up the next day and couldn't even function, but it was vacation so later that day I drank some more. I could go on and on. This could have 100% been me numerous times and I'm sure the woman in the article never thought it would be her. That is f!@#ing scary as shit!

Then I looked around and found more instances of this happening.

Mom Dead From Alcohol Poisoning

Mother battling breast cancer dies from alcohol poisoning 

These women did not fit my stereotypical picture of people who die from alcohol poisoning (drunk old homeless guy or college frat boy who did too many shots). These women were/are me. I have drank that much on many occasions and I am starting to see physical consequences to my drinking...heart palpitations, hot flashes, anxiety attacks, stomach aches...

 It's just not worth the risk. How selfish would it be of me to die and devastate my family for my own selfish need to drink. Not worth it.

So, how am I feeling this morning.  Kinda worn out, confused, scared, anxious. I didn't sleep well last night. I keep waking up feeling anxious. I kept having this dream of giving up my decision making  to someone else (I think we were on vacation) and something about taking a shower but not being able to close the window so everyone could see me. Probably had something to do with surrendering and vulnerability. I really am not too scared of the counseling part. I do not want to drag up all of the stuff that has happened to me in the past, but I am more scared of what therapy means. Even after being pretty shook up from those articles, I have to admit what scares me the most is never being able to drink again and not being happy in sobriety. There has to be underlying reasons why I can't maintain sobriety and I need someone to help me figure that out.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

6/14/18 Called For Help

I just called Kaiser and asked to make an appointment to get some help.  I was frighteningly honest about having anxiety/depression/mild bipolar but also have some major issues with alcohol and that I didn't know which was causing which. She asked me if I would rather see an addiction specialist or a behavior therapist for the other issues.  I started crying and said that I don't know which is causing which but I KNOW that nothing will get better as long as I continue to drink and that after 10+ years of seriously trying, I have come to the heart wrenching conclusion that I don't know if I can fix myself by myself.  I am just sitting here crying. I don't feel relieved. I feel terrified. I am also scared that since I can't be seen for 2 weeks, I will change my mind about even needing help and cancel the appt.

6/14/18 (Thurs) Excellent article

I was reading an excellent article this article morning.  So much of it resonates with me.  The fact that I could live in the thought processes of most self declared alcoholics does not escape me.  The following quotes are directly from the article that I wanted to remember.  Pretty powerful considering just yesterday I was trying to convince myself that the only thing I screwed up on this weekend was drinking wine. If I just stay away from the wine, I will be fine. I was doing really well with only drinking very low alcohol beer.

How I Let Drinking Take Over My Life by William Leith

I wanted to drink for precisely the same reason that I didn’t want to drink – because I had a drinking problem. 

When I try to explain my drinking problem, it goes like this: in my head, I was a moderate drinker, but after I’d had a drink, I wasn’t. The more I drank, the more I wanted to drink. Drinking increased my thirst.

Drink added something, but it always seemed to subtract more than it added, and the only way I could get things back to normal was to drink more, and all this drinking began to wreck my mind.

I had a persistent fantasy that, the next time I started to drink, things would be better.

 I have the same feelings (after 5 years sober) about alcohol that I had when I was 10. It’s dangerous; it’s disgusting; it causes cancer; it rots your liver and makes you look, and smell, like a much older and sicker person. 

Drink had woven itself into the fabric of my life. 

There were three bouts of heavy drinking, each more serious than the last. In the first two bouts, in my teens and then in my mid-20s, I responded to stress – the stress of school, the stress of work – by drinking alcohol. In the third bout, when my drinking escalated dramatically, it was as if the alcohol itself had become a stressor.

Some people drink, and then they drink more, and at a certain point, they become obsessed with drink.

But drinking always increased my desire to drink

“It creeps up,” said Drummond. “It’s insidious. I don’t like to think it’s ever too late, but it becomes harder and harder to do something about it once it’s got a grip on people.”

When you drink, it can be impossible to think clearly about your drinking.

Glutamate promotes brain activity; Gaba inhibits it. Booze acts as a red light for glutamate and a green light for Gaba. Think about that for a moment. Gaba hinders communication and glutamate helps it. Booze helps the hinderer and hinders the helper. In Memoirs of an Addicted Brain, Lewis describes what happened when he got drunk for the first time: “The sites of glutamate transmission become numbed and ineffective, so information flow is now sluggish, with big signals still getting through while small signals fade into static.” Furthermore: “It’s Gaba’s job to fine-tune thought and perception, to clarify things, but now things are clear to the point of caricature … In other words, I am thinking about very little, but I am thinking about it with magnificent clarity.
Alcohol, then, stops you thinking too much. It slows down the hamster wheel of anxiety. It simplifies.
When you drink, another neurotransmitter, dopamine, is sent all over the brain. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter of anticipation, of excitement, of wanting more. Dopamine floods your brain with a sort of excited hunger, the sensation of being in thrall to something. 
**Kingsley Amis once said, it’s not about being drunk, it’s about getting drunk. It’s about that magic moment of rapture on the way to somewhere else. The sweet spot – the exact moment when anticipation and reward are in perfect balance. 
**This sentence gave me anxiety bc I not only know this but understand it on a guttural level - I feel it.
When you flood it with chemicals to make it feel rewarded, it will find ways to feel that reward a bit less intensely. So you need to drink a bit more to get the same buzz
Desire grows as fulfillment shrinks; anticipation nags as reward becomes less rewarding.
Something happens to the prefrontal cortex, the centre of decision-making in the brain. Imagine every thought you might have as a narrow pathway. Now imagine an obsessive, dopamine-fuelled thought happening over and over. It becomes a trunk road, and eventually a motorway. There are no other routes. You find yourself in a difficult situation. You want to drink, but drinking is making you ill. You feel ill, but you want a drink. You are full of wanting. So you drink. And it doesn’t work like it used to.
You cross the line when you start lying to yourself. But you never know where the line is.
At a certain point, the sweet spot begins to disappear. You search for it. You search for it by drinking more. The hangovers get worse. You spend at least half of each day fighting a hangover. 
Why did I drink? I drank because I was anxious, because it helped me talk to people, because worrying about my drinking helped me to stop worrying about other things, things that really stressed me out, such as writing. Drinking relieves stress, and then causes it, but the stress caused by drinking, at least for a while, helps to screen out your real worries. And then drinking becomes a real worry. You cross the line, but you don’t see it, so you keep on going.
It’s been five years now. Sobriety is awesome. My brain really does believe that. Being sober is much better than I thought it would be five years ago.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

6/13/18 (Wed) I need alcohol only because of alcohol

Last night I read this comment in the book.

"The need for alcohol is caused by alcohol" and that all the fear of quitting is caused by only one thing - the alcohol itself.

Do I need alcohol to have fun? to feel comfortable in social situations? to enjoy a vacation? to relax on my patio on a Friday night? to have friends? to feel included? to feel cool? to be happy?

No!  That would be ridiculous. I THINK I need it because I am addicted to it. My addiction tells me that I need it for all of those reasons. Also, I have used it during all of those activities for so many years that it is also a habit. A habit fueled by an addictive drug. I can do all of those things without the aid of a drug. Children do all of those things without a drug and have an immense amount of joy. All of the sober people out there keep telling me they can do all of those things without a drug and be happy. Addiction creates a very flawed belief system and warped way of thinking.

I took the trash out this morning and threw away all the beer/hard seltzers in my fridge that I would be tempted to drink. I have to admit that there was a little voice in my head whispering, "Are you sure? Are you sure now is a good time? Maybe next week? Maybe after summer? Maybe after the Father's Day BBQ this weekend? Maybe after vacation? Are you sure you want to waste the money? Are you sure you won't just go buy more anyway?"

Nothing changes if nothing changes. 

As many of you keep reminding me...the solution is simple. Just don't drink....positive...Just stay sober.  Being sober won't solve all of my problems but I sure as hell won't solve any of my problems if I keep drinking. 

I have been writing in this blog for 7 years (after the previous 10 years of trying to moderate) about how horrible alcohol makes me feel. 

Enough is enough!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

6/12/18 (Tues) Kick the Drink - control in the quicksand

I started reading Jason Vale's Kick the Drink last night. Many of the ideas about alcohol being an addictive poison and about societies acceptance of this drug (alcohol being the only drug you have to justify not using) were things I had read before. There were a couple of new ideas, however, that made me stop and think.

"For any other form of drug addiction, the addict who wants to quit is applauded for realizing they were never in control but the alcohol addict is given a label and made to feel inferior."

So true! This one makes me mad! I need to get over this and start realizing that not drinking is a good thing. If other people don't see it that way, they are probably just trying to justify their own drinking. Anyone who says they don't drink for the buzz but for the taste and that drinking is no big deal is full of shit. It is a poisonous, addictive drug that everyone uses for the mind altering effect it creates whether the social confidence or the numbing effect it provides. How could you possibly justify pouring a known carcinogen down your throat other than to say that it isn't a big deal? Societal norms around alcohol really piss me off and certainly make it harder to quit.  I wish the perception around alcohol was in the same place it is for cigarettes or heroin or opiods or crack or meth or ANY OTHER DRUG!  Why, when I say I am not drinking, am I looked at with a bizarre look of, "Why?" or "I'm sorry." or "That sucks." It is all so stupid!! "Why?" because it isn't good for me (or anyone) and I feel better when I don't. You should try it.  "I'm sorry?"  Don't feel sorry for me. It is my choice not to poison myself. I feel sorry for you that you can't see it. "That sucks" Actually what sucks is having you life being run by an addictive drug that is controlling you!

"Was I ever really choosing to drink on these occasions or did I have to in order to have a good time? Had my freedom of choice really been taken away form me?...if you consciously have to be in control to make sure you don't drink too much, then surely you cannot really be in control....It is the having to exercise control that proves the addict is not in control. You cannot have the freedom of choice without the freedom to also refuse."

This one made me pause. I work so hard to control my drinking. Over the years I have made rules for myself that, if followed, would prove I am in control of my drinking. My latest set of rules were - no drinking alone (broke this one all the time), no sneaking (was starting to do this), only on the weekends (usually but not always especially in the summer), still work out and eat healthy (impossible to maintain when obsessed with or recovering from alcohol), no wine (this one was really hard after a couple of permissible drinks and being around the right crowd aka my sister and was always followed by a demoralizing/debilitating hangover), no IPA beers (this one was new bc I decided I am now allergic to hops - how ridiculous the rationalizing is) and no drinking in the morning - Yippie! I never break this last one (oh ya - except for on vacation of maybe Christmas morning). I don't have the shakes or seizures or get DUIs and have a good job and loving family so....Yeah me! I do have control!  It is all just so EXHAUSTING! It is like someone walking a dog that is out of control - pulling, barking, jumping, biting - but because it is on a leash the owner thinks they have control.  I feel like alcohol is the same feeling. My sense of control is really just an illusion because actually it is controlling me. And when I am having a bad craving, I do not feel like I have the freedom to refuse. At that moment, when I am having an anxiety attack and a mental battle to either drink after being sober or drink wine after having a couple (like last Sat)...a am absolutely not not in control. And the alcohol wins...always...I don't think that is control.

"Listing all the reasons why you shouldn't drink will not make it easier, just as writing down all the reasons you shouldn't be in quicksand will not make it easier for you to stop sinking." He goes on to say that most addicts are fully aware of why they should not drink. They drink because of the perceived positives they gain. The focus should be on negating the positives of drinking and focusing on the positives on sobriety. Not focusing on the negatives of drinking.

That seemed a little confusing and I had to think about it for awhile and reread it a couple of times. I used to like the analogy of standing on a burning bridge and instead of getting off the bridge, trying to figure out how it caught on fire in the first place. I have gotten off the bridge. I do know that I have an addiction to alcohol which is why is causes me so much misery.  Now I feel like I am in the quicksand - trying to figure out if I want to stay in the quicksand and why it is actually bad for me and seeing if I try hard enough if I can just stay there but not sink any further. Especially because the quicksand is all I have ever known and all of my friends are there with me and getting out seems scary and lonely and different and hard.

I have been making lists for years about why I should stop. Maybe my focus should be on the positives that come from sobriety instead of the negatives that come with choosing to drink.
My brain needs to be saying, "Aren't you so glad you don't drink anymore? You an go to this party, be totally present, have meaningful conversations, not be loud and annoying, dominating conversations and leave at a reasonable time." Maybe life is easier and less of a struggle if I just choose to get out of the quicksand and be thankful for the choice I have made.

Related image

This cartoon makes me think about all of my sober online buddies who are giving me encouragement and advice but unless I am ready to believe it...I will just keep sinking.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

5/20/18 - 6/10/18 - Three weeks of backsliding

The only thing that I truly look forward to is drinking and drinking has become the reason I enjoy anything. 

I wrote this two years ago...pretty profound and still true, unfortunately.

5/20/18 (Sun)

Drank 3.5 beers last night. Woke up in the middle of the night with severe anxiety, heart fluttering and a terrible bad I couldn't get up to take Advil. I researched a bit and I am going to stay away from high alcohol IPAs. Now I will stay away from hard alcohol/mixed drinks, wine, high alcohol beer and hard seltzers (too easy to sneak). All I am left with are low alcohol beers (Bud Light) which really don't taste all that great and really don't get me all that I find myself asking myself, "What is the point of drinking at all?"

5/21/18 (Mon)

Felt like crap all day yesterday. Today my eyes are swollen from all the salt and crap food I ate yesterday, stomach hurts from being unable to go to the bathroom (probably caused by the dehydration of drinking), and I just feel like crying. I know the real reason I want to take a break from blogging is because I want to take a break from trying to be sober. Last night I spent a large amount of time on my phone researching why 3 beers (two of which were IPAs) made me wake up an anxiety attack, caused such a bad headache and make me feel shitty all day yesterday. Why? Why do I care? Why am I researching which addictive poison would be the best for me...trying to convince myself that I have now developed an allergy to hops and trying to find the least hoppy beer for next time. I need to remember that being sober is about so much more than avoiding a hangover. It is about being proud of myself, not being depressed, being able to sleep and accomplish my goals. I bought the triscilian bracelet after one month of sobriety to remind myself of how drinking alcohol negatively impacts many areas of my life (not just suffering through hangovers). That I can choose to drink on the weekends but pay the price with self deprecation, anxiety, and misery....or.....not drink on the weekends and enjoy the subsequent self pride, calmness and joy. Is being able to have a couple of beers on the weekend worth spending yet another summer in this dark place?

5/23/18-5/30/18 (Wed-Wed)

Lots of drinking this past week.  No hangovers (probably bc only drank low alcohol beer and not very many) but still way too many days in a row. Actually consistently drank less than the people I was with. This week has been filled with going away parties for me (so I had to go), a family bbq's, a neighborhood holiday get together, end of school year parties, etc. I don't feel hungover, just tired. In terms of moderation - I have been doing pretty well with "how much" other than two days where I was sneaking. I am not doing so well with "how often."  I would like to say no drinking this weekend. I'm going to try. 

6/3/18 (Sun)

Only drank two on Friday and two on Saturday.  How am I feeling? Kind of a combination of a) I am doing pretty well - not over doing it/no hangovers/no wine/only light beer/glad to be drinking moderately  b) kind of disappointed bc I said I didn't want to drink this weekend/worried I will never lose this weight while drinking/know I feel better when AF.

6/8/18 (Fri)

Went to a brewery with friends last night. Drank one before we left, one in the car, and 2.5 while there.  Super tired today. Wasted a beautiful Friday feeling tired. I am starting to feel that lack of joy coming back into my life. just not being excited for anything unless it involves drinking.

6/10/18 (Sun)

Went to my sister's house for a party last night. Drank one hard seltzer before I left and then three more there before I switched to wine. Once I switched to wine I just didn't want to stop. My dh asked me to not drink wine and to leave with him at 10:30.  I said no and that I wanted to stay and play cards. I just kept drinking and was kinda glad my ds and dh weren't there to watch me. We even opened another bottle and made him come back and get me at 12:00.  Needless to say I woke up with an anxiety attack, shaky, with a headache and nauseous.  I feel like total garbage.  This is the pattern I didn't want to repeat for the millionth time - do well moderating for a while, drinking slowly increasing, finally culminating in a bad night followed by a horrendous hangover.

I finally make my way downstairs this morning and my dh, who is usually really supportive of me no matter what I am doing (moderating/abstaining/struggling), says, "I don't have a lot of sympathy for you today. I tried to get you to leave and to not drink wine." I shoot back, "I'm not looking for sympathy." He says, "I'm getting a little tired of this.....either stop drinking or be an alcoholic! You wanted to stay last night not to play cards but to keep drinking!"  

I was shocked and hurt that he said that to me. He has never said anything like that to me before. I just started crying and couldn't stop....not because he said it, but because he is probably right and it is just really hard to hear. I don't want to be an alcoholic. I don't want to stop drinking. I want to be able to moderate and drink like everyone else does.  

I know that the reason I stopped blogging is because I am not proud of myself when moderating and I think I subconsciously know it will always put me right back where I am today.  I think I am only truly proud of myself when not drinking.....I guess I know what I need to do.