It’s been a few days since I last posted. I’ve been busy working and trying to get enough sleep which is always a challenge for day-sleepers. I’m still not drinking and life is generally ticking along OK.
I haven’t been online for a few days so I’ve been catching up with blogs posts from the blogs I’m following. This post at stopwineingstartliving really resonated with me this morning. I like the concept of there being no ‘decision’ to make about whether to drink or not which effectively removes the internal debate and the tiring, obsessive thought processes that go with the decision. It is something I have thankfully started to experience. I’m into my 6th week of being sober now and yesterday I passed yet another Tuesday morning (Friday night equivalent) without cracking open the red or even wasting one second of my night considering it as a possibility. Tuesday was peaceful and lazy after some long, heavy nights at work. And then, suddenly, it wasn’t…
I was reminded of another one of the reasons I have had in the past for drinking. I’m not sure how to describe it really. The most obvious description would be a ‘manic’ episode but I hate the potential mental health assumptions that that label brings. It’s something I’ve experienced from time to time for as long as I can remember so it doesn’t scare me but what I have usually done is douse it down with a heavy dose of booze.
It’s a high energy state that I feel physically and mentally. It’s certainly not how you’d expect to feel after having been awake for almost 24 hours, including a heavy 10 hour shift at work. I’m struggling with the words here but this music video with the crackling blue flashes, flames and intensity is probably a good way to start – and heck, what an awesome voice.
The physical side of it manifests as an extreme restlessness that makes me want to do something like one of the following;
- Run extremely fast for a long time
- Have exhaustingly intense sex
- Dance and get very sweaty and go into a shamanic trance-dance sort of altered state
- Drive fast with very loud music playing
- Do some martial arts
- Drink heavily, preferably heavy red wine
You get the general idea. As I have injured knees, don’t always have the option of great sex, don’t go clubbing any more, drive a 1 litre eco car and have an issue with fuckwits driving dangerously you can see that the only option has most often been to crack open a bottle. Last night none of the above were an option.
Then there’s the psychological side of the experience. Racing thoughts and ideas with the inability to just ‘switch off’ my head. The thoughts aren’t sinister or dangerous and are often quite useful in the form of creative ideas, but they’re relentless and it can get a bit much after a while. A few glasses of red starts to slow them down usually, but nope, that still wasn’t an option last night.
I considered getting out of bed and pondered what I could do but then had a novel idea – I could just stay with the experience and not try to avoid it. Feel the feelings and think the thoughts and not worry about getting to sleep – I’m not working again until the weekend and I have no appointments or commitments to get to. So there I was, fidgeting around in bed with my eyes wide open but sort of ‘watching’ myself do it as well – if that makes any sense?
Taking on an attitude of mindfulness and acceptance turned an uncomfortable situation into something better. I still wasn’t exactly relaxed but some of the edge had gone from the experience. I thought about so many areas of my life and tried to follow where my thoughts were going with total self-honesty. I thought about my employment, my finances, my growing feeling of having a lack of options in life. I thought about my doubts about my relationship and what this could mean for the future. I thought about mistakes I’d made in the past and pondered why I’d made them. In short, I thought about a hell of a lot of stuff which was quite uncomfortable in parts but way more valuable that drowning out the process with alcohol. At some point I fell asleep, and slept for almost 12 hours.
One thing I learned from last night is that I’ve only just really begun to build a sense of identity in the last few years leading up to my 40s. I think I’ve lived most of my adult life without having any strong sense of who I am and where I’m at – I’ve generally just floated along allowing my surroundings and the people in it to shape me, rather than defining myself. Alcohol has played its part by squashing down the seeking, doubting and questioning side of me. If in doubt, or uncomfortable, or confused, or bored, or restless – then drink.
I believe that there’s a part of us, deep inside that knows what we need from life and has the answers to all our questions. It’s very difficult to hear though, like a tiny voice lost in the cacophony of the noise of our lives. I think that the more extreme psychological events such as depression, panic attacks or manic episodes come from somewhere deep in our subconscious as a wake-up call or a plea to be listened to. Now that alcohol is out of the way for the foreseeable future I’m really ready to listen, I’m really trying.
Today I’ve felt a bit flat and surprisingly tired given how long I slept for. I’ve been for a big walk in the winter sunshine which has made me feel better. I’ve pootled about in some charity shops and managed to find some very new-looking jeans to see me through the interim stage until I lose a few more pounds. I’m now going to curl up and have a snooze for a few hours because that feels like the best thing to be doing right now. My cat agrees with me and is already fast asleep curled up at the end of the bed – bless her!