140 days – mixed times

It’s been a fairly mixed couple of weeks since I last posted. My health scare turned out ok – not entirely good, but nothing too serious. There’s nothing like it for getting your healthy motivation on though. I ate really well and did anything else I could think of to be good to my body. Since getting my test results that has slacked off somewhat. Isn’t that so often the way it goes?

I did have a week off coffee and sugar and felt a lot better for it. I’m plagued by the daily dragging fatigue that Hashimoto’s brings. Without these two things in my diet the fatigue definitely eases a bit and becomes less hard-edged. You know the classic scene in a zombie movie where the new zombie sits up in its grave, jaw dropping and looking oddly surprised that it’s upright and alive? That should give you a good impression of what I usually feel like waking up. During that week I actually felt something close to a normal (?) sort of waking up sleepiness. The coffee and sweeties have both crept back in but the experiment has given me something to think about.

I also hit another happy milestone since my last post – I lost a stone (14lbs/6.35kg). Not in two weeks obviously but it’s been creeping off slowly over the last few months – and creeping back on, and off again and round in a few circles, as it does. My super healthy living around my health scare seems to have kick started it again. A couple of pounds have crept back on but I’m still in a much better place than I have been for years. I feel sluggish and rubbish after eating lots of junk for the last 3 days, it’s time to eat clean again and feel better. I don’t want to backslide all the way back up the scale again, or feel like an overfed sugar-crashing slug.

Being sober is becoming normalised now and something I’m not thinking about so much. My thinking about not drinking has lessened and doesn’t take up such a large percentage of my days now. Some days I don’t even think about it at all. Many days I’m not sure what my day count is. I have had a few moments where I can clearly identify what I would previously have called a craving and set off down the path of drinking thoughts. Now I realise that I’m feeling a bit ‘off’ somehow – bored, restless, anxious, unfocussed, cranky, fearful etc but my brain is becoming less likely to skip straight to the ‘DRINK!’ to make it ok phase and instead stays longer with the uncomfortable feelings. This means I’m feeling a fair bit of discomfort at the moment but I wouldn’t swap it for where I started from.

I miss my pink cloud days but I do appreciate that what I’m feeling is real. Life feels dull, ploddy, scattered and uninspired at times but I can accept that because that’s just the way life works, and I know that at other times it can also feel wonderful.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend x

 

Day 6

I can feel the fog lifting again. I feel better in myself already although I’m very tired; it’s hard for night shifters to get any decent sleep when it’s bright and sunny outside. I’m looking forward to 4 nights off work now.

I’ve also remembered that I remember my dreams when I lay off the booze and had a comical awakening yesterday because I dreamed my cat was dancing to hip hop. Okaaayyyy… not sure where that came from.

At work last night I got a sad reminder to appreciate the moment. A young guy who worked there had epilepsy and had a seizure in the night and never woke up again. He was 27. Too young and too sad 😦

I’ve also been doing lots of clear-headed thinking this week about meaning and purpose in life and I’ve had a real aha! breakthrough moment. I’m too tired to explain it now, more about that later.

Excuse the disjointed stream-of-consciousness here; I feel like I’ve been awake for a week. It’s time to sleep now. Have a lovely sober day folks x

5 weeks and a day and thoughts about ‘normal’

A while ago I was listening to a dharmapunx podcast and the teacher was talking about how our wanting to escape from everyday reality was influenced by the perspective from which we perceived our ‘normal’ state.

If we’re in a dreadful situation where we’re suffering, in pain or frightened then we look longingly at the idea of getting back to ‘normal’. As a good example he spoke about his excruciating experience of waiting for a kidney stone to pass.

If we’re in a great situation such as being on holiday, partying, or maybe feeling the rush of success or love, then we look grudgingly at the idea of getting back to ‘normal’.

Both ‘normals’ are of course the same thing, just our attitude to them is different.

It sounds so simple and obvious but it’s one of those things that no matter how much we think about it, it is so difficult for it to sink in. Then every so often we get an example or a lesson to remind us. I think this is what my last week has been all about…

First I had a cold. It was fairly mild but still crappy. Then I got a bout of hideous back pain at the base of my back. I was in the sort of pain that just leaves you helpless and surrendered, too scared to move because it brings on the searing hot poker sensation. It was fortunately mostly over in about 3 days. I have a bit of lingering pain when I sit but nothing too bad. The day I started to feel relief from the back pain I woke up with a banging headache and I felt generally awful – very much like a hangover. An hour after I woke I puked my guts out without warning for no obvious reason and then was left with an all-day headache.

Ok universe – I get the message! ‘Normal’ hasn’t looked and felt so damn gorgeous in a long time 🙂 I’ll try to remember to appreciate my everyday, calm, peaceful, pain-free (almost), secure and ‘normal’ moments without trying to escape. I know I’ll forget. The memory of the pain and suffering will trickle away like sand through my fingers and the perspective from which I look at ‘normal’ will begin to shift. I’ll try to remember though, I’ll really try – particularly if I’m thinking of trying to escape.

Not drinking feels good at the moment. I’m thinking about it less obsessively now. I know that that can change at any time so I’m not taking it for granted. I’m appreciating the easier sober moments, hours and days, and observing that they are gradually becoming far more frequent than the craving and psychologically wrestling, conflicted moments. I’m feeling some hope that something is somehow shifting in me on a deeper level but I’m not really sure just yet…

Hugs and strength to anybody who’s struggling and have a lovely sober Sunday night x

 

1 week and feeling grateful

It’s day 7 and I’ve been feeling grateful today. It’s a gentle and peaceful feeling, a whole world away from the crappy hangover I had last week.

I was grateful for the whingy-growl complaints from my cat when I pulled out the clump of grass seeds that had got planted into her tail. She wasn’t really restrained – just a one-armed lift – and could easily have scratched or shoved her way out of it but she didn’t. I felt loved and trusted by the little critter. The purring over reward treats was even sweeter.

I felt grateful during my morning coffee out in the garden, listening to the birds singing, smelling the fresh dampness everywhere and seeing the new tomatoes and cucumbers on the plants I’m caring for.

I even felt grateful for my aching feet. I appreciated the fact that I have the strength and health to be on them for 10 hours. The feeling of the cool morning air on my flip flopped tootsies after being stuffed into hot, heavy work shoes was wonderful.

I’ve had a long, undisturbed sleep and have woken up feeling good. I’m even appreciating the clean, sharp hunger I’m feeling because it’s an honest request from my body for nourishment rather than a chemically imbalanced, hung over scream for something to stuff down to take away the pain.

Simple, peaceful, grateful. I think they are my words for today. Now, it’s time for a nice sausage and ketchup sandwich 🙂

I hope everybody’s day brings lots to be grateful for too.

Day 39 – The morning after an intense experience

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!

Day 31 – A month done, cravings beaten and some plans

I’ve not been home from work for long and I’m celebrating finishing my working ‘week’ and a month of not drinking – with a nice mug of hot chocolate.

It’s been a mixed week. I’ve eaten far too much after allowing my birthday eating to go on for 2 whole days and have put back on 3 of the 4lbs I’ve lost. Hey ho, I’m going easy on myself, there’s only so much I can tackle at once.

I also had a bad craving session a couple of days ago. This ties in with the plans I’ve made for my creative/professional future. I decided to take a leap and spend a fair amount on some software to build apps. I’m going to try to build and publish some apps for android, apple etc and have it all planned out – in theory. I ended up spending about 4 hours messing about with my computer trying to get this stuff to work. There was a scary moment when I thought I may have wasted my money as I didn’t think it was going to work without me spending a huge amount more but in the end I have managed to get it set up and ready to go. Once I got it set up I was happy with what I’d achieved but after a quick look at the software I realised I have a huge learning curve ahead to even begin to make my plans happen.

I find messing about with tech really quite stressful – it’s actually the main reason I drifted away from a good career and now do unskilled work. I’m prepared to do this because I can do it at my own pace, I find my chosen subject matter really interesting and I really do want something better for my future. I learned it’s also a bit of a trigger point for me too.

I walked away from my computer pretty exhausted and wasn’t quite sure what to do next. You know the feeling when you want food but you don’t know what you fancy? I had that feeling about what to do next. It doesn’t happen to me very often so I find it really disorientating. There was nothing I wanted to do other than sit down and ‘reward’ myself for persevering with the software or ‘unwind’ from the stress with a mahoosive glass of red wine. Wolfie had crept up silently behind me and well and truly bitten me on the ass 😦 It came from nowhere and was shocking in its intensity.

I started up the Xbox and got busy shooting things and a little while later all the cravings had passed. I’ve been fine since then, no repeat attacks and I’m really glad I didn’t give in. I can now sit here and appreciate everything that a month off has given me.

My cat has just returned home from whatever cat business she was off doing. She’s pleased to see me and we’ve had a little furry, purring cuddle. I’ve fed her and am about to spend some time playing with her – I think she misses me when I’m off out at work all night. I’ve enjoyed my hot chocolate and I’m going to cook something nice for my dinner (breakfast to everybody else). There’s a little bit of sunshine peeking into my part of the world and I’m at a really good bit in the book I’m reading so I’m looking forward to a read tucked up in bed before I sleep. It’s the simple, gentle pleasures I’m learning to appreciate at the moment. I’m realising I’ve severely underrated them for most of my life.

Night night, have a good Tuesday whatever you’re up to.