123 days

I was tempted to use the title, as easy as 123 but as you know, it hasn’t always been easy to get to this point. It’s 4 months! It sounds odd to say it, slightly surreal but also very, very real.

I’m feeling fortunate that at the moment it’s taking zero willpower to not drink. I just don’t want to. When I think about a large glass (bottle) of red I get a strange cognitive disconnect. When I imagine smoking a cigarette after 16 years it just seems absurd and unrealistic. I can feel a similar attitude developing in connection with alcohol but it’s still vague and a far weaker internal reaction. Hopefully this will get stronger over time.

Some niggly health issues have escalated, prompting me to get my butt off to my doctor. I’ve had some blood tests and am waiting for the results and a hospital appointment for a scan. My gut feeling is that it’s not a worst case scenario, but there’s always that horrible ‘What if?’ fear lurking deep down. The waiting is the worst part. It’s good meditation fodder along the lines of ‘This is happening, it’s my reality, it’s pointless trying to hide, run away, numb out etc’.

I’m currently about 22 hours into a water fast and feeling fairly good. It’s purely for healing and spiritual reasons and nothing to do with weight loss. It’s something I turn to when I am having health issues or feel like I need to hit the reset button. Previously my longest fast was 5 days when I was having pretty bad skin and gut problems. It helped those but didn’t do my thyroid any favours so I stick to 3 days or less now. I’m aiming for 48 hours but will adjust either way depending on how I feel. Strangely, it has coincided with ramadan and I remember doing some fasting this time last year too. Ironically my muslim-raised partner is not.

I also need to say, if you have any struggles with an eating disorder or think of it as a weight-loss plan, please don’t go there – it’s not a one size fits all kind of thing.

Fasting has long been considered a natural healing practice. Animals do it instinctively, humans tend not to. Huge amounts of our energy is used up digesting our food and processing anything undesirable which realistically includes a lot of the ingredients (and chemicals) in our modern processed foods. It takes a fair few hours without food to ramp up our natural process of autophagy allowing the body to focus more exclusively on its healing and eliminating/detoxing processes.

When I think about the logic of fasting I have a mental image of a factory. Imagine the production lines constantly running, the workers are all focussed there and completely ignore the building that houses them. Over time, the building gets dirty and falls into disrepair because nobody has done any cleaning or maintenance. Fasting seems like stopping the production lines to allow all the workers to spend a couple of days doing this essential work.

It’s going to be a quiet couple of days which I’m really happy about. I’ll do lots of reading, meditation, thinking, drawing, some very gentle yoga – all the peaceful and relaxing stuff. Despite the ups and downs, uncertainties and pain, I’m feeling pretty grateful and focussed at the moment. Last week was scattered and grumpy, next week… who knows, but I’m confident it’ll be a sober one ;D

Wishing you all a good sober week x

 

Day 16 – Thinking about my health

I’ve gone over 2 weeks now and still going strong. I’d love to say I’m feeling great as a result but I’m actually feeling pretty dreadful on and off but that’s down to struggling with my thyroid medication so not related to alcohol in any way. Even so, I know that ditching the booze can only be a good thing for my health.

Back in august I had a load of blood tests done including the much feared liver function tests. Surprisingly they came back as ‘within normal range’ which was a relief. In hindsight I think this may have played a part in my slipping back into drinking again. The booze devil inside me most definitely took it as confirmation that ‘I wasn’t that bad after all / See, no harm done’ etc…

That’s not a helpful way to think really is it? That’s like saying well hey, my liver hasn’t failed yet so I may as well keep hammering it until it does. Or, wow, I don’t have lung cancer yet so fuck it I’ll just keep on smoking and quit when I do eh? Seriously?!

There’s also the fallibility of medical tests. On a number of occasions in the last decade my thyroid tests have been ‘within normal range’ which could lead you to think it was perfectly fine. Unfortunately, due to Hashimoto’s disease my immune system has been doing a ninja kick-ass routine on it for all that time so in reality it has been merely scraping by and keeping up the appearance of normality against all odds. Sooo… who knows, maybe that’s what my liver has been doing?

I also can’t escape the fact that when I have a drinking binge – which is basically any time I drink – I get a dull pain under the right side of my ribs. No drink = no pain, drink = pain. Suspicious huh? It’s not rocket science 😉

In the last couple of weeks I’ve watched some alcohol-related documentaries on youtube and wow has that been a sobering experience. Watching a young woman with liver failure have 23 litres of ascites fluid drained from her abdomen (it looks like cloudy pee!) is pretty appalling 😦 Here are links to some of the most interesting ones:

Old before my time – alcohol
Alcohol will kill you!

The next one may seem a bit judgemental at times, particularly about whether addiction is a disease or not, but it still raises many interesting points to consider:

Beyond sober

And on a more positive and uplifting note here’s a beautiful one focusing on sobriety:

Sober

I also bought a couple of books for my new kindle which was a sober treat that’s already 50% paid for by the savings from not drinking:
Drink: The Deadly Relationship Between Women and Alcohol – Ann Dowsett Johnston
Smashed: Growing Up A Drunk Girl – Koren Zailckas

So, lots of sobriety-focused watching, reading and thinking going on here. It’s now almost 5am and I’m enjoying the early silence whilst I write this. I have a busy day planned doing lots of sober and productive stuff. Wishing everybody a positive, sober day too x

Oh dear, what a mess!

So, things haven’t been going so well the last few weeks. I’ve been managing to string together a few days of not drinking, often up to a week and then I’ve derailed my efforts one way or another.

I’ve also been having some really scary health stuff happening. I’m struggling with feeling the pointlessness of everything. I’m finding it difficult to get motivated to do the things I want to do to stop treading water. It sometimes feels like I’m watching myself starting to drown but I’m too lethargic to even chuck myself a life ring.

Sometimes I try so hard to improve something and it has the opposite effect. Here’s an example… I know that gluten is so bad for me in so many ways so I got all motivated in the kitchen and baked a load of experimental gluten-free and low sugar goodies. They turned out well and I was happy as I sampled them all. Then later on, I woke up in a right state, almost as fuzzy as being drunk. On my way to the bathroom I smacked my elbow on the wardrobe door handle, staggered into the wall and dragged myself along the landing by the bannister. I’m surpised I didn’t fall off the loo I was so wobbly.

The flour I used was predominantly tapioca based which I learned the hard way is a real no-no for anybody with thyroid problems. It took me a few days to rebuild my energy after that mistake but at least it’s a lesson learned that won’t be repeated.

A few days later I was at work talking to a colleague when I suddenly realised I couldn’t see half of her face. I’d lost peripheral vision in one eye and a good portion of my sense of physical coordination. The first aider was scared I was having a stroke and I was driven off the A&E. I was absolutely terrified! – my mum was only a few years older than I am now when she had her first serious stroke. I was checked out very thoroughly and it thankfully wasn’t stroke related but the doctors have no idea what it was.

I’ve been having random parts of my body go numb, or tingle, or feel weak, or have shooting pains, or I go dizzy etc.

It’s resurrected an old fear in the back of my mind. I’ve already had 2 autoimmune diseases diagnosed and my recurring skin problems could probably be classed as a 3rd if it was actually looked into properly. There are some really scary autoimmune diseases on the list and I’ve been doing my own research on how to turn my immune system around into a normal state as any treatments the doctors give just suppress symptoms rather than get to the root cause of the state of autoimmunity. It worked for my ‘lifelong and incurable’ Hashimoto’s diagnosis – every blood test comes back ‘within normal ranges’ since I changed my diet and added some supplements.

What is really scaring me is that I’ve now had every single warning sign of MS (one of the scariest autoimmune diseases on the list). Then again, it could also all be explained by fibromyalgia, or even a combination of migraine, sciatica, RSI and a touchy thyroid state so I’m trying not to get too paranoid about it. I’m building up to doing an autoimmune diet that cuts out all potential immune system triggers or gut irritants. I’ve done it before and it felt good but I’ve lost motivation and drifted away from it again. My motivation for that is back, as you can probably imagine.

Yesterday I was pretty crap all round. I binge-watched TV on Netflix instead of doing anything constructive. I ate takeaway instead of the delicious and appropriate food I’d been cooking. I felt utterly bored, unmotivated and a bit depressed and to top it off I walked to the local shop and bought a bottle of wine and drank it. FACEPALM moment 😦 I felt like I was watching myself do it all through a thick glass screen, knowing I should do something to stop it but just feeling too tired to deal with it all.

Today is a new day and I’m stroking myself down and climbing back out of the hole and making self-caring plans for the coming week. I’m viewing the last few weeks as a series of lessons learned rather than beating myself up about failures. I’m reminding myself that every moment is an opportunity to make mindful decisions that can either support and nourish my life or decrease my quality of life.

Wishing you all a supportive and nourishing day folks x