12 January 2020
17 January. 2020 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Recovery | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
I don't tend to tell people about my alcohol addiction. People know, but generally it's close family or those of you who read my blog. For a long time I didn't tell anyone because I was embarrassed and ashamed. I felt I'd let myself and everyone around me down. I really didn't like the way that made me feel.
I didn't go to AA and without having a group to talk to, I didn't really express how I felt, I guess it was hard to explain to people who hadn't experienced quite the same things as me. There’s also a fine line between working through things and feeling like you are just complaining. So I didn't share it with too many people, until I began to write this blog.
When you all started to read and talk to me it was like a weight had been lifted because so many people understood. So many of you had experienced something similar and connecting reminded me that I wasn’t the only one, that others had been there too. It helped a lot.
I still didn't tell anyone else though. I didn’t think there was a reason to and to be honest, it was just easier to avoid everyone from before. I think as well as feeling there would be judgment, I am afraid people won't understand, that they will think I'm attention seeking, or making it up, or that they will brush it off and not understand how hard it was to stop. Not that these things should matter really.
Yesterday I had meeting. There were a lot of people there, some new faces, some familiar and it was good. A year ago you couldn't have paid me to go into a room full of people like that and pitch. But I'm doing it and getting better at it. Even if it did involve a little mental preparation beforehand.
Afterwards people mingled and I got talking to someone I've met before a few times and chatted with. We spoke of work, Christmas, all sorts, and somehow got onto mental health. I may have said how much running helps me. Then we were talking about drinking, and without thinking I just said, 'I don't drink anymore.' I've said that before, but usually without the 'anymore' on the end, as it stops people asking any more questions. My colleague remarked how easy it could be to come to rely on it, how one drink turns into more, and I said I stopped over three years ago for that very reason. It was enough. I didn't have to explain, although later as we talked I did say how hard stopping had been. I felt accepted for being me, and not judged in the way I had been fearing. It was refreshing and a lovely way to start the day. It gives me hope to feel I am moving on. Even sitting here thinking about it now, I actually feel proud of myself for admitting it to someone.
Are any of you careful about what you say to others, or is it just me who is a little bit cagey?
Thanks for reading!
16 January. 2020 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Recovery | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
I hate when things don’t go to plan. I told you recently that I was feeling braver… well that bravery has wobbled a bit. I guess it’ll be a bit up and down for a while? I can’t just go back to where I was can I? And like I’ve said before, I don’t want to really, as that involved drinking.
I was getting somewhere I thought, and then someone corrected me on something. I still think I’m right but that is besides the point. It was like my voice disappeared. I felt myself shrivelling up. I wanted to say, no actually, I value your opinion, but what I mean is… and explain it, but instead, I was like, “Oh okay, I’ll change it.” So I change it, and of course, everyone else thinks it’s okay, and that it isn’t a big deal, because really it isn’t. But I feel annoyed because I wasn’t heard, and it makes me stew on it, and I go over and over it, trying to work out if I am right about something no one else cares about anymore. It’s ridiculous and I’m driving my son to the running track later when I randomly say something to him about it, mid conversation. He looks at me, and is like, “What mum?” So I feel bad, because I should have left work at work, and not even be thinking about something so stupid when I’m at home, but it gets to me.
I think that is the biggest thing that affects me now, not being heard. Yet, I am not sure how to make myself heard sometimes. I just want an opinion, and yet I am scared to voice it, in case I upset someone, and then in feeling nervous, guarded and trying to bite my tongue, I inevitably seem to upset someone.
I told you I overthink. Who knew this sober life stuff would be so hard? I think I’m getting a handle on things, and then something else jumps up and gets me. So, I thought I’d tell you all, because I think you might understand.
Much love 💖💖💖
14 January. 2020 • Category: Running | PAWS | Withdrawal | Addiction | Mental Health | Recovery | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
I’m a worrier, I always have been. I think some people are more predisposed to worry than others, and yet, I also think it is influenced by our upbringing and experiences too. I can’t say what made me the way I am, because I don’t know. I just know that without wishing to, my mind sort of jumps to a worst case scenario before I’ve had time to think about the other options. It’s quite annoying, as I’d prefer to be more easy going and worry free, but it is something I am trying to work on.
Anxiety for me used to be worse, it was always there bubbling away under the surface. The only thing that helped keep a lid on it was drinking wine, but of course I stopped doing that when it became a bigger problem than the anxiety was. I didn’t realise that stopping would lift the lid and release all this anxiety that hadn’t been dealt with. It suddenly seemed so much worse. Probably because it was. A vicious circle can be created when you use alcohol to help mask the symptoms of anxiety. At first, it will give you a calm feeling as the alcohol affects the brain, but when it begins to wear off, you are often left feeling worse than you were before. Alcohol can even trigger panic attacks, something you don’t associate with something that is supposed to be fun or relaxing.
The fact is that alcohol affects neurotransmitters in the brain as well as the level of serotonin which can badly affect anxiety, and as the alcohol in your body wears off, it is likely you’ll feel more anxious than you did to start with. This ‘alcohol-induced anxiety’ can last up to a whole day after drinking, and it is this after affect, with long term drinking especially, that can lead to you reach for another drink to numb the feeling as it starts to build again.
There has been a lot of research into the links between those who suffer from anxiety and excessive alcohol consumption, I know, because I have read almost everything I could get my hands on. It is suggested that many people suffering from Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) actually turn to alcohol as a way of self medicating, but as mentioned above, in the long term, this only worsens their conditions. Reliance on alcohol as a means to cope with anxiety and other symptoms can mean you build a greater tolerance, therefore increasing the amount you drink. The cycle follows that the anxiety also increases and again, so does the amount you drink. Alcohol has a number of side effects that can cause panic attacks, including an increased heart rate, low blood sugar, dehydration and increased stress on your organs. It’s no wonder when you’re feeling over-whelmed and under pressure, that you might pour yourself another. The long term use of alcohol like this can be detrimental not only to your physical health but your mental health too. That calm feeling is harder to get and takes a larger quantity of drink to get you there. Overtime, you put more and more stress on your body and your mind.
Living without a buffer to your emotions and feelings is hard, stopping drinking is just the first part of the journey. Learning to sit with your emotions is the hard part. Learning not to be so reactive and sitting it out, waiting for the panic to pass, knowing you can come out the other side, that’s where the challenge comes in. It’s also where you begin to find yourself again. So stick with it, and I promise, it will get easier. Just give it time.
Much love and thanks for reading.
Thanks for reading!
13 January. 2020 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Recovery | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
My Cornwall Team runner.
On Saturday we went to Eden for parkrun. I’m pretty pleased with myself, I’ve managed four parkruns already this year, and on one I volunteered too, so that feels good. I’ve tried to make it my New Years Resolution to get out even when it’s hard, mind you I haven’t run yet today, and I don’t intend to. I am on the sofa at the moment watching the rain and there is a yellow weather warning in place for the wind, but I did run yesterday too, so I don’t feel too bad.
It was raining when I got up, I hadn’t felt like going, but my son is upping his training, as he recently qualified for our county team, and we’re trying to follow his coach’s schedule as closely as we can. On Friday night I suggested maybe just giving the one week a miss, I felt tired and it had been a long week. Barn suggested that he go anyway and ride his bike there, it’s ten miles or so, so he would have to be organised to go, but his reaction just meant that I didn’t feel I had to anymore. Immediately I felt like a weight was lifted from me, and then I actually felt like going. Isn’t it weird how the mind works? Or is it just mine?
It felt good to go, and although I didn’t run fast enough for a personal best, I did get a few records for fastest sections, so I couldn’t have been that slow. I always try to remind myself that whatever I do, it is more than I would have done if I stayed at home. Having the focus of making myself do something each day for RED January also makes me feel better. However much I don’t want to do something, I always feel better when I have made the effort.
Thanks for reading.
12 January. 2020 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
Post run picture.
I used to be quite opinionated, not argumentative necessarily, but certainly I did like to make my opinions known. I wouldn’t have said I was rude, just vocal. I liked to know about a subject and stand up for it. I had a voice and I wanted it to be heard.
Of late, or at least since I stopped drinking, that voice disappeared a little. I still had opinions but the idea of any confrontation terrified me. Now, I know healthy discussions are good. I am all for people having opinions, and I don’t think everyone should agree on everything, but I’ve found it hard to voice my own thoughts. The idea of standing up for something frightens me. I’m afraid of conflict, afraid I’ll upset someone and afraid to be wrong. It’s hard to relearn things, especially things you’ve been good at in the past. It’s hard to put yourself out there again and take a risk.
I may have said before, but the three year mark of sobriety seemed to be a real turning point for me. It coincided with this blog becoming a bit more known and I felt some more of my old self returning. The old me mind you, not the wine me!
Anyway, as I said, I tend to avoid conflict out of habit. Then I was scrolling through my news feed and I saw a post that I felt was really unnecessary. If I'd read it in my early days, it would have made me think twice about posting for support for fear if being judged and it annoyed me. I could see others felt the same and so I reported the post to the group admins, not for them to do anything necessarily, just for them to be aware. Sometimes it seems like ‘fake’ accounts pop up in support groups just to unsettle things. It wasn’t long before I had a message from an admin asking why I’d reported it. She was quite abrupt in her tone and said the person had since left the group, which reinforced my thought of it being a fake account. I explained my reasons and said that if the person had left, then that was cool, problem solved. The admin didn’t feel the matter was resolved though and questioned me again, saying she didn’t understand my reasoning and saying the post created a healthy discussion. My point was that it did, but only for those brave enough to speak up and lots of people in recovery aren’t. It was strange having her question me. It annoyed me and stirred up a fire in my belly that had lain dormant for a long time. I wanted to defend the vulnerable. Now, maybe I trod on her toes, maybe I shouldn’t have reported it, and just left it to her, I just didn’t know whether it would be seen by an admin or not. I didn’t know how many people it might have affected before someone said something. Either way, the admin didn’t like my perspective and I didn’t like her aggressive tone and the implication that she was right, regardless of what others thought. There’s no need to be rude in a conversation like that.
But, it was good. It showed me I can voice my opinions. I can be brave. I don’t have to sit quietly by and watch from the sidelines. Oh, and I can remove myself from a group where I don’t like the ethos. So, all in all it was a good lesson to have, and nice to feel I am getting my voice back!
Thanks everyone, I love chatting to you all.