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!