It could have been the metronidazole

I can’t tell you has much better I feel today. Saturday and Sunday, I felt sooooo low, similar to how I was when off work with depression a few years ago. And it had come out of nowhere, or so it felt like. I had these strange surges of anger, too, which was very worrying. I almost couldn’t function.

For some reason I had an inkling that it might have something to do with the antibiotics I was on for five days. There was no information leaflet in the box, so I googled it. Depression and irritability did come up on the list of possible symptoms. So, it could have been a factor, I don’t know. What I do know is, now I’ve finished the course, I feel SO MUCH BETTER! Oh the relief!!

Anyway, during my restless and disturbed weekend I googled ‘self care ideas’. I clicked around a few times on one website I found, The Self Compassion Project. I found a transcript from an interview with Tara Brach, about the Trance of Unworthiness, which really struck a chord. She says:

“I realised that my deepest suffering was a sense of not being enough, and when it was very bad, even a sense of self-aversion….I believe that the sense of not being enough is the most pervasive suffering in our society”.

The trance of unworthiness describes how we are trapped in the sense of falling short. She says that it’s the pain of this suffering which gives us the wake up call, and pushes us to see how we can stop being at war with ourselves.

Where does the trance come from? “We are hard wired to feel separate and to look for something to go wrong. It’s called our ‘negative bias’ and its designed to keep us safe. But its a very quick step to thinking that something is wrong in the environment to thinking ‘I’m wrong’.”

Culture also plays a part. “We live in a fear-based culture that over-consumes and is competitive….we are not invited to say ‘this moment is a enough’. That would stop there economy in its tracks. Our culture feeds the sense that ‘I should be better. I should be more.”

And she touched on the idea of the ‘second arrow’, which I think I was feeling over the weekend, too. Tara described having been I’ll, and feeling irritable and self-centered, and not liking herself for being a ‘bad sick person’. As though she’s not being spiritual in how she’s being sick. “The first arrow is feeling sick, and the second arrow is feeling unworthy because I’m judging myself for not being a good sick person”. So the second arrow is how we react to our feelings? I think I’ve got that right…

At first I felt that way about my husband telling me it didn’t matter if I felt a certain way. I thought, ‘not only am I feeling depressed, but I’m wrong to feel depressed. I should be able to talk myself out of it’. Which was impossible.

As it turned out, when we got right down to the root of it, he did have a point. And he was mainly getting at the acceptance aspect of all of this. He said there are always going to be people who you sometimes think ‘I wish I was as good at X as them’, or ‘they don’t seem to like me and I don’t know why’, or ‘I made a huge mistake, I’m so rubbish’. Mr W, in a rare revelation of enlightenment, said that you just have to remind yourself that there will always be people who know more than you. There may be people in your life who don’t like you. You will make mistakes occasionally. But the thing is, none of this matters. You can choose to let it worry you, or not. If someone knows more stuff than you, maybe you could learn from them. If someone doesn’t like you, then they’re not for you. There will be plenty of other people you do get along with and who appreciate you. If you make a mistake, its ok. Learn from it. Remember there are people making mistakes in all situations and contexts. Some hugely serious, others not so much. In the grand scheme of things, mistakes are usually not that important. I mean, wow, I never realised he could be so Zen!

All of this ties in with what I read in the Tao of Sobriety, which I do intend to do a post about. I have found it very insightful, and it describes a way of thinking about life and the world which really appeals to me.

So, I’m happy I’ve come out the other side. Really relieved. Because there’s no way I want to go down the road of having time off work for depression again. I’m a different person now than I was then, and there’s no need to go back there.

Onwards and upwards! Or at the very least, sideways in nice shoes 🙂

‘You didn’t ask for chickens’

It’s half past midnight, and I can’t sleep. I’ve had an awful week. I feel like I work hard at work, I work hard at home, I’m lonely and I’m not getting anywhere. I do what I’m supposed to do, I don’t do what I’m not supposed to (ie drink), but its not working. I’m obviously barking up the wrong tree somewhere. Side note: I’m on antibiotics, I wonder if they can cause low mood?

This has all steadily built up throughout this week, and then this morning when I had trouble finding the projection of the image of the eclipse on a screen using a telescope, suddenly I felt horrendous. No use, crap at my job, I’ll never measure up, all that kind of thing.

When I got home I tried to explain to Mr W how I was feeling but all I got was a sort of ‘oh never mind, that doesn’t matter’. Which I took to mean that I don’t matter, how I feel doesn’t matter. So we had a row. And then I felt extra alone. Ugh.

I went up to bed early, and when he came up later, he apologised, which I was grateful for. I know he doesn’t have much patience for my lows, but I feel too fragile at the moment to just be dismissed. And he said something to me about my mum’s chickens. He’s collecting three chickens tomorrow from one of his customers, for my parents, and he and dad are going to get chicken wire and make a run for them. The coop is already in their garden. So anyway, he said ‘your mum’s really excited about getting the chickens tomorrow’. And I said ‘ I wish something good like that would happen to me’. Here’s the thing; he said but you didn’t ask for chickens‘. He might have been being facetious, I’m not really sure, but he’s right – I didn’t ask for chickens….

The truth is, I wouldn’t know what chickens I wanted. Or possibly even how to ask for them? I don’t know what I would like to have in my life to enjoy it more. I’ve always been a bit rubbish at that – having a bit of a dream, knowing what makes me happy. People always say do more of what you love, but what is that, for me?

I think I need to find out, or ask to be shown, because I’m definitely getting nowhere in my current frame of mind. Dear Universe, please can I have some chickens?

A well-documented sober slump

I emailed Belle the other day, to ask whether anyone else ever said that month seven feels like month one. She replied that yes, there is a well documented sober slump between month 6.5 and 8.5. Then at 8.5 when you can see your year on the horizon, it becomes easier again. Ahhhh….

The thing is, I do remember reading about this a while back. I’d just forgotten it because at the time I thought ‘oh that’s such a long way off, it doesn’t really apply to me’. So I shoved it to the back of my mind. But hey, look where I am! I’m suddenly delighted that I’ve made it to the sober slump – if that makes sense?! Back then it seemed so far in the future that I need not concern myself with it. But I’m actually there. Quite an achievement I think!

Discovering that things will get better fairly soon is also a bonus. I’m so looking forward to finding out what that looks like.

Hope everyone is having a good sober Wednesday! 🙂

Back to basics

Another tough day at work. Afterwards I had a few things to buy, places to go. I didn’t rush, just steadily crossed things off the list, one by one. A thought struck me, whilst I was bimbling around. ‘go back to the early days’, it said. I immediately felt a little thrill of excitement – I was proud of myself during those first few weeks of sobriety, when I was in my sober bubble and taking good care of myself. It felt safe. And right now I want safe.

Treats were also a thing last summer. I even wrote in my planner every other day ‘sober treat day’. So whilst in Marks and Spencer buying milk this afternoon, I went to the chocolate section. I bought three walnut whips (well not actually walnut but chocolate-topped). Then I found the health and beauty bit, and got myself some ‘precision tweezers’. I’m fed up of crap tweezers. Just like at the beginning of sobriety, I suppose, when all those niggling little things you’ve been putting up with suddenly are intolerable, and there is no reason not to put them right. Phew, no more blunt tweezers…I really don’t know how I’ve coped!

So, listening to what I need is good. Going back to basics. Concentrating on that feeling of being a little bit proud of myself. I can get back in my sober bubble whenever I need to, surely? Whether it’s seven days, weeks, months or years…

Somebody moved the goalposts when I wasn’t looking

What’s the point of staying sober?…That’s what I was asking myself only a few hours ago.

Random, brief talk at work about a sensitive subject sent me into a downward spiral, fast. I cried all the way home, feeling like there was no point to being sober any more. It hasn’t helped me to deal with any of this. Desperate, I suppose is the word.

Luckily my husband was already home when I got in. I was almost prepared for a fight because I wasn’t willing to accept the usual ‘don’t be upset’ talk. I needed acknowledgment of my feelings, for once. It was OK, he understood. He told me not to drink, because I’ve worked so hard to get this far, and he knows I want to make it to a year.

After a while I calmed down and went to have a bath, abandoning any ideas of working out and green juicing etc. I decided to be gentle with myself, and read for an hour or so. I picked up this book (again – I never seem to start and finish anything within any sort of sensible time frame) the other day, when I was searching for some peace – The Tao of Sobriety, by David Gregson and Jay S Efran.
Chapter three is called ‘I Think, Therefore I Am’, and the writers say;

‘As human beings, we not only think, but we think about our own thinking… Our human capacity for reflective thinking makes possible most of the achievements of which we are proudest, but at the same time it also perpetuates the heaviness with which many of us troop through life’.

The heaviness with which many of us troop through life. That’s me, I thought. And this;

‘Something that is particularly odd about thinking is that it forces us to act as if we were two or more different people living in the same body. In other words, one of ‘us’ almost continually observes and talks about what the other one of us is doing’.

Me again, I thought.

‘…it can get very noisy inside…’

Yep. So the book goes on to say that you need to recruit one of these ‘voices’ in your head (I’m simplifying slightly) to be the ‘manager’, and ‘to be the one who represents a commitment to well-being and the expression of love and compassion for yourself and for others’. I like the idea of this, as I have always asked myself ‘how do I remember to practise self-compassion etc all the time, when life keeps distracting me all the time. I’m too busy beating myself up about stuff to remember I should try and be nice to me!’ So, I just assign the role to one of these aspects of my personality.

On the other hand, it feels a little strange to be embracing this whole ‘split personality’ thing. I mean, yesterday’s title wasn’t serious, obviously. But I’ll see how I go.

In some ways I feel like I’ve reached a point which is very much like the early days of my sober journey. I’m suddenly very fragile and unsure. There IS a point to being here, to being sober ad staying that way. It’s just that I’m back to that place where all the answers seem to be way off in the distance somewhere…as if somebody moved the goalposts when I wasn’t looking…

Split personality

According to my day counter I’m at 223 days. I am as changeable as the weather. One minute, quitting sugar seems like a good idea, but I’ve just stuffed my face with profiteroles. I feel generally low, but this afternoon I was suddenly moved to clean the house. It makes such a difference when everywhere is clean and fresh. Perhaps I need my insides to be clean and fresh, too (see quitting sugar!). I enjoyed seeing my friend yesterday but it hurt because her baby is now 3 months old. Seeing her so much more awake and aware made me want my own even more. But I have plans formulating in my mind. I have moments of joy in the midst of disappointment in myself.

I read Belle’s Month Seven again (must find Month Eight), and I recognised a sense of stripping back and then re-assembling. I can see the next few weeks and months ahead of me and I know what I need to do and when. We have some goals: Convert the loft into a bedroom and replace the windows at the front of the house. Go to Paris for two or three nights. Buy a new (used) car. Find a fertility hospital where Mr W will go for the reversal operation. If I can just keep hold of a normal amount of perspective, life is full of possibility 🙂

Wolfie has been sniffing around though, for the first time in AGES. I think he can sense my flip-flopping from negative to positive and back, and he’s trying to find a way in. I haven’t been posting as much on here either, or writing in a journal of any sort. The sober supports need ramping up, obviously. I could even email Belle and ask her for any tips on sightseeing in Paris whilst I’m at it!

Am I a perfectionist?

A few weeks ago I was saying how great I was feeling, and what I was doing that I thought might be contributing to that good feeling…Guess what I went and did? You’ve got it – self-sabotage.
Why? I’m not entirely sure. I stopped working out. A couple of days without because of a disrupted routine, to start with, and then I just never got going again. The green juicing got more infrequent, and I felt more and more lethargic. And I felt more and more low.

So when the Tapping World Summit started, I decided to have a listen. And I seem to have stumbled across some feelings about the past that I was unaware I’d been carrying around until now. I listened to the Tapping interview with Carol Look on perfectionism, which really struck a chord with me. I could relate to the lethargy (see above!) and hopelessness she describes as being a symptom of perfectionism. My negative self-talk is constant and sometimes overwhelming (apart from when I was feeling good and wrote that post!), and leaves me anxious and exhausted. When it came to the section of the interview about discovering where we pick up these ideas that everything has to be done to these impossibly high standards, she said she would always suggest that people go back to their childhood, and ask themselves what messages came from their parents.

I thought about this, and although I don’t have any idea where I got this tendency towards perfectionism, something Carol Look said about childhood events also made me really think. She said that we fear that if we’re not perfect, everything will fall apart, and it will be a disaster. Now, a disaster to you or me would probably be something like breaking a limb maybe, or losing your job (extreme, but you get the picture). But as children, we might have been affected to a similar extent by something a lot less extreme, such as a look from our parents, being told off in a certain way, or some other action on their part. I started to think of several, seemingly insignificant things that happened to my childhood self….

I’m still not entirely sure how the whole picture fits together, but the issue of having children of my own feels somehow related. This morning, my husband asked me if I would mind if, in the next couple of years, he was to buy an expensive item relating to his hobby. We got onto the subject of money, and where priorities would lie if we manage to have children, and then wandered away from the money side of things. I said that I get afraid sometimes, that we might have left it too late – that he might be too old for it. After calling me a cheeky so and so, and telling me to go and stand in the garden 😉 he said no we hadn’t left it too late at all. ‘Plenty of women have babies into their forties. Look at you – your mum was 40 when she had you’… And I said ‘EXACLTY! Look at how I’ve turned out!!!’

I can remember all these little instances when I felt like a nuisance, an irritation, I did something really wrong and was told off, and that ultimately my mum would rather have been doing something else than looking after me. I mean, don’t get me wrong, she loves me very much – I’m very lucky to have two parents who love me. I had a very secure upbringing. It’s just that listening to what Carol Look was saying in the interview, about the scale of the ‘disaster’ we experience as children really resonated all of a sudden. And then I saw it again this afternoon whilst reading Brene Brown’s ‘I thought it was just me’. She describes the work or Dr Uram at The Meadows, a trauma and addiction treatment facility;

‘Dr. Uram points out that we tend not to recognise the small, quiet traumas that often trigger the same brain-survival reaction [primal fight, flight and freeze responses]…I believe it’s possible that many of our early shame experiences, especially with parents and caregivers, were stored in our brains as traumas’.

My dad was often out at work throughout the day, and meetings at night, so it was just me and mum a lot of the time – or at least it felt that way to me. I remember once, when Mum had told me off for something – it must have been particularly badly because I can still feel how distraught I was, now – I desperately needed comforting, and I hugged her because there was no one else. I know that’s not really a big thing in the grand scheme of things, but to my little girl self it must have been pretty bad.

So I want to (if I’m lucky enough) make sure that my child NEVER feels unwanted or a nuisance, but a part of me worries, ‘what if I end up being just like my mum was with me?!’.

Our stories are different though. I was a surprise(!), and when she had me, my mum had already had two children, one of whom had already left home (and would later drop out of college, no doubt causing my parents a lot of worry). So my Parents had thought that my brother and sister were going to be their only children, before I came along. My mum therefore hadn’t been intending to spend the next however many years of her life caring for another child. I know that she had been bewildered, and even resentful when she and Dad first got married. She hadn’t realised it how it would be. It was the early sixties and Dad went to work whilst she was left with the kids at home. I think it was difficult for her to cope with the inequality of the situation – which must have been echoed in young married couples’ homes everywhere I guess. So yes, my situation is different – a lot different.

Back to the perfectionism. I’m also starting to wonder if that has an impact on how I handle being around other peoples babies. Am I just jealous, or am I terrified that I’ll be judged if I don’t ‘do it right’. I know I worry about being less of a woman because I don’t have children. I mean, I know there are a lot of us out there (and I really could do with hanging out with someone in the same boat!), and I shouldn’t feel this way, but it’s hard not to feel in some way inadequate. But that’s also part of the issue of my own self-worth….

I know, I know, I think far too much. My thoughts are relentless and unforgiving, but sometimes I can’t do anything other than go through the process of actually thinking them, and letting everything bubble up and escape. Otherwise I would go mad! (Perhaps I already am!)

But at least I do not drink. Sobriety is helping me get to the bottom of all this stuff, I know it. There is a point to going to these places in my mind. Like they say in the tapping interviews, we need to go to the root of the feeling before we can begin to clear whatever is blocked, and heal ourselves in order to change. I had better start tapping….