Anxiety

Well, the ‘fluttering heart’ I mentioned in my last post wasn’t so bad the few days before our appointment at the clinic on Friday. Perhaps I was over the worst of the anxiety – maybe it was still there but I just didn’t notice it as much.

The outcome of the appointment was fairly positive – we have decided to try at least one cycle of IVF with my eggs. I plan to post in more detail about that on the other blog. The odd thing is, although I’m feeling pretty good about that, the anxiety has returned.

I think it might be due to a Christmas meal I have to go to tonight. It’s a work thing, a leaving do, too, in a pub. I’m 15 days sober today, and while I really don’t want to drink, I could do without putting myself into drinking situations deliberately. I actually just want to hibernate. I can’t think of anything to enjoy about going to socialise with people. That sounds so terrible, I know. But the truth is, infertility has knocked my self confidence (not that I had much in the first place), so I can’t see myself functioning in a setting that is purely social. I have forgotten how to ‘present’ myself , if that makes sense? I don’t know who I am anymore, I got lost somewhere. I feel…blank, in a way.

My work colleagues know about the fluttering heart, I told them earlier in the week. So I could feasibly text someone and say it’s causing me chest pains again, so I can’t go tonight. But I can’t keep letting my world get smaller and smaller, can I? I must push myself out of my comfort zone? My chest hurts just thinking about it.

It’s times like this when I need a sober friend, face to face. And I think this is part of what ultimately led me down the path of relapse last time – feeling isolated in a world full of normal drinkers, and lonely because of our struggles with infertility. (There it goes again, my chest thump thumping away. the other day when the irregular beating had died down, I thought, ‘is my heart actually still going??!’). I did drive past the venue for a local AA meeting many times during that year, eyeing it up and always chickening out. But I don’t think AA is for me.

So in the absence of a sober friend right here beside me (because, let’s face it, none of the ‘normies’ get it), I’m writing this to you. I really don’t know what to do.

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How to be happy

For some reason I’m starting to remember snippets of my dreams again. I haven’t remembered dreams for months, years even. Although the drinking dreams used to come up now and again. Anyway, last night I remember talking to someone in my dream, and I was telling them I knew how to be happy. “You carry it around inside you”, I said. Meaning, it’s not what happens to you  that counts, its how you determine yourself to be, on the inside. Oddly, I wasn’t coming from the perspective of being happy, but just knowing how. Bizarre.

At the same time I was talking about my ideas, literally as I was still talking, I was aware of someone – a girl – by the side of me, who was telling anyone who would listen, she thought there was another way. It was kind of like, when you’re talking in a group of people, and there’s some talk across people, breaking off into other little discussions. But I could still hear. She was saying “You have to go out into the world and give it to people…” and the unsaid part was ….then you will feel it yourself.

Now, where all of this came from I have no idea. I mean, I have had a rocky couple of weeks. Last week I fell into a depression, which I might talk about later. It has started to turn around, but there’s a long way to go (isn’t there bloody always with me).

I know that being happy for me involves quitting alcohol. I don’t know how the rest of life should go. No idea. I think I like to be on my own; that’s bad for me…too much negative thinking (who knew). I fit in with only a very tiny amount of people, and don’t feel comfortable being with those I know less well. I feel less than, not good enough, like I don’t measure up.

I find it very hard to put down all the negativity, even though I would love to be able to walk out of my life as it is, and into a positive and fulfilling one. Infertility has complicated things, and added to the barriers that I feel between me and other people (barriers that may or may not actually exist).

I’ve decided that instead of counting days quite so much, waiting for them to stack up to some magic number, I’d be better off spending my sober time trying to get to the bottom of all this. Why do I feel so judged by other people? Do I think they are so different from me? Why don’t I have the confidence to find ‘my people’ if I (sometimes) crave the type of recognition and belonging that brings?

And on the darker days, the one I really struggle with is If I don’t find solutions to all of the above pretty quickly, and if I ultimately fail in my efforts to become a mother…How will I know I have a place in the world?

Sorry to end on such a negative note, I just need to get it all out there.

Day 17: Things that make me feel better #?

Hope everyone had a good weekend 🙂

I did think about drinking…not having a drink as such, just about drinking in general. I wished, at some moments, that I could just be a normal drinker and not have to worry about staying sober. But when I thought more about how drinking would feel exactly, I did not feel I was missing out. Apart from anything else, I’m not missing the wasted weekend mornings spent in bed sleeping off a headache.

Whilst the weather was good on Saturday I worked in the garden, pottering in the greenhouse and tidying the shed and coal house. And in the evening, Mr took me to see Eddie the Eagle. It was brilliant. If you get chance to see it, I can highly recommend it. Very uplifting, a good soundtrack, Hugh Jackman, what more could you ask for?! Well, Eddie only drank milk so the hero is sober too, added bonus!! I only just remember Eddie being in the Olympics, but had no concept of how much he had actually achieved. He never gave up!

Actually this should be in the #thingsthatmakemefeelbetter list, because that film is one of them, and I’m now watching Peter Kay’s Comedy Shuffle on BBC2, which is another.

Laughing is good 🙂

A good day

Yesterday was a much better day at work. I felt a bit fragile and emotional because the pregnant teacher and head of dept were giggling about her baby bump. She’s showing a lot more, and for some stupid reason, I just don’t know where to look when people talk about it. But I’m still trying really hard to redirect my thoughts to myself, and the action that my husband and I need to take to get to where we want to be. I’m doing quite well at that, I think. Having said that, my brain is trying to have silly, anxious thoughts about what my colleagues think of me. A and I were talking about the new supply teacher, who seemed very anxious. I compared this to myself – I admitted I’m an anxious person, but I didn’t think I made other people feel anxious by being anxious myself, as this supply teacher does. He said ‘oh yes, you were very nervous when you started here’. Yes I know. But  I wasn’t immobilised by fear, I’m certain of that. I remember deciding to smile, say yes a lot, and be friendly all the time, and worry about what the hell I was doing later. It was a good strategy, I think! But now I’m worrying that I looked like a total idiot.

No, no. I can’t allow myself to think like this. I worked in a supermarket for 10+ years, completely away from my academic background of science. Then I got this job, where there was no-one doing the job to train me. So I picked it all up along the way. Even when the second technician joined a few weeks later, she’d never done the job either. I’m really proud of how I’ve progressed and what I can do now. Dammit, who bloody cares if I was nervous to start with!! This just goes to show that sobriety is absolutely the way forward for me, as my mind definitely tends towards anxiety, and drinking would only add to that.

So to continue with the story…N and I swapped activities for the day – there was an experiment coming up which meant she could put into practice the skills she learned on a recent training course, and I explained I really needed some practice using the spreadsheet. So instead of doing what we both found easiest (she is so good on the computer I am rather intimidated), we worked on areas we needed to improve. Win/win!

It’s been a good day today. I slept in late (Mr had a fire call, so I was awake for a couple of hours early morning), then did a couple of loads of laundry. Walked to the post office, then did a detour on the way home, along the reservoir and through the woods. The birds were singing, it was lovely. I planted more seeds in the greenhouse, then had a bath, and made curry for tea afterwards.

It’s late now, husband is out at the pub and I’m going to have one more AF drink then go to bed. He said earlier he’d like to go out, and I thought oh no, I hope he’s not going to try to make me go with him and ‘just have one drink’. But no, I told him he should go if he wanted to and he said ‘can I?’. I don’t feel I’m missing out at all, and I’m so glad he’s doing what he wants and I’m doing what I want. Another win/win:)

 

 

Overwhelm? Lists.

I had a little cry on my own today at work. The teacher who’s pregnant is really showing now. She was saying that the kids asked her about it today, and people are just generally talking about it more. I’m envious. It’s hard to change the way I feel, so I tried to change my focus instead. We have a plan, my husband I. Some days it feels like a long time until things get properly moving, but realistically, we need to be getting ourselves prepared for this. So I concentrated on thinking about our next steps – what needs to happen for me, now? What action do I need to take? it seemed to work – I have more control over what happens to me at this point, than I ever will over what is happening to someone else.

The thing is, though, I want to strike the right balance between getting things done and avoiding overwhelm. Because I know I’m more likely to drink if I wind myself up too tightly. For example, amongst other things, Husband told me yesterday that we (I) really do need to get a new (used) car. It has been on the cards for a while, and now it’s passed it’s MOT now would be a good time to sell before it loses any more value. So I’ve started down this whole ‘I need to sell all my worldly possessions’ train of thought, to be able to pay for a new car. Or at least put something down as a deposit.

I spoke to my other colleague, N, about some of this and she said, ‘do you make lists?’. I said yes, but I don’t want the to-do list ruling my every waking moment. But she pointed out the benefits of getting everything down on paper to clear the mind. Yes! I need this! I need a clear mind!! I also realised that a list had worked well for me over the holidays – I seemed to be in an optimal frame of mind for tackling it. I have asked Belle about determining this fine line between achieving and obsessing, and I look forward to her take on it as she often talks about overwhelm.

Other news: last night I swapped the winter duvet for the summer one, which made for a MUCH more comfortable night!…Went for another walk – only a short one – this evening. The sun was shining, it was lovely…And I’m looking forward to a good day at work tomorrow – I came across some software on the internet which I’m excited to share with N. I see lots of cataloguing inventory in our future. Mm, lists. That department WILL be organised if it’s the  last thing I do.

It’s day 5 and I’m happy 🙂 I hope you guys are too xx

One foot in front of the other

Yesterday afternoon, I got home about 4pm after visiting my sister and my parents, and I felt there was a strange gap to be filled before dinner. Anxious not to let my mind settle on thoughts of wine, I just announced ‘right, I’m going to have a bath’, in a reflex action sort of way. I took my tablet and listened to a couple of Belle’s audios. Husband made dinner (we say ‘tea’…it feels odd to say dinner, but I think you wouldn’t know what I’m on about) so it was ready when I got out of the bath. I had about three glasses of pomegranate and something cordial with soda water and mint leaves. Loooovely!! Self care ROCKS!

Watched the new Sunday night 9pm drama, then had a fairly sleepless night before going back to work today after the two week Easter holiday. I think the sleeplessness was partly the usual will-my-alarm-go-off post-holiday anxiety, and partly the hot flushes. Honestly, its enough to drive you mad, the constant flinging off of the duvet because of the heat and then huddling under it again because of shivering. And no sleep. <sigh>. On the bright side, this should start to wear off soon, as I have had my last injection.

I always love the idea of the sober bubble, but this time I wasn’t sure how I’d feel being back at work for the very early days. I’m just going to have to take one step at a time, and be extra mindful to maintain the self care. So after a good day at work, I got home this afternoon and hoisted Husband out of his chair and off for a bracing walk before tea. I wanted to investigate a possible route for running, should I ever pluck up the courage to go out in daylight with my running stuff on. The fresh air was great, I really enjoyed it. Self care ROCKS! Again!

So I’ve had another of the pomegranate drinks with fresh mint, I’m looking forward to 9pm drama on the telly, and I’ll probably have another sleepless night, but I feel brilliant. Day 3 🙂

 

 

 

This time

I haven’t written in a while. I felt a bit trapped into inertia by the fact that a) I have been drinking and b) I wanted to write about infertility issues, but haven’t started a separate blog. I don’t really want to either, and yet I don’t want people to be bored by the infertility stuff, so I’m going to borrow an idea and title my infertility posts to mark them out as distinct from the sobriety ones.

I’ve started again – day two today – for numerous reasons. It’s not that I was drinking every night or anything, but when I did drink over the past couple of weeks, there was less and less enjoyment (any at all? I’m not sure), and more and more haziness in my brain generally.

I had an argument with Husband last week, which got to the root of a few issues which was good, but at the time, he basically said he misses going out drinking with me. I’m sort of blaming that for my stopping at 10 days again and having a drink, even though I thought it was unfair of him to say things like that, and I was trying to convince him of the benefits of me being sober. Anyway, as I said, I’ve been drinking on and off since then, and I’ve noticed a few things.

I don’t actually enjoy drinking wine. The idea of drinking is great, I mean, a friend of Mr Ws has said a similar thing; wouldn’t it be great if they all tasted like the first one? But they don’t. I was reading Belle’s first month of blog posts in bed this morning, and one of the comments went something like; I think I would like to stop drinking before I have three glasses. But by the time I actually reach the third glass, I’ve had two already, and so my brain can’t choose whether or not to have the third glass without being under the influence of the first two.

But when I actually drink, I can even feel a part of my brain going, ‘this is ridiculous, after the first one it’s not that great, I’m feeling fuzzy and useless and I need to stop’. But there’s this other part, the part that’s under the influence (Wolfie?) that steamrollers over everything else and says I should just keep going. And generally, I do.

As I said, it hasn’t been every night. I have stayed sober when I have Things To Do the next morning. But I don’t like the way that the compulsion to drink seems to be increasing. With no benefit at all when I do drink. As in, I can’t really work out why I’m having a drink whilst I’m drinking, it’s just for its own sake. And then the next day, and even in-between days sometimes, I feel sluggish, or start thinking about drinking far too much.

This time I need to find those sober supports again, and work out how I got myself to 400 days last September. I’ve emailed Belle to start Team 100 again, and I told my husband my intention, explaining why. He high fived me, so that’s a good start – I can count on him for support, rather than him telling me it’s OK just to have one.

Day two feels like such a tiny number, and 100 such a huge one. But it’s nice to be here 🙂

 

Day 401 – have I done enough?

Warning – this post may be triggering!

I am currently in a really strange frame of mind. Generally, things have been good recently – Mr W had the operation, and I felt a huge sense of relief. Even though we don’t know for sure whether it has been successful yet, and even if it is, we still might not be able to conceive. But I feel we have done what we set out to do and there is more to be hopeful about than afraid of.

Other news – a gathering at a friend’s on Monday was lovely, lots of kids around, and I think I’m doing slightly better all the time in that area. The house is coming along, I’m trying to decide whether to ask the builder to finish our patio as well and just stick the bill on a credit card. I’m not normally prone to running up credit card bills, but it’s something that would take us ages to do and I’m less able to put up with these things not being completed now, for some reason(?). You only live once, right? I want to enjoy my home in a state of completeness, not with a big square of mud outside the back door!!

But the reason I’m in an odd state of mind is to do with sobriety. At least it feels that way to me. I know people would tell me that I’m not reaching out for support enough, I’m not asking for help, I should be going to meetings etc.

It’s not that I’m really craving a drink. And I know I can do events sober – I’ve been through family bereavement, a funeral, a wedding, a children’s birthday party, carnival day, a couple of (admittedly very short) holidays. I’ve done a Christmas, and New Year, although I did stay home on New Years Eve. I’ve been to countless family meals out, a birthday party, done hot summer days, cosy winter evenings, all of it – all 401 days – sober. I know that I can.

I’m just not sure whether I want to be that person anymore, whether I need to be quite so strict about not drinking. I know people try moderating and fail, and I’m conscious that that’s a problem too. But since Mr W had his operation I’ve felt like I might want to re-join the world of ‘normies’. Maybe I’m asking ‘have I done enough’. Have I? Or can I literally never drink again? This whole journey started off with me signing up to do 100 days, I really wasn’t looking far beyond that. At all. I just focused on one day at a time and I reached that goal. Then I realised 100 days wasn’t enough. I hadn’t found whatever I’d been searching for so I carried on. And on… and here I am. I feel calmer, and yet life is in such high definition – constantly – that I can feel on edge. It’s all very stark, which I can cope with…but whereas I would normally just want to escape into self care, this feeling has coincided with a desire to return to ‘normality’.

I would like to have a drink. But I also think I may have ruined it for myself. I’m now agonising slightly because I know it would be such a huge thing to break hundreds of days. So I may not even enjoy it in the end, perhaps the guilt would be too great?! On the other hand (oh my God this is painful – are you irritated now because I’m irritating MYSELF!) I don’t know that adding up more and more days has the same effect as it used to, and maybe I’m even starting to feel overwhelmed as the number increases.

Either way, I don’t want it to be such a ‘big thing’ anymore. And I am aware on some level, that I am the one who is creating this ‘big thing’. No one else gives a rats ass. Drink or stay sober, no one is bothered, it’s up to me. And that’s the tricky part. Being sober is so great. It really is, it has done wonders for me. I have really benefitted from this past year, and found out so much about myself. I would not have changed one single minute of it. But… Oh I don’t know.

This is when posting on a blog called ‘waking up, being sober’ gets a bit confusing, I know. It’s not the ideal thing to be sharing. Then again, there might be someone out there who has been through a similar experience. I know of one blogger at least who has gone back ‘out there’. Does anyone have any thoughts?

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…

Feeling good

I feel good at the moment, and I’m really focusing on enjoying that feeling because I know how fleeting my moods can be. I’ve also been pondering why I feel good now. What is it that’s working at the moment? Am I doing something differently than I was before, or did I stop doing something? Can I keep doing something to improve my chances of continuing to feel good?

Well, after mulling it over for a bit, I think there are a few things. Since the new year, I have been working out. Admittedly only on my cross trainer, which apparently is the worst machine going for cardio, but it was the most cost effective and small-space friendly item I could get at the time. When I realised, years ago that my money ended up being the only thing that went to the gym, I cancelled my membership, and didn’t work out for a few years. I’ve had the cross trainer for about four years, and I can honestly say I’ve never used it so much as I am doing now. I’m not really worried that it’s an unnatural exercise, and I’m not training my body for any actual activity (such as running on a treadmill, or cycling on an exercise bike). I already own it, it fits in with my routine, and it seems to be working for me. Sometimes I don’t have time for it, and sometimes I just don’t feel like it – in which case I either make myself do it anyway (75% of the time) or I don’t do it (25% of the don’t-feel-like-it times). I think it has helped in improving my mood. I feel fitter, and better about myself. So that goes on the list of thinks I’ll keep doing.

At new year we also bought a juicer. I forget whether I mentioned it before, but we watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead again, with Joe Cross, and Hungry for Change, over Christmas. Something must have struck a chord, and buying a juicer seemed like the right thing to do. I haven’t done a juice fast, where you don’t eat solids, but have four or five juices a day. But I have had a green juice most days. I’ve heard several criticisms of juicing since, for example, the machines supposedly breed nasty germs because of the hard to clean areas. Also, juices are full of sugar, so you should just eat the fruit instead. Not sure about the first point, but I put mainly veg in the green juice, and A LOT goes into one juice. I just wouldn’t sit down and eat that many vegetables. And I know that by juicing, you’re missing out on a lot of fibre, but that’s not what I’m after, really, it’s the nutrients. And I drink the juice straight away, so the nutrients won’t just dissipate because it’s sitting in the fridge for 24 hours. I’ve gone all round the houses there, but basically, I do think that the green juices help with my energy levels throughout the day, even though I have just one in the afternoon. And I’m basing that on not having any for about three or four days last week, when two snow days completely disrupted our routine, and I ended up not working out, or drinking juices. So juicing also goes on the ‘keep doing’ list!

I’m enjoying my interests again. Before my current job, I spent ten years working in a shop. I enjoyed the first couple of years, but it really went downhill after that. Partly due to my drinking, partly due to the whole atmosphere of the place changing, my role changing, and then eventually, I was forced to change to a position that I hated. I had virtually no choice, and me doing that job was like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. I ended up off sick with depression, it was that bad. The point I’m getting to is that fact that for the vast majority of my time – outside and inside work – throughout all this, I felt I should be looking for other work, applying for jobs, re-writing my CV. I would go through phases of this, and then become despondent, comparing myself to others who earned more than me, or who had ‘proper’ jobs. I felt like a failure, and I barely ever let my guard down, by which I mean that I never let myself enjoy my life. There were moments, obviously – especially when I met my Husband – when I forgot to beat myself up all the time, and let go enough to have fun and enjoy myself. But a lot of the time this nagging feeling was at the back of my mind – ‘you’ve no right to relax, you don’t deserve it, you failure’.
I think it’s a combination of me actually succeeding at getting a job I love (school science technician) and reaching a point in sobriety where I’m starting to feel more at ease with myself, that means I can finally let myself spend the time on things I enjoy. For example, working out would fall in this category (win:win 😉 ) and so would anything crafty – currently it’s sewing. Mr W bought me a full sized machine for Christmas, so now I’m raring to go. Oh, and Great British Sewing Bee starts on Thursday – more inspiration!! Also: Chemistry homework. Self assigned. Revision of A-level. I love it. I did Biochemistry at uni, which I also loved. But going back to straight Chemistry is brilliant. It will hopefully come in useful in this job, plus in the future, should I ever be lucky enough to be a technician at a university or similar.

Next: I’m starting to notice my thought patterns, and really explore and question them if I think they might be lying to me. I notice that if I start to feel a certain way, it can and will begin to dictate my thought processes, and change my mood. It’s true, we do create our thoughts with our feelings. And I’m working on determining whether what I’ve come up with in my head is a true representation of the world around me, or whether I’m actually just making it up, as part of my self-destructive tendencies. I’m not blaming myself for doing that, I just want to get to the bottom of where this stuff comes from, and can I change it for the better instead of letting these thoughts run wild and consume me.

Occasionally I’ve been furiously thinking away (that’s exactly what it feels like) about someone or other thinking a certain thing about me, or putting myself down for whatever reason, and I’ve spoken up. To my husband, who perhaps isn’t always the best choice of sounding board, but he can be very supportive in the right frame of mind, and luckily this was indeed his reaction when I told him what was on my mind. I’ve just listened to the Bubble Hour podcast on PAWS, and they talked about this in relation to coping with the symptoms of PAWS. Do I have an underlying depression and anxiety going on or are my issues PAWS? I don’t know, and in any case, I think there is probably some overlap to these things. But what they said on the programme was that the important part of sharing these feelings, in order to diminish their power over us, is speaking the words. As if the thought/feeling is transformed into something less powerful by the words we use to describe it. In our minds, it can go on and on indefinitely, causing havoc and controlling us. But say the words (even though it can be hard – sometimes I feel sort of like I don’t even want to put the words out there, as though they’re dirty words) and it stops there. Gone. Maybe not forever, but out of your head at least for now. So that will keep on happening!

Lastly, I am trying to stop berating myself for not doing a thing ‘properly’. The all-or-nothing mentality is something I don’t even think I was aware affected me, until I found the sober blogging world and heard people talk about perfectionism. ‘There’s no way I suffer from that’, I thought, ‘I never do anything perfectly anyway!’. But that feeling of not being able, for whatever reason, to do something the way it is supposed to be, and therefore not bother at all – well, yes I get that! So, having spotted it, I’m trying not to let it get in the way. I try to tell myself it isn’t pointless to have a go. It doesn’t matter if I don’t complete something, or maybe I’m not an expert straight off. More often than not, I will get something out of it, whatever it may be. Plus, nobody is perfect, so my idea of how something should be done might not be possible under normal conditions anyway.

This has been a long post – thanks for reading if you’re still with me!
I’m just happy to be happy, a high on a long rollercoaster of ups and downs. I’m more than familiar with the downs, and if I forget what ‘up’ looks like, I can always come back here 😉