Not PAWS, but maybe PTSD?

16 Jan

3:16 pm

Well, you guys have got me thinking again–so, of course, I have to follow up on my last post.

Lately, I’ve been feeling burnt out by the littlest of things, the slightest pressures, the shortest to-do lists. Or, maybe the to-do lists aren’t that short, but my energy definitely does not match my ambition. I no longer seem to have the get-up-and-go that I used to when I was drinking. Or, rather, the go-go-go, and chase-chase-chase.

I think I was simply running on fumes when I was on The Wine. Like, my adrenaline was constantly up, and my immune system was running on overdrive–no wonder I could do and go and stay up and drink, and it seemed like I felt much more alive than I do now. Or, was I just wired? Actually, I was probably a nervous wreck, and my body was about to go from saying “Hello, we can’t keep you amped up like you’re escaping from a pack of hyenas much longer!” to “We quit, bitch!”.

The more I think about it, the more I don’t really buy PAWS, or, post-acute-withdrawal syndrome. The main issue I have, after having quit drinkin’, is getting used to not being fueled by the anticipation of getting drunk. I have to say, it is still a struggle for me to not feel anxious, sometimes panicky, and often sad whenever I realize (daily, still sometimes more than once a day) that I can’t get buzzed. I used wine as a motivating factor for so long (i.e., If I can get through this day, then I can have wine), as a way to combat the stress and fatiguing aspects of my life. Now that it’s not even an option, what is my go-to source of strength? What becomes my motivating factor? I mean, at this point, I don’t NEED to work full-time and/or compete and achieve in the “real world;” I sort of dread the day I have to go back to that shit. What I’ve come to understand is that while there are plenty of people who use substances to propel them on their career paths, I cannot–and don’t want–to be one of them anymore.

And, while I know about most of the physical damage I’ve caused to my body, I cringe–stricken, to an extent, as if I have a mild case of PTSD–at some of the things I’ve done and lived through while blacked out drunk. Waking up in bed with a stranger? Spending entire evenings out, with only fleeting glimpses of what I might have said or where I might have gone? Cursing out strangers (or friends, or bartenders) on every other street corner on the LES? Getting into a fight, being shoved, and breaking my arm as I crashed my shoulder onto the sidewalk? And then, passing out and having to deal with it the next day, so hung over (and in such excruciating pain) I could barely keep my eyes open as I stumbled from ER to ER, trying to find one where the line wasn’t hours long? Spending nights (on more than one occasion) in jail, alternately screaming belligerently at the cops through my blackout and curled up in the fetal position as I waited for my court papers to come through; communing for days with 20 other women over a non-working toilet, rotten cheese sandwiches and sour milk, and gymnastics mats that served as our “beds” in a 40-degree holding cell? YIKES. I could go on and on.

Moving back to [cold west coast city], pining for a romantic relationship, for friendships, for an old self–all of which had been thoroughly extinguished years earlier (and, if they hadn’t, DEFINITELY flitted out to a mass of dank coals during the ensuing 18 months that I continued living there)? Drinking entire weekends away, so that my first encounter with daylight was at 3 pm on a Sunday, when I would walk to the Safeway to get more wine? Drinking several times for entire weeks at a clip: commuting while drunk, working while drunk, passing out in my cube while drunk? Drinking to obliterate my nerves at having to go back to work the next day, not sure what my coworkers heard or saw, not sure how the shuttle driver deposited me at the train station because I had blacked out hours before leaving work and don’t remember anything of the commute home? I could go on. And on and on and on.

Post-traumatic stress disorder? Yup, I think I got it.

But you know what? I’m through it, on the other side, and I feel great! Stronger, calmer, and much more capable of taking care of myself. I obviously was taking my anger out on the wrong people, including me, but, that’s behind me now. I am onto a better–and very different–way.

And, all this is to simply illustrate that yes, these things can depress and/or overwhelm, but we get past them, forgive and forget for our own sakes, and deal with the memories of how they made us feel. Slowly, but surely. And in our own time and graces.

All in due time, I keep telling myself. All in due time…

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8 Responses to “Not PAWS, but maybe PTSD?”

  1. rynlikesit January 16, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

    I have been following your blog since I stumbled on it and thought I was reading about myself. We share many of the same experiences and it’s wonderful to feel like I’m not alone.

    I have read about PAWS and I’m not really a believer. I agree with some of the other posters… I drank for about 10 years to feel better. I was semi-depressed and often anxious so I drank to not feel that way. In the beginning it made me feel better, happy. Then, the last few years it made me miserable. Always a hassle and always a deepening of depression and anxiety. I still feel anxious at times but is that PAWS? No, I believe it’s just my underlying personality quirks and I have to learn to deal with them.

    I do, however, believe PTSD. I’ve done and said things I’m horrified about when I sober up and I have to live with that. I also have to live with knowing that certain people had a front row seat in watching my destruction. But, we have to forgive ourselves because we’re not making the same mistakes over and over. We are changing our lives.

    Feeling tired… I, like you, would average 4-5 hours of sleep a night when drinking. I thought this was enough. I remember (on the rare nights I didn’t black out) looking at the clock and thinking ok, if I’m in bed and sleeping by 2 or 3 am, I’ll still get enough sleep. Except, I was always irritable and very angry. Now, being sober I think that’s insane–and it is! People are not meant to live on that. Anything less than 6-7 and I’m worthless and I can feel my personality change back to angry. We need to heal. We need to give ourselves time to heal and permission to just BE for awhile.

    I look forward to your posts and I’m cheering for you!!

    • Drunky Drunk Girl January 23, 2013 at 11:39 pm #

      Thanks SO much for your comment and support! Sorry it took me a while to reply.

      Yes, I can relate to every single thing you wrote. And, like many people are telling me–which I keep thinking I have to fight, cuz everyone around me is still going going going in the rat race, I guess, or maybe it’s my conditioning–take it easy, give yourself time to heal.

      Cheers to you, too!

  2. Belle (Tired2012) January 16, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

    if PTSD is the same as ‘learning to live without your armor’ then i agree. it’s the same as living without your drama, too. i found early sobriety kind of spooky in its quietness. no big arguments with husband, no more broken promises, it all just stopped. so sure, that’s PTSD. well it doesn’t matter what you call it. it’s dealing with the end of something traumatic. and learning a new way of going forward. and you’re doing it. 🙂 thanks for asking about me, i’m doing quite well, i’d be happy for you to swing my the blog and share your genius when you get time 🙂

  3. Al K Hall January 17, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

    If it reassures you any, after the one-year mark i noticed my energy came back but it was “better” energy as it was more focused and more easily directed. i was even able to reduce my coffee intake and i never would have thought that possible!

  4. Lilly January 18, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    I relate too and I am so glad you are doing so great. If I ever hear you pondering drinking again I may need to gently, gently point you back to this post. Why would you ever want to go back there compared with where you are now? xx

    • Drunky Drunk Girl January 23, 2013 at 11:42 pm #

      So true. It’s what I ask myself whenever I start to feel “too” good, like I got this and I can drink “normally” now. WHY would I?

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