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Sober and feeling…”life”ly

1 Sep

8:15 pm

I could write a book here, but I won’t. Lately, I haven’t had much patience for media, in general; social media, in particular. That’s mainly because I do it all day long as a journalist–and when I’m not doing it, I’m thinking about how rejuvenating it would be to not have to check email and Facebook and my phone (and the news) ever again. BUT…as a writer, it’s a must, so I’ve learned to do it in moderation and put it away when it starts to make me want to hyperventilate. Too Much Information–time to Turn It Off.

So, I’ve been minimally blogging. Not that stuff hasn’t been going down: job interviews (’nuff said), and my interviews of people for stories that I’ve been working on, and in general, stressing about my income. What else is news? 😉

There has also been lots of dog walks, and runs, and beach swims, and snorkels…and, sort of continuing work on changing my diet (I had help in revising my tastes when I was on my volun-tour vacation, but I digress). I like my new diet, and frankly, I like having lost almost 15 pounds of “sugar” weight. The hard part of keeping it off in the face of mood swings and stress is there, and always will be; but I learned one thing: get out of the sugar-as-treat mentality as soon as you can after getting sober.

I think I’ve managed to get out of my depression after six long weeks of it. Bizarre. I’ve worked and lived as usual, but…it’s been hard. Maybe it wasn’t exactly depression, maybe it was just post-vacation blues. Or, maybe it was realizing that now, I really have to Work. Like, move-and-find-a-real-job work. It may also be related to coming back to a place that simply does not serve some big parts of myself. Or, it could be linked to the chronic pain I still have from the mosquito-borne illness I got while abroad–I read some studies matching this chronic pain to depression. It has been a very weird up-and-down ride since getting home (and I’m used to depression). I’m hoping once I’m working full-time again, and settled into a new “thing”–getting past the hump of just pulling the trigger on one possibility–things will look up.

I’ve wanted to drink a LOT these past few weeks–more than ever, or at least more than I’ve wanted to drink in the past year. I just feel like I have no reward–especially after parsing so much information on a daily basis. I need a break. A real treat, you know? But, I don’t drink. I can’t. I can’t be sure that I won’t immediately again start associating wine with reward, or wine with fixing my state of mind; and I know how simply exhausting this is. So, status quo, just don’t drink, it’s all good.

On that note, apparently my Labor Day weekend is over–I have some reporting and writing to do now!

Hope everyone is plugging away–it is worth it, it so very much is. Sometimes, I can’t believe how far I’ve come. And how much less I think, in general, about things that don’t matter. More on that in another post!

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Getting off The Sugar

31 Jul

11:43 am

It’s only been less than a week, but totally minimizing my Diet Coke intake and for the most part, cutting out “fake sweets” (i.e., candy, cookies, cake, ice cream, pudding, etc.) in favor of either granola bars (sure, they’ve got sugar, too, but it’s “good” sugar=LOL) or yogurt (pectin-free, but sometimes the cane sugar-laden stuff) has kind of totally reset me.

I feel better, overall. I feel… Well, let’s itemize the Awesome:

1. I’m no longer jones’ing for a Diet Coke (DC, from here on out). That was fast, I have to admit. I mean, quitting drinkin’ was SUCH a fucking drawn-out process, mentally and emotionally, that I thought that cutting out the DC was going to be the same. NOPE. See, I fasted once, for five days, and at the end of those five days I had absolutely lost any and all craving for Coke. Of course, I “picked up” again, but I remember that reset happening with practically no effort on my part, simply falling back on my physiology–the body is an amazing machine! This time, I think my body was just like, OK, bitch, stop this nonsense. I had reached my fake liquid sugar limit. The first couple of days, I had to wean myself after experiencing noticeable lethargy and moodiness, but after the third day, I suddenly started craving “real” sweets over liquid ones. Now, about a week later, I waited until 5 pm yesterday to have my first sip of DC, and I almost immediately felt dizzy. I don’t know what’s going on with that, but at least now I know I can possibly link the two…

2. I feel like my inner “satiety meter” has been fine-tuned back to normal. It’s hard to explain this, but when I started drinking and eating too much sugar, I felt like my hunger sense was off: not only did I not know what I wanted to eat (like, did I want a burrito, or did I want tofu?), but I couldn’t seem to control my sweet tooth. Now, I prefer to have a real sweet OVER a can of DC, mainly because if I really want to shed a few pounds, I can’t have both. And, how great is that? Who doesn’t want a real sweet over a can of DC, if you have to choose? And, I guess I’m forcing the choice, but it’s left me actually looking forward to eating sweets again–because I can.

3. I feel like I’m doing myself a favor, and that positive mental health affects my mood.

4. I hated feeling enslaved by yet another fucking craving. Oooh, is there going to be Diet Coke at the party? OMG, what if there is no Diet Coke? How many cans do we have left? Ugh. I mean, OK, on a scale of 1 to 10, with wine being at 10, my DC addiction feels like it is at about a 0.1, but still; it’s the same voice. Baby wolf, wolf puppy. It’s cute, but don’t be fooled, it’s STILL A WOLF.

So, there you have it. By no means am I not eating or drinking sweets, but I’d say that I’ve actually got it a bit under control now. Which feels good. I can finally start using food to my advantage instead of having it use me.

LOTS of great posts out there today; I’m so proud of you all! As for me, tomorrow I’ll be heading down the slope: 1.5 months to go to reach my 6-month mark. I have never gone longer than 23 weeks…and this past Monday was 19 weeks! 25 weeks is September 9th, and 180 days is September 14th. And, I’m not even thinking about drinking anymore. Sure, I get a craving here and there, but I realized last night a gradual process of letting go is happening. Like a scab that’s slow to come off, I’m slowly but surely letting go of the idea that drinking at night would be fun, or a good idea, or somehow an improvement or “fix.” I just don’t think that way anymore, and it makes this sobriety thing start to ring a bit truer for me. I actually don’t think about drinking anymore. (And when I do, there are the hundred and one stories of drinking and drinking-gone-wrong to remind me of why it sucks. I’d link to them all, but all you have to do is read the news and see just how many of the tragedies out there are somehow drinking-related…)

Unicorns and glitter balls all around! Because…why the fuck not? 🙂

Cutting back on…sugar, and old habits

28 Jul

10:55 am

The past two days, I’ve tried to ix-nay sugar completely from my diet. Um, YEAH. Gotcha.

I’ve realized that cutting out sugar entirely, immediately–instead of weaning myself off–will lead to sugar withdrawal, which I guess I had a bit of yesterday: I was sad and lethargic, and felt like my brain was hovering around “off” for most of the day. Sigh. No more extremes. (And, with sugar, I don’t think it’s prudent to be so black-and-white about it.) So, I think I’m going to start by cutting BACK on Diet Coke–maybe one a day, if I need it, or two if I’m indulging. I’ve been drinking at least a liter a day regularly for about nine months?, several cans a day since I quit drinking, and at least a 20-ounce of regular Coke every day since about 2007. I’m sure I drank soda before then, but it was mainly coffee (in the day) and wine (at night).

I noticed I drink Diet Coke like I drink wine, fast and furious. However, there’s something more dangerous about drinking liquid sugar; you can drink and drink and drink, until you get sick, but you won’t black out or pass out. Which means, you can keep drinking more. PERFECT.

It was interesting to watch my mood swings yesterday, and me push through them. It was like I was on autopilot, and my sober mind had taken over. I DID have a craving to drink–a pretty big one. I haven’t really seriously thought of drinking for a while, and this was minor, but big enough to have to turn on the virtual “this is the shit that will go down if you drink tonight” movie in my mind. I counted the number of weeks I have left to get to 22, which was close to my last sober record of 158 days. But then, I took a magnifying glass to what, exactly, I wanted, and HOW, exactly, I was planning to effect that change. The “how” part was new: I’ve gotten myself to reflexively look at what is tripping my drinking switch, but never how to turn it off.

I could very clearly see that my sadness wasn’t necessarily brought on by a sugar low, though that was part of it. I was, and am, lonely. I don’t have many (any?) friends here. I don’t go out. EVER. I could admit to myself last night, on my run, that no, I still haven’t accepted let alone embraced socializing sober. It’s not as strong as it used to be, but I’m still convinced that “there is no point” to going out and not drinkin’. (By go out, I mean to bars and clubs.)

Then I thought, well, you have two neighbors who are free tonight, why not ask them to do something with you? Granted, I had planned to work yesterday, which means that Saturday night or no Saturday night, I am trolling the journals and (for a new project) slogging through complicated stories on the latest in cancer research and treatment–that’s just how I do. However, I didn’t ask, or invite. I think I might have felt better if I had forced myself to socialize instead of doing the usual, which is running alone on the beach and/or working on a Saturday night.

At one point in the run, I simply concluded that I am still living, in a way, like my “old drunk self,” simply without the booze. By that I mean, I still isolate (prefer to be alone), I just don’t do it with wine. It takes a LONG time to change our ingrained habits and defense mechanisms, doesn’t it?

It’s not easy for me to socialize, mainly because I FEEL like I don’t want to, but also because it’s just not in my nature (habit) to engage instead of isolate. “Make yourself available,” is what one of my old roommates used to tell me. That was over a decade ago. I was isolating then, I am isolating now. I guess maybe drinking gave me a way to isolate and not feel bad (or anything!) about it.

Sure, it’s nice to be alone sometimes, have a weekend by myself. What I do, though, hasn’t changed since I hung up my drinking shoes: NOT inviting people over, out, or IN to my life. I wanted to drink to avoid this realization, but that was pointless; there it was. I ran more. I wanted to drink to not feel slightly angry at myself, defeated, and sad. Within about a minute, or less, I had worked out that no, drinking would not fix any of this, and no, actually, I didn’t want a drink. What I wanted–needed–was real change. To feel better. And, how can I feel better? Change my habit of isolating.

The point is, the craving came and went, but I was able to see through it. What was making me want to drink, and what I could do–besides drink–to fix the problem. I was looking for solutions to the real problem, and not just a way to dodge the craving for wine. Wolfie has no clothes, as it were. I can see right through to your scrawny, starved frame, your salivating, dried-up tongue…FUCKING FUCK YOU, WOLFIE!

I am on Day…? 132. 19 weeks tomorrow. I suppose 22 weeks plus 4 days will be my immediate goal, but I’m truly curious to see what comes after six months. Will there be glitter? Balls of it? Will there be unicorns with sparkly teeth, smiling at me from a chorus line on the beach? Or, will it be more like a Broadway musical? Maybe a Broadway musical with glitter and a unicorn parade?

Diet Coke is more addictive than wine!

27 Jul

3:40 pm

I held out as long as I could, but after two whole days without Diet Coke–and almost both days of being as sugar-free as possible–I just cracked open a can. I’m already feeling a bit better after a few sips, and *finally* starting my day: typing this, then going for a run, then working on other stuff (I took yesterday off, so today is a “work day”). I mean, there was no way I could ingest the large amounts of science news and information I need to the way I was feeling.

Over the past few hours, my symptoms peaked: foggy-brained and really lethargic, with this sensation that I’m at the bottom of a hill on my bike. I also feel dizzy and a bit nervous, but I think that’s psychosomatic (i.e., what’s going to happen next?). Ugh. Way worse than the supposed alcohol withdrawal symptoms I had, which mainly consisted of mental urges to drink accompanied by benign symptoms like insomnia and a low-grade “flu.” Maybe it’s something else, this seemingly-recurring dizziness, and unrelated to whether or not I drink DC. I’m not sure, but I do feel better, even just marginally. Which is all I needed, I guess.

This, my friends, sucks. Sugar addiction is serious and should NOT be taken lightly. This whole eat-a-cookie-when-you-want-to-drink mentality? NOT! I hate to say it, but addiction treatment and recovery REALLY, TRULY needs to become more evidence-based (as in, evidence-based medicine). No more wives’ tales, please.

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