Friday, 20 April 2018

Alcohol, health and anxiety

Back in 2015 I started to feel pretty unwell.  I was losing my appetite, I was losing weight, I wasn't sleeping well, I was lethargic to the point that I really had to force myself to even get ready in the morning to go to work.  Then, on the walk to the office I would feel like I was going to vomit, I felt hot, sweaty and shaky.  Often, I would have to stop and sit down for a minute or two.  Then, this feeling started to continue when I arrived at work and would have to exchange the usual pleasantries with my boss - I would have a hot flush and go bright red.  I wondered if I was beginning to have an early menopause and hoped these feelings and symptoms wouldn't last too long.

After a little while, I got worse.  My hot flushes, nausea and shakiness would happen again throughout the day - particularly when I was having to interact with other people.  It was almost like I was nervous.  I found that sometimes I couldn't speak properly, I couldn't remember how to say the words I was thinking and then couldn't even think of the word I was trying to say.  I couldn't write in front of other people or even sign my name, which was particularly difficult seeing as part of my job is to write and sign my name!  I would get that fight or flight feeling and I often would have to get up and leave the room on the pretense of getting a drink of water or going to the loo.

Everytime I had to interact with another person I felt like this.  I began to realise that I was suffering from anxiety.  During this time I was drinking and smoking heavily and deep down I knew that this was the cause of my anxiety.  The wine witch, however, told me that it was nothing to do with her.  She helped me deal with my feelings better.  She gave me courage!  I was convincing myself that I had something seriously wrong with me ... I had a serious illness like cancer, or I was going to have a heart attack.  I was convinced that one day, I just wouldn't wake up.  I would die in my sleep.  I continued to drink copious amounts of wine and vodka.  It never entered my mind to try and stop or at least not drink as much.  I actually think I drank more.

Then, these 'anxiety attacks' started to affect my personal life even more.  Meeting a family member in Costa for a coffee?  No chance.  Once, my older daughter took me out for lunch.  All I wanted to do was leave and I certainly couldn't eat the meal I'd ordered.

I plucked up the courage to go and see a Doctor.  Of course, I didn't tell her the extent of my problems and I certainly did not admit to drinking excessively.  When she asked me the usual health questions, I admitted to the odd glass of wine here and there.... 

The Doctor took some blood to test but agreed that I might be starting an early menopause.  The blood test would confirm this, but in the meantime I should start and think about if I wanted to begin taking HRT.  This was great news!  See!  I did have something wrong with me.  It wasn't the drinking at all!

After a couple of days, the Doctor rang.  My blood test had shown my hormone levels were normal, but the liver function test they had done had shown some abnormalities.  My insides threatened to dissolve and depart my body..... I had liver damage I was sure.  It turned out that I had a couple of vitamin deficiencies .... B12 and D.  I'm positive these were caused by my drinking.  My alcohol consumption was preventing my body from producing and processing the things that are meant to keep you healthy.

A course of vitamin D tablets and B12 injections made a massive difference to me ..... but I still kept on bloody drinking!  I still wasn't quite right.

But, I can honestly say that since becoming sober, I know longer suffer from anxiety to the extent that I did.  Sure, there's been a couple of times when I've started to feel it bubbling to the surface but now I can put it back in its box because I can deal with my feelings better.

Without a doubt (for me) quitting the booze has had a huge positive impact on my health and mental well-being.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

I LOVE sober mornings!

This morning, I feel like the picture above - sun-shiny, bright, smiley - happy! 

I woke gently this morning to bird song and one of my favourite Madonna songs 'Live to Tell' playing on the alarm radio.  The sun is shining and it feels like summer is finally coming.

Today, we are forecast to have a high temperature of around 23c.  In my part of the UK this is positively a heatwave. 

I think for the reasons above, I feel almost like I am walking on air (I know, that seems a little far fetched - but I am in such a good mood this morning!)  and I have again realised yet another fantasic bonus of being sober:  Mornings like this. 

Before, I would have been awake since 3am.  I would have probably have given in and gotten up.  I would have felt like shite - headachey and sluggish.  I would have also looked like shite, but I would have been planning the drinking day ahead. 

This morning, I took a good look in the mirror with a smile on my face.  My eyes are bright, my skin is clear and has a healthy look to it and my hair looks like I've been dragged through a hedge - but healthy.

But, I know that I feel this good because I am sober. 

I feel 'normal'   ..... I am thinking about alcohol less and less which is a good thing.  I also had to work back to find out how many days I have been sober:  285 days!!

Monday, 2 April 2018

My thoughts on: Flavoured Gin

I was alway partial to a drink of sloe gin, but gin in its original format was about the only spirit that I never liked.  I didn't like the taste nor the smell.  Mind, having said that I didn't much like the taste of vodka ... Or whisky ... But I drank that.

I have noticed lately that Gin is the new wine.  My Facebook page has been littered recently with Gin memes:  it's gin o'clock, to gin or not to gin, etc.

What used to be nicknamed Mother's ruin is becoming more and more popular, particular with the ever increasing new releases of flavoured gin.  You can now buy all sorts of flavours; Parma violet, rhubarb and ginger, strawberry to name a few.

This worries me, in that manufacturers have obviously latched on to the idea that Gin is becoming more popular and are concocting these new flavours to be even more popular.  How attractive is a strong spirit that tastes like strawberry juice when mixed with a bit of tonic?  How refreshing?  It's ideas like this that probably would have drawn me in.  I have no doubt that I would have tried it and BAM!  I would have been hooked.  We all know that spirits like these are incredibly addictive.  Some of these gins have a 20% alcohol content.

I once bought a litre bottle of vodka, explaining to Mr W that it would be more economical than buying wine because it would last me much longer.  It appeared that I did, but then, I was topping it up with water and smaller bottles of vodka.  I actually drank more because (when not taking sneaky drinks of it neat) I was mixing it with coke or tonic.  After the first couple of sips, you can't taste the vodka.

I have always considered my sister to be a normal drinker.... Shes always gone out drinking a couple of times a month with friends and drunk cider or Malibu and coke.  Now though, she is really into drinking gin and I mean REALLY.  Her Facebook page is littered with gin memes, comments about which flavoured gin she's bought, photographs of a just poured large glass of gin, which 'gin palace' is opening locally.

Today though, when visiting her at lunchtime, she was showing me an opened bottle of pink gin she had bought herself.  Did I fancy a try of it?  Obviously I said "no thanks, I'm driving and I don't drink anymore... Remember?"  "Really?" She said - "I thought that you would've given in long before now."  (Gee, thanks for the support sis!).

The Sister then proceeded to state "it's Gin o'clock somewhere!  I'm having one" and poured what looked to be a pretty generous measure into one of those large gin glasses... The ones that look like you could fit half a bottle of wine into.... She chucked in a bit of ice and a bit of tonic and took a slurp.  It was 12.30.

I'm really hoping this was a one off, but my little alky senses are tingling.  They don't call Gin Mother's ruin for nothing.

I suspect that before long, instead of seeing articles about people worrying about their wine habit, we will see articles about people being worried about their gin consumption.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

My thoughts on: Moderating and 'normal' drinking

As of today I have been sober for 38 weeks... That's 266 days, or almost 9 months!

I have, on occasion, wondered if I would ever be able to moderate or become a 'normal' drinker of alcohol.  You know, just have the one small glass of wine on a special occasion.  Enjoy a cocktail or two on holiday.....  But, then I think how mentally exhausting I would find that.  I don't think my brain is wired up to be a normal drinker....  Is there even such a thing?

Being 'normal' means that you don't even think about drinking and, to my mind, if you are even thinking out loud that you are 'normal' then you are not.

I most definitely could not moderate.  The endless thinking about drinking/not drinking, the judging of myself.  Just having one?  Absolutely not me - it would drive me bonkers.

This is why I must remain sober forever more.  Being sober is so much more fulfilling than being an alcohol soaked wreck of a woman.

Mr W was a a 'normal' drinker.  He could have just the one, or more often than not - none.  When I quit drinking, he did too.  I didn't ask him and it was never discussed.  He just didn't drink anymore.  To be honest, I'm pleased he did because I think I've coped better.

What I have noticed is that The Husband cannot stand anyone drinking alcohol anymore.  If someone mentions having a drink of booze or brags on Facebook about having a great night out on the lash he can actually be quite derisory about it.  You can almost see him turning his nose up.  I feel quite sad and guilty about his feelings towards alcohol.  I'm sure he has them because of me.

I have noticed  that, as time goes on, I am also beginning to feel really negative about people drinking.  It's not that I dislike or hate the fact that people drink the stuff - it's more that I don't see the point in drinking alcohol.  I drank it purely to get drunk, so that I would sleep/pass out, so I can't fathom yet why people drink it to have a good time or to relax.  I am really beginning to see alcohol for what it truly is:  a toxin, a drug, a poison.

I'm wondering if it's normal to be feeling like this?  I really don't want to be dead set against alcohol -  or pious about it.... But it's very hard not to be when you know the damage it can do, when you have been the one causing the damage because you can't control your drinking.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Looking back with rose tinted glasses

For the last week or so, I've been thinking a lot about my drinking habit. 

Previously, when I've thought about my drinking, I've practically beat myself up about the bad parts of it .... the blackouts, etc.  This time around, the memories that have popped into my head have been 'the good times' .... that is, the edited 'good times'.  The glass of wine while catching up with an old friend, the glass of wine during a romantic meal out with Mr W. 

These memories have made me feel wistful.  If only I was a normal drinker - I could enjoy the odd glass of wine.  These feelings aren't exactly cravings.  It's very hard to explain - they are just 'feelings', but they also make me think could I moderate?  Could I?

Deep, deep down, I know I'm viewing my past through rose tinted glasses.  Those lovely romantic thoughts of that lovely glass of chilled white wine whilst catching up with a friend are bullshit.  I know they are.  I won't stop at just one.  I didn't last time.  The thing is, I don't want to think about the bad stuff anymore.  I'm fed up of beating myself up.  How long should I self flagellate?

It's mainly the thought of letting my husband and my girls down that really, really help me to continue with my sobriety.  That, and the fact that I feel so much better about myself and I feel so 'alive' (well, mostly).

My quality of sleep also seems to be improving at long last.  I bought a new bed and mattress and that seems to have helped enormously.  I used my wine fund to buy the new bed. 

Knowing that I have 'saved' a shitload of money by not buying booze is a great motivator.

Thus, I have used this reason to motivate myself even more not to drink ever again:

Last Saturday, I have been sober for 259 days.  Working on the average that I spent around £10.00 per day on booze (sometimes this would be less or more), I worked out that I would have spent at least £2,590.00 on something that was killing me.

My finances are so much better now that I'm not wasting all that money on booze (or cigarettes for that matter - and my smoking habit was pretty much 20 a day... sometimes more).

So, after doing my sums, and in order to help me continue being sober, I went and got finance to purchase a brand new car at the weekend.

Had I still been drinking (and smoking) there wouldn't have been a cat's chance in hell that I could afford the repayments.

Obviously I wouldn't recommend that you just go up and buy something really expensive on credit, but for me I feel that doing it has given me a big reward for being sober and is a massive motivator to remain sober.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

35 weeks and 1 day sober

I am now 35 weeks and 1 day / 8 months sober.  When you write it down it doesn't seem like much does it?  It feels like an age though.

I like 246 days though.  It looks like more of an accomplishment, so therefore it feels like one.

I feel almost normal.  I don't think too much about alcohol anymore, but when I do it feels like I've been smacked across the back of my head.

Take yesterday, when clearing out kitchen cupboards I came across a bottle of fizz that has been there for some time.  At first, I thought nothing of it except that it must belong to one of the girls.  A little while later, I began to reason to myself that I could drink it and no-one would know.  Everyone was out, the girls wouldn't be home, the Husband was working a late shift, I didn't have to go out.  I could drink it all and go sleep it off.

Obviously, I didn't.  I "played it forward", I made myself realise that I would put myself right back to square one.

I am still a work in progress and suspect I will be for sometime.

This morning I feel more up beat.  It's Mothering Sunday and my girls have promised to cook our dinner (I'm hoping they'll clear up after themselves too).

Compared to this time last year I am a zillion times better.  This time last year I was a complete mess:    Funny thing is, I didn't have a blackout.  I remember it all very well... Too well.

It was my mother's birthday; a special milestone one.  As usual, it was left to me to organise something special.  Mother doesn't like parties and didn't want anything too extravagant so I organised a family meal in a nice restaurant.  I had agreed with my siblings that we would split the cost of my mother and fathers meal between us.

By this time, I was in a pretty bad place.  I was drinking during the day, over the weekend, when I could - when my husband was working mid or late shifts..  I would be up and about early, go shopping and buy two bottles of wine.  One for the day and one for night.  I'd drink most if not all of one bottle and then go to bed for a few hours to sleep it off.

On this particular day (of the family meal) even though I swore I wouldn't, I drank during the day and then went to bed for a bit.  I then got up in plenty of time to get ready for the meal.  I didn't feel right (I was still pissed).  I had a glass of wine while I got ready.

Anyway, the family meal was a bit of a shambles, the service was crap, my father drank like a fish because he knew he wasn't paying for it.  My sister made out as though she was the one who had organised everything.  At the end of the night, I was the one charged with working out what everyone owed.  I am not mathematically challenged, but I'd had a lot to drink throughout the day and I knew I was borderline rat-arsed.  Most just gave me a rounded amount.  Taking into account that myself and my two other siblings were sharing the cost of our parents, I knew my brother had given me too much and had mentioned that I would sort it all out properly in the morning.

The following morning, I received a pretty sarcastic text from my sister.  She had worked everything out and my brother had paid me too much. I needed to give him back £20.00.  The text annoyed me.  How dare she!  She had done nothing to help with the arrangements and hadn't helped with the workings out the night before.  I worked out the figures myself.  If I gave my brother back some money, and taking into account what food had been ordered and what had been drunk by my siblings and their dependents, I had paid £60.00 towards my parents meal.  My brother had paid £10.00.  My sister paid £1.00.  Yes, that's right!  £1.00!

Unfortunately, I stewed for a while following the text, I drank and I did not handle the situation well. I texted back eventually to say that she should have been the designated calculater for the night, I knew my brother had paid too much... And in actual fact, she had paid just £1.00 towards the cost of my parents meal.  So, perhaps she could stump up a bit more cash instead of being all high and mighty.

The situation escalated.  My sister got my brother and mother involved.  I drank.  I fell out with them all and I drank a bit more.  Then, I cried.

I had to call in sick to work the next day because I felt so poorly and hungover.

I do think that if I had been sober I may very well have still responded in the same way.  I do think I was justified, but I think I would have handled whatever happened after much better.

That episode was just one in a long list of my drunken escapades, but this one didn't make me stop
drinking.  It took me another four months.

By comparison, this year I am going to spend the day chilling.  I may not even change out of my pyjamas!

Happy Sunday!! X

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Mrs W: Meet Gym

A little while ago I posted about having quit smoking and drinking, but not filling my time with anything else. 

For years I have sat at home drinking alone.  I've turned down all sorts of invitations, because the ability to being able to have a drink was always at the forefront of my mind.  Any activities that involved me having to drive were completely out.  All of this has made me completely unsociable.

And, as much as I love my family and being around them - particularly now that I'm sober and am 'present', you can be around them a little too much.  I think I've reached that point.

I've been feeling bored and frustrated and I need interaction with others.  I also need to drop some weight.

There's only one person that can change that, and that is me!  I've taken the plunge and I have met Gym!

So far, I've done a couple of sessions in the gym, I've done some classes and I've gone swimming.  I haven't lost any weight yet (I might if I cut out the sweet stuff) and I have discovered muscles I never knew existed.  I have also found, particularly for the classes, that there are some really friendly people.  At one of my first classes last week, I had a chat with a couple of women - this week, they both approached me for a chat, pleased that I had come back, etc.

Now, I know that I'm not going to have throngs of new besties anytime soon, but I'm working on it.

If only I had known it would be this easy, I might have done it sooner.