Anxious about my Anxiety

Tell me about it Munchy…
When I decided to give up the booze it was mainly about wanting to improve my health. I wasn’t the stereotypical down and out drunk. I was someone who found it difficult, when I did drink, to drink moderately and I was fed up with the constant battle. I’d tried a three month no alcohol challenge, saw the numerous benefits and gradually came to the conclusion that the drink had to go. Not an easy decision; I was going to be giving up a lot but the pros of giving up outweighed the cons. Now, after a week of sobriety some unsettling thoughts and feelings are starting to emerge. It’s getting uncomfortable. I’m getting anxious.

It started on Friday when I started to get what felt like cravings and I wrote about this on my blog. Saturday and Sunday were the same and I realised the cravings were being fed not so much by a physical need for alcohol but by a desire to quieten down some of the uncomftable feelings welling up inside me.

One of the most pervading feelings was one of anxiety, a sense of unease, edginess. I know some will say that’s part of the withdrawal from alcohol but it’s a feeling I used to have even when drinking regularly. This was not addiction speaking, it was dissatisfaction and ennui. Saturday I prepared a meal, but there was no fun or joy in it. I cooked, we ate, watched TV, slept. Great, is that it? At least with a glass of wine I’d get a reprieve from those feelings. It made me relaxed, I could look at life and smile, pretend and believe that life was OK. Take the drink away and it all looks a bit bleak. I even had the fleeting thought that,”if this is what life is going to be like, get back to drinking, at least you’ll enjoy parts of the ride.”

I know, I know, this is all part of the sober journey. Dealing with the difficult stuff. For me though the difficult stuff is facing up to the fact that there is not enough happening in my life. It’s also maybe the recognition that without the booze I have to confront the fact that I find intimacy difficult. Spending time being with someone, anyone, without the mask of alcohol just brings on these waves of anxiety.

I think I said earlier in this blog that I haven’t gone too deeply into the origins of my drinking behaviour, the whys and wherefore of my drinking because that’s the past and I wanted to focus on changing the present but this last weekend in particular highlights that I do need to understand why I maintained my drinking habits. Without understanding that and finding alternatives I know that I may be drawn back to alcohol as a way of just dealing with shitty feelings.

The anxiety I felt this weekend was part craving but for the most part it was borne of seeing my current life in the full white glare of sobriety. Stuck in a village, trying to be a loyal, loving partner, tinkering on the edges of life, somehow strangely lonely and isolated. Boy, no wonder I drank! But I’m not drinking and I don’t intend starting again so something has to give or change. I can’t spend weekends like this last one, feeling anxious and disattisfied. A silent, shuffling presence just wanting to be on my own. On top of that waves of feelings of loss come back. My marriage to the mother of my sons 15 years ago, the death of a best friend last year, losing my brother, son and father in the space of three grim years 10 years ago. This is not self pity, everyone has to deal with loss, but alcohol can sometimes can just take the edge of it. And maybe, just maybe I never gave myself the time and space to grieve fully.

This blog has helped. Externalising the thoughts and feelings by writing. Getting feedback and support and being able to offer it sometimes. There does emerge a real sense of community when you blog, a knowledge that you do not have to deal with things alone. Of course some things do need to be dealt with internally and alone and maybe I have put those off for too long. I am someone with enthusiasm for life, who likes to laugh and that’s the fella I need to rediscover. Yes, without booze I may get a bit anxious, feel that life lacks something, but I should also, without booze, be in a much better position to do something about it.

Jim X

28 thoughts on “Anxious about my Anxiety

  1. drgettingsober

    Jim this sounds so familiar! The sense of ennui at every day life, the is this it? And the resurgence of old unresolved losses and pain along with the loss of who we’ve thought we are as a drinker – happy, party person. You’ve a lot of loss there ❤️ I don’t think there’s any way round this – we have to feel it, go through it and come out the other side. For me it was after 3 months it started to lift. I’m a busy person but still found the weekends stretching in front of me depressing and I didn’t want to do anything much. Spending time with my daughters helped as I wasn’t that in to seeing my friends as they drink. Blogging helped and yoga/meditation. I’ve not had therapy but I’m married to one so that might be an idea? C is the best in my biased opinion and he does Skype so if you wanted to contact him let me know and I can email you details. New habits, new hobbies etc fill time but we have to process the emotions. I’m rooting for you – stay strong as drinking again only means doing this bit again which is shit! 💞💞

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Hi , thanks for taking time to give such great feedback. I really value what you have to say and strangely comforting that what I describe is familiar to you as well. I will stay strong as I’ve spent a long time building up to this and want to see how things pan out over a longer period. I’ll give some thought to therapy but at the moment I’m content with reflecting on things via this blog but I’ll bear your contact in mind. In the meantime I think I’ll throw myself into more exercise, that usually helps. Thanks again. 🙏
      Jim

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  2. sobrietytree2

    You have really been through a lot… I mean a lot. A huge, massive lot. This is major amounts of grief to process.

    Alcohol increases anxiety. It numbs it but increases it over time. (e.g. see random internet article such as: https://www.verywellmind.com/using-alcohol-to-relieve-anxiety-2584210)
    The problem with alcoholism, no matter how manageable or mild or self-medicatingly useful it seems at the time, is that it’s progressive. And deadly. Possibly very painful, ugly deadly. Throat cancer for example.

    I hear you on seeing life in full-focus and not liking it. I’m still having that actually. But I also feel that some wonderful things are happening. The rewards are not immediate but much deeper. I feel like I’m laying a foundation for something awesome.

    About wanting to be a loyal loving partner, yet also wanting to be alone… I have this too. It’s a huge dichotomy. I really, really love to be alone… but I also love people. Including my partner.

    One thing I told myself this time around (and so far, at 166 days, this is the longest I have been without alcohol, not counting pregnancy — or possibly even counting pregnancy, since I’d have the occasional “small glass”—) was that sobriety was going to come before my marriage. That did NOT mean I wanted to leave my partner. What it meant was that I was willing for him not to like my being sober. That changed things for me. I have this feeling now of being more “free” inside the relationship. In that I am putting what I consider to be my core mental (and physical) health needs first.

    Keep your sober momentum. You are doing awesomely. Maybe consider blogging every day. For me that was super helpful. The support on here was I believe another major factor for me. Thanks also for your support, it has been wonderful for me.

    Hugs hugs and huge congrats on 8 days!!!!! 🎉🙌🤩 On day nine I had a celebratory cake just ’cause I felt like it then. 🙂

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Hi
      Thanks for your comment. I do appreciate the time and thought you have put into it. I am aware of the alcohol- anxiety link but i also know the specific types of ocassions I have anxiety are not due to alcohol but I have used alcohol on such ocassions to not very effectively help me short term to deal with them. and it’s interesting because there are many things I feel confident about; teaching, giving talks,performing, helping strangers via a helpline, that I do without anxiety and always without booze. But one to one intimacy (and I mean just chatting), cooking for people, and times when I’m not busy, they are the anxious times.

      I like that bit about, ” I was willing for him not to like me being sober” because that is how I should have been this weekend. I was a bit distant, less jokey, more down I suppose. I felt a bit guilty being like that and can imagine my partner thinking “have a bleeding drink, you’re more fun that way.” So I need to be a bit more like you and be willing for my partner not to like me so much in the short term at least. She has often commented that I drink too much so her seeing me not drinking is something I’m sure she will appreciate.

      I will keep my momentum. I took my time building up to this so feel determined to see it through. I’ll carry on blogging which has helped a lot. Every day might be a stretch but I’ll try to make it a regular thing. Thanks again for your insight and support.
      Jim x

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  3. functioningguzzler

    I am so sorry for your loses, I know your not looking for sympathy but I’m giving it because you have certainly been through a lot. I have learned on my own journey that you do need to face your past in order to move onto your future with inner peace. Without numbing everything with booze you will feel everything and that includes the good and the bad but feeling it and being vulnerable and genuine is being honest to yourself. XOX

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Thanks and I know that I’ll have to face some uncomfortable feelings. To be honest they’ve always been there but the booze ocassionally made things a bit better but face them I will – SOBER! Kind words- thanks again.
      Jim x

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  4. Dwight Hyde

    Without the “fogging” life indeed gets real quick. For me, instead of fighting it or trying to ignore by burying it deep within I started slowly to face it. It takes much faith that I never heard about growing up. Us men I believe missed out on a lot of knowledge from our elders. Get close to your soul daily. We are falling UP.

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  5. Untipsyteacher

    I suffered with anxiety for years, too. After I stopped drinking I realized how much social anxiety I had! It took awhile after I stopped drinking to learn how to deal with social situations. Deep breathing exercises really help.
    Writing has helped me heal. It’s a proven therapy method, and blogging brings me such support!
    Bless you, Jim!
    xo
    Wendy

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  6. nomorebeer2019

    Hang in there, Jim. As many have said in the comments, you have been through a tremendous amount of loss, and if you feel that you didn’t give yourself enough time and space to go through it completely at the time, that could explain what you are feeling today. I have also been experiencing the “is this all there is to life?” question – and it’s much harder to bear when sober. I know that for me these pessimistic thoughts are linked to my depressive episodes, and the colors of life shift dramatically depending on my mood, not the actual events of my life. One day it seems bleak and empty, but the next, even the smallest detail (a leaf on a tree, a reflection of light on the pavement) makes life beautiful again. Anyway you’re doing great !!!! Keep going 🙂

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Hi Anne .I’m with you there on how it’s moods rather than actual events that colour life. I worry now that I’ve painted too bleak a picture of myself and how I feel sometimes. Most times I’m a very up sort of person, I laugh a lot and like to kid around. I think I’ve often masked and managed more difficult feelings and maybe over emphasized resilience. What’s nice about the blog and these conversations is that I can open up a bit more than usual. I spend a fair bit of time helping others in difficult situations so it’s weirdly humbling to have the support of others for a change. Just shows that everyone needs support at some points in their lives.
      Jim x

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      1. nomorebeer2019

        wow ! I’m right there with you with the overemphasis of resilience and “happy” appearance. 95% of my surroundings would never guess and be shocked that I have had depression. Allowing oneself to be sad isn’t always easy. And questioning/rewriting the limiting beliefs about oneself on a very deep level takes a bit of time I suppose 🙂 I’m glad you’re benefiting from the support of the people on here and able to gradually open up. Aaaaaand last but not least, the good old classic: what would it be like if you treated yourself as compassionately as you’ve been treating others? 🙂 xoxo

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      2. Jim Simmonds Post author

        Interesting! And I do treat myself compassionately .sometimes I would treat myself to copious bottles of wine. Is that what you meant? (He says neatly deflecting the point with a flippant remark)😉

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  7. Stacy

    So familiar. I agree that we have to adjust to sobriety, but anxiety is a real medical diagnosis. If you are struggling, then seek medical advice. I don’t think easing the suffering of sobriety makes us any less sober. I have always struggled with some sort of anxiety and frustration. I call it the fall out of a Type A personality. I was finally brave enough to be completely honest at my last doctors appointment and she gave me something that is helping (without making me a zombie). I will also add that facing the root of my issues was critical to the process for me. I dealt with that a couple of years ago, and so it does not loom over this attempt at sobriety. You know you are not alone in all this. Most of us can empathize with all you have said. Your path to healing is yours, of course, but I wanted to offer some tools that have helped me.

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  8. Jim Simmonds Post author

    Hi Stacy, thanks for the concern. Mine is sporadic, situation based anxiety. I have seen and worked with people with real full blown anxiety and that’s not me thank goodness. But facing the difficult stuff is an important part of the process and I’m slowly dealing with that. Thanks for your support.
    Jim x

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  9. Addy

    I am certain there is a deep-seated reason why you (or anyone) drink excessively and to find that would be the key to unlocking the addiction. Maybe counselling would help – just a few sessions to find that key – for, without it, the anxieties and understanding of how to dispel them will never go away. It is possible to stop but you need to find out why you need that unnecessary crutch.

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Hi Addy, I think my excessive drinking had many elements, not all of them deep seated but I can certainly see that I covered up a lot of difficult feelings and anxieties with alcohol. As part of my own counselling training I had to undergo counselling myself so I have some understanding of some deeper issues. (You’d be surprised how many therapists and psychologists I know with drink problems!) Knowing the issues and dealing emotionally with them are two different things but without doubt it feels better to finally be dealing with them without alcohol. Not always easy but necessary and quite liberating. Early days but feeling positive.

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  10. Nelson

    Why do we love our alcohol? You’ve just described a whole lot of the reasons! Have you done much reading about “PAWS”? Post Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome. Years of alcohol use, even at moderate levels likely puts you into that place. I highly recommend therapy as well. Hang in there. 💜

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      I have read about withdrawal effects put not the PAWS acronym. I shall google it with interest. Funny, now the weekend’s out the way I’m feeling a lot better. There’s such a strong link and association between weekends and booze which I’m guessing lots of people share. Hope things are going well for you?
      Jim

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  11. Claire47

    Hi
    So this is my first ever comment on a blog. I totally understand that feeling! I have feelings of absolute loneliness even though I am surrounded by loving friends, family and husband. I have been hiding from this by consuming more and more wine (plus engaging in other unhelpful and destructive past times!) and my anxiety and low moods still take over my life! Alcohol is unhelpful but not the entire cause however I have been reading and researching and I am on day 4 of my sober journey. I am a sober baby and have a long long way to go. Your posts are so helpful and I’ve really appreciated the honesty of everyone who shares their stories. It’s been the trigger to get myself on the right track!
    Good luck

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Hi Claire
      Thanks for your comments. Personally the feedback via comments and communicating with other sober bloggers has been a big part of why things are going well for me, so far, I think. Anxiety is a tough thing to experience. I suppose I was lucky that my anxiety was centered around the feeling that way if I didn’t have a drink at certain times (mainly weekends) but I see clients as a therapist who suffer from generalized anxiety and know it can be debilitating. The loneliness thing I get completely. Pleased that you’ve started your journey. There’s lots of support on this blogging space and if you ever want to share stuff off blog please feel free to email me at jsimmonds@protonmail.com
      All the best
      Jim

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      1. Claire47

        Thanks Jim
        I am really looking forward to getting support and hearing others stories … I think it’s going to be the only way I crack do this!

        When I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression 2 years ago I was so angry about it. How ridiculous! But I was adamant that I’m not that person. I’m outgoing, sociable, confident etc etc … they must have it wrong. Over the past two years I’ve worked really hard to get well and now the realisation that my over drinking is part of the issue and definitely a contributing factor has made me take this step. Bloody big step … but I’m taking it all the same.
        Claire

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      2. Jim Simmonds Post author

        Well done Claire! One of the great things about giving up the drink is that once you realise you can live without it, it’s then a feeling that if I can change/overcome drinking, I can change/overcome other things. It opens doors!
        Jim x

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Hi glad you found it and I would you say more than strength is finding the motivation to stop. Once I had that it became easier, though still difficult at times, to stop. What’s your motivation? Jim x

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