9 Weeks and Hello Again Dysphoria

9 weeks without alcohol. Good.  But I am not managing my time well.  I like blogging , I like catching up with other blogs but it seems to get harder finding the time to do it.  It has been a full on week and two things have dominated; my therapy work and organising a fund raising concert in the New Year. Excuses, excuses.  Oh and  I had my birthday on Thursday. Interesting.

I went with some friends to the pub.  Potential sticky social time but in the end OK.  The pub does a draught non alcohol beer which is unusual and allowed me to feel like I was having a good time on my birthday. The truth is I wanted a drink.  Not a,”I’m a hopeless addict give me a bloody drink,” type desire more a “It’s my birthday, I love the slightly euphoric feeling alcohol gives me, surely if life means anything it’s about being able to enjoy a wide range of experiences and sensations, it’s only a bloody drink,” type desire. But I didn’t drink and that’s because I always have to have that one or two extra and I’ve decided not to.  Sensible but slightly boring.  I guess I’m feeling that way because I’m not getting that whole, “Wow my life is so much better now I’m not drinking,”vibe. Or is this my dysphoria rearing it’s ugly little head again?

BACK TO THURSDAY.

One of my friends, who I mainly know through table tennis, noticed I wasn’t drinking “real” beer.  We spoke about drinking and I was amazed when he told me he had stopped for a whole year a few years ago because his drinking had become problematic. I was intrigued.  He said he regularly had blackouts not recollecting drinking sesssions so decided to stop. He always intended it to be a year and after a year he started drinking again but now does so moderately. Amazing.  That night he had one vodka and orange, a previous time I’d been to the pub with him he had had one pint. He is a moderate drinker and a reformed drinker who clearly before had suffered from Alcohol Use Disorder.   It was an eye opener.  Moderation is possible, but then he is a very focused individual.  It was interesting in that he said he needed a year off in order to recalibrate his drinking, gain perspective and make firm plans about how he was going to change his attitude to drinking.  Sacrilegous as it may sound I did wonder if that could be an option for me.  Stop for a year and try the moderation path.

Who am I kidding! Moderation is not my way.  There was half a chocolate cake left on Friday. Enough for 6 people.  I ate the lot. It was there, my though was best finish it.  I was the same with wine.  I never understood why people bought bottle stoppers, once the bottle was open, finish it.  When I smoked, exactly the same. Consume, eat, drink, covet. Greed, excess or numbing some emotional pain?  Certainly when I don’t have a drink like today I’m prone to dysphoria as mentioned earlier. A glass or three often disippated the mood, made me lighter.  Now I have to ride the mood, see it through.

I have clients who experience dysphoria and I’m often surprised that when I tell them that that is what they are describing it’s often the first time they have heard of the term.  I tell them them that what they are describing; feelings of unease and a general non-specific dissatisfaction with life has a name.  I suppose they haven’t heard of it because it’s not a condition as such more a description of a mood state but a mood state that can be very commonly experienced.  People with depression often experience dysphoria but it’s not a mood state reserved solely for those with a mental illness. I would often experience dysphoria but my wonderful, euphoria (yes, it’s the opposite to dysphoria) inducing wine quickly snapped me out of it. Of course it doesn’t really work.  It’s an illusion.  You end up drinking too much, getting anxiety about your drinking, the unease and unhappiness return and one ends up writing a blog about giving up alcohol on WordPress. Full circle.

My dysphoria is often Sunday based.  I know it passes. I’ll be slightly grumpy and pissed off until it does so.  Then I’ll be OK.  Then I’ll be able to feel good about being 9 weeks Alcohol Free. Anyone know a good therapist?

Jim x

25 thoughts on “9 Weeks and Hello Again Dysphoria

  1. Untipsyteacher

    Congratulations on your birthday! And for sticking to AF beer!
    The illusion of moderation is such a hard one. There are a few people who can learn, I just know I’m not one.
    I understand the Sunday blues feelings, and I don’t even work anymore! So many people struggle with Sunday!
    xo
    Wendy

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Thanks Wendy, I’m getting a real taste for AF beer and having it on tap is great. Means I can still enjoy going to the pub! Sunday’s are so strange. I think it’s a legacy of being dragged to church as a child. Not sure if that’s a flippant or profound observation. I’m going to have to change what I do on Sundays I think. Jim x

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  2. limetwiste

    Happy Birthday!
    Moderation. Mmmm. Can relate to the chocolate cake. Don’t put something in front of me that you don’t want eaten. Yes. I have a lot of fancy bottle stoppers. They have never been used.
    I looked up the word dysphoria. Learnt something.
    Time management when newly sober is a challenge. It was for me. Getting better at it.
    I like Sundays and Mondays. I have occasional grumpy one but generally I like them. Feels like a clean slate.

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      I think my attitude to cake and opened bottles is they are a temptation, best get rid of them, the trouble is I become the dustbin! Dysphoria, yes, it’s strange that many people seem unaware of the term but once they hear it’s meaning they often say, “oh yes I often have that feeling.”

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  3. Addy

    I too can relate to the cake! Maybe uneaten food and stoppers in bottles is some primeval reaction. A sort of “‘l’ll use it up before someone else grabs it” mentality. Or to stave off famine lurking round the corner. God knows. Moderation is hard, but I think it requires you to be nonchalant towards the cake/drink in the first place.

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      I think that’s a good point you make. Friends that are good at moderation have that take it or leave attitude to drink you mention. I was focused on having it! Jim x

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  4. Dana

    I’ve never heard of that word, “dysphoria”, learned something and now have a word to describe how I felt and feel at times. Look forward to how this month progresses! Wink, Wink!! And nice to hear your birthday went well!

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Hi Dana glad you’ve learnt a new word sorry that it applies to you, but then it’s just what can happen. It’s a very common mood state I think. Hope you are having a good family time at the moment. And wink wink, catch up soon! You do realize you are going to have to start blogging again when, wink, wink, things change!😉
      Jim x

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  5. drgettingsober

    Belated happy birthday Jim! And well done – I can relate to all that you’re saying – I too think I might be able to be an occasional drinker one day but it didn’t work last time so I know I need longer without it at this point. I felt dysphoric/depressed at about your stage for a few months. Constantly asking myself what’s the point in anything. Now I’m appreciating the little things in life more and it’s all less exciting but better in a calm way and I want to keep that! Xx

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Thanks, yes I would only think about drinking again if I knew my mind state was very different. The down feelings have been a bit of a surprise to me , I was expecting more “up” feelings but then again it’s a big change and lots of adjusting needed. Also the Sunday effect is very strong. Always has been, one reason I like to avoid seeing clients on a Monday. No one wants to see a gloomy therapist!
      Jim x

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  6. nomorebeer2019

    Happy birthday Jim !!!!! Congrats on making it AF, that’s a huge symbolic milestone, please don’t skim over it, you can be PROUD! As for the “I’ll stick it out for a year and then maybe moderate” train of thoughts, it’s happening to me too. Initially, I signed up for a 3 month challenge. I haven’t officially committed to anything beyond that. But 2 months in, I know that I can’t stop here, this is just the surface. But at the same time, why not entertain that thought if it gets you through the rough patches? You once told me: “hang in there for now, and if in a year you want a pint, then drink the bloody pint!”. I am hoping that in a year’s time I will have enough insight and wisdom to make the right choice, whatever that is. Right now there is only today. And today, I will not drink with you 🙂 Alsoooooo go easy on yourself ! So what, you had a ton of cake on your birthday, that’s what birthdays are for !!! 🙂 Last but not least, I think I spend 90% of my time in a state of dysphoria on most days. Alcohol (like you) and love drama were the only two things that “snapped me out of it”, as you say. Now, everything seems sometimes dull, sometimes uncomfortable. But when I am brave enough to push through the discomfort (i.e. the “unpleasant introspection” you were talking about in your comment to one of my posts), then I can open up to “real” euphoria and see how it is our own responsibility to make it happen! The moments are still fleeting, so I make sure to journal the shit out of them to have a trace, otherwise I just forget them and conclude that my whole life is dysphoric, which it isn’t. This AF is also about finding and creating (healty) joy in our lives. I can’t wait to see how you find/create yours !!!! xxxx Anne

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Hi Anne, just got round to reading your comment and as always it’s insightful and thought provoking. Going AF on my birthday wasn’t too bad but not drinking meant there was no covering up a void that was there. I celebrated it with newish friends who are great but I realised that at a deeper level I’ve not got the connection I had with older friends that are now either dead or live far away. Strangely though the people on here such as you I feel closer too despite never meeting and I suppose that’s because we share so much of ourselves and our hopes and fears, lay our vulnerabilities on the line and trust each other. I find it quite remarkable and uplifting.
      As this AF thing continues I feel the desire to drink slowly recede and increasingly pleased to be living without booze. I have some tough ocassion coming up including a raucous 60th part in London where most of the people will be fun loving, Guinness drinking Irish people. That’s going to be a toughie especially as I’ll be staying over and I know the evening will run into the early hours. Reframing it, I can say that attending and enjoying the event sober will be a massive milestone and make dealing with Christmas seem like a doddle. I’ll also enjoy the singing and dancing more being sober, that’s for sure.
      Jim x

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      1. nomorebeer2019

        wow, nice reframe indeed ! when you pass this milestone you will be so PROUD! I’m having similar thoughts about the upcoming holidays – how to navigate |Xmas sober, especially in a family who opens a bottle every day at 11 am … we’ll see ! ps. yes i feel very close to people here because we all share our vulnerabilities. It’s a great thing to also have people made up of flesh and bones to do the same with in “real” life though. The more I grow older the more I seek deeper connections – they’re just more interesting I find 🙂 quality vs quantity. xxx Anne

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      2. Jim Simmonds Post author

        Hi Anne I agree about the need for flesh and blood connections. I just went for a short run and would love to run with a few people. Increasingly we all seem well connected on the internet but not connecting up enough in the real world.x

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      3. nomorebeer2019

        wow that’s great !!!! I hate running so much I think people would have to pay me to join them 😉 So, BIG RESPECT 🙂 And yes, absolutely: real world connection is priceless, we forget that social media and social interaction are not exactly the same thing 🙂 But still, the internet is also a wonderful gift. As usual, a good balance of both is probably the best thing to aim for 🙂 xxx Hope you find some good people to run with – I know that would help me with motivation a lot ! xxx Anne

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      4. Jim Simmonds Post author

        😂 update. I posted that I was looking for running buddies and didn’t realise it’s basically a singles dating site based around fitness. So much for the Internet, I’ll just plod round on my own it’s easier.

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  7. sobrietytree

    “Consume, eat, drink, covet. Greed, excess or numbing some emotional pain?” Omg yep, sounds like me too… not anymore with food nor wine, but words. #StillFiguringItOut :))

    I hear you about the moderation thoughts… I was like you with chocolate cake and though I probably shouldn’t jinx it by saying this, I can now leave the last five pieces with hardly a thought (touch wood). I too dream that I could moderate again with wine one day, after “resetting” for a year, and like you though, I’m not sure it would work.

    Also, I’m not sure I’d want to bother trying. Worked so hard to get to this point, and I begin to see the benefit, slow and steady incline of benefit.

    Love your post, Jim, and yes I hope you do write one about your son if you feel like it one day…. your blog is great.

    Oh and I do know a good therapist, I’m pretty sure it must be you.

    xo n

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Hi Nadine, Thanks for the comment and it really helps knowing some people out there “get”you, which you definitely do. I don’t think I’ll go back to wine but like you I’m keeping that door open but increasingly I like the state of being AF. I’m beginning to prefer it especially as I am now building up my alternative drinks cabinet (everleaf is my newest discovery, bloody expensive but very grown up and yummy!)

      For some reason I’ve yet to understand, your comments make me well up (just slightly, I am a bloke after all😉) . It’s slightly disconcerting but also warm and comforting. Thank you.

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  8. functioningguzzler

    Happy belated Birthday 🙂 and hey I like that you spend time on here helping so many with your kind words. Probably makes me selfish lol I know that moderation is not an option for me with pretty much anything (well maybe exercise but lets not go there) I also recognize in me that it is my little addiction voice telling me maybe it’s a possibility and maybe we could just try and then stop if it doesn’t work out for us.

    Thanks for a great post Jim xox

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    1. Jim Simmonds Post author

      Hi, It’s a mutual thing on here , everyone offers support to each other which is great and which you pointed out in your post. Increasingly I think I won’t ever go back to drinking because I’m increasingly preferring my AF life. It’s tough sometimes but well worth the effort. Thanks for your kind words.
      Jim x

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  9. clairei47

    Well well well … ‘Dysphoria’, who knew there was a word to describe the way I feel sometimes. Plus drinking to stop the feeling of dysphoria then leads to more dysphoria itself. Well it did with me anyway.

    I’m looking back at my fellow bloggers old posts that I haven’t read before or that might help me at this stage. Interesting how we all have such similar experiences on the path to sobriety. The ‘Sunday’ issue .. that was a real problem for me but is far less now.

    I looked up dysphoria. Really helpful .. thankyou Jim
    Claire xx

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