Category Archives: anxiety

A little bit of blogging does you good!

Yesterday was a funny day. Funny strange that is. Let’s backtrack; I’ve been writing my blog for a month now and my intentions were to:

1 Have an online record of moving from alcohol dependency to sobriety, reflecting and hopefully learning on the way

2 Get a bit of support from people either going through the same thing or having successfully arrived at sober living

I’m really pleased to say that both of those goals have been realised but the experience I have had after one month has been so much more than that and very surprising.

Surpise number 1: the flow of comments and interest. I had blogged previously about trying to moderate my drinking. That was two years ago and in the course of blogging I had a few people who commented and I did the same. Only a small number but really useful. For me blogging wasn’t about getting lots of followers but an attempt to become part of a close knit small group of supportive bloggers. That’s how it was until yesterday. Then out of seemingly nowhere I had triple the views I normally have, a bunch of new followers and lots of comments. That was kind of nice but why yesterday? Was it that I suddenly appealed to more people due to my elegant writing, the opening up of my tortured soul, familiarity with my posts and a desire to read them all over again? No, of course not. I think it was down to one word: anxiety. That word being in the title of my last post and a tag seems to have been the reason for a lot more traffic. A surprise certainly, but a nice one, it just means you send you’re day responding to comments. A good way to spend some time.

Let me clear something up about that last post. The anxiety I was talking about was a situation specific, time limited anxiety. It was linked to me not allowing myself to drink at a time when I habitually drank. I didn’t like it. It put me on edge. It triggered some other darker feelings. But it passed. Real anxiety, clinical anxiety is a whole different phenomena and in no way did I want to suggest that’s what I was going through. I’ve seen people with chronic anxiety and it is a debilitating condition that can wreck lives. What I experienced was an episode, an acute short lived experience of anxiety that I overcame. The comments I had were amazing and an eye opener about what others have had to endure and suffer from.

Surprise number 2: The amazingly supportive community of bloggers out there. This has been the real revelation for me. In just over a month I have had numerous comments and ALL of them have been supportive, encouraging and positive. When people talk about online worlds and social media you often hear of bullying, trolls and negative responses. I’ve seen none of that. And it’s not just on my blog. When I read other blogs and comments it’s the same and that is a really wonderful thing to witness. It’s a picture of how this world could be if we truly valued and respected each other. Bloggers do it so why not politicians, religious leaders and others in positions of influence?

For me I would go so far as to say that the support and genuine interest of a few bloggers has helped me successfully manage my first 10 days of sobriety. It’s the quality of the support that’s really impressed me. It’s been much more than “10 days, well done Jim” type of response although that is always welcome. It’s been people sharing their own experiences to help shed light on mine or to offer advice and information that could be the thing that gets me through a sticky patch. Sometimes the comments can be very direct but that’s ok, I like direct and I can choose to act upon or not any advice coming my way. The point is in this blogging community people genuinely care for one another and want to see others moving forward and succeeding. No bitchiness or point scoring. They’ll be one or two just looking to pick up likes and followers but that’s ok. They still give. Oh and there are some big egos out there but hey that’s also ok. If a blogger feels a bit better about themselves that’s a good thing and it could be one of the few places they receive such positivity.

Is it all positive, this blogging business?

I would say the only negatives I can see for myself are:

A. It can be addictive. I’ve heard others mention that and I say this half jokingly because an addiction that does no harm physically and where the outcome is to connect with others in a positive way is hardly a bad thing

B. I have to be careful here. Maybe, just maybe we are too nice to each other. What I mean is that in trying to be supportive we sometimes sugar coat things or avoid any constructive criticism. You can be critical and supportive at the same time. I was a teacher for many years and just giving glowing feedback did not help students make progress. Purposeful, relevant feedback did. Having said that I know I’m now going to get some critical feedback of my own. That’s OK I can take it, just be gentle with me ! 😉

Jim X

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