When I’m feeling blue

When you stop drinking it is sometimes hard to understand what is going on within yourself.  I had medicated my emotions with booze for so long that it was hard to decipher my own moods!  At day 66 in this journey I talked about having a wonky emotional thermostat as that is how it felt.

A study discussed in the ‘Almost Alcoholic’ book talked about in this post cites that 47% of those who were alcohol dependent had an anxiety disorder, while 41% had a mood disorder.  I found myself wondering what came first the depression or anxiety, or the drinking problem?  If you are early on in the journey and are wondering what the hell is going on and pondering the same question here is a really good video from Mind where four people discuss their experience of depression and how they managed it:

If you are struggling with low mood here are Mind’s tips on how to manage it:

Break the cycle of negativity by recognising the pattern of thinking when you are doing it, and replace it with a more constructive thought process. Look for things to do that occupy your mind.

Keep active.  I find it amazing how many of  us sober bloggers are runners and for me I am certain that taking up running was the first step to being where I am now, seriously.  It’s that spiral of change again 🙂

Connect with other people.

Care for yourself.  They recommend:

  • Allow yourself positive experiences and treats that reinforce the idea that you deserve good things. eg a long bath, a day out with a friend (hello Belle and sober treats!)
  • Pay attention to your personal appearance.
  • Set yourself goals that you can achieve and that will give you a sense of satisfaction.
  • If you find it hard to remember things, you may want to write them down on sticky notes, in a diary or set reminders on your mobile phone.
  • Look after yourself by eating healthily, as much as possible. Oily fish, in particular, may help reduce depression.
  • Be cautious with tobacco, alcohol or other drugs, which make depression worse, and a lot of caffeine which may make you a bit jittery.
  • They also encourage mindfulness (which is accepting life, and living and paying attention to the present moment. It includes taking time to see what is happening around you in a non-judgmental way, rather than going over your problems again and again).

In my limited experience I found that by day 90 my head was a little less fried and everything felt a bit more emotionally stable.  If you are feeling some ups and downs hang on tight and it will pass 🙂

And if it doesn’t pass then seek medical advice as they will be able and want to help.  Drinking again is probably not the answer 😉

14 thoughts on “When I’m feeling blue

  1. That’s an interesting question, ‘what came first?’. When I was drinking I often felt quite depressed. I knew I had absolutely no reason to feel like this but I just couldn’t stop myself. I was also anxious and nervous a lot of the time. I lived like this for years and years. Today, I’m on day 92 and those feelings have largely disappeared. They raise their ugly heads occasionally, but not very often, thankfully. Throughout my drinking years I didn’t take care of myself. OK. I showered and dressed everyday, and did still eat reasonably healthily, but everything else stopped: days out with friends, treats, new clothes, make-up, doing my hair etc. I look back at photos which should show the best days of my life and I cringe at how I look – basically as though I just didn’t care – which was probably true. Going out with you girls on Sunday really brought home the poor state of my wardrobe, trying to find a decent pair of jeans, or a top that wasn’t more than 10 years old. I have a full wardrobe full of crap and tat. You’re right. I’m around day 90 now and ready to reclaim my life and looking forward to it. Thanks for this post. It has really made me think.

    1. The booze becomes what we think is our ‘self-care’ so it is easy for everything else to fall by the wayside. Nothing wrong with you wardrobe btw 🙂 xx

  2. For me, I think depression came first. I wrote about self-loathing when I was a teenager. Drinking made me outgoing and a person I thought I wanted to be. For years I tried to tackle the depression without addressing the alcoholism. I even stopped taking anti-depressants once because I couldn’t drink with them. Becoming sober is helping me figure out a lot of who I am.

    1. Hi 365 Reasons! Thanks for reading and commenting. I think the depression came first for me too and like you say it’s taken me getting sober to figure this out 🙂

  3. I certainly recognise the depression/anxiety/booze interaction. the three witches 😉

    I was in such a bad place emotionally just prior to giving up drinking that I was considering going to the doc for antidepressants. However intellectually I knew that I shouldn’t take antidepressants whilst drinking the quantities that I was (I know some people do so, not passing judgement on that) so one of the key factors in my decision to stop drinking was to take it out of the equation and see how it affected my mood.

    guess what? 130+ days without the booze and the anxiety/depression has massively reduced to an extent that can be ascribed to the normal ups and downs of every day life. I didn’t need anti-depressants. I just needed to stop taking a depressant! (again, my case only, not necessarily true for everyone)

    and definitely, taking up running three years ago was a definite engine for change for me.

    the problem is of course when you are so low and tired it is hard to take the first step. MIND are a fantastic support organisation – have had contact with them in the past re a friend’s problems and they were a massive help, couldn’t recommend them highly enough.

    1. Hi Prim – the three witches indeed 🙂 I took up running in 2010 and it absolutely started a positive spiral of change but yes it can be hard to motivate yourself to take that first step. Love Mind too xx

  4. Like Prim, once the alcohol was removed my depression, anxiety lifted. Just the normal stuff now. And I tried running, well we’ll call it ralking( run/walk) for a while but it messed with my knees so I’m back to walking, but exercise is key to mood lifting. Alcohol really is a depressant and who needs that!?

    1. Hi Sharon Like life can’t be depressing enough already sometimes!? Nothing wrong with walking – that’s all I could do for much of my early running days 😉 x

  5. Thanks for the heads up about the Mind website. Plan to have a look at it. It seems that there is an undeniable link between drinking, depression and anxiety. I am so much calmer and my mood is more stable now I am AF. Binki is putting a Couch Potato to 5K programme over on soberistas so think I will give it a go xxx

  6. I suffered a lot with panic attacks a few years ago when I was in my final year of college. At the time I attributed my anxiety to the stresses of my final year in college, but what if it was actually the hard partying that was the catalyst?? I feel so anxious and depressed for up to a week (sometimes even longer) after a heavy drinking session. I can’t believe it never occurred totem that my drinking could have been the cause of my problem – I was instead using it to self-medicate. Food for thought; and another item to add to my list of reasons not to drink.

    Ps I am also a runner. Well, a ‘recovering’ one. 🙂

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