No-man’s land

Gah life is proving tough at the moment and I don’t know what to do to be honest – actually that’s not quite true – I am giving it another week and if I still feel the same I’m going to see my GP.

See I went ‘over the top’ of the booze trench and away from alcohol, my perceived comrade and safe place, propelled by courage and the rallying cry of other sober bloggers to try to conquer the, again perceived, enemy of the life lived sober and straight-edged.  But now here I stand in no-man’s land, so called because it was left unoccupied due to fear or uncertainty.

And that so aptly explains it.  I am a swirl of free floating fear and uncertainty that is hounding me night and day.  I know I can’t go back to booze, as that was not the answer and will not help, but I am finding life so damn hard with no chemical escape hatch.  I have heard said so many times that stopping drinking is the easy part – it’s the doing life that is the hard part and now I truly get it.  I am muttering the serenity prayer like a mantra, changing the things I can change, meditating, soaking in the bath, going to bed early and the anxiety still won’t shift.

It has reached the point where I am beginning to wonder if I self-medicated all these years for some kind of low grade General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and am concluding that maybe I need some pharmaceutical support.  I’m not overly keen on this idea but I am unsure of what else to do.  I am already doing CBT, which is the gold standard anxiety treatment, hence the planned conversation with my GP.

Is there anything I’m missing?  Is there a tool in my sober toolbox I’ve overlooked or a new one you can recommend to me?

Edited to add: 28/08/14 Thank  you so much for all the kind comments and suggestions, it really means a great deal to me.  Went for a run this morning and this track shuffled round and I wanted to share it as it really helped.  I appreciate that dance music isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but this is a great track and is about ‘being free’.  I need to put listening to music on my sober treat list again – I’d forgotten about it 🙂

27 thoughts on “No-man’s land

  1. Dear L, so sorry that you are having a tough time. sending you a big soberverse hug. and whatever treats you like best – I make a mean autumn crumble with blackberries, and nuts in the topping – how about a big bowl of that with icecream? for breakfast of course 😉

    and it sounds as if you are taking an eminently practical approach. putting time limits on how long you will leave it to lift on its own is a good idea. first suggestion I have is running…mind you that is probably what I would suggest for most problems. leg fallen off? never mind, go for a run… don’t know how regularly you are able to get out at the moment. sure you have seen all the studies on exercise being as effective as antid’s for mild to moderate depression.

    am personally quite wary of taking supplements for self diagnosed deficiencies. you might see if you could get a blood test for low magnesium if your doc agrees – see here for other thoughts –

    lastly some stating-the-bleeding-obvious remarks about the life stage you are in atm:

    – career crossroads
    – last weeks of summer hols makes everyone a bit blah and grumpy (unless that’s just me?)
    – just about to hit the big 1 on your sobriety and all the ‘what next’s’ that brings.

    hang in there hon. you’re doing a great job. asking for help if you need it demonstrates that too. lots of love. xxx

    1. Hey Prim Am eating fruit bread with lashings of butter for breakfast – does that count? 😉 Running about once a week but probably need to increase. Thanks for the link and have had a peruse – I already take daily multivitamins & minerals, omega 3,6 & 9 and high strength Vit C and have just started taking extra Vit D as this is a precursor to dopamine production. Will buy some Camomile tea and check out my magnesium levels. Diet is a sore point and I am now recognising that all that sugar loading has probably not helped (but which I am loathe to type as so many of us replace booze with sugar) and am signed up to do the Life Less Bullshit 28 day food challenge once the kids are back at school. As you rightly say there are some situational stressors going on – but if feels bigger than that. Hanging on and will let you know how I go xx

  2. totally get it. was feeling like this too as i approached 1 year. a “why is it getting harder?” more uncovering of self. life not feeling as “festive” but really, how festive was all that boozing. it simply was not. it is a huge life shift – when one has been doing things one way for 30 years let’s say – at least 25 .. more time and slogging required to really get to the other side. think i also had thoughts about meds – currently trying new exercise regime and healthy diet – no more crap – have made it through 4 days of that – but is helping to have focus other than not drinking .. i think you are amazing. fabulous blog posts. didn’t you just also apply for a new job? hang in. amy

    1. Thanks Amy – it helps to have perspective from someone who is past the 1 year mark (Woop Woop!) It does feel like it’s getting harder – big life stuff that I can now not avoid as the crutch is gone. Will work on more running and diet and see if that helps 🙂

  3. Hey honey, first of all BIG hugs from me to you. It is true your blogs are truly inspirational. and I would never miss reading any of them.
    As I embark on another go at it (having made 80 days earlier this year) I AM going to use supplements. I am following advice from the book ‘How to quit without feeling s**t’ by Patrick Holford which I recommend to you. It is a scientifically based manual which I think you will find useful.
    It is also meant for people such as yourself who are further down the line and struggling. There are many concepts to take in, but the one that jumps out at me is using supplementation to boost seratonin levels.
    I have decided to buy a close match, from
    I hope this helps, and I’ll message you to let you know how I get on.

    1. Hey Jude 🙂 Will be thinking of you come 1st September. Like Patrick Holford books and have a couple but not this one – will check it out. Used to take his ‘Mood Food’ supplement but it’s no longer available through Holland & Barrett. Taking 5HTP helped when I gave up smoking and drinking – but then the drinking was re-introduced once the fags were gone ….. Please do let me know how you go, I’ll be rooting for you! xx

  4. Hey there, Lou. So sorry that you are feeling like this right now, and that life is tough for you. I do know that feeling of “leaving a safe place”, but you know – of course you know – that the comfort of a familiar place is not the same thing as a safe place, and however scary it is out here in no-man’s land, you are safer than you were and your future is *so* much brighter, even if you cannot see it yet. As Primrose said, the big changes that are going on at the mo coupled with your forthcoming anniversary *must* be having an effect. There are many logical reasons for it – not that that helps – but that I am sure it will pass, just hang on and it will pass. Talking to your GP is the best idea. Medication prescribed by a doctor for medicating yourself makes a lot more sense than booze for medicating yourself. Lots of love and hugs. xx

    1. You’re right MTM but my feelings are about three steps behind my thinking – hmm been here before haven’t I? 😉 Maybe one day they will be in step and the anxiety the disconnect creates will be resolved 🙂 xx

  5. Hi, I found coming up to a year really tough… And according to my AA fellowship this is really common and most if not all experienced similar discomfort. I suggest all you have said plus finding out more about your higher power. “This too shall pass”….. Live in the day etc and of course “fear not” and trust your higher power with everything you have. Step 3 100%. I struggle with this too, but trust it xxx feel better soon xxx

    1. Hey Louise It is really reassuring to hear that this is ‘normal’ and makes me feel less like a freak (than I already am anyway!) 🙂

  6. To echo what the others have said already, this does sound normal to my first year and spots here and there. They come, they go. I can have the same tools at my disposal, but they just don’t work in the same way and I struggle. And then it passes and I feel relieved and often better and stronger. I think meeting with your GP sounds like an excellent idea. Support is the best tool to have 🙂

    1. Hey Kristen So glad to hear from a few of my fellow soberiety sisters that this is normal. Thanks to all of you for your support today 🙂

  7. Hey Lucy, sorry you are going thru a low spell. I agree with the others you have a lot of “external factors” around you right now. I am sure with all the great alcohol-related research you have been gathering and posting has to be overwhelming, and, frustrating. I sometimes wonder how long it will take me to feel “normal” again, but then I wonder “do I even know what normal feels like”? Seeing your GP is a good idea. There could be something physical going on. Sending hugs…hoping you’re feeling better soon. xx

    1. Hey lori It does get overwhelming at times, particularly as knowing everything I now know, that there is no good reason to go back even to moderate drinking. This too shall pass as Louise rightly said 🙂

  8. Hi
    I definitely sufferer from anxiety and depression. They have been life long companions, looking back, but had definitely gone hand in hand with my spiralling drinking.
    After a couple months of sobriety the depression became severe. I was in a black pit.
    So after many years of refusing to try medication, I did.
    I take cipralex (lexapro) and I feel better than I ever have in my life. Even so e of my strange phobias have gone.

    Talk to your doctor. I tried diet, exercise, meditation, yoga. Although all these things helped, none of them were enough alone.

    I’m giving the medication until next summer and will then reevaluate. I have no side effects sice the first few weeks, and I’m not rocking the boat.

    Hope this helps.


    1. Hi Anne and thank you for sharing. I will talk to my GP as have taken anti-d’s in the past with success so do believe they can be helpful.

  9. Oh, me too. I had those down in the dumps-es and still do. I finally realized “Oh, yeah! So this is life! I get it.” Sometimes just knowing that it is *just* life helps me feel better.

    Other stuff that has helped me a lot this summer is reading Tara Brach, listening to guided imagery meditation/guided meditation, and reading “How to Eat” and “How to Sit” by Thich Nhat Hanh.

    Plus: seriously- you are doing a really hard thing beautifully. Don’t forget to remember that. xoxoxo

    1. Hey Amy Thank you for reading and commenting on my blog! 🙂 Yep life, that’s it isn’t it? Need to learn to live and deal with it. Thank you also for the reading and listening recommendations. Mrs D raves about Tara Brach too. Thanks for the kind words – I love your blog xx

  10. Don’t have any helpful advice to add, but I wanted you to know I’m sending you big hugs. 🙂 I’m confident you’ll get this sorted out, but for now, it sucks to be you. Hang in there!!

    1. Thanks Julie. Went for a run this morning and had another early night last night. Sometimes I’m gonna just have to get my head down and get on with it! 🙂

  11. Hi Amy, what you describe as no-mans’land is something I call ‘not knowing’. It’s a bit of a vague concept, and it actually might not help anyone immediately because it is a nasty art of living practise to be going through. The insecurity of not knowing what the future holds, how the world works or whatever gives one fear can make people feel absolutely powerless. Some people cover this up with being strictly religious, others work like crazy, having kids helps too, I tried booze and the booze won (and I quit 🙂 so that’s why I’m here). For myself I’m practising to still feel alive while being scared. It’s like saying; ‘Hey, this is where I do not know what life will bring.’ And noting ‘so this scares me’. And, ha, then the real art kicks in: leave it at that, realise that to a certain extent we are powerless. This is the point where crying helps. Trying to wash this feelings away is part of what got me addicted. Also because I focussed on the fear and not on what was within my reach. Hmmm, I’m not AA, but this sounds like a long way around to ‘recognise the difference’. Never thought of that. 🙂 Well, this is how I (try to) cope with the no-man’s land, as I said, it is not an easy fix because it puts a person eye to eye with it. But I believe there is thruth in letting things, feelings be what they are. Hope it helps.

    1. Hey feelingmewaybackintolife (nice name!) Thank you for reading and commenting on my blog 🙂 You are absolutely right because I hate ‘not knowing’. It is the feeling that gives me the greatest fear and my old responses were to drink or to try to control everything. Unsurprisingly neither strategy worked! It reminds me of that saying ‘if you love something let it go ….’ which to me signifies letting go of control of life and as you say just being with the fear and acknowledging it. Thank you 🙂

      1. Quote from the internet that I found shockingly true for myself: ‘Eckhart Tolle believes we create and maintain problems because they give us a sense of identity. Perhaps this explains why we often hold onto our pain far beyond its ability to serve us.’

        And funny: I found out that I can just Google ‘how to let go’ and then there are 634.000.000 results (0,22 seconds). I’m starting to like this online treatment of myself :-). Instant gratification! Ooh, hmmm…

  12. Sorry to see you’ve been feeling fed up. The sobriety adventure is exciting at first, then it becomes mundane. We know we have to persevere through it; we can’t go back but sometimes I think ‘what’s the point? This is so dull’. I’ve been neglecting the sober blogs of late (again) and I think when I lose touch I lose the momentum and I forget the joy of it all. Thankfully, you have stepped in this time. Perhaps a good gossip over lunch is what we all need to give us that boost again. Perhaps we should do it more often.

    1. Here’s hoping that a sober ladies who lunch will be restorative for all & it would be lovely to do it more often! 🙂

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