Tag Archives: booze

To sleep, perchance to dream

counting_sheep_by_ackeibler-d2qvump

Sleep can be an issue for the young people I see too and so I end up giving quite a bit of advice about sleep hygiene.

Apart from when I was depressed I have thankfully never struggled to sleep.  As a nurse used to doing years of shift work I can sleep standing up in broad daylight!    I know that booze used to help me get off to sleep sometimes so in case this is an issue for anyone reading this I thought I’d put up this post.

The biggest thing we tell our young people is that in today’s high technology world we are never far away from a screen – whether it’s your phone, tv, games console, laptop/tablet or some other device.  The lights and activities on these stimulate the brain and so you need to have at least an hour with no technology before bed.  That applies to us adults too!

Other tips that Mind give are:

Making your bedroom a calm space

Trying a breathing technique

Notice what you eat and drink because caffeine, alcohol and sugary foods can disturb your sleep

Check for a physical cause and your medication and change if necessary

Keep a worry diary if you need to – write down all the things that keep you awake before you go to bed to empty them out of your head

Keep a sleep diary so you can track and identify what the difficulties are and change them

Having a bath before bed not only helps you unwind and relax but also, as research has shown, raising your skin temperature enables you to fall asleep faster and then shift you into deeper sleep.   So two hours before bed, soak in the tub for 20 or 30 minutes, recommends Joyce Walsleben, PhD, associate professor at New York University School of Medicine. “If you raise your temperature a degree or two with a bath, the steeper drop at bedtime is more likely to put you in a deep sleep.  Plus for me bath, plus luxury bubbles and candle = sober treat 😉

I hope that this gives you a few more sweet dreams 🙂

93 days to go

100 days to go!!

So when I started this journey  it started with a Day 1.  And then I cobbled together 37 days on my own.  During those early days I was lucky enough to find Soberistas and Belle and then I began to share my journey with all of you here and I became a member of Team 100.

My involvement in the online sober blogging community grew, my daily blogging continued and then I graduated from Team 100 to Team 180.  During that time my sober connections turned from virtual to real with lunch and coffee shared with 3 other fellow sober bloggers.

There were up days and down days, emotional overwhelm days and ‘meh’ days but I did not drink.  I graduated again from Team 180 to Team 365 and found more online sober communities.  Thanks to other sober bloggers I found the Booze Free Brigade on Yahoo, the ‘Being Dry’ thread on Mumsnet and my sober community extended again.  So many people all doing the same thing and supporting each other in the process.

And here I am at Day 265 and it seems only right that I now count down to day 365 when I will have achieved one whole year without booze!!  I will not falter at this point and it seems only right to count down the last 100 days in the same way that I counted up those first 100 days 🙂

So my counter at the bottom of my post will reappear so I can mark the importance of this most amazing milestone.  One I never in a million years thought I would reach.  But I’m not there yet …….

100 days to go 😉

Social life stirrings

Previously I had posted that I was still struggling with my social life and how I felt about drinking when I was out socially around drinking venues and other drinkers.

But in the last few weeks I’ve noticed a shift.  My social life is improving and is reaching out to new groups and new ways of socialising that I just wouldn’t of considered before.

I’ve met some other lovely sober bloggers for lunch and cups of tea and am keen to do this again soon, but this time with cake 🙂

Secondly I have started going out with some friends at work.  We’ve been going for a bite to eat and then on to the cinema and we’ve done this a couple of times now and I really enjoy it.  Doing something where no one drinks is really odd but equally really nice.  When we first had a meal together I was struck by how no one at the table had an alcoholic drink and how weird that seemed – but for me, newly sober, how fantastically reassuring.  There is a social life out there where booze isn’t a pre-requisite!  Who knew?!

I’m lining up tickets to a gig soon too which will be breaking new ground for me but it’s a couple of months out yet and I’m beginning to feel that by then this will be less of a problem because not drinking will have become even more the ‘new normal’ for me.  Who needs booze to have a good time anyway? It would seem not me anymore, how ’bout you? 😉

Booze Crystal Ball

Jumping to conclusions or mind reading, another skill of mine 😉

So when I was considering stopping drinking I thought that all sober people were boring and that any social event without booze would be dull.  So I completely jumped to the wrong conclusion and my fortune telling skills failed epically too.  I also thought that people would like me less sober because I was a mind reader too!

This thinking error means we reach false preliminary conclusions, usually negative ones too, with no evidence to support them.  In reality, I couldn’t have been further from the truth but you have to leap blindly first to find it out.  Or you lurk on sober blogs for a while and learn vicariously before you take the step yourself! 🙂

Jumping to conclusions is a common error because we are cognitive misers and these are “judgmental shortcuts that generally get us where we need to go – and quickly – but at the cost of occasionally sending us off course” (source)

How do we correct?

  • You’re probably sick of me saying this now BUT check for evidence
  • There is no benefit in just accepting something at perceived face value, challenge your thinking first and see if you were right, or most likely wrong!

fortune teller

Is anyone else as bad a fortune teller as me?

Black and White Thinking and Booze

This type of thinking is typified by what I would call, and recognise in myself, as ‘all or nothing’ thinking.  So if I relapse then I’m not just going to have one glass I’m going to get completely smashed.  There is no point relapsing otherwise right?  And if I’m going to relapse on drinking I may as well smoke and eat garbage all the next day and blow off my run.  As Almost Alcohol described it it’s ‘when we finally stop moderating and swan dive down to the rocky, dark, terrifying bottom‘.  No middle ground or grey area.  Success or failure, win or lose, good or bad.

It is related to the common psychological defence mechanism, called ‘splitting‘ which is the error in a person’s thinking to bring together both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole.  It is also known as a ‘false dilemma’ and the fallacy is the opposite, unsurprisingly, of the argument to moderation.  Uh oh.  Sounds familiar.

So back to the brilliant passage of Almost Alcohol’s, which you can read in it’s entirety here, these are the lines that resonated with me: I’m a fuck up. I can’t get out of this. I can’t quit.  For me that is at the heart of my all or nothing thinking ‘I’m a f*ck up’.

So how am I working on this thinking error?

By checking the truth of it and challenging myself:

  • What is the evidence for this thought, for saying that I am a f*ck up?
  • It may be true that sometimes I may do things that I regret, and that I could improve the ways I do things
  • However although I feel I have f*cked up – does that make me a f*ck up? NO.
  • I remind myself that reality is made up of many shades of grey (hello, a well known book just popped into my head!)
  • I am not all good or all bad, all right or all wrong
  • There is no black and white.

Does this type of thinking resonate with you too?  What other examples of black and white thinking around booze do you have that you are happy to share, anonymously or otherwise? 🙂

Our body speaks our mind

I read this excellent book last year by Caroline Myss called ‘Anatomy of the Spirit’ and it is about the power of the mind and how bodily ailments, aches and pains can be signs of unresolved psychological issues.  What you don’t express, or suppress, will find a way of expressing itself and you will leak psychological distress and it will manifest physically.  This is sometimes referred to as psychosomatic illnesses which can be as real and debilitating as any other physical ailment so should not be dismissed lightly.

For me I had a whole host of symptoms that were associated with anxiety and depression for example, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).  But when you are actively drinking or hungover it is really hard to get past the initial symptoms of a hangover to be aware of anything else.  It just took up too much time and space!  And because drinking made my anxiety and depression worse I couldn’t see that booze was part of the problem and just assumed it was a flair up in the underlying physical disorder nothing else!  Now I’ve stopped drinking my IBS has pretty much gone completely 🙂

As a nurse I was also plagued by back injuries.  An old injury sustained as a student nurse repeatedly came back to haunt me and I would end up off work for spells while the osteopath and rest allowed it to heal.  Now I’ve stopped I’ve noticed the weirdest thing.  I will feel my back start to go and if I stop and pause it won’t go completely.  This has never happened to me before and was really quite odd at first.

So I’ve been trying to interpret what my body was trying to tell me, with a little help from a friend 🙂  I thought it was trying to say I was ‘spineless’ or ‘had no backbone’ for the challenge of stopping drinking but my friend suggested an alternative view.  She said that maybe it was telling me to slow down as previously I hadn’t listened to it and so it had just gone with no warning whereas now I was getting warnings and if I heeded them the total stopping because of injury was avoided.

I’ve recently needed some more osteopathy to sort it out and when the practitioner assessed me initially he said that my spine was out of alignment in four different places.  I had literally ‘bent myself out of shape’ trying to manage my back problem because if you throw it out in one direction at your hips it will naturally try to compensate by throwing it out in the other direction further up and that’s what mine had done several times over.

Our body is such a beautiful, clever, robust but delicate thing and I abused mine so badly when I was drinking paying no heed to the warnings it was trying to tell me and trying to contort myself and my situations to keep drinking.  Now I listen more closely and have given up the contortionism (is that even a word?) 😉

What have you noticed since you stopped?

We owned the night!

Nike we owned it result

Well I’m just back from London Town after staying overnight post run.  We owned it!!

What a fabulous evening!  My running buddy and I went for Nando’s pre-race to pack some protein and that was a bad idea.  It made us late and too much protein too close to the race gave me a stitch pretty much all the way round – a learn for the next time.

The event itself was really well organised and there were 10,000 runners.  I tried to hook up with FitFatFood and we had plenty of text conversations but didn’t manage to find each other.  Again next time 🙂

As for my run time – well I didn’t make the sub 1hr but seeing as my last 10K personal best was 1hr 10mins my run time was pretty good.  Progress not perfection right? 😉

So run time? 01:05:43

As promised here is a picture of me having just crossed the finish line 🙂

Lou R owned it

So now you know what I look like, I’d better formally introduce myself.  My real name is Lou, but Lucy is a family nick-name so I’m just as happy to answer to that 🙂

We went for dinner afterwards at a fantastic restaurant called Bistrotheque where I had tomatoes, mozzarella & black olives followed by passion fruit and fennel seed mess served with a fine non-alcoholic cocktail called an Elderflower Spritz served with fresh mint.  My running buddy had a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

Did I miss booze & was I jealous of my friend’s glass of wine?  Not at all.  Not only was booze not required it felt like it wouldn’t have added anything to the evening.

We walked back to the hotel and collapsed into bed at 12.30, slept well and awoke feeling sore but refreshed.  A resounding success and another first as hotel stays in the past were typified by banging hangovers the morning after and struggle – but not this time.

I really enjoyed the whole thing and if there are other sober bloggers/readers who run, or who would like to start running, then maybe next year we could get a posse of sober runners together and all do it together.  What do you think?  I’m up for it if you are 😉

So thank you for the well wishes and sponsorship so far.  If you would like to thank me for my blog or sponsor last night’s run then you can go to http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/ahangoverfreelife and through supporting me support Alcohol Concern 🙂

PoundPubs

Boozing having an impact on your finances?

Need a cheaper way to manage your drinking?

We have the answer with PoundPubs.  Yes folks you can get a pint for £1.50 and a half for £1.00. ‘More round for your pound!’

Spoof headline?

‘Fraid not.  First one has already opened in Manchester and the second one is due to open in Stockton on Tees.  Read more here.

Posted without comment because I just don’t know what to say (& because I was taught that if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all).  What do you say?

My last drunks

In the last year of my drinking there were two events that put the final nail in the coffin of my drinking career.  I’m going to talk about them in two different posts because there are lessons to be learned from both for me and they both contributed in a different way.  The final one I’ll talk about tomorrow.

The first one was in November 2012 and was a nursing re-union.  It was a 20 year post training celebratory gathering of my old student nurse colleagues back in the city where I trained.  I was on one of my moderation/quitting attempts back then and hadn’t had a drink for 6 weeks running up to it.  It was an opportunity for me to have a week-end away from small children and catch up with other close nursing friends, not from my training colleagues, at the same time.

I had to drive 4 1/2 hours to get there and grabbed a late lunch at a service station on the way down, checked into my hotel and then headed straight out at 4pm to meet another nursing friend.  She is one of my oldest and closest friends and we shared a strong drinking history together and so we started as we had left off with white wine and fags.  The re-union was at 8pm and suffice it to say that by the time it was due to start I was already sh*tfaced.  I had had nothing to eat so was drinking on an empty stomach after 6 weeks off.  Recipe for disaster.

We arrived at the re-union but by now my memory was patchy.  I remember I was very drunk, didn’t recognise people I should have done because of it, was slurring my words and really struggling to stay upright.  Said friend looked out for me, and after me, and I think she realised from the sobbing drunken mess I had become what a bad state I was in and got me into a taxi and back to the hotel.

The next morning I came too, not knowing what had happened and how I had got back to the hotel.  I texted said friend who said that I was ‘tired and emotional’ and not to worry.  I texted one of the re-union members who was kind and focused on how at least I had made the effort to attend unlike some others who lived more locally.

But I was mortified.  I hadn’t seen these people for 10-20 years.  They didn’t know any of the context to my state – 6 weeks off the booze, difficult family stuff going on, meeting and drinking pre-event.  All they had was how I presented and what a shambling drunken wreck at 8pm I must have seemed.  My shame knew no bounds.

In a recent post, linked to my CBT, I have said that I wonder if I need to do more alcohol experimentation and whether I can moderate.  This memory tells me what a joke that thought really is.  Do I really need more evidence of how that isn’t possible for me?  OK I may have worked through some of my emotional history, baggage and how it impacts on my thinking but would it really be any different?  I think we all know the answer to that one don’t we ……..

PS This time next week I’ll have run the Nike 10K and am hoping to do it in sub 1hr.  If you would like to sponsor me for this event and raise some money for Alcohol Concern then you can do so here ( http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/ahangoverfreelife).  Donations can be made anonymously and thank you in advance 🙂

 

Breaking our own promises

Great audio from Nicole Antoinette at Life Less Bullshit about the subject of ‘stopping breaking the promises you make to yourself’.

It’s particularly resonant because, as she shares in the audio, 3 years ago Nicole was one of us boozers struggling with daily drinking, getting up in the morning and promising she wouldn’t drink that day and then breaking that promise later that same day. Familiar stuff right?

Now she’s been sober 3 years and this is one of the things that helped her get sober.  So if it worked for her, and if you’re stuck in this daily promises dilemma, it might help you 🙂

Edited to add: 07.19am The promise I am making to myself today is that I have signed up to the Recovery 2.0 Beyond Addiction online conference this week-end.  I won’t have the time to listen to all the speakers but I will commit to listening to a few each day as part of my self-care routine this week-end.  What small promise are you making to yourself today?