Tag Archives: sober

Little pig, little pig, let me come in …..

I was thinking about nursery rhyme’s involving wolves and this one sprang to mind.  Why stories involving a wolf particularly?  Because our dear ‘wolfie’ is probably a relative and so I was looking for inspiration!

As a side note it also makes me think of a 1970’s UK TV series called ‘Citizen Smith’ who’s lead character (played by Robert Lindsay) was also called ‘Wolfie’ 🙂

200px-Citizen_smith

Anyway back to the nursery rhyme’s and the story of the Three Little Pigs.  This reminds me so much of the sober community.  How so?  If you struggle on your own and build a house of straw or sticks then wolfie is likely to blow your house down.  It was only when the three little pigs were all together in the house of bricks that he couldn’t blow it down.  And so the story goes:

He then attempts to trick the pig out of the house by asking to meet him at various places, but is outwitted each time. Finally, the wolf resolves to come down the chimney, whereupon the pig catches the wolf in a cauldron of boiling water, slams the lid on, and cooks and eats him.  Yum yum yum 😉

So safety in numbers it would seem! I’m all for that.  Would anyone else in our little sober brick house like a piece of braised wolf?  ‘Power to the People!’ indeed 🙂

 

 

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? 😉

‘Rain in My Heart’ Drinkers documentary

There was a discussion on Soberistas about this British BBC documentary which I had never heard of before and therefore not seen.

I watched it last night and it reminded me very much of my nursing days which I talked about here.  I also wrote a guest post for Veronica Valli that was my account of caring for a dying alcoholic that you can read here.

It was filmed in 2006 and is a hard-hitting, shocking and saddening account of the lives of 4 alcoholics during hospital admissions and relapse.  If you wanted an insight into my nursing experience then this is a very accurate and true reflection.

Here is the link to the documentary:

Why I am I sharing it here?  Because my nursing experience helps keep me on the recovery path.  Although as a drinker my alcohol consumption never reached this level or had this impact on my physical health I knew that this is where I would end up if I carried on.  It is a sobering ever present reminder to me and maybe it will help you stay on the path if you are wobbling or strengthen your resolve to stop if you haven’t yet.

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?

Labelling Drinking

This is a real biggie in our world.  We use labelling to connect with people but also to distance ourselves.  So I am happy to be a member of the sober blogging community because that has positive connotations for me but am still stuck on the ‘am I an alcoholic?’ question because the label of alcoholic still carries and attracts very negative stigma.

“This is a more severe type of overgeneralization; attributing a person’s actions to their character instead of some accidental attribute. Rather than assuming the behavior to be accidental or extrinsic, the person assigns a label to someone or something that implies the character of that person or thing” (source)

Being unable to control our drinking is seen as a character defect rather than the reflection of an alcoholic substance that we have accidentally become addicted too because of our cultural acceptance and encouragement of us to drink.  For me it suggests that I am a ‘bad’ person and that I have ‘failed’ in some way.   But I am not defined by my ability to drink alcohol or not, this is just a tiny facet of me as a person, and yet I feel shame.

Strategies to manage:

  • Back to checking for evidence.  I am not the only person struggling with this issue and thanks to the sober blogging community I know this.  I could always go to an AA meeting in real life and check it there too.
  • Beware of labels as they usually hide the truth

What other labels need deconstructing and redefining?  Sober and what that means is the first one that springs to my mind.  What else? Chime in below 🙂

Mental Filtering and Drinking

This is times when I focusing entirely on negative elements of a situation, to the exclusion of the positive.  I guess for me and drinking that would be thinking about when I was moderating and how when I started to drink heavily again how I could not think about the times of moderating as positive and how each time I was learning new tools for my sober toolkit.  They weren’t wasted they were valuable learning opportunities but I saw them as negative relapses.

Also, it is the brain’s tendency to filter out information which does not conform to already held beliefs.  So if someone said something nice about this blog post I might still think it was not good enough and that it should have been better written because I believe I am not creative.

This is mental filtering.

As Almost Alcohol wrote: Look at how I drink. Obviously I’m an alcoholic. I can’t even quit when I try really hard. I fucking relapsed.  In this piece of writing she focused on the fictional relapse and not on the successful quitting before that night.

The new way of thinking includes:

  • Checking the evidence to support the statement
  • Write a list of all the ‘good bits’ no matter how small they seem by comparison
  • Try not to filter out all the bad stuff and just focus on that

Every time you attempt to moderate and do so successfully, for however long a duration, this is a good thing if you are trying to cut down or stop completely.  I spent years moderating before I finally nailed this quit and I wouldn’t have done it without all the good things I learned about my drinking and myself during the process.  It’s not always the outcome but the process which teaches us the most or to use the oft used expression ‘it is not the destination but the journey’.

What great things did you learn when you turn your mental filter to positive?  I’d love to hear them 🙂

 

Emotional Reasoning and Drink

It could be argued that once I drank there was no reasoning with me.  I became completely at the mercy of my emotions.  But now I don’t drink and so I am less ‘tired and emotional’ (code for pissed and sobbing) and my reasoning is more reasonable 🙂

So emotional reasoning is when we react emotionally and let our hearts rule our heads.  Where we are presuming that negative feelings expose the true nature of things, and experiencing reality as a reflection of emotionally linked thoughts. Thinking something is true, solely based on a feeling (source)

So sometimes in the early days of stopping I felt bored in the evenings because I’d stopped drinking so I felt I was boring.  Feeling = being.  Or when I’m due to clean my house and I think that it’s hopeless to do it because I’m overwhelmed by the prospect of doing it!  Not helpful and also not true as I always feel tons better when it’s done with a real sense of achievement.

Over to Almost Alcohol‘s passage: I’m just a pretty crap person. I might as well learn to live with that. Fuck it. Lots of people are crappy. We all grow up and learn the truth, that we are just not that great.  Because I feel like crap I am crap.

Solutions involve:

  • Searching for the evidence to support feeling this way.
  • If you do find them you may have to accept you are being ’emotional’
  • You can accept that you are putting yourself down for no good reason
  • But you do have a choice
  • You can continue to feel this way
  • OR you can tell yourself that there is no reason why you are feeling this way
  • And then try to work out how you should be feeling

As a female I get caught up in this type of thinking because I am unfortunately hormonally challenged fairly regularly which doesn’t help.  And sometimes I just accept that this is the reason and it will pass.  How ’bout you?

PS I am using a piece of writing by another sober blogger because it was SO good and illustrated so many examples of these types of thinking without me having to write a forced piece including them all.  I am using it because it completely reflects how I felt and is not a reflection on her individually.  I am also mentioning and linking every time because I don’t want to not acknowledge her brilliant writing talent 🙂

Raising the bar on life

So this week-end has really shaken things up for me.  My running buddy was the first person I told I was going to give up drinking the week-end before I did and this was our first time together again since that day.  Not only that but it was a week-end of more firsts – first hotel, first organised run event, first meal out with friend, all sober.

Don’t get me wrong it was a huge success and I feel so proud of myself but that in itself has created a bit of a problem.  See when you start to do well in some aspects of your life you, or I at least, start to question other elements of it that are less rosy.  It’s like you raise the bar on life.

See before if I wasn’t particularly happy about something that was happening, or I had to do, I would drink, smoke and moan to a friend.  You know ‘poor me, poor me, pour me another one’.  But 2/3rd’s of that coping strategy is no longer available to me and so I find myself in a bit of a conniption (I love that word and just had to use it!)

I used to be a happy little wage slave and the private and public corporations could do their worst and I would drink.  Annoying person in the office?  Have a drink when you get home.  Dull and boring task?  Reward yourself later.  So I am struggling with the whole happy in my work day existence and the fabulous week-end just drew attention to that fact.  I love my job, I just hate the office politics and am not very good at playing the game or keeping my mouth shut – can you tell? 😉

What I’m struggling with is do I trust myself and my emotions in these early days?  It feels like a real issue but I can’t work out if it’s a ruse to destabilise things and make drinking more likely or if I genuinely am just not happy with the status quo in a way that I used to be before.  Maybe I’ve always been less than happy with things and I just need to let it go.  I really don’t know and it is giving me angst.

If there are any wise words that you can offer I’d much appreciate it.  Answers on a postcard please, or in the comments section below 🙂