Tuesday, 31 March 2015

I'm on a plain. Higher lows and faster returns.




That was a rather serendipitous phrase to drop into my head. I am on a plain. Slightly flat, but - like Kurt - I can't complain.

It's good that music is even entering my head actually. I think my brain is slowly changing in lots of ways. I listen to more music these days and I'm very glad of it. It's a sign that my concentration is improving (I listen to more full albums too) and that one of my abiding passions is coming back to me.
 
While I am having mood swings a go-go, they are not such plunging depths as they have been. I had a screw up on Monday and remained a little in the dumps yesterday, but today has been a pretty good day. Flat, but on a higher plain. 

I wasn't exactly God's gift to freelance content writing, but I did OK. I ate three good meals and exercised. I meditated. I sat downstairs rather than upstairs at my computer. I maintained my abstinences from nicotine and porn with relatively little trouble. I played the guitar rather a lot. 

My lows are raising in height and I'm bouncing back more quickly from the downs that I do have. 

I hope this marks a general upturn, a trend rather than a blip. I think the propranolol has had a hell of an effect on my life very quickly. I'm not cured of anxiety, I still have anxious thoughts, but breaking the physical roller coaster ride has been incredibly powerful. 

The big test will come the day after tomorrow when I have to go to my office job. I haven't been since I started on the propranolol. The last few journeys to the office have been very bad. If there's any improvement on that I'll be very pleased. 

It's a measure of how well, how stable things are going, that I don't really have much to say. That will change in time, I hope. There's work to be done on this blog for one thing. I've been happy coasting, but I'll need to start moving soon. 

If you spent it, thank you for your time. Please leave a comment after the tone. 

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Constant failure. Trying something different. What do I want to be? Finding my own life.

This is tough at the moment.

I've just relapsed again on porn use and tobacco. If I could get my hands on some dope now I'd probably get stoned. I'm not going to drink because I'm full of Antabuse and it'd make me sick. I'd quite like to though. Make that, I'd really like to. 

That's OK, in a way. I understand that this is a process not a moment. And I'm in that process; I want to be different and to have a better life where I'm in control and responsible and able to give to people who I love not just take from them. 

So it's not going well. So I ought to try something different I suppose. That's what they say isn't it? The definition of insanity is... 

I'm at a bit of a loss as to what that might be right now. 

At the moment it's sitting trying to write this (badly) and smoking endless cigarettes. I ought to eat. I ought to do something useful. There are so many things I could do - clean, eat, invoice, work, exercise. 

It's just a dip. I'll be better tomorrow. 

Mag has gone away. I wouldn't be like this now if she hadn't left this afternoon. I've lost my raison d'etre. 

And that's what I think I need more than anything. I need something to be. And I don't know what it is. 

It's not this though. I don't think. It's not the drinker. Not any more. Or rather I still want that, but I can't have it, it's not sustainable, it falls apart. 

Hell, who knows. 

I keep coming back to a couple of heroes. Mark E Smith and Charles Bukowski. Not perhaps great heroes to have in this situation, as both men are very much defined by drinking. To me though they're about much more than that. 

They are about independence and honesty. They are about finding your own voice and speaking strongly with it. And that's what I need. And it's not what I've got. 

I've got to find that. 

This isn't me giving up on what I've started to build - the being healthy, the exercising, the meditating. But it's not enough somehow. I lose interest because it doesn't feel like me. I can change and make that me I suppose. 

I'm sober and that's good. I'm lost though and that's not. 

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Slightly frustrated. Mood swings. Everything at once.

I'm - as the title of this blog post suggests with sledge hammer subtlety - slightly frustrated to be struggling again with nicotine withdrawals. 

Stupid me, huh? Indeed. My nicotine relapse after a week off the coffin nails (as some of us Brits have nicknamed cigarettes) was precipitated most by a relapse back into using porn after a 12 day abstinence from that. 

These things seem to be working together. I wonder sometimes if there's an element of subconscious sabotage in trying to do these things at once - my addict brain hopes the strain will allow me to relapse and get my fix. 

I do know I can do it though. I should be through most of the actual physical withdrawal symptoms tomorrow morning. They're slightly unpleasant, but nothing that can't be borne. I am eating a hell of a lot. 

It's the mental stuff that's more troubling. Today I feel like I've lost a couple of dozen IQ points. I've been using the wrong words, forgetting where I am and where I'm going. All sorts of nonsense. I'm struggling to concentrate on this - and nothing fascinates me more than myself. 

This being 2015 I've Googled "nicotine withdrawal symptoms" to see what I might expect. The most worrying for me is the warning I keep seeing that coming off nicotine can be a cause of depression. Naturally, I don't want that. Neither do I want knowing that to be an excuse for not giving up smoking. 

No, giving up smoking should be a cause of joy. 

The problem is that I feel as if everything is happening at once so I don't know what causes what. 

I've been sober for coming up to nine months, so I'm still well within the time limit for post-acute withdrawal syndrome, the symptoms of which are mood swings, anxiety, depression and so on. 

I'm giving up porn. Although it's not medically so well recorded, the withdrawal symptoms, which can last for months (though I think my use was relatively minor by the standards of some addictions, particularly among younger people who have grown up with the internet), include mood swings, anxiety... 

Then there's the fags... mood swings, irritability... 

In part of my quest to rid myself of anxiety I'd like to give up caffeine, at least for a while to see if it has an effect. That'll throw another bunch of withdrawal symptoms into the mix. 

Don't mind all this moaning. Put it down to mood swings. Yesterday I was super-positive. Today, at least this evening, I've been down and dispirited. I know I can get through these minor things and start seeing the positive again. 

I suppose I just wanted to make the point that we don't - and probably can't - like as properly controlled scientific experiments. 

I'm trying to keep on top of my eczema (also another driver of my anxiety) at the moment. Today I started using coconut oil on my hands. It seems to have had an effect. But I've also been trying to eat with eczema in mine - lots of avocado lately, for example - and I started to drink more water the other day and take fish oil. I've also made more of an effort with my standard moisturisers.

To know what's working in a scientific sense, I'd need to spend a set time period using just coconut oil and nothing else, then stop for a while... I don't think many people can do that. 

So we're at the mercy of scientists doing real research on this stuff. And they need to be funded. To be funded there needs to be some return, something to sell. 

I've seen this used as an argument as to why the Sinclair Method is so rarely offered as a treatment for alcohol abusers. The drugs used in the treatment are all out of patent, so there's little financial incentive in promoting them. Bah! But you've heard all this before, from people much better informed than I am.

I was daydreaming about who might fund proper research into coconut oil as an eczema treatment. Perhaps some of the governments where the nuts are grown, which I'm guessing aren't rich countries. They would then be running a risk - what if they get a negative result? 

I'm just drawling on now. I'm exhausted! Blame it on the nicotine, or the porn, or the alcohol or... or the lack of all or one of them or two of them or. . . 

Yours in confusion, 

Don. 

If you spent it, thank you for your time. 

Friday, 27 March 2015

An up to follow the down. The superstructure. Not not doing.

Today has been so much better than yesterday that I feel as if I'm on a different planet. 

I've stayed on the straight and narrow with porn. I've stopped smoking again. I've been busy with work and I've stuck to what I wanted to do. 

That's meant leaving the house three times, doing something active every hour, taking my supplements and drinking more water. All good simple things that if they become ingrained habits will make my life better in the long term. 

This evening I've done my little workout and I'll meditate before I go to bed. 

The change in my mood since yesterday is almost absolute. It can be a real rollercoaster this Recovery thing. Despair to hope, regret to joy in simple things. 

I suppose what I've learned most from my relapses the other day is the important of the whole structure of my recovery. Small, good things can make the whole better; small, bad things can easily make it small apart. 

If I think back to when things started to slip, it's apparent that it's been an accumulation of small things over quite a long period. I started to make excuses not to take my exercise and to avoid meditation. I had too many, "well at least I'm not drunk" days. 

Everything is important. 

The big change in my thinking today has been from thinking of not doing things to thinking of the things I will do instead. I'm relishing the freedom from smoking I will have, the time it will give me, the improvement in my health, particularly I hope with my anxiety. 

It's easier to run towards the light than it is to outstrip the dark. That seems to be a pretty consistent bit of advice in all the Recovery material I've looked at. 

That's been my focus today. It's an effort. I've been negative, cynical and depressed for a long long time. I'm rewiring my brain and it will take time. 

I've had plans today. Plans to be creative. Plans to spring clean the house. Plans for my career. I've not thought like that for a while. 

All this will stand me in good stead for next week and for seeing Mag's few days away as an opportunity to seize. 

Days like these are a real blessing. Hard won in some respects, but oh so worth it. 

If you spent it, thank you for your time. If you'd like to talk, just leave a comment or drop me an email.