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Self-medication

Old 10-07-2018, 09:02 AM
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Self-medication

I started drinking as a kid, before my anxiety had a chance to fully bloom. Then when it started to show its lovely head, I threw alcohol at it. It took me a very long time (decades!) to realize the alcohol made it that much worse, not better.

I've been sober for a little less than 10 months now, and I think I was kind of hoping alcohol was the cause of my anxiety and depression through the years. Nope! About nine months in, boom, here it is, I'm anxious, I'm sad, I'm overwhelmed, I'm muttering to myself, and I'm feeling full on crazy part of the time.

And this time, I can't self-medicate. It has been an extra-special experience, one I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. My life has been in total upheaval since I got sober - just lucky timing, I think. I lost my job and had to get a new one (still think it's deeply odd that they kept me there hungover every day for years, but fired me when I am sober and therefore a much more valuable employee), my ex-husband nearly succeeded in drinking himself to death and since he'd been so lovely with his efforts and alienated everyone else, it was left to me to go make decisions for him while his life hung in the balance, and my kid threw herself headfirst into her own anxiety and depression issues. So I don't have TIME to deal with the brain monkeys and I know I CAN'T self-medicate with alcohol.

I'm relying on SR so, so, so much during this crap. I'm on here reading whenever I feel wonky and scared. All I can do is get myself out of bed every day, get done what needs to get done, take a walk with my kids or my mom when I can fit it in, allow myself the occasional full pint of ice cream in one sitting, and know that I'm on the right path for me and that it will work out.

Thanks for listening.
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Old 10-07-2018, 11:34 AM
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Congrats on 10 months Flawed, and boy do I understand the anxiety problem. I dealt with it for the better part of 2 years after I quit drinking until I finally took some real action. By that I mean accepting that my anxiety was a distinct issue that needed treatment. In hindsight I wish I had done it much sooner, there are so many ways to deal with anxiety that I feel kind of ashamed that I put it off for so long.

There are a whole host of self-help things that can be done to calm our anxiety that have nothing to do with alcohol. Meditation, mindfulness, exercise, cutting back on stimulation ( caffeine, sugars, social media, etc). Then there's therapy, things like CBT, and even meds to help.

Anxiety is a very, very common affliction and there's no shame at all in seeing a counselor to at least get an assessment. Just like if you have a bad cold or flu you would go see a medical doctor. Things can be a LOT better, I wish you the best of luck in your journey.
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Old 10-07-2018, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by FlawedNFntastic View Post
I've been sober for a little less than 10 months now, and I think I was kind of hoping alcohol was the cause of my anxiety and depression through the years. Nope! About nine months in, boom, here it is, I'm anxious, I'm sad, I'm overwhelmed, I'm muttering to myself, and I'm feeling full on crazy part of the time.
Wow this could be me from 9-12 months. I now have 4.5 years and am doing fine.

First, congratulations on getting sober, Fantastic!

Before I got sober, it was between quitting alcohol and psychiatric treatment for me. The crazy-people told me they couldn't help me until I quit. So I quit (not easy in and of itself). But it turned out, it wasn't enough.

I only knew this after I'd been sober 12 months full of misery and had relapsed -- which I'll *always* regret -- I have some mental health issues that are totally treatable. Getting a diagnosis and appropriate treatment -- which I use on top of meditation and SR gratitude lists etc. -- has allowed me to have peace in sobriety.

#1 rule in recovery: when it's not working, ask for help.
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Old 10-07-2018, 12:13 PM
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My psychiatrist and I have spoken at length about how my triggers (drinking and sedatives) have far more to do with self-medicating anxiety than wanting to "party."

If possible, it might be a good idea to see a psychiatrist for medical treatment for your anxiety, preferably one that also has experience with substance abuse.
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Old 10-07-2018, 12:33 PM
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My anxiety began in my teenage years, long before my drinking so I am always working on it. I hope you find you are able to manage your anxiety, and maybe these books and tips might help:

TIPS FOR DEALING WITH ANXIETY (the American Assoc for Anxiety & Depression)

Take a Time-Out. Try some yoga, listen to music, meditate, get a massage or learn relaxation techniques. Stepping back from the problem can help clear your head.

Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals. Keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand. Limit caffeine.

Get enough sleep/rest. Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health. Use an iPod or exercise buddy to help you stick to your routine.

Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly. Belly-Breathing: Sit comfortably with shoulders, head and neck relaxed. Breath in slowly through your nose so that your stomach expands. Tighten stomach muscles, letting them fall inward as you exhale slowly through your mouth.

Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn’t possible, be proud of however close you get.

Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think?

Welcome humour. A good laugh goes a long way.

Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.

Get involved. Volunteer or find another way to be active in your community, which creates a support network and gives you a break from everyday stress.

Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school or something else you can’t identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed. Look for a pattern.

Talk to someone. Tell friends/family you’re feeling overwhelmed and let them know how they can help. Talk to a professional.

Books

Amen, Daniel Change Your Brain, Change Your Life
Bassett, Lucinda From Panic to Power
Burns, David MD When Panic Attacks
Chodron, Pema The Places that Scare You
Doidge, Norman MD The Brain that Changes Itself
Dyer, Wayne Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life
Orsilla, Ken Mindful Way Through Anxiety
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Old 10-07-2018, 01:50 PM
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Hi
and congratulations on your almost ten months. That's great, especially with all you've got going on.
I drank from a very young age and would for probably thirty more.
Perhaps, unlike some, I new I had a psychiatric problem early on.
And, drinking worked at first to make me feel like I thought everyone else felt. Normal, I guess.

This would continue for a very long time until the alcohol took over completely and stopped working to my benefit in any way.
I was very ill mentally and addicted to alcohol at the end.
I finally sought help with a psychiatrist. and therapist.
I was able to stop drinking. I was on medication, and still am, that has helped immensely.

So, don't be afraid to seek professional help for your anxiety. Turns out, I have generalized anxiety disorder.
Medication has worked great. I feel normal now, as I used to think others felt, and have been sober over nine years.

Just my story to let you know you're not alone.
I wish you the best.
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Old 10-07-2018, 04:16 PM
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Im sorry to hear about what you are going through. I can relate to suffering from anxiety and depression in sobriety, I was hoping that quitting drinking would improve me life and in some ways it has.

I recently passed the six month mark and boom, feelings of over overwhelming hopelessness worse than I've ever experienced, lows I could have never imagined possible to the point where I can sympathise with those that have chosen to end it all.

I'm sorry I don't have much advice as I'm also struggling but I wanted to say thank you for posting, you're not alone.
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Old 10-07-2018, 04:26 PM
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Flaw,

I suffered for well over a year and past 2 years off and on. Here at 3 years, even with my 2 slips, which are scary cracks in the armor, I feel amazingly better.

It is the miracle AA talks about, except I don't do AA. I read the big book and listened to From Panic to Power. I also Google techniques all the time.

On the audio tape it talked about anxiety being similar to being thrilled as in happy on a roller coaster. It also talked about breathing techniques. It did lots of breathing.

Slow deep breath, hold it for 2 seconds, slow breath out. Still use this to calm down when I feel pressure.

But my grace has been exercise and the ability to accept suffering.

I call it growing up. I can't always get what i want. I can't have my cake and eat it too anymore.

Growing up. It is fun though as well. Going to see a late show or party and confidently driving home and walking up feeling greaat.

Good stuff.

Thanks.
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Old 10-07-2018, 08:14 PM
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Thank you so much for posting this. I am right there with you (sober almost 10 months) and lately, I feel like I've regressed so much psychologically. When I was in the 6-9 month phase, I really felt like the worst was behind me, and lately I am feeling irritable, resentful, you name it! Not tempted to drink, but I can see how this could hit someone like a ton of bricks. As others have mentioned, underlying mental health conditions can and should be treated for sure, but I also wonder if this stage of recovery brings its own challenges too? Anyway, best of luck to you in dealing with your family challenges and everything else on top of trying to stay sober. We're here for you!
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