Sunday, 30 June 2019

Tough Week

Ugh what a week, I was feeling ok at the start of the week, but by Wednesday I was feeling so deflated, flat and low - and this feeling has lasted all week.  I know we can't always be living on a high but I wish my lows weren't quite so low. 

I am not sure what has triggered this episode, there are a few things happening at the moment that could be the trigger.  I have been having seriously horrible dreams lately, for a few weeks now, and they are knocking me about.  We leave for our holiday on Friday, and I am going back to the place where my Dad used to live to visit friends.  I haven't been back there since my Dad passed away, and I am seeing an aunt who I haven't seen since my Dad passed away.  I have put on so much weight since I last saw her, so I think I am anxious about it.  All little things, but the little things really add up.  

I dropped by a friends house this week and she had bought one of my favourite summer drinks, an alcoholic drink.  It reminds me of home.  I was so tempted to throw the towel in and have one with her, it's probably one of the hardest moments I have had since I stopped drinking.  It has left me doubting myself all week, and my mind is playing havoc with the lies.  Just have the one I think, then it's ok to have one at the weekend, or if you have one by yourself no one will know.  Only problem is I will know.  So for now I am winning that battle, but it's being fought a lot more often than I would like.  I think it's because I am feeling flat at the moment, and drinking was my go to when I felt like this in the past. 

Next week though, on a more positive note I hit the 6 months mark.  The only other time I have not drunk for this long was when I was pregnant with my son.  I am trying to be proud of myself, because it is a huge thing to have given up drinking, especially with the amounts I was drinking on a weekly basis. 

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Reliving Painful Memories

Wow, it is nearly 3 years since my Dad passed away, I can't believe it!  How does time march on so relentlessly, without regard for suffering or joyous occasions. 

My emotional pain has been really high again, feel like I am being triggered.  I have had a lot of dreams recently so think that has a lot to do with it, but there are times when I am triggered and I have no idea why.  I have started to use a mantra that I read about in the Choice, by Edith Eger.  Every time I am triggered I slow my breathing down and say over and over again - I am here, this is now!  It works sometimes, other times it just takes longer to sink in, sometimes I have to hold something solid while I am saying it, other times it doesn't work and the only thing that helps the panic is to talk to my husband.  

He was recently away for a week and I was petrified most of the time he was away, it's the first time since everything happened that I have been alone with our son.  I was convinced something bad would happen and really struggled with my emotions, but I got through it.  He is going away again in August, and I can already feel the dread.  How sad that a past can take so much of a person away from them, and to rebuild takes time and a conscious effort, a lot of effort actually. 

So I am 166 days without drinking.  WOW, I know I keep saying it, but I never thought I would get so far.  Sometimes I just want to pack it in if only for a brief moment, other times I try and bargain with myself, saying things like it's ok, we will just have one drink on a Friday night, or for special occasions.  But deep down I have to remind myself that I have been lying to myself for years around alcohol consumption, so really what would be different this time, it would start with one drink on a Friday night and would slowly escalate bit by bit until I was drinking all the time again.  

So what do I do during those brief moments to help myself stay strong and not drink, especially in moments where I am dealing with the memories or emotional pain, or the sheer panic of a panic attack.  The go to would always have been pills or alcohol to try and numb the pain, sometimes it would work, other times it would not.  Now I have painting, I love painting.  The smell of the paint calms me as does the actual task of painting.  Mindfulness colouring helps when I don't have the opportunity to paint, but I am also trying to practice drawing and that helps too.  I am so grateful that I found art, it has been a life line during some of my darkest moments.  So that's what helps get me through those moments of doubt.  We all need to find that go to activity that will help settle the mind and take the focus off of our anxiety or panic.  As human beings we default to anxiety over joy every time, so another good practice is to talk to yourself about something positive, I only just learnt this technique and it really works for me.  Yesterday I woke up from a really bad dream and I was so anxious and closing in on a full blown panic attack.  Yesterday also happened to be our anniversary, we have been together for 18 years, so I sat and wrote down facts and points about our relationship.  Now it didn't take all the anxiety away, but I was definitely better off by the time I finished writing. 

Practice makes perfect, forever learning.  Two statements I am trying to learn to live by!  

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Shame, the unspoken feeling that we all have over different things

We all suffer with shame at one point or another, differing degrees and differing circumstances, but we all know the feeling of shame, and what it feels like to suffer it.  Why then is it such a taboo feeling, we never admit when we are feeling ashamed, and for some the shame is not theirs to bear.  We land up feeling ashamed because we are feeling shame.  

When I was a child I was molested by my step grandfather, I don't know how old I was when the abuse started, but it continued till I was about 7 when he passed away.  I was also abused by a cousin that is older than me, he was about 16 when the abuse happened.  I was abused by another cousin, she made me perform sexual acts on another child, she is only about 4 years older than me.  I am really struggling with accepting my history, struggling to accept that these things happened to me, and I am ashamed that they did happen to me.  Why was I abused, and why by so many different people?  I question was it something I said or did?  As mentioned before I landed up in hospital last year suffering from depression and PTSD.  

I am going to therapy every second week to work through my past and my shame.  My psychiatrist asked me a really good question, why is it that the victims of abuse feel the shame when the shame is solely for the abuser to feel, yet as a person who suffered abuse I know that I feel a lot of shame around these events in my past.  I was a victim of abuse, I am on my way to becoming a survivor.  I think to be a survivor I have to have no shame about what happened because it was not, and never will be my fault.  I also carry guilt about my abuse.  I have also been sexually assaulted and raped as an adult, and I still blame myself for these two events.  Up until now I haven't delved into these two events much in my therapy because the shame is too great.  In trying to be honest with myself I know this is probably the next big hurdle I have in overcoming my shame, becoming a survivor, and moving forward. 

So, what is shame and why does it affect victims so much.  I know for me when I have flashbacks to when I was a child I feel violated, dirty, ashamed that someone did such vile things to a child, and a lot of anger.  I think of my son and how I would feel if he came and told me someone had violated him.  I think I would go mad with rage, but I would have to hold it together for him.  So I feel justified in feeling so angry towards my abusers.  The big question I am facing is what do I do next, I have tried to go through the legal avenues against one of my abusers but it got shut down before it even began, and yet here I am still holding on to so much anger and pain that I know I need to do something to heal, yet I don't know what that something is.  

I know I have a lot of shame, and I know I shouldn't have it but what do I do with it, how do I deal with shame.  I am ashamed of my past, ashamed of my past coping mechanisms, and ashamed of what I look like today.  I am ashamed that I couldn't hold it together, and ashamed that I still have so many unhealthy coping mechanisms.  So what next.  The only thing I do know is that I have to be honest with myself about everything, I have to face them head on.  If I can't do these things I will be stuck forever I fear.                                                    

Saturday, 15 June 2019

158 Days

A year sounds so long, 365 days even longer.  I am still about 20 days off of half a year, 6 months of no drinking.  I feel amazing, love the fact that my ankles have stopped swelling, no hangovers, and as an added bonus when I go out we get to drive there and back.  So I am saving on taxis/buses as well as all the health benefits to not drinking.

The big question when people ask me if I found it hard or do I miss it.  Yes sometimes it is hard to stay motivated, and yes sometimes I miss the feeling you get after a few glasses of wine, but these thoughts are not all encompassing, they are brief, and after thinking I miss it, I reassess where I am at and how good I feel for not drinking and I realise I don't miss it as much as I thought I would.  If you had told me this time last year that I would go 100 days of not drinking I would not have believed it.  I was so stuck in the cycle of having wine every night, I remember the panicked feeling I would get if my 6pm I had no wine in the house.  Drinking ruled my life and when I wasnt actually drinking I was thinking about drinking. 

There are other benefits to not drinking too, a huge one for us is the cost.  We have saved over €3000 since I stopped drinking.

Now I do have an addictive personality and I have replaced drinking with eating junk food a lot more than I used to, my sweet of choice at the moment is white chocolate.  So, I have something else at the moment that I need to cut down, but I am going to be proud and happy with the fact that I have not had a drink in over 5 months. 

Saturday, 8 June 2019

5 Months {152 days}

My husband has been away all week in the States for work.  I was in the garage yesterday and I had serious de ja vous, normally when he is away I drink a bit more than when he is here, mainly because I don't have anyone to answer to while he is away.  This week has been so much better than what they used to be like when he went away.  I have woken up hangover free, I can't say that enough, it is so nice not waking up feeling like a bus hit me, and someone took sandpaper to my tongue, and that throbbing headache that feels like someone is taking a hammer to your head.  I do not miss these things one little bit. 

I am proud of how I coped with him being away as well, it's the first trip he has been on since I was in hospital, and there were moments where I felt really lonely and I didn't feel like I was coping, but I have a new mantra when my anxiety kicks in, or my fight, flight, freeze is triggered.  I have to put my hand on something solid and I say I'm here, this is now.  It brings me back to the present.  A lot of my anxiety gets triggered when something reminds me of the abuse, or the violence that was in our house while I was growing up, I still don't know all my triggers but I am learning!

I had an appointment with my psychiatrist recently as well, and according to her I am no longer depressed.  I feel like a weight has been lifted since she said that to me.  Now I still have really crappy days where I feel like my world is ending, or that I've fallen down a well and can't get out, but they don't last as long as they used to, and I am learning new coping skills to help me overcome these feelings. 
My brother had a leaving function at his current job and they invited my husband and I, as my husband is away I went by myself.  I was anxious about going, but I went, and it was great to see people I haven't seen in years, and I coped well.  This time last year it is something that I would not have been able to do, so new things are happening which is really encouraging for me.   I was sitting next to my brother who was drinking wine, and I was tempted a few times to take a sip.  He asked me to get him a glass of wine at one point and I walked over to the serving area with trepidation, but I did it, and I managed not to take a sip.  I just have to keep reminding myself how far I have come, and how much I want to avoid slipping back into unhealthy coping mechanisms.  My son and my husband are my anchors that I think of when these thoughts come around, they both have said they are happier that I am not drinking so that is a huge incentive. 

I am trying to cut down on the sugar consumption, and I am not longer smoking, so it's a few new steps in the right direction, long way to go still, but this week I feel strong about my journey.  I wish I could bottle up weeks like this one where I don't hit too many brick walls, life would be so much easier if they were all like this one! 

If anyone is reading my blog I would love to hear your stories, and your coping mechanisms! 

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

148 Days

Well I haven't written in a long time, I went through a bit of a struggle, not so much with drinking, but with low moods, and just generally struggling with anxiety and emotional pain.  I have realised a lot of my emotional pain comes from shame.  Why do victims of sexual abuse suffer with the pain, my psychiatrist asked me recently, why is it the victim that suffers the shame, and not the perpetraitor.  It is such a good question, and as a survivor of sexual abuse I don't have the answer to that question, I just know that for me at the moment shame is a daily battle.  It's not just shame from my past, but shame in my present too.  Shame at what I have done to my body over the years, with the alcohol abuse, but I also have eating disorders which have lead to me being obese, very obese.  I don't have a good relation with food at all.  I am either overeating, or not eating, or I have bulimia.  Food is such a struggle, it's the next big thing on my list to rectify, only through creating a healthy eating habit will I be able to better control my weight, and hopefully loose weight.  I am not entirely sure how to approach this, but today I joined weight watchers online to hopefully get good ideas for healthier meals, but also to track and hopefully maintain a steady weight loss in a healthy way. 

I have been reading the book I thought It Was Just Me but Brene Brown, it deals with shame and how shame is a universal emotion that we all have to deal with in one way or another.  And we all feel shame over different things, so what might be shaming for one person, wouldn't be for another.  She is also right in saying that as a general rule shame is not spoken about very often in an open manner, it causes more shame to discuss shame which is really sad, because talking about it can definitely make it less taboo and easier to deal with.  This is a mind of matter thing again, and I am amazed how our minds work, and how we find it so easy to lie to ourselves, or to hide away from the things that we struggle with. 

I have realised this last month that I suffer terribly from shame, and I need to open up about it and be honest with myself, otherwise nothing will change.  So yes, I am ashamed of my body because of what I have done to it, but also about my appearance being so overweight.  I am ashamed of my past and the sexual abuse that I have suffered, both as an adult and a child.  I am not sure how I deal with it fully yet, but I am trying.  I am also ashamed at the way my family treated me when I was growing up.  Something that I have realised since I started telling family members about my past is that I was expecting something from them, I am not entirely sure what I was hoping to get from them, but it has become very clear that I am not going to get it from them.  This has been hard to get my head and my emotions around, but I am on the path to getting there.  This too has caused me shame, because I feel what is wrong with me that I can't get it from my own family.  I have realised that just because you are related by blood doesn't mean you are going to get everything you need from family, and for me my friends are my family.  I am closing the door on my toxic relationships.  It's easy for me to write it all down, but much harder to put in place, but I am trying! 

Where do I go from here.  I am taking it one day at a time, and one hurdle at a time.  Some days I succeed and other days I find really hard. 

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Spoil Yourself

So I have decided to do a year without alcohol.  A year sounds SO LONG, I know it isn't that long, but to keep me motivated I decided to set myself small targets.  So I recently purchased a charm bracelet and every time I pass a 50 day marker my husband is going to buy me a charm for the bracelet. 

I was recently wandering what is happening with my body since I gave up alcohol, so I did a bit of research and I was shocked at the damage alcohol inflicts on the body.  It is probably something I should have looked up ages ago, but never did manage to do it.  I have been sober for 115 days now and it's amazing to read up on all the things that are changing.  One huge thing for me is sleep.  I never used to sleep well and always felt that I needed alcohol to help me fall asleep.  It's true alcohol makes you fall asleep quicker, but your overall quality of sleep is very bad.  The medication I am on helps to relax me at night and fall asleep, and I often fall asleep downstairs trying to stay awake to watch the latest show :-)  But my overall sleep has improved so much - I don't wake up in the morning feeling restless and groggy, and by 5 in the afternoon, I am tired but it's a different kind of tired.  It is a revelation!!!!!!

There are lots of good things happening that you can't notice too, organs and cells are regenerating and your body is generally recovering from years of abuse, it's shocking how bad alcohol actually is for your body.