Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The bad thing about getting drunk…


I haven’t talked about anxiety in awhile, and when I first thought about writing this post, I nixed it as a dumb idea.  Then I decided that maybe I should put on my big girl panties and get over it.  You see, I used to say that if writing about my experiences helped someone cope with their own issues, or at least let them know they were not alone, then it was worth the discomfort I felt about publishing it.  I never actually believed anyone was reading those posts though, but as it turns out, they were. If it means something to one other person out there, then it’s worth it.  So…

Since I haven’t mentioned my anxiety in awhile, you may think it went away.  I wish!  I was on prescription medication for it for about three years, but one of the side effects was it made me fat and lethargic, so I decided it was time to try to exist without it.  That was about two years ago, and since then I’ve gotten by on herbal supplements, meditation, and pure German stubbornness.  It’s not the best scenario for someone who has to deal with anxiety, but it is what it is.  At least I don’t fall asleep while eating dinner anymore, and that’s a plus in my book.

Since I stopped taking anti-anxiety medication, it has been slowly increasing with each of life’s traumatic event’s that pass my way.  John’s dad’s passing, quickly followed by Tiana’s spinal fusion, got it rolling on the tracks like a freight train, and it’s just been gaining momentum since then.

Recently, after a ton of debate and discussion, John and I made the decision to open a nail salon, and with that decision my sanity went screaming out the door.  My anxiety is now nearly completely in control of my brain function, and it’s a speeding train charging downhill.  I just hope it runs into an incline to slow it down soon; hopefully before it hits a sharp curve and completely derails my life.

So, the other day I decided to imbibe in an adult beverage.  Alcohol is a great relaxant, and if you’re familiar with the pain caused by muscle tension that comes with anxiety, you probably also know that a couple of drinks relieves it almost immediately.  It’s probably why so many people with anxiety and depression end up with alcohol addictions.  Luckily that’s not a problem for me; I hate losing control way more than I hate feeling anxious all of the time.  So getting drunk on a regular basis is never going to be the cure for my crazy.

Anyway, as I felt the tension run out of my neck, I relaxed into the sofa, and thought how nice it was to have a reminder that the pain wasn’t real. I don’t have some weird neck cancer that’s preventing me from turning my head to the right.  It’s just muscle pain that would go away if I could ever find a way to relax enough to let it.

Then, after a couple of drinks I had effectively bound and gagged my anxiety.  It was now crouched in the corner, slobbering around the big red ball gag in its mouth, whimpering like the little bitch it was.  The problem with that is my anxiety takes up a lot of space in my consciousness, and when you remove it, it leaves a vacuum.  That space must be filled with something…

“Oh, hello self-loathing, haven’t seen you around these parts in awhile.  Can’t say I missed you very much, but hey, as long as you’re here you might as well settle in and destroy my self worth for a few hours.  It’s ok, I have the time.”

Apparently I only have two modes currently, anxious or depressed.  Yay me!

So, as it turns out, the great thing about getting drunk is that it eases the physical pain caused by anxiety.  The bad thing about getting drunk is that it ushers in the self loathing often caused by anxiety.  It’s a lose-lose kind of thing…

Now, these posts always come out sounding so depressing, and that’s really not my intent.  Don’t feel sorry for me, I’ll be ok. I still get up every day, get dressed, and do what I have to do. I know this won’t last forever, at least not at this level. I constantly remind myself that I am not the sum of my crazy, and I won’t let anxiety define me. So I keep moving, keep active, and keep reminding myself that this too shall pass.  I still feel joy, I laugh with the kids and John daily, and I’m really good at making fun of my own dysfunction. 

The point is that if you struggle with anxiety, or depression, alcohol is not a cure; it only makes it worse.  Neither will drugs, illicit or prescription, ease your pain.  Those are stop gap measures, to help you cope for a single moment in time, not a cure, and if you rely on them without addressing the root of your anxiety, they will only increase the problem.

So what’s a serotonin imbalanced person to do?  Look beyond the easy fix.  Get off your ass and get moving.  Exercise helps tremendously, it spurs your brain to release chemicals that counteract the serotonin, and within days of starting even a light exercise regime, you will feel miles better.  Don’t give into the urge to stay in bed, no matter how much it feels like you can’t face the day.  Inactivity only compounds anxiety and depression, get up, get dressed, I promise you’ll feel better.

Additionally, look into Mindfulness Meditation Therapy.  Standard therapy practices don’t work terribly well for people with general anxiety disorders because there is no way to confront a non-specific fear, especially if that fear changes from day to day.  So traditional cognitive therapy is a complete and total bust for people like myself.  Mindfulness Meditation Therapy can help you address your anxiety instead of trying to push it into the back of your mind.  Once you confront it, and stop trying to hide it, it looses its potency and becomes much easier to manage.

Life is a freight train, barreling down the tracks, and we’re just strapped in for the ride.  Some days it feels that there are more downhill, out of control stretches than ups, but be aware that it’s impossible to fall forever, and no, that doesn’t mean you’re going to crash at the bottom.  The track will turn, and you will level out.  Today may be a bad day for you, tomorrow may be worse, but the day after that you may see a glimmer of hope. 

It gets better; I promise.