Ah! Peace at last. My busy, bustling, burdensome brain has finally calmed. There are no big waves of feeling and no strong emotions to deal with which, after the month I have had, is nothing but a blessed relief. I love joy and excitement and fun just as much as the next person but I think maybe, like many things in my life, I don’t do emotions in moderation. The flip side being when I fall, I go to the other extreme. Occasionally it is good to take a break from extremes and sit in the middle and I think maybe that’s the place the antidepressants help me to settle.
I still feel all the emotions and enjoy them just as much. They somehow don’t take over when I’m in a better place with my mental health. I can appreciate them, like or dislike them, but they aren’t the end of the world or the only thing that matters. I can experience the feelings without them overwhelming me. That’s so important in being able to function. Some might consider it boring. Some people adore that high and low, rough and smooth. I used to be one of those people. I wonder if too much living life with such emotional extremes puts you into the ‘at risk’ category for depression? Or maybe I was depressed at times when I was younger but didn’t recognise it as that. Post natal depression with my first was the first experience I remember.
The other, completely lovely feeling of having your mind quieten down is the opportunity to stop thinking about yourself so much. Depression , amongst many other things, is so bloody boring. I mean, I’m really not that interesting a person to be spending so much time focusing on myself. The space in my brain means I can think about other things and care about other people. That makes me happy. In a selfish way it helps me climb the ladder to the top of the wall I have built around myself. Being compassionate and kind towards others really improves my mental health but when I am depressed my kindness mojo is switched to off.
So, after all the deliberation about the antidepressants, it was the right thing for me at this time in my life. I can feel they have worked even more quickly than last time and although I have a long way to go, I am grateful for the quiet and the calm inside my head and my body. I am also hugely thankful to all of you who supported me, sent me love and hugs and had your kindness switches firmly on.
Time for some self reflection I think. Life has gone a little awry recently. I’ve found myself engaging in a good deal of ‘stinking thinking’ (thanks Collette for this perfect phrase). My sobriety has been really tested, I’ve had periods of huge anxiety and my mood has dipped uncomfortably low on some days. This all seems to have happened during the past month to six weeks and I’m starting to wonder why that might be the case.
The obvious answer would be the antidepressants and the fact that around that time I started to wean off them and have been without them for almost 6 weeks now. My constant deliberation as to whether I should remain med free has come to no conclusion as yet. I don’t want to dwell on the whole antidepressant debate right now. Instead I’m going to look back and reflect on some successes.
I have maintained my sobriety for over 8 months now. I didn’t even realise I’d hit 8 months until the day after which in itself is petty crazy, considering I once thought about drinking ALL the time
I stepped up to take on a new role temporarily at work. It came with a significant increase in responsibility, leading a medical and surgical team at a time of great stress and anxiety.
I have done a good job in leading the team, maintaining our service and now resuming patient care.
I have become a yoga addict and since lockdown at the end of March (other than being away for the last week), I have practised at least 5 times a week and sometimes twice a day. I really do enjoy it.
I have maintained close friendships and formed new ones that have brought me so much joy and happiness.
I have cut ties with old ‘friends’ and people who had a negative effect on my mental health.
I have a lovely invisible shield. Granted I forget to use it some days and for a while it’s been stuck at the back of a cupboard BUT I’ve pulled it out, dusted it off and it’s back in action.
I have attended a christening in Belfast that involved a stay over and I spent a weekend away with a large group of people to celebrate my brother’s 50th birthday. Both occasions involved people engaging in a lot drinking for a significant amount of time. I enjoyed both events and remained alcohol free.
I have become a garden lover and enthusiast, gaining so much pleasure from pottering around and watching my plants and flowers grow.
I have realised many new things about myself. I am actually fairly introverted. I enjoy my own company. I can achieve peace and calm inside my mind and body, even if it evades me right now.
I have faced my ongoing battle with anxiety and depression and I will continue to find strategies and ways to deal with them when they come knocking. They will not get the better of me.
I play online scrabble and enjoy it
I have learned that kindness brings all kinds of positivity into my life
Eight months on, I am still living my life sober and free.
Looking back I am proud of the things I have achieved. My journey is not just about sobriety. It’s about learning to love myself. It’s about discovering what exciting things life might hold for me. I just need to learn to open my eyes and really see.
“sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tiptoe if you must, but take a step”. Naeem Callaway
I have a mindfulness journal. I found it in a cheap bookshop and art store. It was £3. I have almost filled it with thoughts and emotions. There are exercises and prompts to help focus my writing and one of the final questions was …
What do I want to do today?
I’m not a writer by any stretch of the imagination but this is what I wrote ..
Today I want to move forward Today I want to feel acceptance and gratitude Today I want love, peace and kindness Today I want calm Today is a day for people who love, respect and care for me Today I want to let go Today I want mindfulness, joy and laughter Today I want nature and fresh air Today I want family Today I want friends Today I want to look in the mirror and say ‘I like you, you’re ok’ Today I want to breathe Today is the day it happens Today I will move forward
The instruction was to write down one thing but as always I went rogue and created a huge ‘to do list!’ I won’t accomplish it all today, but TODAY is where it begins.
This is a really quick post to let all you lovely people know that I’m ok. Yesterday was an awful day but I survived and I’m a teeny bit calmer this morning.
Thank you for all your amazing comments, support and love yesterday. I can’t tell you how much your kindness helped and how much it meant to have you all here. I was going to delete the post because I felt slightly embarrassed and self pitying but I’ve decided to leave it there. I think it’s important to read the comments when I feel that way again and to remind myself that, no matter how scary it was at the time, I got through it. It may help someone who stumbles across it and connects with the emotions and distress. So it will stay.
Thanks to you all once again. You really are the most amazing group of people. Your love and care for me yesterday was palpable.
14 days of a lowered dose of my SSRI meds and it’s time to check in. Doing ok I think. Some low moments last weekend and physically felt rough with tiredness, nausea and headaches. Strange really because it doesn’t feel like I have been putting anything much into my body, but it’s clear that’s not the case.
I’m still suffering with the nausea every now and then but all the other stuff seems to have gone. My skin on my face is incredibly dry. Not sure if that is related. Hormones have a mind of their own and do strange things to the body, so it could be. I’m still not off them entirely so now it’s alternating half a pill each day for a couple of weeks and then nothing. Med free. It feels like I’m jumping out of a plane and praying my parachute is going to open. I’m pretty sure it will but you never know.
On a completely different note, I’m sitting in my garden and admiring our new fencing. Still have to finish off the borders and plant new shrubs and trees. It will be lovely in the end. There is a minor issue though. The view from our patio is slightly hampered by the interesting choice of buildings and creations popping up in next door’s garden. Last year they removed all their grass and had a few shrubs. Fine, each to their own. Different strokes and all that. Then they erected a large type garage build. Not tucked to the side, or at the back. Oh no, two thirds of the way down. Believe me, it isn’t a pretty building. Stone clad walling. The lot. Next up, another shed type thing. Green corrugated sides and squeezed in behind the pebble dash delight. Now, the cherry on the cake. They have a constructed a seating area. Again, right in the middle of the garden. It would be quite pretty. A little gazebo type build with fairy lights that twinkle sweetly at night. The effect however has been slightly ruined by the long, sharp and very scary looking metal spikes on the top. All of a sudden it’s an instrument of torture. With the somber ‘garage’ directly behind it, I can’t help feeling we have entered either silence of the lambs or game of thrones territory. We have a great relationship with said neighbours and I don’t want to disrupt that. Luckily, I now I’m sober and have found my inner peace, I can laugh it off and accept that there is ‘now’t so strange as folk’.
On the other hand, if I do suddenly disappear, either my parachute didn’t open, or it might be worth someone checking the next door neighbour’s outbuildings. Thanks heaps. 😊
ps. The photo at the top is a beautiful spot South of England .. the coastline of the New Forrest. A favourite place of mine. 😊❤️
Goodness it’s been a little while since I caught up with my blog. I find it easier to write about things that have been happening in my life rather than selecting a ‘topic’ so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I think I won’t have any particular order to my ramblings today. I’ll just write as things pop into my head.
On Monday evening this week I was taken aback by seeing photos of many English residents heading out in droves to the seaside and country locations. Pictures or large groups of people sat together and close to other groups. My husband said it was rammed in our local park where he had ridden with the boys. Gangs of lads and girls, groups of adults clearly from mixed families. I honestly thought I had missed a vital government announcement thar lockdown was cancelled. Turns out this virus is so fragile it’s fading out all by itself. Maybe there was a nugget of info I’d glossed over whilst trying to wade through the reports of disgusting and incongruous behaviour of Mr Cummings. But no! I hadn’t missed anything new. We were still in lockdown with strict guidelines that we should only meet one other person, in a public outside area and remain 2 metres away. What is wrong with people? Stop being so bloody self centred!
I’m struggling with a friend of mine who considers herself to have a more ‘relaxed’ attitude than some, proudly announcing that she’s non-conformist but not judging anyone else. I think it totally passed her by that referring to her approach as relaxed immediately places a judgement on the behaviour of others as uptight and OTT. But then she was never one to have much self awareness or consideration for others. Probably why she’s able to feel so relaxed when she risks the health and well-being of others to meet her own immediate needs. Before sobriety I would’ve responded to messages from her with little thought for the consequences of speaking my mind. Now I make a considered decision whether it’s worth putting across my point of view. I decided in this case not. I did make it clear that I take different actions, whilst acknowledging that it’s her own choice. Not drinking has allowed me to let these things go and not create further tension when it’s unhelpful and not needed.
I took a few days annual leave over our bank holiday weekend. Loads of decluttering, moving my youngest son into a larger room and all his consoles upstairs into a ‘gaming’ room. This leaves the back room downstairs for me and the guinea pigs. It’s bright and sunny. I have my office space in the corner, I can lie my yoga mat out easily and I have my boy’s keyboard in there ready to learn piano on my new app. Biscuit, Toffee and I are all set in our new space. It felt good to declutter. We carried on with the garage too. On Monday I took the day to relax. No housework. No food shopping. Yoga, a walk and the new task I had to accomplish… leg waxing. Don’t worry, I am used to having my legs waxed. I’m not totally nuts. I have never attempted it myself though. I must admit, after a few false starts, where I’d clearly not followed the direction of hair growth (tricky to work that one out) and when one piece of waxing strip managed to get stuck to my coffee mug, the table and my finger, I did ok. Fairly smooth and shiny. Unfortunately I’d carried out this activity outside on a sunny day and by the evening I was smooth, shiny, bright red and sore.
I have discovered some lovely walking routes close by our house. All these years and I never knew they were there. My mum and I finally met up for a walk for the first time since March. It was a glorious day and we managed around 5 miles. My mum is 76 – pretty bloody amazing too. My running has slipped. I can’t find my running mojo. As I said to one of my lovely bloggers the other day, I keep looking for it in the biscuit tin and chocolate drawer of the fridge but it’s never there, or if it is, I’m far too distracted by the bar of wholenut or the chocolate covered almonds to notice it. I’ve stuck with yoga every day. Only 20 to 40 minutes. I’m not losing any weight but I find it very soothing and relaxing. I must be the only person who gave up alcohol and gained weight!
Today, when I left for work I received a huge bouquet of flowers. It was a thank you from a lady who lives in the street next to ours. I didn’t know her before the lockdown but she contacted me via my leaflets offering support. I’ve been doing her food shop for her as her son became ill and then went rapidly downhill with COVID-19. Happily, after a stint in hospital on a ventilator, he recovered and is now much better. I was totally taken aback by the flowers and sent the lady a text to thank her. She said I’d been the light in an extremely dark time. I honestly don’t think anyone has ever said anything nicer to me.
I will stop now. I have some other things I planned to touch on but I’ll leave those for another day. Right now I’d like to go play some scrabble with a good friend. Sending you all love and hugs 🤗
I have to say, I don’t always find writing on my own blog very easy. I love reading other people’s and commenting but I just can’t seem to find the right words for my own post. Having said that, I’ve sat myself down in front of the lap top and I think I’m just going to chat about my Easter weekend. Just roll that dice, take a chance and have a ramble!
On Friday (Good Friday) it was a luxury to wake up late and not have to switch on my work laptop or check my phone for work emails. I have been grateful for work in recent weeks, its kept me occupied and stopped me descending into the Claire world of over thinking life, the universe and everything. I was so exhausted by Friday though and I made a purposeful decision to not ‘work’ at all for the Easter break. I lounged about in the morning, drinking tea, reading blogs and catching up with friends via what’s app. Then I went into the garden. Boy did I go wild in the wilds of our little oasis. The bushes and trees that run the length of the left hand side have not been touched since we moved in … 16 years ago!!! Once I start, I’m unstoppable. I pulled out weeds, that then suddenly became whole shrubs. There were trees with stumps as big as a bowling ball that came out in my hand when I pulled … because they were dead! I left huge gaping holes in the bushes. The neighbours are going to be delighted we can watch them sunbathe and also see what they are up to in the kitchen. Literally 3 days of cutting, pulling and bashing and its still no where near finished. You can imagine the pile of garden waste that now sits under, behind and in front of the trampoline. Oh and no garden waste collection (I forgot to renew it) and no refuge centres open. Oooooops. My husband is still not really speaking to me!
On Friday night we had a family quiz with my ‘in laws’ using Zoom. It was great fun. My parents joined in but I think I’m going to ban them from any similar activities until they agree to have their hearing tested. Multiple repetitions of each question becomes rather …. repetitive. By the end of the game people were clearly drunk, falling around and shouting at their respective devices. I sipped my alcohol free wine and was thankful that I gave it all up nearly 5 months ago. Sobriety has enabled me to cope with this lockdown and Covid-19 situation with a positivity and calmness than would not have been possible had I been still addicted to wine. Sure, I have bad days, but as Anna (Storm In A Wine Glass) said in her recent post ” I realise how my worst day sober is still a million times better than my best day drunk.”
Saturday and Sunday followed much the same pattern. Lots of gardening (well, destruction and demolition), chilled out lazy mornings and a trip to the supermarket for our food shop and one the for lady down the road. I arrived home from delivering her groceries to a little ‘care package’ left on my door step by my brother and his partner. He lives about a 40 minute drive away and had made the journey over to bring me some gorgeous goodies and treats. Their kindness overwhelmed me and I already knew I had a wonderful brother, but he really is the bee’s knees. I started thinking about ‘kindness’ after I’d checked out all the little gifts. It’s a quality I value greatly and true kindness is really a beautiful thing when it happens. I’ve had a lot of criticism throughout my life. Self-criticism, overt criticism, ‘subtle’ criticism and criticism meant to be constructive but really not. It has led to me being a little too judgemental and often having mean and unkind thoughts about others. In the past I have slipped into, not particularly nice, conversations about certain people and not really given it much thought. Since ditching the booze I have made a conscious effort to not do any of this, practicing kindness in how I act, behave and think. It’s actually an easier way of being. I still can find people irritating as hell and that’s ok. I’m not super human and people piss me off. I am, however, more able to understand a situation. I’m less bitter and resentful of what other’s have and do and I’m more at peace with my own world. In a selfish way, being kinder towards others has improved my ability to be kinder to myself. It’s a quality I want to instil in my boys. Plus you get really cute little gifts every now and then too!! Its a win win.
Today, Monday, I have stayed out of the garden and left my husband to try and salvage something from the wreckage. I ran 5 miles and cleaned the house. I’ve made a tandoori chicken and rice tea for the boys and now I am sat typing this blog. My life is so different than it was 6 months ago. I am living under government restrictions but I am the most free I have been in a very long time. That’s a lovely feeling and I am going to savour the moment as my first sober Easter weekend draws to a close.