Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My Brain

What is up with my brain?

I swear I have felt like the saddest of sad sacks for the past weekish. And not really right with myself since the beginning of summer. I've been Google-ing "How do I know if I need an anti-depressant?". Searching for small campers in which to make my escape. I knew I was in trouble the other afternoon when I was sitting at the bottom of the stairs with my hands in my hair yelling "Help me!" at my husband because the boys were bitching about turning off their video games. Yesterday I tried to hide in bed, to "sleep in" which is really code for "check the fuck out". My youngest wouldn't leave me alone so it was a resounding non-success.

It probably reminded him of when I was drinking. And couldn't get out of bed. I was really just trying for a little reading/sleeping time. But the intention felt like when I was hungover and just wanted to escape. Sleep into nothingness. Disappear. Could he tell?

So I got up. Ate breakfast. Had tea. Made myself go for a hike at the river with my husband, youngest, and dogs. I made myself keep a meeting at my oldest son's school. I didn't cancel my husband's grandmother's visit. I bitched and moaned, and I really really wanted to, but I didn't disappear.

And now this morning I feel better. Like, really like ME. Silly. Hopeful. I found yet another few white napkins in the dryer this morning (my husband is a waiter. he brings these things home allllllll the time) and I laughed a little about it when yesterday I would have been furious. I would have had that dialogue in my head all about "Why can't he leave those at work! How hard is that? What are we going to do with all these white napkins with wine stains on them? Aaaaagggghhhhhh!" I would have said it in that gritty voice through clenched brain teeth. I would have rubbed and polished that resentment right into breakfast this morning.

But instead, because today is today I smiled a little fondly at the napkins and just folded them right up. Moved on. Started another load of clothes. Let the dogs out. Got on with it.

I've been thinking a lot about what makes me tick. Like, cellular-ly. How what I eat and when I sleep and how much I exercise affects how I am. I am the queen of experimenting and giving things up. Which people make fun of me for, and which I kind of understand since it seems like I'm always saying, "Wellllll, I think I'm trying no gluten again......" or "Yeah, I know I sometimes don't eat dairy, but I'm trying yogurt. I read that it's good for beginning menopause (which I may or may not be having)....." or "No sugar for me! It makes me crazy!" followed a few hours later by nineteen tiny Halloween candy bars that someone should have never bought in the first place.

One big thing I have known for a long long time that I really really do need to give up is.....gulp.....caffeine. I never ever had any while I was drinking because it made me feel even more shitty and also terrifically edgy and jumping out of my skin anxious. Yaaahhhhhhhh! But after I quit drinking I began a slow love affair with coffee. Then more coffee. Then a fling with Yerba Mate. Then I went for the hard drinks. Then last Thursday I had two of these big energy drinks. Trouble y'all. With a capital T.

All this caffeine and up and down and woooo and booooo makes my dear body crazy. It makes me (in my humble I'm my own scientist way) know that I'm not making my own energy. That things are waaaayyyyy out of whack. Because, just like with booze, just one cup in the morning is not enough. Suddenly I was making coffee with dinner for pete's sake! I was so tired and worn out in the afternoon it was the only way to make it to stories and bedtime. Either that or I was just a fucking zombie and we were eating dinner in front of the TV again. And it was cheese and crackers again.

And I was also miserable. Does this sound like booze, but coffee? Yes. YES! Dammit.

But here's the thing I realized Friday of last week: just stop it. Stop that which makes you sad and miserable. So Monday I quit caffeine. Cold mother fucking turkey. Because that's the way that works for me.

And now today I woke up on my own feeling good for the first time in a while.

And really, it is time. Time to try to feel better. Time to stop using early sobriety for an excuse to treat myself like shit. Time to do what I know makes my body move better, what makes me feel steady on my feet. Planted here, roots in the ground. Time to dig deeper, to know that it's OK for things to get harder. I realized after a long conversation with Universe-Sent Amy that I have made huge progress, but I am not to the bottom of the soul hole yet.

She said, "You've pulled off scabs. Big ones. Now you have to heal them and not just let them scab up again." She also said people tend to relapse right around one year. That it seemed like instead of canceling therapy appointments and kind of dropping off the radar I should amp up my game and try going to an AA meeting? To keep my appointment. And get ready to get down to business because this could be even harder than it's been, but if I reach out and take care of myself I can handle it. I can handle it.

I think I was around the block from giving up. Not drinking again, but just saying yes to the life check out. I am so sick of this shit I wanted to say. And pass me another cake.

But here I am, typing away at five in the morning. Here I am, keeping going. Here I am. Tears in my eyes feeling proud of myself for being so brave. For looking when the world holds up hard things. Having my own back. Feeling capable again. Able to help myself instead of lying to myself. Holding hands with my brain again.


  1. I LOVE love love your last paragraph. We all should work toward those things for ourselves and here you are showing us how its working for you.

    Your sentence about caffeine and energy that really was a slap right in my in I never thought of it like that before was the part about knowing that you aren't making your own energy. I thought thats what I was doing by drinking coffee in the morning! lol But yeah!!! I hear you and that is something I am going to have to really think about. I am in a crazy work schedule right now and have not been able to exercise other than a walk or two each week, for a few months! Its killing me!! Thanks for the encouragement and for showing the way for today in pressing on and taking care of ourselves. Bless your heart!

    1. I'll take all the blessing I can get! So thanks!

      One week today without caffeine. Much better. It hasn't been easy, and there has been cake, but I feel so much less frantic this way. And the world needs more less frantic me's.

  2. I love this so much...way down deep on a cellular level in fact. You really know yourself so well and by writing about this stuff you help so many others (me included of course). Thank you.

    Early year two is when I started my blog because I was feeling just like you are now. Like it was time to get off the pity pot about being sober and figure out what was next. If you go back and read some of my early stuff - you see the connection. It's also the time I tested the waters with AA. It actually was the catalyst to really jump start my recovery.

    Yep - sobriety does not equal recovery. But you already knew that.

    And hey - if you don't want all those white napkins I'll take them. I can get the wine stains out and I love using real napkins with dinner! ;-)


    1. Sometimes I know myself tooooo well.

      I'm going to my first meeting some time this week. Maybe.

      Sobriety is just the diving board to recovery. The jumping off place. The throw all caution to the wind and see what the fuck is really up place.

  3. Amy, I'm sorry you have had some crap days, but I am awfully glad you are feeling better today. Battling against the need to check out is a big issue for me, too. I think of it as the problem behind the problem, if that makes any sense. Here's to you, keeping going in the face of it! xo

    1. Thank you! Figuring out when I just need to retreat vs. disappear is a tough one.

  4. Such an awesome post! I, too, have become literally hooked up to caffeine, but in the form of a slow drip of decaf coffee and Diet Coke or Coke Zero. Ugh. You know what I did the other day that reminds me of your post and of my drinking? I literally put a small glass of Coke Zero that I had just poured into the fridge, and then, before I went out to walk the dogs, I took a few little gulps--just to get me going. Then, I had to take a few HUGE gulps before I went out with my boyfriend--gasp, we were going to be gone for a few hours and I wasn't sure if we'd be able to stop on the way and grab sodas or not. AGGG! So what you are doing here is marvelous, is realizing that you CAN handle bigger and harder stuff, like quitting coffee and not letting yourself hole up, even if you're sober, because life is presenting those challenges that life just presents. Wonderful post, thank you... -DDG

    1. I hate when I notice myself doing something alcoholically (like chugging root beer while my husband is making dinner. oh yeah. It's OK. No one even wants to drink all the root beer- slow down!)

      Thank you. :)

  5. Sorry to hear about your bad day...I really know what you mean about the coffee and energy drinks, we need to be careful not to substitute one "high" for another..
    I love tea, drink too many cups in the morning and sometimes feel wired afterwards.
    If I go shopping I'll add a couple of energy drinks to the trolley to help me on the way home, unpack the shopping and cook lunch for my hubby and 2 the afternoon I dont feel so good, so make tea, get what Im saying.
    Ive been juicing more and more, replacing a tea or coffee in the afternoon by a fresh juice.
    Love your posts
    Emma b

    1. It took me 20 some years to quit drinking, so I suppose I could give myself some more time to even out the wrinkles of this life huh? Sometimes it feels like it all has to be now! now! now! I'm all better RIGHT NOW! Lordy.

      Thanks Emma b. :)

  6. You're so great Amy.. I really really really really love and appreciate your honesty and integrity and grit and determination and how you don't gild the lilly or shirk away from the tricky stuff and how you are SOBER and BRAVE and REAL. My advice? Get a juicer and an oil burner and a huge pile of big fat chick lit novels and some magazines and just go very gently through the days treating yourself with kindness and love and kid gloves. I feel like there are lots of cliches in this comment but that's the kind of mood I'm in. Sending you love special Amy.. keep going and things will smooth out. xxxx

    1. Keep going is right! These kids aren't going to raise themselves! Lol. :)

      Thank you for all this nice stuff- I think you're damn cool too sister!

  7. Well I hope you are feeling better this week. Damn this time of year seems so hard - on and off and in a mostly good way, but still hard. And the way you described how you felt your old silly self and could laugh at the white napkins (which made me laugh too), well, I think you sound like you're doing this beautiful but hard thing beautifully.

    And definitely keep those therapy appointments if you can. I regret stopping mine way back. Who couldn't use someone to gently listen and help us find our way?