Thursday, June 26, 2014

Naturally

I went to go see a holistic health specialist. My appointment was over two hours long. We covered a lot of stuff.

A lot.

She asked me about sleep and dreaming. About my skin. About my joints and muscles. About mucous. And pooping. About exercise. About my vagina. We talked about it ALL. It was cool to talk about my physical health rather than winnow out more mental stuff.

She said, "So, with autoimmune stuff (for me rheumatoid arthritis) stress is a big factor. It seems like you are stressed even when you sleep." I never really thought about that, but I never really wake up feeling well rested either. Huh.

Then we talked about when I quit drinking and smoking and then had to stop running I lost all of my outlets. All of the places I let go of stress had disappeared, but I haven't replaced them with anything else. Eating cookies is not really a stress reliever. Huh.

We also talked about my breathing- how I breathe very shallowly. Another example of being in survival mode.

I need to relax. Saying that makes me laugh a little since my first response is "Yeah. Right."

When I quit drinking I really thought that all the pieces would fall into place. That because I quit drinking I would be healthy, lose weight, and life would tra la la along. That I wouldn't feel tired and wasted all the time.

I would never have guessed that I would be four cups ("cups") of coffee fatigued each day. When I was drinking I couldn't even drink coffee because it made me way too edgy. I wouldn't have thought I'd be thinking about pulling over to take a nap on my ten minute drive home from work. That I would have to go to bed before nine o'clock because I just can't make it any longer. That I would have to give up running because no matter how much I take time to heal it's too much for my body to take. I think about how lucky I was when I was able to go out and easily run ten miles or so even with a hangover. I think about how I felt such relief after that first bottle of wine. How I was almost disappeared by then. Nothing lets me disappear now.

Being present is hard. I didn't realize how alone I felt until Dr. C told me I was in survival mode most if not all of the time. That I don't feel safe in the world. That I lost my three biggest supports and have been sort of flailing around with nothing to take their place. I didn't even think about that.

Getting and being sober is about so much more than not drinking. Dammit. DAMMIT! :)

I have to smile at that too because even as hard as it is, I love being sober. It makes me feel like I at least have a chance.

So yesterday I breathed A LOT. Deep, purposeful breaths. I drank water, and ate slowly. Slept terrible.

Randomly, I feel so encouraged by it all. First off, can you imagine if all this was happening and I was still drinking? I would be feeling ultra uber shitty and probably in dirty sweatpants with wine stained teeth and a bottle of ibuprofen in one of those hip coin dispensers. Fuck. So this is kind of like life tra la la-ing along, really.

I suppose it's all in the way you look at it. "How unfair!" I could rant. Or "How possible!" I can be. My life seems kind of like an endless crossroads- but how fortunate I am to actually have choices that aren't all "guess I'd better get drunk again." It reminds me that I am aware. It reminds me that I have a lot to be grateful for. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

"Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be." Clementine Paddleford

Since I'm doing all this wishing but not much backbone-ing things are staying the same. Wanting to feel better and working to feel better are two different things. Dammit! So me and Clementine are getting the boat out. The scenery isn't going to change without some rowing.






21 comments:

  1. What did she say about the shallow breathing. I have noticed since I quit drinking, that my breathing is shallow. I try and try to do deep breathing and try and train myself to be a deeper breathing and it's not going well as I usually get light headed LOL. They thought I had RA and this past spring I spent umpteen hours in drs offices. They still aren't sure as my markers aren't quiiiiiite there but I found that quitting drinking helped the pain. I hate to admit that. I have flares though even without alcohol so not sure but the lack of booze has certainly helped there too.

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    1. After spending the last week thinking about my breathing I like thinking about it. "It is a miracle to breathe." My health issues have popped up since I got sober: which means I was doing a good job of self-medicating too. Yerg.

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  2. Oops, that is from me, Cassie.

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  3. I like your doctor. I think so many of us are finally learning to live our lives, because what we did when drinking was a poor imitation, wooden puppets jerking around as booze pulled the strings, even when we weren't drinking.
    When I was younger and my children were small, I always felt like catastrophes rolled in one right after another, I was always told how strong I was, how I could handle anything, not like so and so over there. Sometimes I wanted to be so and so and just fall in a weeping puddle on the floor, maybe I should have, maybe then people would have quit heaping more shit on me to carry because I was so strong.
    Now that I'm older and my children are grown, the catastrophes have slowed but I keep waiting for them because I've become conditioned that as soon as I let down my guard. WHAMMY!
    Deep Breaths, huh?.

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    1. I have the same tape playing in my head: "Be strong, you can handle it, you can deal, don't be weak." Ugh. I am working on being able to say "HELP ME" without it making me feel guilty. It's all pretty confusing right now. But, BUT. I do feel like I can sort through it. And that I can be strong enough to ask for help.

      Deep breaths- especially the ones you think hard about. Close your eyes and lose yourself for a minute in your breath. It feels so good.

      xoxo

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  4. I read something about breathing and it helps me get back to sleep at night and when I'm stressed during the day. Try to be silent and listen and THINK of NOTHING but your breathing. For 3 to 5 minutes. Don't let any thoughts enter your mind. It's really hard but if you can just listen to the breathing, it's relaxing. I find it helps. Good luck and great post.

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    1. Thanks! I find it hard to settle into meditation, but if I concentrate on breathing rather than meditating it helps.

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  5. I don't know the last time someone asked me about my vagina. It's fine and everything, but it sure sounds nice to talk so openly about completely normal things. I appreciate your openness and willingness to share it all, the good and the gritty. Which are one and the same, really. I really thought cookies were an outlet for sure, so kind of reeling from that one. I always learn something here. Can you take long walks? I find those pretty stress relieving and surprisingly invigorating. I take shallow breaths too, and I think that's why I sigh so much. Trying to be mindful about breathing, which is not as natural as, say, breathing. Knowing what might be lacking seems the first step to getting to a better place. You're thinking about all of this and what it means. Love that you're so proactive in taking care of yourself.

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    1. So, how's your lady part? Lol.

      It was so refreshing to speak honestly about what I have been physically feeling and not be kind of searching for a "right" answer. So many times when I've been at the doctor I feel like they are toooo busy or just want to slap a quick fix on things rather than take the time to really know what's going on.

      I want to and need to take long walks. Making the time is the hard part. It's so hard to prioritize outside of my head!!!

      xoxoxo

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  6. Amy, the natural doc sounds fantastic, and yes, what a relief to talk about the body rather than all those feelings! Finding a way to relax is hard. I was also wondering about walking. Can you do that? Thus winter I was twisted up like a pretzel I was so tense, and walking was the only way I could relax and get those deep breaths going. Biking helps me too, but not when I'm already super tense. I'm glad you're talking to some wise physico about this. It sounds like there is a way through it, and you're on the way to finding it. Big hug to you. xo

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    1. Ha ha! I just put the bike back on the trainer in the living room. Now to actually ride it! Those outside the head priorities again.....

      xoxoxo

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  7. My dear friend has RA. She is frequently tired. She is on a rather harsh medication. Your doctor sounds great! I am new to the sober life...day 18. I think I am also stressed in my sleep. This week I wake up frequently and then drag through out the day. I am going to practice breathing deeply. Thanks for the great post!

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    1. Thanks for commenting! Welcome to the sober life! Stick around. :)

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  8. They thought I had RA when I was drinking. I saw a ton of doctors only to finally realize that the inflammation that was in my joints and keeping me bed-ridden was due to my drinking. Of course I didn't admit that until after I was sober.

    You know I am so in this rowboat with you my friend. I do manage to breathe because I'm hyper aware of my breathing since I used to be (notice this is past tense) a yoga and mediation practicer. I love what your doctor said about being in survival mode all of the time...THAT'S IT was my first thought. That's exactly what it feels like to me.

    And I still dream way too much and clench my jaw when I sleep. Oh...and there are rumors about that I snore...but I'm denying that one.

    Breathe my friend...everything starts and ends with the breath.

    Love and hugs...
    Sherry

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    1. Lots of breathing, lots of self stretching. Lots of feeling like I am sick of breathing and self stretching. But doing it anyway.

      I used to snore when I drank, but I don't anymore, much. :)

      Love you!!!

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  9. To breathe--there's really nothing like it. Hi. Nice to 'see' you so vulnerably and truly here.

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  10. Ooooh I like this. Can you post more about what other things you are trying and how they are working…? I think this could be uber-helpful. xxx

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    1. Yes! I will. Right now she has me keeping a detailed food, sleep, and poop diary. :)

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  11. Doctors who ask you about your poop know what they're doing I think ;) Super rad that you have someone who is so willing to go in depth about ALL your parts, since they are all connected. I also just had a doctor tell me I was in constant fight-or-flight mode, which is also a symptom of PTSD I guess. I've been drinking tea with lavendar in it, as that is a relaxer that doesn't cause you to get sleepy. I'm also considering taking lavendar oil supplements if the tea doesn't do the trick. Keep us updated on your progress and take care of yourself. I will send prayers and healing light your way!

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  12. Drinking actually elevates the level of cortisol in our bodies, and it takes forever for that to end. the best way of working with that is through yoga moves that are designed to help produce dopamine, which many alcoholics do not produce at all.
    Think of it as the fight or flight alert always on...and that's just how we live. Yoga and meditation help alleviate that, and deep breathing is all part of that. many RA and auto-immune disease sufferers do great with yoga....maybe give that a try?

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