This post was meant to be an update on how blue I’d started feeling again, but the mopey days came and went so quickly that I didn’t get around to posting while I was feeling blue. I’m back in happy mode, but felt the need to document it anyway.
To be fair, it was more of a mopey grey than proper blue. I guess I’m getting so attuned to my feelings that I freak out every time I start to get a bit down and diognose myself with full blown depression. Ever the drama queen.
Anyway, I think I’ve pinned down a few of the causes of my low mood:
- First up, our weekend away to Queenstown (which was amazing by the way – I’ll post about it later), but I ate like shit all weekend and had crappy sleep on a shitty mattress, and of course travelling in general is a bit stress inducing.
- Couple that with reading Caroline Knapp’s Drinking: A Love Story, which I’m finding extremely triggery and have had to stop and start reading several times.
- Plus Louis Theroux’s Drinking to Oblivion doco, which I found quite scary and left me thinking “what if I try, and try, and try to live my life happy and sober, but eventually end up like poor Aurelie?”… “What if no matter how hard I try I’ll eventually be worn down and sucked into the vortex of alcoholism because it’s ultimately more powerful than me”. Thinking in extremes probably isn’t doing me any favours in the mood department.
As soon as I began to feel a bit mopey I went straight back to basics. Ate a tonne of healthy food – veges, salmon, brown rice – cut down on my sugar intake, tired myself out by working hard, slept well, drank water, read feel-good articles, had some deep and meaningful convos, and said “no” to going out. And the blues breezed back out of my life as quickly as they’d come in.
Three cheers for self care!
And three cheers for sober treats – these are Celosia – they look like hot pink fuzzy brains; my favourite flowers:
I like to think that I’m a ‘glass half full’ kinda gal most of the time. I’m a big believer in the power of positive attitude and I try to find a silver lining to any shitty situation. But I’d be lying if I said that sobriety has been a walk in the park so far – sometimes you just can’t force happiness and sometimes you’ve just got to have a big fat whinge.
Lately though, my brain chemicals seem to be falling into line and I’ve been feeling better, feeling steadier. I don’t want to jinx anything, but it feels like optimism is tentatively creeping back into my life. It’s becoming easier to spot the positives, so here’s six good things from me:
- I’ve finally started telling people “I don’t drink”. None of this “I’m trying to be healthier” nonsense anymore. People ask “why?” and I tell them the truth (in varying degrees of detail). It just fell out of my mouth one day and i haven’t looked back since. To be clear, I’m not knocking people that choose to be vague, it certainly helped me to be vague to begin with, but these days I’m all for being straight up.
- I’m fascinated when I come across alcoholic characters in books or telly. I find myself rooting for them, they’re on my team. I loved how Trixie from Call the Midwife found an outlet in her aerobics classes in London’s East End during the 1950s, similar to how so many of us find yoga to be a huge help these days. And I found myself getting way too emotionally invested in Catherine’s sister Clare’s character from BBC’s Happy Valley.
- Coffee. Need I say more? This is an addiction to be dealt with another day.
- Sober treats! I’ve been able to save more now that I’m not demolishing $100 worth of wine a week. Sometimes though, you’ve got to scrap the savings in favour of treating yo’self.Recently I bought this perfume. It’s a unisex scent that smells clean and powdery. I’ve heard it described as smelling like velvet, or the pages of a book. It smells different on everyone’s skin and I love it!
- Ok, I think this one’s the best of the six. There’s been a big push at my work lately to promote diversity. I guess it’s the latest ‘thing’ in HR circles. There’s been all the expected stuff – trying to get a better male/female balance in top positions, making sure racism, homophobia and sexism are stamped out etc.But at our company’s latest fortnightly meeting a woman from the diversity working group stood up to talk about non-drinkers in the company. Everyone gets wine gifted to them on their birthday, and she explained that you could add yourself to a non-drinkers list and you’d get a gift card instead. I’m already on this list, but I thought it was cool that they are becoming more aware of non-drinkers’ needs, given the extreme boozing culture at my work (and in NZ in general).
I’m also helping out with organising our mid-year work-do and we were given direction from the big boss to make sure it was less alcohol-centric than years before. It seems like the message is filtering through the company. Great news for me, maybe a bit of a bummer for the drinkers though.
- And finally, how good is it when you come across non-alcoholic drinks menus as good as these:
This one’s from the Black Sparrow bar in Wellington. The apple snap was amazing and I’ll be trying to recreate at home. I’ll share if I’m successful!
My partner is away for work for the next couple of days and this is the first time I’ve had the house to myself in the past six months. I had completely forgotten that he was going away and was only reminded a couple of days ago.
Can anyone guess the first thought that went through my head when I found out this news? There’s a virtual chocolate fish up for grabs if you can guess. Was my first thought:
a) House to myself? How boring, I’ll invite friends over for dinner.
b) Great, I’ll be able to cook whatever I like, watch whatever I want on telly and have a bath.
c) Ooo goodo, I’ll be able to pour a couple of bottles of wine down my throat in the privacy of my own home and no-one will be any the wiser.
Sigh. The wino living in the back room of my brain is alive and kicking.
Back in my fledgling days of getting sober I remember asking the Living Sober community whether the arguments going on inside my head would ever shut up, or whether people just learnt to live with them over time. All the long-term ex-drinkers agreed that the internal back and forth dialogue would definitely fade away over time, hopefully before the 200 day mark. While that seemed like a ridiculously long way away, it reassured me that I was heading in the right direction.
I was beginning to think these ladies had spun me a yarn because I’m into my sixth month and the internal arguments seem to have been ramping up lately, not dying down. But then, this week, absolute peace. Pure blissful peace. That’s not to say that things have been 100% peachy. I’ve still been feeling stressed by work, I’m still grumpy when the toilet seat gets left up and I still have an unquashable sugar addiction. But all of these things have felt far more manageable and far less life-ruining than the week before. There’s no arguing or bargaining going on in my head. The need to drink is there, but it’s just a faint itch and extremely easy to use logical thought to put an end to.
I can’t put my finger on what’s caused the lift in my mood. Probably not my crappy diet – skipping meals and eating crap (plus the aforementioned thriving sugar habit). It possibly has something to do with getting to know my needs a bit better lately and putting less stress on myself to conform to other people’s expectations. Last weekend I skipped a birthday at a bar in favour of a low key night at the movies with my sister. My introverted self sang with joy.
I know well enough that this doesn’t mean sobriety’s ‘clicked’ for me and I’ll dance off into the sunset to live happily ever after. If past patterns are anything to go by, this peacefulness will be gone again soon enough, but I’m enjoying it while it lasts. Hopefully one day these patches of calm and ease will begin to string together until they form one big patch (a bit like how I hope all my freckles will one day join together to create a tan!).
I’m also extremely lucky that I have a very chilled out life at the moment. I don’t have kids to look after and I can generally leave the stresses of my job behind at the end of a day. That does make me worry that a bunch of stressful events might just blindside me someday and I won’t be prepped to deal with the pressure, so I’ll reach for the bottle. But I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
I’m feel like I’m finally starting to settle into this sober life. For so long I really struggled to believe that it was possible to be happy sober. I secretly thought that everyone was telling porkies when they said that “things will get better”, but now I’m beginning to feel like sober happiness is more realistic than I believed.
This mocktail is the perfect accompaniment to any Mexican inspired fiesta.
This came from a recipe from Living Sober’s Drink of the Week section. I like my flavours big and bold though, so I’ve dialled up the chili and it packs a bit more of a punch.
For a couple of drinks, you’ll need:
- 500mLs pineapple juice
- 1 medium jalapeno
- Juice of 1 lime
Slice up the jalapeno and give it a good bash in a mortar and pestle (or with a rolling pin), before adding to a cocktail shaker.
Add the pineapple and lime juice, and a handful or two of ice.
Shake until icy cold and strain into glasses. Make sure you strain out any chili seeds.
Garnish with jalapeno and lime slices.
Fresh, spicy, icy, firey goodness. Perfect with a big bowl of guac!