As the amount of time I’ve not been drinking increases, so do all the things I realise I am, alcohol-free.
I’ve discovered I’m not actually as angry as I thought I was, not as sad, nowhere near as depressed, hugely less outrageous, not a risk-taker, and, thankfully, far less mouthy.
But one thing I realise I am, almost constantly, is anxious. I feel anxious over ‘everything’, to the point of it being my natural state of being. I wake up anxious, I go through the day anxious, something happens any my anxiety grows, something doesn’t happen and I’m anxious about the fact it might happen. In short, I now realise I am permanently in a state of mild to chronic anxiety…and I now realise I always have been; I’m an anxious person.
I believe that my anxiety is a combination of being born that way, and from living through so many traumatic events from such an early age. The events right now aren’t important, it’s how I reacted to them that has shaped me. From knee-high I’ve been forced into ‘fight or flight’ situations, I’ve been pushed into ‘people pleasing’ through fear, I’ve suffered huge rejections and abandonments that left me in states of high anxiety and stress, and as I got older I just didn’t know how to react to situations without feeling terribly, and sometimes overwhelmingly, anxious and stressed.
Needless to say, as soon as I discovered drink and the empowering effects it had on me at first, I would drink as soon as I felt the slightest bit anxious, stressed, afraid, or unable to cope, and, in the beginning, alcohol seemed to help me through those situations. I remember a friend saying that a shot of Sherry calmed the nerves, so I started drinking Sherry before difficult situations…and I don’t even like Sherry. It was the ‘calming kick’ I was after. And to be honest, it seemed to work. The problem of course, is I started drinking before, during, and after stressful situations such as interviews, first day nerves, big meetings etc., until that became my default way of dealing with any and all situations…half cut and not fully ‘in the moment’.
Now that I no longer drink and am facing life alcohol free, I have to face the fact that I’m a very anxious person, and I have to learn how to deal with life completely differently. I have to feel the anxiety, which is sometimes so overpowering I think I’m going to pass out. I have to learn how to breathe through it, to talk myself out of being paralysed by it, and function whilst keeping it under control – and believe me when I say it ain’t easy !
Now that I no longer drink and am facing life alcohol free, I have to face the fact that I’m a very anxious person.
What do I do to deal with my anxiety now that I don’t drown it own with drink? I try to do the following:
- Talk to someone – be that my partner or my best friends, I try to tell someone how I’m feeling and share my anxiety. Yes, this makes me feel silly, immature, and vulnerable, but I’m always surprised at how my ‘people’ get me and are fine with me sharing how I feel. They may not always have the answers, but talking does sometimes help.
- Talk to myself – I spend some time in my head or in front of the mirror, and I ask myself what is it I feel so anxious about? What is that’s got me tied up in knots. What’s the worse that can happen? And how can I help myself or get help?
- I BREATHE..big, deep breaths in, long slow breaths out…and repeat will the tunnel vision, heart palpitations, head-spinning, and hand-sweating eases (it very rarely stops). I can’t over estimate the power and importance of breathing.
- I accept that I’m a very anxious person, and that the problem or situation is probably nowhere near as huge or daunting as my anxiety leads me to believe it is.
- I don’t drink on it.
Talk to Someone, Talk to Yourself, Breathe, and Accept
If, like me, you suffer from anxiety you’ll be able to relate to what I’m going through on a daily basis, and I hope you’re able to talk to someone, and support yourself with ‘self chats’ and breath work. If you’re lucky enough to not struggle with anxiety but know someone who does, please be gentle, please be patient. It’s not their fault and it can be a crippling condition to suffer from.
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