I think I might have PAWS

15 Jan

1:53 pm

And, we’re not talkin’ about the cute kind! (I have baby giraffe hooves, remember?)

PAWS = post-acute-withdrawal syndrome. The symptoms can range from everything from depression to anxiety to fatigue to “physical coordination problems” (uh, had that covered BEFORE I quit), for months or years after you stop drinking.

Say what?! YEARS?!?! Come ON. No, no, no, no, no, no, no!

First, I have to go through withdrawal, then I have to make it 90 days, and now, I have to keep going through withdrawal, indefinitely? NOT FAIR. (Well…you did get yourself into this mess, Drunk Drunk Girl; now you have to get yourself out.)

I’m finally, after 90 days, starting to feel less moody, and less pouty, when it comes to drinking. To feel less depressed when I tell myself that once again, No, you cannot drink tonight, or Yes, you have to at least try to convince yourself that this (everything) might be even a little bit fun without wine. Le sigh. I’m beginning to know–in my heart AND mind–that drinking equates to not getting things done, which is what I really want right now. Those to-do lists are simply popping, and I finally want to dive in, like I used to.

However, my body is not really wanting to dive in, let’s just say. I feel TIRED a lot. Like, I only have a finite amount of both mental and physical energy, and then I have to stop and go to bed. My days could very well consist of eating, walking the dogs, and resting/sleeping/zoning. My “go go go” tenacity seems gone, zapped. Like, I cannot IMAGINE, really, holding down a full-time job right now, let alone living again the lifestyle I was in my drinking days: up at 6 am, in bed by 2 am, with an 18-hour day, a full meal, and two bottles of red wine to digest in those 4 hours before I had to get up and do it all over again. I’m OVER the rat race, for sure, but it has a lot to do with realizing that I don’t want to, let alone can’t, spend the next 20 years vying for prizes that mean next to nothing to me, alongside people who are as unhealthy in their outlook on life as I had become.

I DO wonder, though, if my soreness (here, there, everywhere) is not related to too much artificial sweetener (i.e., Diet Coke). I read that somewhere, and it stuck. Lately, my knees, both of ’em, really hurt when I run. I went for a 4- or 5-mile hike yesterday–and am BURNT today. Jesus! I used to (like, less than a year ago) be able to do 10-, 12-mile hikes–and drink to blackout afterward–and feel fine when it came to my muscles and joints. Hmm… I wonder if there wasn’t good stuff in wine that was actually buffering me against the inevitable decline toward old age. ๐Ÿ˜‰

In any case, it’s much better than it was even a month ago, but the physical fatigue is concerning. As is my continuing desire to emulate my dogs (wake, walk, eat, sleep, repeat).

Does anyone have anything to add or contribute? It seems that the defining characteristics of PAWS and its “progression” or “remission” are about as nebulous as the definition of alcoholism, so I’m all ears (or paws–har har)!

96 days and not lookin’ back…right now, anyway. ๐Ÿ˜‰

9 Responses to “I think I might have PAWS”

  1. Lilly January 16, 2013 at 9:09 am #

    Nothing helpful to add per se so much as that I worry about this too. “Can persist for years or even decades…” DECADES??!!! WTF. It seems so unfair. We quit the booze and spend years dealing with PAWS? However, clearly it differs in everyone and the recovery can’t even start until we lose the booze.

    I think researching the effects of alcohol on the body and brain and taking whatever steps we can to speed the healing is a good idea to combat this front. Failing all else, I can only take heart in the fact that I HAD pretty much all those issues WITH drinking … (hello, anxiety, irritability, depression, fatigue – it all reads like the effects of drinking) so it can’t exactly be any WORSE than all that, right? And there clearly are mental and physical improvements even very early on.

    • Drunky Drunk Girl January 16, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

      For the most part, I feel WAY better regarding all those things post-90 days. Depression and moodiness–and existential fear–kept me drinking, and drinking made those things worse. I have much less of those things now. Then again, I had to confront them while getting sober, so that helped a lot, too.

      PAWS. Yeah, I don’t really buy it. I think the brain is a marvelous thing. The one thing I do identify with, though, is the not being able to have fun without wine–that persists, that feeling of loss. I mean, it’s very real, to feel bummed out and not even want to socialize because I can’t get buzzed. OR, much worse, having used wine for so many years as a motivating factor to work hard and do a job I really hated (like, if I can get through this “challenging” day, I can have wine after it’s over) and not having it as my go-to source of strength–that is the biggest bummer. It’s forced me to really take stock, though, and commit to changing–there is no other option, aside from being terribly miserable for the rest of my life! (Yes, there are plenty of people on this planet that use substances to fuel their egotistical and narcissistic career goals, but at the end of the day, I could/can no longer be one of them.)

      So, yeah. I dunno, I think PAWS is temporary; but, if you’re a depressed or anxious person, maybe it’s not PAWS but that very depression or anxiety you’re feeling once the booze wears off for good?

  2. novodkaformama January 16, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

    90-ish days! Hey, we’ve got about the same! Woot!

    Ok, on the fatigue: I think maybe it’s our body just healing itself. I know for me, alcohol gave me tons of (jittery) energy, and then hangovers left me with anxiety that felt like electricity was shooting through my veins. I used to get hella lot done on my mildly hungover mornings, and since I wasn’t sleeping well anyway, I felt like I only needed 4ish hours and I was fine. I was also productive in the afternoons before the alcohol really kicked in, because I knew once it did, any and all responsible productivity would cease.

    Now, I feel tired more, but I think it’s appropriate, like my body is saying, “Hey you, slow down, it’s time to rest.” I’m not used to needing naps some days (Naps! What a concept! Being able to slow my roll and mind in the middle of the damn day!)

    I think you might be onto something with the artificial sweeteners.

    All we can do is hang in there and try not to get discouraged, and just realize it’s our body and mind and soul healing. I’m not a big fan of the PAWS concept, honestly. I used to work in a rehab center (I know, it’s hilariously sad. I’ll have to write about being a closet drunk/addict while working there) and I watched the discovery of the PAWS concept crush many folks. Don’t let it discourage you. We’re all going to go through ups and down in our recovery and this is natural and doesn’t necessarily mean we have some “syndrome.” Also, don’t underestimate the role hormones play in our emotions and energy levels.

    You’re doing fantastic. Thanks for writing so honestly. Love your blog.

    • Drunky Drunk Girl January 16, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

      Wow, thanks for this! GREAT comment! I can identify with everything in here. I don’t really buy PAWS, the more I think about it. And, yes, hormones flying all over the place and the fact that our body is finally healing–w/out being revved up to the point of literally exhausting our immune systems–it all makes sense. It’s like the weeks before you actually get sick: your body’s immune system is in overdrive, protecting you during your overdoing-it, go-go-go phase; and when you finally come to a stop and rest–bam, you get sick! That’s sort of how I feel now, resting but really finally feeling all the beating I gave myself over the past who knows how many years. Our bodies and minds–and souls; some of what I did has left me feeling almost stricken, if I delve into it, like a slight bout of PTSD or something–they can only take SO much!

      Thank you so much. And, yes, that is funny and ironic and I’d love to read about your experiences at the rehab center!

      Congrats on our 90 days! Rock on, us!!!

  3. Belle (Tired2012) January 16, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

    you know, like NoVodkaForMama, i’m also not a fan of the paws idea either. i don’t know anything about anything, but what i’ve read about it rubs me the wrong way. it’s possible that some of us have anxiety problems, we drink to feel better, then when the booze is gone we are anxious. or others of us have low grade depression, drink to feel better, then stop drinking and feel a bit depressed.

    i wonder if what you’re experiencing is either (a) something that was present before the booze got its grips, and/or (b) is your body’s way of saying “do one thing at a time” … it takes a lot of energy and concentration to remain sober, especially in the beginning, and that’s exhausting. and then it gets easier and easier, and you feel better and better.

    getting sober is like you’ve been living in a cave for 10 years, and when you finally come out of the cave, you’re like “HOLY FUCK it’s bright out here, it’s loud out here, where am i supposed to hide? oh i can’t hide anymore?” so yeah, i think all that can be pretty fucking exhausting.

    doesn’t mean you’re broken, just means you’re TIRED ๐Ÿ™‚

    [well, what do i know …]

    • Drunky Drunk Girl January 16, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

      Totally! I connect with everything in your comment. I feel tired, yes, but in the sense that, I get to this point–I can’t frickin’ multitask and do everything and I just want to stop right now–a lot faster than I used to. So, I do just stop!

      NoVodkaForMama had a point in that the wine just sort of fueled me, I was running on fumes. I was revved up, maybe my immune system or whatever system, and now that that’s all calmed down and gotten back to “normal,” it’s like it was in overdrive for years and it’s a bit slooooooow now. Healing itself. Takin’ it easy.

      I like where I’m at, and trying to do what I can each day. I am also just taking this time to relax, to heal, to not go-go-go, chase-chase-chase, as my mother likes to say. IT’S OK to fuck around for a few hours, to walk the dogs, to not do jack some days, to get more than 6 hours sleep–it really, really is, Drunky Drunk Girl.

      Anyhoo, major hugs. Hope things are running smoothly in your corner of the world…:)

  4. belowhermeans January 18, 2013 at 2:41 am #

    It never hurts to get a physical and a blood test – your hormone / thyroid levels could be off. Could be a nutritional thing too. Investigate thyself!

  5. SignGurl November 13, 2013 at 6:52 pm #

    Chiming in very late here, but artificial sweetener has been linked to muscle and joint pain. It’s also being blamed for increases in MS and Lupus diagnoses.

    Hopefully, you’ve already figured this out. ๐Ÿ™‚

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