Tag Archives: Diet Coke

Mom, I’m bored!

2 Aug

8:33 am

Yes, it is 8:30 in the morning, and I’ve already been up for an hour.

Since I’ve gotten home, I’ve felt, I guess, somewhat manic–and for the most part, I’ve totally welcomed it! I don’t need a lot of sleep, but, I’m also more agitated than usual. I credit my volunteer trip as having “re-wired” me, but, is that all that’s going on?

As you can imagine, the mania/extra energy dissipates and by the afternoon, the agitation, brain fog, and general feeling of listlessness and/or hopelessness sets in. I think I just feel let down by the afternoon and evening–what the fuck have I done with my day?, I wonder, in spite of everything I’ve checked off my to-do list. Even though I have been “busting a move” on a lot of projects and items…I still feel, generally speaking, depressed in the afternoons. I think I always have, as long as I can remember being self-conscious enough to actually examine my life. The day is over, I mourn. And, while I know I am often too hard on myself, maybe I could be doing so much more?

Where art thou, dopamine?

I wonder about this “boredom” thing. WHAT IS IT? It’s not that I am bored, like, I-have-nothing-to-do-bored. Sometimes it’s that I have too many options, but they all take work. Usually, it’s a visceral agitation–my gut feels clenched and my head feels foggy. Like, EVERYTHING feels irritating, and even though I know I have to push through my cerebral work, it’s hard. So, I just get ‘er done. Go through the motions. Focus through the pain. It sometimes feels like my brain is broken, this brain fog stuff.

I want to fix it with wine. I have been REALLY wanting to drink since I got back, and I think it’s a combination of my “natural high” from the trip wearing off, and well, my “brain fog” days. Maybe I just have too much to do, too much catching up, and I feel like I want it all done, NOW (you know, without having to actually do it). Maybe I am bored, as in, what I’m doing has become somewhat…staid? I often want to say, Fuck it, and Good enough, to my writing; but, I just can’t do that. I can’t let it be bad. I have more stories and assignments than ever, and, even though my writing would not win any awards, I’m still plugging away. And that’s all I ask for! It’s just that sometimes, I really do have to go through the motions to get stuff written (reporting is fine, it’s the organizing and writing that hurts).

I wonder about boredom. Fear of working. Agitation. If your goal is simply to “get ‘er done,” are you really in the right profession? Some days I have no spark. I tried to quit Diet Coke, but honestly, I simply could not work without it yesterday. I had a horribly annoying morning at the “free clinic,” and then, I came home to have to push out a piece. It was like giving birth. I did it, of course I did it. But, after crashing out on the bed for about an hour, and then wandering around the apartment, feeling agitated and simply UNWILLING to make my brain work; I broke my measly ONE-DAY STREAK of no Diet Coke and downed like, two glasses. It helped. I “got into it” and finished my piece. Thank GOD, is all I could think.

I used caffeine a LOT in my 20s and early 30s, and this reminds me that I used it to actually be able to get hyped up enough to perform at what was then, something new to me: an office job, typically involving some sort of marketing communications-oriented stuff. I was a biology major, hello? I wasn’t used to talking to people during the day.

I used to use wine to fix this “boredom.” I know I can’t anymore. Mainly, it just doesn’t work. I mean, I have tried it while in this state of mind, and it actually makes my head feel worse. Still, the “but it’ll make you feel high, better, actually happy” rings so loudly that I can barely ignore it.

It’s interesting that only now am I seeing the simple fact that I used wine primarily as an antidepressant. Does that make me less of an “alcoholic?” No, probably not. But, it was rare that I truly sought out wine when I was feeling good. What is the point of drinking if you already feel good? I didn’t drink to get drunk; I drank to feel better. It just so happened that I also didn’t know how to make myself feel better on my own, or even more, PREVENT this slide into my depressed/agitated state.

I am learning, though. Simple things like, unless I need it to activate my brain to finish a story, caffeine is not good for me. I crash, and I crash hard. I have been getting up early, and that helps: I hate spending the hours of 10 – 12 checking email and Facebook; if that shit isn’t done by the start of my workday, which hopefully is before 9 these days, then I feel behind. And, that makes me feel scared. And, that makes me want to procrastinate, or avoid, feeling even worse.

I’m all over the place these days, but I can’t worry about that. The important thing right now is that I am getting my work done. Sorry, depression, but I’m going to have to give you a time-out. You sit over there for a while and Mommy will get her work done, mmkay?

The thing about self-employment (in the creative arts?) is that you can’t just show up. Showing up is meaningless. You have to produce. It doesn’t matter if it takes you two hours or ten, you have to deliver. And some days, it doesn’t come. And that is freaky. Scary. And those days, you worry about your income–bills, food, future bills and future food. You worry about your capability–am I a fraud? You feel the knot in your belly and you think, Fuck, just do it. So, you do, and you go through the motions, and you get ‘er done.

Through it all, I keep thinking, where/what is my reward? Sure, I earn money. That’s a big one. Sure, I move forward in my “career,” so that’s good, too. Lately, though, I want more. I want a “real” reward. I want to feel something else. I want a vacation from this sobriety bullshit! I get SO tired of feeling sober, you know?

I run through the tricks and offer myself alternatives. Take a run; if you don’t feel better, you can get that bottle; but if you do, then promise yourself you won’t (I always feel better). You know you’ll feel ten times worse tomorrow with God-knows-what-kind-of-hangover than you do now, so just push through. Embrace the pain and disappointment–what’s next? What about a trip? What about another coffee? (Actually, I’ve been trying to get away from any food-related rewards, but I’ll save that for another post.)

Sometimes I think I need to mess up my life. Like, I don’t ever let go anymore. I don’t go out, mainly because it’s not fun. It’s not fun to go out and be the sober narc; it’s not bad, but it’s not something I would choose to do over spending time alone, getting my shit done. And that’s the thing: who am I now? I used to be so much fun. I used to be a hot mess. I used to be curious, at the very least, to just have a random night out, exploring bars and just wasting time with my friends. I don’t have any friends, to be frank, let alone a group that I can let my hair down with and simply waste time. You know how much I learned by wasting time and being silly with my friends?

And honestly, I’ve been thinking this: is “the unexamined life” really not worth living? Or, is it the messy life that adds texture, not the one that has been examined to the point of sterility? That is how (my) life feels sometimes: overexamined and sterile. I feel like I need to make a mess!

On that note, I think I am going to stop. Sorry if this is a rambling whine-fest (wine-fest?). Happy Saturday to all!

(Btw, July 31st would have been 500 days, had I not drunk that beer six weeks ago–and wow, that was six weeks ago? I really have not even seriously considered drinking again since then, so that’s pretty great. And, my, how fast time passes!)

The Dip

2 Aug

3:32 pm

The Dip. I am experiencing the “dip” as we speak. I think everyone must feel the Dip now and then, but…do they want to drink over it? Welcome to reality, DDG. It’s sort of messed up in here, right?

The Dip. How to describe it? Hmm. Well, it’s not easy working from home, is all I have to say. Most days, I feel a certain sense of fear-loneliness, a combination that stems from a general sense of isolation–I am alone, all the time, and on most days, I don’t do interviews either. It’s not exactly pleasant, but would I necessarily be chatting it up with my cube neighbors if I were writing full-time for a company? Probably not. Sigh. One day, I think, my time in solitary confinement will have paid off, right? I’m not sure if other writers feel this way, but I don’t doubt it.

I used to So Totally Drink in the face of the Dip. Like now, I am feeling a mixture of failure, anxiety, and fear. Loneliness. Self-pity. Sure, it’s minor, and I’m a big girl, and a Diet Coke will make it better and make me feel a bit more focused on…well, tasks, rather than my feelings. But…damn, I “wasted” a lot of time this morning getting started as well as paying bills and other administrative tasks that simply go along with this lifestyle.

In my defense (because, of course, I’m talking to and fighting with my fucking SELF; other people talk to themselves all day long, right?), “work” has to be re-defined the minute you step foot into a home office, I’ve come to believe; and, it’s not for everyone. Actually, I think there are a LOT of folks out there who would find freelance writing to be their worst nightmare! Spending hours upon days upon months, alone? Having to rely on your own self-discipline to earn a paycheck? It’s not easy, and I have to keep the big picture in mind. Remain calm. Count my blessings. Take a few deep breaths. Do something that only takes a few minutes–just so that I can check it off my list. And retain a sense of perspective: I don’t have to hurt for it to be “good enough,” i.e., I only have to earn a certain amount of money, I don’t have to work beyond that amount of money, and some days simply consist of waiting–for others to do their part. I can have fun with this, right? Right.

The Dip can surface, too, around this time of day–late afternoon. By now, I’m used to having gotten ZERO done on some days, and working into the night just to feel OK about things. The worst is when I make up “fake work” for myself, stuff that really doesn’t need to be done and that could very well be exchanged for the more productive tasks of pitching, reporting, and writing. Yet, at least I’ve done SOMETHING, right? Oh, me.

Sometimes, simply staring into this screen drives me crazy. And, again, I can feel that pull–it’s weak, like a cord tied in the very distance, but somehow still tethered to my innards–of a glass or fourteen of wine.

At this point, I am going for a run. Turning it off. Run. Now. See y’all on the flip!

Getting off The Sugar

31 Jul

11:43 am

It’s only been less than a week, but totally minimizing my Diet Coke intake and for the most part, cutting out “fake sweets” (i.e., candy, cookies, cake, ice cream, pudding, etc.) in favor of either granola bars (sure, they’ve got sugar, too, but it’s “good” sugar=LOL) or yogurt (pectin-free, but sometimes the cane sugar-laden stuff) has kind of totally reset me.

I feel better, overall. I feel… Well, let’s itemize the Awesome:

1. I’m no longer jones’ing for a Diet Coke (DC, from here on out). That was fast, I have to admit. I mean, quitting drinkin’ was SUCH a fucking drawn-out process, mentally and emotionally, that I thought that cutting out the DC was going to be the same. NOPE. See, I fasted once, for five days, and at the end of those five days I had absolutely lost any and all craving for Coke. Of course, I “picked up” again, but I remember that reset happening with practically no effort on my part, simply falling back on my physiology–the body is an amazing machine! This time, I think my body was just like, OK, bitch, stop this nonsense. I had reached my fake liquid sugar limit. The first couple of days, I had to wean myself after experiencing noticeable lethargy and moodiness, but after the third day, I suddenly started craving “real” sweets over liquid ones. Now, about a week later, I waited until 5 pm yesterday to have my first sip of DC, and I almost immediately felt dizzy. I don’t know what’s going on with that, but at least now I know I can possibly link the two…

2. I feel like my inner “satiety meter” has been fine-tuned back to normal. It’s hard to explain this, but when I started drinking and eating too much sugar, I felt like my hunger sense was off: not only did I not know what I wanted to eat (like, did I want a burrito, or did I want tofu?), but I couldn’t seem to control my sweet tooth. Now, I prefer to have a real sweet OVER a can of DC, mainly because if I really want to shed a few pounds, I can’t have both. And, how great is that? Who doesn’t want a real sweet over a can of DC, if you have to choose? And, I guess I’m forcing the choice, but it’s left me actually looking forward to eating sweets again–because I can.

3. I feel like I’m doing myself a favor, and that positive mental health affects my mood.

4. I hated feeling enslaved by yet another fucking craving. Oooh, is there going to be Diet Coke at the party? OMG, what if there is no Diet Coke? How many cans do we have left? Ugh. I mean, OK, on a scale of 1 to 10, with wine being at 10, my DC addiction feels like it is at about a 0.1, but still; it’s the same voice. Baby wolf, wolf puppy. It’s cute, but don’t be fooled, it’s STILL A WOLF.

So, there you have it. By no means am I not eating or drinking sweets, but I’d say that I’ve actually got it a bit under control now. Which feels good. I can finally start using food to my advantage instead of having it use me.

LOTS of great posts out there today; I’m so proud of you all! As for me, tomorrow I’ll be heading down the slope: 1.5 months to go to reach my 6-month mark. I have never gone longer than 23 weeks…and this past Monday was 19 weeks! 25 weeks is September 9th, and 180 days is September 14th. And, I’m not even thinking about drinking anymore. Sure, I get a craving here and there, but I realized last night a gradual process of letting go is happening. Like a scab that’s slow to come off, I’m slowly but surely letting go of the idea that drinking at night would be fun, or a good idea, or somehow an improvement or “fix.” I just don’t think that way anymore, and it makes this sobriety thing start to ring a bit truer for me. I actually don’t think about drinking anymore. (And when I do, there are the hundred and one stories of drinking and drinking-gone-wrong to remind me of why it sucks. I’d link to them all, but all you have to do is read the news and see just how many of the tragedies out there are somehow drinking-related…)

Unicorns and glitter balls all around! Because…why the fuck not? 🙂

Cutting back on…sugar, and old habits

28 Jul

10:55 am

The past two days, I’ve tried to ix-nay sugar completely from my diet. Um, YEAH. Gotcha.

I’ve realized that cutting out sugar entirely, immediately–instead of weaning myself off–will lead to sugar withdrawal, which I guess I had a bit of yesterday: I was sad and lethargic, and felt like my brain was hovering around “off” for most of the day. Sigh. No more extremes. (And, with sugar, I don’t think it’s prudent to be so black-and-white about it.) So, I think I’m going to start by cutting BACK on Diet Coke–maybe one a day, if I need it, or two if I’m indulging. I’ve been drinking at least a liter a day regularly for about nine months?, several cans a day since I quit drinking, and at least a 20-ounce of regular Coke every day since about 2007. I’m sure I drank soda before then, but it was mainly coffee (in the day) and wine (at night).

I noticed I drink Diet Coke like I drink wine, fast and furious. However, there’s something more dangerous about drinking liquid sugar; you can drink and drink and drink, until you get sick, but you won’t black out or pass out. Which means, you can keep drinking more. PERFECT.

It was interesting to watch my mood swings yesterday, and me push through them. It was like I was on autopilot, and my sober mind had taken over. I DID have a craving to drink–a pretty big one. I haven’t really seriously thought of drinking for a while, and this was minor, but big enough to have to turn on the virtual “this is the shit that will go down if you drink tonight” movie in my mind. I counted the number of weeks I have left to get to 22, which was close to my last sober record of 158 days. But then, I took a magnifying glass to what, exactly, I wanted, and HOW, exactly, I was planning to effect that change. The “how” part was new: I’ve gotten myself to reflexively look at what is tripping my drinking switch, but never how to turn it off.

I could very clearly see that my sadness wasn’t necessarily brought on by a sugar low, though that was part of it. I was, and am, lonely. I don’t have many (any?) friends here. I don’t go out. EVER. I could admit to myself last night, on my run, that no, I still haven’t accepted let alone embraced socializing sober. It’s not as strong as it used to be, but I’m still convinced that “there is no point” to going out and not drinkin’. (By go out, I mean to bars and clubs.)

Then I thought, well, you have two neighbors who are free tonight, why not ask them to do something with you? Granted, I had planned to work yesterday, which means that Saturday night or no Saturday night, I am trolling the journals and (for a new project) slogging through complicated stories on the latest in cancer research and treatment–that’s just how I do. However, I didn’t ask, or invite. I think I might have felt better if I had forced myself to socialize instead of doing the usual, which is running alone on the beach and/or working on a Saturday night.

At one point in the run, I simply concluded that I am still living, in a way, like my “old drunk self,” simply without the booze. By that I mean, I still isolate (prefer to be alone), I just don’t do it with wine. It takes a LONG time to change our ingrained habits and defense mechanisms, doesn’t it?

It’s not easy for me to socialize, mainly because I FEEL like I don’t want to, but also because it’s just not in my nature (habit) to engage instead of isolate. “Make yourself available,” is what one of my old roommates used to tell me. That was over a decade ago. I was isolating then, I am isolating now. I guess maybe drinking gave me a way to isolate and not feel bad (or anything!) about it.

Sure, it’s nice to be alone sometimes, have a weekend by myself. What I do, though, hasn’t changed since I hung up my drinking shoes: NOT inviting people over, out, or IN to my life. I wanted to drink to avoid this realization, but that was pointless; there it was. I ran more. I wanted to drink to not feel slightly angry at myself, defeated, and sad. Within about a minute, or less, I had worked out that no, drinking would not fix any of this, and no, actually, I didn’t want a drink. What I wanted–needed–was real change. To feel better. And, how can I feel better? Change my habit of isolating.

The point is, the craving came and went, but I was able to see through it. What was making me want to drink, and what I could do–besides drink–to fix the problem. I was looking for solutions to the real problem, and not just a way to dodge the craving for wine. Wolfie has no clothes, as it were. I can see right through to your scrawny, starved frame, your salivating, dried-up tongue…FUCKING FUCK YOU, WOLFIE!

I am on Day…? 132. 19 weeks tomorrow. I suppose 22 weeks plus 4 days will be my immediate goal, but I’m truly curious to see what comes after six months. Will there be glitter? Balls of it? Will there be unicorns with sparkly teeth, smiling at me from a chorus line on the beach? Or, will it be more like a Broadway musical? Maybe a Broadway musical with glitter and a unicorn parade?

Diet Coke is more addictive than wine!

27 Jul

3:40 pm

I held out as long as I could, but after two whole days without Diet Coke–and almost both days of being as sugar-free as possible–I just cracked open a can. I’m already feeling a bit better after a few sips, and *finally* starting my day: typing this, then going for a run, then working on other stuff (I took yesterday off, so today is a “work day”). I mean, there was no way I could ingest the large amounts of science news and information I need to the way I was feeling.

Over the past few hours, my symptoms peaked: foggy-brained and really lethargic, with this sensation that I’m at the bottom of a hill on my bike. I also feel dizzy and a bit nervous, but I think that’s psychosomatic (i.e., what’s going to happen next?). Ugh. Way worse than the supposed alcohol withdrawal symptoms I had, which mainly consisted of mental urges to drink accompanied by benign symptoms like insomnia and a low-grade “flu.” Maybe it’s something else, this seemingly-recurring dizziness, and unrelated to whether or not I drink DC. I’m not sure, but I do feel better, even just marginally. Which is all I needed, I guess.

This, my friends, sucks. Sugar addiction is serious and should NOT be taken lightly. This whole eat-a-cookie-when-you-want-to-drink mentality? NOT! I hate to say it, but addiction treatment and recovery REALLY, TRULY needs to become more evidence-based (as in, evidence-based medicine). No more wives’ tales, please.

Life is too sweet to be bitter

25 Jul

4:52 pm

I came across a story today that about Kris Carr, and it totally inspired me. Here’s her final quote of the piece:

I think that life is just too sweet to be bitter. Once I was able to change my focus, desperation led to inspiration. I made so many changes, and I thought: This is an awesome life. I mean, honestly, I don’t think anyone has a better life than me. How can you live with the knowledge of cancer? I might not ever be able to get rid of it, but I can’t let that ruin my life. . . . I think: Just go for it. Life is a terminal condition. We’re all going to die. Cancer patients just have more information, but we all, in some ways, wait for permission to live.

For many reasons, this struck me as relevant to sobriety. It strikes at the core of what we avoid as drinkers: we wait for permission to live, we live in fear, we don’t just Go For It. Once we change our focus, we can go from desperate to not drink to inspired to live life.

Today, I’m reconfirming my commitment to running more, embracing the challenge of developing balance in my life, and giving up (trying to) the Diet Coke. If there are small things I can do (juicing might come soon, why not?), then let’s DO THIS.

Moving on from thinkin’ about drinkin’, or, life after 90 days

12 Jan

1:54 am

Yes, folks, I’m actually not thinking that much about drinking. Say WHAT? I’m just kind of grooving on living, drink-free, and not wanting what I “don’t have” or wishing that “I could have fun.” (In fact, when I look around now, and see people on Facebook, for instance, lugging shittons of booze on like, ski trips with their significant others, I have to wonder WHY…but that’s another post.) It really is a rational thought *process,* convincing your brain–or re-setting it back to NORMAL–that being drunk does not equate to having fun. Much of my process of quitting drinking has actually been quitting relating drunkenness with fun, and stopping equating chemically-induced numbness with calm.

The other day in AA, I heard some woman lamenting the fact that she was still a “lunatic” until she started doing the steps. Well, if it takes you 11 years (as it did in her case) to realize that being drunk is not, actually, all THAT much fun (compared to having real conversations and doing real things with your friends and family), then… I don’t know. I don’t want to hate on AA again/anymore, but my 90-day chip meeting will likely be one of my last. At least for now. Meetings make me cringe; I feel very uncomfortable inside “the rooms.” But, I’ve realized that some people simply need that “tough love,” that rigidity, that almost thoughtlessness of approach–deviation from the formula can pretty much guarantee relapse, I think, for some people who simply want to stop drinking but can’t immediately (or ever, let’s face it) process the motivation(s) behind getting shitfaced on the regular. So, yeah. Check ya later, AA.

Anyhoo… So, I’m working on an editing project on memory–everything from how memories are encoded in our brains to memory and trauma–and I came across something that made me pause: problems with substance abuse and addiction, some researchers say, are actually problems with memory. For instance, associations, i.e., memories, take over when you think about drinking, which makes it hard to untangle the the associated memories from the getting drunk memories. How can I not want to drink when I’m at the beach, for example, when that’s what I’ve always done? When that’s what’s been encoded in my brain–thinking about one makes me remember the other, and vice versa. It’s why drinking becomes an obsession, I guess, because EVERYTHING makes you think about drinking. Like, I can’t forget all those times I drank at the beach so it makes it hard for me to go there and not drink, or not want to drink…unless they find a way to either erase those memories or replace them with something new or different. Therefore, can I truly be relieved of the obsessive thoughts while at the beach sober if I don’t work at minimizing or repressing these old memories? Interesting to read about an entirely new paradigm (that’s the word they used in the article, so I had to, OK?) regarding addiction.

It’s been a pretty slow past few days, which has been, literally, wonderful! Lots of dog walking, coffee drinking (decaf!), and reading/editing. I went running yesterday, and it was better than the first time. I liken my legs right now to baby giraffe legs–when I try to stand on them, they crumple. (While cute, it’s rather pitiful.) I think things should even out once I get on a normal (read: non-vampire) schedule, reign in the sweets (especially Diet Coke), and continue to push my legs a little longer each day/every other day. ‘Tread lightly’ is my mantra, and don’t worry about how far or how fast (“run” and “running” should be put in quotes until further notice).

Thanks, all, for your encouraging comments to my 90-day post! I honestly could not have done it without your support. Rock on, 93 days!

Wake up!

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