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Use it or Lose It: What I learned from drinking too much

February 26, 2014

My right heel huts.

But that is, perhaps, getting ahead of myself. Let’s take it more slowly; like breaking in a new pair of shoes, or making a woman happy. In my life those may be the same thing.

Once upon a time, I drank too much. In fact, I was in such a place I had to drink to get to sleep. It wasn’t a happy place but I don’t regret it. In its strange way it was a wonderful experience. But while I enjoyed being drunk, it wasn’t what you could really consider healthy by any measure: physically it was poison to my body and mind; emotionally it was a mask that hid and prevented me from dealing with the real problem; mentally it was an addiction. Well, more a crutch. I wasn’t an alcoholic, I had no physical dependance, it was more a psychological reliance during a time of weakness, where I didn’t feel strong enough or capable of  getting by on my own.

I haven’t posted for a few weeks. Turns out I couldn’t shake the effects of CHAT as I’d intended to, and simply even posting about what happened triggered in me the worst depression of my life. Literally the worst, blackest, deepest episode. I’ve been despairing and emotional before, of course – my earliest memory of talking myself out of suicide is from when I was seven years old – but there’s been more energy to it, more desperation. This time, there was none of that. Nothing. I didn’t seek escape from life, I just felt nothing for it. I would wake up close to tears simply for having another day to get through. And I couldn’t afford to be drunk all the time in any way, though in particular financially.

And something very interesting happened. The next time I had a drink, it took almost nothing to get me pleasantly drunk. Where before I’d drink three cans of strongbow cider, suddenly one can was enough to relax me and put me in a better mood. Two cans would make me giddy and silly and do all the good stuff people cite as reasons to get wasted. Because it took so little, there was less for my body to process, even though it had greater effect, and so there was no hangover. Less, sometimes, is indeed more.

So what’s this got to do with my heel? (Which is better now because I started writing this three weeks ago before being interrupted by the dog needing to go out)

I’d neglected my tai chi. When I would work on the stances and whatnot, it pulled painfully on my heels and hamstrings where it never used to. Because I’d fallen out of practice, my body had reverted back to an unstretched state. This was easily remedied by making more effort to be more consistant in my practice, difficult as this was (for various reasons I won’t get into.)

That’s the key point of this post – consistancy.

See, last year when I was doing a lot of work with that organisation of which we no longer speak, I was out every day almost, and up almost all day, my sleeping pattern was better coz I was always doing something to spread the word, or raise funds, or improve the efficiency of the workshops and whatnot. I was travelling around more, to places I’d never been, and to do stuff I’ve never done. But then all that went wrong, and for months, from November to January, I did almost nothing, except stay at home, not sleep well, get nightmares, and drink more to compensate. When January rolled around, and I had an opportunity to meet up with friends who were with me through the drama of the other organisation, who I trust with my life, to read a book I’ve read about a dozen times, and adore… there are far too many commas in that sentence, I must stop reading classic literature. Basically when I had a chance to go out somewhere I felt safe, I was so anxious because I was out of practice mentally that I threw up before I left and couldn’t get warm – I took a blanket with me. I was shaking, nauseous, felt icy cold, had no appetite. But I went anyway, because I hate letting people down, and I knew I’d be safe. These people understood me and if I said I had to go home immediately there’d be no questions. And wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I showed up, all those symptoms went, coz I was back, part of life, doing stuff, leaving the house. I’d shaken off the rust of the previous couple of months and was moving freely again.

So as the YMCA founders said, as for the body, so for the mind. Maybe I just made that up. But the point is when you push your boundaries, they stretch, but if you stop pushing they shrink back to their previous state. This happens mentally as well as physically. So it’s vitally important if you’re suffering from anxiety or depression, or a gammy leg or anything, even if you can only take two steps a day to maintain your ability to walk two steps a day, do it. If you can only face leaving the house to go to the shop around the corner, do it. Don’t take money, just walk there and back so you never look back and realise you’ve spent the last six weeks without leaving the house, barely leaving your bedroom. That way when you’re called on to do something huge, like travel a few miles to see your best friends, you’re less likely to suffer for it.

More on this topic in the future I think, because consistancy is something I really struggle with, it’s probably my biggest issue, actually, so will be revisited as I keep working on it.

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From → Motivation, Personal

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