Day Forty Nine
Remember the physical check in? Did your body give back some natural inbuilt resistance? When my body does that it’s because my anxiety is telling me that now is not the time and place to let our guard down. That’s how it manifests on the physical level.
On the emotional level, I overthink literally every single thing there is to be overthought, because it makes me feel like I’m in control. Even when I check the facts, sometimes my brain whirrs rapidly to think of the worst-case scenario in order to mitigate any pain by saying “Aha! I knew this would happen!” The irony being this whole way of living is pretty fucking painful.
Before I sought help for my alcohol addiction I begged doctors to test me for asthma. I had been unable to get a full breath for weeks, and there was something fluttering in my chest. The doctors told me I was experiencing anxiety attacks, and I couldn’t believe them. I told them I was a strong person; I couldn’t be having anxiety attacks. This is an entirely false idea. Anxiety is nothing to do with your levels of fortitude, and is not a weakness. We are sensitive people; we have been feeling things so deeply our whole lives that we turned to drugs and alcohol when it became too much. Our sobriety can be an opportunity to turn this into a potential strength. This sensitivity can lead to greater empathy and communication skills, but it does mean that a lot of the time, we are vulnerable and having to spin a lot of emotional plates – which would make anyone fucking anxious.
It takes a while to adjust to the idea that being well and doing well means there is less chaos. Our mind sometimes needs some time to catch up, and before that point it’s still working in crisis mode.
I use the skills in week one to deal with my anxious feelings, and breathing/body releasing exercises to try and trick my physiology into recognising that it is safe. Living a bigger life after sobriety is new and scary, and rife with anxiety – but it is not even close to the anxious pain that weeks of hangovers afforded me.
What tools can you employ to manage anxiety?
Three tiny things:
- Drink enough water today.
- Sing your favourite song, don’t worry about how you sound, just let your voice flow.
- Practise a self-soothing activity today.