June 23, 2009

Day 30 - bit afraid this impetus

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Feeling a tad better today. Maybe it was the little things that helped, despite the usual bit of difficulty falling asleep, getting up.

I’m starting to get pretty convinced I should get off Wellbutrin. Really, the main thing keeping me on the stuff is fear I’ll fall into another major depressive episode — but I’m not sure I will. And there’s no guarantee I won’t get depressed if I stay on the meds. Pills poop out, so a relapse could happen whether or not I stay on the drug.

And there’s no real way to find out until I get off the stuff. I’m a bit afraid this impetus comes at a stressful time — a couple trips coming up, some money issues, some friendship issues. But is it possible that some of these issues will simply resolve themselves if I go off the meds?

I could very well become less angry and irritable. I might get more done because my memory gets better and my mind clears. Maybe the better memory will even improve my social interactions — so I remember people’s names and what they say better.

Might I even drop a little weight? Will I sleep better and feel less tired? Have fewer times when I feel agitated, restless, and unbalanced? Fewer tummy issues?

Really, some good things could happen — not just the bad. The main thing’s that I’ll need to work hard to attain a more stable sense of well-being. The issue’s that I really can’t pinpoint a specific reason I feel down when I do, behond not yet having achieved long-term goals: money issues, weight, relationships — and finding something meaningful to do. A lot of this has really become a chicken or the egg issue. I’m afraid to add anything on because I feel overwhelmed, but perhaps I feel overwhelmed because I lack meaning, direction.

Went to a networking event earlier, which went well. Met some nice people, gave out some cards. Seriously, no one notices I’m not drinking! And for another, most people really don’t drink that much. It’s like they don’t actually want to lose — or even alter — their consciousness…. Certainly not markedly. An observation to keep in mind —

One day, I’d like to feel like I’m not dealing with “issues” all the time. That I’m more easily living in balance.

June 22, 2009

Day 29 - towards something

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I feel I try pretty hard to feel good — yet I don’t feel very happy. Today’s mood’s been a slow blue discontent. I’ve gotten done the things I need to get done — except I haven’t caught up on the stuff I put off earlier. Why am I upset? Do I just need more human contact? How do I get this feeling no one’s worth hanging out with?

I think maybe I blame myself too much for imperfect interactions in the past. For example, because I felt I was irritable when hanging out with Rin, I fear I’m an irritable person (and consequently, shouldn’t hang out with Rin so I don’t expose her to my irritability again). I feel too judgemental and I feel too judged.

Maybe I just need to cut myself some slack. No one’s perfect in social situations, and everyone puts their foot in their mouth at some point.

And maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself for pulling away from friends who talk about nothing but babies and boyfriends and weddings. They’re at least as self-absorbed as I am — and maybe I have a perfectly good reason to not want to hang out with them.

Yet the anger’s disturbing. There’s a part of me that thinks at least aspects of the anger are legitimate. Another part wonders if they’re symptomatic of bigger issues — i.e. repressed feelings from childhood. Another part’s fearful this anger “isn’t me” — and somewhat afraid it could spiral out of control.

In part I’d just like to feel I’m moving from one step to the next — towards something. For example, moving from just concentrating on staying sober to focusing on improving relationships, etc. This is day 29, after all. How long will I need to read books / watch films that motivate my sobriety? How long will I feel like I’m simply trying to manage feelings?

Maybe part of the problem is simply that I’m not doing things consistently enough.  I’m not doing all the little things that I instituted as small ways to gradually improve my mood — i.e. taking a walk at lunch, or exercising 4 times a week, or examining and working through the negative thoughts I write down every day. I think I need to pursue a happiness plan — consistently for 2 weeks  — then re-examine my mood —

June 21, 2009

Day 28 - lonely while avoiding friends

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The weekend’s going by in a bit of a stupor — reading, watching Celebrity Rehab. I’m concerned this isn’t normal — holing up and avoiding both friends and responsibilities. Of course it’s normal to take time for myself though — so where do I draw the line?

The main issue’s that I seem to really want to check out — i.e. not only not doing anything on my agenda but in fact even refusing to look at it — and just preoccupy myself. There’s a real desire not to have to deal with the stresses of reality.

It’s weird, because the stresses really aren’t so bad — are they? Maybe it’s more that I used to heap so many stresses on myself — so much I couldn’t handle them — that I now find it hard to deal with any stresses. Learned helplessness.

Then again no one likes to begin their day like they’re clawing their way out of a hole, trying desperately to catch up. Yet getting further behind by avoidance only perpetuates the cycle —

And there are so many issues. Feeling lonely while avoiding friends. Avoiding social situations because many feel unsafe. I’m confused — I feel unable to craft some sort of way to improve my thinking on these issues.

I guess the main thing right now’s to just focus on keeping alcohol out of the equation while I gather the tools for healthy living and sort some of this stuff out: Medication issues, social issues, coping issues, work issues, weight / food issues.

I suppose all are issues everyone works on throughout their lives — I have a hard time deciding what, if anything, needs to be done. Do I live out this week like last week? How can I catch up today? How much should I identify as an ex-alcoholic? Are there new goals to set I can really get excited about?

June 20, 2009

Day 27 - down the stressors

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Went to an art opening that was a total bust, a boring waste of time that brought up these feelings about how my social life sucks. It’s not that I miss the events with alcohol, but quite the opposite: I feel all the past events I enjoyed were based around alcohol — that in fact alcohol was like the occasion — which seems pathetic.

Then there’s the thought that maybe I can only stand my friends when I’m drunk — that perhaps my friends aren’t worth hanging out with. That in fact, I never had a real social life worth mentioning even if I went out a lot.

There are moments in the day when I think about drinking — I guess I’m afraid of becoming this uptight person who can’t have fun. But hopefully I won’t end up being so uptight…. Maybe part of the answer is participating in groups. Community groups — or even working out in a group class instead of alone. Going to yoga class instead of hitting the treadmill.

It seems like the main problem right now is that I often feel tired — like I don’t want to do anything except passive stuff. Part of this may just be force of habit, since I let myself procrastinate so much, doing only the bare minimum while I was drinking. I’m trying to get into these healthier patterns and they just don’t seem to be paying off — at leat not yet.

Researched Wellbutrin and memory loss. Enough people who say they’re doing better (depression’s lifted) on Wellbutrin report memory loss — especially short term — as a side effect that I’m getting pretty convinced my memory issues have to do with Wellbutrin, not alcohol-related stuff. I really think this is bothering me enough that I should do something about it — Go in to see the shrink, change meds around a bit —

Creative Recovery talks about identifying the stumbling blocks — anxiety, stress, unhappiness-producing stuff — that tends to come up with a creative project — and having a way of dealing with them. I wrote down the stressors: Lots of different fears, frustrations, technical difficulties. I’m thinking I just need to start with something that allows for an outlet but isn’t something I’m thinking of selling or marketing or am heavily invested in as something that’ll define me as a writer. Make it an easy, doable project with a daily component. Like this Tumblog.

June 19, 2009

Day 26 - what can be whittled out

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I woke up angry. Angry I had to get up, angry about the cold cloudy weather — again. Angry I had to move my car for street cleaning and that I had to get dressed to do so. Angry I spilled cereal and angry my kitchen shelves are so crowded. Angry my period’s late as usual.

And I still keep imagining these angry situations where I verbally fight with people, where people antagonize me and I antagonize them worse. Why is that? Do I feel people are against me — that no one’s to be trusted — that most people are out to get me and I have to protect myself, hurt them before the hurt me? Intellectually, I don’t think these things, but instinctively, am I always ready to defend, attack?

Getting close to 30 days. It’s odd — Instead of feeling like I can now do more, I feel I need to cut back. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing — Maybe I’m simply discovering the unrealistic expectations that drove me to drink in the first place — but I remain worried.

Right now, tasks get pushed to the weekend because I get tired and overwhelmed. That leads to anxiety during the week about falling behind, then fatigue on the weekends because I don’t get a needed break.

So I’ll spend some time today seeing what can be whittled out of the schedule. It’s weird, because when I look at it, the schedule seems relatively short and easy. Yet each day feels slightly unmanageable…. I get anxious to the point I can’t continue, then spend most of the evening watching In Treatment — and feel guilty about wasting the day.

When I think about writing again, I get this fearful, negative feeling, like I’ve just been reprimanded. Obviously there have been some rejections in the past. Some deliberately mean people too — and maybe I’m too self-critical. But I also always had some supporters who liked my work — random people here and there. Maybe it’ll feel good to create — Maybe I just want to try and relearn the joy of creating —

I’m basically afraid to begin the creative endeavor. I guess I have these “how dare I” feelings a lot. Imposter syndrome, maybe. What makes anyone a writer, or any sort of expert?

June 18, 2009

Day 25 - adding up to anything

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Went hungry to the grocery store — and ate a Lara bar while shopping, a Zen Bakery cinnamon roll-esque thing coming home, then 2 bowls of ceral and a mango once I got back. Not so bad as far as binges go, especially since I hadn’t had much to eat most of the day — but the sort of urge I was feeling, as if I had to gobble everything down in this brief period while the more controlling self was on break — that was scary.

So — I guess the solution’s not to let myself get so hungry, and to keep more healthy snacks around. Not too long ago I would’ve invented some sort of involved, punitive diet plan for myself, but I’m trying to be more moderate, to freak out less. I’ll try this method of non-deprivation for a week, see how it goes.

Because the issue isn’t actually the food. Another part of the binge: It let me sort of checked out of the things I’d planned to do. I watched House and Lost while eating, zoned out. Part of me feels guilty for pushing work back; another part wonders if I’m pushing myself too hard.

I’m still at the point where I don’t get how people do all these things — solid 40 hour weeks and the like. I feel so busy, just spinning my wheels trying to catch up on the day to day stuff, instead of being able to work on real, more broad overarching stuff that could, in the end, mitigate this daily scrambling —

The anxiety leads to checking out by binging — and I don’t want to put so much pressure on myself I fall into another depression. I still need to work on making myself feel good. Scheduling things tighter is just not an option.

Still, I need to make more money. Rewards are slow to come, and my social life feels a bit like it’s in shambles.There’s the feeling the things I’m doing aren’t actually adding up to anything, which bothers me. That there’s no real grand goal I have to look forward to.

I have a lot of unanswered questions. Am I really a writer? Do I want to pursue that? and if so, how? I have fear of trying, a fear I won’t enjoy it, fear I won’t have time for it. It’s unclear what exactly I can push off the schedule and what I can make room for.

It’s been a difficult day. Cranky mood — and a little weepy all day.

June 17, 2009

Day 24 - a corresponding sense of failure

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Started reading Creative Recovery. Some of it seems like simple pandering — telling people who’d like to think they’re creative souls what they want to hear: “You’re a troubled, deep artist individual struggling against the homogenious, deadnening world.”

But the part about how creative people often see the rest of the world as idiotically complacent and devoid of aspirations — then start to identify  strongly against the dominant culture — reads like my reactions.

Though I still retain mixed feelings — and want to win at the straight world’s game too. And I’m plagued by the thought that it’s all just sour grapes — or maybe worse — that others will perceive it as sour grapes. That they’ll think it’s not so much that I’ve rejected the goals of the straight world as failed to achieve them.

A lot of this revolves around being single. Beyond proving the rest of the world wrong, I’d like some companionship in being against mainstream culture. Maybe that’s all I’m looking for — some counterculture group. Creative people who don’t want the marriage-kids-house-in-suburbs thing.

I see only complacency in my married friends. Maybe my anger towards them is not so much a sign of psychological unhealth on my part but a healthy realization that they represent the aspects of mainstream culture I despise.

Maybe I wouldn’t put such a heavy premium on a serious relationship if I could meet others for whom “settling down” is something to be abhored. The gallery series could be an opportunity to find like-minded people. One guy actually said our transportation problem is an overpopulation problem — that people need to stop having kids. There I see a glimpse of some forward-thinking network.

The problem may be an identity crisis — and a corresponding sense of failure. I rail against conventional society whose goals — spouse, house, corporate job — I mock. But I also haven’t yet had any successes in teh non-straight sense. No grand artistic achievements, no fantastically artsy lifestyle, no freethinking lover or creative group.

That in turn makes me feel like a fraud — and makes me think people just see me as someone who failed at conventional goals — and now rails against them.

I suppose one path is just to work on those unconventional goals — write that novel or whatever, seek out new interesting friends. It feels like it’ll be a long time before I’ve achieved those things — but perhaps making the effort a daily practice in itself will make me feel better.

June 16, 2009

Day 23 - passively experience but not mark

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Does sobriety make me feel better? If so, how exactly’s uncertain — perhaps a new sense of progress, albeit a shaky one. The days have gotten more manageable, and I’m slowly finding tools to deal with challenges I used to avoid by drinking. Some things that seemed near impossible — like setting and staying on a schedule — seem to be getting somewhat easier.

But my mood still doesn’t seem significantly better — and I’m wondering if I need a lot more positive thoughts to balance out negative thoughts. I’m still writing them down…. Do I passively experience but not mark down a lot of negative thoughts I have? Or am I simply in a state of transition, where turbulent and precarious feelings dominte over exciting and happy ones?

Staying sober at events has been unexpectedly easy — the logistics, I mean. There was the fear everyone would notice and ask about it, but that hasn’t happened. In fact, the only uncomfortable time was lunch with the married girls. They drink a lot, talk about drinking a lot, notice and ask about my drinking habits. But why are my closer, long-term friends the ones creating the most friction in my life? It’s as if those relationships have gotten as troubled as the one with my mother.

I could come up with a lot of theories — withdrawal due to fear of abandonment, for ex. The friendships feel ubalanced in the sense I feel I have more to lose than they do, since they have husbands — and families they like.

Whatever the reason, they’re a source of stress, feelings of inadequacy and loneliness — and I’m not sure how to fix it.

June 15, 2009

Day 22 - spend a lot of time staring

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My schedule’s fallen apart since Ana’s clothing swap earlier tonight — where I ate way too much — but let me dwell on the positives a bit: I made some good friends / acquaintances. I got free dinner — and leftovers for lunch tomorrow! I found some free clothes that fit! I got rid of some things plaguing my closet. And I hope my social life’ll open up a little bit — that maybe I’ll start meeting more interesting people, even interesting guys — that maybe better things will happen —

Before Ana’s thing I went through the day with a general feeling of brooding discontent — a sort of pissy feeling for which I can’t pinpoint a cause beyond small annoyances — a little tummy ache, a drawer not closing right, a noisy leaf blower. Maybe the small things add up, or maybe the irritation’s a symptom of alcohol withdrawal, or maybe the discontent’s a symptom of other, bigger things that are troubling me?

There’s a great aggravation, for example, having to deal with work stuff day after day. The daily repetition of it all grates on me, even though I can’t imagine doing anything else I’d like better. Maybe the low, irritated mood comes from feeling a bit behind all the time. As of yet it’s unclear whether this’ll get less onerous as time goes on, or if I really need to make some big changes.

I’ve been thinking a bit about how I’d feel if money were less of an issue. Perhaps life would get lighter, freer. I’d just like to get to the point where money doesn’t seem like a source of trouble, where I feel a sense of peace with my work.

I’ll put off these worries until after day 30. Just about a week more! Then I’ll be hitting sobriety days I haven’t had since like high school — maybe early college, since there was that 1 summer internship where I didn’t drink. Even that was a decade ago. I should plan a gift for myself, though finances are low. A facial —

I’m watching a lot less TV — almost none. The days seem busy — so much to get done, figure out emotionally. The schedule helps mitigate the anxiety a bit, but it’s still a battle.

I also spend a lot of time staring off into space. Do I enjoy this?

June 14, 2009

Day 21 - the event-going task

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Got through the event — and I just realized that all in all, including getting ready and fighting traffic, that was a 5-hour endeavor! Social engagements take a lot of effort — and I have 2 tomorrow, which stresses me out —

But back to the event. There was a temptation to drink — especially when I got a whiff of red wine. But I’m starting to notice other problem drinkers stick out at events — and that dissuades me from drinking.

For example: Whether or not a regular problem drinker, one girl had just a drink too much. She didn’t do anything ridiculous — just her body language seemed loose, unstructured — and her chatter a tad overly friendly. Then there was the older guy who last month I noticed seemed a bit drunk. He seemed a bit drunk today too.

Of course I could be projecting a bit. I wonder if everyone else sees these things, if they’re all also consciously tolerating the garrulous girl’s rambly chatter. and I wonder if that’s how I appeared most of the time — immoderate, easy, glassy-eyed.

Today I was all there. Socialized with a few people, drank club soda, aserted myself fairly well when it was my turn to talk. So I don’t need alcohol to socialize or speak in public — or be pleasant —

Was the event enjoyable? It’s odd — the pleasure I got from the event comes more from my feeling I’ve “accomplished” the event-going task — than from the fun of the event itself. It seems I tend to see events as a sort of social performance, as opposed to an opportunity to have fun, make friends, relax. Is this normal? Maybe this tendency makes me stress out, too self-concious to enjoy myself. But to a degree, this reaction’s probably normal when you’re put at an event with smart people you want to get to know — all of whom are perfect strangers — AND you have to speak, if briely, in front of all of them.

Unrelatedly: I’m concerned that I don’t seem to have the mental stamina to finish the stuff I set out to do in a day. If I add more work on — which I need to do to make a living — I’d have to work weekend. I feel like something’s gotta give.

Do I need to limit social events? Traffic was horrendous…. Maybe the issue’s not the number of events but the location — and I need to lmit the events that require fighting traffic for hours….


what the first 30 days feel like if you're 30, female, and me. Find me in Los Angeles or writezero30@live.com --





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