Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Euphoria goes... Trolling along... Work and unwork... Faces, welcome and unwelcome.

THIS week, the euphoria of being sober has started to wear off. I've written before of the 'and now what' reaction and the feeling of the realities of life which I had so assiduously avoided in my insobriety crashing around me.

I've mentioned it to the nurses who supervise my Antabuse. They've been sympathetic and understanding: "Remember why you stopped drinking in the first place," one said, and it's good advice, so on it I shall try and stay focused.

Frustration and self-loathing, over sensitivity and anxiety are now my chief problems. I do get incredibly angry with myself if things even start to look like they might be deviating from the planned golden path (with apologies to any Peruvians reading). Freshly detoxed, there is a belief in one's own invincibility and power; released from the shackles of a daily dose of a strong depressant the mind starts to soar.

My way of thinking is scatter gun; my magpie mind has made me a pub quiz champion, but, now I crave focus. So, I'm full of ideas - poetry, articles I can write, screenplays of long-loved books, comedy. But, none of these ideas are given anything like the appropriate amount of attention needed to bring them to fruition, before another ten pop into the brain space. Result? Massive disappointment, a subsiding into the "Well, you can't do anything can you" mindset that is such an enemy to staying sober and the concomitant self-loathing.

I raised my anxiety problems - I genuinely do believe I'm more sensitive to my surroundings than many other people, I'm constantly jumping at stuff in my peripheral vision and earshot - to my key worker at the Community Addictions Unit. Also my worry at being kicked off the benefit I was on. He said there were drugs I could be prescribed to help with the anxiety - he mentioned Prozac, which I've taken as an antidepressant and didn't have a happy relationship with - but it was something for the future as they wouldn't work well while I was on Trazadone. Fair enough. I'm not keen on mixing chemicals at the moment. The other prescription is more natural - relaxation techniques, like breathing and mediation, and that's on my list.

So, to be positive, here I am BEFORE 9AM, writing my blog - one of the few tasks I have set myself and had any success at keeping up.

Life has been going OK. And, indeed, in the spirit of celebrating achievement rather than brooding on failure, I do remain on top of domestic duties and have made a few potentially difficult phone calls regarding benefits, appointments and the like. Hoorah for me - hold on there Cardiff Drunk, don't get carried away.

Oh, ok. I've also been emailing off for jobs, wasting far too much time on facebook (a new enthusiasm - I signed up ages ago, but never really used the site, but now it's in danger of joining the bad list), and I've been appointed as Assistant Editor of a website.

That's the biggest plus I guess. It's not paid, but it's a substantial and popular site, I've really enjoyed writing for it and I'm getting regular emails of stuff to edit for their blog - good CV-filling stuff.

Mrs CD is on holiday this week and next, and suffers no such problems with filling her time. After a day's rest to recover from recent over-exertions, she took me by the hand and led me gently to the local DIY superstore where paint and brushes were purchased, and as I glow virtuously with my early start at the keyboard, she's slapping blue round the walls of the kitchen - it's bringing her such pleasure and looks great.

We broke the pattern yesterday with a walk and a lunch out. I managed to locate the community centre which hosts the martial arts class I was interested in attending - this is another step in that direction, the removal of another excuse for not going, I know myself very well and I'm terrible at coming up with reasons not to do things.

I saw two old compadres. One, a drinker from the pub I used to go to but no longer frequent. He was on his way for a drink, but seemed happy enough to see me and we had a brief chat about the evils of the world. The other was far less welcome. A fellow patient on the detox ward - the one who stormed out then returned drunk and shouting to scare the life out of me. He was drinking in a courtyard in City Road, and I could tell from his voice he was well along. I heard his voice but we didn't speak and I'm pretty sure he didn't see me. I held Mrs CD's hand tightly, put my head down and virtually dragged her past his perch.

Seeing him was the last thing I needed.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.

The Cardiff Drunk.


Anonymous said...

How familiar that is: a hundred ideas a day and all allowed to drift away over the horizon. Damn this short attention span.

My latest plan: force myself to focus on the One I'm Most Excited About - and do a few minutes work on it every day. After a while I've invested so much time that I just have to carry on. It seems to work for my butterfly brain.

- The Welsh Worrier

The Drinker said...

Hello fellow Welsh Worrier,

Thanks for reading and commenting, it's always appreciated. Your plan sounds a good one, and your mind similar to mine - poor you.

I've been recommended to try meditation and breathing techniques but that always goes on the list of many things I should be doing to! I'll no doubt report if I do find eternal peace.

All the best,

The Cardiff Drunk.

Anonymous said...

Keep it up Cardiff Drunk! You sound like you are doing really well in spite of everything. I really understand what you mean about having so many ideas and not fulfilling their potential... I try and just take each day as it comes, and not to look at my whole life as a big block of potential that must (but may not) be realised. But sometimes that's harder to believe than others.

It's weird, I stumbled across your blog once about 8 months ago via the Guardian's CIF page and every now and then I think 'wonder how Cardiff Drunk is getting on?'

My dad was an alcoholic, and a nasty one at that - but he was always a lovely, brilliantly clever man under it all, and now he's sober it's so good to have him back. But I was so young at the time we've never really spoken about it... it's good to get some insight from your generous sharing of your life. I hope it cheers you up to know so many people, even if they're strangers, think highly enough of you and of the quality of your writing to follow this blog. Thank you, and good luck!

The Drinker said...

Well welcome back anonymous, and thank you for your lovely comments - they mean a great deal to me.

I'm glad your dad's back from the brink - it took me a long time to make the important steps and it's a big step to take. I can say from my experience in hospital that a lot the patients were returners, considerably older than me and hoping to the heavens that this time it works.

One of the things I've tried to do less is visit CiF, it's a bit of a waste of time and no medicine for depression, so I try to only comment now if they put something up relating to addiction. Wish I knew what your name was - you can always drop me a mail - address is in my profile.

Yes, it cheers me up greatly, you have certainly done your good deed for the day!



Max Cairnduff said...

It is terribly easy to get distracted, not that I have any solutions particularly.

I tried some meditation years ago funnily enough, didn't work for me in the slightest - every time I was told to empty my mind I just got tenser and tenser. Turns out I'm not very good at not thinking, or trying not to think anyway.

Works for plenty of othres though, presumably I'm just deeper in samsara or something (not that I believe in samsara, but then deep in it as I so clearly am, I wouldn't would I?).

Congrats on the assistant editorship by the way. It's good to have challenges I find, when I have time on my hands I get nothing done, when I'm busy I get through tons. Not everyone works that way, but I'm far from unique in that trait.

Anyway, now I've found your blog I'll pop by from time to time and see how things are going, all I know of Cardiff I learnt from Torchwood, and I don't even like the program...

The Drinker said...

Hey Max,

Thanks for dropping by. Because of my concentration - rather like you - I'm sure I'll struggle with meditation but I'm glad to give it a go. I'll report whether I transcend material concerns, or sit bored with creaking knees. Somewhere on this blog is a comment from a fellow who swore that Transcendental Meditation is the one thing that saved him from becoming a full-blown alcoholic.

I'm dead pleased to be back writing, if not for money then for a purpose, it has, without exagerration been just about the best thing that's happened to me this year.

All the best,