Archive for the ‘anxiety’ Category

At the relapse prevention course last week this idea came up. We stop growing emotionally when we become addicts. That makes me a teenager (it makes own of my fellow course attendees eight, but theirs isn’t my story to tell).

I can see some truth in that. I was scared of growing up and drinking helped to keep me a child. All I had to worry about was when I would next be able to get drunk, free myself from the anxiety and the fear. There was no need to engage with the problems of despised ‘real life’ with all its responsibilities and obligations. Now they are here.

And, in watching a YouTube video the other day (you can see it here, it’s rather long but quite interesting) I recognised myself. The speaker – a psychologist – remarked on how a loud noise might affect someone who suffered with anxiety, someone who sees the world as full of danger. It’s a noise that a settled, calm soul might not even register. I would register it. I’m constantly scanning for threats. In some senses I see this as a strength. A writer is supposed to observe, and my antennae are twitching 24/7.

Narcissism? The Wikipedia page for ‘addictive personality’ used to redirect to ‘narcissistic personality disorder’. So could I, who spends so much time loathing myself be a narcissist? Well, this is all about me. Even the loathing is all about me.

But the good news.

When I wrote my thoughts on counselling I didn’t give it much thought. It was honest and considered but fairly automatic writing. To Counsellor Mike though things jumped out that I had given little thought to. Describing myself as ‘evil’ was one – I have a cape and a lair and everything – which to me means little but to him seemed important.

We talked about it a little. Like talking about killing myself it’s something that comes to me very naturally and which doesn’t concern me greatly. But having it questioned made me look a little more closely. I have a deep core belief that not thinking of others first is selfish and that selfishness is a Bad Thing. My lack of connection with my emotions means I often think I’m cold and calculating, that my natural reaction is to do what enables me to drink.

Mike doesn’t believe I’m a psychopath. This is a Good Thing.

More later.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.

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I went to the Thin City Hospital yesterday for further check ups on my lungs.

It didn’t go well. The doctor rather intimidated me (his staff too from the hushed and reverential tones in which the nurse referred to him) and I’m still stuck with the idea that everyone believes that I have TB and that’s what they’re going to treat. More worryingly, they’re not treating my current shortness of breath while they decide what’s wrong with me. I feel stuck.

In my new resolution to take actions rather than just worry, I have written to the doctor this letter:

Dear Dr Intimidating,

I attended your TB clinic yesterday and thought I would write as I am not sure I was able to fully explain my symptoms yesterday. I do apologise for this but my anxiety and depression mean that I do not always communicate verbally very effectively, particularly in stressful situations.

It may have appeared that I was rather resistant to the idea that there is anything wrong with me. This is not the case. I am short of breath and I’m aware of this getting worse. I also have occasional pain in my right lung on inhalation. I also feel more fatigued than I should be. (This is particularly worrying and frustrating as when I managed to give up alcohol previously I was absolutely suffused with extra energy). I’m also aware that I am now on a whole panoply of new drugs – accamprosate, naltrexone, antabuse – which may account for this, as well as already prescribed medication – mirtazapine and citalopram – which will have had a different effect whilst I was drinking.

I work freelance and because of my drinking came close to losing my only current assignment, I’m extremely keen to hang on to this and I’m terrified that the situation with my lungs will just get slowly worse until I end up in hospital again, which is likely to cost me this job.

I have drunk through all the antibiotic treatments I have had, which includes both the course I was given on leaving Gloucester Royal Hospital and the most recent course from my GP. I know that this will have reduced their effectiveness, although all of them have worked to some extent and given some improvement in my breathing.

I’m not sure if I should present to my GP if – as I expect – my shortness of breath continues to worsen and ask if he will prescribe something to help?

Again, I apologise for what is I’m sure not great patient/doctor etiquette; however, it’s just a measure of my concern and my desperate wish to get properly better.

Thank you very much for your time.

Yours sincerely,

Thin City Citizen


Let’s see where that gets me.

I’m off to see Desmond now. He’s going to set up a website for me.

Let’s see where that gets me.

Thanks for listening.

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All my life I have had things easy. That needs to change. Yes, there have been tough times, the depression is real, the anxiety is real, but I need to start working on things and working hard.

Because this isn’t going to be easy. I can’t sit back any longer and wait for things to happen. When I drank I made my life easy and predictable – all I had to worry about each day was getting myself to the drink. Everything else I hid away from. Now I don’t drink and those things need facing. And, I’ve got to start addressing them and accept that life – for me – can no longer be easy. Things can no longer be put off. Excuses can no longer be made. Things must be done.

That’s the idea. Turning the idea into action is more of a problem. I still have my excuses and they’re ready to rock.

Currently they include the fact that I’m run down and ill with probably pneumonia that is wearing me out. OK, let’s look at that. It’s true. I am knackered from being short of breath and I’m sleeping too much. But that shouldn’t be stopping me from doing very much apart from the physical exercise I want to start on as soon as I can.

Other excuses are illusory and revolve around anxiety and depression and the excuses are part of the problem which they describe.

Why didn’t I meditate today? Too much bother. Would have meant changing my routine. It Won’t work any way. It’ll be too hard.

Why haven’t I found more work. Too much bother. No one will employ me. Too much effort.

Underpinning it all is the feeling of worthlessness that is at my core. I think I’m going to have to try and reverse things a little. In the past I’ve thought ‘I can’t do stuff because I’m depressed and anxious’ and I’m going to have to start saying ‘I’m depressed and anxious because I don’t do stuff’.

It’s not going to be easy. It’s a way of thinking that’s been inside me, the most important part of me indeed, for most of my life. How it got there – well, I have my ideas – doesn’t really matter any more. It has to go.

And, it’s not going to be easy.

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Mag and I slogged across the Eden and through Dodge (AIGTHOO) to the Dodge Market this morning.

I enjoy it, the bargain hunting and the hustle and bustle make me feel like a member of the real world who has to watch the budget. Mag loves it.

It’s disappointing to be huffing and puffing so much and my chest is still my main preoccupation, the fly in my sober ointment. Talking of ointment, a slight flare up of my eczema is also troubling.

I must report though that my cravings have decreased. Maybe it’s just the passing of time – this is my third sober Sunday, a day that would normally be devoted to heavy (and enjoyable) drinking – maybe the drugs do work.

Getting out of the house into the fresh air and doing some exercise helps too. I didn’t do so well yesterday, didn’t work through my list of positive things to do, and I’m convinced that not leaving the house had something to do with that. It doesn’t take much, but it helps.

We walked back, stopping at the corner shop to get some milk.

As I left a young woman outside accosted me. “Excuse me mate,” she said. I must admit my heart sank somewhat. She was dressed in the uniform of the Thin City underclass and was obviously waiting for someone who I guessed was the bloke I’d heard inside buying a bottle of coke and a litre of ‘the cheapest’ vodka. I braced myself for the request for money or fags.

But no, she pointed at the green leaves sticking out of my ruck sack. “Excuse me mate, you’ve got a leek,” she said and we both laughed like children.

That’s a good lesson for me. Stop expecting the worst.

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I’m a news junky. I’m one of those dreadful people who says, ‘I’m interested in politics and current affairs’, I think it might still be on my CV still as a hobby.

Well, enough of that already. What’s the point. I’ve decided to cut out news. I’m not an AA user (I don’t have strong opinions on the subject, hell, I might even pop along if I can find a decent local meeting), but I do like the Serenity Prayer which has become synonymous with their work:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

That’s cool. I can go with that. There’s more to it than that but that’s the nub of things. And what is news if it isn’t a parade of terrible things about which we can do – at best – very little.

As a journalist news was my job and then my questing mind was a positive boon. Now, it’s a drag, I need a stiller, quieter mind.

The practical upshot of this is that I’ve retuned the radios. Gone is BBC Radio 5Live with its breaking news format and invitations to join in the debate. No, I’m scooching down the dial a little, back to Radio 4. Even better is music. Long pieces of music in which to get lost.

I think it’s helping. I’m already less skittery and jittery. A little anyway.

I don’t know why, but I’m extraordinarily tired just now.

So that’s it from me.

Thanks for popping by, leave a message.





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I thought I’d do a quick run through of my daily – and now entirely legal – drug intake.

So, here we go.

I now take:

One 20mg Citalopram, which is supposed to stop me being so anxious.

Three, vitamin B compound strong tablets. These are standard issue in alcohol treatment and it’s supposed to help you recover. I may start to take more – my similarly recovering friend, Desmond, is taking six.

One 100mg Thiamine (B1) tablet. This is similar in aim and effect to the vitamin B.

One 50mg Nalorex tablet which is supposed to help with cravings.

Six 333mg Campral tablets which ought to do the same thing as Nalorex.

One 200mg Antabuse tablet. I actually take these under supervision at the Addiction Unit, two on Monday and Wednesday and three on Friday. I’m breathalysed before I take it. This is the big one I suppose. The deterrent drug that reacts very, very badly with alcohol and makes you very, very ill if you drink whilest on the drug.

Finally, each evening I take one 30mg Mirtazapine tablet.

I won’t list all the side effects here. They’re all in those Wikipedia articles should you be interested and they’ll scare me.

Do they work?

I don’t know. Well, I do know that Antabuse works. It’s stopping me drinking and I’m not sure how far I trust myself if I stop taking it. (This is partly because of the intensity of the cravings I’m experiencing this time round and the fact that I’m yet to experience the huge positive surge of energy and vitality I associate with going sober.)

Now, Desmond has stopped drinking and also stopped taking Antabuse, Campral and Nalorex. There’s a difference in our experience though. Desmond really did reach rock bottom with drinking, he was hugely underweight and very ill indeed. I stubbornly believe that I never have. I must admit that it’s partly wishful thinking – I’ve got three suicide attempts under my belt which were all drink-related.

So, as I say I’m not sure how effective they are. How much worse might my cravings be without the Nalorex and Campral? The vitamins must be doing some good surely. If there’s one pill I rely on though it’s Mirtazapine and I rely on it too much. Whether it improves my mood is moot at the moment (I’m aware that it has in the past), that it is literally narcotic is not at issue. The side effects (which I said I wouldn’t mention) leaflet warns “May cause drowsiness” this, in my case, is a huge understatement. Mirtazapine knocks me out with a delicious drowsiness that I find incredibly attractive – the drugs to which I’ve been most attracted and of which I’m consequently most afraid are hynotic drugs.

And, that, for the moment is that.

Thanks for dropping in, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

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I filled in my drink diary as usual this morning. And, the Thin City Citizen is pleased and proud to announce (to a no-doubt fascinated readership of what WordPress stats inform me could be as many as 20 people) that a big fat zero went in column one and another in column two.

Yes, I drank nowt yesterday. At least nothing alcoholic. Much tea there was. Much water too. I even followed some online advice and bought some Diaoralyte – the re-hydration sachets that you’re supposed to take when you have diaorhea – and forced (sorry, they taste vile) one of those down too.

This morning I loaded up the pill tray again for the following week. I’m now taking – deep breath – this each day:

20mg Citalopram – in the morning, this is my anti-anxiety prescription.

30mg Mirtazapine – in the evening, this is my antidepressant.

Vitamin B compound strong – I take three a day from the huge stockpile that built up when I was last sober but not taking my medication properly.

100 mg thiamine – one a day.

500mg Vitamin C – I’m taking two. I’m still petrified that my pneumonia will come back and cost me my job, and this seems a decent way to combat it.

550mg cod liver oil – I’m taking this on the basis that it can’t do any harm and my nutrition of late has been appalling.

Calcium, magnesium and zinc – and not just any calcium, magnesium and zinc ladies and gentlemen, no this is calcium, magnesium and zinc that has been chelated – whatever the dickens chelated might mean. Again, I’m taking one of these every other day on the basis that it was in the house anyway and it can’t do any harm. Although I read online it could be a good treatment for anxiety.

And that’s that.

I’m also eating a lot more and a lot more healthily. And, you have no idea how much better I feel already (of course, you may, in which case apologies for failing to recognise your extraordinary empathy or own experience of alcoholism).

I’m sleeping less (this is good, I used to be in a 12 hour coma). I have energy. My anxiety is more manageable. My depression is less of a problem. I’m busier. I’m more productive. I’m reading again. I’m listening to music again.

To counter this exhausting and tedious list of Good Things, I am still concerned about my lungs. I’ve cut down on the fags and hope all those vitamins might be doing me some good, but I feel like the pneumonia is coming back. I have shortness of breath, I sweat with very minor exertion and feel of slightly ‘out of it’. I’m also a bit concerned that I wake up every morning with pins and needles.

But these are minor doodahs on the thingummy and otherwise I’m on top of the world ma.

Leave a message below if I’m out.

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