Tag Archives: healing

Why drinking whole bottle of gin is not a great way to deal with anxiety relapse

That was pleasant Saturday morning when I sat with a cup of coffee after eating my favourite pancakes for breakfast. Little by little I started losing focus on a book I was reading. I felt trapped. I felt that I’m losing not only a breath but also a mind and ground beneath my feet. The walls surrounding me started to get closer, while the same thing was happening inside my mind.

Sounds like I experienced something horrible? Like I was part of some disturbing accident? Well, you know – in fact, nothing had happened. Just another panic attack.

Photo by Mary Oloum

Anxiety attack is not only a crushed stomach and trembling hands – it is above all a paralysis that overwhelms the body and mind. As if you were squeezed in a black hole from which you cannot get out. 

Even when everything is fine, relapses will come back

It is typical of neurosis and panic attack that they often appear for no good reason. If you’ve ever experienced a breakdown like this, you know the trigger can be anything, even something you wouldn’t think of. It is just happening at some level of our consciousness. That’s why it’s so important to keep an eye on yourself. Accurately and honestly assess ourselves and the situations we are in. If it weren’t for my physical symptoms, I would never have thought that lockdown and the pandemic had any effect on my well-being. 

Despite being one of the lucky people (who have not lost their jobs, whos business going well, and who have exiting opportunities appearing on the horizon) I can notice that the whole world has turned upside down and it had some destructive effect on my psyche. And if you are dealing with any of those dark friends like anxiety, depression or addiction you should realize that there’s no end to that story. Sometimes, even if everything seems to be just fine, they might come back and knock on your door. Now, it’s only up to you if you open and invite them in. 

How naive I was that not being able to sleep for almost 3 weeks has nothing to do with my state of being. Of course, I tried to explain it somehow – overwork, stress as we were finishing accounting year, an upcoming deadline for that damn book that I have no idea how to end. My mistake was to take it as normal and pretend everything is ok. Maybe it was until that fateful morning when my unwanted neurosis guest not only entered the house but made himself at home for good. 

So how should you deal with relapse?

I have to admit that drinking a whole bottle of gin to deal with it was not the healthiest solution. Well, I’m writing here so you don’t make my mistakes. There’s nothing worst than covering problems with another problem. Like dealing with anxiety on a huge hangover. Don’t do it, kids.

(And for those who loves that gin too much I have tasty piece here: https://wholeworldinmyhead.com/2020/05/19/dealing-with-an-addicted-mind/ )

Here are a few steps that you can follow to avoid the destructive effects of relapses:

  • Watch yourself and accept; you need to observe your emotions – don’t ignore and push through, it only makes things worse. 
  • Name your enemies; you need to recognize the triggers to eliminate them before an attack occurs. Avoid situations and people that make you feel uneasy. I know this is the taught one, (especially coming to people) but we are talking about your mental health – this should be your priority, not trying to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. Co-workers dilemma about Kardashian’s life annoys you? Don’t go for a coffee break together. That super slim athlete friend with PhD makes you feel like old wrack? Mute his/her feed on social media. You don’t need to compare yourself to someone’s ideal world created for instagram, especially while you dealing with anxiety. 
  • Apply a mind detox; cut your screen time and go offline for a while. You know, there is a pretty awesome world outside there. Don’t watch the news, don’t read upsetting articles. Pick up some uplifting book or a podcast and go for a long walk. Move your body, jog, meditate. Connect with your inner energy – that peaceful place is somewhere inside you, sometimes you just need to dig really deep to discover it.
  • Rely on medication if needed; in case you feel that the situation slips out of your hands and you lose control, it’s always a good idea to seek professional advice. We are not always able to deal with everything alone. 

And the most important of all: be kind to yourself. Always.

Trapped mind: quite different addictions

IF YOU ASK ME WHAT THREATENS OUR DEVELOPMENT THE MOST, I WOULD TELL YOU WITHOUT BLINKING. THE TRAPS OUR MIND CAN GET CAUGHT IN. AND THERE ARE MANY OF THEM SET UP: ANXIETY, DISSOCIATIVE DISORDERS, DEPRESSION, OCD, PHOBIAS, PSYCHOSIS, MANIA AND THE BIG ONE – ADDICTIONS – DOUBLY DEVIOUS BECAUSE THEY CAN APPLY NOT ONLY TO SUBSTANCES.

Another kind of high – brain on an emotional boost

The mechanism of any addiction remains same no matter what is the substance. And what interesting, it is still same, if there is no substance at all. Well, not in a physical form.

Every addiction causes specific reactions in the brain and is associated with impaired function of neurotransmitters and hormones, mainly in the structures of the reward system. Simply speaking, even if you don’t supply the brain with a specific substance, such as a drug, brain can still make it. All you need is the right stimulus. In this case, we can talk about behavioural addiction. Gambling, sex, internet, food and even falling in love – it can all be related to our internal emotional catastrophe. 

Much of addiction issues I’ve touched on already here: Dealing with an addicted mind. As this is very personal topic to me, I’d like go deeper into in areas which are less talked about.

Erotomania is not only sex addiction. Its variation is the ailment of being addicted to being in love. This is where a person needs that specific kick of pleasure – dopamine secreted by the brain – which equates to being high. Think, when you are falling in love you feel that an amazing inflow of pleasure and ecstasy. In a healthy mind, this evolves into a deeper feeling or simply disappears. For some, there is that the irresistible need to re-trigger it. And here we have a problem.

The phenomenon of sex addiction we refer to people who need closeness very much and are just as afraid of it, so they meet their needs by entering into relationships with the body of another person, and not with the ‘whole’ person. A quite different variation is the addiction to emotions that occur when falling in love.

behavioral addictions can be as toxic as those of substances such as alcohol or drugs

Toxic passion

Why is the mind so vulnerable to all these pitfalls? It all comes down to this big, empty hole that we carry within us. Some trying to feel it by overusing alcohol or drugs, some by food, self-harm or uncontrolled shopping, and others trying to fix it with compulsive falling in love. As it might seem innocent, can lead to serious complications in various areas of life.

Firstly, it is difficult for a person with such a problem to build a solid, valuable relationship. Because if something begins to fail, she ( I use this pronoun, as this issue is most common among women) runs away and falls in love elsewhere. Here, the partner is not the most important – it’s addictive emotions that take over. Secondly, the person is susceptible to becoming obsessed. And this can be very damaging to mental health.

Love obsession is also an addiction that brings inability to focus on other areas of life besides the obsession object. We are missing something, and we think that only thanks to the other person we can become complete. And, I know – who read in the nineteenth-century literature may perceive it as something very romantic. But trust me on this – it is essentially unhealthy and destructive. Remeber, even Werter shot himself in the head!;)

Quick fix for the broken soul

Compulsive behavior is one that gives us emotional satisfaction. Is an easy, but ineffective way to deal with what bothers us. It’s like sticking a broken vase with adhesive tape – it seems to stick, but when you pour water into it and put flowers, it will fall apart immediately. For any emotional disorders, there is only one way – working on emotions.

Ways to reconnect with your emotions

When we lose contact with ourselves, we also lose control over our lives. To recover it, we can take steps that will allow to connect with what is happening inside us. Some of the effective techniques to help reconnect with emotions are:

  • Meditation – silencing the mind and putting it in an alpha wave state – you can start with a few minutes a day and gradually deepen your practice. Meditation is about clearing the mind of thoughts and focusing simply on ‘being’.
  • Mindfulness – practicing being here and now – focus on everything that is inside and around you, contemplate reality, see what is happening in your body – what you feel and how you experience it: smells, flavors, sounds, colors, touch …
  • Journaling – make contact with yourself by keeping a diary of feelings – do not focus on the form, just write what you feel, what you think – pour on paper everything that sits in your heart and head. Is a great way to cleanse yourself of overwhelming emotions, as well as to awaken creativity.
  • Exam yourself – as you might think you know yourself very well, there might be parts of you that you’re not aware of. Or parts of you that have changed over the years. Commit to a journey of self-discovery. Make list of questions and answer them. Write it down and come back to it in some time. You can make a list of things you love to do. Things you hate, things that makes you nervous, things that scares you, excite you, amuse you. Play with it!
  • Name what you feel – sometimes it’s not easy to recognize what we feel. Even if you struggle to define your own feeling and emotions, try to name them. If you are unsure what are you feeling make up a name for it. As example- jealove can be a feeling towards a friend you admire, but you also envy him a little. You can create your own personal dictionary of feeling and it could be a fun!

Problem of emotional addiction is not black and white. If you feel that somehow it may affect you, you should look closer at yourself. Even if it touches you slightly, you can still be exposed to its toxic effects. No better way to deal with it, as learning to recognize everything that takes place within you.

/main photo by Nick Fewins on Unsplash/ Photo by Marc Schaefer on Unsplash/

Dealing with an addicted mind

We have been equipped in the great and very powerful, yet fragile tool. Our mind. In ideal world we would be able to fully control it, same got control of whole our life. However, there’s no such a thing as ideal world. It always amazed me, that people can be strong and vulnerable at the same time. That, despite their uniqueness and intelligence, they can lose to a simple substance – a chemical compound, a cluster of elements. Maybe it’s because we are just cluster of atoms too?

Despite the fact that modern psychology and medicine explain more and more mechanisms of bad habits, addictions are still stigmatized. I think it’s because many people still doesn’t quite understand it. The addiction mechanism itself is rather simple. What is more complicated lies in the mind that creates these mechanisms. Many studies indicate that addiction to alcohol, drugs or medicines are a certain, ineffective form of self-healing.

We all have this idea of ​​what addiction is. It’s medical problem. The diagnosis includes a bunch of physiological, behavioral and cognitive phenomena. However, it’s vital to distinguish a habit from addiction. There is a subtle difference between repetitive activity and impaired ability to control it.

So how to recognize the addiction mechanism?

Basically, we become addicted to something that we think helps us cope. The thing we reach for, stimulates our brain in such a way that we feel rewarded. Or relieved. Addiction develops in the context of human personality. You can be susceptible or not, as you would with self-destructive behavior. Because it comes down to it in a broader spectrum. And although the mechanism is the same for every human being, each addiction is different. Below you can see coping cycles of affected and healthy mind:

by Sarah Smock Jordan

If you often seeking relief and running away from yourself into artificial states of mind, you might be in this dangerous spot where the roller-coaster ride starts. Why do I say this? Because this is how it looks from my own perspective.

Am I really an addict?

When I was 20 years old I ended up on rehab. After being locked for few weeks in institution I followed few years of group and individual therapy. What a fun, I’m telling you! While joining university (and you know how students life looks like) and starting over again, I wasn’t even able to socialize, cause most of human interactions are based on things I had to avoid to stay sober. Casual beer, parties, gigs, pubs and restaurants meetings. You know, all that things young adults like to do. I missed all of that in my first years of college. Instead, I spent lots of time with a bunch of ageing guys from AA group. Oh, and got emotionally involved with my therapist. Firmly I do not advise!

You can ask how did I manage to withstand it at a young age? Well, I really tasted it before, and I had it all too much. You know this slogan sex, drugs & rock’n roll? What can I say – I can’t describe teenager me better than that! Following years manifested themselves in depression and neurosis, and eventually a return to bad habits. What I can be proud of, I’ve never back to hard drugs. But there still was irresistible inclination towards that bottle full of happy percentage, not mention overusing holy herbs. It’s long and painful story. Anyways, it happened that I solved this problem in a way, that it no longer bothers me. Not so much. Amazing that I began to develop a healthy awareness of myself and these issues in my thirties. As they say – better late, than never! So, am I sober now?

No. For sure not in a way my therapist wanted me to be. But I’m not drunk or under influence of shitty stuff anymore. And here starts the tricky part. Before I write more, I would like to tell you, that I am not an advocate of ‘not staying away’ from stimulating substances. What I’m trying to say is that in some cases rigid separation from everything can be toxic.

 I remember that obstinate thought I had once looking at people having fun - I want to have fun too. Like a normal person, not an addict. I don't wanna be careful with every thing around me, I don't wanna live in constant fear of triggers that might appear everywhere on my way.I like to try treat everything normal, not as a potential threat to my sobriety.

Not a therapeutic thinking at all. But you know what? I can tell you that for few years of total sobriety I wasn’t happier person at all. Withdrawal from any substance will not help much if you still have a mess in your head. My therapist used to call it “ass cramp” – when your body is sober, but your mind still high in drunken promised paradise.

All addicts needs revolution in the brain and some dabbling in mental guts.

Use of psychoactive substances is transformed into addiction, which further aggravates all previous problems. Without proper changes in your mind, nothing will come out of being sober. Those changes must touch every aspect of your wounded soul. I can tell you it’s not easy journey. And in my case very long.

Did you know that getting drunk or drug use is a self-destructive behavior that is associated with a deep personality disorder?

Overcoming problems with addictions it’s a matter of achieving right perspective. Pint of beer won’t harm you if you know how to approach drinking. Having awareness that you are looking for intoxication is the first step to understand the problem. If you realize that you are drinking to kill something inside you, better put the bottle down. Allow yourself to it only if you are sure that there is no hidden intention.

This applies to all other addictions, because not all of them result from the abuse of psychoactive substances. The same mechanisms apply to addiction to gambling or sex. In addition, different types of addiction can be identified. According to American biostatic and physiologist Elvin Molton Jellinek, who referred to alcohol addiction, there are five types:

  • Alfa – when the substance is used to relax, reduce stress and it leads to loosing control over drinking/using.
  • Beta – addiction combined with physical complications
  • Gamma – most common, is distinguished by a gradual increase in alcohol tolerance. An addicted person loses control over the amount of alcohol consumed, but drinks intermittently, maintains the ability to decide when to start drinking after a break.
  • Delta – can control the amount of alcohol consumed, but is unable to refrain from drinking.
  • Epsilon – periodic getting drunk, in ‘series’.

We can also identify four stages of addiction development: initial, warning, critical and chronic. As you can see all habits and addictions are complex issue. If there is anything that worries you about this topic, I suggest you take a closer look.

Bottle of wine is not a plaster for a broken soul.

addiction is not only alcohol and drugs, it is also medicine, sugar, sex, gambling, food, masturbation, games, pornography, falling in love …

This is probably the most important thing – intoxication will not help you heal yourself of sadness, lack or emptiness. What’s more, it can increase their intensity. Substance abuse is like self-propelled destruction machine. Addicted mind is confused and fragile, it gets easily lost in the complexities of reality. I can certainly say that in my case it contributed to the deepening of nervous problems. Although it’s ok now, I know these problems will come back. Because this is life – take the bitter with the sweet. Relapses may appear unexpectedly. There was a time, bad time, when I was treated medically, but I gave up medication. I currently believe that a holistic approach can be equally effective. Of course, this depends on the specific cases.

To start dealing with any addiction we need to understand what wounds we want to cover with it. We need to look deep inside ourselves, even if we think this is really dark and cold place. We can’t close eyes to avoid seeing those scary shadows we are afraid of. We need to meet our demons – fears, disappointments, failure, rejection, guilt, emptiness. And we need to accept that they are there, inside. Otherwise will be impossible to fight them and transform. I know it might sounds naive, but once we deal with all unpleasant emotions, we will be able to move to the level where we can reveal in ourselves understanding, forgiveness, fulfillment, love. This is how healing starts.