2 Years Later…Here I Am

June 3th 2022

I’ve been gone for awhile, for some reason I just hadn’t had it in me to write. I’ve been feeling in some kind of funk for months battling both depression and anxiety but I want to start making an effort to start journaling and blogging again for my self care even if it’s just a few minutes every other day.

I’ve been debating on making a decision for a couple of weeks now. Since the pandemic started I’ve been drinking more heavily than usual. It started back in the Spring of 2020 when I started teaching remotely. I was stressed out as most teachers were trying to adjust to this new way of teaching. It was stressful because I felt sometimes like it was my 1st year of teaching again. I had to come up with new ways to present a lesson on Zoom, try and keep 5 year olds engaged in front of the computer for hours and I had to become more tech savvy to try and help my students’ parents many who were only Spanish speaking so I had to aid them in getting familiar with Zoom as well and how to submit work on the student’s tablets and apps.

I’ve had problems with my anxiety for years now, I can’t recall when it first started but I would say sometime in my mid 30s. I’ve always enjoyed a good drink but it was never a problem. I didn’t think I was any different than anyone else until the past 2 years. When we returned to school in the Fall of 2020 there were a lot more expectations from my district and administrators that I would wake up anxious even before getting out of bed and starting my class on Zoom. Before the pandemic I was given an antidepressant for the longest time for my anxiety but it wasn’t fast acting like the ones I have now that I feel more at ease from the anxiety within 20-30 minutes.

I would start my zoom at 9am, I love coffee and would spike it with Kahlua or whatever liqueur I had on hand and I would drink while teaching my Zoom lesson. I do have to say once I would start the lesson I was fine because I was busy and didn’t have time to let my thoughts get the best of me. I would just have 1 or 2 cups of coffee like this only to relax me because I was home. If I was going in to the school building I wouldn’t have been drinking.

There’s a meme I saw at one point during the pandemic that asked what will you join after the pandemic Weight Watchers or AA. I thought both for me but especially the AA. Eventually midyear I took a leave of absence from work because the anxiety was too much. During that time I did a lot of self care, was hospitalized and then completed an intensive outpatient program for 4 weeks. I was set to go back in January of 2021 but I just couldn’t do it. That’s when I had my suicide attempt because I saw myself as a failure if I couldn’t return to my career.

I’m a beer gal, thanks in part to an ex that got me into different kind of craft beers it’s what I prefer to drink because I can have a few and get a good buzz but rarely have a hangover the next day. Hard liquor is more likely to have me hurting the next day so I just stick to beer. So since the pandemic I have been drinking more heavily and even after I left the classroom and I wasn’t anxious anymore I was still drinking because it just became such a habit. I went back to being a nanny and things were better because I really do enjoy working with kids and it wasn’t stressful like teaching.

I’ve been seeing my therapist off and on for 8 years. I always joke that it’s my longest relationship and in some ways she understands and knows me better than my friends and family. I made her aware of my drinking and how I would reach for that beer to fight off the anxiety. Well in the last few months I feel it’s become more of a problem. I’m drinking most days and the days I don’t drink I crave a drink.

I love my dad but he is a functional alcoholic, as I think I am too. He has 1-2 beers most days and my therapist is concerned with my drinking because of this and my mental health struggles. About 3 weeks ago I did some research with my insurance and found a substance abuse facility and added my name to the waitlist. I would be there voluntarily from 2 weeks to 4 weeks, I am free to leave at any point since it’s voluntary. I am still deciding if I really need to go because sometimes I don’t think the problem is that bad. But if you ask if I drink alone, do I drink often or if I’ve ever started my day with a drink I would answer yes to that.

My family is concerned with my drinking too as well as friends so that’s why I decided to seek help. This was real tough for me to do because me asking for help makes the problem real. Some would say yes I need the help and others are probably like well I know people that have a drink every day and go to work and function without any problem. I thankfully don’t have any DUI’s or arrests because of my drinking and I don’t cause scenes as I usually drink at home on my couch. When I drink I never drink to the point of wanting to get drunk or where I blackout just enough to relax me and be a happy chill gal. I often do think of when I’ll have my next drink. There were a few days the cravings were so bad and I would sneak my dad’s beers upstairs to my apartment.

Back in the Spring time I stopped drinking for 2 weeks for Lent. I don’t usually give up anything as I’m not very religious but I thought it was a good idea and my dad actually stopped drinking too although he was able to last till Easter. During the 2 weeks I didn’t drink, I experienced withdrawal, thankfully it was’t more severe than a daily headache. I would get a headache every single day and no pain meds would help at all.

Recently the alcohol has done a 180 on me though. It would always always calm my anxiety and relax me but lately it’s been causing anxiety. For example yesterday we had a bbq at my sister’s. I made guacamole at home to take and had a beer while doing this. We had a great time and I had a few more beers at her house plus some sangria. I was not drunk, I was totally fine to drive us home but this morning I felt the results of the drinking. I woke up anxious before getting out of bed. My younger sister told me yesterday that happens to her too. Alcohol had always calmed my anxiety so I didn’t think till recently that it was causing the anxiety.

For a number of months now my anxiety has been worse and I didn’t think to connect it to my drinking. So you would think if it’s causing you anxiety you should just quit drinking. Yesterday I didn’t feel anxious while I drank yesterday it’s the day after that I feel the effects once I wake up. I keep thinking that I don’t know if I can give it up completely because it’s such a part of our social settings. I get together with friends for brunch and dinner we have some drinks. I get together with a friend at a bar for some beers and a burger or wings. I have a bad long day I have a beer on my couch.

Not sure if anyone can relate but that’s where I find myself now. Trying to decide if I should go to rehab and if I’m ready to give up alcohol for good. I never drink to the point of wanting to get drunk, I just like that it relaxes me initially and I like how the buzz feels. I also smoke so me trying to give up both these awful addictions seems beyond me. I would like to get to a point where I was years ago where I was just a social drinker not an every day drinker. I just want to drink when I go out and not be drinking on my couch every night. I try not to keep it at home because I’ll just drink till I finish the beer but since my dad drinks there’s always beer in the house.

I will most likely go to rehab and do 3 weeks there. My plan is to give up alcohol for a couple of months at least and see at what point I can become just a social drinker when I’m out of the house. People ask if I should be drinking if I’m on medications and since I’ll be on medications the rest of my life I figure well fuck it. One of the reasons I want to quit too is because even though at times I try to track my calories and work out, having a beer or 2 isn’t not helping my weight loss so hence the number on the scale not going down. I gained weight during the pandemic and it wasn’t because I was eating bad it was from the beer.

I want to go to rehab to learn coping strategies that will help me replace my drinking with other things. I want to change the way I view alcohol, not as something I need on a daily basis or something I turn to whenever I’m stressed or anxious. I would like to just use my medication to help my anxiety and be done with this awful addiction. I want better for me. I want to be in better shape and I want to be healthier and happy without alcohol in my daily life.

I have started sharing this blog on my Facebook page but I’m not ready for those in my life to know about my problem, I’m more comfortable confessing this to strangers because then I don’t care if I’m being judged.

I will definitely write more on the topic and plan to journal while in rehab about my experience. My therapist thinks this isn’t something I can try and work out on my own though and I’m beginning to see what she’s right, I need support to change my way of viewing alcohol as a solution for everything. I know this is going to be a tough journey but I want better for myself.

To be continued…

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