Days sober: 22
“We are unusual and tragic and alive.” – Dave Eggers
Okay, here are some true statements. They rarely leave my lips and, when they do, they are rarely said with honesty. But I can say them honestly today:
I’m doing OK. I’m good. I’m alright. I’m doing good. I’m OK (!)
I know what you’re thinking – either “She’s getting manic” or it’s “Pink Cloud syndrome.”
Well, maybe you’re right. You probably are. During the early stages of sobriety, recovering alcoholics can be overwhelmed with “happiness” at their newfound energy, optimism, productivity. They can be joyous at their weight loss, at the money they’ve saved, at the good things they’ve been doing instead of drinking. This is known as living on the Pink Cloud.
While the Pink Cloud is wonderful (of course it’s good to feel great and good to be sober, and it’s good to feel great being sober) it can be dangerous. This risk of relapse is high – while optimistic and happy it’s easy to think “I could definitely handle one glass of wine with a meal tonight” or even, “I’ll have a little drink to celebrate how well I’ve done.” So while it’s awesome to be so happy, it’s massively risky.
But I’m being careful about my recent “okayness” – my whole life I have learned to be cautious about happiness, and even when I’m “happy” I know that what comes up must come down and I keep this in my mind at all times. Mania always let me fly so high, so fucking high, so I had miles and miles to build-up terrifying speed as I’d hurtle back down to reality – the crash and burn, the return to depression was always devastating. So I’ve learned (or am always learning) the art of a balanced mind – that is what bipolar recovery is all about.
So even though I have spent the past 5 or 6 days feeling good, I am cautious not to fly too high. But I am enjoying feeling good. My creativity has flourished, I’ve been writing, reading, imagining, dreaming, planning, painting, designing and being really productive every day.
I’m working on a new watercolour series which should sell, I made my dad a cracking homemade Father’s Day card, I’ve been watching interesting art documentaries, planning museum visits and reading all kinds of books. I know this sounds like onset-mania but it’s not; I know my illness and this is not hypomania, this is just me doing things that I enjoy.
I have no appetite so I’m not eating much but I’m staying hydrated (which is super-important since I take Lithium). And it’s odd, because I don’t look any different, but I don’t feel so ugly anymore. I know that drinking makes me ugly: physically and mentally repulsive. But I think my body is starting to replenish itself, and now that I’m not actively destroying myself I feel prettier. My self-inflicted injuries are healing, I’ve been sitting out on the roof in the sun getting my vit D, and I’ve been looking after myself as best I can. My caffeine intake has shot up again though – I’d done so well to keep it to a minimum but I’m needed 3 cups of coffee to keep me awake in the morning.
I’m being a nicer person as well, I think. I’m enjoying hanging out with my brother, he worked in the boxes at Royal Ascot all week, but now he’s got some time off so I can spend more time with him. I tend to visit my dad in the mornings and do whatever he needs doing. I don’t get to see my dad so often now because he goes to the pub everyday and I can’t do it.
But I went to the pub with dad yesterday for two hours for Father’s Day. It was hard. First time in the pub in 3 weeks. Everyone was asking me where the hell I’d been. I said fighting the cartels in Mexico. They said I look great but they missed me. I had two glasses of bitter-sweet lemonade and I think the atmosphere and the people and the sugar-rush made me all tetchy and jittery so I went home.
But it was OK – I didn’t have a panic attack or breakdown or shout at anyone or order a double vodka. I came out stronger than I was when I walked in, so that’s good.
I woke up in the middle of the night to the sounds of my own screams. I was screaming like, well, like a crazy person. My mother came to check on me: this is serious fucking progress. I still can’t believe she came to check if I was alright – that’s such an overly caring and maternal thing to do, which is totally not her style. My brother checked on me too. He said I must have had a bad dream. But I didn’t – I remember all of my bad dreams. My nightmares only form in my unconscious mind with the intention of significantly scarring my conscious mind. They wouldn’t form if they weren’t going to be seen and remembered, they’re malicious, attention-seeking little bastards.
I am seeing my GP tomorrow morning. I am getting the results of my MRI scan, the one I had about 4 weeks ago. I also need my blood test results, and for the millionth time I am going to complain about my sweating and shaking and beg him to help me. I need a new medical certificate as well to send to the gov. If I am not diagnosed with a brain tumour or told that I need a lobotomy then I think after my appointment I’ll go into the East End to see ‘The Alice Look’ exhibition which celebrates 150 years of Alice.
I got an email today from a guy who used to be part of my care team. He was my old support worker. He’d heard from a colleague that I’m trying out sobriety again and sent me a message to wish me luck and to say,
“Even if you don’t add brandy to the fruitcake, you’re still left with a fruitcake.”
Yeah, even if there’s no booze in me, I’m still insane. Thanks, mate!
You are ok. You are caring for yourself. You are taking control of your life. And you can see that. Your measured caution is understandable, but optimism is helpful. Glad you are finding yourself again. XO