The people who know me will probably be best placed to decide whether I suffer from stress or not. Previously I would have been 99.9% sure that I did not (outside of parental bereavement and funerals etc), but I’m beginning to question that now.
I’m becoming VERY aware lately that my stress management (usually alcohol) in the past may have papered over many many cracks. It’s stopped me from dealing with problems, and hidden some of the obvious symptoms they caused.
It would be fair to say that my life wasn’t all that harsh though, and I’m not claiming to be someone with the weight of the world on my shoulders.
I am a single man, living on my own, content with that solitude, doing things I want to when I want to do them and before I suddenly decided to change direction and leave my job (since reversed thankfully) had been in stable employment with colleagues and friends going back many many years.
Although I still have my job the alcohol is now gone. Its been Sixty-nine days since it ceased to be a crutch.
Although I made a very conscious decision to stop drinking I am also aware that at the same time events overtook me. The death of my mother, whom I struggled to relate to removed a huge burden that I’d carried for years.
The sensation of weight lifting when she died wasn’t instant, and her death created many other ripples, but it was the beginning of a new chapter, which is still unfolding.
With this newfound perspective and lucid thought comes emotion. Lots of it sometimes. Going to group (now in the 3rd week of four) brings a lot of questions – and not always with answers.
Today we discussed dealing with depression. While I can categorically say in the past I have been seriously caught in the grip of this (about 4 years ago I really hit rock bottom), at the moment I am not. For the most part I’m positive, but I’m also conscious that other events in the back of my mind and elsewhere in life are looming large in my head. Now I have made a step toward a new life I’m not only faced with possibilities, but fears.
They’ve probably always been there, but now they’re vivid and real.
I’ve learned how my drinking trigger feels and have blogged about it before. It’s a warm feeling in my chest that leads to a tingling sensation in my neck and face. Now I can see it for what it is I’m becoming more able to deal with it, and slow down the chain reaction that previously resulted in me immediately buying or consuming alcohol.
At the moment I’m slowly getting into Mindfulness, and I’m genuinely surprised at the difference it makes. This evening I got very tense and stressed. EVERYTHING was in place to either make me eat or drink to excess, and then YouTube came to the rescue.
Before and after every group session over the last few weeks we have had a ten minute session similar to this, and whilst my initial estimation of its power was ‘verging on complete bollocks’ its now moved on to ‘actually very good indeed’.
I decided to try and find a home version tonight (previously I’ve just sat quietly trying to breathe and calm down) and the video above popped up in my search. I’m sure there are many many more like this, but in a moment of panic this really hit the spot.
Like most things Mindfulness seems to get better the more you practice it, and as you begin to become more self aware and able to filter thoughts and external sounds out there are genuine benefits to be had. Within the space of 10 mins tonight I went from worried and tense to calm, centred and existing in the moment.
Who knew that such things were possible? Not me thats for sure.
I’ve also had other related things to think about today. Dopamine triggers.
Although I’ve not been able to find any evidence on the web to substantiate this my group leader today suggested that one of the four natural dopamine triggers was caring about other people. This really resonated with me, as thoughts involving others are always with me and I’m very much a person (at least I think I am) who likes to reach out to others.
Since I read whilst researching this that sex is a recognised dopamine trigger I’m willing to get on board with this concept, and instinctively feel that the warmth coming from human contact, and sharing emotions must be related.
However – I’m only a Google and Wikipedia pseudo scientist so it could also be serotonin or endorphins. Or caffeine – which is also consumed in large quantities with friends.
But I’m getting off the point. WHATEVER causes the nice sensations – sign me up baby and let the good times roll!
I’m going to practice more of this tonight before bed and see whether I can filter out some of the inane mental chatter thats stopped me sleeping the last two nights in a row.
Oh, and finally, I met a nice woman online tonight who was kind enough to chat with me about my blog, and share her YouTube channel with me. It’s not every day that you meet a lady that can review a cordless drill, bake cookies, race radio controlled cars AND write a blog thats not just varied but well composed.
She too writes thoughtfully about the loss of a parent, and I guess I’m far from alone out here in the blogosphere. The internet is a wonderful place sometimes, and just when you need that shot of dopamine/serotonin/endorphins/sandwiches and human contact, unexpectedly someone comes along 🙂
Be mindful internet. The universe is listening!