I can count the number of drinks I've had in the last 5 years on one hand. I smoked cigarettes for about 2 ill-advised weeks in college and hated it. I've had seasons of enjoyable marijuana use but haven't enjoyed any of the sparse number of highs I've had in a few years - I think my chemistry changed post-pregnancy causing me to be more anxious when using sativa and I've never been one to enjoy the motivation-melting ultra-chill indica high. Other drugs - meh. Tried them during college and was never impressed. Even though my dad struggled with major substance abuse issues my whole youth, I didn't really get the addiction gene and I never allowed myself to use anything so profoundly that I accidentally got physically addicted.
Except, I'm kind of re-thinking that last bit.
Yesterday was not a good day for me, emotionally. The pressure and stressors of Matt being gone for work since the end of December finally caught up with me and us. Even though we will re-unite today, yesterday was hard. Today I feel as though my body has been through the wringer, an all-night bender, hunger-over and feeling shitty. This feels like the fall-out coming down from a nasty drug cocktail and I can't help but look at how I felt yesterday and how I feel today and think about how many times I've felt similarly. Enough to think that this is something that if may not be an addiction, per se, is problematic in how present it has been in my life. For example: what if I could say that I'd only felt this way 5 times in 5 years - that would be excellent in comparison.
So perhaps its not like I'm going out and getting drunk on my emotions every single night. But its enough that if it was a substance and you were close to me, you'd probably be concerned.
Its definitely worse when external factors are involved.
I'm adamant about self-care. I go to bed between 8-10pm every night and wake up before 8am every day. My early early mornings are less now that I'm living with Matt's parents because they get up really early for work and I feel like I would be in the way if I got up too/I think the only reason Vor sleeps through that is because I'm there next to him. I eat a whole foods, plant based diet, I have been Intermittent Fasting for months (years really except a break during pregnancy and breast-feeding), I drink 120 oz. of water everyday. All that to be said, if my melt-down is initiated from inside, I'm largely capable of mitigating it because I have paid in so much to my self-care bank that even as depleted as I have become, I still have reserves on most days. My recent routine of writing and guided meditations coupled with yin yoga was working well to help me feel like a cloud had lifted from my heart and brain. I expect it will continue to work well over the long-haul. But yesterday really threw me off. And yesterday is not the only external stress that has happened recently.
Retrospection is useful as a jump-off point for deciding how to take action. If you can relate to any of the above here are some of the steps I take to help get out of the hole of being emotionally hungover:
- Resolution. Sometimes actual resolution cannot happen. For example, the thing with Carly and TPY is likely never to be resolved. In that instance, resolution looks like letting go. The immediate pain from that situation is long over and only felt through clinging to the past. Sometimes resolution can actually happen and is worth a little extra pain in the moment to reach. Yesterday, working through our communication break-down was worth it because Matt and I have both been under duress in our own way recently. In a month apart we only just now fell prey to our egos and in the bigger picture, that's worth working through. If you can resolve your stress do it. If not, remove yourself physically or mentally and let it go.
- Drink water. Just as actual drug use toxifies your body, so too, does the mix of stress hormones released during times of acute emotional reactivity. Water will help flush it out of you. Drink one ounce of water for every pound of body weight if you're lean. If you have a little extra to love, calculate your lean body mass and drink that (in ounces) plus an extra pint.
- Self-inquiry. Even in situations where you feel like you are "the victim" you are probably not fully without some ability to analyze your actions and decisions that led to an emotional binge. Are there exceptions to that - yes, of course. You can't change an unexpected death for instance. I may not even have been able to do anything about my car dying. All signs point to that being something that was just not reasonably within my ability to anticipate. But other things I contribute to. Example: The other day I got mightly stressed out by Instagram. I'll post about the very justifiable reasons why upcoming - and no, its not because I want to blow up and be a famous instagram yogi. But that was totally a stress to which I contributed. I followed way too many people. I followed accounts that I thought were inspiring and helpful and maybe they once were but no longer. Ok! That means there's something I can do about it. That means there's a way I can grow, adapt, evolve and change for the better.
- Shower, brush your teeth floss, etc. Whatever it is you would do when you're trying to present yourself at your best, do that. I already detailed my standards of self-care. Here are some things I do less of when I'm in the throes of depression and anxiety: shower, floss, put on nice clothes, look in the mirror, brush my hair. After an absence of the aforementioned, when I finally resume those activities, I feel measurably more like a human being. So, from my experience, the little things do help.
- Where do you feel the most like garbage? All you have to do is close your eyes for 10s and focus on how your body feels to know the fallout from and emotional bender creates massive tension. You might need a little longer to determine exactly where in your body you feel the worst but it shouldn't take you a long time, regardless. This can literally be done sitting, standing, in the fetal position...just close your eyes and identify one or two places where you feel the tightest, heaviest, emptiest. Then stretch that body part out. This is stretching and not yoga per se. It can turn into yoga with a little extra intention and breath. But this is concentrated stretching to open up the areas that are most likely to trigger your body to release stress chemicals. Holding onto tension creates a cascade that will propel you directly into your next depressive low or panic attack.
Revisit my last point for just a moment to close this post: when you allow the physicality of your depression and anxiety to linger in your body you are setting yourself up for continued failure. Again, I'm speaking mainly for myself here, but push comes to shove you are as stuck in your body as I am in mine. When tension is embedded deep within my tissue I constantly feel half-way or more to my next meltdown. That is 100% my responsibility to address. I want to promise that I'll post a few simple vids on my youtube to compliment this post. I'll update with links if it happens. Over-promising is a great way to make myself feel like crap. I want this to be really useful, though, so check back or subscribe to my feed or my youtube to get pinged with updates.
OK - I did it!