Learning to Cope with Anxiety Now That I’m Not Drinking

I realized Saturday night just how much my mental illness affects me these days.  The past few weeks I was in town multiple days (town is far, far away).  Between the driving (2 1/2 hours round trip), the waiting, the meetings, the counseling, the doctor appointments, etc, I was just worn.  I don’t handle being away from home well.

This weekend we planned on going to my parents’, staying the night, then going to church for Easter yesterday.  Saturday evening I was sitting at my parents’ just feeling very restless and anxious.  I just needed to be home.

We left at about 8:00 to head home.  We got home at about 10:30.  Sounds crazy to leave that late, but I just couldn’t handle being away from home anymore.

Saturday night I was just lying in bed mad at myself for not being able to handle things well.

In the past (for about 7 years), I would drink to handle anxiety.  I would drink at my parents’ house (a lot), most evenings (because that’s when I was most anxious), before going to camp events (and I know I made a fool of myself on multiple occasions), and when we traveled.  I would drink every time we had people over (before they came I would binge).  It was just how I handled anxiety; mostly social anxiety, but generalized as well.  And being the alcoholic that I am, I would just drink “because” a lot.  It prevented anxiety.

I remember talking to my previous psychiatrist (well, PA) about my drinking and he would just tell me that it’s common for people who have anxiety to drink to quiet it.  Not once did he tell me that it’s a problem (well once he just told me to not drink and take Xanax at the same time).  Because of this I was in denial that I had a problem, but that’s for another post.

Now that I’m not drinking, I have to feel my emotions.  I also have to have different ways of coping, and my biggest way is to just stay home as much as I can.  I keep a clean/organized house because mess and clutter makes me have anxiety.  I have to leave the boys in school even though I want to homeschool them, and they want to homeschool.  I have to have a quiet morning of Bible study and coffee to start my day out well.  I listen to a lot of worship music.  I have to end my day listening to “Serenity relaxing spa music” because it quiets my anxiety.  I drink a lot of caffeine free Coke Zero to replace the alcohol that I often had in my hand.  I have reduced my caffeine a LOT.  Mostly just drink half caff coffee in the morning and a Coke Zero with lime when I’m in town.  That’s about all the caffeine that I drink now.  It has helped.  I take a lot of medication.  It helps a lot, but it doesn’t take it away.  I see my counselor 3-4 times a month.  Sometimes I hike or walk to prevent evening anxiety.  And believe it or not, homeschooling Karis has helped a ton.  It gives me purpose for my days, but with just her it’s not anxiety inducing.  She’s easy.

I am trying to get disability and I have been denied 3 times already.  My lawyer is trying to get me a hearing date but she said it takes 12-18 months.  So I’m just waiting right now.

My desire is to be stable enough in a few years to be able to homeschool the boys again the year after next.  I don’t know if that’s going to happen.  I will for sure homeschool them when they are in junior high because they will be independent by then.

I just want to be able to do what my heart desires, but with mental illness it’s important to be realistic.  Since I’m not super stable right now, I would possibly relapse.

My goal right now is just focusing on coping and self care without drinking.  It’s a big goal!  With God’s help I can do it.  It’s just going to take lots of work!

One thought on “Learning to Cope with Anxiety Now That I’m Not Drinking

  1. I believe dealing with anxiety is difficult, even without a drinking problem. I have always felt anxious, and said that I believed God would care for me, but didn’t take that to heart. Giving all your worries and concerns to God, picturing yourself actually taking them to Him and leaving them there, is the best advice I have ever received. I still have bouts of worry, but not near as much as before. Another thing is that I felt homesick many times. Either just wanting to home, or wanting to be with someone (i.e. my parents) so much it made me sick. This feeling has been taken care of mainly by the meds I am on, which I thank God for. I also have a great husband who understands and cares for me as much as he is able. A blessing from God!

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