If my sobriety were a baby, I should be giving birth today, to a Brand New Me. Or perhaps just to the Old Me, which would be the Young Me, before I started drinking. Unfortunately, I’ve been through a tough time over the last few days, and all the old behaviours are coming back: shouting at my family, slamming doors, wanting to break things, hating myself. That last one most of all. It always comes back to me at this time of the month – PMDD time – the self-hatred. Self love is something I have to work at. It’s not something I can easily believe in, most of the time. Apparently, other people have it in abundance, especially those who probably least deserve it. So I always find it a difficult concept to grasp – the importance of self-love. But when I go back through my life history, some of my biggest problems stem from not having loved and protected myself enough.
The decision to stop drinking
My drinking wasn’t so out of control that I’d lost everything (thank God), but I was having suicidal thoughts, and realised I’d be far more likely to act on them if I were drunk. One such night when my drinking had got out of control I thought ‘no…enough of this…it stops here.’ I didn’t want my kids to see me drunk and worry about me. I didn’t want to put them through what I’d been through. My mother killed herself when I was 8. Something like that haunts you for the rest of your life. Even writing it down I feel a knife in my heart, but better write it down than let it happen again.
So I got sober, and I sought help, and I read self-help books. I do a lot of yoga and meditation: this has been the most effective treatment for PMDD that I can find. The only trouble is, when it’s at its worst, I probably need to spend 12 hours a day in meditation. Try telling that to my employer or my family: ‘you carry the can for me – I’ll be spending the whole day in the bath!’ Still, it’s important to take any time you can for anything that works.
Some days I get it, I really do: I call it the ‘Golden Light’, when I have inner peace, I feel at least at peace with myself and the world around me. I suppose I’d hoped after so many months’ sobriety, I would have this feeling all the time now. But inner peace is not learned overnight. It’s something which can be achieved incrementally, taking baby steps each day, over a LONG period of time. I’m simply a little further along the road than I was 9 months ago, even if I don’t always feel it.
I know the PMDD will pass. After a week, maybe my family will start to forgive me, then after another week, symptoms will start again. It’s a vicious, vicious cycle. Many doctors don’t believe in it. Many people who have not experienced it don’t believe in it. But for me it’s like being haunted by a demon. For my family its also very difficult. My older son is starting to understand because we watched the episode of The IT Crowd called ‘Aunt Irma Visits’, and now he explains to his younger brother that he needs to leave me in peace or ‘Aunt Irma’ will get angry.
Whatever else life has thrown at me this week, I’m grateful that I haven’t had a drink. I’m grateful that I’m on the right track, though the way ahead can seem obscure at times.
If you’ve had experience of bereavement, suicidal thoughts, or PMDD, I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to comment below or get in touch by email. Or post some of your own experiences and send me the link to your post. Sometimes the most important thing is knowing you are not alone.