And it doesn’t necessarily mean there is a problem with that, it’s just something isn’t working. Maybe they can’t sleep, their relationships not working, are feeling anxious and so on. Alcohol, drugs, caffeine all these things can be a contributing factor.
We start by stripping it back. Stop the drinking, the drug use, the excessive caffeine consumption, (I can hear you say why caffeine?) the thing with coffee and I mean weapons grade coffee which more of us our drinking now is, it’s a stimulant. It also comes in variable strengths, so when we buy a cup it can have different effects on us.
What is common is people coming to me and saying they can’t sleep when they are drinking huge amounts of coffee during the day. Of course, you can’t sleep, you are taking a stimulant, something that is going to keep you awake. One of my favourite ones was the man who thought he was having a psychotic episode, he really wasn’t sleeping. I spent about 30 minutes with him as he was really on the edge, trying to figure out what it was. He was in his 40’s with no past mental health issues. I asked him all the normal questions, coffee, drugs, alcohol, any serious life events etc. It didn’t make sense. I asked him to take me through his day: what do you do, eat, drink. He told me he started the day with a Red Bull and then went on to drink them throughout the day, I think he was drinking on average 10-15 cans a day.
He stopped drinking Red Bull and came to see me the following week feeling much better. Lack of sleep, excessive use of a stimulant all added up to feelings of anxiety, paranoia and this can easily slip into things running out of control or at least feeling like that.
Now I know it isn’t always that simple and I am going off piste a bit.
So, I always ask people to reduce or stop their using of all substances before I start working with the underlying issues. This is easier for some, more than others, obviously.
When people do stop, the biggest complaint I hear is but it’s boring Stephanie. Sober, straight, is boring.
If this is you in the early days and you have made a commitment to stop or take a break. I really urge you to think of this differently.
Sober is what you make of it. I don’t believe in boring anyway, well actually I also think it’s ok to be bored, not everything you do is going to push all your buttons. I also don’t think bored is the right way to describe it.
When you stop drinking, partying or using it’s different to what you are used to. Depending on how long you have been doing it will depend on how easy it is for you.
When I first started being sober amongst a group of people who weren’t it was different. I had to try, if I didn’t try I would be on the side-lines, not saying anything or participating in the socializing. You don’t feel part of what is happening, and maybe you aren’t. If people are drinking or using drugs, then you are not on the same wave length.
But you know what, that’s ok. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. Its true and then after some time people like it. I also noticed that I got bored quickly to, I needed to find things to occupy myself. Luckily music and dancing really works for me, I love it. I don’t have to speak to anyone, I can immerse myself in the music, for me there is a shared experience from listening and dancing to good music. When I go around to someone’s house, I love to play games and really spend time to talk to people having proper conversations. That’s why partner dancing really worked for me, hobbies like that work great.
I think we are also a little socially awkward, alcohol and drugs can be a social lubricant. Take that away and that can be tough for people. Stick with it, at least 3 months. I always think it’s a bit sad if we can’t socialize without a substance?
· Try different things to do.
· Spend time with people doing an activity.
· Find something you love doing.
· Tell people what you are doing and ask for support when you are out, tell people if you struggle.
· Find someone else that wants to do it and do it together.
· If it feels different, that’s ok. It’s a feeling it won’t kill you, stick with it will get easier.
· Its ok to be bored, uninterested and find things tedious at times. Remember you can’t have the rainbow without the rain.