6 tips for staying sober during social distancing

Staying sober amid social distancing and uncertainty

Big Foot, the social distancing world champ!The world is CLOSED. We live in the age of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic now. It’s a shocking, scary, annoying, sketchy, and fucked up roller coaster, to say the least. The open-ended-ness of it is what’s getting to me most right now. If you’re struggling, know that you’re not alone. This situation won’t last forever and may be hell to climb out of, but for the time being, it’s important to find healthy ways to cope with all this stress, uncertainty, and the ever-growing temptation to “check out.”

What gives me the audacity to offer advice? Free speech, I suppose. I don’t know shit but writing about how I want to stay healthy and not relapse helps. It’s giving me something to do, anyway. At the very least, reading this blog entry will fill the next 5 minutes of your quarantine. You’re welcome.

Before I go any further, my heart and good vibes go out to all the business owners, people in the service industry, people in situations and hardships I’m not even aware of, and so on. The challenges many of you face are scary, ever evolving, and totally fucked. To the nurses, first responders, hospital workers, and Costco (+ grocery/pharmacy) crew, you’re working your asses off and it’s amazing, thank you. No matter who you are or what you do, times are tough. All I know is that I want to feel “normal” and that’s where alcohol used to come into play. Now, more than ever, is the time to stay sober.

1. Limit news and social media

The news breeds anxiety. It always has. There are countless dickheads out there with misinformation, intending to feed the fear and chaos. Most of it is just noise – they need to have a headline. It’s hard to decipher everyone’s opinion and determine what’s the best source of truth. Perhaps limit checking the news to once a day. Don’t read or watch things that aren’t making you feel better. I rely on my husband to let me know the most important stuff.

I’ve un-followed most of my Facebook friends and rarely look at my feed these days. Why? Because it’s too much meaningless information. Chronically negative and stupid people make my head hurt. Facebook, etc. offers a distorted version of reality and superficial nonsense and distracts us from the moment. You can also mute or unfollow anything that triggers you – like posts about animal abuse and disturbing shit like that. I just can’t handle it, can’t process it, and frankly I don’t want to know. Knowledge isn’t always power for me.

If I’m a being a totally naive Sensitive Sally or whatever, I don’t give a shit. I’ve made some boundaries to protect my heart and mind, so I can get out of bed in the morning. Only you know what you can and can’t handle and no one else is going to do it for you.

2. Get social support

Maintaining social support amid social distancing is a matter of survival for people like us. Finding peeps in situations like ours is super easy online, where you have access to the millions of people who are engaged in or seeking recovery. I’m talking online meetings, addiction/recovery discussion forums, sobriety apps, YouTube channels, podcasts, and so much more. Go here for more recovery resources.

I went to my first online meeting this week at In The Rooms. I quickly discovered that I’m not at all alone! There were 250 people in the “room,” who all wanted the same thing: to feel connected. It was powerful and I’m grateful this option exists at any hour of the day! If you’re like me and not an AA fan, you’ll have to wade through some of the bullshit, but what’s new? Take what you want from it, there’s always something.

For those peeps who’ve been considering going dry, could this be your time??? Who knows?! Try an online meeting. You can be totally anonymous and have absolutely nothing to lose. And hey, it’s something you can control!

3. Keep moving and eat well

It’s so easy to slip into couch potato mode. But, eating salty, sugary, fatty processed foods and only getting up to take a piss is a recipe for a mental health disaster. Don’t eat like shit. You’ll feel like shit.

Keep moving or you’ll feel like an even bigger shit. Everyone knows that exercising can boost your mood, reduce anxiety, lower stress levels, improve your immune system, and so much more. This is a time like no other – an opportunity to invest in yourself with very little effort. You don’t need to enter a fitness contest or take before and after photos, just use your body, nourish it, and carry on.

4. Don’t do it all

Should you really be optimizing this “new” time to get hundreds of things done on your never-ending list? I’m down for a shift in perspective or reevaluation or priorities, but I’m talking about the mindset of our classic American hustle culture, where every second of our lives must be aimed toward profit and self-improvement. More work and needless productivity isn’t the answer. This is a time to find a little ease and peace where we can in this chaotic world. Our culture doesn’t really see self-care as productive, but we should. The world is slowing down to a halt and it’s ok to not be productive and to leave the guilt behind.

No need to write a book, reorganize your closet, paint the bathroom, or bury yourself in mindless busy work. Just chill. Even the most stressed out mother fuckers can find 10 minutes in their day to do something nice for themselves, like just sit and breathe. It could make the difference in your world. Just breathe.

Having said that, if you’re inspired to get some small projects done or get rid of some stuff, go for it. The health benefits from decluttering have become increasingly recognized. Clutter steals your joy and the best things in life aren’t things after all. Except for paper towels and toilet paper, apparently. I’ve been sluggishly working my way through a drawer here and there and I feel a little lighter.

5. Practice gratitude

If you have a hard time feeling grateful and recognizing the positive shit, it’s all about practice. Funny how it doesn’t seem to come naturally, at first (Why is gratitude so hard for some people?). Write in a journal. It sunk in for me a few years ago with lots of practice and focus and has significantly changed my instinctive outlook. I’m grateful to have lots of room for improvement, though. See what I did there? 😉

6. Make yourself laugh

The benefits of laughter go way beyond entertainment. Laughing boosts endorphins, decreases pain, boosts your immune system, lowers blood pressure, fights disease, clears your head, helps with depression and memory loss, reduces inflammation and anxiety, and more. It sounds so trite, but laughter really is the best medicine. So, let’s get to it!

Check out Laughter Yoga on YouTube, if you haven’t. It’s hella silly, but a total gas! I’ve only just discovered it and can’t wait to do it with my kids.

You can find countless funny videos on YouTube. My favorites are of people slipping on ice, people falling, old people falling (yes, I LOL every time), funny animals and pets, laughing babies, and TV news bloopers, but the sky’s the limit. Ask your friends and family what makes them laugh and get on it!

So, what are your plans tonight? I’ll be hitting the living room couch around 8pm or so. If you’re doing the same, check out some of my favorite mindless funny movies, which can also supply you with endless one-liners:

  • Tommy Boy
  • Happy Gilmore
  • Liar Liar
  • We’re the Millers
  • What Women Want
  • DodgeBall
  • The Wedding Singer
  • Bridesmaids
  • Meet the Fockers

And my 5 minutes are up! Back to social distancing and quarantine-style life. Sending love, hugs, and non-drinking vibes your way! Stay strong, you’re worth it!

Thanks for reading,

Chrystal

Go here for more recovery resources.

 

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What you don’t hear about depression

One of the most terrifying aspects of living with depression is that it’s nearly impossible to share your darkness with the people most affected by it. It’s hard to accept our own thoughts and feelings sometimes, let alone burden people we love with a glimpse into our world of doom. I’ve had friends reach out to me recently, sharing their struggles with depression and asking for advice. So, I’m about to share what I go through and then hopefully you won’t feel so fucked up and alone. Why don’t I write something uplifting you say? Because this is real shit and it needs to be talked about.

Symptoms

We’ve all heard about the standard symptoms: fatigue, irritability, aching muscles, digestive problems, loss of interest, feeling hopeless, blah. But what does that look like in real-life? We need real life examples. Ready for it? Let’s go there…

In a nutshell

My day began like this: hit snooze on my alarm and thought, “fuck me.” Laid there in bed feeling paralyzed, desperate to keep my head on that pillow. Like so desperate, I could have bawled. I didn’t even mind that I was laying in a pool of sweat, a fun little side effect of my medication (I’ll talk a little about that later). Somehow I got my heavy, rundown ass out of bed and made it to the shower where I stood for an eternity, wondering how the hell I was going to make it through the day. Had to make myself get out by turning the water cold.

Got an eggnog Americano on the way to work, my morning hug in a cup. That was nice. Let some chick pull into my lane and she didn’t wave to thank me, so I raged, calling her a stupid bitch. Don’t worry, she’s fine, she had no idea. Made it to work, only to avoid eye contact in the halls, so I didn’t have to fake a smile over and over. Shut my door and blinds in my office and sat there wondering if today was the day they’d figure out that I don’t know shit (for the first time I actually feel like I belong and I do know shit, so this is particularly frustrating). Then the daydreams began – visions of going home where I could sit on the couch with a soft blanket, take a deep breath, and then have anxiety about all the shit that needs to get done and what a loser I am. Yep, the big black cloud is back.

A deeper look

Depression is much more than feeling sad. And feeling sad is not depression. It’s a body and mind thing.

Body stuff

My carcass is drained, heavy, and lethargic. Like I’m a thousand-pound sloth.

Weird aches and pains give me paranoia. My back hurts for seemingly no reason. I haven’t taken a satisfying shit in over a week. I’m always hungry, but then I binge on food and wallow in guilt afterward. Sometimes I pick the hell out of my face to the point that I cannot leave the house for hours. Someone might as well be sitting on my chest, it feels so tight and heavy. Often, I discover my jaw has been clenched for so long, I’ve given myself a headache.

Mind stuff

Escaping the negativity is like trying to get out of quicksand. I feel like a failure because I can’t will myself into being more positive. There’s all this pressure to get positive – websites, apps, social media pages – all devoted to it. Positive affirmations make me feel like shit, putting the focus on how I really feel. When did it become a thing to try to avoid shit anyway? It doesn’t do any good to deny your shitty mood. I’m in a shitty mood. So be it.

My thoughts get stuck on stupid, icky, sometimes terrifying shit. So disturbing at times, that they conflict with my personality and values and make me feel like an imposter. Swirling around in my head like vultures. That’s when I’m really afraid of the dark. I’ve tried to think of an example that won’t have a psychiatrist or the cops land on my doorstep…I’ll just leave it at that.

Some basic life tasks go undone and I judge myself hard. My house isn’t clean, the laundry isn’t folded, and my hair will continue to look like shit for months to come, as I spritz it with dry shampoo and twist it up into a bun. I’ll continue to wear jeans and a sweatshirt every day because it’s what’s comfortable and I don’t have the energy to do more. My car desperately needs a wash, but it’ll just get rained on again, so why bother?

I’m irritable as a mofo. Something as simple as my husband tossing a handful of cashews into his mouth. That sound the nuts make when they hit his teeth ignites an internal rage and I instantly loathe him. And when I get over it I feel like an evil hag who doesn’t deserve love.

And the real kicker – I can’t remember shit. I’ve taken a dementia test at my doctor’s office because I’ve fucked so much shit up due to my shitty memory.

Making it better

It’s important to mention that throughout all this bullshit, on the outside I probably look just fine. It’s also important to mention that I do have a happy life. Even the happiest of people can have depression. My depression says nothing about how grateful I am.

As for advice, check out an older blog post that still rings true for me on 7 ways to help yourself through seasonal depression. And I have something to add to it:

Meds can be your friend. The raging antidepressant debate continues and some people are real assholes about it. I’ve felt the pressure to get off them before and it has not gone well. Yes, they have side effects, some more than others. Patience is key. Meds are subtle. For me, they take away the scariest part of depression, where I tend to wonder what the hell the point is. I used to have this sudden onset of panic that would pull on my heart with an eerie hollowness that wanted to eat me alive. Meds took that away. For that I’m grateful.

No shame

Depression is one of the most common conditions in the world, yet it’s the least understood and most stigmatized. Please don’t be ashamed. Shame eats your soul. Too many people suffer alone because they’re ashamed to speak up or don’t want to burden anyone. Don’t be one of them.

I didn’t just share some of my deep dark bullshit for the hell of it – you must realize you’re not alone, you’re worthy, and you can do this. The more we deny that we have a dark side, the more power it has over us. There’s light all around and within you. “You can’t shine your light without darkness, my dear. You can’t be brave without the knowledge of fear.” Be as kind to yourself as you can. You’re doing just fine.

Hope I reached someone.

Thanks for reading,

Chrystal

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Surviving a shitty day in sobriety

Yesterday was a shitty day. The kind that will surely stick in my memory for the rest of my life. The details don’t matter – everyone has their own problems. All I want to say is that I made it through a gutting and painful day without taking a drink – and if I can do it anyone can. This girl so desperately wanted a drink – 5 or 6 glasses of wine, actually. I even caught myself licking my lips, fantasizing about that first full-bodied grapey gulp. I imagined that pre-passed-out drunken state of nothingness…and I desperately wanted to be there. To feel my body and brain let go in that old familiar, reckless way that only alcohol could sufficiently lend. I intensely craved that feeling from my long-lost steady friend.

While I have some of the right tools in my belt, I also have many important reasons for not drinking, but the “fuck it” voice in my head wanted to raise some serious hell. I obsessed about booze so profusely I began to shame myself. Somehow through the dark my heart overruled my brain and for that I am grateful. I’m grateful I’m not nursing a hangover and regret while I deal with how shitty I still feel.

Moral of the story is that when life gets shitty you don’t have to relapse. Take care of yourself as best you can and just don’t drink today. Just don’t drink. If you can get sober you can stay sober. Hard times always pass. Feel your heart beating and hear its truth. “If light is in your heart you will find your way home”.

Your sobriety is that light and it will always take you home.

 

 

 

Thanks,

Chrystal

 

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Luck o’ the sober! – sober on Saint Patrick’s Day

The vast majority of Americans who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day don’t give a shit about the Irish culture or Catholic background of this unofficial holiday, and that’s totally fine. They wear ridiculous green t-shirts that tell the rest of us how great it is to have another excuse to get belligerent. I’ve been one of those drunks.Irish I was drunk - NOT!

I’m happy to report that I no longer navigate this day with such scorn for those drunks out there, who still get to drink. Because for a long time I was furious about it. I don’t want to drink today. Tomorrow I’ll wake up refreshed, without regret. I feel pretty lucky about that and I’m damn proud of it.

Congrats to all my sober friends out there, and for the rest of you I have one plea: Go out with your green selves and have some fun, but

PLEASE DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE.

 

 

Thank you,

SoberChrystal

 

 

 

You are not alone

DamagedPeopleAreDangerousIf you’ve ever felt alone, misunderstood, insignificant, scared, weak, furious, guilty, or just plain baffled about your addiction or someone else’s, you’re in the right place. YOU are not alone.

We all have a story to tell. We all need inspiration in our lives. Whether you decide to reach out and tell your story or choose to keep that shit locked up, it helps to hear about others’ struggles. There’s a new book out there, Hearts and Scars – 10 Human Stories of Addiction (FREE on Amazon), that I’m slap-my-ass-and-call-me-Sally thrilled about! It’s a collection of non-anonymous, open and honest stories from real people in recovery. A super bonus – my story is in the book! You know what this means, right? I have arrived, people. Yes. I’m totally legit. But enough about me. This book is a project working toward awareness and healing. Here’s a bit of what the mastermind/dude in recovery (Jake D. Parent) has to say about it…

We lose more than 350 people every day in the United States to addiction. This collection of stories shows how the deadly disease is a conflicted struggle, not simply of broken people, but one that encompasses the human condition that affects us all.

For those directly affected by this horrible affliction, these stories will help you make sense of your journey, both where you came from as well as where you are going.

For advocates, policy makers, and others with the power to help, this collection will help humanize the issue. Because, while addiction may be a cunning, baffling disease, it is ultimately one that affects real people.

Only by understanding the humanity within those who suffer from it – as buried as it may sometimes seem to be – can we as a society find the courage and will to finally do what needs to be done to end the suffering.

– Jake D. Parent

Did I mention it’s FREE forever on Amazon? That means you have no excuse not to read it. If you’re reading THIS, you’ll want to read THAT. We all need awareness and a little inspiration once in a while – this book is it – do yourself a favor.

That is all for now, my friends. Stay tuned though…the release of this book has lit a fire under my ass…

Never give up on anybody. Miracles happen everyday.

-Chrystal

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