Thursday, October 16, 2014

My Overactive Chatter Brain


This is a noise in my room. 

But it is also a noise in my head.

Sometimes, my thoughts feel like static.

...perhaps that's the real reason I started this blog...I just needed to find a way to spew out everything that's running through my mind and plaguing me...

Drinking also used to silence my mind. In the right amounts, alcohol allowed me to experience a relaxed mind and body.

Apparently not everyone has an overactive chatter brain, although it seems like my fellow recovering alcoholics are the people most likely to commiserate with me on this. 

I have noticed a few things about my physical and mental state when my brain is noisy and restless:

  1. I'm having trouble staying "present" with my thoughts - I'm either living in the past or the future instead of the now.
  2. There is too much stimuli in my life at that time - whether it be computers, Netflix, smartphone apps, or caffeine, they all have the same effect on my brain. 
  3. I am stressed and I'm not using coping skills to deal with it. As a default, I turn to any source of stimuli (#2) I can find that will distract me from the REAL problems I'm facing. 
The more high-strung and worried  become, the more likely I am to give in to stimuli to cover-up and ignore my overactive brain. This, in turn, causes more problems. 

And so the cycle of addiction continues. 

In The Missing Piece of My Heart, I mentioned the downward spiral of addiction. The vicious cycle of drinking to forget the things you did the last time you were drunk. This mental obsession - over anything - CAN be broken. It's not easy, and the individual must be committed to a developing a new lifestyle. 

When caught up in my "overactive chatter brain", these are the tools that work best to stop the chaos:
  1. Take a walk in nature. Walk slowly, feel how the earth moves under your feet, listen to the gentle noise of leaves rustling... There is no better way to re-connect with your soul than to connect with Mother Earth.
  2. Exercise. Any form of physical exercise - whether strenuous or gentle - requires your focus and attention. Pay attention to your form and you'll get out of that crazy head of yours in NO time! 
  3. Paint. I love artistic expression. It is the ultimate form of respecting my higher self and creative thoughts. 
  4. Yoga. Part of the challenge of quieting the mind has to do with removing yourself from a distracting environment. Yoga studios are serene thus removing all unnecessary stimuli. 
  5. Put your phone in a different room. No money for a Yoga class? How about you put your phone on silent somewhere COMPLETELY out of reach from you? Only for a short while. See what you can accomplish in 20 minutes, and notice if you feel any different. 
  6. Eat a healthy meal with low-sodium. We consume FAR too much salt in our diets. Try cutting back. If your body feels better, your brain will too. 
  7. Drink water. Most people don't consume enough water on a daily basis. We require a lot (especially if you drink coffee) since our bodies are mostly made up of water! If I have a headache, chances are that I'm not well-hydrated. 
What tools do you use?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

A fish, a bird, and a monkeybar.

Walking down the street I sensed that my life was about to change...drastically. To an onlooker, I was just a young woman who seemed to be having a bad day. Tears rolled down my cheeks and my pale face was pink from fighting back tears. 

Sobriety had been forced upon me about 4 months prior, and my problems still had yet to go away. I had had a choice, of course, an addict has to want to get sober - they cannot truly be forced into anything... I didn't want to quit drinking, but I was desperate. And when desperation meets alcoholism, willingness and recovery peek their bright little eyes around a corner and ask to join the conversation.

After a few months of stumbling around, going to rehab, attending self-help meetings, and seeing four different therapists - I still felt lost and confused. I was learning about alcoholism, but was no closer to figuring out how to solve my problems.

I need an explanation for ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. I need a plan, a roadmap, and specific instructions. In early recovery, I wanted to know how ALL my problems would end, when, and with what results. 

"Trust the Universe and it will work itself out," my new friends said. if I was supposed to step forward into nothingness and believe that the road would magically appear under my feet! 

Yeah, right.

The reality was that my problems were a direct result of my drinking. They were conflicts that would take several people months to resolve. So even if I TRULY needed an answer, no one could give it to me. 

All I knew was that my life was going to change drastically, and it could happen at any moment. 

It wasn't until recently, when I stumbled across this quote from a Zen master that the advice from my new friends finally started to make sense. 

"A fish swims in the ocean, and no matter how far it swims, there is no end to the water. A bird flies in the sky, and no matter how far it flies, there is no end to the sky."

A fish never runs out of water. A bird never runs out of air. There is always somewhere for the fish or the bird to go.

Why would my life as a human be any different?

The fish doesn't need to cross the entire ocean to know that it can keep swimming. 
The bird doesn't need to see over the horizon to know there is more air. 
I don't need to see the ENTIRE road laid out before me.
I may have to change course or walk on unpaved ground, but even if I hit a pothole, I will always be able to continue moving forward. 

I don't have to know where I'm going because the destination doesn't matter.
I just have to move!  

Waiting for a specific explanation is like climbing onto the monkeybars but not moving a finger. You have to let go of one hand and reach for another rung. Fear of the unknown tells us, 
"Lack, trial, and suffering are inevitabilities of life. If you let go, you will fall, get hurt, and be unhappy. Don't let go."
NOT letting go of the rung is when your life is controlled by fear. 

Letting go is what happens when your life is inspired by hope. When you trust your own strength, you discover how far you can really go.