Friday, 17 April 2015

Sertraline. Dark places. Still fighting.

I'm on my third day of taking Sertraline (Zoloft) and it's a very mixed bag so far. I think I've seen some improvement in my mood but the side-effects aren't very nice. 

I feel simultaneously tired and very alert and feel like I'm full of something - it's hard to go beyond saying I feel "odd". I've decided I'm going to give this two weeks and see what happens; this is a long journey and I don't need to be thrashing around from one action to another too quickly. 

Sometimes that's hard to take on board. I can be panicky and reactive. It's natural. I'm making small steps forward in my life, but I come from a very bad place - in terms of my work, my prospects, my position in society, my ability to look after myself and so on and so on. 

This can feel very bad. It's easy to feel hopeless and lost. I need to guard against that. I've been in some rather dark places over the last day or so. A terrible bout of anxiety on the way to the office yesterday morning and a slightly disappointing day at work made me question and doubt everything. At the moment that's not to the extent where I want to return to drinking, but it makes staying porn-free a little harder. 

Porn has become a complicating factor in this. It's been suggested to me by friends on No Fap that at least some of this anxiety and depression is self-inflicted. We like to talk about our addict-brain or the lizard brain even (sounds great!) when we think of the drives to use. We see this as in conflict with a "higher brain", the logical part of us that knows what damage we'll do to our lives if we do. 

I think like this too. I'm not sure how scientifically valid it is, but it seems (to whichever brain level is in charge right now) to make some sort of sense. The idea is that that part of the brain is trying to trick us into giving it the dopamine or endorphins it craves. In time, the more we follow the smarter promptings of our higher brain, the stronger it will get, defeating the addicted brain and quietening its urgings. 

So, as ever, I'm left wondering about causes. To what extent is my battle with porn use (and it is a battle, I believe it to be a serious addiction) causing or contributing to this anxiety and low mood? To what extent is this down to the removal of alcohol and cannabis from my life - my chief coping mechanisms? 

I'm still fighting though. Today started badly, I'll admit that. So I need to say that it's a good thing that I've managed to get up and get here. That it's a good thing that I won't drink today. That it's a good thing that I'm very determined not to use porn today. That I'll attempt to be a decent partner to Mag and welcome her home with a nice meal and as much support as she needs. That meditation and exercise are still on the agenda.

Things will start moving soon I hope. I'm not very strong - not yet. I need to build that strength as I go. Giving in now will only mean more weakness, more pain (in the long term, no doubt getting drunk or bingeing on porn would make me feel briefly very good), and possibly even the disaster in my life I so fear. 

That struck me this morning. I have a chance. Mag is a huge part of this. Her love for me astounds and amazes me. Without her I don't know where I would be. I feel that without her, without my parents, without other supporters, I could very easily be on the streets. Sometimes - and you may believe this or not, I know it sounds crazy - that even seems an attractive proposition. No more worry about work, about responsibilities, just the worry of where the next drink comes from. 

A stupid and passing thought. I need to get stronger. I am getting stronger. I am in recovery and it's a bumpy road but it's a road that leads in the right direction. 

If you spent it, thank you for your time.