I’ve been at the freedom forums (takes my vote for the best resource for quitting smoking on the internet) a lot lately. And since we are counting days, it’s been a full three months since I last smoked. Yay! didn’t think I’d get this far, but here I’am. I did some quick math. I’ve not smoked about a 1000 cigarettes and not drank 600 beers since I quit the two. I Should be celebrating, feeling happy etc., right? However I’am not. I’am feeling sad and depressed, especially last week, which has been a real bitch. I’ve been trying to understand all of this and it seems that folks who are prone to addictions often get hooked on to something or the other to hide some other problem. As an example, somebody who is depressed might self medicate with alcohol. Hmm.. sounds like me. I had to get a professional opinion, so I went to my doctor. Here’s how it went.
Me: Doc I quit smoking and since then I’am unable to sleep, feel tired when I wake up
Doc: Great job on quitting.
Me: I also quit alcohol and it’s been a few months since I had any. Since I continue to be tired and since people on average sleep better and report they have more energy in a few weeks, I felt something might be wrong. Perhaps I’ve issues with my blood sugar level etc.
Doc: Let me check your last report .. checks that everything was fine … Do you also feel sad or depressed?
Me: Yes, the last few days have been pretty bad.
Doc: See, you have used a stimulant (nicotine) for a number of years and your brain does not know how to function without nicotine. The brain is not manufacturing enough of the good stuff (serotonin, dopamine, ***mine) hence the tiredness and depression.
Me: So what’s the way out?
Doc: You should exercise, your body needs to learn how to produce endorphins which will make you feel better.
Me: Sure, I want to exercise, but I haven’t been able to do so. No time, work, family and also, I feel tired.
And I’am thinking, thanks a bunch Sherlock for telling me I need to exercise. Gee, how come I didnt thunk of it till now. See, I would if I could, but right now my brains all scrambled up and I don’t feel like going and exercising. And hold on, don’t tell me I need to be strong willed and make it happen – All my strength and strong will is being used to keep a job and being sane with the family..there’s nothing left in the tank, which is why I’am here.
Doc: Well, if that doesn’t work for you, your other choice is to be on an SSRI and feel better.
Me: Let me try to exercise and we’ll see how it goes.
And I’am thinking, great, so no other tests, nothing. Set me up with meds and let me get hooked on to yet another thing. From the frying pan to the fire. Thanks but no thanks doc.
So I’ve been reading and trying to get my thoughts together. Wife and me went for a walk which was somewhat helpful. Started hitting the web, books and whatever I can think about trying to find some answers, pointers. See, I want to move on since it’s pretty tiring. My therapist asked me to put a finger on what I’am feeling (i.e. peel the onion and be a bit more specific than simply saying I feel sad). Still no answers except the following
- Give time time. Apparently, this is an phrase used in Al Anon . Basically saying that the body can heal itself with time, but one needs to be patient. Similar to one of my favorite phrases from the movie Jerry Mc Guire, Help me help you
- Being positive. Clearly something that I’am not doing. It seems every thought I have is negative (see, there I go again. Man, this mental shit is hard :)).
I’am committed to staying the path (no alcohol or nicotine) and will give time time. Staying positive is something I’ll have to work on and retrain myself with those messages. There’s this story which appeals to me at this time:
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Clearly, I’ve been feeding the ‘negative’ over the last few days, weeks, months and years. Which brings me to one other thing which I believe is happening. Thanks to this video by Joel Spitzer from over at the freedom forums, I need to turn this upside down. See, I know that there are positives, but I dwell on the negatives. I know that I have a great family, a pretty good job, the basics, health and some decent reserves. But 90% of my waking hours are taken up by what’s not ok or not working. Time for me to turn it around. So here’s what I’ll attempt from now on – To acknowledge the negatives and dwell on the positives. Wish me luck!