Nick's Journal
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2015-09-23 16:48:05 (UTC)


I didn't really like the flow of my last journal entry. I just didn't seem to be able to write well. Which of course gives me a great segue into my next topic, namely PAWS or Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

The Wikipedia link does a great job of summarizing what PAWS is. It is basically your mind and body trying to "un-fuck" itself from all of the fucked up things you did to it while drinking.

In my case the symptoms (and a syndrome is a collection of symptoms just FYI) range from:

1) incredible moodiness - basically you run the gambit of "yay - I'm happy" to "fuck - i'm sad" to "fuck you, fuck the world, fuck everything" in the span of 5 seconds.

2) along with the moodiness comes extreme overreaction - so basically if the normal emotional response would be say a 3 i come in with an 11. good example of this was J told me that the success rate of AA was somewhere around 30%. while this wasn't the most encouraging thing to say to a guy who had just spent the past two ways trying his hardest to buy into the program and use it to his benefit, my reaction was off the charts. it was like she had plunged a dagger into my entire effort and what was worse, i couldn't let it go!

3) irritability/agitation/lack of patience - seriously the slightest things will make me angry. another example: when i would get to the cafeteria at the rehab center about 15 minutes later (to avoid the dinner rush) they would be out of knives (always the knives for some reason, i have no idea why!). so this happened once and i was FUMING. the second time i was absolutely fucking LIVID! how fucking dare they? so i get up to the guy serving the food and i swear to god i was about to burn that bitch to the ground as i asked: "do you have any more knives?" and he of course replies "sure thing buddy, here you go! got some clean ones for ya right here!" made me realize my absurdity right away.

4) lastly and most frustratingly for me is the a) cloudy mind, b) inability to form clear though patterns, c) looping thoughts and d) spotty memory.

a&b go hand-in-hand. i hate that i have a vision of the thoughts and ideas i want to produce but i can't seem to transfer them outside of my brain. one crazy example was this: in rehab i made it a point to walk a lot with a buddy of mine. we knew that three laps around the building was one mile. i was wearing my fitbit and it showed that 3 laps around was .5 miles. now i knew that the fitbit was off and it was a very easy math problem really, the fitbit calculates miles by # of steps/time taken. so i had one of two choices, either: i) halve the length of my stride or ii) double the length of my stride.

now the answer is obvious to anyone with a working brain and at least a grade school understanding of math. i have to double the length of my stride. but i'll be god-damned if i didn't lie awake in bed while in rehab frustrated with myself that i couldn't be 100% sure that was the solution.

the looping thoughts sucks too, especially when you are prone to anxiety like i am. i have looping thoughts about not being employed and what i did while i was employed. usually going for long walks helps distract me, but your mind just becomes obsessed with one thought pattern.

finally, the shoddy memory is frustrating as fuck. to give you a last example, just a few days ago in the car my dad asked, "what did we have for lunch?" now he's 64 and his memory is a bit spotty, but there i sat and i'll be damned if i couldn't remember! i was so fucking pissed! i finally did, but it took tremendous effort.

of course what all of this goes to show is just how much i fucked up my mind in particular. it now has to operate without the chemical influx it was used to and is essentially repairing itself into a fully functioning adult brain again.

the process is incredibly taxing, mostly because it makes you into an irritable, unpleasant POS who lashes out because he feels vulnerable. but what helps me get through it is knowing that it does get better day-by-day and that eventually i will turn into that healthy person i was before i started drinking again 4 years ago.