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catastrophic hangovers

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by eskimoeskimo, Mar 9, 2020.

  1. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    I don't drink alcohol often, but when I do I have a tendency to - I would say sort of accidentally - overdo it. Always in social situations, enjoying myself (which is rare these days) ... it's like the part of my brain that keeps track of what I'm imbibing just turns right off. It's something I know to keep an eye on, and it's never escalated to much of an issue because again it's quite rare that this occurs.

    What I want to ask about though is the day after. When this happens, I seriously pay for it. And I don't mean your run of the mill hangover. I mean a full-blown, frankly dangerous, crisis ... existential, dark, panicky, and painful in every possible sense. It's like all of my worst fears, about permanent physical pain, unceasing depression, low self-esteem, etc etc etc seem totally and irrefutably confirmed. And the physical pain I always experience on a day to day basis is 5 fold. Plus my OCD and hypochondria which may have substantially diminished during an enjoyable evening come back with a cruel vengeance. And for someone who is constantly, excessively, pathologically monitoring myself, any kind of memory loss sends my brain reeling as I strain foolishly to fill in any blanks and go over any conversations repetitively. I also tend to worry excessively about the possibility of some long term damage to my brain and body from one night of a few too drinks way out of proportion to what's actually even possible, let alone plausible.

    I guess I'm just wondering if anyone else has had similar experiences. Is it because my nervous system is so sensitized already that what is for anyone an uncomfortable physical and somewhat psychological experience is that much more extreme? Why would my neck (which always hurts) hurt that much more the day after?

    If you have a moment, @Dorado I'd particularly like to hear from you because I think I recall you mentioning something along these lines before.

    Anyways, thanks all
     
  2. Dorado

    Dorado Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes! When my sympathetic nervous system was in overdrive, it was very easily triggered by alcohol, medical cannabis, coffee, an occasional cigarette, salty food, etc. That’s why I was absolutely convinced I had alcoholic neuropathy (at 26 years old - I was laughed out of prestigious neurologist’s office at one point).

    I have far too many stories. At that time, I took a break from drinking and had four cigarettes one weekend (not a daily habit), which resulted in several days of vomiting, distal sweating, nerve pain, etc. It was ridiculous... and totally not permanent. This can happen with hangovers as well!

    An overtaxed sympathetic nervous system will start to view everything as a threat, including alcohol. Have you tried cognitive behavioral therapy for your OCD? Do you have a positive support system and activities you enjoy.

    Alcohol can definitely make obsessive thoughts worse and I always encourage people to be mindful of that. I especially understand the filling in the blanks after a long night. It literally drove me insane! It eventually became personal - I felt terrible about my sexual orientation as a kid and rumors were flying around as early as sixth grade, but I never learned how to handle it. As an adult, that guilt turned into obsessive worries over making people uncomfortable or think I was flirting with them when I definitely wasn’t while drunk. It was horrible.

    When I told my friends about this, they felt so sorry for me because I’m known for being over-the-top polite, even when I’m hammered. They couldn’t understand why I’d ever have such worries, but that’s what OCD can do, and alcohol can make us further question ourselves and obsess. This was one of the moments that helped me realize I wasn’t living in a way that was true to myself or reflective of my actual reality. A cognitive behavioral therapist had to help me through this. The good news is that healing is possible. :)
     
    eskimoeskimo and JanAtheCPA like this.
  3. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Thanks so much for writing back Dorado. I can relate, with almost jarring specificity, to each of the examples you mentioned. I'm 30 now, and the list of syndromes, -algias, and diseases that I've thought I've acquired or somehow caused in myself over the last 12 years would fill volumes. The catastrophic hangover sometimes feels especially cruel because the way this often goes is that I feel motivated, or more often push myself, to go out and be social despite my symptoms and worries. And then it's typically because that decision is paying off, because an evening is going well, that I feel freer and lighter and then I overstep the mark a bit and end up further back than where I started.

    I've been meaning to ask you about the OCD aspect to all of this. I've actually scaled back, and for a time I completely stopped, my use of this forum because I realized that the only function it was serving for me personally was reassurance-seeking (which in terms of OCD is harmful in the long term, though is the only thing that has ever "worked" for me in the short term). I used to check this site maybe 40 times a day, and I had a note in my phone which was a collection of reassuring things I'd read on this forum and in the various TMS books, and reassuring things people in my life, doctors, etc, had told me. I did a word count on that note before I deleted it, and it was 400,000 words long. Yeah.

    Of course, I'm always worried that I have something else in addition to OCD, or that my situation is for some reason unsolvable / untreatable. I have a particularly hard time accepting that the physical pain I experience could be related to or explained by my obsessive, hyper-vigilant psychology. When someone (best of all someone new) can manage to convince me all over again that this could be the case, I feel like I have a whole new lease on life. But this relief is increasingly hard to achieve, and the returns are diminishing. A reassuring conversation of this sort may have given me a week of feeling a bit better 10 years ago, now I'm lucky if it lasts 10 minutes.

    I have received treatment for OCD, including 3 months in a 40 hour per week intensive outpatient program (CBT (ERP)) last year. Unfortunately, no success. One factor that I think has undermined progress in my case is that, in my experience, the OCD experts are pretty unaware of and/or flummoxed by the pain stuff, and the TMS/PPD folks seem to be pretty unaware of the OCD stuff, so I always feel like the exception - the one who can't be helped. It did worry me to no end that I didn't meet anyone else in that OCD program who complained of specific chronic physical symptoms like mine.

    I do wonder if it wouldn't help a lot of people who are experiencing PPD to learn more about OCD. My impression is that a lot of the PPD experts have moved more in the direction of recommending letting go, moving on with life, essentially ACT and behavioral stuff (eg Claire Weekes' prescription) more so than the journaling and self-reassurance and daily reminders which used to be de rigeur around here - which would make sense if this is (at least for some subset) an obsessive disorder. I can definitely say that I've personally never felt worse than when I was most gung-ho about journaling and telling myself all the reasons why I know there is nothing wrong with my neck all day long. Such activities just made me that much more intensely aware of how the pain was still there, made me hate it more, and made the rest of my life smaller and smaller. This isn't to say one way one or the other is right, and the truth is I haven't made any progress with any approach so what do I know. I'm just thinking out loud.

    All this is to say ... I need help. Badly. Stuck doesn't begin to capture it. I feel like your understanding of OCD and health anxiety could help shed some light on a dark situation

    Thanks again
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2020
  4. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Thanks so much for writing back Dorado. I can relate, with almost jarring specificity, to each of the examples you mentioned. I'm 30 now, and the list of syndromes, -algias, and diseases that I've thought I've acquired or somehow caused in myself over the last 12 years would fill volumes. The catastrophic hangover sometimes feels especially cruel because the way this often goes is that I feel motivated, or more often push myself, to go out and be social despite my symptoms and worries. And then it's typically because that decision is paying off, because an evening is going well, that I feel freer and lighter and then I overstep the mark a bit and end up further back than where I started.

    I've been meaning to ask you about the OCD aspect to all of this. I've actually scaled back, and for a time I completely stopped, my use of this forum because I realized that the only function it was serving for me personally was reassurance-seeking (which in terms of OCD is harmful in the long term, though is the only thing that has ever "worked" for me in the short term). I used to check this site maybe 40 times a day, and I had a note in my phone which was a collection of reassuring things I'd read on this forum and in the various TMS books, and reassuring things people in my life, doctors, etc, had told me. I did a word count on that note before I deleted it, and it was 400,000 words long. Yeah.

    Of course, I'm always worried that I have something else in addition to OCD, or that my situation is for some reason unsolvable / untreatable. I have a particularly hard time accepting that the physical pain I experience could be related to or explained by my obsessive, hyper-vigilant psychology. When someone (best of all someone new) can manage to convince me all over again that this could be the case, I feel like I have a whole new lease on life. But this relief is increasingly hard to achieve, and the returns are diminishing. A reassuring conversation of this sort may have given me a week of feeling a bit better 10 years ago, now I'm lucky if it lasts 10 minutes.

    I have received treatment for OCD, including 3 months in a 40 hour per week intensive outpatient program (CBT (ERP)) last year. Unfortunately, no success. One factor that I think has undermined progress in my case is that, in my experience, the OCD experts are pretty unaware of and/or flummoxed by the pain stuff, and the TMS/PPD folks seem to be pretty unaware of the OCD stuff, so I always feel like the exception - the one who can't be helped. It did worry me to no end that I didn't meet anyone else in that OCD program who complained of specific chronic physical symptoms like mine.

    I do wonder if it wouldn't help a lot of people who are experiencing PPD to learn more about OCD. My impression is that a lot of the PPD experts have moved more in the direction of recommending letting go, moving on with life, essentially ACT and behavioral stuff (eg Claire Weekes' prescription) more so than the journaling and self-reassurance and daily reminders which used to be de rigeur around here - which would make sense if this is (at least for some subset) an obsessive disorder. I can definitely say that I've personally never felt worse than when I was most gung-ho about journaling and telling myself all the reasons why I know there is nothing wrong with my neck all day long. Such activities just made me that much more intensely aware of how the pain was still there, made me hate it more, and made the rest of my life smaller and smaller. This isn't to say one way one or the other is right, and the truth is I haven't made any progress with any approach so what do I know. I'm just thinking out loud.

    All this is to say ... I need help. Badly. Stuck doesn't begin to capture it. I feel like your understanding of OCD and health anxiety could help shed some light on a dark situation

    Thanks again
     
  5. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    How does one cultivate indifference to such an uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing sensation? Especially given this pre-existing propensity for obsession
     
  6. Dorado

    Dorado Beloved Grand Eagle

    I apologize for the delayed response. With regard to OCD making you the exception to the rule of TMS/mind-body healing, this is not true. Many of us have one or more forms of diagnosable OCD, which itself can be caused by TMS/the mind-body connection. In fact, OCD is identified as a TMS component in Steve Ozanich’s book and is also recognized as such by Dr. Howard Schubiner and countless other highly qualified professionals. Mental and emotional symptoms can be expressions of TMS/the mind-body connection - it’s not limited to physical symptoms - and that undoubtedly applies to many of the clients in your previous therapy program. Additionally, you may not have heard any other clients discussing physical symptoms, but trust me when I say it’s incredibly common and this forum is a testament to that fact.

    You must believe you can heal. The best thing I ever did was leave my psychologist whom I loved but insisted I absolutely had to take an antidepressant (which may work for some people, but they’re just not for me - even antidepressants deemed compatible with my body via genetic testing don’t seem to work for me personally) and snap rubber bands against my wrists to ward off bad thoughts if I wanted to continue seeing him. He didn’t see any other way to work with an OCD patient and was of the belief that it was a disorder that was largely out of my control. It made me feel like I was hopeless and that the people who thought I was “incurable” were correct, further reinforcing my physical, mental, and emotional symptoms - yes, even physical, because this stressed me out. I later traded my psychologist for an amazing CBT therapist who reiterated time and time again that he’s seen many patients eventually walk out the door and say goodbye to their OCD once and for all. He truly believed that OCD doesn’t have to be permanent and only manageable for everyone, and would actually cite scientific studies to back this up. In this way, he didn’t say “TMS,” but he was applying TMS concepts by recognizing the power of the brain’s neuroplasticity and how our thoughts interact with that process.

    Heck, even schizophrenia - often falsely believed to be permanent 100% of the time - has far better outcomes in countries that don’t treat it as such. Mayo Clinic’s website says schizophrenia cannot be cured, but what about people who achieve “permanent remissions” for the rest of their lives without any medication, such as the Beautiful Mind man? I have no idea what caused or resolved his schizophrenia, but my point is that we don’t really understand mental health as much as we think, and the one-size-fits-all approach to mental health is seriously hurting us. It angers me when people claim that diagnosable anxiety, depressive, and obsessive compulsive disorders are always forever, without any exceptions. Even some of the best professionals fail to understand this, but that doesn’t mean you’re hopeless.

    The notion that you are alone and cannot heal because of OCD has the potential to hinder healing. But you are not helpless and many of us have walked in similar shoes. I wonder how your treatment would have been affected by professionals who better understood the mind-body connection and viewed it as a supporting method of healing. Sometimes we have to combine our existing knowledge of and belief in the mind-body connection with CBT concepts to come full circle. Some of us are in place where we can do that on our own, especially if you’ve been in extensive therapy previously. However, if you’re struggling with that and/or need someone to help you revisit CBT and other therapeutic concepts, I would recommend considering searching for a TMS counselor who has worked with OCD clients and/or another qualified CBT therapist who better understands this approach. It’s also imperative to make it clear from the very beginning that this approach is important to you. If a TMS counselor is not an option, some people have found success giving their provider an article or a copy of a book on the mind-body connection. With COVID, most insurance companies are covering virtual therapy, making it easier to find someone if local resources aren’t helping you.

    I understand reassurance seeking more than anyone, so my intention with this post is not to reassure you but rather to help identify what may be beneficial going forward. It’s wonderful to work with a professional who embraces and works with the mind-body connection, even if they aren’t a true TMS counselor and don’t know what the TMS acronym means or who John Sarno is - that’s completely fine and not necessary.

    Maybe you’re not feeling up for more therapy at the moment. Perhaps you can work with what you’ve already been taught and don’t need another therapist - that’s okay and I totally get it. Whether you go down that path or not, you have to also work toward accepting the mind-body connection because nobody - not even the best professional - can do that for us. As someone who has dealt with different types of OCD, I also feel that journaling made me become obsessive.

    I must also emphasize that I had to learn how to balance my emotions through CBT sessions and DBT concepts (I never went to DBT, but I purchased a workbook on Amazon and looked at Kati Morton’s YouTube videos to learn the basics) - I would recommend considering how your daily emotions play a role in your situation as well. I have lovely parents but they had no idea how to express emotions healthily when I was younger (something they admit on their own accord), and it took me years to realize that I never learned how to love life as a child because everything seemed so stressful and like the end of the world. That’s how my childhood house felt. I can recall one morning in fifth grade when my best friend asked me if I was okay because I was shaking from an interaction with my stressed out mother that occurred while driving to school that morning (which was never something my mother would’ve intended for me to feel, but it happened). That’s why I felt suicidal so easily starting at age 9, but I didn’t know back then that I really just wanted my pain to end, not for my entire life to end. I had to relearn how to emotionally perceive and handle life to overcome my symptoms without continually developing new ones once the old ones went away; this happened even after I posted my success story, but remember that all living beings experience the mind-body connection.

    I’m hoping you feel relief soon. Success is never out of reach, with or without OCD.
     
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  7. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Thank you for responding Dorado. I'm still mulling over your post, there's so much in there to consider, but in the meantime I just want to let you know that I appreciate your thoughtful and compassionate reply.

    I don't know if it's because of the OCD, but even after all these years of practicing, I'm not getting any better at being indifferent to the pain. I'm always aware of it, and also want it to stop - more than I've ever wanted anything else in my life.
     
    Dorado likes this.
  8. Dorado

    Dorado Beloved Grand Eagle

    @eskimoeskimo, I understand what you mean about being aware of the pain and wanting it to stop. For me, that's where truly believing in and understanding the mind-body connection helped. Every single living being experiences the mind-body connection. In fact, I recently read about cats developing physical issues due to emotional stress. It's normal and the good news is that your symptoms are not permanent. You can beat this. :)
     
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  9. eskimoeskimo

    eskimoeskimo Well known member

    Dorado,

    You’ve mentioned the importance of not wanting to heal, because wanting to heal keeps us stuck and obsessed and stressed.

    Can you elaborate at all as to how ‘not wanting to heal’ is possible ... perhaps especially for someone with hypochondriacal-OCD? I just can’t seem to grasp this ... how to do such a thing. I’m drawn to this strategy, because I know it’s the opposite of what I’ve been doing, but it feels impossible. Of course I want the pain to stop! Of course I want the pain in my neck to finally after all these years, release! Saying “I don’t care” or acting like I don’t care doesn’t seem to actually affect my true and extreme care. I would cut off my own leg if it meant my neck would stop hurting. How does one get from there to not caring?

    Thank you as always,
    Eskimo
     
  10. Dorado

    Dorado Beloved Grand Eagle

    @eskimoeskimo, some of them may not realize it, but there are people who are distracted by these symptoms because anxiety, rage, and other emotions that hype up the sympathetic nervous system make them feel “in control.” This doesn’t apply to everyone - and I wouldn’t get too hung up on this either way. For others, it’s just patterned thoughts and behaviors. There is no one-size-fits-all to mind-body healing. Whatever the reason is for the sympathetic nervous system getting stuck in overdrive, it’s important - and possible - to break the cycle.
     

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