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TMS, anxiety and a glass of wine - advice needed

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by TG957, Feb 24, 2017.

  1. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    My first TMS successes came with recognizing my fear, then my general anxiety.

    Before I started meditating, I used to deal with stress by pouring myself a glass of wine at dinner. When stress levels hit the fan, I would go for two glasses. I was worried about doing too much of it (I weigh 130 lbs and one glass often gets me drunk). I don't think I ever crossed the line of real addiction at a level of a 1- 2 bottles per week, but when I started on the TMS path, I stopped using alcohol completely. About 3 months ago, I decided that I was doing well enough to allow myself a glass of wine here and there.

    The fever pitch of the US politics, illness of my partner, death of a friend at the age of 40 got my symptoms to skyrocket lately. But the worst is the level of anxiety and subsequently ruined sleep which feeds into symptoms.

    I am realizing now that I am back to my bottle per week but it does not seem to help with anxiety. Moreover, I now have added anxiety that I am relying on alcohol to tame my anxiety :=).

    I understand rationally that my near obsession with thoughts of anxiety is a classic TMS, but maybe there is a rational to stop using alcohol at all? Any advice on this subject?

    P.S. I realize that a good long meditation works much better than wine, but I have a hard time seating myself for one, due to the increased anxiety.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2017
  2. hoolie

    hoolie Peer Supporter

    Hi @TG957 - I don't know if I have a great solution, but I can offer empathy. I am struggling with anxiety for so many of the same reasons. Election day in November was the same day I found out about my good friend's unthinkable diagnosis (at age 38).

    I have come to understand that I am one of those highly sensitive people, so world events, personal events weight VERY HEAVILY on me. I bring them into myself, and make it my personal responsibility to solve all the problems of the world all by myself. That sounds ridiculous, right? But essentially, that's what I'm doing. It's the completely unreasonable and unfair pressure I'm putting on myself. Could it be that's what you're doing to yourself too, thereby causing spikes in your anxiety as a response?

    Realizing the completely ludicrous pressure I'm putting on myself has helped somewhat, but so has a break from news from time to time. I don't want to hide completely from reality, but if my mental health is at stake, sometimes I have to. I remind myself that I will be whatever light I can be, but I'm only one person and it is not up to me. I can only do what I can do. I pray. I have a very simple mantra I use to redirect my thoughts when they get scary. And while a long meditation is ideal, in my life it is totally impossible, but 5-10 minutes is good and helpful too. So is just reading a book or coloring! I have bought an adult coloring book and some fancy colored pencils (ok, the colored pencils were a gift to my daughter, but she forgot she has them so I...ahem...am "taking care of them" for the time being :) )

    I hope this is helpful. My current symptom started on Inauguration Day. I don't think that's a coincidence.
    Homestead Hermit likes this.
  3. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thank you, hoolie, for your empathy! I, too, feel connected to and responsible for what is going on in the world and that wears me out. Coloring book would not work for me, my main symptom is a severe spasm in the muscles of my hands, so fine motor functions of hands go first, so do writing, cooking, anything to do with my hands. I do better with typing, but that takes me to Internet and the news :=(. Reading gets difficult as soon as anxiety crosses a certain threshold. I try to get outside or meditate but that does not work much. Today, after a difficult night of semi-sleep, I decided to call in sick and spent two hours meditating. Anxiety level is down, I had a nap. I am feeling better now. At least I learned to treat myself kindly. Before, I would soldier on, go to work, deal with the stress despite my nearly incapacitated hands and get the mess even worse.

    I wish you and many others here suffering from politics a positive resolution sooner than later. I can't stay away from the action, so I am doing whatever small contribution I can offer to change things back to normal. Let;s all pray and hope!
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 10, 2017
  4. Bonnard

    Bonnard Peer Supporter

    Thanks--I can relate for sure. I sometimes squash together a world event (there's an abundant supply in recent months) with a personal setback or loss. I start missing any magic in the day. I end of feeling like things are definitely Not going to work out for me, and this is when I get way out of the present moment. When I can get back to this day, this moment, I feel like I can make some difference again. However small it is is ok. I'm much lighter and happier.
    TMS symptoms often come out of the tightness and living in the future/past.

    Just hearing that others go through this stuff reduces some anxiety for me, so thanks!!
    TG957 likes this.
  5. MindBodyPT

    MindBodyPT Beloved Grand Eagle

    Here's the thing for me- I totally relate to what everyone on here is saying! Especially the current events stress...some of my symptoms flared up around the election and inauguration for sure. I have an active mindfulness meditation practice and also suffered from pretty bad anxiety along with my pain, which is now thankfully decreased.

    One thing that really helped me is to meditate THROUGH the anxiety. If there is anxiety, sit with it. Let it be. This is where you are in your process right now and that is ok. Try not to have any expectations about what the meditation will bring...practicing alone is enough. Studies show that meditating for 30 minutes per day for a few months will produce real changes in your brain! This stuff is really powerful but takes a lot of work...it's fine and normal to feel anxious while meditating. Meditation will not always feel good and relaxing but it's such a wonderful took when practiced!
    MWsunin12 and JanAtheCPA like this.
  6. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thank you, MindBodyPT! It is a great point that I tend to forget: meditation does not always bring desired result immediately, but you have to practice it anyway and results will come. If I manage an hour or longer meditation, within about 12 hours my symptoms usually go down. Somehow, my brain keeps telling me that I really don't have time right now, or don't feel right at the moment, and I skip my practice, which leads to increase in symptoms and anxiety.
  7. Kalle

    Kalle Newcomer

    Hi TG957 ( and others!),
    I can definitely relate to your struggles, and can feel / imagine the anxiety and frustration you have as you navigate this anxiety/alcohol/TMS cycle... It's hard to not let life interrupt any kind of routine that takes time, like meditation - I've never been able to keep up with the practice, even though I'd love to. In part it may be because it doesn't help me in the short run with anxiety/worry or with back pain - but it does help with calming down and being more peaceful after running around or being stressed out on a more superficial level ( if that makes sense). For pain flare ups, I find it more useful to write, in stream of consciousness fashion, just let it all pour out and become as emotional as you can or want and write about everything you think it could be about. I see some of my back pains ( I have different kinds), especially stiffness, as being blocked both physically and emotionally, and when I pour it all out and cry (laughing helps too, but is not as easy to get to :( ), there is a feeling of release that extends into the physical. Sometimes when the pain is really deep, I feel like I need to go deeper emotionally, like a dual root canal on both my back and my psyche.

    On another note, I can relate to what everyone says about the election and politics. I think they've definitely contributed to more pain flare ups and anxiety compared to last year, for me. Mostly I feel angry, but on a deeper level there is worry...
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 10, 2017
  8. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    I've read that many if not most people are feeling anxiety about this pas election. I stopped watching TV news and cut way back on watching TV network news on my computer. The less I know from Washington, the better.
    I didn't follow Obama every day and survived. I think we will survive Trump and his crowd.
    Tennis Tom likes this.
  9. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Kalle, I read that meditation produces results even it is only 20 minutes. It is interesting how different things give different people emotional release. I tried journalling and it did not seem to work. At the same time, sitting meditation (which I thought for a long time I was incapable of) works marvels for me, even though it does not feel like emotional release while I am meditating, but symptoms subside within 12-24 hours. I also found out that prolonged monotonous physical exercise causes emotional release for me. When I run, after about 20-25 minutes I start feeling depressed and tearful. As long as I continue running for another 20-25 minutes, depression and anxiety eventually go away, I feel more energetic for days after.

    I love your metaphor about dual root canal! I am learning how not to get all fired up about events but it is definitely a huge factor in my pain and spasms levels. I try to contribute as much as I can but it is a double edged sword: it gives me sense of hope that all our small efforts will join together, but on the other hand, it increases my anxiety level as I learn more. Anger is not a good permanent state of mind....
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2017
    Kalle likes this.
  10. Tennis Tom

    Tennis Tom Beloved Grand Eagle

    You're doing it again, I wouldn't go there if you want to maintain domestic tranquility at this forum.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 10, 2017
    PainNoMore likes this.
  11. PainNoMore

    PainNoMore Peer Supporter

    for sure
  12. Kalle

    Kalle Newcomer

    Fair enough, no politics. Although I think if it's related to our TMS story, we should be allowed to mention it, but we don't have to go into any detail or include accusations against specific people or policies. Sorry about that. I do feel, however, that the political can't be completely separated from the personal. In this country, traditionally a lot of people have had the luxury of staying away from politics, as if it is something that you don't have to be affected by if you choose not to. Imagine having TMS as a refugee or resident of a war torn country, or even a veteran whose unconscious reservoir of rage has something to do with who sent them into war - I just don't think we can completely eliminate politics if we want to see ourselves holistically.
  13. Kalle

    Kalle Newcomer

    Your experience with meditation in relation to symptoms sounds amazing! I should give it another try. Since my pains move around so much and keep shifting in intensity I probably won't be able to attribute any improvements to meditation per se; but who cares as long as I feel better!

    I agree that exercise helps with depression and anxiety ; very interesting that you notice this difference between a 20 and a 40 minute run. With back pain I wouldn't want to run much, but various cardio machines in the gym often work for a while. For me it all depends on what kind of pain I have and what kinds of exercise I do... Do you have any favorite meditation tapes / apps / videos?
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 10, 2017
  14. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Kalle, for me, the 20 minute effect does not come just with running - any long monotonous strenuous activity. I first noticed it when I was doing aerobics 20 years ago, then with power yoga 10 years ago, then with zumba 4 years ago. I used to dread those moments and often stop exercising because it was unbearable. Now that I understand the connection with my emotions (brain centers for motions and emotions are located in the same areas as I learned!), I welcome the emotions, try to feel them physiologically as my TMS psychologist and my Tibetan meditation teacher taught me and they dissolve and go away. The kind of meditation I follow is called somatic. It is of Tibetan Nyingma school. It does focus on the embodiment of emotions a lot. Another interesting one to look at may be Reggie Ray of dharmaocean.org. He follows another Buddhist tradition but also somatic in nature.

    As for meditation tapes, I tried many and they mostly did not work. Sound of speech distracts me, so I use very quiet music. I found some favorites on Youtube. Selection probably reflects my love for minimalist music:

  15. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi folks, thanks for resolving that among yourselves. Politics is a sensitive subject and is off topic for the forum. It's true that everyone has feelings about politics and that those feelings may increase our stress, but going into detail here can be divisive, so I ask that people avoid it when possible. The official wording from the forum rules is as follows: "Avoid discussing topics that are both contentious and off topic for the forum."

    Given the current political state, I'm asking people to avoid politics entirely when possible. In terms of talking about your own emotions, it is sufficient to say, "I like to think about politics, but I find it very stressful so am trying to cut down," or, if it applies, "I've been feeling anxious, unsafe, and angry." The key is to be very aware of your own emotions to make sure that you aren't passive aggressively attacking people who hold differing political views.

    On the flip side, if you are able to figure out the political leanings of another member and you find yourself getting angry at all or thinking about politics or political grudges when you read their posts, that is a member that you should avoid. There are plenty of other members here who need your support, and if you are angry, you can not give the type of support that is appropriate on this forum.

    If anyone has any questions or just wants to share their views, please don't hesitate to PM me. I most likely won't respond, but I will read it very carefully and will forward it to the moderators so that they, also, will have a better idea of where you are coming from.

    See also:
    http://www.tmswiki.org/forum/threads/politics-are-we-being-trolled.15180/ (Politics: are we being trolled?)
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2017
    Tennis Tom likes this.
  16. riv44

    riv44 Well known member

  17. riv44

    riv44 Well known member

    this is an area where i do have expertise but be advised that what I say here is not a treatment recommendation for you. Many people self-medicate with alcohol and other substances and that is not necessarily a terrible thing! There are ways to build awareness of what you drink and why. Look at the Moderation Management for Alcohol website. The guilt about what you are doing is probably worse, and will feed the Mind-Body Disorder beast. Instead, just notice what you are feeling and what effect the wine has, in a journaling kind of way.
  18. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thank you, Riv, for your post! It has been 2 weeks since I was at a low point and asked for advice. I bounced back, my pain levels and my symptoms are much down, my meditation practice and sleep are back to normal and my alcohol is down to couple glasses per week. With OCD tendency being my trait, I agree that guilt and fear are worse than the actual alcohol itself. I have no idea where my worry is coming from, nobody in my immediate family ever had substance abuse issues, but I am extremely conscious over potential addiction to substances. You got me thinking that I should probably be more mindful about my OCD than anything else :=).
    Forest likes this.
  19. riv44

    riv44 Well known member

    It's true for me as well. If you don't pathologize yourself and just think of ocd and all other strategies as ways to manage anxiety, you won't have to worry so much about substances.
  20. riv44

    riv44 Well known member

    the worry may come from stigma of the label substance abuser? These days I know where my stress is coming from, and it's a new experience...I'm freaked out about my own daughter's wedding. I normally HATE big events because they make me very anxious.

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