Although I am by no means an intellectual, I am reasonably intelligent. I did well at school and university, before completing law school and spending over 15 years as a corporate lawyer. If I need to, I can get to grips with most things although I might have to work at it for a while. When they ask for help with school work, my daughters seem to find my contribution helpful. I like learning new things. I like thinking, working things out, finding answers.
Since I stopped drinking, one of things I have noticed more and more is that my brain seems to be working better. When I was drinking I had problems with concentration and memory and my thoughts would constantly flit from one thing to the next and back again. I found it hard to listen and often during a conversation I would lose track and just switch off, especially if what was being talked about was in any way complicated. And believe me even simple things often seemed impossibly complicated.
I found my problems with concentration especially frustrated and attributed it to various causes. I was taking diazepam and antidepressants with various add-on medications so I put it down to those. I wasn’t sleeping very well – it could be that. My job is stressful and my boss is an idiot – it was his fault. And so on…
Although each of those reasons may have been valid in themselves, my drinking was inextricably linked to everything else. I was taking medication because I was depressed and anxious. I was drinking to deal with those feelings and my drinking was making me even more anxious and depressed. I was sleeping badly because most nights I fell into bed virtually comatose through drinking and slept fitfully waking with that awful feeling of dread in the early hours. Sweating, dehydrated and ashamed. My boss was an idiot and my job is stressful but drinking to cope was having the opposite effect and as time went on I was coping less and less. In fact I was just about getting by. My brain was functioning on a pretty basic level but not much more.
Alcohol was the root cause.
Now I feel as if my brain has really kicked back into gear again. It has been a steady process but just recently I have felt so much sharper and more clear headed. I am much better at my job and what is more I am really enjoying it. It’s interesting and challenging and although it is stressful, I have that more in balance now and the stress is no longer overwhelming. I am more resilient.
I have a new boss who I get on well with but I also get on much better with my old boss. When I was drinking I saw him as pathetic, ineffectual and generally a waste of space. Our meetings would usually end in total impasse with me just about managing to keep my anger, frustration and upset under control but sometimes I would end up shouting or in tears. Looking back I’m fortunate my boss was so tolerant, he could quite legitimately have complained about my behaviour.
And, I am sleeping. I have a fitness band which shows me how much sleep I have had breaking it down into deep sleep and light sleep and time awake. I generally achieve an amazing 7-8 hours and rather than passing out, I spend time reading in bed before going to sleep. I can actually remember where I got to the night before rather than having to read and re read endlessly. I can actually finish a book. And I don’t have any problem falling asleep. Quite frankly it feels like a miracle, a sober miracle (to use the wonderful title of one of my favourite blogs).
I am excited about the future now. Perhaps I might go for a promotion. I have already completed training to be a training mentor at work and I am working on a mental health project – a passion of mine. I’m going places at last.