If I told you that I was recovering from an anxiety induced alcohol dependency and eating disorder without any guidance or supervision of a medical professional, you would probably consider me an absolute fool, but I am doing exactly that, and I’m no fool.
I had my first anxiety attack when I was seventeen, and had my first adult beverage on my 21st birthday. I dealt with my anxiety completely sober for five years, but once I realized that I could use delicious organic red wine to calm my ass down and partially shut off my brain I was all for it, and it took five years of self medicating in that sense to realize my method was not sustainable and becoming a huge detriment to my physical and mental health.
Alcohol made my anxiety worse every time I abused it, and as my anxiety gradually got worse than I ever would have imagined it could, I was losing my appetite daily. I got to a point where I was eating 300 to maybe 500 calories a day, but more often than not on the lower end of that spectrum. The newly coined term for this horrific way of treating the only body you have to live in is Drunkorexic, and that’s exactly what I was.
Side note: there are several areas of self care that I have fallen short of due to idiotic laziness, whether it be drinking enough water, taking my makeup off and brushing my teeth before bed, or getting moderate exercise everyday, but the more I think about how much I genuinely care about having healthy skin, not allowing my teeth to rot out of my head and avoiding having a heart attack before I turn 40, the harder I work to make these simple tasks into habitual priorities, and it honestly isn’t that hard. If you make a point do the things you would normally neglect everyday for a week, you will be surprised at how quickly they become habitual going forward, I promise.
the road to recovery
Coming to the realization that my health was deteriorating didn’t take very long. It actually hit me like a ton of bricks. I woke up one morning, dehydrated and malnourished after giving my brain, liver and kidneys a big middle finger the night before, with what I now recognize as internal tremors, brain fog, fibromyalgia syndrome, dangerously low cholesterol and several vitamin deficiencies. I scheduled an appointment with a medical doctor who offered me muscle relaxers for my constant muscle pain and anxiety medication for my anxiety disorder. I personally have no interest in pharmaceutical drugs for non-life threatening chronic conditions so I proceeded to schedule an appointment with a local naturopathic doctor who performed a full blood panel and relayed all of this to me. She informed me that I wasn’t eating enough and when I went home and hopped on my roommate’s bathroom scale to realize that I was 15 pounds underweight I was terrified.
There were several things I immediately changed with regard to taking care of myself. I forced myself into eating a well balanced 2,000 calorie diet, drinking enough water and supplementing with prescribed vitamins and herbs for detox and deficiencies. I gradually cut back my alcohol intake and then took a 3 week hiatus where I was completely dry, and because I wasn’t too far gone this was all it really it took to start feeling better.
Now that I am in a place of understanding that the only justifiable use of alcohol is to compliment or follow a meal and that it should only be consumed by a healthy, well nourished and adequately hydrated individual who knows that it shouldn’t be consumed in excess, every day or on an empty stomach, I know that when I do have a drink I am for the first time in my life drinking responsibly.
I’m writing this to share my experience as this stuff really had power over me. I finally feel like I am in control and aside from getting my health back there is no better feeling in the world. I’m also writing because there are several individuals in my life that have a problem with alcohol and for many of them it is not my place to confront them about it, and others with whom I have lost my courage to confront because I have already and in my loving attempt to save their health was accused of being judgmental and not understanding or empathizing with the amount of stress they’re under. To that I’ll just say this:
Alcohol harms your vital organs, specifically the liver, heart and brain. It contributes to obesity and increases your risk of several cancers and even having just a few drinks a week can increase the risk of breast cancer in women. There is nothing sustainable about using alcohol to cope with the unavoidable stress your work and personal life brings, but there is also no part of you that isn’t strong enough to handle your life in sobriety.
It’s no easy task to watch your loved ones destroy their health in the name of stress or difficult to handle life events, so if that is the case I would advise to push past the fear of them getting upset with you and always voice your concerns, coming from a place of love. This is important.