Since doing work on various bad habits, and one serious addiction I have come to realise that everyone is self-medicating in one way or another. Self-medication can be in the form of food, shopping, alcohol, illegal drugs, medical drugs or almost anything that you find comfort in.
I realised that I have been self-medicating in one way or another for my entire life and when I looked around, so was everyone else. I always thought that addiction must have been caused by the drug or thing that you are doing, but I now know that they are just masking the pain. Once I realised that everyone who is performing these self-medicating rituals must be suffering from some form of anxiety or uncomfortable feeling I felt a wave of sympathy. It was comforting and connecting. I started to see how much everyone had in common. All that anyone is really trying to do is get from birth to death with as little pain and suffering as possible.
A huge breakthrough for me was learning that anger can release a discharge of dopamine epinephrine and norepinephrine — also referred to as adrenaline and noradrenaline, which means that when you get angry you are getting high. Anger has the same guilt and shame associated with other types of addiction. I have a close friend that has Jekyll and Hyde tendencies; unconditional love juxtaposed with irrationality and volatile anger. I often wondered if he enjoyed it. It almost seemed as if he was drunk on the emotion. He always seemed to regret his behavior afterwards yet appeared to have no control over the present. I have not walked in his shoes and I completely sympathise with the need for that hit of comfort and lack of control. Because of this, I am able to forgive him and any other for getting angry. This alone has been transformational and allowed me to see human beings in a completely different light. This being said, you are responsible for the things that you act out in anger and it is, therefore, your responsibility to learn how to control it. Your higher self knows better but as soon as you throw emotions in the mix you lose sight of what is right and true. Especially when you are further compromised by mind-altering substances.
I heard a psychologist say that if you are feeling anxious or depressed you should H.A.L.T. This means that you should check whether you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. All four of these things factor towards a mentally and physically depleted state of body and mind. If you have all of these then you are putting yourself in a seriously compromised position. If possible to fix just one of these then you can completely change the course of your mental and physical health and it can give you the strength to get back on your feet.
I felt like I had a hard day today. It is possible that I was hungry, angry lonely and tired. I had done a full day at work and been to the gym. The gym normally pulls me out of a bad mindset but today it didn’t shake. As someone who tries not to drink or do drugs and doesn’t eat meat or dairy, there are few options in the form of instant joy. I find myself sat in my car in Pack n Save car park eating an entire packet of cookies in one. As I sit there feeling sick and confused I think to myself, this sugar rush isn’t ideal at 9pm when I have work in the morning. I considered making myself sick, but having known someone recovering from bulimia in the past, I at least had the sense to realise that could be another level into the inception. Funny how often I find myself doing something that I instantly regret as if I had been in autopilot up to the exact moment the deed is done. This is subconscious sabotage at its finest. When I was using drugs it was almost as if you blacked out between wanting some and having some. As soon as you were on it you would realise that it was Wednesday morning and there weren’t going to be any raves to go to and everyone was at work. Each and every time this happens you are met with instant regret.
It really is ironic that the exact thing that you are doing to try and make yourself feel better is making you worse and worse and worse.
Welcome to the negative feedback loop.
You feel down so you eat cookies, the sugar makes you anxious and irritable, you put on weight you get low and you eat more cookies. The cycle continues.
The only thing that gets me through these periods is the sheer faith that I will get through. I have been in these loops so many times that I know that so long as you have the intention to get out, eventually after churning you round a few times, it will spit you out and you seem almost magically to get your willpower back as if it was a virtue that had been taken from you and returned. Relax and enjoy the ride. There are many lessons to be learned in these turbulent times.
Not to mention the gratitude for the darkness that makes the light so bright.
I believe that there is always a choice and whilst you might not have the skills and mindset to beat that problem at the time you can choose to improve. Willpower is something that can be trained like a muscle and you can get stronger.
Wim Hoff is human just like you and I, and yet somehow he climbed past the death zone on Mount Everest wearing nothing but shorts.
You are stronger than you know…
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I would love to read about your own experiences and thoughts in the comments.
Let’s break the chain together
Strength and love