Battling the urge
“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever” –Keri Russel
This month’s blog is going to focus on something kind of close to home for a lot of people and my own personal decisions in a time of struggle. I am sure you, someone you love, or someone you know has a problem with making the “right” choices. You can’t be mad at someone if they are battling drugs, alcohol, depression, or anxiety. The only thing you can do is try to sympathize, help when they ask for it, and make it a goal in your own life to not make the similar choices.
Without going into much detail, I have seen the effects alcoholism has on families. It is an awful disease that is way more prominent than it is spoken of. The choice a long time ago to start having that first drink after work led to a second, to a third, and now even after the good days of work drinking is still occurring. That is the problem with alcohol, one can drink to celebrate, drink to dull the pain, or just drink because they are bored.
Living with roommates and being in college/grad school was amazing because there was always an end goal. No matter how crappy a day was, there was always something tomorrow that you couldn’t afford to be hungover for or miss a whole day of studying because you slept in. However, out in the workforce it is so much easier to fall into the “middle-class lifestyle”. This was a term I heard several years ago to describe the typical 9-5 person who dislikes their daily job and ends every day with a drink or two. Then on the weekend celebrates by over indulging. It is a constant cycle of use and abuse.
Not to say that there is anything “wrong” with this set up. If you are one that can have a beer or two to wind down and it doesn’t affect your family or finances then by all means have those drinks. This is not a post to belittle anyone for their choices. The problem is when those choices become habit, and that habit becomes a lifestyle, and that lifestyle starts impacting your day to day life.
Six weeks ago I found myself having an awful day at work. Patients weren’t getting better. I did nothing but evaluations on people whose chronic pain I didn’t know what to do with. I felt isolated from not only my friends but my co-workers. The drive home was full of thought and all I could think about was having a drink when I got home to take the edge off.
As I got home I poured the glass and as I held it in my hand I found myself thinking if this was really the decision I wanted to make. I have always drank for fun, to socialize, or sometimes out of boredom. Never had I drank to dull the pain or out of anger. As I looked down into the glass I made the conscious decision that this was a road I was not going to go down.
Instead of throwing back a drink, I made the choice to put on a hoodie, gloves, and hat and go for a run. I was hurting. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew drinking would not solve the problem. Anyone who knows me knows I am not a runner at all. I avoid anything longer than a 5k like the plague, however; I didn’t feel like lifting and I wanted to put myself through something grueling to kind of punish myself for allowing the pain to set in this way.
I went out of my apartment and found a nice 1/2 mile course and just took off on a jog. I planned to do 5 laps at first. After 5 laps though I was still upset so I kept going. I got to 10 laps and then I just quit counting. I was still upset and hurting so I just decided I was going to run until I felt better.
That is the blessing and the curse of knowing the human body so well. I know that eventually, under enough stress the body responds with endorphins and you feel better. I was determined to make those stupid hormones start flowing because I was tired of being sad that day. After about an hour and a half and 10 miles I walked up that hill one last time with a smile on my face realizing that I can’t help everyone. I can’t please everyone. Sometimes things just don’t work out. All of the things I felt that day aren’t a reflection of my talents or drive. However, the choice to step away from that glass in a time of sorrow does speak to my ethos.
The entire point to this blog is not to put down drinking. Hell if you look at my Instagram you would know I love having a nice cocktail or glass of bourbon. The point is to take the responsibility for your actions and make the conscious decision before you start to go down a slippery slope. Another take away from this post should be that you need to find a healthy outlet for your day to day stressors. Some people workout, some people meditate, some people color or do puzzles, and there is no “right” way to manage your stress. However there are some ways that are more beneficial than others. It is about finding that outlet and using it to mitigate your poor choices.
Since my first run that seemed to work, I have been utilizing running weekly to void off my stressors. There is something special about putting your body in a place where you are under a physical stress. Not only does your mind clear, your body just feels better. If you are finding yourself in a place where you need someone to talk to please reach out! While I hurt like no other the next morning, I have never felt more relieved than when I dumped that glass down the drain after 10 miles. Only you can take control and ownership for your decisions. You are undoubtedly going to have stress. You can’t help how other people make you feel, but you can control what you do about it.
Thank you again to anyone who takes the time to read my blogs. I truly appreciate each and every one of you! If you ever need something, please reach out! We are all busy in life and can sometimes lose contact but I will always have time to help someone in need. I hope everyone’s holidays went well and I am excited to see what 2019 brings forward.
-Until next time
I am a new graduate DPT and am interested in personal growth and becoming a connector within my profession.