Saturday, 30 January 2016

Days 30-100

Tomorrow is the end of January.

This means that many of you will be on or around day 30. Perhaps you only intended to quit for one month, and you're already gearing up for a humdinger of a party?

DON'T DO IT!

30 days is awesome work, but you've only just scratched the surface of all the benefits you get from staying sober. This is not it. You have to keep going....

I thought you might like a guide to the next phase: Days 30-100, and I'm hoping that my readers who've been through it already will chip in with their wisdom in the comments section below. So, here goes:

Days 30-100

First off, HUGE CONGRATULATIONS! You've done the first month, and it's by far the most physically gruelling.

By now, I hope, you're sleeping like a baby, and your energy levels are improving. Maybe, now there are no hangovers, you're learning to love mornings again?

You probably haven't lost much weight yet (sugar cravings, anyone?), but I bet you LOOK different. Bright eyed, dewy skinned, less puffy.

Maybe the cravings are getting a bit better too - probably just as powerful, but less frequent. Once a day, rather than all day.

By now you're detoxed. Your liver is doing high fives and thanking you profusely. You are all sparkly and clean.

But now, I'm afraid, the hard work begins.....

Because days 30-100 are all about introspection. Endless naval gazing. The asking of all those big questions like how did I end up in this mess? Who am I (without alcohol)? Who was I (before alcohol)? Where do I want to be? How the hell do I get there?

If, like me, you're British, then the idea of any form of self analysis is anathema. My response to any big LIFE questions was "Pass the bottle!"

It is horribly uncomfortable for all of us life-avoiders, but it's inevitable when you strip your comfort blankets away, and you'll come out the other side a stronger, better and more aware person.

(For more about how this all feels, from when I was going through it, click here)

The other big theme of days 30-100 is learning to deal with fear and anxiety.

Up to day 30, you're so far down in the trenches, and the cravings come so thick and fast, that it's difficult to see any pattern.

But now you'll start to see that there are some major triggers, and the biggies are fear and anxiety.

We get so used to dealing with these uncomfortable emotions by blotting them out that we forget how to cope with them. And if you spend long enough avoiding coping with fear, you find - eventually - that you've completely lost your courage.

Days 30-100 are about tackling fear and anxiety (and all the other nasty emotions like envy, self doubt, boredom, etc) without any props, but in doing so you will, slowly, slowly find your courage returning, and - with it - your self respect.

(For more on this, from my Day 77, click here)

So, once you've done all the introspection and all the dealing with bad stuff sober, you also have to cope with other people.

It's normal for the first month (especially if it's January) to hunker down and not go out much. And if people ask you about your 'not drinking' you can shrug off the question easily - you're detoxing/having a month off/Dry January etc.

But, eventually, you have to start socialising again.

This one takes a while. I still don't have quite the same level of anticipation about social events, but it's gradually coming back.

My advice, and it's controversial, for the early days is to fake it till you make it. The last thing you need when you're still feeling fragile is to have someone grilling you about why you can't have 'just one.'

So I suggest you lie (I'm driving/on antibiotics/detoxing) or fake (drink virgin cocktails, let them fill your wine glass and don't touch it) for a while.

I realise that this is not ideal, but the truth is society is really screwed up about alcohol, and we non drinkers are made to feel like the ones with the problem, not the addicts still quaffing away.

For more on how to cope with, and actually enjoy, partying sober read: Sober Mummy's Party Survival Guide.

Over the next sixty days, you'll find that you get fewer and fewer cravings, but when they do hit they're almost harder to deal with because they're from left field. You're not expecting them.

This phase really is a rollercoaster. You'll have wonderful, pink cloudy days of real euphoria, and some days of despair. That's perfectly normal.

It's known as Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS), and you can read more about it here.

It's all a bit like my favourite children's book: Going on a Lion Hunt:

You can't go over it, you can't go under it, you've got to go through it.

But, after all those ups and downs and insides and outsides you'll find yourself gradually shedding off all those ugly duckling feathers, and one day you'll catch your reflection in the pond and you'll think "Why, I'm a swan!"

By Day 100 it won't be so hard anymore. And you'll be braver, slimmer, nicer, a better parent. Your life will be easier, more fulfilled, and going somewhere.

So keep going, bird by bird, until you find your inner swan.

Love SM x

45 comments:

  1. Love it! The first month is definitely the hardest. However (and it's a BIG however) I am still waiting to become a beautiful swan. Everything has improved except my bloody weight. But I know why (I am addicted to sugar) and now, almost 1 year sober, feel ready to tackle that demon. Big (fat) sober hugs LNM x

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    1. It'll happen LNM! Now you've cracked the alcohol, you know you can do it. Same principles. One day at a time ;-)By the way, if you haven't got one already, buy a nutri-bullet. You can make amazing fruit smoothies which satisfy the sweet tooth, but are really good for you. xxx

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  2. 29 days in and I have GAINED weight, my skin is shocking and I keep forgetting important things like paying the school dinner money! BUT I still take that over the 4a.m waking, heart palpitations, paranoia and generalised anxiety I had before. My sense is that it might take a couple of pot holes to remind me of this and I will walk into them choicefully with no guilt/shame before climbing back on the sober train. (when is Lent??!!)

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    1. The skin will clear. The memory will improve!
      Lent starts February 10. Definitely no point refining your momentum for 10 dats!

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    2. I gained weight initially, SWMum! And the shocking skin is a detox thing - it'll look great soon. Foggy head also perfectly normal! Soon you'll be sharper than you've ever been. Just keep going!!!

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    3. Thanks guys! Still here, still sober! Officially my dry Jan ends tomorrow as I started a day late, but as yet I have no inclination to restart. I definitely was to do lent too as then I'd be nearly at 100 days. The weight is not lack of alcohol, but more excess of cadburys caramel!!

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  3. You are absolutely right, Sobermummy. I happen to be exactly 200 days sober myself today, and it is SO worth it. Even a hundred days, as you suggest, will bring you forward on so many points. At 200, it is just a new normal. I hardly think of alcohol anymore, and I absolutely don't want to go back.
    There is just one thing I want to add: Many of us found, that we were self-medicating some sort of anxiety with alcohol. I really don't know which came first, but I suspect in my case I was just always high-strung and used alcohol to cope. A bad idea, as it turns out. With the alcohol out of the picture, some mental issues may reappear, and here is the important thing: Deal with it directly, rather than masking it. Do not go back to drinking. It's like keeping warm on a cold day by peeing your pants. In my case it helped tremendously to cut way back on caffeine. Also, it just gets better with time, I believe, as the brain adapts to not getting the dopamine from drinking.

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    1. 200 days Ulla! That's awesome! Huge congrats. And thank you so much for the peeing in the pants analogy. That made my day! Xxx

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    2. The point, of course, being that it will be even colder later on.

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    3. Ulla you make such a great point. Fear that my anxiety will return to previous level is a huge obstacle to me giving up alcohol. I didn't realize how fearful I am of that until I saw your comment. So thank you as I can now start working through these feeling. And thanks SM for the great post!

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    4. Trust me, you will be better off by giving it up. I drank for 25 years, and I was horribly anxious and about anything and everything. I drank to relieve it, BUT - and this is a little known fact - the anxiety is in large part a symptom of abstinence, of coming down, along with irritability, anger, depression and restlesness. The alcohol is both relieving the anxiety (as long as we drink) AND causing it (between drinking). It peaks a bit for a lot of people after stopping drinking, but now, 200 days in, I'm all zen. Completely calm. I'd say the first 100 days are the worst, after that you will be fine. Caffeine, by the way, induces anxiety immediately (you can google that, there are a lot of scolarly articles), so be careful with that.

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    5. Yes, I have felt the anxiety washing over me here and there. And insomnia starting at day 25. I have been here before, and it is uncomfortable. But better than hangovers and regrets.

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  4. Love "peeing in your pants to keep warm" makes so much sense :D
    Fab posts SM, they are helping to get me into the right headspace - thank you x

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  5. Here I am again, back at the start. But I'm still going to keep trying, and your words help me. Annie x

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    1. Not back at the start, Annie! You're older and wiser now. You'll see the potholes and walk around them, right? xxx

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  6. SM, great post, thanks. Have kept busy today, we took the dogs for a good walk on Dartmoor and I filled my time this afternoon when I might otherwise have wavered. Early evening (now!!) is harder but I am resolute and I promised a 100 days on pain of a thousand quid charity payment so I am sitting here with a coffee and a homemade peanut butter biscuit and I won't drink today. I'll read the rest of your stuff later.

    Justonemore

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    1. Well done Justonemore! Dog walks are perfect way of keeping the head off the booze :-) x

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  7. What I so appreciate about your blog, is your continued guide on how the whole process of giving up alcohol is going to run it's course. I am on day 30 and I so wanted to drink tonight. I felt having gone this far, a couple glasses of wine was deserved. But then I thought why? Because I want to feel different. I want to float and enjoy the senses on alcohol and it hit me I would not stop at two glasses. I fought with myself; I cried. Then I remembered I hadn't read your blog today and your message was a blessing. Thank you.

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    1. You're doing great, Lia! 30 days is awesome work! The last thing you want to do now is start over at the beginning! Big hugs xxx

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  8. Hi SM - loving your posts. They're helping me push on to that magic day 100. It is definitely getting easier although couple temptations this weekend made me realise I'm by no means home and dry. Cannot wait until it becomes a bit more second nature. So glad I'm almost through January though. will soon be at my most recent record (bar pregnancies - cant wait to beat those records too!). Happy sober weekend dear friend. By the way notice you post less about yourself these days - it's all about helping us newbies. So grateful but also want to be here for you too. Hope all going well with your lovely self - how those tamox side effects going? Lots of love - SFM xxx

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    1. You're doing great SFM! I have hardly any side effects now - hurrah! I have my check up tomorrow with the breast consultant, so I'll post a full update after that. Thanks for your concern! xxx

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  9. Reading this on sunday with a lovely clear head. Its fab. So many things planned for today, would have dragged myself around before. Had a real trigger yesterday evening. Planning summer hols with mr. S. Usually can't be done without a bottle of red. Then I played it through, what would happen is that we'd drink the bottle and not actually plan anything. It was all about the drinking really. Last night though I Had a becks blue and we actually planned and looked at places - really enjoyable sober - who knew! We will all have times and places when we would "normally" have a drink, just try it without and be surprised. Great post as always SM x

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    1. Aren't Sunday mornings fab? Well done on the holiday planning! Anything you do for the 'first time' is hard. Next time it'll be a piece of cake... xxx

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  10. All you say is true SM! I'm on day 103 today and I'm my puffy face has gone, my skin/hair/teeth are in great condition and I barely think about alcohol now. Instead, I think about what I'm doing each day, fixing things that need to be fixed and getting on with my life. I'm really happy - not a place I expected to be! Still loving your blog! Love SPB xxx

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    1. Yes, it's true, isn't it! 100 days takes you to the other side.
      Congratulations!

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    2. Absolutely! And thanks Ulla. How many days have you got under your belt? Just waiting for the weight loss to kick in now! Fingers crossed. Love SPB. xxx

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    3. 200 Days!!!! That's amazing!!! Congratulations. Sorry - just seen your post. xxx

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    4. Thank you! I think we are in the same place, basically. 100, 200 and 300 are likely the same. The old-timers tell me it gets even better, though :-)

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    5. 103 days SPB! That's awesome! Well done! It'll all get easier now, just watch out for PAWS from time to time, plus that little voice that says 'maybe I overreacted! I'm fine! I can MODERATE now!' xxx

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  11. You're absolutely right about the 30-100 days rollercoaster, introspection phase SM. It can be both exhausting and exhilarating as our previously pickled neural pathways start firing in the right direction again. But so worth it! x

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    1. Love the name OhYesSheDid! Welcome!

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  12. Still working towards that 30 day mark which I realize will coincide with The Oscars in the States, already has me nervous as I typically light a fire, open the wine and get ready to be regaled by all the Hollywood talent and beauty, rooting for certain films and actors and actresses to go home with the golden boy. I also will be totally alone with a husband gone and just the dog to tell on me....yikes! I need to make a sober plan already. But, thanks in advance for the blog and the input from others about this journey. I purposely turned to a HUGE increase in my alcohol intake years ago to deal with shame, anxiety, loneliness after a divorce from a marriage of seventeen years. Those emotions and issues are all still there and have not been dealt with properly, so after a ten year absence I am putting myself back into counseling in an effort to help me deal with, get over it and face it soberly in the weeks to come. Thanks again for all the support....I especially appreciate the links that are interspersed throughout your blogs, so I can refer back to your earlier days in sobriety, with its thoughts, struggles and tips!

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    1. Great idea doing the counselling alongside the not drinking Tam! Good luck on Oscar night. Make yourself a big jug of Virgin Mojitos! Then you can toast in style... xxx

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  13. I started a little late with my New Years Resolution. I'm here though, Day 14, anxious and tired, but hopeful. Glad I found your blog and others like me.

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    1. Yes, days 10-30 can be tough. I was TIRED, TIRED and TIRED, but hang in there, it passes. Get as much rest as you can, because, as you probably know, it is when you are tired the temptation is worst.

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    2. Welcome, runningaway! Well done on day 14! Anxious and tired is totally normal. It'll pass, as Ulla says! Look after yourself and eat cake ;-) xx

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  14. On Day 45 here. I stayed sober for eight months in 2014. Unfortunately the best part of 2015 was spent conducting a failed "Now Let's See if I Can Drink Moderately" experiment. Like I said, that failed. ANYWAY, I am now a non-drinker FOR GOOD. Bring on Days 50-100! Your fabulous post has brought it all back - P.A.W.S. was wretched for me first time around but this time I'm more open, and I'm ready, tooled-up with a whole lot of committment and self-care willingness! What a lovely place your blog is btw. Love from the Sober Garden x

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    1. I love your sober garden too, sober garden! And huge congrats on Day 45, plus thanks for the reminder about the whole 'moderation experiment' thing! xxx

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  15. Hi SM, great post! I'm on day 71 and feeling pretty good. I'm determined to go beyond 102 days this time. My mind set is different this time. I'm not thinking of day 100 as an end of the challenge but the beginning! Sober is so much better. A x

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    1. Hi Angie! I can tell from your blog that your whole mindset is different. It's awesome! I know you've cracked it this time! xxx

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  16. Hi, thanks so much for the information about paws! After stopping and relapsing so often I now have the reason why it got so hard after 200 days..I haven't known anything about it!! Thank you! By the way, I love your posts!!!:-)

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  17. Hi, thanks so much for the information about paws! After stopping and relapsing so often I now have the reason why it got so hard after 200 days..I haven't known anything about it!! Thank you! By the way, I love your posts!!!:-)

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  18. It's been almost 9 months since I stopped and I never want to go back to the wine chatter of drinking or the first few weeks after stopping. It really does get easier and you really do stop obsessing about it. I had weeks of lethargy and headaches and no weight loss then it all got better. I also cried a lot at the start and was definitely grieving my relationship with alcohol. I loved it but just knew my time was up. I now never want to drink although I still think about it and talk about it (and read about it)a lot. My hair and skin look great and I've lost lots of weight. 100 days was a big turning point so hang on in there!!!

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  19. Isn't it we're going on a bear hunt??

    I'm sitting reading your entire blog in one go. Love it and well done xx

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    1. Quite right! I must have had a brain fart ;-) Welcome Hannah! Glad you found us xxx

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