Thursday, July 26, 2012

Depressed ...

Okay ... so I've been depressed for about ten days now. Bizarre. Depressed, anxious, paranoid, nervous. And it's not just all PMS.

It started - at least mildly - when I stumbled upon some REALLy depressing and scary facts about alcohol consumption in one of the posts on "Drinking Diaries" - the popular blog, soon to be released as a book. I love that people - women especially - are sharing their stories about drinking. And I'm definitely getting their book due out at the end of August.

But holy shit. There is some depressing shit about women and drinking on that blog. I'm not talking about the great stories people send in. I'm talking about the articles, in particular one called "Women and Alcohol" by Ann Dowsett Johnston that said the gap between men and women drinkers is closing. We're starting to drink almost as much as men - which isn't a good thing because apparently women - with their higher body fat content - react more negatively to alcohol than men and it's going to start showing up in health concerns. Like one drink a day will increase your risk of breast cancer by 10%.

So I read that and started to feel concerned. I mean seriously concerned. The more I learn about alcohol for my plan - the more terrifying it gets. But I kept this enormous post up on my desktop because I knew I wanted to blog about it. But I just couldn't bring myself to start. Unfortunately, I didn't want to close the damn article because I'm not sure I could find it again so there it sat, every time I checked my email, every time I Googled something, every time I opened the cute little ads that come in my inbox from the Gap. So I got more and more scared and depressed. Like what am I telling people to do?!! Should we all just quit drinking?!! Forever? And be healthy ... and healthy ... and ... healthy? Maybe bored, maybe square, but whatever. We'd be healthy!!

I'm a big fan of Abraham-Hicks and the Law of Attraction so I believe your energy at any given moment is helping to create your environment. So I'm in this negative energy loop because of all this stuff about drinking and ... sure enough ... I FINALLY click on that "Hey! Do this free Chakra test!" by Carol Tuttle that I saw on Oprah's website (and just about everywhere else) and I found out that one of my chakras is CLOSED. Not just weak, but CLOSED. There was a weak one too.  But the closed one floored me. My "personal power" chakra - closed for business. I did some of the breathing exercises she emailed me ... and then I went for a haircut.

BAD DECISION. Never go for a haircut when you're in a negative place. The guy was nice but he had bad breath and he gave me old lady hair. Cost me $85 plus tips and products. (I always get roped into products.) So I came home and cried. I hated the hair so much, I decided to go to ANOTHER salon five days later to have it fixed. Googled "best damn haircuts in my neighborhood" kind of thing and this guy had about twenty stars on ChickAdvisor.com. He also happened to be right across the street from the guy with halitosis, but still. He was also extremely expensive! Though I didn't know how expensive because they didn't post their prices on their site. First hint.

Anyway - I'll cut to the chase. The guy was snobby and rough and did my hair exactly the opposite of how I asked. It cost me $135 plus tips and products and I came home and ... cried some more. This after about a week of crying over, I don't know, closed chakras, breast cancer, liver disease, career angst, failed relationships, abstinence, free-floating anxiety - and of course my hair.

And now ... I have to find someone to do my highlights. Gad!!

I could use a drink. But ... it's only ten in the morning and it's my second off-day this week. So I'll breathe. I'll blog. I'll brainwash myself into thinking all is well. Lots of love!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sleep Drunk?

Okay, I learned something reeeeeaaaally interesting about drinking this weekend. This is the first Monday I've woken up COMPLETELY hangover free in a while. And Saturday and Sunday mornings were good, too - despite the fact I definitely had fun.

This is especially surprising because Saturday night the hubs and I went out for a late Italian dinner and indulged ourselves. I'm sure it was close to 10:30 when we started eating (and drinking) and it was a full meal: appetizers, main course, dessert (a cheesecake de leche that I'm still salivating over even though I probably can't spell it properly), and of course wine. A nice bottle of amarone (the waiter upsold us a bit and it was worth every penny).

Anyway ... after dinner we walked home through the summer night ogling real estate and landscaping. I was definitely tipsy and having fun, but not drunk. And I had some new information that was going to ensure I stayed that way ...

As luck would have it, last week I found a University of Rochester website that has lots of incredible information about alcohol use and abuse.  In an article entitled "Tolerance and Beyond" they described all the different factors that contribute to alcohol absorption rates - both good and bad.

This is what helped me all weekend - we've all heard that eating a big meal before you drink will stop you from getting drunk too fast. But here's some interesting news about that. The reason it works is because when you eat a big meal, the pyloric valve in the very bottom of your stomach closes up so that you can properly digest the food.

If you're drinking with the meal, the alcohol will also be prevented from entering the small intestine - where the majority of alcohol is digested. Some alcohol will be absorbed through the stomach walls, but predominantly that alcohol will not get fully absorbed into your system until 1 to 6 hours after you eat the meal! (There doesn't appear to be any relationship between what you eat and how it affects absorption rates, by the way, fat, protein or carbs.)

This made so much sense to me, it fell on me like a ton of bricks. Eureka!! That totally explains why I sometimes wake up at 4 in the morning feeling sooooo awful. Half drunk, half hungover, nauseous, headachy, yucky to the power of ten. Nothing seems to help the sensation pass but time.

The reason this happens is because ... wow ... after I have a big meal, I think I've got a free ticket to drink even more because of what we've always all known about food slowing down the intoxication process. So I'll often have at least one - often two big glasses of wine AFTER a big meal.

But if I'm eating late at night, like we did on Saturday, that means that all the wine I'm drinking sits in my stomach for sometimes HOURS afterward, not entering the small intestine until the middle of the night ... while I'm already asleep! Which is not only a waste of good wine (who needs to be drunk when they're sleeping?) but it was also what was causing me to feel more hungover and yucky than I felt I should have either in the morning or during those strange, sick rousings in the middle of the night.

So on Saturday, rather than having another big glass or two of wine when we got home, I had a teeny little nightcap of rose ... maybe two or three ounces, tops. I felt positive and happy and in a good mood right up until I went to sleep ... and when I awoke in the morning, I was not hungover! Not even slightly. There was no uncomfortable wake-ups either. I slept right through and woke up feeling great.

So ... if you're wondering why you can be so hungover when a big meal is supposed to curb that ... now you know. You're "wasting" a whole gut of wine and making yourself sick to boot. Do yourself a favor and save it for tomorrow night. Life's not that short.

Source: University of Rochester, "Tolerance and Beyond" - www.rochester.edu

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Women's Libation

I'll confess. For those of you who haven't figured it out, I'm not super-blog-savvy. No ads. No links. No pretty pictures of where I've been (I'm lucky I managed to load a pic of myself.) No video. No blogs that I'm following. No comments ... obvi.

But all that's going to change. In my ongoing research into this topic, I occasionally find groups of people who are exchanging info about drinking problems.  For instance, the Booze Free Brigade. I heard about them a few years ago through reading Stephanie Wilder-Taylor's blog - which I should be following and as soon as I learn how to follow, I will.

Ms. Wilder-Taylor is the author of "Sippy Cups Aren't For Chardonnay" and other books about motherhood - a lot of them about drinking, too. Wilder-Taylor was concerned about her problem and gave up drinking in 2009. She now works alongside the Booze Free Brigade to promote awareness of women and drinking problems. As soon as I learn how to link to them ... I'll do that here, too. :)

I haven't necessarily followed the Booze-Free Brigade, now 1000 members strong, because of the whole "booze-free" thing. But I know it's important because heavy drinking among women is a growing concern. There's been a 30% increase in the number of young women who "binge-drink" in the last thirty years. According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation which conducted a study into women's drinking habits, seniors aren't in the clear either. The number of alcohol units or individual drinks consumed by women over 65 almost doubled between 1992-2006, from 2.7 to 5.1.*

More independence means more money. More money means more booze. More booze means more problems.

When I started working on this plan almost ten years ago - long before I thought about it as a blog or something I wanted to share with people - there wasn't a lot of information about women and drinking. Caroline Knapp's "Drinking: A Love Story" was one of the few things I could find back then - and thank God I did, because it was the starting point for everything.

Knapp, like Wilder-Taylor, abstained completely when she joined A.A. Again, I was reticent to follow in her footsteps, not ready to give up my wine just yet. That's how I began to develop this plan. And ... it's definitely working for me. (For instance, today is my second cleanse day in a row ... I'm in such good spirits and had such a great day yesterday, not to mention a good sleep last night, that I completely forgot it's my last off-day for the week. Shocking! Even on days off I'm not counting the hours until my next drink.)

Anyway, lately I've noticed more and more women bloggers talking about alcohol addiction and how they're coping with it. Not all necessarily by being booze-free. I was particularly interested in an up-coming book based on the blog "Drinking Diaries" by Caren Osten Gerszberg and Leah Odze Epstein. Both women and the others who contribute to the blog write about all aspects of drinking - from abstinence to moderation to getting all-out drunk. I think they're pioneers in the growing field of women and alcohol problems and I'm looking forward to reading "Drinking Diaries" - due out in late August. And to following the blog. Which I will do ... as soon as I figure out how to do that.

Of course, it's not just my lack of a technical green thumb that has prevented me from reaching out more. I've also felt sort of like a freak. A statistically non-existent drop in the ocean. And I'm slowly beginning to realize I'm not. I'm part of a growing movement ... the women's libation movement. Which has already been coined by copyranter.blogspot.com.


Hmmm. Why is everything green now? My typing is green. See? Fak.


I'll figure it out. 


Sources: 
"Moms Get Real" - 08/19/2009, abcnews.com
Joseph Rowntree Foundation



Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tipsy

Ahhh ... I love waking up without a hangover. Obviously, you do at least twice a week after cleanse days - and then again for the 28-day cleanses. But to wake up without the hint of a hangover after a drinking day is great. I took it easy yesterday because, well ... I didn't take it easy the day before.

We were at the in-laws celebrating the official beginning of summer and much vino and Smirnoff's Ice flowed for me. And because I'm a good daughter-in-law, natch I was helping to clean up the table in the backyard when the snacks were done. Here's not a good equation: lil too much to drink, new long white skirt I haven't worn there yet, step leading up to screen door, screen door, knee. Ouch.

There was no blood. No stitches. No falling. Nothing broke - on me or anywhere else. But it was a lil tipsy trip, I'll admit it. Funny, cuz on the drive there we heard "Tipsy" by J-Kwon. You remember it?  E'erybody in the club ... Yah, that one. Sang it from front to back, knew all the words, and the hubs said I pulled off a pretty good rendition.

So after said tipsy day, I woke up yesterday with a hangover. But here's the difference from in the old days: I wasn't depressed. I wasn't (all that) guilty. I didn't feel ashamed. But did I mention I wasn't depressed?

This is what really floors me about cleansing. When you don't interrupt your exposure to alcohol, your brain starts shutting down production of dopamine - the feel-good neurotransmitter. Without dopamine in your system, you're depressed. You think another drink is going to work, but that stops doing the trick after awhile and suddenly ... you're depressed all the time.

But now, after cleansing - and I sincerely believe that's what's helped me - I'm not depressed anymore. I'm not saying I don't get down when something nasty happens. But that's normal. What I mean is that I'm not unexplainably depressed 24/7. Because my little gray brain is still producing dopamine. And what's really funny/wonderful is that even with a hangover, even without alcohol in my system anymore, yesterday morning I had these bursts of joy. Seriously. For no reason other than sunshine, summer, long weekends, whatever.

I'm beginning to think that my brain is giving me positive reinforcement for sticking with cleansing by jolting me with dopamine at the most unexpected times - even when I'm sober. It's such a gift.

btw - will share more hangover tips with you in the coming weeks as summer continues to blossom and the partying steps up a notch. Happy belated Canada Day! Happy 4th!