A glass of wine did wonders for my anxiety

  

Which is worse anxiety or depression?

If someone were to ask me if I could choose between my anxiety and depression, I would have to answer that I would much prefer to be depressed.  Anxiety for me was so much harder to cope with.  It’s that feeling you get when you are stepping off a pavement or walking along and slip or trip and suddenly find the ground rushing up to meet you, But instead of lasting 5 seconds the feeling lasts months on end.

 

I was so stressed

I spent so much time, obsessing! About my work commitments, my children, my marriage, my housekeeping, finances, friends, health; expending huge amounts of energy trying to meet the needs (as I perceived them) of others, I had effectively scheduled myself out of my own life.  After a while I started to become convinced that all this stress was going to give me cancer, or a heart attack or a mental breakdown and that I was sure to die young.

 

I had bouts of anxiety

Over the following weeks and months I was to go through bouts of anxiety. And coupled with depression it nearly drove me round the twist!  Just when I thought I was safe and that everything was going to be ok, anxiety would rear its ugly, snarling, spitting, frightening head and threaten my sense of well-being and sanity.

 

I was exhausted all the time

Then followed the chronic relentless fatigue and I couldn’t tell if the tiredness I felt was more mental tiredness, or was I just physically tired? Night time didn’t bring reprieve, no matter how exhausted I felt.  I could not sleep, it was like having a movie projector showing me a combination of my worst fears being realised and the stresses of the day, playing over and over again in my head until I was sure I was going mad or having a breakdown of some sort.  When I did manage to fall asleep I would be jerked awake by nightmares.   My heart would be beating out of my chest, every muscle in my body ached, nights were punctuated by a restless half-awake-half-asleep slumber, my days filled with constant worry.  The anxiety constantly bubbling away in my stomach.

 

A glass of wine did wonders

Now, I never considered myself much of a drinker  per se, but in the end found a glass of wine a great antidote against my anxiety.  At first it “took the edge off”, gave me energy, lifted my mood, helped me relax and even helped me sleep.  Soon the glass of wine became 2, then 3 and before I knew it, it became a bottle. I seemed to need more and more of the stuff as time went on to get the same effect.  And while it helped at first; the anxiety always came back, and when it came back it did so with a vengeance.  Not to mention also being the proverbial slippery slope towards problem drinking. It served only to compound the existing problem and in itself was starting to affect my personal and professional life, amplifying my anxiety even further.

 

I had a full blown anxiety attack

Over time the anxiety become worse and worse until I experienced a full blown anxiety attack.

The first time this happened was on my daily commute to work in Cork.  As I approached the first round-about I suddenly felt sheer panic consume me, my heart beating wildly out of my chest. With a white knuckled grip on the steering wheel the sheer panic rising with every car that proceeded in turn onto the round-about, my breathing became short and erratic, the sensation of pins and needles ran down the length of both arms and lower jaw, I wanted to jump out of the car and run for help,

 

I ‘m going to die

I felt trapped, akin to the same feeling one gets when jumping off the high diving board at the local swimming pool.  “Dear God! It’s finally happening! I am having a heart attack! I am having a heart attack and I’m going to crash the car and kill someone, I’m going to die”.  But of course I didn’t die, I got through the round-about telling myself to breath, to concentrate and to hang on. I knew that something was very wrong and that I was in serious trouble, I felt as though my life was unravelling before my eyes.  I needed to get to my office and ring my GP and tell my boss I needed to go home.

 

The flood gates opened

That same afternoon after the worst of the attack had subsided, I drove home and found myself in my doctor’s office later that afternoon telling her what had happened.  It was like a flood gate had being opened and I broke down crying, telling her everything and asked her what the hell was wrong with me?  She told me that I had had an anxiety attack and reassured me that I was going to be ok.  She gave me a prescription for Xanax and told me to take one and get some rest, she also sent a referral letter to Adult Mental Health and I received an appointment letter from them the following day

 

I was self-medicating with alcohol

At my mental health appointment I told the psychiatrist that my life was “simply not working!”  That my anxiety was making me miserable and my life was becoming intolerable, and something needed to be done!  I admitted to her that I was self-medicating with alcohol.  I was referred to see an addiction councillor which shocked me, I mean, was I an alcoholic?!  I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety and prescribed medication, and told not to mix my medication with alcohol and told to attend mental health on a weekly basis at first so I could be monitored.

 

I’m better now

Anxiety can be both frightening and debilitating for even the strongest amongst us, but with the right support from Adult Mental Health, your GP and organisations like Aware we can find a way to manage and work through its effects on our daily lives.

 

Should this life sometimes deceive you,

Don’t be sad or mad at it!

On a gloomy day, be humble:

Have faith – cheerful days will come!

 

The heart lives in the future,

Yes, today is gloomy;

But everything is transient, and passes;

When it passes, it will be dear!

Pushkin (Russian translation)

Editor’s Note

Southlady’s story shows how it is important it is, to understand the reasons why you may be drinking too much. By tackling the reasons you are drinking too much, rather than blaming yourself you are more likely to be successful in managing your drinking. You might find our Janus course useful for identifying your reasons for drinking. Click here for details.

This post was written by Southlady

Southlady was born in 1973, the youngest of 4 children, she immigrated to Ireland in 1999 after marrying a Co. Mayo man. After many years working as a Computer and Life Skills Trainer she currently works as a stay at home mum to 3 very busy children. When she is not child-wrangling and wrestling the TV remote off her button-happy husband, she spends her time writing her book.

11 thoughts on “A glass of wine did wonders for my anxiety

    1. Hi Lesa, While there are some studies which appear to show health benefits of drinking wine, there are still risks to drinking. E,g higher risk of breast cancer This review of a recent study on apparent benefits for depression might be of interest Link here. Overall drinking wine to be healthy e.g. for heart reasons is not a good idea as exercise provides greater benefits with less risk.

      It’s now accepted there is no such thing as “safe” drinking. Health authorities refer to “low risk” drinking. So once people stay within the guidelines and don’t have risk factors e.g. on medications like statins or pregnant, enjoying a glass of wine as part of an overall healthy lifestyle may be ok.

  1. Interesting and ironic and sort of funny in a way: I have been suffering from anxiety lately. One of the triggers is worrying that my wife drinks red wine every night. I fret that one glass a night will turn to two (which it already has), then three (which it is some nights), until she has a real problem. She says all her friends drink wine every night, and it is fine. I fret and worry, and more than once it has kept me awake most of a night. From the headline of this story, I thought it would help my anxiety by showing drinking wine every night is OK and would not escalate and get out of control. Instead it did just the opposite.

    1. Hi Rodger,
      So sorry our post did not nothing to help with your anxiety and your worries about your wife drinking. Maybe these tips might help
      1. First of all is to recognise we can’t change other people unless they want to change. We can only change ourselves.
      2. This means we need to look afterselves. It’s like being on an airplane, when the pilot tells you to put on your own oxgen mask first before helping others.
      3.So maybe looking at your anxiety might help. Some tips at this website might be helpful click here
      4. If you feel your wife does have an alcohol problem, then we’ve found this book very helpful in dealing with the situation. click here

      Best of luck
      Carol

      1. Thank you for the reply and the tips. I have ordered the book, but it is still in transit. Turns out my wife’s drinking is worse than I thought, and already at a 750ml bottle per day most days, give or take, and sometimes closer to a liter. Does it help that it is spread out over several hours? Trying to learn how to not worry about someone I care deeply about….

        1. Hi Rodger,
          Hopefully the book will arrive shorthly. It does help that drinking is spread out over several hours. It is is difficult to tell whether some one’s drinking is causing lasting physical damage without medical tests. The good news is very often once people start reducing or not drinking this damage can be reversed. You might find this post here on tips on coping with a partners drinking helpful.

  2. I’ve been drinking a glass or at the most two glasses of wine almost every night … I have anxiety issues and suffer panic attacks once in a blue moon … I’m helping my youngest son to get his life back on track and in a unstable relationship. I’ve taken Xanax but im so afraid to get addicted that I don’t even keep any anymore hoping and praying I don’t get a panic attack. Am I an alcoholic? I’m so afraid to become one. I’m 53 and going through menopause so I feel that my anxiety and fatigue comes from that as well. Thanks for your blog it was great to know I’m not alone in this.

    1. Hi Beatriz,
      Thanks for taking the time to comment. You most certainly are not alone. Sounds like you are going through a really rough time and have a lot going on. You seem to have a lot of awareness of what’s going on though, so that’s good.

      It’s really important to takes some time out for yourself. What I’ve found really helpful is finding 30 minutes most days for exercise. A gentle walk in a park or nature does wonders for my state of mind.
      The Samaritans can also be a great help. Many people think you have to be thinking about killing yourself to use their services but once you are in any kind of distress they are happy to help 24 hours a day.
      I found this article here on recognising the signs of panic attacks useful. Link here. Take care.

  3. I like it that this blog calls attention to issues with over-use of alcohol, but I think more aspects of the treatment would be helpful. Most “addiction specialists” do little more than talk about AA, so it is relevant to know that there are many more resources than AA and 12 Step because most people, as in 90 -95%, actually DO NOT do well in AA.

    11 Major Alternatives to AA
    (circa 2016)
    Free Self-Help
    hamsnetwork.org
    smartrecovery.org
    sossobriety.org
    womenforsobriety.org (includes men for sobriety)
    lifering.org
    moderation.org
    addicttoathlete.org
    reddit.com (entirely online)

    Help involving paid professionals
    rational.org
    sinclairmethod.com (for alcohol)*
    ibogainealliance.org (for opiates)**

    Sinclair method and Ibogaine use medication to rewire the addiction pathways in the brain
    *most doctors can prescribe the medication Naltrexone, but Goodmancenter.com is a treatment center specifically
    based on the Sinclair method.
    **aftercare is recommended, such as genesisiboganiecenter.com, holistichousevegas.com, and medicineheartrecovery.com

    1. Thanks for all the useful information Silver Damsen. We believe all treatments should be based on listening to what the person needs, and developing a plan to meet those needs. This approach known as person centered treatment is emerging in mental health and is standard in physical disability.
      We also believe services should research and report on their treatment outcomes so people have information on different types of services and can choose the type of service or services that will work best for them.

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