I wasn’t good at sleeping when I was an active alcoholic. I woke up seven to eight times per night–and at the height of my active alcoholism, I started waking up with panic attacks. And, to remedy a panic attack I would guzzle half a bottle of wine in hopes of slowing my heart-rate. Toward the end of my drinking days–I started waking up at least every other night, around 3am or so, and drink to calm myself down. I would literally wake up gasping for air, with my heart pounding out of my chest…during several episodes, I was sure I would drop dead of a heart-attack. It was sort of sad, looking back, that it took so long for me to realize that alcohol wasn’t a remedy to some of my health issues, it was the cause. As I stated in an earlier post, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Migraine headaches with Aura, Chronic Sinusitis, and at risk for high blood pressure. I saw a psychologist several times to try to manage my anxiety–who then tried to refer me to a psychiatrist for meds, and after that appointment I never went back to the psychology department at Kaiser. The last thing I needed was a pill to add to my daily routine–and the meds they prescribe for anxiety just remedy an attack–they aren’t a long term solution.
I finally decided earlier this year that my health problems weren’t part of the real me–they were a product of bad choices. I knew if I didn’t stop drinking–I wouldn’t have truly ruled out every possible cause of my health issues. Insane, right? I held on to the one thing that was hurting me the most because I thought it was helping. I would worry, feel anxious and shake at work–I would immediately start thinking about getting alcohol to calm myself down. In hindsight–I realize that the shaking and anxiousness were most likely withdrawal symptoms from alcohol.
Eight months later, i’m still not the best sleeper–but I do sleep much better. I am actually having dreams almost on a nightly basis–and I forgot just how thought provoking dreams are. I should mention that I rarely ever dreamt during my active alcoholic days–I was lucky to get three hours of sleep.
Last night, i had a bizarre dream. I was being chased by this maniacal man with a really awesome mustache. Not just any mustache–but a Tom Selleck, Magnum P.I. type mustache–it was really impressive. I was in a futuristic setting in a city filled with high-speed light-rail systems, citizens wearing the same uniform style clothing and hovering cars. The police, or more like a military force ruled the city–led by the Mustache Man. I would try to dodge them at every turn–and I couldn’t run forward for some reason–I was always running backwards. I ran faster that way. Each time I was almost apprehended by the local military and taken to the Mustache man to meet my reckoning–I would slip away. Many times, as I was running, I would pass a building stoop (or what some call a porch) and random people from my past would be sitting there, and would wave hello. I think I saw one of my high-school teachers, a girlfriend from college and some old rugby team-mates. I didn’t have time to stop and talk–I was being pursued by some serious characters.
I’m not even going to make an attempt at analyzing the dream–it was pretty fucked up. I’m just going to assume I was a renegade living in an oppressed world ruled by Mustache man–and I was leading a revolution to free the people. Who knows?
Then, the other night–I was at a massive kid focused theme park–but it was old school. Old school in the sense that it looked like a bunch of Hobbits built a theme park in the shire. There were big tree houses, horses, farm land and a distant hill-side that was lush and green. The sun, a dark orange, was peeking over the hill-side–it was beautiful. Now, I must have been peeved about the theme park for some reason because I started leading a group of five to 10 year old kids around the park chanting about how bad the rides were. We were more like a mob–the only items we were missing were bull horns and terribly made signs with some sort of political message. I think our chant was “the rides are bad, the rides aren’t good so we’re never coming back.” A true repetitive, but straight to the point message.
I’m not sure what to make of that dream–but I do feel a bit guilty for causing such a ruckus because i’m sure the Hobbits did their best to build a theme park to meet the expectations of some 21st Century brats.
I have also had dreams about alcohol–which worry me. And I still see Katie in my dreams quite frequently. The two things that I had to move on from are, at times, haunting. They are the type of dreams where you wake up, take a deep breath and just aimlessly stare at the ceiling with a feeling of emptiness. An emptiness that is only removed after doing something productive to take your mind off of the memories. I don’t like those dreams very much.
I guess my point is, specific to how this ties into drinking, is that sleeping more soundly is another step forward health-wise. I tend to get to sleep at a decent time, so I can wake up bright and early to start a productive day. I have a bunch of weird dreams to analyze or write about–and i’m sure my sleep patterns will continue to get better as time moves forward.
I think some of my before mentioned health issues were, of course, directly related to drinking. And, adding in a terrible sleep cycle only made things worse. I still have migraines, but 90 percent less–I still get anxious, but again, 90 percent less, and I can better control episodes. My blood pressure is 117/75 on average, and i’m 25/lbs lighter.
I can’t wait to see what the dream world has in store for me tonight–hopefully the mustache man isn’t a part of it.