Substituting Yoga for Alcohol

yoga.jpgGiven the recommendations of my psychiatrist, I quit drinking cold turkey a couple weeks ago. Apparently bipolar people don’t really get to have any fun apart from the crazy roller coaster our minds subject us to. Anyway, going from 3 bottles of wine a week plus whatever I drank on weekends to nothing is, in a word, boring. Watching my friends at the bar is incredibly frustrating, but given the usual risk of socially isolating myself and my current desire for any and all social interaction, I never pass up an invitation to go out.

To make matters more tempting, it isn’t even my medication that keeps me from drinking. It’s more like bipolar people are prime candidates for alcoholism, so don’t even test those waters. Then again, it isn’t like I need to drink; however, I do have trouble controlling myself once I get started, and going from 60 to 0 in .2 seconds forced me to come to terms with this. Like I said, I’m all or nothing with everything.

Accidentally blacking out four times in a month is a good way to get your psychiatrist to go, “yeah, don’t do that anymore.” But people who aren’t bipolar black out all the time. That’s just college; however, since my impulse to drink only happens when I’m manic, the issue can be traced back to my mental health as opposed to a work hard, play hard mentality because god knows bipolar Allie does not work hard ever. So now that I’ve stopped drinking, what do I do?

Well, every time I want a drink, I do 10-20 minutes of yoga. And let me tell you. I’ve been doing a lot of yoga and it sucks, but at least I’m more flexible now. Those who know me know I consider walking to class exercise, and even though yoga isn’t getting my heart rate up by any stretch, it’s still elective movement. I hate exercise so much that if I’d rather stop eating to lose weight. Healthy, I know.

But I wanted to be frank because I tend to call people out when they say, “you should try yoga.” Yes, yoga is good, but it definitely isn’t a cure-all. It’s more like a supplement to the rest of my treatment. It’s what my counselor calls, “channeling my manic energy into something constructive” because I don’t move when I’m depressed, so it isn’t an issue.

I know so many people who act like yoga saved them, and I’m just like “okay, I’m just going to be over here sweating and contorting and hating myself.” Yoga is about accepting your body as it is and connecting the body to the mind, but 1) I can’t accept my body when it’s in pain and 2) mindfulness is my archenemy. Even if I’m focusing on my breathing, I’m still thinking about other things like oh my god, how do I look in this position? Probably ridiculous. Plus, I’m usually too busy spitting hair out of my mouth to really be present.

I suffer from easy burnout. I’ve “started doing yoga” three times now, and each time, I quit after a month. I get obsessed with something, and then I’m suddenly like “lol never mind” when I’ve extracted all the enjoyment I can from it. I’m still giving it another go though. That coupled with my vitamins make me a certifiable granola at this point. At some point, maybe I can find a way to have a drink or two without going overboard so I can start to feel some semblance of normalcy again.

But I guess the point of this is to say that all these “lifestyle changes” aren’t fun. Or easy. Or a surefire way to get better. It’s more about finding coping mechanisms that won’t utterly destroy my body. I will let you know if I figure out what the point of not destroying my body is, but for now, I’m just doing what my psychiatrist tells me to do. That way, I can at least say I tried when I start to backslide. #suchoptimism #wow

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