Hypoglycemia: Low Blood Sugar

If you don’t drink alcohol it’s not the end of the world. You won’t die. You don’t need it. You only crave it or want it because it’s there. It’s a comfort, it’s a habit. It’s a drug.

If you don’t eat, it can be the end of the world. We need to eat and drink to survive. If we don’t we die.

Above I have stated the obvious. Ten months sober and I feel I have a handle on the not drinking part of life. The benefits of being sober outweigh the hangovers and lost moments of drinking life. The abundance of time that being sober opens up is a daunting thing. I am left with myself, my sober self. I cannot take a holiday from me. I cannot take a break from me. I am stuck with me. Before in my drinking days I would have taken a break from myself by getting drunk. Today I don’t need to escape from the isle of me. Have I got my life figured out? Not by a half. However I am learning to deal with myself as I am today. I am far from perfect. I am human after all.

My body deals with sugar poorly. I have known this for most of my life. To have a banana or something sweet in my bag was not uncommon. I used to know this. I forgot. Stopping alcohol gave my eating habits a wobbly unbalance. I compensated by binging on food. A common enough side effect of quitting alcohol. Ten months into this sober pursuit and I think I can now face my relationship with food.

I have hypoglycemia. That’s a fancy word for low blood sugar. When I have low blood sugar I can feel dizzy, lose vision, sweat profusely, be clumsy, feel weak and shaky, fatigue, light-headed, have trouble talking, pale skin, diarrhoea, pass out.

I cannot eat the way I used to drink. I cannot substitute food for the way I drank. I will damage my body. If I binge on sweet foods my body has to adjust and level out. It expects more sugar later but when that doesn’t happen it panics and carries on like in the symptoms above. It used to be scary. Now I don’t panic. But I can stop this from happening altogether. I can eat smaller portions more often. I can carry something to eat with me. I didn’t do this and I was a mess a few weeks ago. Literally.

Why do we do this to ourselves? We know what is good for us and what is not. We know this. We have read about it. Most of it is commonsense. Humans are supposed to be a smarter species but I beg to differ. We have two options, the right one and the wrong one. We often choose the wrong one, even with all the information and knowledge that the wrong choice is bad. We still go for the wrong one. Is it plain stupidity? I don’t know. We cannot help ourselves until we go so far wrong that we get to the place of make or break. Humans aren’t logical. We like to think we are but we aren’t. We try to complicate our lives by doing the wrong thing over and over but keeping it simple seems too easy? I really don’t know why we do the things that we do. Stubbornness is a big reason. Why do we rebel against ourselves though?Why must we make life harder for ourselves when we know the difference between right and wrong?

Back to the sugar. I need to regulate my sugar intake. I can no longer guzzle an entire bag of licorice without suffering consequences. Because if I’m honest it isn’t just a bag of licorice. It is the desire to eat what is in reach. It is not healthy eating. It is eating for the sake of eating. It is perhaps emotional eating. It is replacement eating for alcohol that I no longer consume.

I do not drink fizzy drink or soda. I haven’t for many years. I don’t drink fruit juice either. I have a sweet tooth. I haven’t baked in a long while because I will tend to eat all of the baking within a short space of time. Why? Because it’s there. I have not taken moderation seriously with my food. I love food. I took food holidays. Visiting balsamic vinegar making factories, eating wild boar, pickled sardines, freshly fried sardines, octopus, fresh mozzarella, tiramisu. I ate my way around places. I would cook in apartments with fresh ingredients from the markets. It was a great focus to travel. I did art holidays too. I followed the footsteps of Matisse. I followed the Byzantine. Reading up before I left. It was a great way to travel.

I am forcing myself to moderate my food intake. If I regulate how much sugar I consume then I won’t become hypoglycemic. Simple. No. Not so simple. I am bucking the habits of a lifetime. I am limiting myself to five pieces of licorice a day. I read the back of the package and a single serving is 40g or five pieces. I used to look at the back for fun and then eat the entire bag. I cannot do that anymore without consequences. Wake up me. Time to get real. I have done three days of self regulation of licorice. That for me is a big step. Because with that comes better eating habits all around. Salads and salmon. Toasted muesli. Kiwifruit. Yoghurt. Almonds instead of chocolate. Whole grain toast. Smaller portions. Eating when hungry, not just for the sake of it, eating better.

This evening I will have five pieces of licorice. No more and no less.

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For whom it may concern

Why do we do the things we do?

For ourselves? For vanity? For someone else? Or without thought?

Do we dress/act to keep up appearances, to keep to another’s standard?

What is that standard? What is your standard? Does it change?

Do we present ourselves to society and the world as our true selves? Do we even know who we really are? Are we merely a reflection of whom society chooses for us? If we see a photograph of ourselves who do we see? What do we observe about ourselves within the photograph? When we look into a mirror who do we see? What version of ourselves do we see or allow ourselves to see? Is it our true self? The one in the photograph, the one in the mirror, the one who lives in our bodies?

Do we change who we are depending on the audience in front of us? A wife, a daughter, a mother, a boss, an employee, a customer, a friend, a complainant, an advisor, a protector, a child?

Becoming sober let’s one choose to question with a clearer mind. The answers may not be any clearer but at least you remember the next day what you thought about the day before.

The discovery of self is a life long quest and some days feel like a leaden plod, and others a hop, skip and a pirouette. That being said I would still rather be my true self on a rotten day than an imposter with a painted on smile and crying on the inside. I would rather I cried real tears and really felt them without embarrassment or shame. Being human has a range of emotions. We have to let them in, to experience them, in order for them to pass through and out the other side. This nothingness or flatness I feel today I have embraced it reluctantly. A stiff hug for sure but hopefully it’ll be gone tomorrow.

Not drinking makes you smarter

Not drinking makes you smarter. Did I really just write that? Who clicked because they believed it, even just for a second?

It ain’t true. Not drinking doesn’t make you smarter. And drinking doesn’t make you smarter either. What makes you smart? If I could answer that there would be no need for this blog for starters. Smartness (look it up, it’s a word) comes from experience, intuition, reading, thinking, observation and I suppose a few genes, not the designer jean variety.

Being sober lifts the fog and allows us to see clearer. What we do with this new sight is up to us. We made the first smart decision: to stop drinking. We can build on this and make more smart decisions. It’s like taking steps. One step after anther. One smart decision after another. Along the way we will sidestep and make dumb decisions. That’s to be expected. That’s what learning is, right?

Last week I made a smart decision. I hit a hurdle in life. I could have coped with it by having a wine or two like I would have in the past. This time, my sober self, said no. Deal with this sober, you are strong. You’ve got this. And I did got this.

Soberness might not give us smart decisions always but it gives us a chance to make more better choices.

Choose to be smart today.

Facing Forward

Facing or confronting something is more difficult than turning away. It requires effort and dealing with whatever it may be. The thought of facing something can make whatever it is into a mountain when in fact it was a wrinkle in a sheet. Shadows play tricks on us and the devil on our shoulder is whispering come away with me, don’t climb the mountain, what’s one more day?

If we faced the mountain and walked towards it we would realise that it wasn’t so big after all. The weight off our shoulders would have made it worth the effort.

Not facing something takes more effort and occupies more space in your mind than if you faced whatever it is. So why do we insist on looking away or elsewhere, anywhere but forward facing the issue? Why do we do this to ourselves? Because it’s hard? It’s much harder to avoid than to face. Avoidance is quite a complicated dance. It’s like juggling while balancing on one foot on top of a chair. It involves lots of pieces and trying to figure out how not to lose the rhythm so you or the balls don’t fall on the floor. What would be wrong about you and the balls being on the floor anyway? You can rest.

Which is it? Difficult or easy? One moment you say facing something is difficult then you say not facing something is effortful. Which is it? It is what we make it. Huh?

We make decisions for ourselves. Sometimes we know we are making the wrong one and we go ahead regardless. A conscious decision, a decision we know to be wrong yet we willfully proceed. Why? It’s the path of least resistance.

Okay. I get that. That might be true. So why do we do it to ourselves? It’s easier not to.

Doing nothing sometimes is better than doing the wrong thing. Not always but sometimes true. However what I am talking about here is personal growth. The more things we face the more we grow as a person. And with these experiences we learn and we gain wisdom. Our lives become more fulfilled and we seek out more to enrich our lives.

*I wrote the above post earlier, like a couple of months ago and saved it. Publishing today.

I am past my 7 month sober mark and feeling good that I am. Before this journey started the sober part of it seemed like the finish line but in fact it was the just the start line. Being sober is the easy part, the knowing what to do with the time while being sober is the challenge. How do we proceed in life now that we have our life before us with the truth bared raw. I like myself better sober. Still finding my feet. Shuffling in the right direction. Still eat a lot to compensate, stay up late, and do very little exercise. But I am absolutely fine with it. I can honestly say I feel real peace on the good days.

Facing forward and leaning into the wind.