I though that everything would just get better with me when I stopped drinking and using. That if I just took the chemicals out of my body that all of my problems would just leave me one day.
I wanted to get better so bad. I just wanted to be normal. Whatever that means. As time went on things were changing a lot slower then I thought that they were going to. I was getting frustrated with my progress. That’s just the way that I am. I know now that this was my alcoholic mind just trying to mess with me. It’s always trying to destroy mem no matter what I’m doing.
In my super early sobriety I had a lot of trouble just doing the simple things, like reading. The state that my body was in when I came into the Beacon House was pretty bad. I could not stop shaking and it would not subside for almost a month. Not being able to connect a couple of words together would really get me down. Something that has always been so easy to me was now almost impossible. It was so bad that I would not want to read the readings at meetings because I was so self-conscious.
I thought it would never end. I didn’t know what was happening to me. Would I always be like this? Would I not be able to read or hold another persons hand without them giving me a strange look?
At Beacon House, I learned about P.A.W.S: Post-acute Withdrawal Syndrome. This was pretty much everything that was going on with me in one nice simple package. It explained it all. It was a diagnosis for the some of the reasons that I was feeling the way that I was. There were obviously other mental things at play, but this was a pretty good start.
What is PAWS?
Here it is in a pretty basic, easy to understand nutshell.
Drinking and using for all of those years changed my brain. Once I quit, my brain and my body worked to compensate for the lack of the drugs and alcohol. My brain took time to revert back to its natural, normal state. Of course there’s much more to the definition then that, but I’m not a doctor, so that’s my layperson’s view.
If you look at the symptoms that come along with PAWS, they read like a picture album of the first couple of years of my recovery. Let’s look at the list. PAWS symptoms inlcude:
- Emotional outbursts or disturbance
- Pessimistic thoughts
- Inability to think clearly
- Memory problems
- Lack of initiative
- Problems with multitasking
- Impaired concentration
- Problems with physical coordination
I came across a great article that really explains what P.A.W.S is and what it means for alcoholics and addicts in recovery. It breaks it down in really easy to understand terms. That’s what I needed in early sobriety. Most importantly it talks about different ways that you can help your body recover through diet, meditation, and physical activity. Click here to read it – I think it will help.
Why We Don’t Get Better Immediately: Post-acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)
What I am trying to get across with this post is that it gets better. Look… I am writing this now so I can obviously read again. I can connect a couple of words to make a sentence. Your everyday life will improve as time goes on.. but there are things that you can do to improve your situation. You can be proactive in helping your body recover.