"Turns out, being sober is the one most important thing in itself that’s holding me together right now."
This pandemic story comes from Lena who lives in Germany.
Mrs D: How are you feeling about what's going on with this COVID-19 virus?
Lena: I don’t know what I’m feeling. Really. I don’t. Now less than ever. But I know THAT I’m feeling. And this has to be something, right?
Mrs D: How have your emotions shifted and changed since the crisis began?
Lena: I was definitely jumping on the rollercoaster of anxiety as soon as I got the chance to. In the beginning, I just wanted “it” to go away, be done with it, find some guidelines to follow, come out of the other end. Then lockdown gave us some rules at least, and I kind of liked it better. Also, my OCD tendencies helped keeping my routines in place. Who knew they would be useful at all!?
Mrs D: How long have you been sober for?
Lena: I’m on day 634.
Mrs D: How is being sober helping you at this crazy time?
Lena: Turns out, being sober is the one most important thing in itself that’s holding me together right now – including the fact that I would not have developed a single one of the other tools that are making these times more or less bearable.
Mrs D: Have you had any pangs to drink since the lockdown began?
Lena: No. And I can’t believe myself writing this. But I seriously haven’t. I have definitely had urges to numb it all … but that’s gratefully done by going to bed; at every time of the day, fully clothed, doesn’t matter.
Mrs D: Any particular self-care actions that are helping you in these gritty times?
Lena: It’s funny how I’ve somehow intuitively tightened my self-care routines as soon as I found out about the possibility of being trapped inside. I’m also now doing the same things every day of the week, weekends are no exception, because I feel like I need the stability of not having to decide again and again, now more than ever. So I get up at 6:30 am, have a decaf(!) coffee in the quiet and dark, write my morning pages (thanks to Julia Cameron and her “Artist’s Way”) and then I go for a looooong walk, as long as there are no other people outside. Sometimes I listen to podcasts, preferably old ones from the times “before”. Speaking about strengthening routines, and directly related to staying sober, I'm also emailing my sober penpals every day. Thanks to Belle Robertson from tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.com!
Mrs D: What are you doing to fill in the days?
Lena: I’m still waiting for the days of boredom, to be honest. I’m still working fulltime as a self-employed graphic designer from home. I think I have to be pretty grateful for that, but oftentimes I’m not. I know, beating myself up for that also kills time. It just doesn’t make sense.
Mrs D: What would you say to people who are struggling with alcohol while they're in lockdown?
Lena: Take care of yourself first. Don’t watch the news. Don’t be alone with this! Ask for help. Even if it sucks. Especially if it sucks. Do the things you need to do to get/stay sober. Don’t overdo the rest.
Mrs D: What's in this photo you've shared with us?
Lena: In the picture are “all my things”, symbolically spread out on the kitchen floor. I STAY where I am and sober (thanks to Belle again, and to Mr.B who made the beautiful painting, and for the permission to share it here).
I listen to the things that support me.
Mrs D: Anything else you'd like to add?
Lena: Thank YOU! Thanks to all the sober people out there. It’s a strange honor to do this pandemic together 🙂
Lena, thank you for this post! I’ve done this pandemic drinking and sober, and sober is definitely the best! Routines are key, I’ve found, as you have. I love your advice to not listen to the news. That is what dragged me under after a pretty good 150+ day bout of sobriety early in the pandemic. Now I realize that anything I really need to know (as in, if our little town is being attacked by aliens), I will find out without checking in with the pessimism and hostility on the nightly news. I like your advice not to overdo, also. All in all, a very insightful and helpful post. Thank you again.