Addictive Behaviors

Drinking coffee has become such a normalized thing in society. Some people can’t start their day without it. Friends gather at a cafe to drink a cup of joe and catch up with each other’s lives. When did this beverage become such a staple in our lives? Coffee contains caffeine (even decaf products contain trace amounts of caffeine) which is a stimulant. Your body actually becomes addicted to the substance and dependent on it to function correctly. I’m not judging; for years I consumed the drug (yes, you read that right, caffeine is considered a drug).

When I was younger, I used fat burning pills that were practically just capsules of caffeine. I would have tremors, hypoglycemia, nausea, and irritability, but I stupidly thought that a faster metabolism was more important. News flash, it crashed my metabolism in the long term – I feel like after I stopped taking them, I gained whatever weight I lost plus some.

When I switched from a second shift job to a first shift position, I started drinking coffee. This also caused issues with tremors and nausea. I would only drink one cup per day, but it still affected my body. When I first started my blog, I wrote about the episode of chest pain that I experienced. After that day, I was terrified to drink coffee and decided that it was time to quit. Boy-oh-boy, I did not realize how accustomed to caffeine my body had become. Once I stopped indulging, I started having horrible headaches. My head would be pounding all day and I felt incredibly grumpy. My body was detoxing from the caffeine and I went through withdrawals. My body is very sensitive (hence all of the medication allergies and the affects of caffeine), so I should really be cautious with what I put in my body.

When I stopped drinking coffee, I also limited my alcohol consumption drastically. I have never been a big drinker, but we would go out from time-to-time to a bar and indulge in a couple drinks. In the last two months I have only drank twice. I honestly shouldn’t be drink at all. I am happy to say that I haven’t even wanted to drink alcohol recently.

Addiction is an issue that many people in my family have struggled with, so I should be especially aware. Growing up, my father had an issue with drinking alcohol. It was a big strain on my parents’ marriage. Shortly after they separated, my mom met her now-husband who also had an issue with alcohol consumption. Both of my grandfathers had the same issue. So does one of my great-uncles. Let’s just say that I have a lot of not-so-great childhood memories that were due to alcoholism. I don’t think that addiction is specifically hereditary, but I do think that having addicts as closely related family members can increase someone’s likelihood of becoming an addict themselves.

Additionally, I think that some people are more susceptible to addictive behaviors. I guess you can say that I believe some people have “addictive personalities” and I’m one of them. I become obsessed with things easily. Whether it’s photography, crocheting, nicotine, coffee, sugar, food, running…I get hooked. I am an all-or-nothing kind of person and I realize that it’s something I will fight against my whole life. When I started photography, I devoted every free moment of my time to photo sessions, editing, and research. Exercise has been an addiction of mine on and off for years. I will go from not exercising at all to exercising every day. For a while, I was running three or more miles per day plus weight training severalĀ  days a week. The same thing happened when it came to eating – whether it was excessive food consumption or minimal food consumption (let’s save that for another post).

This year I have focused a lot of energy toward maintaining balance in my life. No more caffeine and no more nicotine. I have been enjoying the things that I love (food, photography, crocheting, writing, and reading) in moderation and without becoming obsessed.

Are you someone who struggles with obsessive and addictive behaviors? Balance is key to a happy and healthy lifestyle. You aren’t alone and you can do this. Take every day in stride and don’t be too hard on yourself when you have setbacks. Nobody is perfect and progress is all that matters.

Every day is a new opportunity to live a better life.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

Smoking Cessation

Everyone has their vice(s). I have been vaping for several years (I switched from smoking cigarettes to vaping) and no, I am not proud of it. But guess what, I finally quit last week. No more nicotine and no more chemicals. It is about time I took control over this part of my health. Habits are formed in 21 to 28 days and breaking habits take time too.

It has been a rough week. I have been more agitated and anxious in the past seven days than I have been in a long time. My patience has been worn thin and I feel on edge. This process has made me realize just how much I relied on my addiction. I always told myself “I’m not addicted. I can stop whenever I want. It’s not a big deal” (cliche, I know). This process has been so much harder than expected and I still have a long way to go. When I wake up, I crave nicotine. Not to mention after I eat, when I am in the car, and when I see someone else vaping/smoking. It sucks, but I don’t want to live another day “needing” something to handle life’s stress.

Additionally, as a nurse, I am supposed to advocate for patients’ health and educate them on how to live a healthier lifestyle. How can I, in good conscious, do that while being addicted to nicotine myself? Frankly, I’m a hypocrite.

There is no time like the present. Instead of thinking “maybe later” I am thinking “why not now?”. Once I get over this hurdle, things will be easier. My health will be better, my insurance will be cheaper, there will be less frivolous expenses, and I will be free from my addiction.

Are you in for the long-haul? It’s time to kick that addiction before the new year. Stop saying “later” and start acting toward your goals.

I am one week in the right direction; where are you?

Love Always,

Elizabeth

It’s All About Perspective

The outlook you have on situations in your life speaks to the kind of person that you are. I have been trying to focus on being a better person and a large part of that for me is changing my mindset. Today one of the nurses that I work with had an emergency and had to go home early. We desperately needed someone to cover her later hours and it didn’t seem like anyone was going to volunteer. Instead of thinking “why me?” I deliberately chose to think “why not me?”. If I can’t change the outcome of a situation, then my only option is to change my outlook on the situation.

When you have a bad day, try to remember that the bad days are what make the good days so magnificent. If you didn’t have bad days, you would’t appreciate the good days. This mindset goes for a lot of things. For example, I was in a very unhealthy relationship before I started dating my now-husband. It was my first exposure to a drug addict and I was completely unaware of what his behaviors signified.

Looking back, there were so many warning signs. He was stealing my seizure medication and selling it – when I approached him with my suspicions, he accused me of abusing my meds. I would wake up in the middle of the night and he would be gone (we lived together) and I would have to go out searching for him until he decided to come back. His stories never added up and he made me feel like a worthless human being. I lost my mind when I was in that relationship and I ended up in a psychiatric hospital due to a suicide attempt that December. Those moments were heartbreaking, but they also changed my life.

When I was admitted to the hospital, the guy I was with relapsed and went to prison for parole violation. I now know that was the best thing that could have happened to me at that point. It was just the thing I needed to wake me up and get me out of that situation.

This is when I starting hanging out with Blake (my husband). We worked together for a while, but I was in a relationship at the time. After I got home from the hospital and eventually went back to work, we became friends. I told myself that I wasn’t ready for another relationship, so we just stayed friends for a while. But then we fell in love, I went to nursing school, we got married, and the rest is history.

For a while I was angry. I didn’t understand why I had to experience the things that I did. I thought about how “unfair” it was and wondered why God would let something like that relationship happen in my life. I did a lot of “why me?” thinking.

As my relationship with my now-husband blossomed, I realized why I went through the emotionally abusive relationship that tore me apart. It’s because those bad days and bad experiences make me appreciate my husband and what we have so much more. My husband is such a kind man and if it weren’t for my relationship with my ex, I don’t think I would have appreciated my husband the way he deserves.

I wish my ex all of the happiness and health in the world. Just because he is/was an addict doesn’t mean that he is a bad person. But I will say that I am so incredibly grateful that the chapter in my life that included him is long gone. I learned so much about people and myself during that relationship. I have decided that instead of dwelling on the terrible and scary parts of life, I will focus on what I learned from the experience and how I have grown from the challenges that arise.

I can’t change what happened in my past, but I can decide how I will use those experiences to better my future.

I hope that you can find the strength within yourself to do the same.

Love Always,

Elizabeth