Stability and Sobriety

I’ve been neglecting my blog. Partly I think because I have been very busy in the REAL WORLD; partly because I Think about my sobriety much less these days and partly because my reflective brain / space has been occupied with thoughts I cannot share. That ‘cannot’ tripped off the keyboard – and it reflects the shame I feel about certain parts of my life; The shame is mine – and not because objectively I have done anything THAT shameful; but because I am deeply ashamed of it and I never speak of it. Angela (my therapist) has brought this up, and I know its time to open the cupboard door and take a peek inside …

as part of that process, this thought has occurred to me..

All my adult life I would have described myself as ‘cyclothymic’ – (below from Wikipedia with my own additions)

Cyclothymia is a type of chronic “mood disorder” ┬áwidely considered to be a more chronic but milder or subthreshold form of bipolar disorder. Cyclothymia is characterized by numerous mood swings, with periods of hypomanic┬ásymptoms that do not meet criteria for a hypomanic episode, ┬áalternating with periods of mild or moderate symptoms of depression┬áthat do not meet criteria for a major depressive episode

An individual with cyclothymia may feel stable at a baseline level but experience a noticeable shift to an emotional high during subthreshold hypomanic episodes of elation or euphoria, with symptoms similar to those of mania but less severe, and often cycle to emotional lows with moderate depressive symptoms. To meet the diagnostic criteria for cyclothymia, a person must experience this alternating pattern of emotional highs and lows for a period of at least two years with no more than two consecutive symptom-free months.

I’ve never bothered a psychiatrist with any of this, partly because I think its just my personality (and thus not an ‘illness’) , partly because I don’t want to take any mood stabilising drugs and partly because they might have asked too many questions about how much I drank! Through my life I have stabilised to some extent anyway – mellowing with age some might say.

Since I quit drinking that stability has become more noticeable. Not immediately, but I am almost eight months sober now, and I have definitely noticed ┬áthat I am calmer and less reactive ; more ‘stolid’ and stable. For example Son #3 managed to run up a phone bill of almost ┬ú200 in one month ( on at ┬ú20 contact) and instead of “going mad” I was able to calmly talk to him and sort out where the problems have come from.

This has surprised me. Given that I was not drunk ALL the time (when one is always more volatile) Its interesting that sustained sobriety has had this effect. Its definitely a positive. I feel as though I am becoming more of the person I want to be, calm, stable, emotionally reliable – rather than volatile and unpredictable. I wasn’t THAT bad but I’m better now. and less cyclothymic.

Maybe I am now able to examine some of the skeletons rattling around in my brains ‘closet’ and not overreact to the feelings this engenders.

I hope so. I think its time I did


  1. I most definitely have similar traits, but am much much calmer now. I think alcohol does much more damage to moods and energy levels than I ever gave it credit for. I am far less angry, depressed, or irritable than I was while drinking, which is basically my entire adult life. Maybe alcohol causes these mood “disorders” instead of exacerbating them. Who knows? I read somewhere that the brain only begins to work on building “new” pathways in earnest after six months of sobriety because of all the repair that needs to be done. It’s funny that I feel exactly the same way you do going into 8 months’ sober.

    Regardless, congratulations on the new you!


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  2. I can really identify with this Lily. I am much calmer and rational than I was when I was drinking. My reaction to events like your one with the phone is more measured than before. I still have a strong response to things like for example not getting the job I went for, some people would see it as an overreaction but it does subside more quickly and is a strong response rather than extreme. Thanks for sharing. Xx

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