Bring the Darkness to Light
For today's Buddha Doodle, I share a personal story about how I brought the darkness to light in my second ever podcast episode for Buddha Doodles .
From Darkness to Light
The darkest time of the year can be very difficult and trigger symptoms that greatly impact my life. The significant lack of daylight wasn’t something I had to deal with when I lived in California, where I was born and raised.
Knowing these last two winters have brought out the worst in me, I decided to be proactive and make some lifestyle changes well in advance to see if it would make things a little better this time around.
The first thing I did was to cut back on alcohol, starting last summer in 2019. I adopted my puppy Odie in July, and I didn’t want to be caught off guard in a situation where he needed my full attention and presence. I was also waking up every 1-2 hours for the first few weeks to help him go to the bathroom, and consuming alcohol would have really made this time of sleep deprivation even worse.
It wasn’t long before I completely stopped drinking in September. I’ve been sober since.
The effects have been profound. It took a few weeks for my brain to stop craving the brief dopamine hits I got from drinking, and once I was able to rewire this pattern, I began to feel more clear.
I’ve relied on alcohol throughout my adulthood (and late teens) to cope with extreme anxiety. I’ve managed to go one or two years total sober in the last 20 years, but alcoholism runs in my family, and I struggle to self-regulate my consumption once I start drinking.
The challenge initially was occupying myself at night here in rural Denmark. In California, I enjoyed working at home during the day and then going out in the late afternoon and evening. It’s a very extroverted culture where I’m from and there’ no shortage of social activities: Yoga, dance classes, live music shows, walks along the beach, hiking, eating out.
The culture here in Denmark is more introverted and structured. Social activities are often centered around tighter-knit social groups planned activities in the homes.
I don’t mind the introverted culture, in fact, I quite love it being how observant and introspective I am. I don’t miss small talk at all. The biggest challenge was not having access to all the social activities that used to bring me so much joy.
So I joined the gym and started making friends there. I went to a Zumba class and it was equally as fun! I started practicing my Danish on walks with Odie (nearly everyone stops to adore him!).
I also remained persistent in my quest for a doctor that understood PTSD and neurodiversity in females. After ten months of failures and deaden referrals, I was finally matched with the perfect doctor for me.
I explained to her that even after 15 years of therapy, trying different diets, eating healthy, doing alternative therapies, yoga, meditation, writing, art therapy, and other natural/alternative approaches, I was still struggling with severe anxiety, mood swings, overwhelming emotions, meltdowns, and depression, and had long been using alcohol to cope. I told her how I quit drinking and even though I generally felt more clear, I was still having severe symptoms.
She really took the time to get to know me and validated my reality. She has worked with females on the spectrum before, so I could actually have a conversation with her about having sensory processing issues, meltdowns, and how I struggled almost every single day despite working so hard at my mental health.
She didn’t talk down to me or deny my reality, as other doctors have.
After a long talk, she recommended that I start on a course of medication to see if it would help alleviate some of my anxiety and depression.
The decision to go with her recommendation for medical treatment has changed my life.
The combination of the SSRI’s, adopting a dog, therapy, exercise, lifestyle changes, a growing community, time in nature, living somewhere very quiet and peaceful, having a great partner in life, and of course, Buddha Doodles and my online community, have all helped me to reclaim my health and superpowers.
Instead of sipping wine, I’m winding down at night with a good book or podcast with my dog; and truth be told: my neurons get equally if not more excited by deep diving into my latest special interest than the latest import of Syrah from France.
I didn’t believe that I could actually stop drinking and be able to cope with my symptoms effectively. I still have funky days here and there, but I bounce back quicker.
This winter, I felt more “even” and surprisingly made it through the darkest time with far fewer ups and downs. In fact, I grew to enjoy the season and am already missing it.
Winter broke even earlier this year and with this dramatic shift from dark to light, I am noticing now, deep inside, something just feels right.
I feel more excited than ever about my career, my nearly finished short film, new projects with Cephas, new adventures, and the life I have blooming here in Denmark.
I’ve hit a few rock bottoms in my life, and I hope that by sharing a little bit of my journey, it will inspire you You to Keep Fighting for You. Even when times are really dark. You are worth it. Remember that.
Keep Shining Your Light.
Love & Doodles