Combating Morning Anxiety

This morning I woke up feeling unmotivated and depleted. Intrusive thoughts eroded any incentive that I had to initiate a productive day. The mere thought of dragging myself out of bed seemed debilitating. How am I going to put makeup on, slap a smile on my face and see patients? The monotony of daily life gives me anxiety. The structure of a routine keeps me sober, yet my mind rebels against such tedium. Every day, I battle with my own thoughts by underestimating my ability to tackle the day. I focus on every little thing I need to do before the sun goes down, which makes the day feel like a challenge instead of a blessing.

Normal people wake up, work out and accomplish a million things before they even go to work: While I’m over here grappling with the notion of taking a shower. I have these days of feeling complete inadequacy. I feel sluggish and weary all before I have rolled out of bed. I drag myself to the bathroom as I challenge those thoughts of powerlessness. I look in the mirror and see yesterday’s makeup haphazardly painting my face; I feel disgusting and unable to restore myself into a presentable human being. My face is puffy, my eyelids are tired and I feel like I’m 500 pounds. I continue the motions.

I wander into the kitchen to prepare a cup of coffee. I feel like I’ve already ran a marathon. In my early twenties, I woke up at 5am every morning to go for a freaking jog. On this morning, I don’t even have the energy to refill the water in my Nespresso machine. What is wrong with me? Where is my vigorous, spirited self? Most importantly, why do I keep reminding myself that these effortless chores are strenuous? I get tangled in self-criticism by overemphasizing the completion of the day, all before the sun has risen. I reel my anxious thoughts in. I compose myself and take a sip of coffee and I repurpose my energy with an emphasis on the moment.

When I was drinking, I would get through each week with the prize of alcohol in mind. The thought of drinking on a Friday night offered me enough motivation to crank out the week. This is an addict mentality. Even in sobriety I’ll catch myself fantasizing about escaping. Alcohol previously delivered the anticipation that I desperately craved. Even after removing it from the equation, I still subconsciously long for the completion of the work week. I needed to recondition my brain to become preoccupied with the moment at hand. This would require daily objectives.

As an alcoholic, my brain instinctively pursues instant gratification. Even after quitting alcohol, I still chased the indulgence. I started seeking small pleasures in my daily routine. I anticipate my morning coffee, blasting music during my drive to work and drinking a smoothie on my lunch break. These things seem trivial and stupid, but I actually get excited for these simple pleasures. Instead of concentrating on the big picture, I focus on the day at hand. I no longer escape with alcohol. My release at the end of a long day is plopping down on the couch watching Dr. Phil, munching on Pirates Booty, with Stefan & Nixon snoozing next to me. The anticipation of this moment is my motivation to conquer the day.

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