My Sober Diary : Day 26 : Day 4

Schalk Neethling
4 min readOct 26, 2021


Photo by Hunter Harritt on Unsplash

I went to see my therapist again today for the first time in about two or three months. I realized that I needed to get a handle on the anxiety that is torturing me, or the hungry ghost(aka alcohol) is going to keep knocking.

It was an illuminating talk. I am thrilled I went. I have been doing a lot of soul searching for a long time now. Recently I heard about the book; The body keeps the score and, while I still need to read it, the premise intrigued me. I have been struggling with identifying where my health and general anxiety come from; what is its origin?

I was adopted at birth, but I have no idea what the experience was like for my biological mother during pregnancy. I do, however, think it might have been pretty tumultuous. It can not be easy to carry a child to full term knowing that you will have to give him or her up. And, as most people well know, what the mother experiences are experienced by the fetus.

Then there was the actual birth. I have no idea for how long I was alone between delivery and being adopted by my adoptive parents. It must surely have been scary to come into this world and not have anyone to comfort and console you. Of course, I am speculating here but, I mentioned this to my doctor, and he has a strong feeling that I am correct.

That is why my particular form of anxiety and depression is so deep and so hard to treat. It stems from a deep-seated wound that happened at a time when our brains are susceptible. I also have, as most of us do, been confronted by trauma of various kinds throughout my life. Every time this happens, especially if it is losing a loved one, the wound is reopened. But also, this trauma is layered on top and adds to the overall problem.

It kind of boils down to a deep-seated fear of losing everyone and being alone.

Added to this is the fact that I am a creative person and therefore pretty darn sensitive to events and the people around me. As a result, I take on too much. When my world seems out of control, my mind is out of control, and my amygdala is set on fire.

Something interesting I learned is that if I do not provide an outlet for that creativity, the anxious mind will use that creativity to paint pretty darn scary pictures that end up feeding on itself. I definitely experience this.

I used to play classical guitar but have long ago stopped, picked it up again, and then gave up again a few months ago. I have to say that pretty closely coincides with when my life and anxiety went entirely out of control. Even though I know from blood tests and even a stress ECG, I am in good shape; my mind started to convince me otherwise. So much so that I stopped exercising for fear of having a heart attack and dying on the spot.

It is a lot to unpack, and there is even more, I learned today. Some action items, so to speak, I need to do is:

  • Control what I can control. In my case, at the very least, my sleeping pattern. But, more importantly here, is to play to the strengths of my circadian rhythms.
  • I need to connect with me again. I also need to realize that I get to decide what I allow to affect me and how.
  • I also need to connect with that little scared baby and the scared child that saw his dad in the ICU after a heart bypass. I need to nurture these parts of myself and treat them with loving kindness to help them heal.
  • I need to start playing guitar again regularly.
  • I need to continue with my Yoga and meditation practice.

I also have a new medication that the doctor added to help me to be able to help myself. Today was an intense day, where I told and learned so much about myself. I am genuinely grateful to be in a position where I can access mental health help like this. I genuinely wish that everyone in this world that needed it could have access. It indeed should be a human right.

I therefore openly share what I learn in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, it resonates with someone and helps them in some way.

Anyways, I am excited. I have hope again. I wish the same for all of you. Let’s all live a life of purpose and meaning.



Schalk Neethling

I write about mental health, addiction, sober living, living your best life through an active lifestyle and a whole food plant-based diet. Psychedelic curios :)

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