It is ENTIRELY possible to become addicted to drama.
I know, I know. Everybody SAYS they hate drama.
But the fact is, many people behave in ways that make it almost impossible for their lives to have less drama in them.
This is especially true when people are recovering from addiction or trauma.
One of the things that often happens when people start getting their lives under control is, their lives get kind of quieter.
There are fewer crises to be managed.
The crises that do happen, are resolved quicker and neater.
People find they actually have the skills and tools they need to handle both the practicalities of managing their lives and the emotions that go along with their life situations.
You’d think this would be a good thing, a relief, after years of hair-on-fire, one-crisis-after-another existence, right? You’d think that this is what success in overcoming addiction or stabilizing your life after trauma is SUPPOSED to look like, right?
You’d think so, yes.
The thing is, though, when we’ve gotten used to our lives being dramatic or tragic operas of crisis management, a lot of the time our brains don’t quite know how to handle the lack of action.
It’s not that anybody necessarily LIKES drama. But drama is what our brains have gotten used to.
What’s more, drama carries with it spikes of adrenaline— that hormone that your sympathetic nervous system produces when it’s time to handle a crisis or perform under pressure. And regular shots of adrenaline, as it turns out…can be kind of addicting.
When our nervous systems have gotten used to years and years and years of regular shots of adrenaline, to go to an existence where you’re NOT getting your adrenaline fix can be more difficult than you’d think.
You may be relived that your life isn’t in chaos anymore.
But your central nervous system may be craving its fix.
Your brain may be even getting bored. It’s used to stimulation. That’s become its default setting.
If we’re not realistic about this, your brain WILL attempt to solve that problem…by creating drama.
Understand: this is not just you making poor choices.
It’s not a matter of you waking up and saying, “Hmm…how can I make my life more complicated today?”
It’s a matter of your brain having gotten used to a status quo…and now being nervous that the status quo is no more.
Your brain may be suspicious of the lack of action and drama.
Your mind may have associated lack of action and drama with something bad about to happen.
When you go to see a scary movie, and everything gets all quiet, what happens to your body?
That’s right: you get tense. Why?
Because you know you’re seeing a horror movie…and you know in horror movies periods of calm and quiet are usually interrupted by jump scares and horrifying, starting images.
If you’ve lived a live of chaos, trauma, and crisis, and now you’re in the phase of your life where you’ve recovered enough to establish some stability and calm…don’t be surprised to feel your anxiety level rising.
That’s just your brain thinking you’re still in a horror movie, and waiting anxiously for that jump scare.
The trick is, recognizing what’s happening to you…and not trying to relieve that feeling of anxiety by creating that jump scare yourself.
Because your brain is bored is NOT a good reason to go out looking for drama.
Again: few people consciously do this. It’s more of an impulsive, instinctive thing.
Things will go smoothly for awhile, and then, out of nowhere, you find yourself weirdly, passively sabotaging your progress.
You find yourself not taking your meds. Not working your steps. Not going to meetings. Not doing your therapy exercises. Not getting enough sleep. ‘
Not doing the things, in other words, that keep you healthy and stable.
Notice when these things are happening.
It’s not that you have to do everything perfectly. You can’t, and you won’t— and that’s neither the goal nor the expectation.
Just stay on the lookout for your brain trying to sneak more drama or action into your life.
And be prepared to just say no.
Subscribe to the Doc’s free email newsletter and never miss a blog or social media post!