Month: March 2022

Sobering Thoughts Volume Four Part Two – Dancing with Myself

I wanted to carry on from last week where I had been discussing impostor syndrome and how I felt about it. In this blog I will be focusing on the personal relationships I have and how I feel about it from that perspective. It’s a tough one to write so I hope I can do it justice and articulate my feelings clearly on it.

I want to make it clear that I am very fortunate to have a great number of people around me who have been supportive over the last few months. Without them I would not be here. I know that some people are not as lucky and don’t have the support network needed to work through issues they are having. I am grateful for this. For those people not so lucky I want to be a person that they can come to and for me to try and help if I can. If you are reading this and feel isolated, alone and with no one to talk to, please contact me by any method or platform you feel comfortable with. I have been amazed and humbled by the number of people I know reaching out and sharing some of their personal struggles. We need to have an effective method of tackling the mental health crisis in the country. Through talking, listening, and sharing we can all do our bit to help someone in need.

Some of the emotions I feel about this particular subject still remain with me today, so this is a challenging piece for me to write. From an early age, probably as young as I can remember I have felt insecure about belonging to all the groups of friends and social networks I am connected with. I think to someone who doesn’t know me on the surface I can appear to have a wide group and range of friends and almost appear popular. I have played cricket for the same team and been connected to same club for over twenty years. That’s a long time and I have relationships that go back as long as that time. I have had the same group of close friends since my early teens, and they are truly the best people I know. I feel very lucky to be associated with them. I am also fortunate to have other groups of friends who have also been a great support over the last few months. My immediate family: mum, dad, two brothers, girlfriend and stepdad have been there for me and were the first on scene to try and help me when I was feeling at my lowest

All that being said, I have often felt like an outsider to every group I am amongst even with the closest people to me. I have thought about this a lot, especially over the last few months when I have been evaluating myself as a person. The thoughts of self-doubt are ever present with me. I think about whether they care and if so, why? What do I actually offer to these people in my life? I have made a lot of mistakes and have a number of regrets on how I have acted and treated people. So maybe I don’t deserve to be happy, maybe I don’t deserve to be loved and cared about. OK I haven’t murdered anyone or done anything seriously bad….yet, but I have had a few run ins with Jonny Law. I am deeply ashamed of this and some of my family and friends probably aren’t aware of it. I was once arrested for being drunk and disorderly. Not my finest hour I can tell you and the eighty-pound fine that went with it stung like crazy too. I was arrested in Alnwick, Northumberland of all places. Where there is around one police officer per twenty thousand people. I told you there were going to be some juicy stories within these blogs. I had been walking home from a night out and the police had stopped to check I was OK. Apparently, I became abusive and was bundled into the back of the van. Waking up in a cell the next morning freezing cold, still half cut, and not knowing what I had done was pretty terrifying, but this was when I was twenty years old. You think it would have been the wake-up call that maybe drinking wasn’t for me. Only took me eleven years to figure it out.

If we take my closest friends, I look upon what I bring to the table versus what they do. Ross, Mikey, and Jack have an abundance of qualities unique to them. Ross helps us all massively in terms of pushing us with our own self-development and making sure we always do things together, so we all remain close. He is also incredibly loyal to his friends and won’t take anyone messing us around. Mikey makes me laugh in ways no one else does and is also incredibly loyal to all his pals. He is always there when you need him. Jack and I are very similar in personality and humour, but he is kinder, more reliable, and again never lets you down with emotional support. I envy them all equally for many different reasons and look upon their lives having achieved a lot more than me. When I evaluate myself, I think well what are they getting from me? I honestly don’t know. I consider myself to have been at times a burden to them all. I often question why they have remained my friends for as long as they have. Its probably a testament to their characters. I can recall many instances where we have been in each other’s company whether it be out on nights out or just hanging around with one another and not feeling totally secure. This has led to overcompensation in the way I have acted, for example saying something stupid or inconsiderate in the situation we are in. My over consumption of alcohol has caused them to have to look after me on nights out disrupting their own enjoyment. I can see that I have acted very selfishly on many occasions which is why I have these feelings of self-doubt about why they continue to be my friends. You might say that this is what friends do for one another, but my questions would be to that is what are they getting in return from me? I often think well am I tolerated in moderation? I don’t feel good enough to have their friendship.

Fixing these feelings is tough. Stopping drinking in comparison is easy, that’s a quick remedy. You stop doing something and immediately things change. The time it will take for me to be at complete ease with all of this may take longer. I know I have many things to work on and being a more reliable friend is high on my agenda.

Within my other friendship circles, again the feelings of being an outsider are prevalent. Just never quite fitting in, or certainly that is the way I perceive it. The lack of confidence and self-doubt I have about my character leads to these feelings. I always sense I am on the periphery, not quite fully accepted but I have hung around these people that long they have become accustomed to who I am, and they aren’t able to get rid of me. Carrying these emotions and thoughts around with me I can tell you is in no way fun.

Within my family, I can on occasion feel like a bit of an alien. I look at my two brothers with a lot of admiration for different reasons. They have achieved a great deal with their lives so far and they are both extremely intelligent people. I am not, or certainly don’t feel it. I think of myself as someone with average intelligence with a half decent vocab which probably acts as a veil to my intelligence level.  It isn’t healthy to compare yourself to others but its very hard not to do so when those people are your family. If my parents were to compare us, then I would think they would conclude that I am a let-down in comparison to my siblings. I don’t think they would do that, but this is how my brain operates at times, fucked up right. I have a good relationship with both my parents and stepdad and appreciate the help, guidance and support they have given to me. But again I question whether I have reciprocated this? The choices I have made, the errors I have made and heartache I have inflicted don’t lead me to surmise that I have done. They have had to clean up behind me when I have made errors. Again, you might think well this is part of being a parent, but I don’t see it that way, I am responsible for my actions, and I haven’t always taken the consequences of them.

And lastly, before you all switch off completely, I must acknowledge the partners I have had in my life as well as my current (ha) girlfriend. I have been let down, left broken hearted on a couple of occasions. I know what you are thinking right now, how is that possible Nick? When you are a solid eight of ten in all areas (except personality – ten) why has anyone made the foolish decision to leave you? Well for quite a number of reasons probably but let’s unpack that another time. When you love someone and they tell you they no longer want to be with you, that’s hard to take. But everyone goes through that, usually. That doesn’t make it any easier though. The feelings of rejection, not being good enough and being told so in no uncertain terms (thank you for that) is not good for the old soul. At the time it can feel like your world is ending, but life goes on and you have to accept it. That doesn’t mean that the scars left by that past partner isn’t felt longer term. I have certainly held onto the bitter feelings of rejection and inadequacy right up until this present day. My ex-girlfriend of three and a half years saw me at some of my worst moments and I think I eventually pushed her so far away that we ended up drifting apart. I carry the full blame for this and felt after for some time that she was a lot better off without me. I hope she finds happiness and someone who treats her in a way she deserves, I never did.

Chloe, my girlfriend has had a lot to put up with me since we have been together which is coming up to three years, but she is supportive and caring to me. I have questioned why this is the case? Why does she love me? Do I offer enough in return? You can see the pattern can’t you. not feeling worthy in this aspect has been caused by past traumatic experiences with other partners.

In all my friendships, relationships whether it’s with family or girlfriends I struggle to feel good enough for them. I want to, believe me but this is a long path to feeling completely at ease with myself. I hope I get there.

Thanks for reading, longest one yet!

Nick Denton

Sobering Thoughts

Sobering Thoughts Volume Four Part One – Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now

So, if you have read the first three blogs you are probably thinking can this get any better? Well put down your beer (see what I have done there) and have a read of this one.

I hope that you have been enjoying them so far and to anyone out there who is struggling, please know that there is a large community of us working through all of our struggles on the daily. You are not alone. I have reactivated my old Facebook account to allow me to share this blog on another platform. The idea being that Sobering Thoughts can reach a further audience and I can provide another voice that emboldens people to speak out about their problems. I said from the outset that first and foremost this blog is to help me. But from the overwhelming number of messages I have had from fellow strugglers, the blog is assisting people to come to terms with whatever internal battles they are having and pushing them to vocalise or in some cases write about how they’re feeling. This is brilliant and long may it continue. I have also been contemplating the idea of starting a group for Sobering Thoughts on Facebook which people can become a part of. I know that I am still in the infancy of this blog writing business, and I am in no way an expert but if there is another safe platform and space for people to share then why not. Let me know if this sounds appealing to you or anyone you think would benefit from it and I can look to get things moving over the next few weeks.

Over the course of the first three blogs, I have not delved deep into a topic, so I wanted to focus on something specific this week. Having spoken to a couple of friends on this particular subject I feel it’s a great talking point. This piece will be divided up into two parts with the first discussing ‘imposter syndrome’ and then the second part looking at how a person’s (me) sense of belonging may be affected by this, part two will be released next week as there is too much to cover in one blog.

‘Impostor syndrome’ well what is it? Basically, the standard definition is as follows, “is the experience of feeling like a phony. You feel as though at any moment you are going to be found out as a fraud like you don’t belong where you are, and you only got there through dumb luck,” This is definitely something I have felt my entire adult life. I believe that having this on your mind regularly effects how you are day to day, how you interact and the way you feel about yourself.

Let’s take the professional environment. Are you an achiever at work? Do you feel the success you have achieved is deserved? In my case I have doubted myself ever since I started working full time at the young age of twenty-two. Now, this could be down to a number of factors for example the work environment itself. Is it healthy? Yes and no in this case. It started off very healthily but in the first year of me working full time I went through a very difficult time personally which made me feel very inadequate as a person. I will never individually name people, employers, organisations (in a negative way) etc in these blogs out of respect and decency from my side but they of course will know who they are, maybe. I began working for the first business in January 2013. The company was in its early days, and I was genuinely enthused by the prospect of building this business up. Reflecting now, I would like to think this was definitely achieved in some parts during the years I spent with them and part of that was down to me, despite the final eighteen months of my employment being slightly more traumatic. My confidence had been eroded by the end and I seriously had reservations on whether I could carry on in the business world. I had started to feel like a fraud, I didn’t fit in. This wasn’t for me at all, I wasn’t good enough to work at any higher level of any organisation. When your confidence and character are displaced like that, it can be hard to come back from and I don’t think I have ever completely recovered.

When you go through this type of experience at work naturally it has a knock-on effect at home and in your life away from work. You begin to question am I good enough in every aspect of my life? Some people are unable to compartmentalise the different sections of their lives, I am certainly one of those people. I hope it is something I can work on and achieve over time.

In my last job I was made redundant during the pandemic. Now this at the time was not uncommon and many people were employment casualties in 2020. This again made me question everything. Why am I being made redundant? Am I failure? Not everyone was being laid off, only around 10% of the work force and I was one of the chosen few. I am not sure if anyone could look at that and not come to the same conclusion of feeling abject failure and rejection. I felt very let down by my employers and in particular my boss who I thought had not tried to protect me and my colleagues in our department. The self-doubt simmered once more. Was I not good enough to be kept on? I had really enjoyed this job and loved the people I worked with (even more so in the case of one of the employees) which made leaving even harder. I had thought I was achieving success in this role and selling to my full potential, but this was cast aside when it came to choosing who was being kicked out the door. The resentment to this decision for not only myself but the other people who were released has only intensified with seeing how that business is now flourishing in its marketplace. I applied for hundreds of jobs and got nowhere with any of them, this led to feeling a high amount of anxiety. I countered this feeling with the only tried and trusted method and began drinking heavily. This led to further feelings of anxiety, self doubt and the vicious cycle of drinking, getting up the next day repeating and not feeling great up about myself. Thoughts of losing my flat, my possessions and not being able to cover the bills began to spread into my head. This is not a good place to be. I also have the hungriest cat on planet earth who requires regular feeding, sometimes in the early hours which I must say is not welcome. Thanks Nigel. Yes, he is called Nigel. See my Instagram for regular posts and stories on the greatest feline of all time.

Thankfully and very luckily, I was employed again after this disappointment and my employers as I mentioned in an earlier blog have been superb and incredibly supportive to me in my recovery. Supportive, respectful, and fully invested in me to succeed for them. I know I am very fortunate to have them, and they have also made me feel like they are lucky to have me. I feel respected, valued and not seen as just a number on a payslip. You can’t buy that. Thank you to Summit Platforms, a truly great company to be a part of.

We spend a large amount of time at work and the importance of having a stable job environment is paramount to having sound mental health. The feelings I have had within the time I have worked have very much been up and down. Feeling that ‘impostor syndrome’ status is not healthy and one that I need to work on more and more as my therapy continues. I need to embrace the achievements I have had and not dwell on the perceived down points that will naturally occur at the workplace. We all get them, even the most successful of people have had setbacks. It is never a smooth journey. I want to work in an environment where I feel valued, and my voice is heard. Sometimes, as my colleagues may testify to I have too much to say for myself and again that is something I am working on. If you aren’t feeling valued in your job, my advice would be to evaluate that and do something about it. Speak to your colleagues, your superiors and if they don’t want to listen then you will know that they aren’t for you and it could be time to move on.  

In part two, I will be focusing on how my sense of belonging has come into question over the years. This will be more to do with my personal life and how my relationships with friends, family and partners have been affected. I hope you can join me next week.

Thanks again for reading.

Nick Denton

Sobering Thoughts

Sobering Thoughts Volume 3 – One for the Road

Have you ever thought to yourself, am I drinking too much? If you are mulling this over in your head I would speculate that you probably maybe definitely might be. And that is OK. The good thing is that you are thinking about it and recognising there might be an issue. Now don’t for one second think that I am an expert on this or in any way judging you. After all, how could I. But what I can do is tell you about my pathway to realisation that alcohol was no longer the friend and companion I thought it was.

In my experience, I am not what you would consider a ‘normal’ alcoholic. I drank too much in short spaces of time. What the kids call binge drinking. I don’t look at myself as an alcoholic but as someone now who simply does not drink.

But what is an alcoholic? In Simon Chapple’s 2019 book ‘The Sober Survival Guide’ which I highly recommend, he tells us that, “over 90 percent of people in the western world drink alcohol, and sadly over two million of them a year die as a direct result,” that’s a scary number. Alcoholism takes many different forms and isn’t the stereotypical fella drunk in the park at 10am shouting at mysterious dragons he has been chasing all night. I dread to think what those numbers look like now following the pandemic, but they most definitely will have gone up.  It’s recommended to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread across 3 days or more. That’s around 6 medium glasses of wine, or 6 pints of 4% beer. Not a lot really, is it? A few months back I was drinking heavily 6 pints would have been a quick session on a weekday evening. That would have then led to a bottle of wine or maybe a few more beers later that evening. The fact I was able to get up the next day and function for work or whatever I was doing is astonishing. What a pro. But let’s face it, that is not a good thing.

I have always struggled with binge drinking, being one of those people who push the boundary of what my body can handle. I will cover a few of the drunken episodes in various other blogs but I want to focus on the specific period of heavy drinking and poor mental health prior to my recent state of sobriety. I said at the outset that I would be as honest as I can be and that is still my intention. This will be a positive for my ongoing recovery and continuous good mental health. However, there will be a small number of issues, incidents, topics I can’t discuss. I am hopeful to keep these to a minimum though.

In October 2021 my mental health plummeted to an all-time low. I can’t pinpoint exactly what sends me into the spirals of depression I suffer from, but I am working on that in my recovery and it will be a critical part of keeping my mental health solid. This particular episode had begun towards the back end of the summer and lasted roughly until after Christmas well into the new year. When you analyse it, that’s a long period of time. On October 17th my internal mental condition was at a point where I no longer wished to be alive (I did warn you this wasn’t going to be laugh a minute didn’t I?) any longer. I am going to cover the night of October 17th in a full post in a couple of weeks’ time, but I want to focus on what happened afterwards.

Everything changed after that night, I think people look at you differently once they know you have mental health problems. In some cases, I don’t think they mean to. It’s a natural reaction. There are many different outlooks on mental health, and I have encountered them all. I had a former colleague who basically denounced its existence. The old school approach of ‘just get on with it son’ was their outlook on someone having non visible symptoms of illness or injury. In other cases, people are unable to understand what you are dealing with having either not gone through it themselves or they have not been in direct contact with someone facing those challenges. I completely accept this position, and this is why conversations need to be had so as a society we understand more and develop methods to combat this critical issue. Some individuals lack the emotional intelligence or empathetic qualities to understand, and we may never get them on board. However, in my experience the majority of people are very supportive, and I am thankful for that. I certainly wouldn’t be feeling a lot better today without my support network.

The following weeks were a nightmare for me and of course those close to me. I had to take time off work. Fortunately, I couldn’t have asked my employers to be more understanding of the situation. They have been incredibly supportive, and for that I will always be very grateful. I was told to take as much time as I needed and not to worry about my job. I can only speculate but I don’t think other companies would not have been as understanding. Summit Platforms were superb, and it has made me value my employment with them even more.

I don’t remember a lot about those first few weeks, a combination of long days watching lots of documentaries. For some reason I got really into police documentaries – 24 hours in police custody, Britain’s worst murder cases and others. I guess it was a form of distraction. Most days I would do this till around the early afternoon then I would go for a walk which more often than not coincided with a pit stop into one of three pubs I had frequented on a regular basis. I found this to be an opportunity to escape my negative thoughts and feelings about myself. In reality I was delaying myself confronting my issues and blocking them out until the next day when I would invariably do the same thing again. It’s a vicious cycle, one very hard to break. The more I would drink the better I would feel at that time but then this would lead to feeling worse the day after. I became very crafty in the ways I could hide this from everyone. When I say crafty, mostly that just means lying or not being specific on what I had been doing. I feel very guilty for this now, but at the time I just didn’t care.

From October until well into January this continued even when I went back to work. I would be drinking heavily. Again, I must stress this wasn’t every night but near enough. I think I was able to process it better internally as I wasn’t getting up in the morning and thinking right where is my frosty jacks’ bottle? I need to feel better. It wasn’t like that for me. I enjoyed going to the pub even if it was on my own. I loved to sit for a couple of hours demolish a few pints, watch some sport on tv or just sit on my phone not having to think about why I was so sad. For some, this will be a really alien concept for them to comprehend. Going to the pub on your own? Why do that? Weirdo. Yes I am probably a bit of a weirdo.

The time passed by quickly in those first few months following the night I had decided Nick no longer needed to be on planet earth. Speaking in the third person now, who do I think I am? Craig David? I didn’t feel any better despite having talked to several people. I had also started taking medication along with starting my therapy sessions. Although I am unable to go into the sessions in any detail, I can talk about the process of starting the sessions and what I hope to achieve by going to them. I will cover this in one of the blogs next month. I don’t think I responded well to the ideas of therapy or medication from the doctors, but I felt that I had to try something I had not looked at before. I have had spells of depression throughout my adult life, but I had never tackled it head on. I felt I owed my family and loved ones that. I have put them through enough over the years, I needed to try. But I wasn’t prepared to give up the booze. Why would I? It was a good friend of mine. We had some great times together. The most loyal of companions or so I thought at the time. Analysing it now, old Jonny Drink wasn’t giving me much in return for such devotion.

So much self-loathing in those months from hating how I looked to questioning myself and character. I would wake up every morning and start to recall moments from my past that I am not proud of, the people I have hurt, the mess I have made, the respect I have lost from friends and family. I still thought at many times I would be better off gone, not causing myself or anyone else any pain or suffering. I felt like a burden and had done for some time. I was convinced I’d be deserted by those close to me and that I deserved to be. Christ that is a lot to deal with when you wake up, and then you have the rest of the day to contend with. I probably earned those few pints of “pilsner baby” (see the works of Bootlegger for this reference if you are confused by it) in the evening time.  

The cycle was so hard to break but I have, for now. I have to maintain it, otherwise I will be back to a place I don’t want to be.

I feel conscious that I am promising to talk about a lot of things in future blogs so please bear with me. There is so much to unpack and talk about my head is exploding with ideas every week.

Remember to follow me on my social media for updates on new releases. I hope you have enjoyed the blog. Leave me your comments, I genuinely read them all and I’m touched by the warm responses.  

Thanks for reading!

Nick Denton

Sobering Thoughts

Sobering Thoughts Volume Two – An End Has A Start

For those of you with exemplary musical taste you may have picked up on the title of the blog being a track by Editors. Well done if you did, that’s a point for you. Naturally you would think we would begin this story at where I can pinpoint my troubles starting but let us buck that trend and start in the here and now.

Saturday was a good day. I went to the eighth wonder of the world to watch the ever-improving Newcastle United. Unfortunately, I was one of those idiots who kept their season ticket during the final thrilling years of the Mike Ashley era. You would be forgiven for thinking that I had brought on some of the mental trauma in my life by continuing to pay money to watch the toon, especially during the tenure of the one and only Steven Roger Bruce. However, let me tell you vindication is mine. I was rewarded for such ludicrous loyalty and in came the new regime which under the stewardship of Amanda Staveley and co seems to be going in the right direction. I usually go to the football on my own and enjoy that but Saturday was different in that my pals were there also. More on those reprobates in other posts as we move forward.

Saturday was a big test for me. I had gone thirty-one days without a drop of alcohol, and I knew that my friends would be having a few drinks throughout the day. There were moments that I thought about getting a beer and joining in. This shows where I am currently at with my sobriety, not quite being in that mental state to not want to drink at all. Will I ever get there? I am not sure, and I don’t think I can answer that right now. It is still early days on this change of course and there are likely to be days and moments when I feel like this even if I am not out with friends or in other social situations. One of the critical aspects with my relationship with booze that I want to change is how I perceive alcohol to be a positive influence in my life. It isn’t and it never has been. It is like one of those relationships you have had with an ex that you know is shocking and yet you still want to be with them for some inextricable reason. We have all been there I am sure, unless you have dated me of course then how could you feel like that….

For the past few weeks since stopping drinking I have been following an online coach called Leon Sylvester. I came across his posts on YouTube (see Sober Clear) and they instantly resonated with me. Our relationship history with alcohol was very similar and our mental health struggles ran parallel along side the excessive use of alcohol. Let me label booze for what it is, a depressant and a highly addictive one at that. Like recreational drugs, alcohol is similar and provides short term highs but with longer term come downs. In my opinion, (which you are probably beginning to understand is very rarely wrong) alcohol is one of the most dangerous substances you can abuse in comparison to other drugs which are prohibited in the UK. Alcohol is so readily available to everyone and normalised in society as something to regular use to excess. I will cover this in more detail in later posts.

Since stopping drinking my mental health has improved dramatically. The difference is night and day. Its difficult to express how much better I am feeling. Part of me wishes that I could still have that odd night out or odd glass of wine (yes I am sophisticated) but deep down I know that one glass of wine is leading me into a bottle and then the day after will be a hungover day. That will then lead into a couple of drinks to feel better and the vicious cycle resumes. I just can’t do it. As I mentioned earlier I am hopeful I will get to a position where I no longer have FOMO when it comes to alcohol. Yuk, FOMO. Get in the bin Nicholas.

The last thirty-three days have allowed me to feel better about myself. I have started going to the gym and exercising more, I have started writing this blog. I have been far more productive at work. I have been generally more fun to be around (I hope) all positive effects of not drinking most days like I had been. In this time, I have also attended four psychotherapy sessions and two alcohol support sessions. At first (probably because I was still drinking) the sessions were not going well, and I didn’t feel they were beneficial to me. But over the course of the last few weeks, I have felt more positivity towards both these support systems and embraced them for what they are.

Although the last month has been positive, I am not naive enough to think that’s me sorted and I will never feel negatively again. This is a long process that will last me until the end of my life. In future blogs I want to get into the details of how I was feeling and what were the causes but of course I want to also talk about how I am feeling in the present as well as looking at the darker past. This is exactly why I wanted to start this now because I am still learning a massive amount about myself as my therapy sessions continue and I begin to navigate my way through a life without alcohol.

If you have any questions with regards to anything you have read or just a general query, please get in touch via email or through my social media. All details can be found on the contact page on

I hope you have enjoyed reading this and please feel free to leave comments on the blog page. Thank you to everyone who read Volume One. The feedback was fantastic and really appreciated.

Nick Denton

Sobering Thoughts