So last week was mental health awareness week. Did you do your bit and ask someone how they were doing? Fear not, the next opportunity is right now as every week should be mental health awareness week. So why not do it today? Right now, get out your phone and give someone a ring that you haven’t spoken to in a while or drop them a text. I know that I need to get better at this as well so it’s a work in progress that’s for sure. I guarantee you will feel better for talking or the person on the other end will. Looking back at last week’s blog it was quite an impersonal piece not really offering much in the way of experience, but I was really keen to examine in more detail the fascinating relationship we have in Britain with alcohol. I had a conversation with someone today regarding this. When you choose to give up alcohol like I have, it isn’t like other drugs. Although cocaine is very easy to come by and used regularly in the UK it isn’t as easy to get a hold of as alcohol and of course booze is legal to buy in the shops unlike coke (for now). We are surrounded by alcohol. I was at the football on Monday night and the beers were flowing and the atmosphere was electric, with everyone having a good time. What I am getting at is that it is very hard to avoid booze, it is everywhere which makes not drinking I believe a little bit harder than kicking other bad habits.
So last Friday, I made it to one hundred days with no alcohol. This has led to me having some pretty strange and very vivid dreams the last few nights. They have involved me breaking my sobriety and waking up within the dreams (proper Inception shit this) feeling hungover and guilty. I then properly wake up with overriding sense of relief that it isn’t real, and I haven’t made that mistake. I am hoping that over time this will pass, and these recurring dreams desist. I said last week that I don’t miss drinking and that is true, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t on my mind. It was described to me today as something that I will have to make a conscious decision on every time I am in an environment where drinking is possible. Sounds pretty overwhelming when you put it like that but with the support structure I have in place I am confident I can win this battle and ultimately the war.
In this week’s piece I want to focus specifically on the dangers of drinking alone in the house. Reading that opening sentence, to a lot of people this will be an alien concept to them. I know many people who don’t drink at all in the house and would never consider doing it. One of the issues you face at home is that you are the landlord, there is no closing time. No last orders. This was very much the way I looked at it. Whatever I bought was there to be drank no matter how much that was. On some nights I could stay up the majority of the evening and drink until the early hours of the morning. Then sleeping in the next day waking up and feeling horrendous from it. I think for those of us who have drank at home it’s a very easy cycle to get mixed up in. You can find any excuse to have a drink. You have had a bad day, or you have had a good day. It’s Thursday night so it’s Friday tomorrow. It’s the weekend so I can have even more because I don’t have anything to be up for in the morning. Honestly, you can find any reason you want, and we can justify it all in our heads. When I was feeling especially low towards the back end of last year and early stages of 2022, I was drinking every night at home unbeknown to anyone else. That is the problem with it, it is very easy to hide from people when you live alone. My advice to anyone who is thinking that their drinking habits are maybe at the wrong end of the scale is to stop drinking at home. Limit yourself to only having a drink when you are socialising with others and don’t become a solitary drinker. That is my advice given from my own experience. I don’t believe I am capable of moderating my drinking hence taking the decision to give it up completely. If you want to drink responsibly then I think cutting out those midweek beers or glasses of wine are a great step to achieving that.
If you are a regular drinker at home, then this could be part of a larger issue that needs to be addressed. I think a lot of my use of alcohol at home was sometimes through boredom and then it became very habitual. I would regularly think that by doing this I would be enhancing my downtime in the evening whereas in fact, it was the opposite. The negative effects of the next day would be the usual feeling tired (hungover) and not functioning as well as I could do throughout that day. My moods would be low, and my mental health would continue to slip. After a heavy night the next day my sleep pattern would be shot to pieces. I would always feel tired by the evening time and unless I drank again, I would not be able to get to sleep. I think a lot of that was down to the negative thoughts I was usually experiencing about myself and my life because of the depressant I was guzzling down my neck. I remember back in 2013 after going through quite a traumatic break up (yes another one – more on this soon) that I was drinking up to two bottles of wine a night and then getting up and going to work the next day. I don’t even know how I was doing it. Probably being a little bit younger the hangovers weren’t as severe as they were latterly. Two bottles of wine, looking back that is just horrific. I felt low from the break up and medicated heavily with Barefoot Pinot Grigio, a lovely drop of wine to be fair. It isn’t the answer of course, drinking is not the answer to any problems which I think we are all acutely aware of, but it is the easiest substance we can get our hands on.
Another key issue caused by home drinking is the tolerance you have to alcohol increases. You need more of the substance to reach the high you are looking for. Towards the final stages of my boozing, I could have five to six pints of strong lager followed by maybe a couple more beers at home and then I would hit the wine. If there was a bottle of spirits kicking about then I could always finish the night off with two or three of them. Adding all that up, it really doesn’t make for pretty reading. I wasn’t drinking that much every night but maybe a few times a week and I was having at least a couple of drinks every night. I knew I had a problem with the amount I was drinking but I was in the cycle that I spoke about a few blogs ago of not caring enough about me and anyone else. I am determined to not ever go back to that state and be in a situation where I feel that is the best course of action. Unfortunately, life will throw some curve balls and how I react to them will be important to the longevity of my sobriety. Since stopping drinking, many people have said to me, “you didn’t drink at home though, did you?” and that was a real wake up to my problem. It was so easy to hide what was going on and when I drank in social occasions, I would likely get drunk, and people would think that was the extent of my issues. I was lying to them and myself for a long time and that has been something I have really needed to get over. I have found since going sober that I am a lot kinder to myself. Because of the amount of self-reflection I have been doing this has been important in my recovery. I have needed to give myself a break and try to move on. That was the old me and although I have to learn from every single bad experience, I also have to accept that they are done now, and I can’t alter them in any way.
If you have read this and think maybe, you have an issue with drinking at home then seriously don’t ignore it. I am in no way judging anyone for doing this and as you can see from the levels of honesty in my admissions above that I was at the wrong end of all of this. If you would like to contact me for a private chat with full privacy, then please feel free to message me on any of my socials or if you have my number give me a call or a text. I want to hear from you and help in any way possible. There are also organisations you can talk to about all of this and through my own experience with an alcohol support arm of the NHS they really helped me in getting my shit together and have supported me through the whole process. I can put you in touch with them and you can potentially begin your own sober journey…..
I said right from the beginning that I was going to be as honest as I could be about my experiences with booze and I feel the above is a good reflection of that. There are so many stories of drunken escapades to get into and I will cover more of those very soon.
Thanks again for reading.