Month: July 2022

Sobering Thoughts Volume Eighteen – Soak Up The Sun

Been hot, hasn’t it? Maybe too hot. If you aren’t a believer in climate change, I wonder how you have been feeling this week with soaring temperatures, sweaty workplaces, and unbearable humidity? Yeh but mate remember, “you have been on holiday before, haven’t you?” I certainly have yes. But seldom am I working on these holidays or trying to complete mundane routine daily tasks in unairconditioned buildings. I digress. I’ m actually going on holiday next week which leads nicely into what I am talking about today.

Next Monday we travel to Marrakech, I am really looking forward to it and having the time of work, time to reset and switch off. I plan to fully embrace this by having long periods away from my phone and not constantly checking work emails or social media. It will be the first non-alcohol based holiday I have been on since childhood. I am really looking forward to that aspect of it. I have been on too many holidays where I have over consumed on the booze and not fully enjoyed the best moments of the time away. I want to get up early and make the most of each day, be fully present for the whole time we are away. Not lying in bed till the late AM trying to pull myself around from a deadly hangover which will only be enhanced by the sweltering heat. I have even talked myself into training whilst away. We will see how that goes…but at the moment I am keen to do it as part of the daily routine I have got myself used to since kicking the booze into touch.

I mentioned in a previous blog one of the instances of when drinking on holiday hadn’t gone right for me and had resulted in an argument with a friend. There have been other occasions where I have drunk too much and got myself into some rather sticky situations. Some almost as sticky as when sticky the stick insect got stuck on a sticky bun. Ross, Mikey, and I were on holiday in Portugal a few years ago and I had somehow got myself into the wrong hotel after a heavy night and then into a taxi that was taking me back to Faro Airport. All in all, that was a costly night as I think Uber charged me sixty pounds for the privilege of the journey which lasted around five minutes. Drinking whilst you are on holiday can be a very dangerous thing to do. For one, you are in a place you are not familiar with. Two, the country may not take kindly to foreign nationals being pissed up around their streets and three there could be numerous people around looking to take advantage of you. So why do we party so hard when we are abroad? Even in places that aren’t necessarily considered ‘party’ destinations.

As Brits, we have a dreadful reputation for our partying and holidaying abroad. In a previous blog I was discussing the culture of drinking in Britain and why it is such an issue for us. We take that issue on holiday with us to foreign destinations and force our undesirable behaviour on the natives. We all go on holiday to have a good time and let our hair down but why is it we as a nation go to the extreme? Hitting the all-inclusive bars as soon as they open and consuming as much as we can before the sun goes down. Do we like the thought of getting the most out of our holiday package deal? I am generalising of course and not every holiday is like this, but in my experience of summer holidays in hot locations it is normally the Brits peppering the booze compared to people from other countries. Reading an article from the daily mirror back in April, they spoke of popular ‘drinking’ holiday locations capping the amount of alcohol that each person could consume per day. Has this happened? I would be interested to know. With many families only returning to summer holidays abroad this year following the COVID pandemic, I sense that there would be a big desire to get tanked up every day. You also find that it isn’t just groups of men and women who go specifically on holiday for the cheap booze. I have seen plenty of family groups acting in the same way even in hotels where people have gone for a quiet location away from the lager louts.

If you are reading this and thinking, wow he sounds rather judgemental against people on holiday having a good time. Please do not misunderstand me. I have been that awful Brit abroad drinking too much whilst being part of a group making too much noise. I am merely describing what some of our drinking culture is like and how we kindly share it with the world. This will be an entirely unique experience for me next week ditching the beers and cocktails. Enjoying the hot sun and not feeling like death from alcohol dehydration. I have to say I am looking forward to that.

No blog next week, so I will report back in a couple of weeks’ time what the experience was like. Signing off for now, stay safe friends and remember if you would like to chat on anything regarding mental health or drinking, then my DMs are always open.

Peace and love.

Nick Denton

Sobering Thoughts

Sobering Thoughts Volume Seventeen – A Bad Dream

Have you ever drunk and driven knowing you were over the limit? It is very common. If you have never done this, then well done and respect to you. I know a lot of people who have done this and continue to despite knowing friends or family who have been caught. Sadly, there is no deterrent big enough out there to stop people doing it despite the disastrous consequences we see from near or fatal accidents. In 2020 there were over twenty-eight thousand convictions of drink driving. They were the individuals who got caught. We know that a lot more people do it, they just don’t get caught. Some will knowingly drive over the limit. Others will think they are ok to drive and get home safely. I am ashamed to admit to you that I have done it and not been caught. Thinking back to this particular episode fills me with anxiety. I need to get it down on the page so I can move on. I now don’t drink so I will never do this again so I can ease my conscience a little. I never did it regularly but I have taken the magic taxi on a few occasions. Thankfully, no one was ever hurt from this apart from myself in the story I am about to tell you.

The roots of this story begin in my previous blog, “teenage dream” so you may need to pop back to that one to refresh your memory. Despite some heavy criticism from one former Sobering Thoughts fan, I am keen to press on and continue this story. This night began well, as they normally do. I went for a big night out in Newcastle with a few mates. I think we must have gone during the day as we returned on the train earlier than you would normally from a night out. It may have been a bank holiday. I am unsure. I remember getting back and feeling pretty pissed. Throughout that day I had been in contact with Teenage Dream girl. This was just before the point of being cut off completely by her. I recall that I felt extremely low at that time, the previous few months had really started to take their toll. I must stress that the person I am talking about had also been through an extremely hard time as well with losing a member of their family. I possibly did not cover that in the previous blog (as it was pointed out in the days after) and I would like to apologise for that right here and now. However, having analysed this period over and over again I don’t believe my behaviour and conduct was anything other than supportive. I don’t think I deserved to be treated like that. But time moves on and I have let it go.

The contact during the day was not good and eventually resulted in a drunken phone call made from my side. I can recount that someone (who I didn’t know) answered the phone and was pretending that I had the wrong number. Absolutely classic. I can still hear that conversation in my head, every word. I had been really struggling in the weeks building up to this day out and with hindsight drinking was the last thing I should have done. My unhappiness compounded even further by the over consumption of booze. Getting home I was pretty upset and frustrated with what had happened, but I hadn’t discussed it with anyone. I got in and did not know what to do with myself and became incredibly anxious. Now here’s the stupid part. I got into my car and started driving. I put on some really depressing music and just drove, almost wallowing in self-pity. I have no idea what I was thinking and why I did it. It was brainless. I do not blame anyone other than myself for this. Despite everything that had occurred during the day there is no vindication for what I did. I am deeply ashamed and embarrassed of my actions. I drove out of Alnwick and towards a neighbouring village. I had no clue about what was about to happen. I came to a T junction but instead of turning left or right I careered straight into a hedge at some velocity. At first, I think I may have been knocked out temporarily. I was in shock and it sharp sobered me up, but I thought fuck, what the hell do I do now?

I did what most people do at that point and called my family to come and help. I had broken the law and if I was found by anyone other than my family I would have been in a lot of trouble. I’m amazed that no one came along the road I was on, but they didn’t. Like a coward I hid and waited for someone to come and pick me up. I had not only done this to myself I had then involved other people in my mess again. This was only a few months after the window breaking incident. I should have known there and then that Nick and alcohol just don’t mix. When I was going through my dark spell last year, I would return to this night in my head nearly every day. My mind would go to the extreme and think well what would have happened if you had crashed into another car or hit a pedestrian? It could have been so much worse, and I was lucky to get away with what I did. Maybe if there had been repercussions against me it may have caused an earlier change in my behaviour. I was lucky for so many different reasons. Not hurting anyone else from my reckless actions or myself are the main two. The car however did not survive, and it was written off shortly after. There is no rational reason that can justify what I did that night, absolutely none. There is no ‘but’ coming here either. I made a very bad judgement whilst I was drunk and was fortunate not to do any serious damage to my life or to anyone else. However low I was feeling at that time or how upset I was that night I can never rationalise the events of that evening. Facing up to this now is going someway to letting it go. It was a long time ago and I have learned a lot from looking back and reflecting on this. I have to accept that is now in the past and over. I must move on and not dwell on it any longer as that would be counterproductive to my recovery.

I would like to dedicate this blog to someone who messaged me during the week following last week’s piece. They were incredibly brave in admitting to me they thought that drinking had become too much of an issue for them. The strength it must have taken to admit that to someone is incredibly admirable and I am hoping that they are able to get the support they need but most importantly want. That is the key thing here, needing and wanting help are two very different things. Like this person, if you would like to talk about any issues you are having then please drop me a line. I am happy to talk to anyone and help in any way if I can.

Thanks for reading.

Nick Denton

Sobering Thoughts

Sobering Thoughts Volume Sixteen – Under The Bridge

Well last week I passed over one hundred and fifty days of not drinking. Not far off the six-month mark. At the turn of the year if you had told me that I would be nearly six months alcohol free, well I would have choked on my lager. In this blog I am going to tell you five things that will remarkably change in your life if you take the plunge and go sober. I am constantly learning and evolving as each day passes becoming a scholar in the sober field, well sort of. It is really interesting to discover more knowledge on this subject. Our relationship with booze is genuinely fascinating. I think we all have our own path to take with how we ascertain what our own association with alcohol is going to be. Reading this you may be wanting to change how much you drink and are unsure how you can start. You may be happy with how much you drink and don’t want to change at all. Both conclusions sit fine with me. I am not anti-drinking or anti-alcohol. I had to stop drinking before it was too late. I had to revaluate and thankfully I did it at the right time. Next week I am going to tell you another one of my many escapades from crazy nights out that have resulted in near catastrophe. But first, lets get into these five things to expect when you quit the drink.

Ok number one. Your sleep will improve massively. It’s a common thing to hear from regular drinkers when they tell you that they drink to help them get to sleep. Drinking is bad for your sleep. If you are a frequent drinker, you are 40% more likely to have a bad sleep. Sleep is essential for our mental and physical well-being. A normal sleep cycle consists of four different stages. Three non-rapid eye movement stages and one rapid eye movement stage. Drinkers will fall into heavy sleep too quickly which creates an imbalance between non-rapid and rapid eye movement. This results in a shorter sleep and thus the overwhelming feeling of tiredness the next day. That’s why we always feel horrendous the next day after a big night. Now do that a few times a week or drink every day, wow you are going to be seriously tired. Of course, I am not saying that you are never going to feel exhausted again. But my sleep has improved greatly. Better sleep leads right into my next point. More energy.

When every morning is clear and hangover free then you feel a better sense of wanting to achieve more in your days. With having more energy your days are full (in my case) with work and whatever extracurricular activities you enjoy. At the moment with work, therapy, cricket, the gym, spending time with friends and partner I don’t have a lot of time for much else. This is great though and wouldn’t have it any other way. My weeks seem to pass by extremely quickly. I have more enthusiasm for work and can focus myself for a lot longer, thus achieving better results for the business I work for. So, when night-time comes, I am usually ready for bed and don’t have any difficulties falling asleep. My cat Nigel (see insta for regular pics) has other ideas in the middle of the night when he decides I need to be awake and does everything possible to make that happen. He’s a good lad really. Having more energy to expend is great and leads nicely into the next section.

Unless you are really over consuming food, leaving the drink should have a positive affect on your waistline. Because of your better health choices of not drinking, I found that this then leads to better choices with how much you exercise and what you eat. I can’t obviously comment for everyone and can only provide my own experiences but by not over consuming calories from booze, as long as you do not replace them then you will naturally lose weight. I will consult with my strength and conditioning team and get back to you on that to make sure it is correct. Losing a little bit of unwanted poundage can be great for the mental health and make you feel that little bit better about yourself. I haven’t weighed myself since I stopped drinking and started going to the gym four or five times a week. I really should as I know I have lost weight so I would be interested to know. I can visibly see that my physique has improved over the last few months, and I am almost back to the condition I was in following my training plan with Ross last year. Another positive physical change you will see will be clearer skin. I remember having a tired looking complexion. Once you replace the booze you are drinking with more water your skin becomes more hydrated, looks firmer and you will appear younger (hopefully). Alcohol does plenty to age us that is for sure.

I have spoken about this in other blogs, but I want to emphasise the point again, if you struggle with poor mental health cutting alcohol out of your life will do you the power of good. I am not saying that it will completely eradicate any negative thoughts or feelings you have, they need to be worked on in other setting such as therapy or counselling. But it will go a long way to make you feel more positive about yourself and your life. I have had no long periods of depression since I stopped drinking. Yes, I have had bad days, whether that comes through work or another situation, but I am in a much better head space to face these challenges head on. Drinking will only compound your negative thoughts and take you further down. A key feature of my sobriety is being able to speak openly about it. Through doing this blog or having conversations with people about their drinking is not something I would have considered doing six months ago. I would have been evasive on the subject if someone had approached me about it, not wanting to admit to myself and them how much I was actually drinking. I am also able to talk openly about feelings and subjects I would not have been comfortable with discussing previously. All positive steps forward.

Finally, the last point I want to raise is financially I am a lot better off. How much money do you waste on booze do you think? Now I don’t mean all the money you spend on alcohol is wasted. As I have said people are able to enjoy drinking in a controlled manner not going to excess. However, like myself some people are not. How many times have you gone to the bar at the end of an evening and had that extra drink? Or maybe even two more. Or bought a round for a group of people you barely know? Likely its money wasted, and you won’t receive any thanks for it later on. Save your cash and spend it on something more worthwhile. I was wasting so much money on drinking. I can’t put an exact figure on it, but I am sure I would have been spending a few hundred a month on drinking. Money now that I can spend on more worthwhile endeavours or even save it for something important.

I am not judging anyone who drinks, please don’t get that impression. My points in this blog are personal to me, but maybe a few of them make you consider changing your relationship with booze.

Next week I am going to tell you about another one of my dodgy episodes with alcohol. Thanks again for reading and please feel free to drop me a message if I can help you in any way with this subject or anything on mental health.

Nick Denton

Sobering Thoughts