Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Overcoming an Alcohol Problem


Hello again; the post for a today is a slightly more intense topic at the centre point. I wanted to re-address something that I had mentioned on this blog months ago; the fact that I once had a genuine struggle with alcohol. It wasn't the classic version of alcoholic either, I want to make it clear that I was in no way an alcoholic. In fact, I was rarely drinking other than socially. I wasn't constantly thinking about the next drop that would hit my lips or determinedly finding situations to get drunk in. It took me many months to realise this, but overall the year 2016 was an incredibly difficult one for me. It had some highs, but considerably more lows; lows that have even been dragged into the new year, the fresh start that has been 2017. It started at a birthday party back in 2015, where I didn't drink excessively; if I remember correctly I drank roughly 3 ciders but that was enough to push my mental state over the edge and sent me into an angry, crying mess. My now best friend sat with me for hours outside, sobered me up and talked me through my problems.

That was the beginning of many months where I would go out and drink socially and be in complete denial about how much of a mess my mental health had become. I was no stranger to mental problems, but for literally years I'd done a good job of keeping that side of me fully closed away. It was as though my mind and behaviour was comparable to a doubled sided coin. The head, being my head - look sharp, think smart and keep it together. Never acknowledging how much stress was coming from my job at the time and an awful, abusive relationship. The tails, being my heart - completely ripped in two and struggling profusely to keep my shit together. Every so often, the tails would slip through and ruin every aspect of my life. I want from being confident and bubbly to someone who struggled with daily panic attacks. My anxiety was becoming rapidly out of control. Towards the latter half of 2016 I finally realised that the reason I was constantly suicidal and unable to cope when I had been drinking, even one glass; that, that was the side effect of the confidence that alcohol gives you. The thoughts and feelings that you are afraid to admit whilst sober are the things that rear their ugly heads the strongest when you've spend months constantly holding them in.


The first step in my recovery journey was taking the biggest step of declaring myself teetotal. After a lot of conversation with my now boyfriend, I realised that if I wasn't able to drink even one glass or can without having negative thoughts then it was time to accept that I should cut drinking alcohol out of my life. It wasn't as hard as it sounds, as like I said I was not and never have been, an alcoholic. I was only drinking socially, but that wasn't ok. The social aspect was also part of the problem; my friends that I drank with were not true friends and used to make comments that would cause my mental health to spiral downward. In leaving those friends behind, I found I had no issues with being around others whilst they were drinking at a social event which helped me regain some confidence. By cutting out drinking for a period of time, I was able to relearn how to control those suicidal, negative thoughts once more.


Ultimately, the reason why I struggled with consuming alcohol was that it was bringing my adverse thoughts to the forefront of my mind. Mental health affects every individual differently and I have to say that my biggest mistake was pushing my problems to the back of mind; in short, by pretending that any problems didn't exist, it meant that whenever my mind wasn't completely in control of itself (e.g. whenever I was consuming alcohol) I wasn't able to prevent those thoughts coming out. By realising that alcohol was affecting my mental health negatively and ultimately preventing me from moving on with my life in a healthy way, I was able to focus on my mental health more through giving up alcohol. Without alcohol, I was forced to open up to my boyfriend and best friend. My two rocks throughout the past year. I learnt to put myself first and not rely on fake confidence, through focussing on improving my mental health.


As I said before, 2016 was an incredibly difficult year for me and I'm still in the process of moving on and reforming my life. Communicating with my boyfriend and best friend meant that I no longer felt alone, I had two people who were always available to simply listen. When you are struggling, the best feeling is having someone to listen to you without interruption. Through having conversations and opening up my darkest fears and memories I've been able to move forward; in no way am I fixed, but I'm on the path to a much better place within my life. I'm no longer afraid to drink alcohol because of negative thoughts; yes they're still within the confines of my mind, but they're much less dominant than before and I no longer ever feel suicidal. I feel down sometimes, but I've definitely seen and felt an improvement with regards to my mental health since talking about my struggles. The most important part of my journey has been opening up and having a support network in place. You have to let go in order to move on; I will never forgive or forget, but I've reached a point where I know that I'm in full control. I'm at a positive point in my life and I never wish to go back down again.


After months of having the most agonising panic attacks, (to the point where I was having 50+ attacks a day) it was hardly surprising to those closest to me that I had no confidence. The worst part of depression is that it literally knocks the shit out of you, to the point that even getting out of bed is suddenly the biggest of tasks and to a regular person, getting out of bed is something effortless, completely uncomplicated. For me, the moment that I felt able to put make up on and feign confidence again was when I knew that I was prepared to face the world. I have stuggled with mental health problems since my early teens (on and off) and so I'd previously learnt feigning confidence brought me real confidence, after a while. But I'd be lying if my confidence wasn't increased by having my best friend and boyfriend consistently by my side, through thick and thin. Through alcohol pushing my negativity to the fore, I was able to see quite simply, how bad my state of mind had become.

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To conclude, I feel like this was a really important issue to discuss. Alcohol is something mentioned regularly on social media and in the media in general, actually. However, I feel like it's a taboo within society to open up regarding having an issue with alcohol; it's difficult even to be sober as it's such a normal thing to go to a pub for dinner, or indulge in a glass of your taste whilst seeing friends. I'm proud to say that if I hadn't of addressed and eventually overcome my alcohol problems, I doubt I would have ever confided in my best friend, or my boyfriend. Alcohol forced them to see me at my worst, and those two people definitely deserve to see the best parts of me. There is sadly a stigma placed upon those with mental health and/or alcohol issues and I feel like the majority of blogs focus on the positive side of life; I want to show that not all areas of life are perfect 100% of the time. My own life is far from perfect and this blog has not only become a hobby, but also a way of keeping busy, of keeping positive. I feel like my blog reflects that lack of perfection and I am absolutely fine with that.


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