I have been a heavy drinker / binge drinker since I was 16.
At about the age of 17 my mental health started to deteriorate. I experienced mood swings, paranoia and depression. I began to hate myself, my self-esteem and confidence became very fragile. By the time I was in my final year at Uni stress and anxiety had firmly set in. High drama often followed me around, all after a long night of drinking. I was drinking at least 4 to 5 times a week and I wouldn’t take it easy. The morning after I would be overcome with crippling anxiety.
Just after graduation, I attempted suicide by overdosing on paracetamol.
After a year at home I had managed to get my act together again after counselling and anti-depressants – I still drank but to nowhere near the extent I had been doing, little did I understand the correlation.
After leaving home again to work in London I spent quite a few years perfecting the skills of a “party girl” on the London club scene. Other drugs came into play, so it became all about the alcohol, the drugs and the parties. I hated myself, cared very little about how I looked, but all the time desperately searching for “love”. I lost weight and became unwell, I was a mess.
People tried to help but I carried on, in my self-destruction. The positions I managed to get myself in, the trouble I caused, the friends I lost, still come back to me and I shudder in disbelief at my actions. Depression and anxiety became the norm. I used alcohol and weed to get by. Then when it was time to go out the uppers were used just to get me through it.
Often life takes funny twists and I was made redundant and I then spent a year travelling. It kept me away from the party drugs but I continued to drink and smoke weed. Being away from the constant stresses of making a living I could contain my mental health issues, and my outlook on life improved considerably.
Coming back to the UK, once again I could pull myself together. I met my husband, created a life, bought a home, had children and fostered many new friendships in a new town away from my past.
However, alcohol remained a constant companion. I drank to quell my anxiety, mood swings and depression. I often spoke to my GP about my mental health but never once was I asked about my alcohol consumption.
Inside I knew I had a problem, my husband began to talk about my drinking, I would do hundreds of questionnaires about alcohol, was I a problem drinker? Was I an alcoholic? I tried to cut down, only drink at weekends….
I had to find a way to change.
Stopping wasn’t hard for me, somehow, I hadn’t managed to become dependent. Although I have no idea why not! It was what I had to face that was the most difficult for me. Learning to manage my life on a day to day basis has been incredibly hard, but worth all the effort.
I am happy now, I love myself now, my moods no longer dip, I am the opposite of depression. I love my life, it’s fabulous and I am redesigning it every day.
I am getting fit, marathon fit. Losing weight – I will have the body I have always dreamed of. I am creating my dream job, studying again. My relationships with my immediate family have improved so much I hardly recognise how it used to be.
All this because I stopped drinking – my future is so bright!
Sue - mentor for Stop drinking and start living groups.
If you want to learn more about how to change your relationship with alcohol check out this practical self help book There is No Magic Button.
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