I started drinking alcohol when I was around the age of 14. Most of my friends were too, so it would have taken a strong character to say “no” and resist. It seemed like fun at the time and well I guess I didn’t know the road ahead of me. I must admit, we didn’t ease ourselves in gently, and we definitely abused alcohol, drinking strong ciders and spirits. Getting quite drunk was fairly normal stuff for us. As I grew older and moved into the student phase of my life, alcohol became even more prominent and the “party” lifestyle kind of just took over. Working in bars certainly added to the “attraction” of drinking. I remember getting wasted on many an evening. When I say I remember, there were times I blacked out so didn’t actually remember. I think my eating disorder played havoc with my drinking as usually there would not be so much food in my tummy so the alcohol would go straight to my head. I became pretty dependent on alcohol and I thought it gave me confidence. It kind of felt like it gave me wings.
I actually stopped drinking alcohol around 8 years ago. I knew deep down I had a problem and that I had become far too dependent on it. I didn’t want my children growing up and seeing me “drunk”. Now don’t get me wrong. I was a highly functioning alcoholic. I drank 2 or 3 drinks in the evening and did not get drunk every night. I just drank enough to get a little “high”. I thought it helped some of my emotional pain, but really it didn’t. However, there were plenty of occasions where I was well and truly out of control. For example, I remember one time turning up to a friend’s wedding reception and slept in the reception area for the entire evening. Can you imagine how embarrassing that was the next day?
Then I remember another time when I had one too many ( I really didn’t have an off switch) and I fell asleep on my friend’s toilet at her New Year Party. I had to be carried out once they broke in to get me out. The worst thing was that I had three kids in tow. Thankfully, I had my husband there to save the day. Then there was the time I smashed my head on my friend’s glass table. The table smashed and thankfully not my head. I was lucky that evening. I was “lucky” many evenings actually. I got carried out of my 30th birthday at a nightclub, the list goes on sadly. I had many a night where I just blacked out. The sign of someone with a problem. I never considered myself to be an alcoholic, and it wasn’t until really recently that I allow myself to admit that I had a real problem with alcohol.
I remember having many a hangover where I simply could not function the next day. I would feel and be sick, I would have the foggiest of heads, I would have “the fear” and I would get severely depressed. My self-esteem was shot, and I hated myself on many occasions. Not to mention the crap I would eat! My self-talk was pretty rough.
I knew I needed to change. I knew I didn’t want to live like this anymore. So I read a book which changed my life. “How to Control Alcohol” – By Allen Carr. I read it. And I never drank ever again.
I have never looked back. I gained my life back. I lost my wine waist, the bloating, the fog, the depression lifted. I started to sleep properly for the first time in years. I was so used to alcohol-induced, disturbed sleep. I started to gain way more energy and I just felt so much more in control. So, as someone who never thought she would give up alcohol to someone that has lived without it for so long I want to share with you my wisdom and experience from giving up. If you THINK you have a problem with alcohol, then you probably do. And not only is it socially acceptable, but it is also almost sociably expected. There are MANY lies which I have come to realise surrounding alcohol. And I share these with you, to get you thinking about it. To sow the seeds. To help you see the TRUTH.
Lie number 1. Alcohol gives you confidence. Yes, I fell for this myth too, especially in the early days of drinking. It would appear that you gain more confidence, but the reality is that alcohol removes your inhibitions and allows you to say and do things that you may not normally have the “confidence” to say. The reality is, you wake up the next day and can have many “regrets” about saying and doing things which, to be honest plays havoc with your confidence. I had a tendency to HATE myself the day after. I would mull over all the things I said and did in my mind from the night before. It certainly did not give me any confidence at all. It actually stripped me of my confidence, because I came to believe that I couldn’t “cope” with life without it. The really negative self-talk that came with alcohol consumption also stripped me of my confidence. These days, I have way more confidence than I ever had, I have so much more fun when I am out and I NEVER feel like I am missing out.
Lie number 2. Alcohol makes you happy. Now, this is a tricky one to take in at first. Sometimes when you drink alcohol, you can feel a little giddy, tipsy and the alcohol can make you giggle, give you this false pretence of happiness. Have you ever been sober and seen someone drunk? They may laugh, they may look like they are happy, but they often don’t really know what is going on. The depression I would feel the day after drinking was a direct result of the alcohol was often unbearable. Not only that, but there was many occasion, where I would find myself crying on nights when I was drinking. It actually made me so emotional. Definitely NOT HAPPY. It plays havoc on your happiness levels. I was constantly beating myself up and feeling tired and foggy, happiness was never something alcohol was responsible for.
Lie number 3. Alcohol helps you sleep better. In the evenings when I would have a glass of wine or two, I would often get very sleepy indeed. In fact, more often than not, I would fall asleep in front of the TV. I would wake up feeling really groggy and go to bed. By which time I had woken up again and could not get back to sleep with my mind working overtime. Then when I would finally get to sleep, without a doubt I would wake up in the middle of the night and be WIDE AWAKE. It could take me HOURS to get back to sleep sometimes. I would wake up really thirsty, dehydrated and just feel yucky. My sleep was broken for many years and I came to think this is “just what happened” when you got older! I was only in my 30s for goodness sake! Nowadays, I sleep like an absolute baby and have the best sleep ever. It IS a direct result of not drinking as well as the other stuff I do including exercise etc.
Lie number 4. Drinking alcohol relaxes you. Hey sure, I was the first person to think that alcohol would relax me, and maybe if I could have stopped at just one, I would have felt relaxed for a while. However, I didn’t stop at one normally. I found that the time in my life when my anxiety was at it’s highest was my drinking years. I would be highly strung and I would feel like my tummy was a washing machine. I had high anxiety. I didn’t know at all it was caused by my drinking. But my anxiety reduced dramatically when I gave up. I wasn’t constantly worrying about my behaviour and what I had said or done. I just found a huge lift off my shoulders when I gave up. People often think alcohol will reduce their stress levels and anxiety. However, this is just not true. It actually makes the problem so much worse.
Lie number 5. You have so much more fun when you drink alcohol. I USED to think I had so much fun when I was drinking. I thought I could dance like a star, sing like an opera singer and that I was a comedian. I also used to have this illusion that I could not go out and have a good time without alcohol. This was by far THE biggest lie I had told myself. When I gave up, even my friends were a bit dubious about asking me to go out with them because they assumed that I wouldn’t have a good time if I wasn’t going to drink. This is such nonsense. I HAVE SO MUCH MORE FUN when I don’t drink alcohol. Here is why. I get to chat with my friends and remember what I said, I get to just be myself with them. I love dancing and I CAN DANCE with no alcohol. I genuinely have a MUCH better time without it. And you can too.
When I read the book, I convinced myself that there are NO BENEFITS WHATSOEVER from drinking alcohol. Once I realised that everything I had ever told myself about it was lies, it made NO SENSE to me to carry on drinking. I wanted a life of FREEDOM. I was caught in the alcohol trap and I didn’t want to remain there for the rest of my life. Moderation was never going to happen for me, so all I did was make a firm decision to stop. And when I did, I got my life back. I started moving away from depression, from control, from addiction to a life of choices, a life of freedom. And you could not pay me any amount of money to take me back there. I would just give you it right back. I have my health, I have my mental health, I have my confidence, I have my life back. And nothing can be more precious than that. Alcohol destroys lives. And it wasn’t going to destroy mine anymore. Was it hard to give up? No, it genuinely wasn’t. The book by Allen Carr, made me realise I wasn’t giving anything up, I was only gaining. So it was a no-brainer.
I thank God every day that I was given this tool to help me find this freedom in my life.