Have you noticed that the words ‘alcohol’ and ‘anxiety’ both have seven letters in them? This means when you write them out, one under the other, they are pretty much the same length on the page. To me, this is a symbolic way of how aligned and in-tune alcohol and anxiety are with each other.
My story began as many do. I drank to have fun with friends, in social settings mostly. However, as time went on, I started to drink more at home, away from those friends. I started to use alcohol to deal with stressful days at work and to cope with a recently diagnosed health issue. If I couldn’t solve my problems right away, alcohol always helped to take those worries away instantly. So you see, anxiety fueled that fiery desire to drink.
As the night went on and the fire slowly started to extinguish, the anxiety came back but it would be worse than before. I would wake up unable to take a full breath trying to control the shakiness in my body and brain. I would have loved nothing more than to feel at peace but nothing seemed to help except my anxiety medication and of course, starting another drinking escapade.
Some mornings I woke up so anxious that drinking that bottle of champagne at 10am made complete and total sense. It took me back to a ‘normal’ level. How could I start my Saturday feeling like I couldn’t function due to crippling anxiety?
I was actually ok with this at first. I didn’t seem to see a problem with how I was treating my body and my mind. In a world where brunch has become its own culture, I didn’t think much about it.
It took me about a year to realize I could not sustain this type of lifestyle. Once I decided that I needed to make a change, I was constantly at battle with myself. I continued to drink in the same fashion, but I started to feel something boiling inside me, telling me that it was wrong. This not only shot up my anxiety levels, it also took a toll on my self-esteem. I felt like I had lost all control because sheer willpower just wasn’t cutting it. Was I different somehow? Was there something inside of me, a part of who I was, that just couldn’t simply quit?
Ultimately, low self-esteem led to depression. I felt so ugly in pictures and staring at myself in the mirror after a night of drinking. My face was constantly bloated, my eyes had lost their luster and my body constantly felt tired. I felt sad that I wasn’t able to take control of my life. I was disappointing my family and my amazing husband who had to witness it all. And speaking of my sweet husband, he became the brunt of all my pent up frustration and anger. Not only did alcohol make me anxious and depressed, it made me angry! Every tiny thing that I couldn’t seem to control would build up and ultimately make me explode. I slammed cabinet doors, yelled at my husband for no reason and beat myself up mentally over and over. If you ever want to know what mental hell feels like, take up drinking.
Finally, in April 2018, I took my last sip of alcohol. It was very scary at first because I had tried many times before but failed. This time, I armored myself with an arsenal of sobriety books and Instagram pages. I looked up to those people who had given up alcohol and kept it out of their lives. I finally wanted to fight for my life.
When I first gave up alcohol, I was still anxious but this time, it was for different reasons. I was anxious to fail. I was scared that I would give in quickly and would fall back into the same routine. I was also a bit mad. Why could everyone else seem to drink and I couldn’t? I felt a bit left out.
It wasn’t until I started changing my mindset on alcohol that everything changed. Once I started to see it as the poison it was, I didn’t want it anymore. I started to see alcohol as an invasive drug that makes you feel and look gross (and many other horrible things).
Alcohol was no longer serving me; it no longer did me any favors. I started to see a sober life as the only way of living. I finally felt freedom and that sort of freedom knocks anxiety and depression on its ass.
Since I have given up alcohol, I have experienced so many emotions I didn’t even know existed. My brain has been on a magic carpet ride (minus Aladdin). I feel so incredibly happy to live with freedom, I feel sad to see others who think they need it to be happy, and I feel so much love from the people around me but most importantly from myself.
Sure, I still get anxious and depressed from time to time, but who doesn’t? We are only human! However, the level and severity of those feelings has subsided so much. For anyone curious about a sober life, I suggest you give it a shot. I think it’s the best thing you could possibly do for yourself, and your brain.
Written by Courtney, edited by Sober Fish
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