‘Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving’.
Terry Pratchett – A Hat Full of Sky
My name is Mel and I have been sober since 6 July 2018. It hasn’t been an easy journey to give up drinking but right now I know it’s been the best decision I have made in a long time.
From the age of 14, I spent my life on an up and down ride of mental health episodes and many different types of medications. For years, I tried to make myself feel better, to escape from my internal demons and keep my head above water.
I still remember the first time I tried a drink; it was like a light blub went off. I enjoyed the warm fuzz and that alcohol rendered me unable to keep a thought in my head.
It was exactly what I was looking for.
I felt like I’d found a friend that would keep me from feeling anything real for the next couple of decades.
I’m not a stupid woman. I logically knew that drinking and anti-depressants were a bad mix but it didn’t stop me. I could literally rationalise any reason to have a drink. It made me feel invincible, funny and clever but I hadn’t realised that I was actually building a prison for myself.
Alcohol was not my friend; Alcohol was my enemy and it was making me ill.
When I was so depressed that I couldn’t get out of bed, I didn’t realise that it was probably my alcohol consumption that was stopping my medication from working. I would then stop taking my tablets but interestingly, never took myself off my wine or vodka. I would cycle between medications without ever telling a doctor how much or how often I drank. Even before I admitted I had a problem I knew better than to be honest about my daily drinking to a medical professional.
I had a couple of tries at mindful drinking. I bought the books and made rules for myself but it never lasted. I always went back to drinking and back into the black hole inside my head.
I drank to blackout regularly. My behaviour was frankly appalling at times. I kept drinking, I self harmed, I kept drinking, I went back on medication, I kept drinking. I completed Dry January and raised money for mental health charities but then went right back to getting hammered daily.
The last 3.5 months have been my best months for years.
I am not taking any medication.
I sleep! For years, I would walk around outside in the dark, drunk, while my family were asleep in bed but no more. I really sleep and wake up fully rested.
This means I look after myself better, which means I am able to give a real part of myself to my children.
I am happy. Genuinely smiling happy. It’s like I didn’t realise how bad I felt everyday until those feelings of desolation were replaced actual joy!
I am able to connect with people better because functioning with a hangover is honestly just really hard work.
I won’t lie. Giving up booze hasn’t been easy. It’s been real work. I have a sponsor, I work the steps and I go to meetings. I have a good support network. All that helps me so much but the thing that really keeps me sober every day is happiness. I love how I feel now. I love that my children have a happy, non medicated, sober mother who can spend time with them because I’m not hiding with a hangover in a back void.
I love that my husband no longer needs to worry about how I might drunkenly embarrass him on a night out.
I love that I will remember what I did, who I spoke to and what I said the following morning.
I love my sober life and honestly I didn’t think I would ever feel like this. If anyone is wondering if they need to stop drinking then please give yourself a gift and give a sober life a real go. My only regret is that it took me over 20 years to understand that drunk Mel’s life was grey and I needed sobriety to see life in technicolour.
Written by Mel, edited by Sober Fish
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