Six years ago, I reached a stage in my life where, due to a combination of weed, alcohol and mental health issues, I was unable to leave my house. I couldn’t walk to my local shop and supermarkets were completely out of my reach; I had to start doing online food shopping and eventually ended up in awful jobs where I could work from home, even though they made me horrifically unhappy.
It didn’t start there though; that was merely my lowest point. I have struggled with depression and anxiety since I was a child, coupled with attachment disorder and crippling insecurity. And low self-esteem, zero confidence and a complete inability to see any worth in myself. Good eh?!
Overcoming my sudden onset agoraphobia was as easy as a relationship ending, being sacked from a shitty home working job and weed been removed from my daily life. I had to move out of my home, find a new job and learn who I was and what I wanted. So, to combat the pain, both emotional and physical, I drank. A lot. It was something I had started doing when I was 12 and I learned, very quickly, that I was reallllly good at drinking my pain away.
One of my favourite quotes is from Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones (yeah, I’m a nerd, and what?!). Her entire life has been one shitty situation after another and at one point she says, “If I look back, I am lost.”
And that is what I have been doing since I stopped drinking five months ago. It’s what I have been doing for my entire life. I have not looked back, for fear of being unable to find my way home. Writing this today makes me realise just how far I have come since I was unable to leave my house six years ago.
When I quit alcohol five months ago, it was a decision that surprised everybody, not least myself, since I had modelled my entire persona around being the ultimate happy, hilarious party girl. It hid the pain until a drink too far saw me regress alllll the way back in to it with snotty crying or raging anger (included for free as part of the party package). In May this year, my anxiety had peaked again and I was finding even the most minimal of interactions difficult. I finally had a job that I loved, people that I loved (and who, more importantly, loved me) and I knew I had to change my life.
So I quit the booze, to have a little break, and see what happened. And once the pain of the first couple of weeks was done with, I carried on. As Sober Mummy would say, why go back to the horror of the beginning of the addiction obstacle course (http://bit.ly/2EXq1h1)? Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim.
Almost immediately, my issues around depression began to subside. I could find joy in everything. Within a month or two of quitting alcohol, my anxiety was at a manageable level. Not just from quitting alcohol, I also immediately went back to therapy to support me through the process. I started blogging about what I was doing for accountability. I opened up about my mental health issues. Instead of drowning my fear, I would sit and listen to it. And don’t get me wrong, it’s the most difficult thing in the shitting world to do but (like masturbating) with a bit of practise, it does get better. Or at least more efficient.
Quitting alcohol gave me the time to start doing other things. I started my Masters Degree. I started a PGDE teaching qualification. I started writing again. I started going to spiritual groups that nourish my soul. I found a local Herbalist group and regularly attend sessions with friends. I went to therapy and then got sacked from therapy because I had pulled my shit together and didn’t need it anymore. I got a dog and started having long walks in the countryside. I spent more quality time with my friends, my family, new people who make my heart sing so loud.
And it didn’t just change my life, it changed my husband’s too. I won’t tell his story here because it’s not my story to tell but all I will say is that it enabled him to cut down on alcohol without really thinking about it and in turn, this has positively impacted on his mental health.
It’s not a fix all. I still have mental health issues and about once a month (FUNNY THAT) I’ll have a complete crisis of confidence and I will fall apart. What it does mean is that I know how to identify it, manage it, look after myself now. I still struggle socially but I don’t beat myself up about it. So what if I’m actually a 90 year old lady (trapped in a 33 year old’s body) who likes knitting, reading books and watching Countryfile?! (Or as my husband very kindly put it, a 33 year old trapped in a 90 year old’s body.)
I don’t give a shit and more importantly, I don’t give a shit what other people think of me anymore either because I’ve achieved something that I never thought I would be able to achieve. I am happy, without any kind of emotional crutch to support it. I’m just genuinely happy. And calm. And healthy. (She says, neck deep in a bag of Caramel M&M’s. Yep.)
I’m not perfect and I still have a long way to go but I am better. At long fucking last, I’m better.
Written by Kia, and Sober Fish added a ‘but’ and a comma
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