Professional Therapy for personal growth, healing and discovery
|Posted on 1 December, 2019 at 9:55|
POST WRITTEN BY AN EXTREMELY TALENTED CLIENT (SHARED WITH FULL PERMISSION). ENTAILING THEIR JOURNEY TO SOBRIETY - FABULOUS INSIGHT DOWN A PATH MANY OF US HAVE CONSIDERED. SUPER PROUD #Sobriety. Ah. I've considered writing this blog on and off for a while. I've mainly been putting it off because writing it and posting it publicly feels quite vulnerable. My journey with sobriety has so far been quite private, but I think that's probably been for the wrong reasons. Main reason: I didnt want to not get invited to the sesh anymore. It's not very common to be sober in your 20's for reasons that arent orthodox religion, physical health reasons, or pregnancy. Lets not lie, its a wee bit not cool, and admitting it comes with a lot of, oh? why?? or is met with a lot of awkwardness and confusion. But I recently hit my two months sober milestone and I actually hit it on a night that I was on a big sesh with my friends, and when I was reflecting on how great that was and how great I felt, I thought you know what, I will write that blog now. Theres something about a sober blog post that might seem a bit preachy and seems a lot like something people in their 20s might not want to read. The thing is, one year ago it would probably have been a blog post I wouldn't have clicked into either, but my life couldve been a whole lot easier if I would have. I want to write it because there is so much good that being sober has brought into my life, and I really didn't know that it would. Its also a lot easier than I thought it would be, kinda, and it hasnt impacted my social life in any way at all. So, Id like to show you what it could do for you, even if, in fact especially if, you still want to go on the sesh. I'd also like to put some sobriety myths to bed and give some tips that have helped me along the way. This isn't a you're grim if you drinking blog post, rather just a small roadmap to another path, if you want to take it. Last week when I was out with my friends, I was one alcohol free beer into the night when I said to my friend, I really feel like having a drink. She asked me why. I said, because everyone else is having one, and I feel like I am being boring. She asked me why I felt I was being boring, what evidence did I have for that? To which I said, actually, I have no evidence for that, I don't know. I was laughing, playing about with some of my closest friends, having good chats with people I hadn't seen in a while, having a good time. I wasn't lacking anything. But my brain, conditioned lil thing, was starting to convince me that I was lacking something because I wasn't drinking, and that I wasn't enough just as I am with what I already have. So, to fight the brain anxies, I asked myself these questions in my head: How will my night change if I drink? Will I like myself more if I drink? Will my friends like me more if I drink? How will I feel tomorrow if I drink? My answers to myself went as follows: For the worse, probably. I will spend more money, say something I shouldn't, let go of a secret I shouldn't, talk too loudly, say something bitchy, text someone I shouldn't, eat some really grim take-away with dairy in it, maybe throw up, end up spending way too much money on a taxi when I inevitably end up somewhere random, and overall, itll just get messy. I might cry. In public. No-one needs to see that. Nope. Nope, they're good with how I am right now as I am. Rubbish. Hungover, depressed, riddled with The Fear, tired, no energy, guilty. Overall, my mental health will plummet, and Ill spend the rest of the week picking up the pieces. And, ironically so,ill want to drink again, and more. Then I asked myself one final question, which always gets me over the there I do actually want a drink hump: How will I feel tomorrow if I don't drink? To which my answer is always: Better. Not sick. Remembering the whole night and every conversation I had. Happy about spending such a good night having fun and connecting with my friends and new people. Not broke. No guilt, no shame. More energy, more time in the day to get stuff done. No paranoia, no Fear. No waste of a full next day. No decline in mental health. No surge of depression. Overall, good. Safe and centred. I wont want to drink again. I won't have to reset the days on my Sober app. So, after that conversation with my friend and myself, which probably made it look like I was having a That's So Raven flashback in the middle of Laverys, I felt settled down and ordered some more alcohol free Erdinger (which is lethal, if you wondered, they stock it in most bars in town). What any decision in your head comes down to is ultimately whether the pain of an action outweighs the pleasure of an action, and vice versa. For most people when it comes to alcohol, the pain of a hangover and maybe posting a dodgy Instagram story (or accidently going live on Instagram for an embarrassingly noticeable period of time, me circa October 2018), is outweighed by the greater pleasure that they derive from the sensations of being drunk. For me, and maybe you, if you really think about it and get honest with yourself, the pain of putting my mental health and connection with other people at risk, is not at all outweighed by the very fleeting pleasure of physically feeling drunk. If there's more pain than pleasure, why would a healthy, honest-with-themselves, awakened person want to pursue that action? If there isn't much pain for you, cool, thats ok. If you're sure. But if there is and you're drinking anyway, its probably time to ask yourself is your drinking part of an action of self-harm, masochism, or avoidance. Because why would anyone risk so much and devote so much time and energy of their life which could be used elsewhere, for the feeling of being a little bit tingly, a little bit more confident, and finding everything a bit funnier. Its also important to ask yourself whether your identity is tied up in drinking. I.e., do you only like yourself when youre drunk? If so, thats grand and you shouldnt feel bad or guilty about it, so many people feel like that, but you really don't have to, and starting to genuinely like yourself can never come from masking yourself with fun juice. What I've found being sober so far is that you start to like and accept yourself a lot more, a lot more easily. That brings me nicely to one of my main points what is it that sober can actually do for you? Why would you do it? Particularly so why would you do it in your prime? Well, ill tell you. In list form, because I love a list. Beginning to accept yourself for who you are, as you are, and realising that youe already enough. Yore funny enough, youre spontaneous enough, youre cute enough, everything, while you are sober. All alcohol does is give you a bit more confidence to unleash bits of yourself you maybe keep hidden, but you can do that yourself. I promise you're not boring on a night out with no booze, in fact you're less sloppy, less annoyingly loud, and respect peoples personal space a lot more, and these are all things that will attract people to you more, not less. When you just let yourself be, you can feel a lot of self-love and self-acceptance and that is a great thing to feel. Physical health. Imagine never waking up at 5am not able to fully move your head and feeling like your mouth is drier than anyones has ever been in the history of the world. If you really feel what your body is feeling during a hangover, you know in yourself that what you?re doing to your body is not sustainable long-term. Not drinking gives you better sleep, better appetite (for healthy food), higher energy levels, clearer skin, less tummy problems, and reduces the instances of random bruises, cuts, and aches and pains. No regrets. Not drinking will make you look back at decisions you made on nights out and realise you would never do that sober, and you actually really dont want to do those things at all. Not doing things out of character or embarrassing things (which is subjective, dont start), will reduce how often you feel regretful about nights out and social things. Or even decisions you've made when youre in the house on your own drinking. Alcohol impedes your impulse control, but do you know why humans have inbuilt impulse control? Because you need it. It protects you. Thinking back on all your nights out with no regrets, no gaps, and with full memory, is really lovely. Time. Drinking eats your time, even in ways you don't realise it. With the way climate change is going, we dont have the time to muck about with what we have. Waking up sober makes you feel like you've stolen all this precious extra time that everyone else is sleeping and boking away. If youre super social and all you love is going out, heres the thing, waking up sober gives you even more time to go out again and be social and do fun things with your friends. If you drink a lot, going sober for even a while will show you how much time in your life is wrapped up in alcohol, not in going out, but specifically in the intake of substances. Its a weird eye-opener. Love life. Awk Im not going to dwell on this because Im so private but, not drinking is good for your love life. All intimacy benefits from being truly present and just letting yourself be enough. With this kind of thing, if you don't want to go fully sober, practice setting some time aside to be consciously and actively sober with your partner(s)/dates and see what nice effects it has. Connection with your friends. I always thought that a lot of my funny memories with my friends happened because we were all drunk. However, in having nights out sober ive realised that all those memories would've happened regardless, because I love my friends and theyre great. Being sober on nights out allows you to really take everything in, and overall, I find that nights out become a much better and more meaningful situation. If you can only handle certain people or certain situations while drunk, you know what that says about that. Not drinking also allows you and your pals to try loads of new things together. I still love going to bars, pubs, clubs, music things etc, but not drinking gives you all this free time and space to explore things not at all related to drinking, and that can make friendships less repetitive and more connected. Money. Booze is expensive, taxis are expensive, the random purchases you make when youre drunk its expensive. The best for last. Mental health. Such a biggie. Everyone's experience is different and Im not going to go personally into mine here, or how my experience led me to needing/wanting to be sober, but universally we know that alcohol is not good for your mental health. If you struggle already, it can be catastrophic for it. When you drink, every problem you have seems bigger and bigger. If you are someone who engages in self-harm, when you drink and your impulse control goes down, you can self-harm more frequently and more dangerously. This is rough but if you are someone who experiences suicidal tendencies or suicidal ideation, drinking can be the last push you need to convince yourself to go. For me, not drinking has felt like regaining control over my brain, and so control over my life. Not drinking keeps me safe, and it is the best thing I can do to care for myself and to actively make my mental health better. Even if you aren't on as extreme a level as I've described here, not drinking or drastically cutting down your intake will always bring you positive results in your mental health, and that in itself should be the only reason anyone could need. There are so many other benefits for all types of people, but these are the main ones I've found. But, how do you do it? Not drinking, especially at the start, especially if youre young, and especially if you love going out, is hard. I know I said at the start of this that it was easy, but thats only when youve been going a while, and usually on a good day. Sometimes its really hard, and sometimes people will try to pressure you into drinking or make you feel bad about it. Some days you'll l forget why youre doing it, and some days the urge to do it will be stronger than your reasons not to. So here is my list (who would've guessed, its a list) of things I find helpful. And that's what I?ll leave you with. Drinking is a personal thing, and you�??ve got to figure out what your own relationship with it is. Have a really good think about it, and a really honest look at yourself. If you do want to stop, or cut down, I hope you find at least some of these helpful. Get alcohol free stuff. Drinking a coke on a night out is ok but drinking alcohol free beers or wines helps fill the void in your hand and stops people asking why youre not drinking. Its a good placebo. Loads of them are also really nice, and cheap. Just ask at the bar, do you have any alcohol-free beers, they'll tell you what they have, and you can pick one. Sunflower even have AF beer on tap. Tell people you're stopping/cutting down. For me I find this so helpful because then if I go to get a drink, I will have a healthy number of people going, what do you think your doing. Some people might not support you, dont focus on them, theyre not your pals if they dont care about your health and wellbeing. If your sobriety makes someone else uncomfortable, that just means they have an insecurity there or they need you to drink in order for them to feel ok about how much they do. Its always about them and never about you. Join sobriety groups online. Might sound ridiculous but joining sober Facebook groups is really beneficial. Everyone in them is always so nice and so supportive, and if youre having a wobble all you have to do is post something like really feel like drinking today�?? and you will have at least 30 strangers commenting telling you that you can do it. Its really wholesome. r/sober on Reddit is good too if youe on there. Get a Sober app on your phone. Building up days and milestones is good for your brains sense of achievement, and it also keeps you in check. If you have to check in with something like that every day it keeps you disciplined and reminds you about it. It also absolutely sucks when you have to reset the clock to zero. If youre struggling, get a good therapist. Problems with alcohol are usually not about the alcohol and figuring out what's going on with you specifically will help you immensely to begin to make the right decisions for yourself and your health. Therapy is so great, and I think everyone should go if they are in the position to do so. Read books. The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober is my favourite. Its really relevant and cuts the shit. Ask me to borrow my copy any time. Keep those questions I listed earlier at hand whenever you are going to put yourself in a position where you might drink, i.e. going out: How will my night change if I drink? Will I like myself more if I drink? Will my friends like me more if I drink? How will I feel tomorrow if I drink? How will I feel tomorrow if I don't drink? If you are suffering withdrawal symptoms, eat loads of sweeties and drink loads of water. There is so much sugar in alcohol and when you stop it, some of your cravings can be squashed by having more sweeties for a while until that wears off. If you drink loads you will experience withdrawal for a while when you stop, if it gets really bad go to a doctor. Support groups are also great for this because you can ask questions and quickly realise loads of people have gone through the same stuff. Push through this stage, because it has to get worse to get better. Be patient. It won't be great straight away. Give yourself two months before you make any decisions about drinking again. By then you will be feeling more benefits than withdrawal, and your brain will be in a better position to decide what is good for you. Reach out and talk about it. No-one is going to judge you if you send a text saying, man I think Im drinking too much I think I want to cut down. Like I said, if you have good friends, they will always support you. If you don't have good friends, message me, I will support you. Do the thing. Give it a go. What's the worst that could happen?