Just a short post to celebrate reaching the 3 year mark of zero booze. Woo hoo!
To be honest, sobriety has become pretty normal now. I go a few days at a time without thinking about it – although when I do I’m really thankful and appreciate my sobriety.
Reflecting on the last few years I can see a few periods:
Recognising I had an issue and experimenting with (unsuccesful) control techniques. This lasted for about a decade.
Starting to make changes (quitting, starting, quitting, starting, quitting, starting). Sometimes I’d last a day, one time I lasted nearly year. There were lots of attempts.
Telling people and seeking help. After years of trying to stop – I eventually had to tell people what was going on. I was one of those sneaky drinkers – one beer in public and a lot more in secret. That helped me to stop and stay stopped. It wasn’t just support – it was also extrinsic accountability (not wanting to let people down) and internal normalisation. Shame and stigma is such a big part of addiction – so telling people just helped me to normalise the situation to myself and take some of the emotional shame away.
The honeymoon period. For a short time after I quit everything felt amazing. I felt solid in the decision. I was sleeping. I wasn’t exhausted and hungover all the time. Good times!
The long-term hangover. After 3-6 months my anxiety really spiked. It also coincided with several major life issues (death of a parent, relationship drama, work stress etc). At this point I started wondering if I’d permanently caused some sort of damage by bathing my brain in alcohol for years. I hadn’t found a psychologist overly helpful – so I pushed another boundary and tried an anti-depressant for the first time. It was subtle but AMAZING. I would never resist taking anti-depressants again if I felt the same. I took the meds for just over a year and then when life stress had settled – it felt like the right time to stop.
Longer-term honeymoon. I’m now in a part of my life where alcohol doesn’t really affect my day to day thoughts. My anxiety is under control and I feel good. I work in healthcare so the pandemic has made my worklife incredibly crazy for the last year – but on a personal level I’ve been quite calm and in a good place.
I love life. Love sobriety. My only regret is that I wish I told people and sought help a bit earlier. So many people are affected by addiction (or have been) – I think one of the most damaging parts of addiction is the shame, secrecy and stigma. I don’t miss that at all.