6 Months Sober Check-in
I can’t quite believe it’s been 6 months since I stopped drinking. The longest I ever went before total abstinence was 6 weeks and that was only to have a break and see how long I could go. I never had the intention of giving up altogether. In fact I had various breaks throughout lockdown in an effort to control my drinking along with moderating which always ended in tears. Moderation sometimes worked. I could go a week with having a couple of beers a night or even a night without any alcohol (sad how proud of myself I would be knowing I hadn’t needed a drink that day). However, it would always be followed by a catch up drinking session for all the drink that I had missed that week. You’ve managed to moderate for a week? Amazing congrats – you better congratulate yourself by drinking ALL the drinky drinks. I would wake up in the morning having no clue how much I drank but sort of remembering glugging down the second bottle of savvy b before clearly passing out. Then I would see the empty bottles and cans and have no recollection of them at all. I would cry and feel sorry for myself which to be honest, I should have because what a sad life. Such a lonely, self-isolating existence.
It was, ironically, when I seriously started to control my drinking (not realising that it had taken control of me long before), that it became miserable and went down hill rapidly. There wasn’t really a rock bottom as such that forced me into treatment, it was more emotional exhaustion. I was mentally done with feeling the way I felt. I couldn’t face waking up another morning and hating myself as much as I did. I was so so lost. It was suggested that I go into inpatient treatment and by that point I had little resistance. I knew that was my only option because nothing I had done previously was working anymore.
Arriving at treatment, I was terrified that I didn’t really deserve to be there and that I was shit at being shit. I soon realised that it was the addict in me talking and that the voice in my head was the reason I hadn’t stopped sooner. If I convinced myself it wasn’t that bad, then I could continue. I feel grateful that I reached the stage of having to have treatment and to be told that my drinking was a problem. It was a huge realisation that it was the addiction that was making my life fall to pieces. Group therapy turned out to be the best therapy I could have wished for. No matter how different everyone’s life stories, there were a huge amount of similarities between us. We all had a desperation to live a happy life. I’m glad my first month sober was spent in treatment. Although the therapy was extremely painful at times, it was needed. I laughed way more than I had thought I could sober. I felt way more relaxed than I thought was possible living with 15 other people. Although many ups and downs, I felt genuine happiness and it was utterly amazing. After I left, Mum had told me she was worried because I sounded like I was having way too much fun. I was. If it wasn’t for the painfully expensive cost of it all, I would have stayed forever. It was nice little safe haven for addicts but unfortunately I had to go back to reality.
I was returning to a ‘new normal’. It wasn’t really normal at all. I spent the first month doing a lot of self care. It was nice I didn’t have to jump back into a busy life it would have been the year before. I had time to work on myself without the stress of life which was a huge benefit. However, lockdown did come at a cost because I felt extremely isolated which is what the addict thrives off. I struggled and fought off continuous cravings but overall my mental health was improving and I felt good about myself. I was also comfortable in knowing others were in lockdown and that it wasn’t just me. I felt connected with others in recovery and the support from family and friends kept me strong. I was able to rest without feeling guilty and although there were days where I thought fuck it, it was the first time in my life that I had felt positive about what the future could bring.
I did also have days were the depression hit hard but that wasn’t just going to disappear because I had stopped drinking. The lockdown easing announcement took me by surprise as my anxiety skyrocketed. I had an overwhelming sense of doom. I sort of fell into a hole of depression that I couldn’t get myself out of. I had stopped connecting with others as much and wanted to go back to isolating. I thought that hiding myself away was a nice coping strategy to the world opening up. Wrong. I have find it difficult to do anything for the last month or so unless I have had the energy to do it which has meant more cancelling plans than usual. After having important conversations with therapists and friends, I am once again feeling more positive about life and grateful for everything I have. I am forcing myself back into a healthy routine which I know makes me feel better; exercise, meditation and socialising. But I am also trying not to hate myself for being depressed. Being kinder to myself works so much better. Here’s to the next 6 months and whatever the fuck it decides to bring me. Hopefully a permanent job and a love life but I will be fine with just being happy.
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