Giving up drinking has been the single biggest catalyst for positive change in my life. I have just clicked over 3 months without alcohol and I have not looked back. I am not advocating everyone should give up drinking, but it is certainly a good idea to rethink the frequency and quantity of how much we all can drink.
Before I quit drinking, I was drinking everyday. I didn’t think I had a real problem, I knew I could stop if I wanted to. I guess now I am just proving to myself that my will is strong, overcoming addiction is all about the power of your will and mind. Once I had made up my mind that alcohol was not working for me anymore, I stopped, just like that. And you can too if you want to.
I come from a long line of alcoholics. My Dad was of Latvian descent, which basically equates to being a big frequent social drinker. My maternal Grandfather actually died at 45 from cirrhosis of the liver, basically from drinking too much. My Mum also drank alcohol everyday. Neither of them would get really drunk or anything like that, they liked to have between 2 to 4 drinks daily, starting around 5pm. Most people drink like that right?
Before I decided to stop drinking, I started to question if I had a drinking problem. I came across this website called ‘Hello Sunday Morning’ which encourages people to rethink their relationship with alcohol. It caught my attention and I decided to sign up. I started to do some online quizzes, and was really surprised by my results. Most of them harshly announced that my drinking habits were dangerous, causing harm and that I was classified as a Dependent Alcoholic. Yikes! I didn’t think it was that bad! But really all that daily drinking and weekend binging with my friends was taking its toll, and having more serious consequences then I realised.
Only now that I have removed alcohol from my system can I see how much it really was affecting my health and mentality in such a negative way.
Here are examples of how I felt when I was in full swing drinking mode:
1. I was often tired and lethargic. My energy levels were often zapped. I would buzz like crazy when I was drinking but then suffer a crash over the next few days.
2. I would always sleep in and feel quite lazy. I hardly ever woke before my alarm and my snooze button was nearly worn out.
3. I felt very forgetful. I would forget simple words frequently, forgetting people’s names and simple nouns would just not roll off my tongue as they should. My short and long term memory seemed to fail me frequently, and I would forget large chunks of time. Perhaps a consequence of grief too, but drinking made it worse.
4. I was depressed. I really was pretty flat, and drinking exacerbated these negative emotions. Crying and mood swings were a weekly occurrence, if not daily. I will be brutally honest, there were times I questioned my existence; how could I survive life without my beloved parents? I was suddenly an orphan and this reality was a hard one to face.
5. I was in grieving mode and used alcohol to stop my over thinking mind. Drinking enabled me to temporarily remove myself from my reality, it worked a little too effectively. Unfortunately, reality would seem even worse the next morning as I woke with a pounding head, dry mouth and often the desire to vomit. My lonely and sad reality felt even worse when I remembered the stupid things I had done when I had over-consumed from the night before. Embarrassment and shame didn’t help my dry retching either.
6. I was quite anti-social, or mono-social really, most of my social time was spent in pubs, sitting around for hours on end wasting time drinking, talking rubbish to other drunks. Because I felt unmotivated, sometimes I would cancel on dates with friends because I just didn’t feel like doing anything adventurous.
7. I would frequently experience what I like to call ‘fuzzy brain’. I would feel blurry, indecisive and just couldn’t see things very clearly.
There are many other ways to describe how I felt when I was drinking daily, it is only now that I don’t drink do I realise how it was affecting me. I got pretty used to these below average physical outcomes from using alcohol frequently. What is a concern, I don’t even think I was drinking excessively. I could have gone harder! I know plenty of other people that were drinking far more than I was.
For me personally, stopping drinking has encouraged me to make many monumental changes in my life. It has enabled me to think clearer, face my reality with confidence and a sharp mind. My eyes are bright white and crystal blue, no more blood shot redness dulling their appearance. I have the confidence now to face my fears and challenges, and I am being proactive in dealing with my problems. Drinking was just a way to cloud my judgement, remove myself from my reality, and obliterate the facts and sadness, but only temporarily. Nothing was being solved or overcome when I was drinking heavily. It only served to put me in unsavoury situations, and act in ways which are regrettable. I am sure we can all relate to this.
Alcohol is responsible for many problems in our society; drink driving, domestic violence, poor family role modelling, failing personal health, so many negative things. I know it can be fun and social, but I realise now in only 3 months of being sober, that I don’t need to drink alcohol to have a good time. In fact, I have found the complete opposite, removing alcohol has led me to having the time of my life. Here are some examples of how I feel now that I don’t drink:
1. I am so much happier. My moods are more even keel, and I am nowhere near the level of depressed I was before. I feel brighter and far more optimistic and upbeat about my life and my future.
2. I am sleeping so much better. I wake early, sometimes at 430am. I am so inspired to write lately that I can’t even sleep! I call it my creative flow, every artist will tell you what that feels like, incredible! Like you are channelling some amazing out of this world energy and the task at hand has to be done regardless.
3. I am so much more interesting. I do so much more with my time now. I have been travelling lots and going away on weekend camping trips. I go out to movies more and meet my friends for activities that don’t involve alcohol; like game nights and beach outings.
4. I have become a writer and photographer and a blogger. I have started my ‘Live your truth’ blog where I have written over 30 articles, on average 1500 words each. Needless to say I have been busy, and have plenty to write about. I have recently bought myself a new DSLR Nikon D5300 and will hopefully be capturing some amazing images which I aim to share with you in the future. Developing and pursuing these new passions have brought me a lot of joy. Taking action on my dreams has also made me realise what I want to do; encourage others to also follow their passions and live their dreams. I aim to lead by example.
5. I feel smarter. Literally my brain feels better and I can now string really intelligent sentences together, with big words and everything! I don’t forget words or names as badly as I used to, and can think quicker now that my brain synapses aren’t flooded with ethanol!
6. I have more money to spend on things that bring joy and happiness to my life. I have been buying lots of new things to enhance my life, like a new computer and camera, but I think I would have blown this money on booze quite easily over the last three months.
Now that I have experienced the many benefits to life without alcohol, I don’t feel the need anytime soon to return to my daily drinking and obliterating habits from the past. The past can stay where it belongs, I plan to move forward into my exciting future, full of adventure, hope, positivity and possibility. I hope you can continue to join me on my journey.
Love Anita xx
“See every difficulty as a challenge, a stepping stone, and never be defeated by anything or anyone.” – Eileen Caddy