I never would have imagined that there would be a time in my life where I wouldn’t drink alcohol. At a time it was a huge part of my life and who I was. Drinking many times a week and whilst at university sometimes every night. It became a part of who I was. Who I hung around with and what I did. I remember never feeling like I could truly enjoy the moment unless I was completely wasted.
This post isn’t about talking negative about Alcohol and thinking that I am better than anyone for not drinking anymore. It’s about sharing a journey and a very tough one. Re-finding my identity and my confidence. I would drink before I went to a big party, before I went to a crowded bar and I would always drink so much during ‘Pre-drinks). I needed to be really tipsy in order to feel confident and to feel good. Then I would be able to talk to anyone I wanted and completely let go of any social anxiety that I had.
I’ve had some of the best times of my life completely drunk with my best friends. And these memories I will never forget. I’ve been so wild and used to party like a rock star. I couldn’t stay at home with the fear of missing out and after a hard night out, I didn’t want to go home and be alone. So me and who ever I was with would carry on again. I didn’t know when to stop and I would never say I was an alcoholic or I had a big problem with Alcohol, but I could see how in the future it really would affect me negatively.
Now let’s fast forward to March 2016. I was approaching my last few months of university. I was working a full-time job at a busy Cafe in Highbury and Islington. I was really struggling with my dissertation and after many attempts to reach out to teachers for help which were met with disinterested emails in return, I began to feel completely lost. I was feeling the huge pressure among my shoulders and worried so much about how I was going to do it.
After a huge night partying I got the bus to my Mum’s house for mothers day. A few days later my Mum would drop me off at the train station to go to Newquay when I had a huge panic attack. The first one of my life. I thought I was going to die. She thought I was having a stroke! We rushed to hospital and they said nothings wrong with you. It was the scariest moment of my life back then. To cut the story short ever since then I suffered with terrible anxiety, Agoraphobia, worry and panic attacks.
I had to move back home, leave my flat in London. Complete the rest of my university degree from home. I left the house only a couple times in two months. I stayed in my bedroom completely dark watching Benidorm on repeat. I had no idea what I was going through. That’s when I found out about derealization and depersonalization and after tests that all came back really healthy. I knew from finding a group about dp and dr that this is what I had.
My boyfriend came to visit and we went to a free party in the park for bank holiday and I drank wine and got drunk. We had so much fun but the next morning I felt terrible. Like I wasn’t in my own body, nothing was real and I could barely talk to anyone. It was after that day that I knew no matter how much I loved to drink I couldn’t anymore. It wasn’t worth it.
If you know anything about dp and dr its that you feel like you are stoned and drunk at the same time constantly (it isn’t as fun as it sounds). 24/7 feeling like you are on a boat and everything around you is a dream. Drinking only enhances that feeling.
The first year was the toughest. Pretending to friends I was still drinking, buying lemonade and saying it was with vodka. Even drinking a sip then going to the bathroom to vomit. Now I look back this was so ridiculous! Why didn’t I just say I had stopped drinking. I was afraid that people wouldn’t want to hang out with me and that people would think differently of me. I felt like I had lost a part of who I was. It felt boring to go out and watch everyone drink when I couldn’t. Something that I had always loved and looked forward to.
The second year I started to go out much more. I told my friends that I had stopped drinking and told them all about my struggles with my mental health. They all responded with love and understanding, a few light hearted jokes here and there. I began to focus so much on myself. Who I really was and not who I had been pretending to be for so many years. I began learning, reading, learning to play the guitar, really getting into learning Spanish, doing Yoga, meditating etc. I had so much more time on my hands because I wasn’t going out every night, wasting all my money and feeling like crap the next day.
I went out and stayed out till 4am dancing completely sober. I had an amazing time and this was a real breakthrough for me. I could do it. I could have fun out without booze! I woke up the next day feeling like a champion and really refreshed. From then on I never let that I wasn’t drinking have an affect on my happiness. It didn’t define me!
It’s just gone over the three year mark since I quit drinking and it has been the best decision ever. I didn’t like what booze could make me become. I didn’t like wrecking my body, feeling like crap and not remembering anything. I have found it so liberating that I have been T-total for over three years! And now I never feel ashamed to tell people that I don’t drinking. I love it actually!
I can do and go and be whoever I want to be and my main focus is on myself and not the opinion of others. I saw what alcohol had done to people around me and to myself at times. I’ve never had a drunken argument with my bf, I’ve always remembered everything about the night and been completely safe. I’ve had to deal with all emotions head on which is benefiting me and will benefit me in years to come.
Anxiety and Panic attacks are a real bummer but they have made me change my life for the better. I am healthier than ever and I continue to heal, grow and be the best person I can be.