Cards on the table. I am a highly functioning extremely anxious person. I do a lot. I live to be productive and there is so much that I love to do. I also suffer from bouts of severe depression and have used plenty of self destructive coping mechanism to manage my underlying tendency towards the dark and stormy.
Food / Alcohol
For a while I thought that the coping mechanisms were the problem. Eating was the problem. My relationship with alcohol was the problem.
It took me a long time, and a pretty large shove from my therapist, to realise that my relation with myself was the problem. I didn’t understand that my anxiety was anxiety, that my depression was depression and I didn’t know how to cope with myself. All the time pretending to the world that I was ok.
Alcohol and food, in varying degrees were the plasters that I was using to fix my problems. I reached for them to numb my feelings and to cope with life.
I’m a wellbeing fanatic, and over the last few years I’ve delved way deeper and I’ve learnt a lot about self care, a lot about myself, about the importance of taking a break and that you don’t have to give 100% everyday. There is such a thing as “good enough”.
I faced my depression and anxiety with talking therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, for a short while medication, a lot of yoga, running and Kelly Brogan’s method. I still have bad days but I manage them. I ride them out. On the bad days, I know that the sun will rise again for me.
Facing my anxiety and depression helped me to heal my relationship with food. Alcohol was my sticking point.
Alcohol was the coping mechanism that I clung too even when I was trying so hard to heal.
I’m in my twenty’s, I live in London, I work in media and I’m single. In this world it’s socially acceptable to hide from your problems in life with a drink. It’s accepted that people get too drunk and fuck up. It’s ok to be a mess because you’re drunk. In fact, it’s the norm. Sometimes it’s even encouraged.
The realisation that my drinking was enabling my depression and disabling the work I was doing on myself forced me to question it. When I had a bad day or a really good day, or when I was feeling nervous, or anxious, or stressed I’d reach for a glass of wine, a prosecco or gin and tonic (or all three). And I’d drink, and drink and drink.
There were many nights I don’t remember, a few times when terrible things happened when I swore never again and I often became a version of myself that I didn’t like. It wasn’t all bad though – and this is the most difficult part when you stop – I also had a fuck of a lot of fun drinking. I had long boozy lunches with work colleagues, drunken dates and amazing nights dancing until 7am.
I was using alcohol to escape myself, and to runaway from my life, and it scared the shit out of me.
I’ve had plenty of attempts where I’ve said never again and caved, often out of a lack of of love for myself coupled with the stigma of being teetotal. Stopping drinking is hard. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but it is also one of the best things I’ve ever done.
Drinking mindfully isn’t easy either. Taking time out, having a night off, saying no when you’re colleague/boyfriend/partner/best friend wants another drink. It’s going against the grain. Against the social norm. But it makes for a better life. It makes for a life where you know yourself.
I’m not here to stop anyone else drinking, but my drinking story stops here. A life without alcohol is a better life for me. My choices are more intentional and every day I get to work towards knowing my trueself a little more.
My focus is not on staying sober, it is on living and being happy. Life hangover free is pretty sweet!
All my love, L xx