My Story: How Living Alcohol Free has Improved my Life.

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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

 

My #journey - why I decided to live #alcoholfree! For anyone going #sober or trying to #moderate

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15 Comments

  1. Pat
    December 27, 2016 / 5:50 pm

    Hi Laurie,
    I’m so impressed with your knowledge and insight concerning the agonizing consequences of drinking that burdens many of us. The fact is that your words also tell the story of my life and my personal demons, but you articulate them far better than I ever have. However, your level of self-awareness has manifested itself at a far earlier age than mine did. What a gift!
    For me, the duel alcohol-food addiction resulted in emotional and debilitating turmoil that lead to isolation. Even still, many of my decisions are influenced by inner conflicts rising from this disease.
    You sharing your wisdom, strength, and hope have lifted my spirits today. I look forward to following your blog.
    Thank you,

    • lauriemcallister
      December 27, 2016 / 6:33 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, I’m hopeful that the more we all speak the truth of how we really are, the more acceptable and approachable it will become for others to realise they don’t have to hide. Thanks again for commenting, wishing you lots of light and happiness as we enter a new year. x

  2. Naomk
    January 6, 2017 / 10:01 am

    Hi there, just curious when you quit alcohol? I’m 25, suffer from anxiety and bouts of depression and quit Oct 2016 so your blog relates to me quite a lot! Hope you don’t mind me asking

  3. March 1, 2017 / 10:02 pm

    What a very honest post , I’m not a massive drinker but a do teach for food as a crutch, and do suffer from anxiety, it took me years to realise that was what I was suffering from . Great to read someone else’s story .

  4. March 1, 2017 / 10:34 pm

    I totally relate to you being a “high functioning anxious person” … this is me! and I have also learned that lifestyle changes affect my anxiety, especially what I put into my body. Good for you, girl! I love the idea of mindful drinking, if one chooses to!

  5. Talisa
    March 1, 2017 / 10:36 pm

    Ooh I can imagine it being hard to quite alcohol especially in London AND the industry you work in! I’m in Bristol, in marketing and yup, the G&T’s tend to be a part of EVERYTHING! x

  6. March 2, 2017 / 1:06 am

    This was so real. Thanks for sharing your story. It’s great that you’ve come to a good place with alcohol and not needing it.

  7. March 2, 2017 / 1:26 am

    Wow, thank you for being so vulnerable and posting this. I can’t even imagine how hard that was. I’ve actually never had a drink in my twenty-some years, and it’s also partly to people like you who are willing to share the downsides too! All the best in your journey.

  8. March 2, 2017 / 3:30 am

    Hi Laurie,

    Really enjoyed your insightful post. I stopped drinking in my mid-twenties for similar reasons and appreciated you honesty in telling your story.

    This was great: ” 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. ” It’s such a personal choice, and for some people not drinking is just the best way to live an enjoyable and meaningful life. Best wishes!

  9. March 2, 2017 / 7:19 am

    I know a lot of people who stopped drinking at some point, for different reasons: ideological, health … some of them did it at once, some of them just withdrew gradually, and many are still enjoying a glass of wine now and then 🙂 But all in all, none of them ever looked back and the quality of life improved significantly.

  10. Yuliya Oleynykova
    March 2, 2017 / 11:02 am

    This is such an important and strong decision in your life. I hope you will keep up with your decision! xxx

  11. March 2, 2017 / 12:50 pm

    I too had to learn that alcohol just wasn’t for me. I have a family history of people who enjoyed their malt beverages a bit too much. I had to realize that the combination of not drinking very often which lowered my tolerance, and not knowing when enough was enough, was just an ugly combination every time. It’s nice to spend time out with friends and just order a diet coke quietly. Everyone assumes it’s a rum & coke. You get to enjoy yourself without having to explain your personal choices. Love it.

  12. March 2, 2017 / 1:48 pm

    Am so happy for you.wishing you all the best.

  13. Bianca Osbourne
    March 2, 2017 / 4:17 pm

    One of my bff’s gave up drinking last year and she is so much better for it. Congrats to you!

  14. March 2, 2017 / 7:15 pm

    I also have the tendency to reach for an extra glass of wine when things get overwhelming. Should really be more aware of that. Good for you that you figured out how you handle things and change it if it’s needed!

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