THIS BLOG CONTAINS INFORMATION AND STORIES THAT REFERS TO AND DESCRIBES IN DETAIL ADDICTION SPECIFICALLY TO ALCOHOL. IF THIS IS SOMETHING THAT YOU FIND TO BE A TRIGGER, PLEASE CLICK OFF THIS POST NOW.
Growing up I always felt very awkward, had low self-esteem, no self-worth, very little confidence and just didn’t know how to hold my own or be my own person. I always thought I needed to be like others and that if I was less myself then others would except me and allow me to be friends with them. This was something I am sad to say followed me into my adult life.
When I was first introduced to alcohol, I couldn’t stand the taste of it and certainly at the beginning couldn’t understand the hype that went with it, I was very confused as to why so many enjoyed it as much as they did? But as we do when we are that age or at least as I did, I continued to drink socially with friends whenever I was able to, I remember trying to find at least one drink that I could actually stand the taste of… Not wine, not beer, but eventually realised there were a few spirits mixed with coke or lemonade I could enjoy and also some alcopops… clearly, I was drawn to the sweeter sugary tasting beverages.
I began to drink regularly, and I don’t mean to excess, just on a weekend with friends after work, a nice little end to a busy work week like a lot of us do, although if I am honest had it not been for my need to fit in, I would have been just as happy staying at home, it was because I always felt so uncomfortable socially, but I so desperately wanted to be a part of something, I wanted to be one of the girls who go to work on Monday and were included in the weekend chat, got the inside jokes and knew all the gossip.
I mentioned at the beginning of this blog that I never really understood what the big attraction was to drinking alcohol, and honestly even when I found the drinks I liked and built up my little group of friends that I would go out with, I still at the time didn’t really understand the hype… it wasn’t until right before I gave up drinking at the age of 32 that I realised what it was for me… and that was confidence…alcohol gave me a confidence that I’d never had before, it suppressed the nerves and awkwardness I felt and just for a few hours I would find a different more confident me that enjoyed socialising, dancing and singing on the karaoke, alcohol gave me the feeling of freedom, freedom from the worry and freedom from the negative way I saw myself. The problem with that is the feeling only lasts whilst your drinking, fast forward to the next day and not only do you feel like absolute shit but your self-esteem hasn’t magically repaired itself and all the anxieties and worries you had before are back but now they are far worse because all you can think about is “oh gosh what did I do last night, did I embarrass myself, what if I upset or offended someone? Have I even got any friends left?”
It’s in these moments of hangovers and pure panic that I would say to myself I am never drinking again…but of course I am lying to myself because the following weekend the same thing happens and it just becomes an on-going toxic cycle in attempt to feel better but inevitably you always end up feeling worse. Not only that but it would worsen my depression, because it’s a well-known fact that alcohol is a mood suppressant. This cycle continued for many years to come, as it probably does for most, the term “Beer fear” is always something people talk about after a night out, we’ve likely all experienced it at some point in our lives.
Fast forward to 2018 and my mental Health is not in the best shape, I am in the process of getting help in the form of Curative Hypnotherapy and I’m just about manging to get through a basic day, which at the time was mum duties, preparing packed lunches, doing school runs, helping with homework and keeping on top of the house work and washing… which to be honest sounds entirely manageable, but throw in Anxiety and Depression and those manageable tasks just became a little more of a challenge.
With the help of my Hypnotherapy sessions, I was better equipped to manage my day as long as those days were always the same, and as long as no surprise appointments or outings were spontaneously added, in the event that such a situation would arise things would start to look very different.
I was at this point still drinking most weekends despite being very aware that the alcohol was in fact making the Anxiety and Depression much, much worse, again at the time of consumption I felt great so it was enough to keep me doing it just for those few hours of freedom and escape from my own mind and worries.
The moment I realised I needed to stop
I was thriving in my set day to day routine and on those days, I almost felt “normal” again. But as expected one day we were invited to my parent in laws house for a BBQ, and for most that wouldn’t be a problem, why would it? Free food that you haven’t had to prepare or cook, sounds like bliss! For me the anxiety was still at a point that even just visiting family would be enough to trigger it! I remember getting ready an already the build-up had started, I was frantically trying to keep busy as I always do when I am feeling so extremely anxious, my husband knows to stay out of my way and just leave me too it, providing me with reassurance as and when I need it. It was a Friday night and I had decided I was probably going to take a few drinks with me as after all it was the weekend. With the anxiety continuing to build I had the idea of having a drink before we left to help try and calm my nerves, so that’s exactly what I did, and I’m going to be completely honest it worked a treat, I was still a little nervous but it was nothing like the anxiety I was feeling before, and so I had another as soon as we had arrived. I remember thinking to myself “This is great, what a fab idea!” Or was it?
It was the summer so it wasn’t long before we had another invite to a BBQ and the same feeling of anxiety consumed me, I’m frantic and doing all I can to try and manage it again, just as we are about to leave the anxiety peeks and I feel the urge to back out… I can’t do it! Then I remember the last time and thought I know I should have a drink! So once again that’s what I did, I used alcohol to supress and mask the feeling of anxiety to get me through the evening…
It’s at this point I should mention that I am someone that is very familiar with alcohol addiction as I witnessed a family member go through this, I saw how it started and I saw where it led, almost destroying a life and an entire family unit. I am pleased to report that they have made a full recovery and are now sober and have been for many years. Despite this being an awful thing to witness I am glad that I had the experience because it was this memory that kept me from falling down the same rabbit hole of addiction.
It was on the third occasion that this realisation hit me like a ton of bricks, again pretty similar scenario, we had been invited out and as always, the anxiety came at full force trying to stop me in my tracks and straight away before it was able to peak without even thinking I went straight to alcohol…” just have a drink now and you will be fine Natalie”
I remember the moment like it were yesterday, I go to the fridge take out my drink and then it hits me,” What am I doing?!”, I am using alcohol to supress my anxiety, I’m using it as a crutch, alcohol is the thing that is getting me through, it was quickly becoming my coping mechanism anytime I needed to leave the house. In that moment I put the drink back and closed the fridge, I felt overcome with sadness, what was I doing? Where was this going to lead? Instantly my thoughts went to my family member and their struggle with alcohol addiction, it was with that knowledge and experience that I thought there was no way I could allow this to happen, there was no way I was going to allow this to continue, enough was enough, I needed to give it up for good.
Looking back now it’s clear to see that I had in fact been using alcohol as crutch, a coping mechanism from the moment I took my first sip, it had always been the go-to substance to give me the confidence I had always lacked and so desperately craved.
When people think of alcohol misuse or addiction, they sometimes assume that it looks like someone that starts drinking in the morning and continues throughout the day and does so most or every day, but just like Mental Health Illness addiction can look different for everyone.
I count myself very lucky to have been able to see the habit I had created and was able to change it before it became a serious problem that started to irreversible and detrimental impact on my life, health and the rest of my family.
I firmly believe that in life the mountains and challenges we face, the heart breaking and painful things we bear witness to are put there to prepare us, give us knowledge, educate us and provide us with the tools we need to get through and or conquer future challenges, and although in the moment it’s hard to see it like that, you have to trust in your journey. Knowledge is wealth… if I hadn’t been exposed to alcoholism and seen the effects that it had not just on the individual but everyone around them the story that I am telling you today would be a very different one.
Share a smile not a judgement
Please always drink responsibly and remember that substances such as alcohol should NEVER be used as a way to self-medicate.
If you or someone you know are living with addiction please seek advice from a professional such as a GP, alternatively please find below a list of organisations that can provide information and support.
Phone: 0800 9177 650 (Freephone, national helpline)
Alcoholics Anonymous runs self-help groups across Great Britain for anyone affected by alcohol use issues who want to change their drinking behaviours, based on a 12 step model of recovery
Phone: 020 7251 5860
Addiction supports, children, young adults and older people to make positive behavioural changes around alcohol, drugs, mental health and wellbeing.
Adfam – Families, drugs and alcohol
Phone: 0207 553 7640
Adfam provides information and support for families affected by drugs and alcohol. Their website includes listings of helplines and local support groups available across England, as well as training and information for drug and alcohol professionals.
Al-Anon Family Groups UK & Eire
Phone: 0207 403 0888 (Helpline, 10am-10pm, 7 days a week)
AL-Anon Family groups provide support to whose life is, or has been, affected by someone else’s drinking, regardless of whether that person is still drinking or not. They run a wide range of self-help groups for relatives and friends of alcoholics.
Phone; 020 566 9800
Alcohol Concern is a charity working to help people understand the dangers of drinking too much and to advocate for better treatment for those affected by alcohol use issues.
Alcohol Health Network
Phone: 0203 151 2420
A UK-based social enterprise which aims to improve alcohol-related health in the workplace and in communities. Provides a range of alcohol harm reduction services, including policy advice, employee and manager training, online health checks and counselling.
Phone: 0207 766 9900
Independent charity working to reduce alcohol misuse and harm in the UK. The website has free drink trackers and tools to assess your own drinking levels.
Phone: 0300 123 1110 (Freephone, 9am-8pm Mon-Fri; 11am-4pm Sat-Sun)
Drinkline is a free, confidential national helpline for people who are concerned about their own or someone else’s drinking.
Phone: 07817 172000
Curative Hypnotherapy is a successful practise owned and run by Keith, treating clients wishing to be free from issues such as, Addiction, Stress, Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Depression, Fears, Phobia’s, Drinking Issues, Weight loss, Eating Disorders, Sexual Problems, Stop Smoking to name but a few…