SOBER FOR SIX DAYS
SOBER FOR SIX DAYS
I have been sober for 6 days. Six days without a pre-dinner g&t or a couple of glasses of red once my son is bed. Not even a shandy in a beer garden in the sun at the weekend.
I have made the decision to cut out the booze to help my mental health as over the last few months I’ve noticed what a massive impact it has on me.
For a few years i’ve been suffering with depression and anxiety, stemming from PTSD following the traumatic birth of my son 10 years ago (but i’ll write to you about that another day!). I hit a low and have been gradually bringing myself back up, with the help of counselling and a course of CBT which finished just before Christmas. CBT taught me how to listen to myself and apply some self care when I needed it. Fresh air, exercise and time alone are all great helps for me. I thought alcohol was too. I found great comfort in it. On the days when I was feeling crappy I really looked forward to lighting candles, getting on the sofa and demolishing a bottle of red wine and a huge bar of chocolate whilst watching tv. It was a pain numbing ritual which made me feel a lot better.
But I started to notice that feeling better was very short lived. I started waking up in the night with a post-booze thirst, night sweats and a head full of anxious thoughts. I’d then really struggle to get out of bed, lying there thinking there was no real reason to get up. Always waking up with the dark cloud over my head. My moods were evil, snapping at my son and husband, bursting into tears or completely loosing my temper over the smallest irritations. I’d then want to drink again that night to numb the pain of the day. It was becoming a dangerous cycle.
The thought of giving up drinking crept into my head a few months ago, but I didn’t say it out loud. If I did, would it be admitting I had a problem with alcohol? Did I have a problem a with alcohol? I’m still trying to work that out! I ordered Catherine Gray’s book, “The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober”, after seeing it in a magazine but put off reading it for a few weeks. I tested myself a little, cutting down on how much I was drinking over the Christmas period. Not drinking on occasions when I normally would (family get-togethers, meals out, a friends leaving drinks) and realised that was ok. I was still treating myself to a g&t or large glass of red when I got home, but that small amount seemed harmless.
Catherine’s book rang a lot of bells with me and I realised I was doing the right thing, but cutting down how much I drank wasn't enough anymore. It was only taking one drink for me to wake up in a very dark mood. Anxious, sad, angry and with a head full of worry. It felt like alcohol was undoing all the good that CBT had done.
Last week I decided to give up completely and take part in #soberspring. Not drinking alcohol until 21st June (the day before my birthday). I lasted two days before falling off the wagon and into a glass of shiraz. My husband was aware that I was trying to cut down (he’s in half marathon training so was very supportive), but I hadn’t fully disclosed my worries about my drinking. In my slightly hungover state last Friday morning I laid it all bare and told him I need some time apart from booze. We’re really not getting on anymore.
I stocked up the fridge with non-alcoholic beer and nice soft drinks. I planned nice things to cook and eat, and nice things to do when "wine o’clock” came around. I’ve had a good week. My moods are good and calm. I have control over my temper. My mind is quieter and a lot less messy. I am finding it difficult to resist at times, but deep down I know that alcohol has absolutely no benefits to me at the moment. I’m looking forward to seeing where the next twelve weeks take me.
Written by Nikki Underhay
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