This is a personal piece. Please be aware some of the content may be triggering.
Alcohol is something we hear a lot about. There are many arguments about whether it is a problem or just something to use to relax. Overall alcohol can be fine if used in moderation. The problems come when it becomes more than just the odd glass.
My relationship with alcohol has always been complicated. Most children don’t experience alcohol until later on in their teens. I first experienced alcohol at two years old. To me it was normal for me to be given a glass of wine when we met my parents friends for dinner which happened fairly often. I even began to acquire a taste for certain wines, leading to a melt down at three years old in M&S because they weren’t buying the wine I liked. I think the thinking behind giving me alcohol at a young age was to give me a healthy relationship with alcohol as I grew up. This didn’t completely work though I was less bothered about going out drinking as an early teenager as I already had access to alcohol at home. Why sit cold in a park when you can drink in your own home?
The real problems began when I went away to university. There was noone to monitor my drinking so I went all out. Why should I care about the effects? I didn’t like myself and this made me feel less anxious. It gave me confidence. I could forget the events of my past and approach guys. I was fun and attractive to them. What they probably saw though was a desperate girl throwing herself at them? A girl who didn’t care.
I’d often drink myself into dangerous situations. I’d end up with a strange guy somewhere I didn’t know. I’d walk around the town on my own, falling asleep in different places, waking up to continue my journey home, arriving not knowing how I’d got there or what had happened on the way. I’d give my card and pin number to friends loudly without worry about someone stealing my money (though as a student they’d have been disappointed). I didn’t care though. In my head I was being that fun friend. I was just living the crazy student life like everyone else. But I wasn’t.
There was another side to the drinking as well. As it got more out of control I’d become depressed after drinking. One little event on the way home would trigger me into sitting in the middle of the road waiting for a car to hit me. Or I’d try climbing out of a first floor window, having others pulling me back in. I’d down two litres of cider in an hour and pass out. I began drinking cans of cider on my own in my room on the nights we didn’t go out. I thought it was the perfect accompiament to essay writing.
Soon people started to worry and I was referred to the campus nurse who also happened to be a trained mental health nurse. My suicidal thoughts had peaked. I’d made threats to end my life. Things had deteriorated so much in three months. My mental health had been poor before I’d started to university but this was the biggest deterioration since my first suicide attempt at fifteen. I was told I needed to stop drinking. That alcohol was worsening my mental health. I was to go back in a month to review how things had gone.
I never kept that appointment. I tried stopping drinking but it didn’t make much difference so I didn’t see the point in continuing and I began drinking again. Depression and anxiety overtook me and I realised I couldn’t stay at university on my own anymore. I made my request to transfer to one nearer home. This didn’t reduce my drinking for the rest of the year and there was many more drinking escapades and me waking up in states that I never imagined I would.
Once I moved home I decided I needed to get a handle on my drinking. It helped I was so busy working and going to university that it didn’t leave much time for alcohol. I also didn’t have the same connections to go out drinking. This helped a lot. I reduced my drinking but didn’t stop at that point. This meant that drinking still had an impact on me though less severe. I’d be drinking at home and just getting depressed with everything. It was only after another suicide attempt that I decided no alcohol was the way to go for me.
No alcohol sounds simple. You surely just don’t drink. I wish I found it that easy. I found myself craving alcohol. If something bad happened I’d want to turn to alcohol. The thought of being drunk and away from the situation was still appealing. But I tried hard. I did slip up repeatedly but in the end I managed it. I’m currently eight years sober. It’s still a struggle. I still get the urge to drink and have to fight it.
I’m not saying alcohol is all bad but it can be hard when it overtakes your life. I’m not saying people shouldn’t drink but I just want people to be aware of why they drink and when it may be becoming a problem. If you need help with alcohol issues you can find information here.
If you wish to share your experiences feel free to use the comments or Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
Picture from Pinterest