I hope you’ve all been doing well; I’ve had the strangest few days seeing different members of family and a job interview up in Dundee. I’m writing this on route to London where I’m finally getting my Coronavirus vaccine, I can’t wait to finally be a bit safer from this virus after this long year. My anxiety has been going mad for so long and even though I’ve gotten a bit more comfortable with being outside and seeing people I still struggle with large groups, though after over a year of being in some form of isolation I’ve become somewhat used to not being around a lot of people.
Onto today’s subject, I’ve been so busy and I’m also a little behind on my university work and so I didn’t really think I’d have time to do this post but due to my train down and my lack of interest in doing my literature for my dissertation I’ve been able to dedicate time to writing the post I feel proudest about. Today I hit 100 days sober, that’s 100 days of no hangovers, no binge drinks and no poorly made decisions based off of being drunk- it’s been amazing.
I’ve spoken about this in the past, but for anyone reading who hasn’t read the one before. After years of binge drinking and abusing my body and brain with alcohol in January, I made the first official step to not drinking every day and looking after my mind. I feel like alcohol abuse is rarely taken serious especially through university as the norm is to do 3–4-day stints on the drink recovering from hangovers by continuing to poison the body. For me it wasn’t just drinking a lot, when explaining myself sometimes people have shrugged off my problems on the basis, I’m young and not watching my life and future fall apart through being dependent on drink. I’ve heard everything over the past 100 days, how my battle and pain is irrelevant as others have known people be out of work/homeless etc. Just because my battle is different to those you have experienced doesn’t mean it’s any less or especially any easier.
I’ve spoken quite openly through this past year about my battles and whilst I haven’t explored or explained everything, I think I’ve made it clear I battle with horrific trauma, I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD and though I’ve been working very hard with therapists to contain and resolve some of it I know it’s a marathon and not a sprint. I used alcohol as a quick fix, in 2019 I went through some dark stuff and I spent majority of the year wanting to leave the world for good. I stopped caring for myself and started eating horrifically, I began drinking most days and would always find an excuse to go to a Wetherspoons for a cocktail jug or two.
I’ve not touched alcohol in 100 days with my last drink being a 50ml bottle of pink mermaid gin and a lemonade after a stressful day sorting a presentation. I remember that day as if it was yesterday so to know that it’s 100 days ago is so strange to me. 100 days is a long time to drastically change something about yourself especially alcohol addiction and yet I managed it. I took time out to realise what was not only bringing me down but also keeping me there and when I found it, I just stopped.
I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t times, I’ve considered just pouring myself a drink. If I’m really struggling and my mental state is terribly low, I’ll even put off food shops just so I don’t pick up a bottle of my favourite rosé. When I went sober, I told my therapists and one told me it takes three weeks to kick a habit, after three weeks the pain and withdrawal will get less. 100 days have gone and the withdrawal though now minimal is not gone, I know now that I could have a drink on occasion without it becoming my personality again.
I used to be known for drinking, friends would be shocked if I hadn’t drunk all week and was sober instead. I wasn’t called out though, apart from my parents-to which I was never going to listen as I actively believed I knew best. It seems so wild to me now that I would be proud for going five days sober after a three-day stint, like how is that normal? I believed I was looking after myself and the truth is I was using drink to cover my pain and insecurities. I still struggle day-to-day with my confidence and insecure nature, but at least I don’t use alcohol as a cover-up for my genuine personality anymore.
In the last 100 days I:
- Finally had my graduation ceremony and put Plymouth behind me.
- Found my dream flat in Dundee.
- Finished my last lecture after four years at university.
- Finished all my assignments on time leaving me with just my dissertation to go.
- Finalised my PhD thesis proposal (I just need to write it up over the next week or so).
- Packed up everything, all of my belongings and prepared my mental state for the biggest move I’ve ever endured.
- Finally got specialist help for my biggest traumas.
- Began looking after my body and lost some weight.
- Had doctor’s appointments after doctor’s appointments to deal with ear infections, an injured foot, my recent outbreak of acne and my PCOS (to which I’m getting specialist help for).
I did all of this without touching alcohol.
I went through the scariest moment of my adult life when I woke up unable to breathe in an allergic reaction whilst living alone and having to call an ambulance out. I sat with ECGs on my chest and had a heart rate double my normal for an hour straight due to my anxiety. I visited friends and family and sat with a Pepsi max rather than wine; I proved to myself that people do enjoy spending time with me even if I’ve not had a drink or am able to have a drink. I’ve done things that make me anxious, I’ve collected parcels and even dropped off parcels (something I have horrific fears about). I’ve tripped over my feet in public and instead of turning into a side road and finding my way home I’ve continued to walk to where I’m going, sometimes even without crying of embarrassment.
I’ve made so much progress and I will continue to whether I treat myself to a glass of wine or not. The woman I am now is not the same as the one I was 100 days ago, I’m not a confident person but I know I’ve done well. I don’t like myself, but I know that I am incredible for making the progress I have, I have admiration for the woman I have become because though it may seem I’ve been at home often through 2021 I spent a lot of time alone. I lived alone and didn’t break down; I didn’t question my abilities daily. I knew and trusted that I’d get there whether it took all year or not.
What I’m trying to say and what I hope I’ve conveyed is; life is difficult, and we often come up with coping mechanisms and majority of the time they are unhealthy. I used to bottle everything up and try to cry once a month and let it all out, now I’ll happily cry a few times a week because I know it’s cathartic. We need to stop pretending that coping with terrible trauma deserves stigma, there is nothing embarrassing about needing help, about needing to look after yourself and yet every time I take time to myself, I second guess my abilities as a woman.
I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and I hope now that I’ve hit this milestone it continues. I’m happy to have my first drink upon moving into my new flat in a few weeks to begin my new venture. The beginning of the rest of my life, and I’m happy to be entering it trusting and knowing that whilst I know I’m not cured of alcohol misuse for life- it is indeed possible. I hope I never fall victim to my old ways again because I deserve better than that. If you are struggling with a similar thing, please feel welcome to reach out to me, I’m always here to listen.
Thank you, see you all soon