Going Analogue – Brain Reset

142 Days Alcohol Free

Fun fact – I’m a gobshite. I banter, do a good line in sarcasm. Its how I deal with stress, make the situation a joke. Mum always said when I was quiet things had become really bad. This last few weeks I’ve been getting quieter and quieter.

Stress has been the ruling factor for the last month. Let’s be honest the last year hasn’t been a joyride for anyone, but personally it seemed more focused this last month. Culminating in a pretty horrible week emotionally and mentally.

A build up of work pressure, working too many hours – including weekends. Not much of a break in a long time. Even during downtime it has been on my mind. I have been obsessing over it, in a very unhealthy way.

Mental exhaustion. Anxiety spikes and depression lows. Lashing out at others, due to frustration. Tiredness.

When your brain is looking for a permanent way out of a situation, thats a sign to stop. Carrying on leads to a potentially life ending decision.

Is that overly dramatic? Not in my experience.

Taking Control

I think in my post Choosing Stress I was trying to rationalise things. Trying to take back some control of the situation. In essence kid myself in to thinking I was in control still.

I finally took control in a different way. I took the day off work yesterday. Not strictly true, I did a couple of hours in the morning.

However, for the rest of the day I did nothing. I chucked my routine out the window – even the good stuff. Woke up naturally at 7.30am and not the usual 4.00am. Turned my phone off for a few hours (not as many as I’d have liked). Kept away from social media.

For one day I chilled out totally. I watched films all day. Listened to podcasts. Watched Minecraft videos.

The result has been like hitting a reset button.

This morning I appreciated the good things I do more. Work isn’t the predominant thought in my mind.

There are a multitude of things I could have done that were better for me than watching tv. But, to be honest, I just needed some escapism.

Exercise, meditation, journaling, eating my greens – all of that is part of the real world routine, that seemed to have become entangled with the real world stress. It all felt like hard work, when combined with all the other stuff. It felt good to put it to one side for a moment, it helped me appreciate it more this morning.

At one point yesterday, I realised that sofa surfing is not something I could do full time.

Firstly, I got a numb bum.

Secondly, why would I want to spend all my time watching fictional people lead fictional lives (I see you Steve and your ability to chop tress down with your hands).

There is a definite natural need to feel like I’m doing something useful.

New/Old Triggers For Drinking

Day 105 Alcohol Free

Working from home again is a trigger for drinking.

The habit of getting up from my desk at the end of the day and just grabbing a beer straight away was one easily dropped when I went back to the office.

drink away the pain

Mobb Deep – Drink Away The Pain

The loneliness of sitting here all day for 10-14 hours with no other human contact (other than work talk) is a part of this too. Drinking numbed the feeling of loneliness. I’ve said before I’m not great at reaching out to people, or being a friend. So I am fully aware I create a lot of this problem. Its on the list to tackle – just got a couple of other things I’m working on right now before I get to it.


Let’s be real here. I have a job, I have a home, I am warm (most the time), I have plenty of food. I know I’m not bad off in the most important aspects of life. But there were reasons I drank – not all of them were logical.

You may recognise yourself in some of the things I am going through, so this may help or you may have ideas that you want to share. Thats the point. This isn’t whoah is me, its more this is whats happening – with no self pity involved.

The Positives

Luckily I’m in a place mentally where I can easily ride these triggers. I see no benefit in drinking. Those 105 days have toughened my resolve, I am fully out of the habit of drinking.

I just need to ride them long enough where my new routines make them go away permanently.

Having routine is also helping. It breaks the association with how tough mentally last lockdown was.

Last lockdown I wasn’t sleeping well, so I’d get out of bed to watch tv and then fall asleep on the sofa. I’d wake up when it was time for work, walk over to the desk and start the day. Often washing and getting dressed during my lunch break.

Now, I am waking up doing a morning routine (meditate, journal, read), have breakfast, get washed and dressed and start work. Just like I would if I were going in to the office.

Even getting dressed like I’m going out to work helps – it is something different from what I was doing in the last lockdown, so its helping break the non-routine I had. Shirt and trousers are my work uniform, not the shorts and t shirt of last lockdown.

I’m learning too. Podcasts are a great way to stifle the loneliness, its like being part of a conversation if I pick the right one. Just listening in to friends chatting and enjoying it.

Random Thought

I’m thinking of investing in a pair of slippers. What are your recommendations? Socks are cool and all, but they’re too warm in bed at night (yes I am that person). Slippers seems a sensible compromise. I think a pair of baby yoda slippers would be cool – matching my gown (oh yeah, its a gown now – feels grand).

Zombie Coming Through

Day 10 – Move It!

I felt like moving this morning. So at 5am I was out with my hound, running. When I say running, I mean stumbling forward without falling over. Do I feel good for doing it? Hell no. Will I do it again. Yup. Even the dog was looking at me like “wtf”

Day 11 – The Walking Dead

Yesterday I ran, some of you may have read.

While I was running I had Sabotage, by the Beastie Boys, blasting and in my mind I looked like Rocky in one of those montage scenes.

In reality I looked like a 46 yr old, 20 stone zombie from the walking dead – just stumbling along. Not one of the good looking zombies either. I’m talking one with body parts missing, whose make-up was done by a toddler with a permanent marker.

How do I know what I looked like. My body is telling me today. Ahhhh pain.

This is not a negative. I’ll be running again tomorrow – I hope its misty and there are other people around. I want to hear the screams of horror as they see a zombie tellytubby lurching from the fog.

Sad Black And White GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

This is a positive. It reminds me of the toll alcohol has had on my body. 18 months ago I was 5 stone lighter, working out everyday, eating good food. I let booze take over and now the only exercise I get is getting out of the car to grab a Greggs sausage roll.

I am NOT going back to that. Each lurch forward on the run is painful, but one in the right direction for my health.

Day 12 – Betrayal

Turns out I’am the literal princess and the pea.

Dialled my sleep routine in so well, any slight deviation and that pea feels like a boulder.

Usual routine – bed, book, bit of jazz playing low, then when I am ready for sleep I play rain sounds (thats a throwback to spending 18 months in a caravan in Scotland – I went native).

While I am dozing off my little cat Lilly uses me as a bed (literally beds down on my belly) – she’s tiny, but that little bit of weight is reassuring.

Lilly slept elsewhere last night. She cheated on me with a comfy new cat bad. 😢


Never knew I was such a sensitive soul. Choosing sobriety is making me feel all the feels. Thats cool, its nice to be feeling again…but DAMN LILLY WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME!!!!!!

Anyway, here’s Lilly….she got chucked off the bed by her big bro and sis. Karma.

Day 13 – Jamie Lee Curtis Ass Kicking

Its day 13 AF, its Friday. I’m not superstitious, but if I can kick alcohols arse on a Friday, on the 13th day then call me Jamie Lee Curtis. Was she even in those films? I don’t know, never watched them. I just know she kicked ass in whatever film.

Jamie Lee Curtis Make Good Choices GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Its been a rough week. Depression, work stress and now back pain. I’ve been ground hogging it a bit. Just getting through. Wake, work, sleep, wake, work, sleep… Its a phase, it will pass.

Happy to report alcohol hasn’t been consumed. On the challenge page they have the bit “The Importance of Quit Lit”. I didn’t realise how true this was until this week. I’ve had the usual stress at work, which brings with it the thoughts of having a drink. On the way home I’ve been listening to Catherine Grays The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober”. Amazing book. Its like a constant reminder of why i’m doing this, so by the time I get home the “need” for alcohol is gone. She’s my new hero.

What has your week been like?

OYNB Challenge: Day Six

Challenge guided by One Year No Beer website.

The Backup Plan

The last time I went alcohol free, for an extended period, I went out on a works do. I knew there would be pressure to drink. At that point I had enough resolve not to bow to the peer pressure.

However, I spent a full night not enjoying myself because me being AF was the focus of many of the conversations. It got boring pretty fast. People trying to find out the “real reason” I’d stopped drinking because “I just want a break from alcohol” wasn’t good enough.

Looking back on this challenge and the advice given, I would now handle this differently.

OYNB offers good tips. The break from alcohol is one of the first step tips. But I didn’t try anything else. Now I would use the “I’m doing a challenge” tip. People love a challenge, not sure why.

The next stage is one I’ve been doing for years, but can’t for the life of me understand why I didn’t do it the night of the works do. In the past, when the night got to the tipping point of no longer being fun, I would just go home. Even when drunk I could spot that point and know when to exit.

This is what I should have done at the works do. As soon as it got to the point I was getting sick of the questioning and peer pressure, I should have picked the right moment and left. In a polite manner. People know this is something I do. For some reason, when sober, in my mind I thought it would be rude. I need to get over that.

Success (sort of)

Photo by Sides Imagery on Pexels.com

Friday night was horrible. All the triggers were hitting me. I’m 45 and for as long as I can remember Friday has been a drinking night to ease the stress of the working week. Thats a hard, long term, habit to break.

I’d tried all the counter measures I’d put in place. Exercise, reading, listening to music, etc. But the craving was still strong. Luckily the off licence closes at 7pm, in these lockdown times. In the end I just took myself to bed.

When I say success, only by circumstance. Now I need to put things in place for next Friday night.

OYNB Challenge: Day Five

Challenge guided by One Year No Beer website.

The Slip Up

Here’s a question I don’t need to answer, but I feel there is a decision to be made:

But what if you don’t catch it in time and you do slip up?


To simplify things, there are two answers to this question:

Do I start again from the beginning and retrace the steps I have taken?


Do I write it off as part of the process and carry on?

Keep calm and carry on
Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

In the past I have done a full reset, even over a one off blip. Which is fine, but I feel that this has been the wrong approach. Its tedious and I found that I soon lost interest and reverted back to old drinking habits pretty quickly.

Rather than fall in to that pattern, so long as it is a one off blip, I’m going to go for option two. Try something different and see where it takes me. It can’t be any worse than the alternative has been.

What Are My Triggers?

I guess this is the part where the blip is headed off at the pass. With depression I have learned to see the signs of my mental health deteriorating and try to take preemptive action. By identifying my triggers, or as many as I can at this current point in time, I should be able to do the same with drinking.

Trigger One

At Work. The last hour of the working day. Feeling stressed, tiredness after a long day of video calls, technology playing up, general work issues

Trigger Two

I could be anywhere. I feel depressed due to the pain I’m in. The thought to drink follows a day spent in pain. I get to 6pm and think I can now drink to numb the physical pain.

The list goes on and exists in my diary, but this blog post is getting too long, so I’ll spare you.

Good News

One thing not drinking has given me back is reading. I’ve enjoyed reading every night this week. It’s really helped ease the stress from the working day.

OYNB Challenge: Day Four

Challenge guided by One Year No Beer website.


One thing I have been able to develop over the years is the ability to go to sleep. There once was a time when I’d sit awake for hours worrying about the day, things said, etc. But, as I’ve aged, this has largely gone away.

However, my pre-sleep routine is shocking. Sitting in bed watching endless YouTube videos, which are barely entertaining.

Today’s OYNB exercise is to put together a healthy pre-sleep routine. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • Evening exercise – at the moment, walking the dog as part of the Nerd Fitness 5K Challenge preparation.
  • Reading – power up the old Kindle, kick the iPad out of the bedroom, and read in bed.
  • Meditation – I’ve been doing this in the mornings, but I am going to try to move it to the evening to see if it helps.

I would add drinking one of those “soothing” teas, but I’m of an age where ANY liquids too close to bed time and I’ll be peeing most the night. So, I’ll give that one a miss.

Nothing groundbreaking, or exciting, in that list. But, its all better than what I was doing before. Beer, YouTube, poor sleep pattern.

OYNB Challenge: Day Three

Challenge guided by One Year No Beer website.

Set a Challenge

Todays task is to set myself a challenge, or challenges, to re-focus my energy and thoughts away from alcohol. This could be something physical, or mental.

Knowing this task was coming, I already formed a list of things I’d like to do. However, due to recent health issues some are off the cards for the foreseeable future. So, I’ll keep those to myself for now. Here is my starter for ten list:

  • Take part in the Nerd Fitness 5K challenge. On July 18th I need to be ready to walk or run 5K. The frustrating thing is, before Covid19 and before I let alcohol take full control, I could do two 8K walks every weekend. In the last 3 to 4 months I have let things slip to the point where I can’t walk 1K without struggling with my breathing.
  • Write this blog. The initial goal is to do this for 28 days – the shortest AF challenge available on OYNB. Once that is done, I will extend to the next challenge length of 90 days.

    This will be a rolling challenge. The longer I stay AF, the longer the challenge goes on.

    Doing the gratitude blogging, earlier in the year, helped. It was like a morning meditation. Almost setting me up for the day. If I can’t exercise my body, like I used to, then I can exercise my mind every morning.
  • Deadlift my own bodyweight. I’ve done this, over a year ago. To get back to that level of strength would be a massive boost mentally. It would also be a milestone for my fitness. The timeframe for this is more long term. One year from now.

Triggers Update

Shark representing the book Jaws
Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Pexels.com

Yesterdays blog was about triggers and how I have dealt with them so far. Last night the 6pm trigger time came around again. I’d had a rough day mentally, had to face up to the reality that my health is rock bottom. Instead of reaching for a drink, I read.

I’m always looking for bargain books on Amazon, some bestsellers now and again are on sale for less than a coffee (insert preferred brand here). I now have a pretty impressive collection of unread books. So, as Steve Kamb (from Nerd Fitness) puts it, it was time to stop collecting underpants. You’d have to read his book Level Up Your Life to get that one.

So, last night, I sat on the sofa and read Jaws by Peter Benchley. I also put Slum Village Fantastic, Vol 2: Vinyl Instrumental on, whilst reading. A nice, chilled out evening.

OYNB Challenge: Day Two

Challenge guided by One Year No Beer website.

Make New Habits

  • What’s the trigger?
  • What reward do I want?
  • What routine can I replace it with?
  • How can I celebrate success?


I am currently in pain, which made for a bad day yesterday. Despite being this, when it came to the magic time of 6pm, my thought process became “de-stress with a beer”. 6pm is when, in pre-covid19 times, I would get home from work. A beer or two would be my stress relief from the day.


I guess to ‘freeze out’ the bad day. In my mind the alcohol would help with the pain I am in, numb it. I would then be able to sleep better. Even though I know the sleep part isn’t how it works.

What Routine Can I Replace It With?

In this case I replaced it with playing a PC game, which took my mind off the alcohol. I also had a tonic water, which I could pretend was a gin and tonic.

Celebrating Success

In this case, the celebration is waking up without feeling worse than I already was.

OYNB Challenge: Day One

Challenge guided by One Year No Beer website.

Why Am I Here?

Day one, of the challenge, is simple. Answer the following, to get to my WHY.

  • What in your life is not working for you?
  • What needs to change with your habits and behaviour?
  • What have been the consequences of your drinking habits?
  • What will you gain from changing your relationship with alcohol?
  • Why is it just not an option for things to stay as they are?

What In Your Life Is Not Working For You?

Being constantly depressed. Being constantly unmotivated. Being unfit.

What Needs to Change With Your Habits and Behaviour?

I need to stop drinking everyday. I need to start looking after my health, physical and mental. I need to exercise daily, meditate daily and replace alcohol with things that have a positive effect on me.

What Have Been The Consequences of Your Drinking Habits?

Massive weight gain. Constant depression and anxiety. Lack of focus on my goals, professional and personal. My “life” has been reduced to nothing – very little interest in anything, very little action.

What will you gain from changing your relationship with alcohol?

My health. Focus. Energy.

Why is it just not an option for things to stay as they are?

The depression, largely brought on by alcohol, has become so bad at times that suicide has become more than a passing thought. Alcohol will kill me, one way or another.