Things You Learn When Giving Up Alcohol

43 days sober.

The not drinking bit has been relatively easy. If I do crave, I find a distraction. Sudoku in the evening is a good one. I can get lost in a puzzle for anything up to two hours, mind on nothing else. Plus it helps send me to sleep.

Here’s the hard part. The part you don’t find out before you stop drinking – unless you’ve done your research. Even then, I think its different for everyone – one of those same but different scenarios. Withdrawal is hard. Depending on how heavy you were drinking. For me it was like having mild flu for nearly 3 weeks.

You have to face all the things you were numbing out with alcohol. There is no hiding. Emotions, embarrassing moments … everything. Come to terms with them, deal with them. These are the reasons I was drinking, they should not be ignored – the risk they will lead to drinking is too high.

My depression is not as deep, but the low mood is more constant. No blocking it out for a few hours with booze. That is emotionally draining.

Prepare to be tired – despite better sleep. Apparently this passes. Last week I took an afternoon off work just to rest.

Not everyone understands why you have stopped drinking. I’ve heard stories of people getting very defensive when coming in to contact with a friend who has stopped drinking. Personally I don’t care what others think about me not drinking. Their peer pressure won’t be the reason I drink again. But it does happen.

There is lots more, but I rambled on enough.

Cravings, Fear and Self-Care – Sober Diary

Craving

At one point during the week I noticed that, whilst I still crave a drink at the usual trigger hour of the work day, my cravings are short lived.  

I finally understand what they mean in meditation by recognise the thought, don’t analyse it, and move on. This is what happened during yesterdays craving. I noticed it, acknowledged it, then went about my day. I don’t even know if it was still there, it felt like it went as fast as it came.

The Fear

I’ve been alcohol free before. Two years ago, for 44 days.  

Despite all the community support and guidance, I really struggled through it. I’ve often thought the only reason was having to face life in all its warts and all glory.  Having to handle my inner demons, no longer surpressing them with alcohol. 

Maybe that is only part of it. 

I remember at the time being scared of not having alcohol in my life. Every one of those 44 days this was in my mind. It was almost like mourning – but with the knowledge that I could bring it back whenever I wanted.  And I did, big style. 

This time around, 28 days as of this blog post, I don’t feel that fear.  I don’t miss alcohol.  No mourning of it.   This time it’s been much easier to be sober because I am not scared.   I am able to appreciate the things I have gained more than the things I perceive I’ve lost.  

In reality I’ve lost nothing – I didn’t realise that last time. I’ve gained so much.

Self-Care

This week I heard an amazing quote from David Goggins

“You don’t care about yourself, so you don’t stay in the fight”

That was so true for so long. But now I care. Now I am fighting.  

I am so excited for the things to come.

Incoherent Connections – Message From The Universe

On the day I am writing this, I am 22 days sober. This week, more than any before it during my sobriety, I have been ground hogging like a champ. There has been a distinct lack of coherent thought and focus on achieving any goals.

The new lockdown, about to hit the UK, has hit my mood pretty hard.

The thought of working from home is the stuff of my nightmares. Hours spent on my own, looking at a screen, took me to a very dark place last time.

I was barely functioning and had daily thoughts of suicide. My drinking also hit its worst.

Hello Mark, Its The Universe Calling!

I don’t know if I believe that the universe sends us messages. But the last few weeks it seems like it has has something to tell me. It hasn’t been subtle, either.

I get the message…..human connection is vital to my wellbeing.

When I went back to work my mood lifted. It felt good to be around other people.

Getting back to a recognisable routine also helped. Having a reason to get dressed, commuting, face to face meetings. It all helped. Seeing people, not just hearing their disjointed voices on a Teams call, was a massive boost.

My Recent Reading List

Every book I’ve read recently has advised that connection is vital to living a good life.

Let’s Do This by Andy Ramage

Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley & Henry S. Lodge

Genius Foods by Max Lugavere

This Naked Mind by Annie Grace

Each one of these books has made it loud and clear, I NEED HUMAN CONNECTION!

The Problem

Thats all lovely and the universe can send me as many messages as it likes. But its ignoring one major problem.

I don’t like people. Don’t trust them. Don’t make friends easily. I am crap at maintaining the friendships I have had. The second someone lets me down its a big goodbye – ironic because I am usually the one doing the letting down.

Its all part of being an introvert.

It’s also part of being uncomfortable around people.

If I am going to get through this new lockdown sane, then it’s time to get out of my comfort zone. Time to make more connections. Time to stop being a dick head.

Before I turn my goals towards physical health and nutrition, connection must be my main focus. Its the one thing I have been terrible at all my life. The return to work demonstrated how much being around people helps my mental wellbeing. I need to remember that.

#AF Day 4 – Isn’t Sleep Awesome!

Day four of the initial 28 days alcohol free – the aim ultimately is 90, then 365, but baby steps. Check out www.oneyearnobeer.com  for the full challenge.

Sleep and focus. That’s what day four brings.  And a much more positive mindset.  The fog of depression is lifting slowly.  Feeling so much better for that already.  Being alcohol free, even for this short period, is making its mark.