First let me apologise for the lack of blog posts over the last few weeks! Its been the school holidays, and life has got in the way! Like everyone, I was juggling kids, work, life, and although I kept up my exercise and didn’t touch any alcohol (feel like i should add that I did eat a lot of cake!) I struggled to keep up with the blogging side of things, so I do apologise – anyway all back to normal now!
I’m hoping the summer holidays have gone well for everyone! Sober summer school holidays are certainly a lot different to the ones where I was in “holiday mode” for six weeks and I would drink every night. I feel like I am much more organised now, I can juggle my work, life and entertaining the kids a lot easier and I just feel like we get more out of them as a family.
This year there seemed to be a lot of times that I would catch myself thinking – Gosh, I would never have done this if I was drinking! And these weren’t big days out, just a handful of times where I have done something that the drinking me would not have the confidence to do in the past…….
- Sometimes we would drive out with the dog to the beach after tea, this would never happen after I had been drinking wine since before tea time. I would be in full on settee mode watching TV, quite happy to not do anything for the rest of the night.
- I went and set up our tent ahead of my husband because he was working late, now this is something I would NEVER have done if I was drinking. Camping meant getting there and opening a beer asap whilst trying to look ‘helpful’ incase anyone else was watching! So to do this with the kids and a hyper puppy was something I felt really proud of. Plus it didn’t need tweaking when the other half did finally turn up, and it didn’t blow away in the night, result!
- I took the girls on a shopping trip to the Trafford Centre (I told you some of these triumphs where small!) Ok so I am not good with motorways and it was the first time I had driven there on my own, we shopped we stayed for tea and all had a really lovely time. Now when I was drinking my anxiety would have taken over, I would be totally convinced I would get lost or crash the car, bombed, lose the kids and even when none of these things happened I would not be happy to sit and have tea out without a bottle of wine!
- I did Tough Mudder for the second time – I’ve gone on about this a lot in the past so I will stop at saying I was very proud that I survived that!!
These may seem like small or even non-existent triumphs to other people but to me they were just the times that I gave myself a little pat on the back and a mini fist pump. They are little things that the old me wouldn’t have done.
The main difference for me now that I’m nearly 22 months sober, is that I just have this confidence and belief in myself that I didn’t have before. I didn’t speak to anyone about this at the time but I had really bad anxiety when I was drinking, especially the day after a boozy night. It was so bad that it did stop me from doing things, especially if it involved being with the children and taking them somewhere on my own. I would feel faint and light-headed after a heavy nights drinking and as I mainly drank at the weekend this feeling would fall on Saturdays and Sundays, and nearly all through the school holidays. My fear was that I would pass out and I couldn’t look after the girls, reading this now sounds so pathetic but that was my “thing” and I was totally obsessed with it. The problem was I knew things were worse when I was drinking but I couldn’t find a way to stop, the alcohol calmed the anxiety but created it too, it was a vicious circle.
Recently I read an article in Cosmopolitan that explained the link between alcohol and anxiety.
- It explained how alcohol at first can help make you feel more confident, chatty and less anxious as it acts as a sedative so it can make you feel more at ease in the short-term. However this feeling is temporary and these effects can wear off fast.
- Alcohol depletes serotonin in the brain – our happy hormone which makes us feel calm and happy, low levels are associated with increased anxiety.
- Your body builds up a tolerance to alcohol so you will need more and more to give you that calm feeling, long-term this can affect your mental health.
- Then the dreaded anxiety hangovers (which were my speciality!) That feeling of just wanting to lie down or go back to bed because you have the horrible dread that something bad is going to happen, playing scary scenarios and what if’s in your head over and over! Shaking, feeling faint and dizzy with heart palpitations all trigger and emphasise the feelings of anxiety.
When I see it all typed out in black and white, it makes me want to shake myself and scream “why did you carry on drinking!!” But I was stuck in this horrid cycle, the Friday night drinking caused the Saturday anxiety that I could only stop by drinking ….. and it goes on and on.
I broke the cycle when I finally decided that enough was enough………. I have two pivotal moments that I know made me get to the point of giving up drinking all together. One occurred about 12 months before I stopped. It was when I took my eldest to the cinema on a Sunday afternoon, the night before we had all been to a Halloween party and I had drunk a lot! I remember getting twenty minutes into the film and we had to come home because I was having a full on panic attack and thought I was going to pass out. Basically it was anxiety caused from my hangover, I can see that now, but I felt so so so guilty for a long time, and I still do. It was meant to be our time together and I ruined it.
The second time – a cinema trip again! (we are not cinema freaks just a coincidence!) We had booked ‘Finding Dory’ weeks in advance so the girls were so excited and we planning a family trip to watch it after Sunday tea. I was feeling so spaced out and anxious that I was going to faint that I drank the remains of a bottle that was left from Saturday night before going to the cinema. I can remember just thinking “what are you doing, your going to see a film with your family, in the afternoon, why do you need to drink?’ And I spent the whole film just torn between wanting another drink, hating myself and never wanting to drink again! That was around October 2016 and I quit in November. I knew then that no matter what it took things had to change.
And they did. Not drinking for me has turned my life around and made so much more possible. I hope you can see how these small victory’s meant so much to me over the holidays – and the confidence I’ve found just keeps growing and growing. These are the small things, the big things I can tell you about in another post!!
Do you feel like drinking is affecting what you do in life? Is it holding you back from just the small things? If yes then please know from me that you can turn it around, break free from the vicious cycle of anxiety that alcohol creates and feeds. What does the sober you do that the drinking you couldn’t? Any tips for others??
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Wishing you all a happy, healthy weekend!