“I never had a particular ‘rock bottom’ moment. I didn’t wake up in a jail cell, I didn’t have my child taken from me, I didn’t get a DUI, into a fight or truly hurt myself, but I could have. Something major was coming, something major was brewing inside of me and if I didn’t nip it in the bud and fast, absolutely all of those types of rock bottom situations most definitely could and would have happened.
I have never been able to control my drinking. From a very early age I was taught that drinking makes you fun, drinking makes you cool, popular, hilarious, attractive and if you don’t drink, you’re weird, boring and don’t get included.
The first time I got paralytic I was 15 years old. A mom at a house-party gave us a vodka dispenser, I made a Fanta orange and vodka and immediately felt the burn of the booze and buzz of confidence that came with it. I don’t remember much else. I blacked out. I came around on the street with my mom trying to get me into her car while I was screaming that she wasn’t my mom.
The next day, despite no memory, my peers were all telling me I was hilarious, a legend, ‘so much more fun drunk than I am normally,’ leading to the dangerous belief that to be fun, to be liked… I had to drink.
Years went of dangerous drinking went by. There are so many nights where everyone pre-drank with wine or beers and I pre-drank with a 70cl bottle of vodka. I can remember drinking a whole bottle of vodka before even going out to a club, I could never remember the club, I always woke up in my own vomit and no one, not one person, ever, told me this behavior wasn’t ok. It was normal, it was expected, I was 20 years old, at university, living life… this is what you did.
There are several nights where things got bad. We had a university trip to the city of Leeds, I didn’t know many people on my course, so I drank a bottle of vodka before we went out. I do not remember anything. I don’t know how I got back to my hotel. I spent all my money and I had a brand-new £80 coat that lay on the floor of my hotel room with a sh*t load of vomit in it. I remember throwing the coat in the bin the next day and going around Leeds, in February, with no jacket.
As I carried on at university I got introduced to other things. Drugs were huge in Bristol and if you hung out with the right (or wrong) people, it was easy to get hold of.
I completely lost myself.
I was drinking alcohol most days and partying weekly and the shy little 15 year old I had been was now some loud, arrogant, brash party girl.
There have been too many nights to list that could have been so dangerous. One year I went on a night out for a friend’s birthday, we made friends with some guys in a club. They were throwing an after party back at their hotel room, my friends didn’t want to go. Chasing the fun of the night, as always, I did. I went back to their room, me and eight or 10 strange men who I had only met that evening. Thank God they really did only want to party and nothing else, that could have turned so nasty.
As I got into my mid 20s I got a sales job. The culture was work hard, play hard. Imagine Wolf of Wall Street, if you will. I was surrounded by people who got off their face on a weekly basis and who all acted as though that was completely normal and acceptable. Mid-week beers on a Wednesday, thirsty Thursdays and happy hour in the office on a Friday. I would then go out with my home friends on a Saturday. From the age of 23-26 I was out most Wednesdays-Saturdays. Certainly every single Thursday and Friday.
I had no money, I had a job where I was earning a lot of commission, yet at the end of each month I was constantly broke and asking my parents to fund me for food or gas.
I never clicked that if I cut back on the partying, I might be able to save, I thought everyone partied and was broke.
My skin was so bad, I was getting treated for allergies, eczema, athlete’s foot…they didn’t know what it was, but my skin was literally peeling off my hands, legs and feet.
When I was 26, I met my fiancé. He barely drank, had never tried drugs or a cigarette and I was introduced into a world, for the first time since I was 14, where you didn’t have to have alcohol to make you fun or cool.
Unfortunately, it was so deeply ingrained in my brain that you did, I broke up with him.
‘You’re boring. Stop trying to change me,’ I told him, when all he wanted was for me to be the best version of myself. I see that now, but at the time I could not understand why someone wouldn’t drink regularly and I couldn’t understand why he was always telling me off for my drinking, even though I could be absolutely vile to him. ‘But I was drunk,’ I would say. ‘So!? Just because you are drunk doesn’t give you the right to be nasty,’ he would tell me. Deep down I would know and feel so much shame that I would always back myself and say I was in the right so I didn’t have to admit that a) I couldn’t remember the things he was telling me I did and b) admit that I was scared of who I was when I drank.
I broke up with him. I had 8 weeks where I went fully off the rails, it turns out the grass was not greener and actually I had missed the safety and ‘boring’ life of not regularly drinking. In those 8 weeks I binged every weekend, I blacked out, I took drugs, I spent all my money and I was back to being ‘me’ who I believed was me anyway, the ‘fun mental party girl.’
My mental health started to deteriorate, and I began Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). We spoke a lot about why I had broken up with my fiancé and it got me thinking about him. We agreed to meet up and take things really slow, I was still adamant he was controlling me by telling me off about my drinking and he was determined that just because I ‘liked a drink’ we wouldn’t let it ruin things again. Then I fell pregnant. To this day, the greatest thing that ever happened to me, to us and to my life.
The moment I found out I was pregnant, the cigarettes went in the bin and the alcohol was HUGELY scaled back. I was absolutely livid I wasn’t going to be able to drink at the 4 weddings we were invited to that year, but I also was not going to put my baby at risk. I remember being so jealous of everyone drinking at every event I went to during those 9 months. Unbeknownst to me, my subconscious was actually getting used to not drinking. I was 27 years old and for the first time in 13 years my body was getting used to more than just a week’s break from booze. I was still absolutely adamant that I couldn’t wait to get drunk again.
November 2017 my baby was born by emergency c-section, the birth was extremely traumatic and I thought I was going to die. The best part was the diamorphine… what a surprise. Anyway, I got home and got myself better, and as soon as I could, I got drunk again.
My son was 10 weeks old and it was my 28th birthday, I celebrated hard. I could barely move the next day and couldn’t even change my son’s diaper. I was so sick. As I was on maternity leave, wine o’clock started to become a regular occurrence, I would be counting down the hours to 5 p.m. to unwind and relax. My drinking had now taken a different turn, I was a grown-up drinker, a mom, a glass or two of wine to relax, that’s normal right?
Not every day. Not to the point where it’s causing you migraines and anxiety. Sometimes, I would have one glass of wine in the house and would feel anxious the next day. It never ever clicked that was because of the wine I thought it was because of other things. Newsflash, it’s the wine.
The migraines were getting so bad, I went to the doctors who suggested I changed my diet. I cut out bad food and I stopped drinking in the week and saved myself for special occasions only.
It was these final 2 ‘special occasions’ you could say led to my rock bottom moment. The moment when I realized I wanted to change and I wanted to feel how I had felt during those 9 months of pregnancy again, e.g. not hungover, not anxious and more happy.
Due to not drinking in the week anymore when the special occasions rolled around, I really went for it.
I blacked out at my fiance’s best friend’s wedding. I do not remember a thing. I was so drunk, I was unbearable. Loud during the speeches, swearing like a trooper, I cut my foot open and tried to blame someone for it, I was sick, I was just awful. The next day I remember my partner saying to me, ‘I am not angry with you, but please know you did ruin my best friend’s wedding for me yesterday.’ The guilt ate me alive. I couldn’t remember what I did but I absolutely hated myself more than anything for ruining it for him. I promised him I would get the drinking under control, I had just drank because I was nervous, I didn’t know anyone going, I would change. Note to self, it is not normal to drink a whole bottle of white wine in the day, on your own, before a wedding… just because you are nervous.
3 weeks off the booze until the final event. The ‘rock bottom’ I had booked to go to the races with some girlfriends. I purposely wore a dress with big pockets so I could sneak a bottle of vodka in because ‘it’s cheaper than buying drinks at the bar.’ Hello, I am 28 years old, I should be able to just buy drinks at the bar and have a nice time, not sneak in 40% poison to mix like an 18-year-old student in the toilets with a lemonade. But that’s what I did. I drank a bottle of prosecco at 9:30 in the morning, the first race was at 12. I don’t remember much except that I projectile vomited at the races, at about 2 p.m., in-front of everyone in the main bit of the stand where the public place their bets and walk to and from the course.
My friends left me. I went into town on my own. I bumped into some old work colleagues who are 20 years older than me and I stayed out with them until 2 a.m.. I spent about £200 and I woke up with the biggest anxiety attack of my life due to the blackout, my friends leaving me (do they hate me? They must hate me) and me staying out in town with people I don’t really know.
On that very day, I googled ‘I am scared of my drinking’ and ‘am I an alcoholic?,’ and ‘how can I control my drinking’… I did a quiz on drinkaware.com that basically told me I was an alcoholic.
I thought to myself for the first time in 14 years of drinking, maybe I need to stop for a bit and see what happens.
So I did. Day 1 happened. I understood the lingo, I joined sober networking sites and I started journaling my diary in the notes in my phone. A few days into my decision I told my other half and a select few friends, they all thought it was a really good idea.
I managed two months of sobriety, thought I was cured, then went down the slippery slope to blackout hell again. I started again. Day 1. This time 4 months of sobriety and then down the slippery slope to blackout hell again. I started again. Now, here I am, day 225 of continuous sobriety, nearly 18 months of trying, I have finally learned that I cannot drink.
I simply cannot drink.
If, like me, you blackout regularly, you have anxiety and depression after a night out, you do things you wouldn’t normally do sober, you spend all your money, you are forced to call in sick for work due to a hangover or you find yourself constantly thinking of drinking… then it’s time to stop.
Once you make that decision to stop – No exceptions, no rules except one: No more booze. Your life will change for the better. You will unlock a you that you didn’t realize was imaginable. When you are drinking, even if it’s not regularly, you are only functioning at a fraction of what you’re capable of.
I didn’t realize life could be (mostly) drama-free, chaos-free, calm, peaceful, simple and quiet. I was so used to an erratic life, arguments, anxiety, fear, sadness and feeling unhealthy, bloated and crap about myself.
Sobriety is hard but it is SO worth it. My anxiety and depression has pretty much shrunk to non-existent, I am back to being the person I was when I was little. I love reading, I have read 12 books in 4 months. I couldn’t even read 4 books in 12 months before.
If your drinking is causing you problems, it’s time to stop. If you have problems and you are drinking because of those problems, it’s time to stop. Flip your mindset on alcohol and your life will get so much better. Drinking alcohol or using a substance to celebrate, commiserate, drown out noise, make an event more bearable, as stress-relief and more…is so unhealthy. People say, ‘Oh my God how can you not drink at parties, how do you enjoy them?’ Isn’t that sad, that society has taught us that the only way to enjoy a party is to get blackout drunk. I genuinely didn’t think a night was a good night unless I couldn’t remember it and had spent all my money and done something stupid.
If there is one thing I would love people to take away from my story, it’s that alcohol is lying to you. You might think it is making your life more fun, helping your stress, getting you to relax, makes you look cool… it is not true. It is a lie. It is escapism and covering up bigger problems. Get sober, address those problems and learn different techniques, healthier habits to help you cope with the ups and downs of life.
I am always open to meeting sober people or people trying to get sober so please find my Instagram and ask me for advice whenever.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Sophie. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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