Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The beginning

I’m a 30-year-old woman on the doorstep to what is hopefully going to be a “new life”. Hopefully it will be a life of clarity and sobriety, more happiness, and better relationships with my loved ones. It all probably sounds incredibly cliché but it kind of crept up on me. The alcoholism. 

It all started out pretty normal. At 18 I started going out clubbing with my brother, sister, and friends. I would drink a lot and always be the one to want the party to go on until the sun came up. Then I would suffer terrible hangovers, sometimes I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed until 9pm the following evening. I never drank during the week and always worked hard at college with above average grades. I was doing sports and going to the gym during lunch hour, all in all a very good girl. The weekend binges continued throughout college and when it was time to graduate, we all went out on a good three-day bender. I never really thought about it, it was all normal stuff and I wasn’t alone.

I got in to university and suddenly found myself with lots of time on my hands. We were expected to do course work at home and only had a few lectures a week and the student pub would be open on Wednesdays and Saturdays. To get to know the people in my class and campus I started going out drinking at every opportunity. I never reflected on the fact that I seemed to be the only one who was always out. It would start with a bottle of cheap wine at home and then bottles of beer at the pub. The inevitable hangovers affected my course work and attendance but I still never thought about it. I just carried on. I was a student having fun.

In the end I found a subject I really enjoyed and loved. I started taking on multiple courses simultaneously and suddenly had a lot of work to do. At one point I thought I’d take a break from partying and vowed I would not drink for a whole year. I still didn’t think I had a drinking problem. It lasted six months on the dot and I boy did I get a lot done, not just course work, but also in my spiritual and personal life. I enjoyed exercising, reading, doing art, you name it. The decision to start drinking again was based on the fact that I had become sensitive to being around my friends who were drinking and I felt as if I was becoming a bitter bore. So I reintroduced alcohol into my life.

I was getting increasingly depressed and on two separate occasions I was put on anti-depressants and tranquilisers. The first time they seemed to just keep me going from day to day. At this point I was frequently drinking a bottle of wine on my own at night I think mainly to calm the anxiety and help me sleep. I got out of it and continued my studies and working on the side. Then the next bout of depression hit me in the head like a brick. Another lot of anti-depressants which sent me completely mad, although I didn’t know it at the time. It was time for a holiday. I went to England and never came back. I left behind my dear friends and family, my cat had enough and ran away, I never finished my studies and never told my boss I quit. I left behind a heap of debts. None of it mattered. My new life in England was fuelled by booze and, to begin with, drugs.

By now I was drinking most days, but was able to have a couple of dry days a week when I felt rough. I found a job and a passion for the hospitality industry. I still didn’t think of my drinking as a major problem.”Everyone” was doing it and it felt great to be part of a community. From then on I had periods of heavy drinking, sometimes 10 pints of premium lager every night for a week, which is a lot for a 10 stone 26-year-old woman. Somehow I still didn’t consider myself an alcoholic. I was just a party girl. Always there shouting “one more!”.

The rest is history and takes us up to today. I now drink at least a bottle of wine of an evening, often more. I don’t go out partying much anymore, but occasionally I’ll go on a bender with friends. I frequently wake up with the shakes, covered in sweat and wondering what the hell I am doing. The anxiety is crippling at times and I get all sorts of withdrawal symptoms. I am now signed up to do a medicated detox with our local alcohol unit, and my road to what I hope will be recovery, is what this blog is going to be about.  

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