It’s been 27 days since my last blog post. Er… sorry about that. But it’s also been 38 days since I quit drinking alcohol for good. Additionally it’s been about 35 days since I quit coffee – another sneaky vice of mine.
Now, I should say before I go any further, my alcohol dependency wasn’t the “waking up in the morning and shooting some whiskey before work” kind of dependency. Nor was my dependency a daily regime.
I depended on alcohol much in the same way that many people in this day and age do, and it’s now typically regarded as normal behaviour: I used alcohol as a reward after a few days or perhaps a week of hard graft.
Now, I’m not saying this is bad for everyone. But it was definitely bad for me. Here’s why: something in my wiring prevented the old ‘off-switch’ from functioning. In other words, once I experienced that first sip of wine, I couldn’t stop. If I did, I was upset that I had to, and thought about all the ways I could reward myself with booze again. It was very close to the centre of all my thinking, much in the same way calorie-counting was, back in my diet-obsessed days. Alcohol was not an after-thought for me. It was an incentive to get by. It was a coping mechanism. And a totally rubbish one at that.
The day after the night before saw me depressed and anxious. Whether it was because I had succumbed to the craving again, or I had done something very, very idiotic in my drunken stupor, my night of ‘reward’ was followed by a day or more of punishment. That was the cost for the mere hour or two of heartfelt bliss that came with my Hardys Bin.
As you may have read in my last post The Quarter-Life Shift: My hopeful transition into an alcohol-free life, I finally came to a realisation, after six years of “getting on it”, that alcohol is not my friend. And so I just ended the relationship. It was a break-up of sorts.
38 days on… well… I thought it would be harder than this. Granted, after a bout of stress in the office, my brain will automatically fire off images of post-work wine as an incentive, and I have to remind myself of my decision there and then. But I believe that consciously ending the relationship, saying it out loud, and putting it in writing, gave me some kind of closure on the whole thing. Additionally, as I mentioned in my last blog post, having grown up a bit in the last year or so, my values have shifted, knocking booze off the pedestal once and for all.
However, there’s one other factor that has contributed to the success of my alcohol-free month-and-a-bit: I chucked out the rather insidious accomplice… coffee.
Now, a lot of people reading this will disagree that coffee is as bad as alcohol. Fair enough, guys. But again, I must stress, coffee is bad for me. Why? Because coffee and alcohol went hand-in-hand. Coffee was my stimulant, where alcohol was my relaxant. Two external substances that, when over-consumed, cause all manner of health problems (especially for someone prone to Anxiety and Depression), had began to dictate my overall energy, my personality, and my mental health. And given my dependent nature, moderation was near impossible.
Coffee gave me the boost I needed for the first hour of my working day, but one cup became two, and then caffeine-induced Anxiety would kick in. After an hour of shaking, sweating, and catastrophising, I would crash. Hard. And how did I cope with this crash? More coffee! And at the end of this supposed drama-filled day, I felt entitled to wine, either in the form of a couple of glasses that night, or a scheduled mega-binge on the following Friday.
I’m no scientist, but a routine of excessive caffeine and alcohol – stimulant versus depressant – has surely got to be a heart attack in the making, right?
Now the two vices are out of my life, I can tell you – hand on heart – that my life has improved in massive ways.
I forget I even have an Anxiety disorder. If it wasn’t for the Prozac I have to take once a day, I would have argued that the disorder had completely disappeared. But knowing that I was on Prozac during my binging days, and observing how drama-free my life is now, I feel I can confidently conclude that coffee and booze had played an integral part in damaging my mental health.
Nowadays – and this is just a month on – I’m blessed with clarity of mind, level-headedness, and a much better ability to concentrate. As a result, I have my mojo back. My sunny disposition has returned, and the tendency to overthink has been nipped in the bud. And I sleep better, getting a solid 7.5 hours of sleep a day without the regular invasion of crazy vivid dreams. I am calmer, but equally energised, with energy levels remaining moderate throughout an entire day. No hyperactivity. No slumps. I am just… awake. And it shows – check out my complexion!
My outlook on life is far more positive than it was a month ago. A million times more positive than it was this time last year when I had a nervous breakdown and a bout of Depression. This makes it hard for me to see ol’ Jo and Juice as things to count on. The goodness of life outweighs any desire for these former companions.
There are literally no downsides to removing coffee and booze from my life. Sure, I still have my diet and fitness levels to conquer – and you better believe I’m gonna conquer them – but I am 10,000 steps closer to achieving overall wellness having made this decision.
I’m sharing this for two reasons. Firstly, I’m dead proud of myself. A little bit of self-celebrating is absolutely necessary. But secondly, I think of people my age, who have been sold the idea that the over-consumption of booze and ‘black gold’ is part and parcel of being an adult. The media takes no issue in supporting this claim. Perhaps this post will mean something to those who live by this imagined reality, but are not reaping the benefits of it.
Finally, I want to thank my mum for being the inspiration behind all of this. She lives a wonderfully sober life, and watching her flourish as a human inspired me to follow in her footsteps.
Now, it’s Saturday. I’m not at work. So I’mma go forth and have me some much-needed fun.
Peace, love and happy soul-searching x