So, January has come to an end, and I’ve only had one set back (and four panic attacks) in my attempt to stay sober. It’s been a fairly eye-opening experience for me – it’s only been one month, so I’m not going to get carried away and say I’m going to start harvesting all of my electricity from potatoes and collecting water from condensation from leaves, but I would say that the break in routine has been beneficial for the most part.
Unlike previous entries, I’m not going to talk about how my weekend went at great length, as I locked myself away; partly because I didn’t have any plans, and partly to keep any last-minute temptation at bay. Instead, I’m gonna talk about my thoughts on this as a whole.
Within the first couple of weeks of the month, I did notice my sleeping pattern had gone haywire. It’s a fairly well-known fact that alcohol disrupts sleep, but I took this information with a pinch of salt, and it’s only in hindsight that I’m making the connection between going dry and surviving on maybe two hours’ sleep each night. I don’t think getting wasted would have changed this though, and I feel like I’ve regained my sanity in this past week.
Part of the reason why I am doing this (and why it is quite a big thing for me) is that for the past couple of years, I have rarely let a weekend go by where I haven’t gone out and ended up inebriated to some extent. This has made for some good and bad memories, although my recollection of some nights have been like losing a set of keys in the sea. While I’m not complaining about having a fairly active social life, I’ve woken up one too many times over the past few months, thinking “what the hell did I do last night?”, and the hangover shame that I mentioned in my first post was becoming too much of a regular occurrence.
When I was asked if I wanted to take part in dry January, my mind instantly went to any social events that I had coming up, and how I would cope with not drinking. If I’m honest, I was dreading it initially, but there were a few signs telling me that I should cut back, and if they weren’t enough to twist my arm, then the idea of going paintballing as a reward sealed the deal.
One of the best things about this experience has been severing the connection between getting drunk and having a good time – while I was a little bit tense while I was out, once I settled into a groove, I was happy to spend the rest of the night sober as a judge. Now that I’ve seen the benefits of going on hiatus from drinking, it might not be as big a part of my life as it was this time last year.
As I mentioned in my last post, my skin is also healthier – here’s a comparison:
This picture was taken a couple of weeks before Christmas. Notice the slightly glassy look in my eye, the redness of my face, and the pint of beer that is clearly in my hand. Not making any excuses here, but in the few days leading up to this picture, my eczema had flared up, and I had also gone out the previous night, so this may not be the best picture. The flare up was exacerbated by the drinking, of course, which was killing my self-esteem. Now, here’s a photo from yesterday-
Maybe this picture is taken at a better angle, or maybe it’s the fact that I don’t have a turkey on my head, but without sounding like I’m blowing my own trumpet, I think that this is a slightly more flattering picture. For a start, my face is far less ‘warm’ looking, which means no longer have to lie to people that I’m sunburnt (very difficult to pull off in the middle of winter), and I don’t look quite so fatigued. Try to ignore the fact that the bottom half of my face is cautiously optimistic, while the top half of my face is worried that someone close to me has died. This is my go-to expression in pictures because if I feign a genuine look of joy, people might get their hopes up and think I’m a normal person.
So while I’m not promising to go teetotal (my best mate has actually been planning how badly he can ruin my liver this weekend), I have enjoyed the health benefits (both mentally and physically), and the financial benefits of not being such a wreck head. It all boils down to moderation; drinking is something that can be enjoyed, but if you let it control you, it can be an ugly thing.
While I wouldn’t say I was at rock bottom by any means, the fact that I was basing nearly all of my social interactions around drinking was beginning to do more harm than good. If that sounds familiar to anyone reading this, I would recommend at least considering going sober for a while. I know that sounds a bit preachy, and I don’t blame anyone for scoffing at the idea, but for me, the benefits have far outweighed the negatives.