I decided to give up drinking in May 2018. I had been toying with the idea for month’s prior to this but always seemed to make an excuse for why it was not a good time. Parties to go to, weddings in the pipeline, birthdays coming up etc. I ended up delaying for over 5 months before realising that there is in fact never going to be an easy time to give up drinking. There will always be a party, birthday, wedding or event coming up. However, that does not mean there is never a good time to give up. Whenever you decide to give up, cut back or have a break then that is always a good time if you feel you are drinking too much.
When I finally gave up drinking, I was ready! I was tired of constantly feeling lethargic. I no longer wanted to waste every weekend either in the pub or hungover in bed. I was desperate for a change in lifestyle. There was no major life changing event that made me quit, (even though I am sure many of my drinking incidents would have been enough to cause others to quit.). I just realised one day that I had enough of alcohol.
I was not someone who drank everyday, I rarely drank on weeknights and could go weeks without a drink at all. For me the problem was the way I drank and the amount i would drink. I would go out and drink much more than my body could handle. I would drink myself silly to the point i couldn’t stand up. I would wake up feeling dreadful and could never remember parts of the night. My body did not feel that of a 30 year old, I had stiff joints; constantly felt drained and had terrible stomach issues. As someone who eats very healthily and exercises I knew this wasn’t right. The reason for feeling like this all of the time was down to excessive alcohol consumption.
When I first decided to quit I knew it would be extremely hard for me. Many people would doubt that I could do it and to be honest I did not even think that I would be able to. I had never even completed dry January before. I decided to set myself a challenge of 28 days to start with, praying that I would go beyond that.
As it was coming up to the summer, the calendar was already getting full with parties, weddings, birthdays and a holiday. I decided to text everyone close to me and inform them that I was giving up alcohol and begged them not to encourage me to drink when I saw them. This was a key step for me as my friendship group is quite boozy and due to my lack of will power in the past was terrified I would fall at the first hurdle. The messages of support I received from everyone were incredible and gave me a huge confidence boost. I was now ready to tackle the challenge head on.
I was feeling confident, optimistic and excited for the future. I had read tons of stories of people who had achieved sobriety and found true happiness. I talked to people online who were now sober and loving life. I could not wait to get to that point.
The first couple of weeks were great. I went to lots of exercise classes, had movie nights at home and was feeling fresh and full of life. Three weeks in to my sobriety, it was my 31st birthday. Usually my birthdays involved an all-day drinking session with friends followed by a boozy dinner the next day with my boyfriend. This year my boyfriend booked surprise tickets to the theatre to see Aladdin. This was the perfect distraction and I really enjoyed the evening and did not miss the drink at all.
Three weeks in and the novelty of not drinking was staring to ware off. I started to get a little bit wincey. The summer evenings were brighter and pub gardens were full of people having fun after work. I wanted to be involved and join in on all the action. I made the decision that I would still spend nights in the pub just like everyone else and just not drink alcohol. Problem solved!
My life had barely changed. I still was able to do all of the same things as I was before only I was not harming my body. I was still able to go to pubs with friends every weekend drinking lime and soda until the early hours then be up early hangover free the next day. It was a win-win!.
This was great for a while but after a couple of months, I started to get irritable.I started to become aware that everyone else was drinking and I was not. It was no longer fun to see all of my friends getting drunk while I was sober. In fact, drunk people started to became annoying. Every time my partner cracked open a can of beer it would really bug me.
I persevered and carried on with this lifestyle for a few more months, getting more and more fed up as the days went on. At one point, I was fully depressed.I eventually came to realise that I needed to make some more changes. Giving up drinking alcohol was not enough. I had not given up drinking to sit in a pub every weekend watching other people get drunk. I wanted to see more of the world, experience more and start living life to the full.
My advice to anyone that quits drinking is to ask yourself why you want to quit drinking. Had drinking been holding you back from achieving some of your goals?Are there things that you have always wanted to do in life but have not had the time or money to do? Had drinking prevented you from experiencing certain things? When you first stop drinking alcohol, instead of trying to hold on to your old party lifestyle, understand that this is the perfect time to focus your energy on achieving your goals and doing the things you have always wanted to. You will finally have much more time and possibly more money to do so. Doing this will save you from many miserable nights sat in the pub trying to prove to everyone that you are still fun whist deep down you are bored and frustrated out of your mind.
If you are thinking of giving up alcohol then I promise you that you will not regret your decision. A year go I would never have considered giving up alcohol. I am now 10 months without a drop and my only regret is not giving up alcohol sooner. Binning the booze has been the best decision I have ever made and I cannot wait for what lies ahead.