Drinking – Out with the lads or out with the lads?

It’s been two days since I last drank alcohol. It’s been two days since I drank for three days in a row which concluded with me getting hammered at a friends 40th birthday bash. My last memory of that night was me kneeling down while a ‘friend’ poured boxed wine down my throat. Now that is quite unlike me, not the boxed wine incident, but the three days on it. I normally would only drink one day a week but last week routine went out the window. And there’s nothing wrong with that I guess. You need to mix it up every now and then. But one night on the booze knocks me out for three days, so you can imagine how I felt after three days drinking. I managed to get myself to my usual Monday Spin class where the instructor commented upon my arrival: ‘you look like shit’. He wasn’t wrong. I felt like shit as well. But an exercise class does wonders for your mind and body and I immediately felt better walking home after. And for me, this is where the true test begins if I want to quit drinking.

As I type, it is Monday evening and usually I wouldn’t have my next drink until the weekend. I’ve never been someone who drinks at home. I’ve lived on my own for over a year and not once have I brought home a six-pack to drink. It’s all about tea when the footie is on. (Drinking ten cups of tea a day is fine though…right?) One thing usually happens around Thursday that always temps me, makes me feel a rush of excitement and an offer I often can’t refuse: a text message that says ‘fancy a drink?’. Now, there is nothing wrong with meeting mates for a drink or popping out to see the lads. But for me there is always consequences. I suffer from mild depression and anxiety so drinking, especially in the preceding days, brings these issues right to the surface. It’s more than a hangover: I’m bed ridden; filled with feelings of guilt; bound by depression while looking at a fat bloated face in the mirror. Drinking an average of 6-8 pints of beer will do that to you, not to mention the customary McDonald’s on the way home. When this happens, I’ll sleep for a few hours, wake up at 2am and that’s it. No more sleep. A drink insomnia. It’s horrible.

Every time this has happened during the past six years I’ve promised to quit drinking, said to myself this is it, no more. But it doesn’t happen. I’m in a loop where I can’t break free. I spend one day during the weekend drinking and about three days recovering, feel normal for a day or two then do the whole process again. It gets me nowhere. But I love my mates, they are a great bunch but I know the dynamic of our relationship will change if I don’t drink. It’s not a slant on them at all, but it just will. And that is what I struggle with. When i’ve recovered from my hangover, feel good and have been exercising, I talk myself out of quitting drinking: ‘your not an alcoholic as you haven’t drank for 5 days, you’ve eaten well, been to the gym and you’ve just got through a tough week at work. You’re just being silly. Have a drink!’ For the time being anyway, until I can pop out and drink without alcohol, I will say no. Friends and family are very important, but sometimes, just sometimes, you’ve got to look out for number one.

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