This week marks my 2 year re-sober* anniversary. BUT I’ve decided to count ALL of the years. So… minus the brief affair that woke me back up, I am celebrating TEN years total. Bam. TEN!
*Although I prefer the term “alcohol- free” because sounds more like a choice that brings freedom. And it most definitely has.
TEN years of clarity.
TEN years of gift-giving to myself and the ones I love the most.
TEN years of an easy/difficult choice. Easy because I know myself better. Difficult because society doesn’t approve. But that doesn’t bother me anymore.
The gifts I’ve received in exchange for not drinking are numerous, but the “big one”, is my mental health. The anxiety that I used to suffer with daily is almost non-existent. And that is un-medicated and in the middle of a pandemic! Don’t get me wrong- there have been times that I’ve desired an escape. Fantasized about just one drink. But for me, there was never one drink.
And I know that if I were to start drinking again- even in moderation- anxiety would laugh and show up at my house. Uninvited, but sitting on the welcome mat, grinning by the door I left wide-ass-open.
Many women who struggle with alcohol also struggle with anxiety and depression, and I think there are many women who don’t see the correlation. Plus, alcohol is so mainstream in our society, it doesn’t seem like a negotiable option in living life. Many think that alcohol makes them feel better. For me, the first glass made me feel “better”. But I realize now that the first glass was just getting me back to a state of equilibrium that I had eroded over time with constant (albeit small) consumption.
When I decided to quit again, I reached out to two sober friends and they both recommended I read THIS NAKED MIND by Annie Grace. Wow. Such an eye-opener about the reality and truth about the substance and social acceptance of one of society’s most dangerous drugs. I finally understood that alcohol negatively affects me physically, mentally and spiritually, and I knew it had to go- again.
I love what Dr. Caroline Leaf says: “Anxiety & depression are injuries not identities. They are injuries that flare up when you are not doing something right or when something around you is not right.“
My mind, body and spirit all tried to tell me. Alcohol is not right for me. Anxiety (which leads to depression) flares up when I drink alcohol even in small quantities over time. My mental health is not worth the momentary escape of alcohol. The negative effects linger and erode who I am at my core.
I hit the ground running with “all of the things” I knew to do to get in a better mental space when anxiety showed up again in my life, but I believe that the most impactful, simple and yet difficult choice was giving up alcohol again. I had re-introduced it when I realized that a belief I had held on to was faulty: I thought that as long as I didn’t drink, I wouldn’t have panic attacks or debilitating anxiety.
When the structure I built that belief on in my mind crumbled and I started to experience panic again- completely sober, I made the poor choice to start drinking again. Why not? But the truth was this: while sobriety didn’t safeguard me from panic completely- it greatly reduced my anxiety for 8 years of my life. (now TEN!!!) Years that I’m positive would have been devastatingly different had I continued down the path I was on.
Believe it or not, I am not anti-alcohol. But I am anti-alcohol for me. Maybe it doesn’t effect you negatively. Like my wise Life Coach Vikki tells me at every one of our meetings, “If something I say resonates with you- sow it your heart. BUT if it doesn’t, throw that shit out the window when you leave.” I love her.
Maybe this isn’t for you. But maybe the hardest thing will be the simplest.
If you are struggling with anxiety and depression, maybe you should find out. Take a month off. Read This Naked Mind. You owe it to yourself to do whatever is in your power to maintain your mental health and positive well-being.
“When you know better, you do better.” – Maya Angelou
But you owe it to yourself to know.
Love and Light,