I decided on 18th March 2013 that I would stop drinking alcohol. When I got serious about recovering from depression, I stopped drinking for 10 months. One would think there would be a clue in there for me! But I am not a person who quits easily and so this was not the end of the tale of Grainne and problem drinking.
I’m not a big one for diagnosis or labels, I’m into feelings. I never felt a physical craving for alcohol but when I started, I just did not want to stop. It was not about the company, it was not about any band that was playing, once I started drinking, it was just about drinking more. I had some good nights that I enjoyed but mostly, I wasn’t having any fun. And then there were nights that led to mornings full of shame. Full of half memories. Full of wishing that I couldn’t remember the stuff I did and worrying about the stuff I couldn’t. So the feeling that finally convinced me that I wanted to stop – important word in there – ‘wanted’, to stop – was shame. I had spent 3 years building a life I was proud of, a life that reflected me, my values, who I am, what I want. And one night of drinking could honestly take all that off me. Sometimes, there was only one word for my behaviours when I was drunk – insane. Without any reason or logic. Sometimes I dragged other people into the mess I made, but mostly it was just about me.
I spent a week hiding after my last binge drink. I spent a lot of time with my ‘go to’ friend. She sees me when I am a mess. She is very important. I was afraid. I was afraid because it was the only time since I had started to recover from depression, that I thought it might come back. I waited every day for my mood to lift but it didn’t. I trusted the self-care process, and for this, it was radical self-care. And my mood did lift with some more time.
And I have to say, once I made the decision, it was easy. I have never regretted it. It was a very important choice for me. It was the first of a number of liberating choices I would make. Choices that were about doing things differently than the majority. It was followed in 2014 by a decision to stop going to bars. I am an introvert. I don’t like noise. I don’t like busy. I need space to get to know people. To summarise, I cannot be me in a bar environment. I seem weird. I am uncomfortable. So, I made another decision. I don’t go to bars. I have to work at finding other ways to socialise, other ways to let people get to know me. And there are loads. I love eating out, I love the cinema, I love plays, I love walking, I love tea and cake in coffee houses, I love to talk.
I don’t drink, I never want to, I never have a hangover, I have no down days due to hangovers. Most importantly, all of my choices are my own. I am happy. I am sane.