I recently celebrated my one-year Soberversary.
A whole year. It might not sound like a lot, but for me, it’s life-changing.
Trigger warning: In this post, I discuss my battle with alcohol abuse, including mentions of attempting suicide and death by suicide. If you feel you are at risk of being triggered or upset by these topics, please do not read any further.
I struggled with alcohol abuse for several years.
In all honesty, I don’t think I’ve ever had a particularly healthy relationship with alcohol.
As soon as I turned 18, my entire social life revolved around drinking. Looking back now, I can see that I became dependent on alcohol to be able to socialise – it made me less anxious and more likeable, I told myself… yeah right.
But when you’re young, regularly going out and getting smashed isn’t really considered unusual. It’s just one of those phases we all go through, right?
Flash forward to my mid-twenties and it wasn’t just about socialising anymore. I was drinking every night, using alcohol as a coping mechanism to avoid my severe mental health issues. Except it didn’t have that effect; it made it so much worse.
I have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD, also known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder).
BPD is already an incredibly difficult disorder to manage, but I was heaping a dangerous alcohol problem on top of it all.
Admittedly, the first drink or two would usually make me feel quite chilled out, but I could never stop there. At my worst, I was polishing off two bottles of wine a night. Every night.
Being drunk exacerbated all of my BPD symptoms to the point that I was regularly attempting suicide and ending up in the hospital.
I tried to get sober a few times. I usually managed a few days before caving in; a week, if I was lucky.
But this time it was different. I don’t quite know why, but this time, something inside my brain just clicked: If I don’t stop, I’m going to die. Whether succumbing to alcohol poisoning, my internal organs failing, or the predictable suicide attempts; I was going to die.
It’s hard to explain, because yes, I was still suicidal, but I didn’t actually want to die. I just desperately wanted the pain to stop.
So, I put down the glass for the last time, and strangely enough, it was going pretty well. I felt determined. It wasn’t easy, but I felt like I might have a chance.
However, shortly after beginning my sober journey, I was struck by an unimaginable tragedy; my partner died by suicide.
Of course, my first instinct was to reach straight for the bottle, but fortunately, my parents and my brother had swooped in to catch me as I fell to pieces. They bundled me back to my childhood home and never left my side as I battled through those first few days, weeks, months.
Although the initial overwhelming urge was to return to drinking, this faded surprisingly quickly. My parents don’t drink, so I wasn’t being tempted by having alcohol around. This helped a lot. I knew that whatever pain I was already feeling would be amplified by a thousand if I got drunk, which steeled my resolve to stay away from the drink.
I downloaded an app called EasyQuit Stop Drinking (not sponsored – there are loads of different apps, this is just the one I chose) and I logged my sobriety date. This ended up being a huge part of maintaining my sobriety because it meant I could actually see how far I’d come in terms of days sober, drinks passed, health recovered, and so on. It wasn’t abstract, it was concrete and it motivated me to keep going. Plus, I’m an actual child and I respond really well to the little e-badges you get when you hit certain milestones. Fuck being embarrassed – if it keeps me sober, I’ll take it.
So I’m a year down the line and my dedication to sobriety is rock solid.
Of course, relapses and blips are always possible, but they’re not necessarily inevitable. I don’t feel like I’m constantly dodging urges and temptations.
I got sober because I felt like I had to.
I stay sober because I want to – and that shift in mindset is so fucking liberating.
My life isn’t perfect; far from it.
But in successfully defeating this demon, I’m no longer adding fuel to the fire – and I can start to quench some of the flames.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this post, here are some resources you may find useful.
Please note: If you need immediate assistance due to a life-threatening situation, please ring 999 or present yourself at A&E. If you think you need professional help but it’s not an emergency, you can ring 111 or make an appointment with your GP.
Mental health support
Do you have a sober journey story? Maybe you have some tips or advice from your own experience that you’d like to share? Drop your thoughts in the comments below.