It’s been 500 days since my last drink. I can’t believe I am 500 days sober, a milestone I never thought I would reach. During the last 500 days, I have learned a lot about myself and how to deal with my emotions without drowning them in alcohol.
Using alcohol to manage my emotions
Before I got sober, I didn’t know how to deal with all of the emotions I had, and I didn’t allow myself the freedom to feel those emotions at all. When my emotions got too much, I ignored my family, my friends and everyone else. I completely withdrew from society because I was so depressed and didn’t know how to ask for help. I stopped attending school, and when I got into college, I rarely went in as I was suffering from depression and felt so alone. I would sleep all day, and then I would drink excessive amounts to feel something. My behaviour completely changed when I drank and I couldn’t stand myself anymore. I looked in the mirror, and I didn’t know who I was, I was staring at a stranger.
Deciding to stop drinking
I decided in late 2018 that I needed to stop drinking, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I came to the realisation that I needed to stop drinking as I was on a downward spiral. My addiction had gotten to a point where I was drinking almost every day, and I realised I couldn’t live my life that way anymore.
When I decided to stop for good, I started to feel my emotions again, but years of bottled up pain came to the surface, and I ended up in A&E as I had no clue how to deal with that pain. I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder during that visit to A&E, and it shook me. I googled what BPD was, and I wanted to drink away my feelings, but I stayed strong, and I allowed my family and friends to help me.
Getting sober took a lot of tries but my advice to those who are struggling to stay sober is to let someone know that you are struggling. It helps so much when someone knows and can help you through a tough time. Set yourself small goals. Join some self-help groups and be willing to get help and change. It was tough, but for me it is freeing to now be able to talk about how I am feeling with those who care. I’ve found that by talking to my friends or family I don’t feel a huge weight on my shoulders anymore. It is very hard for me to open up but it is what’s best and it helps me.
Changes through my sobriety journey
I have noticed a lot of changes during these 500 days of sobriety. I’ve learned how to deal with my emotions in a much healthier way, and it’s a good feeling. I’ve found that by talking to people it takes away the power that my thoughts have over me. I’ve started to write down my thoughts and rip them up and I have found that helps me a lot because it helps get rid of the thoughts. I have a very complicated relationship with the mental health services here because they have let me down a lot. I ultimately decided to get sober on my own and I have had no help from therapists, but I feel I’ve learned many positive coping skills myself during this time.
I have so many emotions during the day that it is tough to handle them but being able to feel them is rewarding because I now know it helps me heal. I am a much happier person now compared to when I was drinking.
Feeling proud of myself
I can enjoy myself when I go out with people, and I don’t need alcohol. It was hard at first, but I have gotten used to it, and I know it’s much better for me. If you told me in January 2019 that I would be 500 days sober, I would have laughed at you. This past year and a bit I’ve discovered so much about myself, and I am proud of myself for coming this far. There’s a reason I’m on this earth and have survived some of the toughest times. I appreciate life so much more, and I can be free and happy without using alcohol as a crutch.
So many people struggle with addiction, and it’s not talked about enough. I hope this shows that there is light at the end of a pretty dark tunnel. If you’re struggling with addiction my advice would be to tell someone when you feel alone or if you feel like you might relapse. It may be hard but those around you want to help and they care. Try and get into a routine, it gives you a sense of purpose and it keeps you occupied. Going on walks or runs will help clear your mind when you feel low. Stay strong and remember your goals and why you want to stay sober.
If you need support, you can get in touch with Jigsaw, HSE Drugs and Alcohol Helpline – 1800 459 459, or Askaboutalcohol.ie.