5 lessons from a year sober

I woke up to a headache beyond the normal I was accustomed to. Dragged myself to the mirror and saw the damage that I had done.

I had been at a friends wedding and after a long day of drinking had fallen flat on my face and looked more suitable for a Halloween party than a day in office.

I made the decision there and then to stop drinking for at least 1 year. This is what I learnt……

It was destroying my mental health.

I have spent the vast majority of my life suffering from anxiety and panic disorder. In my early teens, I found a great way to suppress the suffering, and that was by drinking, quickly and as much as possible! As I carried on with this routine, my mental health slowly declined, and my problems got worse.

For some reason, I never linked the consumption of alcohol and my mental health together.

Looking at this from a year sober the link is pretty obvious. I have never been in a better place mentally. It has given me the consistency to do all the things that I know help rather than hinder my well being.

It reveals who you truly are

At first, it can seem scary when you go to various social events and have no drunken mask to put on. You are left with just yourself. That includes the insecurity, anxiety and everything that comes with it.

Eventually, I settled into this and found confidence in being myself. Falling into ease rather than panic when faced with social situations.

Without alcohol, there isn’t a way to avoid fears or anxiety. You have to face them head-on, without a comfortable hiding place. You may figure out like I did, you aren’t who you thought you were and it has opened up a whole different way of life.

It allowed me to be consistent.

I always had ideas of who I wanted to be and what I wanted to fill my days with, but alcohol got in the way. It made my life a struggle between doing things I knew were helping and then destroying all this progress with massive binges that set me back to square one.

  • Journaling
  • Mediation
  • Reading
  • Exercise
  • Healthy eating
  • Balanced sleep

Without alcohol, these habits fit into my life with ease, rather than being a struggle to keep up with. If you are trying to set a healthy routine or pick up a new habit, the truth is alcohol can seriously hinder your progress.

Being faced with your own reflection is terrible.

When you inevitably get talking to someone at a party who is very drunk. You suddenly realise that not so long ago you were the repetitive nonsensical blabbering man that now stands in front of you with the exceedingly bad breath.

You recoil in horror. Remembering how, on the other side of this mirror, you believed you were the coolest man in the room. You concede to the fact that possibly you weren’t!

All glamour that you thought went with getting drunk does slowly reveal its self as a mirage.

My relationships got better.

When I finally got home after leaving half my face on the train station floor. My wife broke down into tears. She was worried that eventually I would do far worse and cause myself some severe harm. This really hit home for me and was a massive wake up call. Once I knew I was upsetting the people I love, I knew I had to do something about it.

A year on, my marriage is fantastic, and all my relationships with the people close to me have improved. We stay in more, communicate more and I’m not always chasing a drunken night!

Now a year has passed, and I have no desire to drink. I was always too dangerous once I started drinking. The plan was to carry on forever, but stopping has brought profound change to my life.

Walking away from the cliff edge rather than teetering on its side, was the best thing for me.

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Arturo

Arturo

Writings on sobriety, anxiety and things I came across on the journey.