We aim to publish meaningful stories of perseverance amidst mental health struggles.
Starting Out - 1st of October
One of the main reasons why I’ve decided to “Go Sober for October” – also known as Stoptober – is to improve my mental health. Giving up alcohol for Stoptober a few years ago had a positive effect in my life. I found that drinking had such a negative impact on my mental health the day after I did so. Now, I love going out, dancing the night away and enjoying a couple of drinks, and when I’ve had a drink, I sometimes do feel more confident and less anxious about going and being out.
However, even after a couple of drinks I can still feel nervous that people are watching me dance or are making me fun of me. I realised that if I still feel self-conscious, then the confidence I feel isn’t something magically given to me from alcohol, and it must come from some part of me…
That said, when I wake up the day after drinking, I have often experienced low moods. So many unanswered questions come flooding into my head. Questions like, “Did I say anything stupid last night?” or, “Did I embarrass myself?” and even, “I wonder if anyone hates me”. I feel something in the pit of my stomach when I go to check my phone: I am so worried about what my notifications might reveal… There have been times where my mental health has resulted in negative thoughts – something that is fast being referred to as “hangxiety”. I have felt unmotivated to get out of bed and I’ve stressed about the little things.
So, a couple of years ago, I decided to do try Stoptober to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support and resolved to not drink alcohol for the month. Waking up hangover free, I felt less anxious, full of energy and I enjoyed waking up with a clear and fresh head. I could spend my weekends out of my bed and instead creating memories. I still went on nights out dancing, and I found I could enjoy myself without the effects of alcoholic. I was surrounded by people who also were having a good time, and yet being sober I became more aware of how drunk people were. It didn’t always go swimmingly: sometimes people who have had a drink can be rude or confrontational, in which case I would tend to feel anxious and want to leave the situation immediately.
Going teetotal offers opportunities to do other activities. I can use money that I would spend on drinking and going out to instead join the gym, go for a meal, and of course to donate to Macmillan Cancer Support. Teetotalism can also have health benefits: from reducing the risk of heart problems to improving liver function, and to having more hydrated-looking skin. You look and feel better!
So, as I begin this month, I need to focus on the reasons why I am doing this. I hope that I will join the gym and spend my time losing weight and improving my well-being. It’s also vitally important to understand the triggers that prompt you to have a drink, (such as a stressful day) so you can stay in control and avoid old habits. This time around, after having experience of doing it before a few years ago, one of the things I would like to do differently is to stand up for myself more when people try to peer pressure me into having an alcoholic drink…