The last six months have been the calmest and happiest of my life. I finished writing novels, swam in the sea, and danced at weddings and birthday parties. I laughed a lot, hugged a lot, and read a lot.
I have also worried a lot about the war in Ukraine, jobs, money and all the ways the world is coming to an end. There was, but I was able to sleep again. Fear never pushed me into that slipstream.
In mid-2022, I decided to quit drinking. And it’s the best thing I’ve ever done for mental health.
In my teens and twenties, I drank heavily and regularly. Sometimes I fainted, sometimes passed out. I did something I regretted with people I didn’t know well. At least half the time I was feeling anxious and tired. Then I got lucky. I grew from it.
Occasionally, I drank too much and it seemed like I had a severe hangover, but I described my drinking as “normal.” I occasionally exceeded my recommended weekly allowance, but who didn’t?
But after lockdown something started to change. I was looking forward to interacting with them again, but I was also nervous. Before the pandemic, I usually restricted my drinking to weekends. Now, trying to relax and feel connected, I kept finding myself overdoing it in the pub on Wednesday. I relied on alcohol for relief.
Something strange started happening to my hangover. I didn’t have a headache or nausea, but I was very tired and very sad. It was as if a hangover was brewing inside my soul. I could always remember the night before with perfect clarity, and although I had never done anything wrong, I was riddled with guilt and shame.
“Hangxiety” is a well-documented phenomenon. Our brains are always looking for balance. Alcohol triggers the release of the neurotransmitters dopamine and GABA. When the booze wears off, you need to restore your balance. What rises must fall.
I decided my drinking wasn’t the problem Looked Normal – There was an association between my alcohol use and feelings of depression and anxiety. Having had more than two glasses of wine the night before, the shame and worthlessness was truly unbearable. I decided to stop drinking because something needed to change. What I learned after quitting.
We all know that alcohol interferes with sleep, prevents us from spending enough time in the important REM cycle (there are four stages, including REM and non-REM sleep), and leaves us feeling tired the next day. However, I didn’t realize that the alcohol I drank on Saturday might be affecting my sleep on Tuesday.
As a moderate drinker, I never felt like I slept particularly well and was often confused or disturbed. I am awake and really rested.
One or two times I couldn’t sleep all night, but the next day I was pretty energized and functional and never “too sad to toast.” I think the biggest and most positive improvement in my mood was the improved quality of my sleep.
I used to think dry January was a punishment. I thought it was a vaguely biblical way to redeem what I enjoyed in December. To be good again, I had to deprive myself (I was raised Catholic, of course).
Abstaining from alcohol meant abstaining from excitement. But when I made the decision to quit drinking, a mental shift occurred. Choosing not to drink alcohol was a reward, not a punishment. I was doing hard things in the short term to make me feel better in the long term.
This was not an act of deprivation. I was making choices that led to more joy and peace.But quitting alcohol isn’t easy, and motivational rewards go a long way. many Magnum salted caramel millionaire.
I have always struggled with eating disorders. During periods of anxiety, the relationship with food is first disrupted, and the cycle of bingeing and starvation begins.
After I stopped drinking, I became very relaxed with food. I no longer get drunk and overeat. I don’t panic about adding up the calories in a bottle of wine and cutting something out to make up for it (and panic about how it makes me a terrible feminist). Now I eat more fruits, vegetables and desserts.
As a drinker, I loved I am an impressionable soul with grandiose delusions that, with the right dress and the right cocktail, any social occasion can be a Truman Capote black and white ball. This inevitably led to disappointment and despair, which could only be mitigated by the following invitation (and drink).
As a non-drinker, I’ve found that parties aren’t inherently fun. The best way to approach a party is to lower your expectations. The first 15 minutes are always awkward, with or without alcohol. intention Even if you only drink lemonade, it will evaporate.
I used to use alcohol as an emotional override button. If you’re at a party and you’re bored, anxious, or unhappy, you want to drink it all up. Now I’m sitting with that feeling for a few minutes and if it doesn’t work I’m going home. But nothing feels better than chilling out at 6 p.m. at a wedding when everyone around you is already tired from drinking too much wine for lunch.