It was all getting too much. The stresses and strains were becoming unbearable. I was disappearing into alcohol-induced oblivion every day in an ill-judged desperate attempt to self medicate. I knew it was an unhealthy cycle but I felt powerless to muster the strength to escape from it. Inevitably, as is always the case when pressure is continuously applied to the weakest point, I broke and quite spectacularly so, resulting in hospitalisation.
For me, that was the game changer I had been waiting for and felt myself hurtling towards for quite some time. I observed that all my stresses and worries had been put to one side whilst I was incapacitated and concentrating on my recovery. Those all-consuming negative thoughts lost their prominence and led me to reassess my life. I haven't had an alcoholic drink since and recently celebrated 250 days sober; an absolutely huge, life changing achievement. Here are a few things, some more random than profound, I have learnt on my journey so far:
• Stresses only have the importance ranking that I assign to them. They can be demoted in favour of my health and wellbeing.
• I can function perfectly well without alcohol and hardly ever have a craving for it any more, apart from in times of acute emotional distress. Being sober enables me to dedicate time to easing the latter by reading around the subject and implementing new coping strategies.
• I have learnt the power of introducing regular tiny habits into my life. For example, with a couple of minutes of practice each day, I am now able to stand on one leg without wobbling all over the place.
• I am no longer resistant to or belittling of alternative therapies and supplements. I have found some to be very helpful and some less so. I know that the benefits will vary according to the individual and am prepared to try new things.
• Breathing exercises and meditation help calm my overactive mind and racing thought processes.
• A problem shared is more than a problem halved; communication has become my most effective tool in overcoming problems.
• A simple set of exercises and stretches actually makes a huge difference to my flexibility and movement. My back pain has almost disappeared by doing the exercises recommended by my physiotherapist – if only I had started them four years ago when he told me to!
• A non-alcoholic beer in an old country pub by the sea is just as soothing to my soul as an alcoholic one. Who would have guessed? Certainly not me.
• Downloading my thoughts onto paper before bed actually helps me to sleep better.
• Slowing down and listening to my body enables me to make good choices. I have discovered that many of my physical aches and pains can be alleviated by a simple hydrating glass of water.
• And, finally, I have learnt that it is ok to just be me. Before, I felt that I wasn't good enough if I wasn't perfect at everything all of the time. Now, I realise that it is perfectly acceptable to just be good enough . It is ok to be human and make mistakes along the way as long as my heart is in the right place.
A Moodscope member