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Archive for the ‘Student’ Category

‘But why can’t you just drink in moderation?’

In Alcohol, Drink, Drinking, health, mental health, Sobriety, Student, University on April 25, 2012 at 3:49 am

Last night an old friend rang me up (slightly drunk) and decided she needed a very deep and meaningful conversation.

This old friend is definitely not your average childhood friend. Our mothers have known each other since they were 14 and I have known my friend since the day she was born.

We’ve been through a lot together and shared a lot of information that would be hard for anyone else to understand. She suffers from depression and has had tendencies to use drugs and drink heavily from time to time. On one particular occasion (her rock bottom) she overdosed and I drove her to the hospital and escorted her to rehab.

For a while I found it hard to connect with her; university meant we had less time to see each other and there was a distance; a distance that never got in the way of us still meaning the same to each other, but it got in the way of actually being there for each other.

I felt like she never knew what was going on with me and I had to assume she was getting better and her depression was more controllable.

After talking to her tonight, and despite her latest drama’s, I felt reassured. Reassured that she was, at this point in time, stable. She told me how she had stopped drinking for two months in January and that it had made her re-learn how to drink and she now drinks in moderation. When she occasionally does get drunk (tonight) she was in a good mood and didn’t have the usual feelings of being out of control and guilt ridden the next day.

She said she had heard that I was ‘off the sauce’ and that maybe I should start drinking again after a month, in moderation, to keep from me having a blow out episode and end up going back to square one.

I told her again, that I was not drinking and like most people she didnt  quite grasp this concept. I think maybe its because I am at university or because its still very early days. (Or my infamous reputation for being ‘on the sauce’)

Her words resonated with me. I thought about drinking again and it made me feel deeply uneasy. Almost slightly panicked. Last week when I drank, it felt wrong. I felt like I could feel all my hard work, all my restraint was slipping away down my esophagus. Also, the reason I used to drink was to get drunk (in social situations) so only having one drink doesn’t make sense to me. I am very much an all or nothing person, which makes it hard to explain to everyone who says ‘but why cant you drink in moderation?’

If I knew the answer to that I would never have contemplated giving up.

Constantly over thinking may be a bad thing, but for once in my life my brain has stopped over thinking on this particular subject. I feel secure and sure that I don’t want to drink. I know that I cannot trust myself to drink in moderation, hence the drastic need for action.  One thing my friend had said she has learnt from going through her experiences was to do exactly what you feel is right and shut off what anyone else tells you. (Simple words of advice; yet as usual, its always comforting to hear them from someone else!)

My theory is that when you are not sure you are making the right decision, you listen to other people, in hope they can convince you that the decision you have made, is a bad one. Sometimes its easier to go along with what other people say than being true to yourself and going against the grain.

One thing that I will say now, is even the people who think they are giving you their best advice do not know what you need sometimes. They will try and convince you to do things a certain way, but you should only do what you feel is right for yourself.

I also know that these individuals will change their mind when you prove them you were right. Its not that they are trying to disrupt you or they are trying to be malicious (hopefully not) but they just do not fully understand and perhaps never will. Unless a human can directly relate, they may never be fully appreciative of a situation and its seriousness.

The only reason I can now acknowledge how valuable my friends piece of advice is, is by following the advice. And the reason I followed the advice and am still following the advice is because I wanted to do it. I saw the potential in myself and I decided to change.

Last night my flat mates went out to a nightclub and I still had the essay to finish. I got ‘Oh, Abi’s being boring again’ from one of them. Usually, I would be worried. worried that I am going to be out the loop, that people will forget about me, that I am a nobody if I am not drunk, dancing, causing some drama. But now I simply don’t care anymore. I’d feel frustrated about being left behind. But I felt calm and I enjoyed my own company for a while.

They arrived home as I was finishing off my essay. They told me about who they had seen, the drunken antics and I saw them go off to bed. I hadn’t missed out on anything major. I woke up with no hangover, no guilt and I still had a laugh with everyone. I secretly breathed a sigh of relief that it was possible to not feel like my whole social life revolved around going out and getting drunk. This evening we went to see a movie and tomorrow we are going to a theme park. Yet again, no drinking needed.

I went home for 5 weeks at Easter back to my parents to detox and do exactly what I wanted to do. I purposely kept myself away from my usual social spots; the two local pubs. At first I was scared I would be missing out, but I kept myself away because I was determined to get better. Even though at first you may feel you have dropped off the scene and maybe not many people ( except only real friends) bother with you but you discover that nothing in the usual places change too much and you’re not actually missing out.

I have also noticed that since telling my friends about not drinking, I have experienced three different types of reactions; 1. Fully accepting and understanding of my reasons. They have been supportive and very pleased for me. Or 2. They kind of understand but don’t understand the ‘not drinking again’ part. They try to preach about moderate drinking and that you’re still young etc. but they don’t put up too much of a fuss, and finally 3. They think its absurd and make a real fuss.

It makes me wonder whether it is a real test as to who is actually my friend or whether some people simply cannot comprehend a life without alcohol. To each person I have tried to rationalise the dangers of my drinking and what I am preventing by being sober; but each person sees the situation differently. Should you judge your friends for reacting in a certain way? I don’t know. The only thing I know is I like it when I know I have support for doing something that feels right for me and when friends try and understand my situation.

I am a great believer in honesty and everyone being able to offer their opinions on what life decisions a friend makes but I do know that a little support and encouragement can go a long way. I wish more of my friends could fully understand this.

‘I’m Still Breathing’

In Alcohol, Drink, Drinking, health, mental health, Sobriety, Student, University on April 22, 2012 at 10:55 am

So my last post was written at a time when I was feeling positive and reflective about giving up alcohol.

Tonight, I am reflecting from a different angle.

I was going to write about how I had been a month without alcohol and then on Friday night I stayed with a friend from uni and I had a drink and I ruined my hard work.

I was going to write about how I felt disappointed in myself.

But then I picked myself up again and realised that I am still learning how to deal with everything.

Over thinking, panicking and being anxious is part of me and my nature but that doesn’t mean I have to be in a constant state of over thinking, worrying and confusion. As much as my journey right now is about not drinking, its also about breaking thought patterns and learning how to cope with everything. Learning to breath, accept, move on and change.

I am currently listening to Kelly Clarkson – Sober.

Some of the lyrics are particularly meaningfull ‘nothings real unless you let go completely’ and ‘three months and I’m still sober, picked all my weeds but kept the flowers, but I know, It’s never really over.’

If I were to relate this song back to the situation I am in I would say that even though you make adjustments to your life and really try to change the problems; they don’t just vanish. I think it also means that you have to try fully let go of hang ups, worries, anxieties about things and get on and do everything within your power to help the situation but also recognise that they will always be with you, and you shouldn’t panic about it.

I made a mistake by having a drink; at first I was anxious. I had a nightmare about being drunk and I did some crazy stuff in my dream. I woke up feeling uneasy, weak and a generally a bit of a failure.

I switched it around in my head; I had one drink, I had no hangover, I hadn’t made a fool out of myself. Everyone makes my mistakes; its how you bounce back from them that counts. Showing remorse is acceptable but self loathing / self pity is not. It is not the end of the world. Pick yourself up, accept what is done is done and start again.

As of Saturday 21st April, I am no longer drinking. Sometimes, if quitting drinking is seeming unrealistic; remind yourself why you do not drink and remind yourself that you do not owe anyone an explanation.

Learning from my mistake; I would say that if you know you are going to be entering a situation where you know you will be pressured into drinking then be prepared with an excuse beforehand or do not put yourself in a vulnerable position until you feel 100% sure you can cope.

I also think that over thinking may lead you to be backed into a corner. If you’re easily persuaded (like me) you can be talked out of something as easily as you have talked yourself into something. My new aim is to adopt a more casual attitude ‘Like it or lump it’

Why should people have to feel guilty or unsure about their decisions simply because people do not understand why they’re making that choice.

Stronger, confident, assertive people get what they want without having to talk themselves out from a corner, why can’t I?

‘When the wine goes in, strange things come out’

In Alcohol, Drink, Drinking, Sobriety, Student, University on April 4, 2012 at 1:28 am

Hello to everyone who is reading this!

As you may know, my name is Abi and I am a student in the UK. I lead a normal life except the fact that I have problems drinking responsibly. A common name for this would be a ‘binge drinker’. I am inclined to argue this name is far too broad and is a label that is becoming nonchalant and socially acceptable.

Lets get one thing straight, the way I drank was neither a nonchalant affair or socially acceptable. As a student, to a certain degree, getting drunk is normal. Like most students who drink socially, I had no symptoms of alcohol dependance. The closest I have got to dependance was long stints of consecutive binges and even throughout I never had an ‘eye opener’ or ‘liquid lunches’ to get me through or to prevent any shakes or withdrawals.

I have been drinking since the tender age of 14 and at that age I drank to get drunk. As I had very little self confidence or self assurance it was a quick way of finding the guts to talk to boys and losing inhibitions. Alcohol was my ‘Liquid confidence’.

The drinking at this early stage was done behind my parents backs. My peer group and I used to steal alcohol from our parents (spirits), get the oldest looking friend to buy cider or vodka, and we would sit in a park or go back to someones house and ‘chug’ or down alcohol to feel the effects almost instantly. A very stupid and immature thing to do when no one was an experienced drinker or knew what happened when things went wrong. Everyone was a victim of their own peer pressure.

I believe these drinking habits stayed with me longer than I wish to recognise. As you grow up with alcohol, and your peer groups change, your income changes, your life experience changes and so do the circumstances in which you drink change. For example; you drink at special family occasions, professional occasions, with peers who have more drinking experience, with strangers, in nightclubs etc.

If your drinking mentality is still one which is ‘drink to get drunk’ obviously your behaviour and these occasions will clash. Trouble occurs and relationships break down. Not just with your peers, your family but most harmfully the relationship with yourself.

If your drinking makes you feel ashamed or affects your current circumstances and has a negative effect on your self esteem levels; it is a problem. A problem that I am very grateful to have recognised by the age of 22.

After doing extensive research (the first part of my research was done very much in denial of having a problem) I have discovered that a lot of people who realise they have a problem are in a later stage of life (with children, with a career, late twenties onwards etc). There are only a select few who decide upon abstinence from alcohol at a younger age. My concerns are; do people blur the lines of what is a normal and what is a problem? Or is peer pressure simply a cultural change and those with problems do not feel strong enough to go against their social surroundings?

One of the greatest problems about having a drinking problem is the other people in your life. I have only experienced this from the university angle. At university the culture is to drink regularly, the acceptability of doing stupid things under the influence of alcohol and that you shouldn’t worry too much about it. YOLO (you only live once) is one of the most common phrases you will encounter upon trying to fix your problem.

The phrase YOLO, ironically, is also the reason to give up drinking. Upon my first attempt of becoming teetotal (October 2011) I woke up and abruptly decided ‘I am never drinking again and this time I mean it.’ Yes, all very well and good to decide this after a shame filled night and with a stinking hangover. Hangovers; being a weird mix of boldness and self loathing, seem to be a bad time to make life changing decisions.

The more I thought about giving up alcohol forever, the scarier it seemed. Thoughts such as ‘What will I drink when everyone makes a toast?’ or ‘I am going to miss that ice cold cider in the beer garden?’ and ‘what am I going to drink when we have girly wine or cocktail nights?’ kept cropping up. Again and again and again. Until 14 days later I was having my ‘Just one, I promise’ cocktail to celebrate my housemates 21st. ‘Just one, I promise’ Turned into 5 or 6, from what I remember.

So my point being, when you force your brain into a ‘forever’ situation; the panic response is triggered. Subconsciously, you are battling now with peer pressure and with your drinking problem itself. Your brain is tricking you by unearthing fond drinking memories through rose tinted glasses. Perhaps, on purpose, your brain selectively chooses not to remember the times when you were hospitalised due to alcohol abuse, the times when you publicly shamed yourself, the hangovers that make you feel like you are slowly dying, the times when you said things you would never have said if you hadn’t have been off your face or the times where your brain completely switches off and you transform into someone who isn’t you and who isn’t aware of anything.

Instead of rushing into ‘I’m never drinking again’ turn the situation on its head. Why not think ‘today I am not going to have a single drink, because then I can’t get drunk.’ or ‘today I am not going to drink because then tomorrow I will not waste the day in bed’.

If there is anyone else who understands a proper hangover; a physical hangover, a guilt ridden hangover and anxiety attacks in one dose, they can relate to wasting a whole day sometimes two, being locked in the confines of your own home, feeling self pity. Self pity because everything that you are feeling is the result of putting toxins in your body. No one else put them in there. Your excuses may be ‘he /she bought me a shot’ or ‘I had to drink because it was so and so’s birthday’. If you wish to get anywhere in this life; you have to stop blaming everyone else.

People, especially people who you thought were your close friends, may turn out to be the main reason why you struggle to stay sober. If you can tell a friend why you are not drinking and they understand; they are a true friend. You will always get peers who do not understand and they will make you doubt yourself and your decision.

After a few weeks or days of being strong and resisting, you may feel an overwhelming sense of achievement and here is how your brain will try and trick you again. ‘Amazing, so I have done one month without alcohol. Everyone wants me to drink, I miss drinking it was fun. Maybe this time around things will be different, I definitely think I have learned my lesson here.’ If you are the type of person that cannot moderate their drinks and feels their drinking results in hurting themselves and others then your brain is wrong. Your brain is trying to take the easy way out. All the time you have to constantly remind yourself why, if today, you do not drink, then you will not get into trouble and you will feel so much better tomorrow.

The drinking cycle took full grasp after October again until Sunday, March 18th 2012. I decided after a month of ‘good’ drinking I should end my drinking career on a high. What was the point in gambling my life anymore? I felt a little unhealthy due to recent festivities and a lot of nights out. I still had my health, I still had time to come completely clean to my family and myself and I had an easter break which I could retreat back to home ground and rehabilitate myself.

I will keep updating about more information I find, and people who have decided to take the same route, but I shall say goodbye for now,

Abi

PS. remember, please do get in touch if you want someone to talk to. Don’t be alone, everyone needs help sometimes.

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