Alcohol & mental health

So alcohol.. just a little something I have been thinking about recently after taking a look at my own consumption.

It’s well known that alcohol isn’t good for you and perhaps most importantly for those suffering from a mental health condition it’s a depressant, can lead us to act impulsively e.g. self-harm and suicide, can interact with psychiatric medications and produce some pretty unpleasant and dangerous side effects.

I know all this and have been told multiple times by medical professionals not to drink or too at least think about cutting back on it. So-why do I still do it?

I was never really much of a drinker and still am not! When all my friends initially began experimenting with alcohol and getting inebriated age 13 I stayed away from that. I didn’t want any part of it (the calories or loss of control!) I continued to tell people I didn’t drink. I still remember the first time I got drunk I was 15 nearly 16 I think and I was very depressed and it being my first episode I wasn’t sure how to express my emotions. So a boy had some Jack Daniels and we went out into the woods and got a little tipsy that afternoon after school. All fun and games. For some reason I ended up with that bottle. I went back to my room and drank the remaining half alone and sobbing. I don’t know what made me do it or why I felt compelled to keep downing it despite the revolting taste ( I haven’t been able to touch Jack since!)  but I think it was just the need to feel something and too feel happiness.

At first it was brilliant I had never felt anything like this! it was amazing I kind of felt lightheaded and just so smiley and happy. I went out and found my friends (who were stone cold sober) and at first they just laughed and found it funny that I’d finally got drunk. But then I began to be angry, shouting and swearing in person and on the phone to my friends for absolutely no reason at all. The evening culminated in me wailing in despair as I began to slit my wrists fully clothed in a bath.

Ever since then I’ve tried to be careful with alcohol but after losing a lot of friends after isolating myself I was keen to maintain any friendships I had left so along came teenage parties. Exactly the kind of think I hate. So hello alcohol my anxiety saver. I drink and out comes this fabulous alter ego I almost aspire too at first. She’s fabulous, confident, makes people laugh and just seems like she has got her shit together. Then comes the next stage. Horrendously slutty. In day to day life I am petrified of men as I’ve unfortunately had some bad experiences and I hate the way some men just stare and the looks they give. Some men I am comfortable with but I still don’t let any touch me (platonically or romantically) sober.

Then its sadness and regret.

So why do I drink?

Firstly, for the elation. When I’m ill I feel suicidally low and even now when I’m recovering I just feel numb. Therefore why would I turn down the opportunity to feel an emotion which is predominantly happiness and joy at finally feeling so giggly and confident.

Secondly, to stay social and in touch with my friends. I can’t think of a social occasion with people of my own age I have attended in the last couple of years that hasn’t involved alcohol. To be fair I am probably in the prime profile of binge drinkers as a uni student and someone who is coming out of their teenage years but this is no excuse! I just wish that I could feel comfortable socialising without alcohol.

Finally, to feel wanted. I am so desperately lonely most of the time. Alcohol gives me friends and men to hold me. It’s not real I know but just for a few hours I can feel social, friendly, bubbly, confident and most importantly wanted.

I’m sure my reasons aren’t uncommon but I had a meeting with my psychiatrist today and he mentioned reducing my alcohol consumption. Many medical professionals and friends have recently expressed concerns over my drinking. Worryingly I think that its fine and normal and in fact drink a lot less than lots of people. Worryingly however I can feel myself itching to drink and take the pain away and it’s becoming all to easy to reach for a glass now. So before it becomes a problem I think I might stop drinking for awhile and since we have just started lent ( I am not religious but it seems convenient timing) I might try the next 38 days without…… I’ll let you know how it goes!vodkaimage

Four ways to help prevent alcohol affecting your mood

  1. Use exercise and relaxation to tackle stress instead of alcohol.
  2. Learn breathing techniques to try when you feel anxious.
  3. Talk to someone about your worries. Don’t try and mask them with alcohol.
  4. Always be aware of why you’re drinking. Don’t assume it will make a bad feeling go away, it’s more likely to exaggerate it.

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