An entry from my blog on my fight with alcohol.
I’m a bit late this week as I have been really busy. Mostly with hospital appointments, one of which was cancelled when I got there, but one of which was for my eyes, where I got some good news. Not to go into detail, but my vision has been severely compromised for the last 2 years from a condition that is caused mainly my stress. It has now cleared, and while it has left lingering problems it is nothing too bad that I can’t adjust to.
What makes it relevant is the idea that the issue has been caused by stress, and I have certainly been under a huge amount of that, but it has got better recently. I talked about my work situation in my last post, but being removed from that has really helped as for once, the benefit system has actually helped me in the last few months. I’ll come back to that further down.
Last week though was really tough. I wasn’t getting cravings, but reality was starting to crash in. Christmas coming up was driving me mad with all the adverts on TV, the shops relentlessly pushing it and social media driving me mad. Add to that I had some back pain which I think I must have caused when I was last drinking, my taste and smell have been off for months and some of my medication was making my feet swell. Then one day, I had music playing, the TV was on and the phone range. I couldn’t find any remote controls and I just had a breakdown. A full on shout at the world and crawl into bed moment. But it was a good opportunity to reflect on why it happened.
I think it boils down to this. For 20+ years, anytime there has been a problem, or some stress, or I’m lonely, I’ve reached for a drink. It provides temporary relief, then it provides a blackout and refuge from the world. And I have taken that crutch away from myself, and have to deal with it now. A friend pointed out that I’ve never used it as a crutch, but I think he is wrong, and tried to explain it. I am finding facing up to real world problems really tough without drinking. My brain isn’t used to being in a lucid state all of the time, and my body is also having to adjust to this new reality. I have to accept that I will have bad days. I get really tired during the day, or early in the evening, and that’s fine, I need to adjust to all of these things and it will take time to get back to normal.
I spoke to my GP yesterday. He thinks my change in taste and smell where I have an ammonia like taste in my mouth, might be down to having Covid when I didn’t realise it. He changed my blood pressure meds to stop the legs and feet swelling. And told me to just take pain killers and keep moving for my back. All my tests and scans have shown I am OK (relatively OK), I shouldn’t worry and will see him in 4 weeks. I hate it when people are so reasonable and logical when I want to create a drama. He also pointed out what I knew, my body and mind will take time to adjust.
Back to stress and benefits.
When I lost my job in February, I immediately went onto Universal Credit, but also got a sick note from my GP so I didn’t have to look for work straight away. UC nowhere near covers my outgoings, but given the nature of my problem, they did an assessment, which took months to do. In the meantime, I had some money set aside, so was doing OK. After my assessment they decided that I was not able to work, nor was I able to look for work, and this upped my benefit payment by almost 50%. From that point, I didn’t have to look for work, was getting no hassle from the DWP and was nearly getting enough to cover my outgoings. It has reduced my stress levels massively, and where I am now mentally I have started to look for jobs again, just picking ones I know should not cause me too much stress, but its nice to have that luxury. After years of being let down by the benefit system, it is actually helping me now in a meaningful way.
So more good things than bad are happening. My eldest son is back from Uni, my youngest is on holiday from 6th form, so I’ll see a lot more of them in the next few weeks. I’ve decided not to put up a Christmas tree, but I have put some decorations here and there. I go into the next week with more positivity. And then I want to start talking about my past, and how I went from being a social drinker to being a chronic drinker. Not going to use the word alcoholic because I don’t like it, I don’t like labels. But I want to talk about how I got here.
As I write this it is 22 days and 19 hours since I last had a drink. I’m only going to count in days now too.