An entry from my blog on my fight with alcohol.
t’s been a pretty strange week. There have been a lot of trigger points that would normally have set me off drinking, my brain has been messing with me as well. However, I have not had any alcohol at all, which means that this is the longest stretch I have been without a single drink in over a year. Last Wednesday was my birthday, which is usually a big trigger to drink the night before or on the day. But not this year. My resolve was strong and I was fine on the Wednesday evening, which brings me to my brain messing with me. Part of dealing with an addiction is the fact that you demand instant gratification, and not just with your addiction, but in most aspects of your life. So now that I’ve decided I am definitely stopping drinking, I expect my life to suddenly snap into place with everything I want. My dreams are full of being back at work, being in a relationship and hanging out with friends. So I woke up on my birthday genuinely feeling really down as I was all alone in my cold flat. I was in tears for the first hour I was up, which rationally, is ridiculous. I have all the home comforts here, I stuck the heating on and I was seeing family all day from lunchtime onwards. But for my brain, that’s not enough. I know it’s going to take time to get myself sorted out and then I can get my life on track.
I’ve also got tremendous pain in my back, which I know is a pulled/strained muscle but my brain is convincing itself it is something far worse. I had an ultrasound scan on my liver, kidneys, gall bladder and pancreas last week as part of my overall checkups, and it was all fine. No liver enlargement, no lumps or bumps, kidneys fine, all more than I could have hoped for. But my head tells me this pain is something more than a muscle, when I know it is not. With all of this going on, plus sport on all weekend and being on my own, the thought of drinking crept in, but was easy to bat away for the most part. Harder than that first week, but still easy enough. I’m also eating too much and have put on weight. But as my specialist said, don’t worry about all that now, we will deal with it in the future. Focus on not drinking and we will come back to the general healthier living. Makes sense but I still need to keep an eye on things now and start to be more sensible.
I want to use this space to talk about attitudes people have towards this problem of alcohol addiction, and talk about the my past, but am not sure how to structure it. This morning though I had an email exchange with my ex-wife that brought some things into focus. I get on fine with my ex, and I was just filling her in on my health status. She signed off saying that she hoped I was ok “after over 20 years of this horrid disease”. And it got me thinking about my last employer who fired me in February, and their attitude to my problem.
I’d been working there for over 2 years/ Its a retail based business, and I was one the top performers out of a large group of employees. In 2021, I did have an issue with missing some time with alcohol problems, and was rightly given a 6 month written warning, during which time I could not go for any promotions or new roles, which I was fine with. They also have excellent employee support, I got counselling from my work provided private healthcare, and after 6 months, it would be wiped from my record. I was great for 6 months, no issues, and the warning period expired. All was good.
The, about 12 months ago, there was a really traumatic event in my immediate family. I won’t go into details but it was a horrible and scary time. I had a drink again, and missed some work. I was completely honest with them about what was going on, which I thought was the right thing to do. I was seeking help, but the local support services were being really slow at getting me on anti-craving medication, despite numerous professionals saying it would help, and provided all this to my employers. However, my managers decided to invoke a clause in my contract that said they could withhold sick pay for addiction issues. This was a choice they made, they did not have to do it. They already knew that I needed extra hours to make ends meet, this was just making things harder on top of my family issues but they made that choice.
They basically didn’t see alcohol addiction as a disease or a mental health issue. I was really shocked that a company that is known for looking after employees (not so much after headlines this year) would take this stance. This obviously made me struggle more, and I missed more time. I was then accused of lying about some of the events I told them had happened, but didn’t register it at the time. Again, later I was angry when I realised this. I was then given a 12 month written warning, despite the fact that 6 was the standard and my circumstances were pretty extreme. I was reeling at this point, and missed a few more days after which I was sacked. I’ve had periods when I have been angry about this, but I’m not wasting my energy on it now. I know that a number of my colleagues approached management about this, but despite how much they ‘cared’ no one has followed up with me to see how I am doing. I know some of the managers are not there anymore, others have had responsibility for dealing with HR issues taken away, but I am still bitter about it.
Luckily I had some money put away, but that has gone now. If I can stay sober though, I’ll get another job in the new year, fingers crossed.
What still amazes me though is that I had letters from my psychiatrist, psychologist and GP recommending medication, emails from the local alcohol services saying they were working to get me on it, but it was not recognised as a mental health problem. It was an addiction, and by inference from their policy, a problem of my own making. I really cannot stress how offensive and wrong I find this. And this is a progressive company, I dread to think how other people get dealt with in other businesses.
It has helped me writing all that down though. Good to get it off my chest. Nice week coming up, my eldest son comes back from his first term at university and I’m getting pleasure again from things I normally find fun, such as video games and building lego. I’ll be writing about the struggle to enjoy life another time.
As I write this it is 13 days and 16 hours since I last had a drink.