Everyone you meet has a story and I feel once you start to get to know someone, it paints a picture in your mind of who you perceive them to be. I think it helps, when understanding a person to also understand their experiences and what has made them who they are.
I thought it was time I shared a little bit about myself and why I chose sobriety.
I still continually wonder how I got to the position of being 23 years of age and a recovering alcoholic. It is still a shock and is a hard thing to come to terms with, but from what I am learning the more awareness I have and the more I talk about it the easier it becomes. I have always been the ‘Straight A’ student who had only touched alcohol twice under the age of 18 to then becoming a party girl and always searching for the next big night.
At just 22, I was a recognised and medicated alcoholic. I always thought I was just young, having fun and enjoying the newfound scene. This scene which I had involved myself in gave me a sense of social validation which became apparent that was something I was lacking. However, what I didn’t realise was, which as ironic as it is, in my search for a better life I in turn began destroying my already perfect life.
I just didn’t see it.
Through excessive drinking I became someone who was completely separate from who everyone (including myself) knew me to be. It was like an alter ego, in the worst way possible.
I made no time for anyone that mattered to me and I treated those around me as though they would be there forever, (thankfully some of them still are), many aren’t and for good reason. I considered all of my actions to be normal for an 18-year-old, but I am now realising they very much weren’t. I became consumed in self-worth issues, bad relationships and was seeking approval from people whose opinion never mattered.
I eventually decided I was going to up and leave my cosy hometown. This would have been normal for someone seeking change and a new chapter, but this was standard behaviour for me, running from issues that were considered difficult. I left on rocky terms with my family, a lot of friends and every bar in town.
Sydney was a great move for me! I was studying again which wasn’t something I saw myself doing after leaving high school. I was working in a bar which was way out of my comfort zone pushing myself to new limits. I met some amazing people and had some great times which are very special, and I am so grateful for.
After spending 3 months in Sydney my life was turned upside down. I had never experienced grief as confronting as I did. I received a phone call telling me that a close family member had passed away by suicide, I remember the first thing I did was open that bottle of $5 trashy chardonnay. I started drinking at 7 o’clock in the morning. I then continued on to a pub crawl throughout Sydney, even when everyone else had left, I still kept going to the point where I was yet again forcibly removed from another bar.
Something changed in my life that day, in all of my family’s life, and it was something I felt responsible for. Deep down I knew it was not my fault but also knowing that I was the last of our family to see him alive was a very confronting feeling. There was constant thought in my mind of what more I could have done… How did I not see that he was in pain?
I felt as though I had let him down, I was struggling to deal with grief and that took a massive toll on me. Once again, I found myself back in self-destruction mode. I had reached the point where I had to move back home. This was the first time I acknowledged how my drinking was affecting my mental health. By this stage my drinking had gotten so out of hand plus with my mental health deteriorating rapidly, I nearly did not make it back from Sydney.
Even after returning home, it was still not enough for me to face my issues, meet sobriety or seek help.
When I got home, I was still incredibly broken, the guilt and pain was still too much to handle. By this stage I was on an extreme downward spiral. I started to bender again and found myself, once again pushing those closest to me away. I would never acknowledge any wrongdoing nor take accountability for my actions, I still at this stage was not aware of the consequences of my actions. I was not capable of making responsible decisions plus I was still in self-destruction mode, anyone who got in my way was certain to get hurt.
I had well and truly driven away my closest friends, my family and people who cared about me. Looking back now there are many things I regret, however, for me to overcome my substance abuse I am going to have to move forward and not dwell on mistakes I have made.
I now know that I was responsible what I was doing, and I cannot shift the blame onto anyone else. I am able to now look back and can say I have learnt a lot from my wrong doings and bad choices. I am now stronger than ever and have been able to work through and deal with some of the issues that led me down this path. I still have a long way to go. Dealing with the passing of my cousin has been a major breakthrough for me being able to go sober. I have been dealing with the grief, pain and trauma head on, swapping out the alcohol for different coping mechanisms.
This is not about making a sad story it is about bringing awareness of how easily these things can unfortunately happen, I feel that substance abuse whether it being drugs or alcohol need to be more highly recognised. I have been watching and tried to understand people’s intolerances around substance abuse, I am starting to see how little people actually know about the issue.
If there is one thing I would take away from my experience it would be to keep your friends and family close, they’re just trying to help. You may not want it or see it at the time but they are acting with your best interests at heart.
Please, if you are or know of anyone struggling whether it be substance abuse or issues around mental health, please seek help. I am always around for a chat and am more than happy to help, offer support and give guidance.