Struggling a little at the moment. Not so much with my sobriety (thankfully) although my ‘Beast’ has been active this morning trying to get the upper hand. I’m feeling worn out and flat which is normally one of the first warning signs of a bigger problem if I don’t identify and do something about it. I’ve been through my mental health deterioration cycle enough times in my life to recognise it so that’s a huge positive in itself – identifying things aren’t quite right. The tougher step but defining one is actually doing something about it. I could feel sorry for myself like I am this morning and ultimately feel even worse later on, who knows if I’d even succumb to my beast and have alcohol but if I don’t allow it to spiral I know that I still have the control.
I don’t like complaining about life because I immediately feel guilty for doing so and thinking about people who have it worse than me but on the other hand, years of suppressing my feelings and struggles because of that mindset led to much bigger problems. I need to remember that it’s not a competition and my struggles are not comparable to the next person as we all think and process things differently with no two people being the same.
Writing is a big part of the process for me so I know once I’ve finished this I’ll read it back and already feel like I’ve achieved something. I’m not in a dark enough place to warrant an intervention, far from it but I’m in a lull and have been for 3-4 days now. If I feel like this for any more than a day at a time it’s enough of an indicator to get myself focused on managing my mental health effectively.
We’ve had a bit of illness in the house over the last week with my youngest daughter struggling with Tonsilitis, my wife bed bound with Covid and my oldest daughter yesterday coming home from school unwell. I’m for once (so far) holding strong in that respect but I think a combination or work, parenting, the general isolation of spending most of my days indoors and maybe even the mood of the Country are just taking their toll.
I’ve got Yoga Class later which will hopefully help and I’m planning on a Run at some point. I’ll maybe lay off the caffeine too because as much as I love Coffee it isn’t the best for us when we are feeling like this.
Writing a public blog has come with it’s negatives as much as it’s helped me and others who have reached out my way. I’ve shared personal and raw parts of my life with strangers and as we often hear ‘once something is published on the internet there is no going back’. I’ve often thought twice about hitting the publish button but most of the time I’ve gone ahead and shared the draft version of my writing – I guess that’s what a Blog should be shouldn’t it? A raw and uncensored account of my thoughts, reflections and experiences.
When I started this period of my life I often call my ‘recovery journey’ back in February 2021 I wasn’t the person I am today. I was broken, lost and unsure if I wanted to go on anymore. I needed an intervention to change my pathway in life, finally leaving the dark and lonely road I’d be travelling on for a number of years and making the first steps down a new road. A road which felt like it could be kinder to me if I persisted and stuck to it.
I didn’t need to share my story with the ‘World’. I say this tongue in cheek but I’ve had readers from every corner of the World visit my Blog and continue to be humbled that other people have taken the time to read my blabbering. So whilst I didn’t need to start a blog I wanted to use a platform in which I could quickly and easily post my thoughts from a mobile, iPad, laptop, etc. and not rely on carrying a journal. My head is so busy and writing allows me to lighten the traffic in there. I also wanted the option to share the posts at a later date with friends and family if it felt right to do so. I set up the site anonymously and Happy Daddy was my gift to myself as I started an unknown journey into a new way of living. There was never a plan and I’m not sure there ever will be!
Something I’ve come to reflect on a lot in the last 19 months is that whilst staying clean doesn’t fix you it gives you a massive head-start over your demons because you don’t have the fog of substance to alter and influence your thinking and decision making. I’m a lot more attuned to recognising when my mental health is starting to deteriorate and it enables me to apply the techniques and tools that I know can counteract the Depression and Anxiety which has been part of me for over 20 years. One of those tools is writing – something I never used to regularly do until 19 months ago.
I no longer feel shame or embarrassment when telling people that I suffer with mental health conditions either. I will talk to others about my alcohol dependency, being sectioned by the NHS under the Mental Health Act and my episodes of Dissociation which lead to interventions from the Emergency Services. I suffer with an illness and that is nothing to be ashamed about. Yes, I used alcohol to self-medicate and that is harder for people to often sympathise with but I’ve stopped drinking and want to give myself the best possible chance of living a good life where my mental health no longer dictates. I want to make the conversations around addiction and poor mental health more natural and less awkward because I never practiced what I now preach and I reached the cliff edge.
Giving up alcohol shouldn’t ever be underestimated as an easy thing to do. It’s rare for somebody who has drank alcohol for all of their adult life to just ‘stop’ without any strategy. There are certainly people who can do it and I’m in awe of that strength (or maybe just lack of interest in the stuff that dominated my life for 17 years) but it’s also likely that most of those people didn’t have a history of dependency or addiction. The numbers are low in Western society of those able to just end their drinking whilst the relapse / return to drinking rates are high. Let me be clear, I can’t have a glass of champagne at a Wedding. My relationship with alcohol has gone beyond that and there is a very high chance I’d have a full blown relapse if I decided to have that ‘one’ drink. Those reading this now who haven’t had alcohol issues might find this difficult to imagine but that is how delicate recovery can be for us.
That said I’ve chosen a method of recovery which gives me the tools to say that I won’t drink again. It’s not that I can’t drink. I could go and buy some beer right now from the shop across the road. There is nothing stopping me from drinking alcohol. I’ve chosen not to. I’ve chosen not to have ‘one’ drink on a special occasion because my choice is to never drink again. I’m just somebody who doesn’t drink. I didn’t drink yesterday, I won’t drink today and I won’t drink tomorrow.
Most days it takes no effort at all to remain sober but there are occasions where I have to fight my addictive voice and remind myself as to why I don’t drink anymore. Thankfully the addictive voice is a lot quieter than it used to be but I’m not arrogant enough to think I’ll never have a fight with it again. Fortunately I’ve defeated it time and time again in the past three months using AVRT (Addictive Voice Recognition Technique) and that gives me the confidence that when I do need to apply the recognition techniques to remain sober, they will work and I will continue to abstain from alcohol consumption.
So today I end with this. Don’t ever feel shame or embarrassment for what has gone. You’ve made the brave decision to change your direction in life and that shows massive strength. We can’t undo what has already happened but we can control how we shape our future. Don’t sink because of your past, fly high because of what is to come.