I do question my ongoing sobriety from time to time now that my mental health is in a much better place – probably the best place it has been in my adult life. I forget though, that the reason why my mental health is so much better is because of the sobriety. It hasn’t solely fixed me, but it’s no coincidence that abstaining from alcohol has meant less anxiety, panic attacks and periods of depression.
Do I still think about self-harm, sabotage or suicide? Yes
Am I actively looking to follow through on those thoughts? No
The very fact I’ve just brazenly shared that with you says that I am in a good head space and I’m in control.
Accepting that I have a mental health condition which will always put me at a heightened risk of relapse, breakdowns or on a more common scale – depression not only keeps me on alert but it also helps me with self-appreciation. I no longer strive for perfection in every aspect of my life. I no longer look at the past with regret. I no longer challenge myself to do more than is necessary.
We work to live, not live to work. We can’t undo the past. We can’t control the behaviours of others but we can be the best version of ourselves and if that encourages or inspires others to replicate that, jackpot!
That might sound like motivational spiel but they are some of the key things I remind myself every single day. I’m not here to preach or tell you how to live your own life but I can certainly share my own journey and how I keep my head not just above water, but sometimes floating above it too!
I used to be career driven and wanted to climb the corporate ladder quickly. I was salary focused and a lot of my outlook was portraying myself as successful. Probably an insecurity going back to me leaving University after a year and then a very short Army career! I’m a hard worker and would like to think respected in the workplace and that hasn’t changed. The difference between me now and me in the past is I don’t let my job dominate my head on evenings and weekends. I travel much less, I haven’t applied for a promotion in years and I’m probably as happy as I’ve ever been at the company I’ve worked at for 15 years.
If I look at my past it is littered with mistakes and things I’m not proud of but I have spent too much of my adult life fighting myself internally about how I could have done this and that differently. The thing is – and this goes for all of us, why waste our energy on reliving the past? We can’t change it and we won’t gain anything from spending our life mulling over it.
The behaviours of others is another. I have struggled with anger issues in the past (both when sober and drunk!) and had therapy to address my anger before the pandemic. Today isn’t the day I’ll be sharing that particular subject in any detail but things like Yoga, Mindfulness and learning to live within my own control circle means road rage, losing my head as a parent and allowing irritation to spill over into rage is not really something I struggle with anymore.
I’m doing my best at the moment and you know what? It’s enough. I won’t be trying to do any more than I’ve already done today because I’m ending today with a smile, sober, plenty of positive things ticked off at work and home – and I have my Recovery Meeting in less than an hour to reaffirm everything I’ve just shared!