Saturday, 14 March 2015

Sobriety: The First 7 Days by Megan Reekie-Kay

"Sobriety delivers everything alcohol promised"

Day 1:
 I woke with a start at 7am, paralysed with the fear, the only thought circling my mind –ending my life. Literally. I know we’ve all had bad hangovers where you mope around all day cradling a 2litre bottle of fizzy juice exclaiming “this is the worst hangover ever I want to die”. But this was different, the waves of nausea hurtling over me in conjunction with the fear which feels as if thousands of millions of tiny bugs and beasties covering my body, all over my face, in my mouth and in my brain and every time I tried to swipe them off me thousand more would fill the gap. It was hell, and even in this awful state the thought of having some drinks and ending the torment was tantalisingly appealing.  But this time I knew I couldn’t I had to ride it out, get over it and get off the drink.
I have used alcohol to make every day better than it was when I woke up, I have used it to fill gaps in time and to avoid doing important things I actually need to do. Put it this way, I’m always the person who suggests margaritas at 10am and am always game for a drink. However it has only been in the last year I have let it take over almost everything I do, I’ve let it destroy relationships, friendships, education, how people I know view me, how people I don’t know view me. I’ve been kicked out of bars, clubs, refused out taxi’s, hospitalised and sustained many, many injuries. I’ve hurt people I love and most of all I’ve just ended up hurting myself. And it has to stop. Every day for the last long while has started the same, thinking about what sort of drink I felt like and when in the day could I make it happen. Every opportunity I had to have a drink I would and if I couldn’t, I would be not be happy about it. I knew the bottles of tequila, gin, vodka, boxes of wine and ready made gin & tonic cans, margarita mix, pint cans of Stella and endless bottles of prosecco were adding up, it wasn’t until I used the Drink Aware units calculator and realised that in an average week I was consuming between 50 and 70 units. The recommended units per week for woman are 14.

Day 2:
 Having spent the most part of the previous day coaching myself through by telling myself how much better I will feel tomorrow, I was relieved to open my eyes and have the sun stream through on my face and for a split second i was deluded under the impression everything was going to be okay again. Then it hit me, the fear as brash and creepy as ever not even let me take a full breath of air before putting pains in my lungs discomforting enough to make me want to be sick. The only thing I could think of was to have a couple of beers take the edge off, try and enjoy the sunshine and forget about how I was feeling.  The day was not fun, I no longer had the physical symptoms of the hangover but I was also never no further than a few minutes away from searing panic and fear.

Day 3:
 Expecting to wake up full of energy after having not 1 but 2 whole days without a drink (something not achieved in many years), but unfortunately that was not the case, I spent most of the night overheating to the maximum, waking every hour with the fear, completely congested from a cold I developed, surprise, surprise 3 days ago and in general complete discomfort. Usually Monday Is a good day, I don’t start college until 1pm so I can get up at 10.30, leave early and get a coffee but today I didn’t want know about it. I didn’t even want to go back to bed and hide from the world, I wanted to hide from myself, something only achieved after 7 large glasses of Shiraz. So I phoned the doctor and made an appointment for Friday, day 7, and went to college.
Do you know easy it is to incorporate an alcoholic drink into almost every moment of the day, every occasion can have a drink attached to it. Baileys in your coffee in the morning, ready made gin & tonic’s for the train (doubles, of course), grab lunch somewhere nice and not just have one glass of wine or 1 cocktail and be quiet and polite but instead order pitchers of cocktails and bottles of wine and fizz, get completely hammered and embarrass yourself and everyone around you. Its only ever a few hours from the first drink until you blackout. Thank god, another day over.

Day 4: 
The sun has been shining all day, outside however, not in my heart. Waking up was easier than yesterday but I am yet to spring out of bed with the energy and lust for life I should have. All normal things of the day should have been completely fine, better than average actually but inside me the fear was still there, like an nasty little creature surviving off my happiness and peace and loving seeing me suffer, enjoying it and mocking me.
I have spent the last few days thinking about making drastic choices, in the beginning ending my life then less drastic such as moving country immediately, having a baby, buying a tent and a plane ticket, adopting a dog, completely leaving my life and never making contact with anyone I currently know again and even joining the Royal Air Force. But I know truthfully that these are all attempts to run away from myself, and no matter how far you flee in the world, you can never ever escape from yourself. So I rationalised my feelings and decided to make peace. To stop forcing a life of plans and control on myself and just let the path open up in front of me by making the right choices and doing good things. Showing the world I am a good person not just talking about it, performing acts of kindness in everything I do and really trying hard to project goodness and positivity into the world

Day 5: 
 Much the same as yesterday I have no gusto for the day, sleep is not much better and I feel so utterly dull and boring. I am reminded of the Friends episode about ‘fun Bobby’. Fun Bobby was a man whom Monica was dating, he was drinking heavily and the group intervened and he got sober. But he was no longer ‘fun’ Bobby, the personality that had attracted him to Monica was fabricated through alcohol and when he was off it Monica did not find him half as fun and subsequently their relationship did not last. This is how I feel today, quiet with not much to say, no anecdotes of the previous night and not a lot to look forward too. I have made drinking part of my identity for a very long time and now i feel at a loss of what to do with myself, who to be. Even my sidebar pictures features my holding a Pimms royal (Pimms and champagne), because whats a better mixer with your alcohol than more alcohol. Usually I would think about having a drink all day and be so exited to get stuck into a box of wine or make cocktails I would literally go around all day yelling ‘TEQUILA!!!’ in excitement. Now I just think oh well I’ll just have a cup of tea then. Great fun. Not.

Day 6:
 Blackouts: When some get drunk they reach a point where they are as paralytic as they can get and usually just pass out no harm done the night is over for then. However for others they continue well into the night (or day), having conversations and interactions and making decisions and doing things but completely and utterly drunk. I have frequented this state on numerous occasions and it is the most terrifying experience the next day. You just have no clue whatsoever what happened, where you were, how you got home, how you managed to order pizza then drop it face down in your bed, where are your shoes, do you have your phone, your purse, your underwear…the list goes on. You can recall the first bottle of pink fizz, 3 pints, neat rum, a white Russian, 2 double gin and tonics, an espressotini then…blank. I have been woken by a paramedic lying in a Starbucks doorway and flung in an ambulance, I have been woken lying on the pavement by a taxi driver wanting to take me back to my house, I have been contacted on Facebook by a stranger who found my passport in the street lying next to a bin, not too many hours after I had been lying next to that bin. In all honesty, I don’t actually want to know what happens during the blackout time, when asked if I want to know what happened by others I always say no and presume the worst. If others hate me because of my behaviour and actions whilst intoxicated it doesn’t even dent. I hate me even more.

Day 7: 
This has definitely been the best day in a bad week so far, I have slept well, my cold is going away and the fear is ever so slightly loosening it’s icy grip. I am now on a course of Librium to help with the dread and despair and I must say it is working. I keep expecting to have a wave of terror and I think deep down it is still there I just can’t feel it. It’s a very welcome break from the trauma my mind has gone through this week. I still think about having a drink many times a day but I am beginning to accept that I can’t for now and maybe in the future I would like to work towards being able to have 1 or 2 drinks every now and again and develop a normal relationship with alcohol. This has been one of the toughest weeks I have experienced but I’m starting to think that maybe, just maybe, everything is going to be okay.

Artwork by Ash Mackenzie

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