The longer time since my last drink, the more introspective I have become on my alcoholism and the more wise I have become on the dangers of alcohol and the impact it had on my life. It took me a long time to realise I was an alcoholic and needed treatment, but I am lucky because I realised this in my 30’s and not my 50’s or older.
The Early Signs of Alcoholsm
My relationship with alcohol has always been complex and when I remember back to my early drinking experiences as a teenager, I always drank to excess, I always blacked out and I could never handle my alcohol. I remember listening to an addiction psychologist explain on Youtube that if you are blacking out when you first start drinking, it is almost guaranteed that you will have a problem with alcohol.
Throughout my twenties I had a range of experiences with alcohol, I was married young and didn’t drink much throughout my marriage, but when I divorced I made up for lost time. I used alcohol to be a social lubricant and I also felt that by getting married so young, I needed to make up for lost time and party hard when I became single.
Whenever I was in a relationship I would remain predominantly sober, but when a relationship ended, I turned to liquor.
When it started to crash
When I was 30 my life imploded, I ended a long term relationship and engagement to a wonderful man, but a man who wasn’t right for me, I was made redundant and I had to sell my house all within a 2 month period. I had made the decision when my engagement ended that I wanted to spend some time travelling solo because this was something that I had always wanted to do.
From finishing up work until starting my trip there was a few month gap and as such, I found myself drawn to people who wanted to party and drink. I was soon spending at least one night on the weekend drinking to all hours of the morning and then I would spend the next day in bed, violently ill with a mean hangover.
I was having alot of trouble sleeping during this time and for the first time in my life I started to turn to a daily glass of wine as a night cap. It was a game changer for me, I went from lying awake till the wee hours of the morning, to relaxed, chilled and dozing off happily after a couple of glasses of red. I felt like a sophisticated professional because I had fancy stem wear and was drinking nice red wine.
The First Crash – Shock Waves
After my engagement broke down I finally went on the backpacking adventure that I had always dreamed about. I will never forget the day I left Australia, I was feeling liberated and vulnerable, I was on my way to Nepal to do the famed Annapurna circuit.
Alcohol had started to become a big part of my life, I drank on the flight over to Nepal and when I arrived in Kathmandu, I would spend the days exploring and the evenings I would find a restaurant or bar that had food, beer and wifi. I would sit down journalling all about my days and the creative juices from the liquor would really inspire me.
For the first few months of my trip I was pretty relaxed, I was drinking on my own regularly but not because I wanted to be social, but just because it’s what I felt like doing. I spent time travelling through Nepal, India and Sri Lanka, I had never been this happy in my life.
After the first 3 months it was time to travel to the African continent where I was going to begin a 3 month overland journey through 10 countries. The first stop was to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and then I would join an organised tour to travel overland from Kenya to Cape Town.
My tour group wasn’t the most exciting bunch of people but I was happy enough. One thing that did happen was that there were copious amounts of drinking involved, I found a great campanion in our tour leader we spent our days doing many exciting adventures in all the towns we visited and our evenings were spent drinking beers by the camp fires.
Before I knew it I was consuming a stupid amount of liquor every day, to the point that I was constantly feeling ill, but I would manage this feeling by starting to drink earlier and earlier each night. By the time we were half way through the tour I was desperate for some alcohol free nights, but there was always someone who was looking for a good time, and I could never say no.
This African trip really made booze a part of my daily life and ever since then, I have never been the same since. After Africa I went to Turkey, Egypt, back to Sri Lanka and then through Europe. I had built up such a tolerance to alcohol that a couple of drinks just wouldn’t do anything for me.
When I arrived back in Australia I found myself in a relationship with a full blown alcoholic. He was a nice guy, but deeply troubled behind his rough bad-boy exterior. This wasn’t the best combination for me because every night when he got home he would smash 4-6 beers and then move onto bourbon. This effectively got me into a routine of drinking every single day and drinking heavily. I ended that relationship because I got an opportunity for a promotion at work and to move interstate.
When I relocated to Melbourne, I was living in South Yarra, a hip and trendy suburb with load of cafes, restaurants and bars. The suburb thrived and every evening I would go for a walk, get dinner and have a few drinks. I would always have several bottles of red wine at home waiting for me when I got back to my apartment.
I met my husband in Melbourne and it was the most wonderful experience of my life. My husband truly is an amazing man, and to this day I feel so incredibly blessed that he is my husband. He is a high achieving brilliant man, he excels in everything he does and he supports me wholeheartedly in everything I want to do.
We decided to try for a baby and surprised ourselves when we fell pregnant straight away. It was an incredible and surreal experience, I immediately stopped drinking and vowed that I wouldn’t drink again until after the baby was born.
Literally on the day my daughter was born I found myself drinking red wine in the hospital (yes, surprisingly the hospital offered beer, wine and champagne as part of their dinner menu). That first drink set me off in a big way, it was like the moment the wine hit my lips I just felt like I needed to make up for lost time.
Within weeks of my daughters birth I was drinking heavily, I would easily polish off a bottle of wine, if not more and regularly I would also incorporate whiskey into my evening. My husband was starting to get worried about me, so with his support I went to the GP and was prescribed Cameral in a bid to stop drinking.
Camperal is a great medication, however you have to actually take it, and this was something I wasn’t good at. I tried cutting back unsuccessfully and I also started seeing a counsellor, but this didn’t really work for me at all. I drank heavily until we started trying for a second child.
Because I was afraid of jinxing my fertility, I said to my husband that I would continue to drink as normal until such time as I tested positive for pregnancy. That day I stopped drinking immediately and again remained sober for the rest of the pregnancy.
At the hospital after the second baby I immediately asked for a glass of red wine and within hours of delivering a healthy baby girl, I was drinking red Wine combined with pain killers to take the edge off my anxiety. Like with my first daughter, my drinking made up for lost time and every night I was drinking heavily.
There were several times when I tried to stop drinking because my husband was really worried about me. I would stop for a few days and then would call him on his way home from work to beg him to pick hip some wine. He would oblige, but he wasn’t happy about it. This continued on until my youngest was 18 months old. It was then that my husband and I agreed that I had a problem and I needed to do something about it.
So I looked into Alcoholics Anonymous and found my first meeting. This was a game changer for me. I met some incredible people, people just like me who have a problem with alcohol.
For so long I had excused my alcoholism because I thought, I have my shit together, how can I be an alcoholic? But it turns out that alcoholism affects people from all walks of life. I was just lucky, I nipped my alcoholism in the butt before it took over and ruined my life.
When I went through the cycle of addiction I new then and there that I was an addict and that the only was I could manage my condition was through sheer abstinence. Because just one drink would set me off, as long as I can remember I have never been able to have just one drink, no matter how much I wanted too.