I want to talk a little bit about mental illness and drinking problems. They often go hand in hand, and have done so for me in the past. When things have become too much for me, I have many times started drinking as a way of coping. Of course, drinking can be a very pleasant and fun experience, but it’s important to be aware of all the factors playing a part before you start sipping.
Drinking can often be a form of self-medication which is used to help with mental illnesses. In the short run, it can make you happier, more relaxed and more confident, all great things. But unfortunately these are quick fixes which do not last. More often than not they are overtaken by the dreaded hangover with all its mentally tiring effects, and if you drink too much there can be far more serious consequences, both immediately and long term.
Alcohol: a depressant
Furthermore, alcohol is actually a depressant which worsens feelings of depression and anxiety. So while many find it to be a helpful form of self-medication, it isn’t very useful in the long run. When drinking more than just the one, alcohol disrupts the balance of chemicals in your brain that affect your mood, heightening feelings of sadness and nervousness.
You should always be aware of why you are drinking. If it is because you are feeling anxious or nervous, sad or depressed, there might be other options which could be more helpful, breathing techniques, exercise, self-care, talking to a trusted friend.
The most important thing is to be aware of your circumstances when you drink. Why are you drinking? How much? Are you in a safe environment? What is your relationship to alcohol?
Most of the time, there is no straight answer as to whether or not drinking is good, it all depends on your own personal sets of experiences and circumstances, so be sure to think it through for yourself. If you do, then the answer will most likely be staring you in the face.
It feels like I’ve had endless experiences with alcohol. Very many of them are now incredibly fun and happy memories for me, and then there are the not so good times… Last summer I realised it was quite a big problem for me when I was sent in an ambulance to A&E – not good! At the time I was using drink as a form of escapism and self-medication, I was drinking alone, I hadn’t eaten, and I was in a pub with loads of stranger – a downright terrible combination!
The solution for me was to go completely cold-turkey for quite a few months, and now I only drink one or two units with friends and family. It’s a big turnaround from the drinking habits I had in my London days – but as much as it sometimes feels like I am missing out on the fun, I do overall feel healthier and happier.
Have a good Saturday guys and remember to celebrate the weekend with moderation!