Hitting rock bottom in January: New Year, New Life

So it’s January and the party’s over.

I am filled with a sense of dread.

It’s the same sense of dread that I feel when the sun is coming up about 6am, and I’m sobering up enough to know that I have to go home and sleep, suffer the hangover and face reality.

I don’t know how to feel comfortable with reality and I know there’s a mountain of stuff that I should have done.

I can’t define the stuff, it’s just stuff, but it feels like intense pressure.

I can’t remember much about the festive holidays since the work Christmas party on the 20th December.

It’s been a long binge with just 1 or 2 recovery days between parties. I’ve had a persistent cold for a few weeks but each evening I find myself buying a 6 pack of beer and this somehow numbs the effects of being sick.

My mood fluctuates between fear, panic and frustration. Man!, January sucks. I find the perfect excuse to drink every day.

Oh yeah, my girlfriend has left me. She left 2 weeks ago, just after Christmas. She says it’s temporary. She says I’m not myself, that she doesn’t recognise me when I drink now.

She says that I am completely out of control and lie all the time, that “I’m just not there”.

Whatever that means. She doesn’t think I’m happy, that I seem miserable all the time. I hate thinking about this and the only thing I can do to not feel it is to drink.

I look through my contact list and there’s nobody that I want to speak with or to arrange a drink with.

I feel extremely alone. I’m hungry. I’m tired.

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The people at the regular kebab place don’t seem happy to see me. I order the food and a beer and sit outside on a cold metal chair.

It’s 5 pm and this is the first food I have been able to eat all day. It takes me 30 minutes to drink the first beer. My stomach is resistant to the food and beer but I know it’ll help me to drink more. The second beer starts to ease my mental tension. The noise of my thoughts quietens and the pressure in my mind dissipates a little.

I think I have a problem. I know I have a problem. I think I’ve known for quite some time now.

People call me a drunk, a Jekyll and Hyde type. I decide that I am going to show them all that I am fine. That I just drink a bit much sometimes. Who doesn’t? But I do need to lay off it for a while.

I make a resolution “I’m going to give up drinking for the rest of January.”

Happy with this decision I order another beer and tell myself this will start tomorrow.

For the next 2 days I don’t drink.

Friday arrives and a friend is having a party. The plan is to show up late, pop in for an hour and give him a present and then “ghost out” without anyone noticing. I won’t drink.

I sit in the party, quietly observing everyone enjoying themselves. I feel extremely uncomfortable. I constantly ask myself why I am not drinking. This goes on for about 2 hours. By then the party is in full swing. Nobody notices that I am not drinking. Oh, to hell with this.. I can stop drinking tomorrow.

I grab a bottle and start to make up for lost time. I find myself getting drunk very quickly.

The next thing I remember is waking up on my friends couch, But’s not Saturday, it’s Sunday.

The place stinks of cigarettes and booze and I feel disgusting. I’m very confused. I feel shock about the blackout memory loss. I feel panic about looking at my bank balance.

The experiment of not drinking had clearly failed.

At first I laughed at myself but soon felt a deep sorrow, or was it an emptiness?. I can’t tell anymore.

I tried the not drinking experiment a few more times and each time the same thing happened. The binges got worse.

I recognised that drinking wasn’t working for me, that I wasn’t enjoying it. Sometimes I almost resented it. But I no other ideas. What could I do?

January passes into February.

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It’s a Thursday and after a hard day at work I found myself in the pub with workmates. The pints are flowing. The only time I feel in touch with my emotions is after the first 2 drinks.

I text my girlfriend to tell her that I miss her. She asks how the not drinking thing is going and I lie and tell her that it’s actually not too bad.

Fast forward to 4am and I’m in the only bar still open. It’s a rock/heavy metal themed place with long-haired dudes playing pool and somehow I ordered a bottle of champagne on my maxed credit card.

The only thing I really want is complete oblivion.

I’m a total mess by this stage, completely detached from reality, in a sort of drunk zombie state. But I remember. I remember collapsing onto my knees and pouring the rest the champagne over my head, crying and screaming, while everyone else looked on in amazement.

And in a sudden moment of clarity I stop and ask myself “who is this?” “what is this?”, “is this who my parents wanted me to be?” “Is this who I want to be?.”

I remember the devastating feeling of utter emptiness, of moral bankruptcy, and soul sickness.

This was my rock bottom.

The next day when I woke up and knew I needed help. I just couldn’t do this my myself.

I had struggled through January and failed terribly. I was shell-shocked, destroyed and emotionally vacant.

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I called several numbers and honestly asked for help. And I found it.

I’m writing this with the hope that someone out there might read it and learn from my experience, or at least pause to think about it.

If you (or someone you know) relate to this story then consider the following questions:

  • How often do you drink more than you planned to drink?
  • Have you ever tried to quit drinking/using substances and were unsuccessful?
  • How much time do you spend each week drinking or abusing substances?
  • Do you ever get an urge to drink or a craving for alcohol?
  • Do you ever miss work or other obligations due to drinking?
  • Has your drinking negatively affected your social or family relationships?
  • Does your drinking ever put you in dangerous situations?
  • Has drinking caused any persistent health problems?
  • Does alcohol still give you the same feeling?
  • Do you have blackouts when you drink/use substances?

My rock bottom experience shocked me into asking for help.

This is the first step in recovery.

The rest of my story is about relief from addiction, discovering the joy of life again, learning who I really am and getting a real sense that my life has meaning and significance.

Oh, and I was lucky enough to marry that girl.

My life is incomparably better without alcohol and addictive substances.

If you have any questions please contact Camino Recovery.


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