Today marks one year since I gave up drinking for good: 19th December 2016.
I had to: drink was depressing me; I had the initial euphoria from alcohol then the slow slide into anxiety, depression and night demons.
I’d wake up in the middle of the night and revisit the scab from education and pick and pick until it was a bed sore.
Alcohol does that – it is a depressant, it does make you lose focus and despite its taste and sensation, I know I’m never going back (just as I won’t with the poisoned chalice of education).
I worry about becoming one of those pious ex-smokers who tuts openly – will I do the same when I see someone pissed? I doubt it.
So what makes people drinkers, habitual drinkers and dependent on alcohol?
I know, from Taito Space Invaders in my childhood, I have an addictive personality, bordering on OCD. I used to be a “good drunk” too in my teens, twenties and thirties but since hitting lates 40s and 50s, drink makes me bad. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t end up brawling in a street or ram raiding One Stop for Baileys when it’s shut or being abusive to family and friends.
I become bad for myself – and like Mr Hyde, drink makes me change totally.
I become severely depressed, I lose control of thoughts, I start having flashbacks, I relive trauma and workplace bullying.
Being permanently sober means that when I do look back at the recent past in Norfolk education, I don’t linger there and quickly mutter “Fuck them, I’m in a better place now.”
I would say if you suffer from any sort of mental health problems – be it anxiety, stress, depression or suicidal ideation (where you think about killing yourself; where the idea forms), stop any recreational drugs you take (I’ve never used them) and stop drinking. This is not me climbing on an evangelical pulpit and becoming immersed in piety – it’s experience.
Alcoholism, alcohol dependency, binge drinking is a brain disease – it fucks up your neurons, your emotions, your relationships, your work.
The good news though is that after one year of stopping drinking, brain cells regenerate.
This time next year, you will see Stuart Walton writing sober with the intellect of Stephen Hawking.
Or perhaps not.