Alcohol-free anniversary: the first year
This past weekend marked one year alcohol-free. For one whole year, I’ve intentionally chosen my mental health over alcohol. The choice came from waking up on a Sunday morning and feeling as if something was terribly wrong. I couldn’t name what exactly was wrong, but something needed to be fixed and fixed ASAP.
I was panicked, scared, and stressed. I looked at my Husband and said, “Something is very wrong. I don’t know what, but I feel like it’s all about to fall apart.” The reality was everything was fine. My brain was just working against a large consumption of alcohol the night before.
Drinking was never a large part of my life, but Friday and Saturday nights usually mean 2-3 drinks and a glass of wine on a weeknight date night. It was enough to throw my brain off balance and actively work against my medication. I could take my meds at the exact same time every day, but they weren’t doing any good when I was adding alcohol to the mix. I decided enough was enough. I had done so much work to reduce anxiety in my life and knew the biggest roadblock I was still facing was drinking. So, I stopped.
To be honest, it wasn’t all that hard. There are a few things that come to mind that helped immensely, and I wanted to share them with you:
- My support system. First and foremost, I have the sweetest Husband in the world. As soon as I made my decision, he was sending me mocktail recipes and directed my attention to the NA options on every menu. He’s seen me in the midst of panic attacks and he was there that morning when the world was burning in my mind. He has been my greatest support this year and has made the decision so easy.
- Sharing on social. Now, this may be a weird one to add to the list, but when I started talking about my decision on social, my friends watched my stories and saw my posts. They were also incredibly supportive and added NA options to any gathering we attended – without even being asked to do so. I always brought my own, but still found options waiting for me when we arrived at any gathering. I’ll add here, I’ve never struggled with an addiction to alcohol. I don’t feel the weight of addiction when I’m around it, and it made no difference to me if others were drinking.
- Non-Alcoholic options are becoming more and more popular! I live in the Twin Cities and NA options are popping up on menus around both cities. It has made it so easy to order a drink that is fun and colorful, but still non-alcoholic. And delicious! I’m grateful for this trend and only see the popularity continue to grow as more and more people decide to be alcohol-free.
- People rapidly stopped asking why. In the very early days, I’m talking the first month, people did ask if I was hiding a pregnancy. I expected it – we’re married and I was actively choosing not to drink. This really didn’t last long though, and as soon as I mentioned my mental health, they stopped asking. I thought it would be the first question people asked for a while, but it really wasn’t. Many didn’t ask at all. If they offered me a drink, I’d simply say “Actually, I don’t drink, but I’d love a….” That would be it. Quick, simple, and respectful.
Now, here I am a full year later, thinking about how quickly it went and just how worth it the decision has been. I’m not cured of high anxiety – that will never be a thing – but I don’t struggle weekly like I used to. My therapist and I spend more time celebrating wins than trying to find more coping mechanisms. I can’t tell you the last time I woke up in a panic. It feels amazing to wake up feeling rested and ready for a new day. I definitely don’t miss hangovers and I feel like I got so much of my life back when I’m not spending entire days on a couch deciding if the DoorDash delivery fee I’ve been debating for 45 minutes is worth it.
If you’re debating the decision to stop drinking, I can’t recommend it enough. There will be an adjustment period for everyone, be prepared for that, but that will pass and you’ll come out the other end feeling better than ever. I encourage you to try new things on the NA menu, talk about your decision with trusted friends, and share the decision broadly when you’re ready. Feel free to DM me or email me if you have questions or want some support. I’d love to hear from you!