In college, I was surrounded by other people like myself that spent the weekend blacked out, throwing up, and waking up a stranger’s bed. This was felt normal, and it was what usually led to the best stories the next morning. It was what everyone was doing and at the time, I could not imagine my life without alcohol. Did I like the taste? Absolutely not. Did I like being drunk? Absolutely.
I was 19 years old when I landed myself in the hospital after a night of binge drinking which lead to a suicide attempt. This was one of the first times I had a licensed professional telling me that I had an alcohol problem. I really did try and stop drinking after this – my parents took my fake(s), I dumped out all of the alcohol in my apartment, and I was determined to stop. Not surprisingly, this lasted maybe 2 months.
I was not ready. I was not ready to think about a social life without alcohol. I was actually terrified at the thought of being the only one at the party not drinking. The thought of not fitting in was scarier than the possibility that I would end back up in the hospital or getting a DUI.
I spent years trying to keep up with this party girl persona that I had built for myself. I spent years refusing to unbottle the emotions and feelings that I was so desperately trying to drown out with alcohol. I could not even think about who I would be without alcohol, who my friends would be, or how the world would perceive me. I was so afraid of rejection and judgement that I was willing to slowly kill myself.
I was drowning and I was the very person holding my own head underwater. I suffer with anxiety and depression and would use alcohol to suppress it. I was essentially taking gasoline (alcohol) and pouring it on the fire inside me (anxiety and depression). My mental health was in shambles as I jumped around from anxiety and depression medications, and honestly never felt like I was getting any better.
Growing up in a family with addiction and alcoholism, I remember being warned that I was genetically wired to have my own problems. You would think that watching some of the smartest people in my family lose or fight desperately against addiction, that I would never want to fall into that hole.
I don’t think you really wake up one day and say “I want to have a problem with alcohol,”, but you don’t have to, because alcohol will make that decision for you. It did for me.
I refused to believe alcohol was the problem, because I was able to maintain good grades, a job, have a good family, and I only really drank on the weekends. I was not waking up and pouring vodka over my cereal every morning. I would wait until the weekend and plan all events around alcohol and would plan to get as intoxicated as possible.
My college drinking habits never really went away. In my “adult” years, I would still go all week without a drink and then lose all control on the weekends. I justified drinking alcohol when I had a hard day, when I was sad, when I wanted to have fun, or when I wanted to be someone else for just a few hours. My mental health was having an even harder time trying to keep up with my drinking and I was having more panic attacks, crippling anxiety, and I was losing sight of who I was even further.
How could the girl that was always had on a smile, showed up to all the events, and was in your 7am spin class have an alcohol problem? Well, let me be the first to tell you, those people may be struggling just as much on the inside.
I woke up on April 13th, 2020 after a night of binge drinking and looked at myself in the mirror. I saw a girl who no longer had the energy to play with fire, no longer had the desire to be the party girl, and who was so dead on the inside that it was going to take a serious changes to bring her back to life. This was the first time in my entire life that I admitted to myself that I needed help and that I wanted to make a change for myself, not because someone was telling me, but because I wanted to. This was the first time in a long time that I felt like I was in control. I was finally ready.
You can have a problem with alcohol before hitting rock bottom. You do not have to hit a rock bottom before making a change. Only you know when you have had enough, only you will have the ability to make a change, and holy shit, I had had enough.
I always felt like I was meant for more. I felt like I had so much to give the world than to be the drunkest girl at the party. I realized that in order to be more for the rest of world, I had to be more for myself.
I was ready to be everything that I preached on social media. Mental health and wellness advocates often leave alcohol out of the conversation – you can do all the yoga and drink all the green juice, but it could truly be alcohol holding you back from the happier and healthier life.
There is something so damn empowering about taking your life back and that is exactly what I did when I stopped drinking.