for better mental health

One more pint

Wednesday, 22 February 2017 Tom

Tom blogs about how using alcohol to mask his depression lead to the loss of something very important to him.

I often used to tell myself that, sat at the bar in a pub round the corner from my work. If I’m in a place where there’s people, laughter, noise then it’s okay.

"I wasn’t at home drinking Jack Daniels by the bottle, I was in a pub, drinking socially. It’s fine."

I hated the long commute home, inevitable delays through Elephant, then Kennington, then Brixton, that bus always seemed to take forever.

I needed a window seat, to look out of, to distract me from my thoughts. I was depressed. I underestimated its hold on me in the early days. I turned to drink, it was easy.

Alcohol masqueraded itself as a reliable friend whom I could lean on. Always abundant, I could literally sink into a pint and everything would be better. So it seemed.

"But it’s a mask, a lie, alcohol only serves to make things worse when you feel low."

For me, it lightened me up, initially, my friends never knew the extent of my depression because to them, down the pub I was still the same chirpy and excitable Tom as always.

My problems really started when I got home. When that veneer and buzz wore off, more often than not I broke down. They became worse over time.

Fits of intense rage (at myself) and episodic crying became the norm. I became adept at crying silently, usually when I was in the bathroom. Staring at myself in the mirror, I hated myself and what I had become. My girlfriend was sat completely unaware next door.

"I became reliant on alcohol. I needed a ‘top up’ every evening, needed that pint after work."

Inevitably, it caused a rift in my relationship. I still consider it the major factor in my eventual breakup. She often commented on my drinking, and she was right, I was dependant on it. I was so blind to it.

Because alcohol numbed all the emotion of the war that was raging inside my head. It was only when it was too late that I noticed behind her eyes there was no longer that spark when she looked at me. It was replaced with a growing resentment. She never smiled at me. My drinking had ground her down.

"She was behind me 100% with my depression but I chose drinking over getting help, in doing so I pushed her away."

Because of how low I was feeling, my drinking started of as a distraction, I’d always liked a few pints out with mates.

I’m a pretty regular 25 year old, I like watching footy down the pub and rubbing it in my mates faces when their team loses. But this was a different mode of drinking. Often sat at the bar, on my phone, on twitter usually. I told myself I needed this two hour slot after work (the slots increased in length over time).

Sometimes I came home drunk, arguments ensued. My behaviour became more erratic as my depression intensified and I became more self-destructive. I started drinking to punish myself. Getting drunk most nights towards the end.

My ultimate punishment though for not seeking help sooner and choosing alcohol was losing my girlfriend and the life we built in London.

Drinking is never the solution, it started off as a release, a distraction but I allowed it to overtake my life because it was easier to drink than to face up and deal with my problems.

"That’s the biggest curse if you like with alcohol, it betrays you in the end."

It doesn’t solve anything but accentuates the issues that lie deep within you.

It makes things so much worse over time. I should have sought help sooner but I took the easy option. Eventually it took away everything.

When I finally sought help for my depression (which came in the form of cognitive behavioural therapy) I saw for the first time the effect drinking played. How it influenced decisions and the impact it had on my home life.

There is help available, it’s down to you and you alone to make the first step. The first step is the most important, that acknowledgement that things aren’t quite right.

And Mind can help you make that first step. Don’t become overwhelmed like I was and don’t do what I did and choose drink, the answer for your issues is never alcohol.

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