Hi everyone! My name is Megan and I work for One You Lincolnshire in the Partnerships and Engagement team. You might have met me at an outreach event, or if you read our newsletter, see our socials posts or check out our website (just like you are now) it's very likely that I created that content!
What made you decide to go sober?
SO MANY REASONS!
First and foremost, the repercussions that came from drinking.
The negative effects drinking had on my body, life and mental health became too hard to ignore. I was spending 2-3 days hungover after an evening drinking or a night out.
I also suffer from chronic headaches, and as you can imagine, drinking doesn't help those in the slightest. Even just a couple of drinks sets those headaches off. Plus, who likes throwing up?
Drinking affected my relationships. I said things I shouldn't have said, ruined social occasions by taking it too far or becoming extremely emotional (alcohol is a depressant) and had my fair share of being asked to leave venues because of the state I was in or my behaviour when drunk (not my proudest moments).
I noticed alcohol was harming my mental health too. I suffered from hangxiety the morning after drinking. Blurry versions of what happened the night before would replay in my head, worrying over what I'd said, what I'd done – the embarrassment! And oh, shoot! Did I manage to get my purse, ID and phone home?!
After dealing with being sick and the physical side of drinking too much, in addition to the knock-on effects on my mental health and strained relationships, I was upset with myself for wasting so much time. Days spent in recovery just no longer seemed worth it for the temporary feelings of being the life and soul of the party, totally 'free' and careless with no inhibitions, worries or responsibilities for a few hours.
After repeating this pattern of drinking, having a terrible experience, laying off it for a while and then doing it again, eventually I realised that I didn't want to be that person anymore. I didn't want to live the rest of my life like this. Seeing some of my family members have issues with alcohol helped me to make this decision, too.
I drank my last alcoholic drink on New Year's Eve 2020, made the decision to go sober from Jan 1st 2021 and haven't looked back since.
What was the hardest part of going sober?
One was getting others to understand that I'm not drinking. Not just one or two. Not just for today or this week, but indefinitely. Not for your birthday, not for my birthday, not for Christmas or any other special occasion. I'll celebrate with you, but I'll be sticking to the no-alcohol options. Peoples automatic response to you not drinking is often no alcohol = boring, but this isn't true! I still love a boogie on the dance floor and a deep late-night chat. I'm just fully present for those activities now. Also, yes, I am a bit boring – but for totally unrelated reasons, okay!
The second hardest part was getting really honest with myself and almost mourning the person I became when I drank. I had to realise I wasn't this fun, extroverted party girl and pretending to be her wasn't only inauthentic, but did me no good.
What's been the hardest part of staying sober?
It's been pretty easy and smooth sailing, to be honest! I was never a huge fan of the taste of most alcohol, and the drinks I did used to like now have bad memories associated with them (the smell - yikes!).
At certain points in my journey I've thought about just having a couple of drinks (usually when I'm attending some form of social occasion) but I remember it isn't worth it for me and find another option instead. Moderation isn't my friend.
So, what do you drink now?
Well, first of all, I try to find activities to do that don't revolve around drinking. Being in my 20's that can sometimes be a challenge when meeting up with friends.
If I'm out, my go-to is normally a coke, that's a nice treat. Failing that, I'll opt for orange juice or maybe a mocktail if I'm pushing the boat out! Choosing to have water every now and then is also great for my bank balance and for staying hydrated.
If I'm staying in and want a nice drink, I'll usually opt for Shloer which is a sparkling grape juice type drink. I'll have it out of a wine glass too. You know, just to feel fancy. Now that it's cold and dark in the evenings I love sitting down with a nice hot chocolate. There are plenty of low and no-alcohol options if you miss the taste, but I'm not a fan.
How have you stayed motivated to remain sober all this time?
When it gets tempting to drink, I remember the hangovers, hanxiety, tears, poor mental health and wasted days spent in bed feeling sorry for myself. I'm a sensitive individual and hate being ill, so that remains a strong motivator for me.
Also, celebrating milestones keeps me motivated. One year sober was a huge achievement for me and I can't believe it's been almost two years now! In the earlier days, it was celebrating weekly/monthly by just acknowledging how proud I am of myself for sticking to my guns and doing what's best for me and my health. That feels great.
What would your advice be to others who are thinking about cutting down and quitting?
There's so much I could say here! If someone is sober curious, I'd recommend them to connect with their 'why' AKA their main reason for wanting to do this. Write it down so you can remind yourself when the going gets tough.
Making a list of all the benefits also helps. Here, I'll start you off. It might look a little something like:
- Reduced anxiety after a night out
- No worries over a lost purse/phone/bag
- Saving X amount of money each week/month
- No more wasted days in bed
And so on… make it as personal to you as possible!
Those are the positive bits, and you're not going to like this one… but eventually you're going to have to face the reason why you drink. I mean, really face it. Not just at the surface level. Whatever it is, this is crucial to understanding yourself and your habits and behaviours. It can also help to increase your chances of remaining on this journey by identifying your 'triggers'. Whether it's stress, low confidence, isolation, or to numb the pain of something you're experiencing, it's going to come up eventually (sorry).
Having someone else to support you on the journey can be a massive help. It can feel very lonely in the beginning. When I decided to quit, I didn't have anyone in real life to relate to, so I connected with online communities instead by searching for hashtags such as #sobercurious to find like-minded people doing the same as me.
Remember, you can always reach out to One You Lincolnshire for support to reduce your drinking. I'd recommended trying our 28-day alcohol-free challenge, Cork It! But there's plenty of other options to reduce your drinking, too. Our friendly and non-judgemental Health Coaches can help you every step of the way.
Feeling motivated and inspired to make a change? Find out about the drink less support we offer here at One You Lincolnshire including:
*We are commissioned to offer free support to people who drink over 14 units per week and are not dependent on alcohol. If you feel you need help with alcohol dependency, please get in touch with We Are With You Lincs for help and advice.