Partying and Mental Health. Alcohol and Society. Excess drinking and me. A public apology. And who the fuck are you to judge?
With lessons on: Vulnerability, perfectionism, negative rumination and being human.
Writing predominantly about alcohol is a little bit different than usual, but as there are some huge life lessons for the reader, I wanted to do it anyway.
This is going to demonstrate some serious vulnerability, but I genuinely believe that being vulnerable is a sign of strength, which is the first important lesson for the reader.
It also again highlights that life is never picture fucking perfect (which I often say) and even still as I continue on this journey, I still have my flaws and still make errors in life.
So yes, in a nutshell… I had a bit of a ‘bender’ last weekend, or as it often gets referred to as, a ‘blow out’ (Which everyone says we need now and again?).
It left those feelings of regret and shame, and it was frustrating as I was feeling great.
Yet last weekend I went a little overboard!… well anyway, I dived in headfirst.
Now rewind some years and this was a weekly occurrence, and I mean weekly.
I used to go ‘missing’ over long weekends regularly, I even ended up in hospital, so you would think I would have learned then, but I still find this ‘party lifestyle’ sometimes causing problems in my life even now.
Now the thing is, being honest, these major over the top occurrences are far less common now … but the devil still lurks in me… and that is the best way to describe it.
Now I am not going to sit here and berate myself about this
‘I’m such an idiot’, ‘why wont you ever grow up’, ‘Your a waster’
These are just some of the things I have said to myself since it happened, I was fucking crucifying myself with it, and this isn’t healthy.
When people approach me explaining they are giving themselves a continuous hard time over something they since regret, and I often say to them to ‘let it go’ … but now I find myself needing to take my own advice.
Being an advocate for positive mental health, I know this critical self-talk does not serve me, other than to make me feel like absolute shit (which it had done). Another lesson for the reader.
I also feel that constant ‘partying’ does not either, as I can also honestly say that there is an obvious correlation between poor mental health and drink and drug ‘abuse’ (and I highlight abuse here as we are talking abuse in this instance). Most men kill themselves when they have been under the influence of one of them (or both) and this is no surprise.
Also, I appreciate that such substances are often a ‘mask’ for other issues, I hold my hands up this was me for a lot of years, and I have close friends who have been in this situation. Often using substances as an escape mechanism.
But I also know that for some people going out and enjoying a party is part of life, to ‘let off steam’ and I am not denying that either. Some people love this lifestyle week in and week out. Do as you please. I will never judge. I was this person to!
However, in this instance, this left me not feeling good, in fact, for a few days I felt horrendous!
But one thing is for sure, I am not a bad person (which I scarily convinced myself), I made a cock up and took things a bit too far, unfortunately, this sometimes still happens (but as I say MUCH less frequently now).
The problem is for me, it seems to hurt even more when it happens, and I think this is because I am trying to do better with it. My friends often say to me that I give myself such a hard time and I beat myself up too much.
However, I need to remember that sometimes in life people have ‘setbacks’ (in many areas), it doesn’t mean you are suddenly ‘failing’, it just means that you faced a challenge, an obstacle, and perhaps you just need to reassess some things. Another important lesson.
Introduction to Alcohol and me…. and Societies views
So, the question begs then… how and why I found myself on this ‘bender.’
One simple answer … FAR too much alcohol.
Being honest, I have gathered quite a name for myself with my drinking over the years, I am renown for getting myself in some states!
And now looking at it, it is very embarrassing on occasions (but I bet I am not the only one who has experienced this before).
I have an all or nothing approach (and I am not saying this with pride) … hero to zero in hours.
Now I will open up about me and alcohol…
Do I have a problem? In one sense no … I can go without drinking … I am not a daily drinker. I do not drink in my own home and it is not something that has ever bothered me that way.
My problem is when I start drinking… I do not slow down! It is like pulling the plug out of the bath sometimes (me being the drain).
The wheels can fall off and fall off fucking fast!
And the truth is, it hurts me when I find myself going off on one, and it hurts everyone around me.
So, here’s a public’s apology to my mam and partner and friends for the shit I have sometimes caused them. (My mam is probably reading this now and lining up her lecture).
But I am not the only one, many people have also made fools of themselves and many have hurt me through drinking, all this on the drug we all seem to worship so much!
Let us not forget it is a drug, and a powerful one. It is a poison! However, as far as ‘drugs’ go… this one is ok.
We celebrate it. Society encourages it!
“Always drink responsibly… don’t spill it”
“When life gives you lemons, add a little gin and tonic”
If you said to me “make us a cup of tea” and I said, “would you like some arsenic with that?”, you would get me locked up. That’s a poison.
That said, I am not lecturing about you drinking (that is your choice, as it is mine, and how dare I anyway).
I will certainly never judge you. However, before you judge me, just think if there is ever a time you have made a fool out of yourself, or taken things to far? Done something you regret?
As well as this, some people have a ‘healthy’ relationship with alcohol. That cannot be denied.
Falling into an unhealthy relationship? With alcohol and myself
The danger I find myself falling into is trying to be ‘perfect’ and I build an unhealthy relationship with myself over it. This is not just with drinking! This is life.
As I step further into self-development, I almost find myself trying to build this ‘perfect’ being.
Tony Robbins says we must ‘raise our standards’ in life when wanting to make a change in any area. I believe in this. However, it is about recognizing we are human too.
I must remind myself of my own motto now ‘strive for progress, not perfection’ and I am progressing in life.
Here is another lesson for the reader – emotionally healthy people learn to let go of things, live in the present, the past is done, and it’s gone and cannot be changed. So, if your carrying those big heavy backpacks (of past regret) around with you let them go…they do not fucking serve you.
And have I ‘progressed’ with my drinking? Absolutely. But its only because I made a conscious choice, I could not keep up with what I was doing, especially when trying to create a business and stay focused.
Like I say I used to drink three nights a week and I would drink every weekend without fail, it was not even questioned then (I did not want to change). I have not drunk three nights in a row this year. In this lockdown, I did seven weeks booze-free. I also did one-month booze-free at the start of the year. And I am planning another month very shortly. Several full months sober in one year, I would have laughed at you before, and the truth is I never considered it. It did not bother me in the slightest.
I think some people reading this would struggle to believe this still, but I have just worked on it quietly.
To some people it would seem crazy, if you cannot do one month off the drink you have a problem. But then I know some people who cannot go one weekend without a drink. I know people who do not want to. (Again, no judgment from me – do as you please).
Not only this, if it is not alcohol, for a lot of people it can be something else, porn, gambling, even their work. Lots of things.
I am not claiming to be perfect (I mean what is perfect? – it is a dangerous place to chase as proven by me). My whole business is based on being an everyday guy.
This year, with a friend, I started a business, podcast and YouTube channel. I personally have a book coming out at the end of the year! I am patting myself on the back, not through arrogance but pride. Sometimes you need to stop and pat yourself on the back for the things you are achieving in life. And this is another lesson for the reader.
Going back to alcohol. I would say that one of the biggest challenges I have found with going booze-free on occasions, is the challenges you can face.
‘Stop being boring’ springs to mind.
Now in a dream world for me, I would say I will just ‘have a few and go home’ and I often get told this, but more often than not this doesn’t happen. I know it is a weakness in me (Which I will continue to work on).
Also, am I saying my relationship with alcohol is all bad? No, I have had some very funny times on nights out. Lots of great memories over the years. Not every ‘night out’ leaves problems! I still look forward to nights out! Sometimes, I am the cuddliest man in the room, and I tell everyone I love them.
On the flip side, I have also had some awful moments. I have been arrested, had massive arguments with people, and got into fights. I swore then ‘I’d never drink again’ for the millionth time.
The truth is I do not see myself never drinking again, that is a bold claim, and being honest to myself I do not want to.
But overall, I am having more moments of abstinence (which I never thought I would enjoy) and now I am ready for another one. (After a long weekend in Amsterdam coming up…).
Alcohol has also taught me things. I was once referred to as the ‘town drunk’ (now imagine admitting to that), that is not a label I want, and now I find it embarrassing.
BUT now it is fuel, why I am doing this business is I want to leave a legacy (a big word I know). A positive footprint in the world. I want to leave more than just the guy who liked to party, and I think I am on the right path.
One thing that does need to change is society’s view on it. You are not ‘boring’ if you don’t want to drink, let people do it, and yes… I’ve been that guy saying that.
Just because you are not drinking does not mean your boring, I would argue I am a cool guy to be around sober too.
People do not say your ‘boring’ if you do not want to smoke cigarettes? Everyone encourages you against doing it!
For me, alcohol has always been a big part of my life. As a kid, I would spend weekends in the pub with family, although I was warned to stay away from ‘mucky beer.’
Living in Teesside (UK) we have a big drinking culture. I’m a 29-year-old male with a bunch of fucking epic mates who I love dearly, but sometimes we take it overboard.
‘Lads lads lads’ as they say.
But…I have a friend who has just done six months sober and another friend who just done two months.
They have taken full responsibility for their personal changes and absolutely smashed it. Hats off to them. Another lesson to be repeated… we are fully responsible for making changes in our life.
I will be doing another month abstinence very soon.
My previous abstinences I felt great after (More productivity, energy and feeling fresh).
However, in considering all things above I wanted to leave the following pieces of take-home advice:
- We can’t always be perfect (What is perfect anyway?)
- We cannot sit in negative cycles as they don’t serve us
- Assess yourself before your so quick to judge others
- There is ALWAYS room for improvement but give yourself a pat on the back sometimes
- You’re not a bad person if you make a mistake … you’re a fucking human being
As one of my best friends so elegantly puts it, life isn’t all unicorns and rainbows.
“I’ll drink to that” – (Just kidding).