In the past week, I have gotten black-out drunk on three separate occasions, and have woken up the following day with no memory of the night before, and the taste of vomit in the back of my throat. Three days have been spent in a hungover depression, unable to focus on my work, and feeling shamefully self-pitying and gross. Three days I have spent promising myself I will never get into that state again; a promise I have made a thousand times, and a promise I have broken each and every time too.
The thing is, I know I have a problem with alcohol. I’m not an addict; I don’t get the urge to drink everyday, and I don’t get physical withdrawal symptoms if I go without a drink. But I do binge drink, even if I don’t need to get drunk (although, when does one ever ‘need’ to get drunk, really?), and it frequently ends in tears and puke. Not very pretty, I know.
I like alcohol, and that’s part of the problem. I like the way it feels when it rushes to my head and makes me all loose and giggly. I like that I become confident and sexy and wonderful, and that I do things that sober Molly would class as ridiculous. I become this happy, life-of-the-party girl, and I do crazy, insane things that I spend the next day embarrassed about, but equally proud and excited when I get to tell people all my wild tales. I become exciting; untouchable.
In this wild mania, I feel completely free. I feel like all my problems, all my depression and anxiety, disappear. I can just be Molly, Molly who laughs too loud and chats a lot of shit, but who is having the most incredible time and will never go home. Molly who is gleeful, and cool and interesting. An unstoppable, radiant girl.
And it doesn’t matter in that moment how it’ll make me feel the next day. It doesn’t matter that I’ll be tearful and low and hungover, full of regret. It doesn’t matter that all the things I do when I’m drunk will haunt me, and give me panic attacks. It doesn’t matter that I won’t remember the free feeling, because I know that the next time I go out, the next time I drink myself into a stupor, I will feel that good again. My chest will burst with light, and it will all feel dazzlingly brilliant once more.
It’s scary really. Because I know it’s bad, and I know I am only making myself feel worse in the long run. Not even just mentally, but physically too. And yet I can’t control myself. When the drink is there, or even the offer of a drink, I will go for it. Anything to escape my miserable self and become sparkly, fabulous Mols. I can promise the people I love all I want, promise them that I won’t drink, that I’ll take care of myself, but I always fail. I always end up waking from a night out feeling shit because I’ve poured litre on litre of alcohol into my poor liver and stomach.
But here I am, really trying to promise yet again that I will not drink. That I will, at the very least, stop after one or two. Because I know, even without the alcohol, I can be fun and happy. I can probably do it more coherently, and with more self-respect and dignity. I just have to be strong, for myself and for everyone else that cares about me.
It’s these things, these habits, that are the hardest to break when mental health problems cloud my mind and judgement. It’s hard because it’s so simple. It’s such a simple solution to cut out alcohol; to get more sleep; to eat healthily. But sometimes I just don’t want to. I want to do bad things, because it gives me a reason to feel sorry for myself, and it gives me an excuse to hide behind the veil of my mental health issues.
It allows me to stop confronting my demons, and gives me a break in the form of playing the victim. It’s pathetic, honestly. Pathetic that I don’t have the self-respect and clarity to realise how stupid all of those bad habits are. That taking drugs will, of course, make me feel far worse and not better. That relying on alcohol is surely the path to an early grave. And that beating myself up over it, when I could so easily just not do it, makes me a silly, selfish little girl.
But there’s just this voice in my head, this niggle of temptation, which wins out every time. No matter how many times I prove it wrong, it always succeeds in getting me to take that drink, or buy those drugs, or stick my fingers down my throat to puke up the contents of my stomach to allow for more drinking.
I realise I need to say no. I need to ignore it, and focus on my inner happiness. I need to listen to my heart (how very cliche of me), and listen to the good voice that guides me when I go running, or cook a tasty, healthy dinner, or stay in bed and read my mindfulness books. That voice of self-love and confidence, that warmth and contentment, should drive me. Not the creature of self-destruction that lurks within.
I think in writing this, I am externalising my fight against this inner, devilish demon. By setting it out in words, the ridiculousness of my drinking habits, and the need for change becomes easier to see and comprehend. It’s a matter of realising, and then acting on these issues that will drive me forward.
Having a drinking problem, or hiding behind my mental health – it doesn’t make me interesting, or ‘quirky’. It makes me cowardly. It makes me ungrateful for my opportunity at life, and it makes me selfish to all those I hold dear. That’s the truth, whether it seems harsh or not.
Now I just have to act on that truth. I have to work towards being the girl I know I can be, without using booze or drugs to get there.