“For those of you here today thinking about suicide. Good. Keep thinking about it. And then start talking about it. And then start doing something about it too. For those contemplating suicide, I know there is a hope inside you, keep that hope alive. We need you. We need you to be leaders in this conversation, whether you’re ready to have it or not. Trust me, if you’re anything like me, its the kind of conversation that will keep you alive.” Mark Henick
We all begin with white wings and through trial and error with temptations over to the dark side, those wings darken and our patience with life thins out. My wings were black and shattered. My mind was overshadowed by weakness and I was defeated by my own thoughts. We drink to either celebrate or forget and within two years my drinks had gone from celebration to carnage. In between the lines, I was popping painkillers and washing them down with Pinot Noir as I desperately longed to be in control once again. You never would have known. Some say I never had an issue to address to begin with. I believe having no recollection of having sex the night before is a huge wake up call. It took about two years to get to that morning last year and in a downfall of depression fuelled by substance abuse, my destiny was opening up my coffin.It began when I realised my relationship was over. The boy I told my world I would marry, was no longer the man of my dreams and I knew that by leaving him his world would shatter. Six months later, it did. I found the courage to let go but this courage was soon overpowered by bottles of red wine. Then the grief kicked in and I numbed myself with even more alcohol. I drank to celebrate being single and to feel sexy again, I drank to forget what pain I had caused to the most selfless being I’d ever met. He gave me everything but everything wasn’t enough.
My glasses of Pinot went from one a night to a bottle, or two. Before I knew it, I was buying bulk… thinking ahead. I no longer knew in the moment whether I was too drunk, just drunk or tipsy. When I woke up without any memory of the night before, I realised I’d taken it too far, again.
My problem was beyond how much I could drink, which was a lot. My problem was how often, it became every day. From dinners, catch ups in my backyard to Marquee tables on the weekend. Hugo’s on a Sunday may have been my favourite playground but it was also the most dangerous one for me. My phone had become a collection of Patron & Patron. It’s all fun in the fantasy world but when your health and safety are jeopardised, it is quite serious.
It was over when I said so
Every so often, I’d cross the line with my drinking and I’d ask my best friends if I had a problem. They said no. I’ve had one since I was 18, it was my way of dealing with an abusive partner and blocking out the loss of self. Psychologically, I never dealt with the emotions associated with my experience with domestic violence and last year, the grief finally kicked in when I became sober. I was sending off the final edit of this chapter in my life and book to the publishers and coming to terms with the fact I wouldn’t have written a book if he never laid a hand on me. Having to go through ‘in the moment’ journal entries of a traumatised young girl madly in love with a psychopath, made me see things for what they really were. It explained a lot of my behaviour over the past eight years.
My relationship with alcohol and how I ab/used it, had to change immediately and this time round, I was going to talk about it.
Then I did my research. I googled alcoholism, combating this demon and how to even know you have a problem. I took several quizzes and despite friends not thinking I had a problem, my results and heart told another story.
First they mock you. Then they watch. They then ask how you did it.
“I’m getting sober,” is all I said and most people laughed. Acknowledging a problem with alcohol was difficult and liberating at the same time. I was also told to be more realistic. I didn’t know how I’d teach myself to live without the most common addiction in society but I knew I had to work out a way on the spot. The only person who congratulated me on my new path was someone I knew who didn’t know how to live a day without illicit drugs.
My schedule was too busy to find an alcoholics anonymous group to attend every week and being Gen-Y makes me more attracted to anything quick and easy online so I found Hello Sunday Morning. This community of like minded individuals who understood what I was going through was enough to help me find my will power and continue a life of abstinence from alcohol.
I created a profile, exposed the most vulnerable and sorest spot in my heart, browsed other journeys of sobriety and found the willpower to check in weekly at… still going strong. Like most people, my friends only wanted to see me put thought into practice and most turned around and encouraged me to go further down this new path. I survived Birthdays, farewells and even a Croatian wedding sober.
But not everyone wants to see you succeed at something simple they can’t do…
Somewhere deep within you, there is a willpower that unfolds when you truly want a change. I told myself that if I didn’t change my ways, I would die. I’d either be involved in some fatal incident while intoxicated or sink into a deep depression and eventually kill myself in a Missoni dress. You can call my reasoning dramatic but I call it ‘do or die’ and it works for me.
When you’re conquering a demon many are too afraid to face, they attempt to
bring you down to their own reality. Most people will belittle your goals or ambitions when they cannot bring their own to life. The fact of the matter is, they are not your true friends. Consider them a good time, not a long time friend.
Many people were happy for my new way of being but contradicted their statement when they said, “Come on, you can have one glass…” No I couldn’t. I could see in their eyes, they wanted me to fall under pressure because they didn’t know how to say no.
It was distressing and difficult but a blessing in disguise as it opened up my eyes to the conversations I’d allowed into my life and how distracted I was from my own path. A couple friends were disrespectful, trying to force Patron down my throat but the most discouraging I learned, had their own demons they would one day have to sit and face. This was not about them anyway, this was about me. I had to focus on me and remind myself not to expect much from people who knew no better.
You’re so boring now Adriana
I quit alcohol cold turkey for three months. I had to teach myself how to sit in a restaurant and not order a glass of wine. I had to teach myself how to be out with girlfriends and say no to drinks especially because they were free. I had to teach myself how to be fun without the magic juice. I needed to get out of the habit of picking up an alcoholic drink.
Not touching alcohol became easier each week, the problem arose that I was less fun and more serious. I was no longer dancing on podiums at Marquee, I was sitting in the booth watching my former self. I was boring and then I got bored. I didn’t want to be around people who had no discipline in their lives and I refused to speak to anyone if they were drunk because it only meant I was having a conversation with their alter ego.
I wanted to connect with ambitious people who knew how to turn dust to gold. But it wasn’t easy, I had another problem.
Creativity Down the DrainCatch22
“Help! I’m sober and have lost my creative voice! I have a fear of writing without alcohol, my work isn’t strong enough!!!”
Something along those lines I posted to a highly secretive Facebook group I was part of for recognised creative geniuses & thinkers. I wasn’t channeling the way I used to, I wasn’t focused the way I used to be (ironically) and I started to get anxiety because I wasn’t delivering. I was stuck and scared.
Previously, I’d use alcohol to tap into my creative side. My strongest work has been written under an influence. I’m pretty sure I wrote my entire book intoxicated but considering it’s content, I’m surprised I’m not a heroin addict.
Some suggested weed. Don’t like it, don’t touch it. I don’t even smoke cigarettes.
I wasn’t worried about my health as much as I was losing my creativity which was triggered by alcohol. I understood quite well that the road of creativity was tortured with addictions and narcissim, I was a typical creative. I became more depressed over the fact I couldn’t tap into the right side of my brain and stopped writing altogether. I was given The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron by my beautiful housemate Emma who saw my struggles and frustration first hand. She told me that people in the creative industry swore by this book. I was doing the right thing and combating my problem with alcohol but was losing confidence in my work at a point in my life, I couldn’t afford to because this was my cash flow.
Julia Cameron teaches creativity and understands every obstacle under the sun. Each morning you’re encouraged to write three pages of anything called Morning Pages. May seem easy in theory but when the time came for me to write about anything, I spent over an hour coming up with three A4 pages of jibberish. The point of this exercise is to write. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t even need to make sense, but you must write everyday. As artists we often look and wait for “windows” to open up within us that spark a flow of creativity. Julia stresses that you must get into a habit of just creating, all the time. It is far easier to edit something, rather than nothing at all.
Another method she enforces is The Artist Date, where you take yourself for a couple hours somewhere you enjoy on a date, alone, without anyone. This to me was easy because I enjoy my own company, I just fail to find time to date myself. Being in a foreign city now means I have a greater opportunity to keep myself occupied for these artist dates and a few times a week, I wander off into museums and galleries.
I never said I wasn’t drinking again, I have a drink now but I don’t drink to get drunk. I do respect people a lot more who live a sober life. It is as difficult as it is as easy once you get into the routine. Abstinence from alcohol slowed my life down and made me take a proper look at myself and the people I had around me. Who was I? Where was I going? It gave me the strength to really prove to myself that if I found the willpower within, I’d be rewarded with my dreams.
Why do I share my story in such detail? If you’re pondering on such a question, this post is not for you, clearly you’ve been blessed with an uneventful and addiction-free life. My imperfections and mistakes, no matter what I achieve, keep me on common ground. I opened this post with a message from Mark Henick in regards to suicide, my message is quite simple: I’ve been you. I know you. I found my hope and I know that you can too. Talk about your demons, don’t bottle them in. Life is too precious for you to allow yourself to suffer in silence.
Find Your Power.
Struggling with an addiction is very serious and personal. While I respect people’s decision to keep this private, I encourage those ready to talk about it. How have you overcome your battle with an addiction? What measures did you take? How effective were these measure in becoming the person you are today?