How a suicide attempt led me to a teetotal life
We all know I love someone who uses their story to help others and who isn't afraid to speak their truth. That is why I am so delighted that Meg has agreed to share her story with you all.
Meg, a retired party girl and host of The Posi Pod, is fiercely committed to promoting her sober lifestyle whilst also highlighting the dangers of alcohol following her own experience of struggling with alcohol abuse.
As dry January draws to a close, Meg, 26, has kindly offered to share her story to encourage those to consider living a teetotal life in the long term whilst also highlighting the benefits this could have on both your physical and mental health...
What led you to your sobriety?
So, my sobriety came out of nowhere really. I was a classic binge drinker. Binge drinking all weekend, every weekend. I never knew when to stop and then spent all weekend with crippling anxiety.
I had a moment back in November 2019 where I thought I was maybe drinking too much. I was suffering with depression and I had thought that maybe the alcohol wasn't helping. I spoke to my doctor and counsellor about it and they said cutting down would help.
Unfortunately, I ended up getting very drunk that weekend as I would have always. On the Sunday, I took an overdose in an attempt to take my own life and ended up very poorly in hospital. I spent a few days in hospital on medication to repair the damage and I spoke to the nurses about the effects of alcohol. They suggest taking three months off and seeing how I felt so that's what I did. I haven't looked back.
Were you aware of your depression and how you were using alcohol to numb the effects?
I always knew I had poor mental health. I had suffered with anxiety from quite a young age as I was bullied at school. I would say the depression really took hold in my second year of university. I was drinking heavily, as many students do, and I lead a very poor lifestyle (no sleep, poor diet etc).
I hadn't actually put the two things together until just before my suicide attempt in 2019. I think we all focus on the physical side effects of alcohol and maybe pass the mental ones off as a bit of a joke. ‘Hangxiety’ and ‘beer fear’ always seem to be laughed off when I actually was finding them extremely debilitating.
So, in answer, I did know I was suffering with my mental health but I struggled to realise that the alcohol use was making it much worse.
I was using the alcohol to make myself more confident because I had very poor self-esteem from being bullied. I was drinking excessively because of that. I think it's quite common to drink for a reason but we often don't even realise that's why we are doing it. For example, drinking because we are stressed, drinking to help us sleep, drinking to make us fun, drinking to relax, drinking for confidence, drinking because we are unhappy... I think it's important for everyone to evaluate their relationship with alcohol and really understand why they drink it and whether it is a healthy reason or relationship.
What impact has sobriety had on your life?
Sobriety has changed my life. I know that sounds cheesy but it's true. I was so dedicated to partying and alcohol. I loved it so much that I would never have imagined myself getting to this point but sobriety has given me so much more than I ever thought it could.
My depression and mood are much more manageable now. I've learnt a lot about myself so I feel a lot more in control of my emotions. I feel like I am finally my authentic self - I am not jaded by any substances.
The positives I have so far are:
· My energy levels have increased
· My motivation has come back
· My depression is manageable
· I'm no longer suicidal
· I've taken up old hobbies and new ones
· I've made new friends
· I sleep better and rarely feel tired
· I can remember every night out!!!
· My confidence has improved
Do you find people question your decision to be tea total?
Yes. We live in a society where we are allowed to question everything. I started off by lying to people about why I wasn't drinking but I found that I was getting caught up in it so I finally decided to come clean. I wrote a long Facebook post about my struggles (prior to my Instagram page) and the feedback was amazing. People have been supportive. Of course people don't understand, and I don't expect everyone to, but the important people try to.
People make insensitive comments like ‘are you pregnant?’ or ‘can't you just have one?’ I don't necessarily think they come from a bad place because we live in a world where alcohol is everywhere so it takes a while for some people to get their heads around it. Surprisingly, a lot more people than I thought just said ‘fair play’.
Did you find it hard to give up alcohol to begin with? Or do you have any advice for anyone who is considering it?
In the beginning, I found it difficult because I felt lonely and confused about it all. From being a party girl to someone who doesn't drink, I didn't know where I fit in anymore.
After about 4 months, I made my Instagram page and started to meet fellow sober people and that's where I really developed my love for it. I was amazed by the amount of people in the same situation and it showed me that sobriety can be fun if you want it to be. I also started to experiment with alcohol free drinks and swapping recommendations with people I met online.
Some of the people I have met online, I have now met in real life and class as some of my closest friends.
If someone is considering sobriety, I would say they should:
· Write down why they're doing it and keep it handy in case they need to refer back to it or remind themselves when they are struggling with motivation.
· Follow some sobriety/alcohol free influencers on Instagram
· If they aren't triggering then try some alcohol free drinks or mocktails (the market is huge now)
· Focus on some other hobbies or interests that can keep you busy
· Try to focus on what you are "gaining" from being alcohol free as opposed to what's missing or what you have lost
What myths do you think surround sobriety that you'd like to dispel?
Many people believe that an alcohol free life means a boring one and it really doesn't. I still go out, enjoy drinks with my friends, enjoy dinners or social events and the best part is that I can remember it all! I don't wake up hating myself or worrying what I did or said.
I love life so much more now I am sober. If you had said that to me 14 months ago, I would have laughed at you. We are conditioned to believe we need this mind altering liquid and we really don't. I'm very passionate about showing people that.
Follow Meg on Instagram and check out her podcast.