Friday, 15 April 2016
No alcohol for 4 weeks...how's it going?
Before I started, I studied, even wrote down, how a drinker (me) feels at different points of the day.
I never had a desire to drink during the day, as it made me sleepy, but evenings were different. Between 6-9 pm really, I guess I though of it as some sort of reward. For what? It didn't matter! If I'd had a good day, a bad day, there's always a reason to sit down and have that drink. Did I enjoy it? Yes! Can't say the taste of wine or beer ever appealed to me, and I rarely drank spirits, it was the buzz and the social habit that hooked me. Take any TV action thriller, courtroom drama, whatever, drink flows throughout; as it does through our culture. We grew up with it and it's traditionally used to celebrate every event, be that a wedding, christening or funeral. St Patrick's Day this year, I was a guest of the St Patrick's Society in Bangkok and what a great night out. It was 'normal' for people to be laying on the floor semi-conscious at the end, and they would be tomorrow's 'heroes' in the office. The Thai wait-on staff may have been traumatised, in a state of shock, but oh not I. I've been there, done that, felt the pain next day; haven't you?
4 weeks in, and it's a lot easier than the first two. Because I was addicted? No, because if I had been, I don't think I'd have made it past day two. I've never been an alcoholic, I think that some people are just more prone to that than others. I've known light drinkers who simply couldn't do without the daily fix, and heavy drinkers that could stop for weeks. There seems to be no fast rule.
Physically I feel great, I've lost 6 pounds and that bloated feeling has gone. I'm sharper and have a clear head all day, not living in 'the cloud' that all drinkers are in, a mist that they're blissfully unaware of.
How thick is that mist? After week one, I thought I could see the edge, the 'light', if you like. But as each week passes, I realise that there's always a bright edge and I look forward, probably nearer the end of my 90 days, to coming out into the clear and 'looking back at the cloud', as others have described.
After initial constipation, my motions are fine and regular, with a consistency, smell and colour of the perfect poo! No getting up to the toilet and breaking my sleep anymore, the habitual glass of water by the bed no longer needed. No sweats at night, which in a Bangkok summer is a miracle in itself. An MRI scan a few years back showed a trapped nerve which caused back pain, but that's gone. A dental crown fell out, maybe unrelated, who knows. I don't wear reading glasses anymore, my hearing is sharper and I get massive erections, but that's all in my dreams.
Sleep is a worry! It's so heavy now, and I dream a lot, even remembering my dreams, which is new to me. When I wake in the morning I feel like I've been drugged, and it takes me 10 minutes to 'switch on'. I wonder if that'll change, it's not a big deal but I thought I might feel more alert first thing.
Mentally, I'm not sure! I need to swim further into the 90 days, then experience what others have before I decide if I'm a, 'non-drinker'. Reading the stories and updates from One Year No Beer has been an amazing support on this journey, and where as I think I could have done it without them, it would have been a far lonelier place.
My guess is I will drink occasionally, but never go back to the daily ritual, which was always a health worry and I didn't enjoy. I don't miss going to the supermarket and handing over all that money, which often came to more than the cost of my food. I don't miss going to the weekly bottle bank, hearing all those empties screaming as they slid from my bag! I laugh watching films, noticing the importance given to drink in every day life, which of course it used to be with cigarettes. My earliest memories include my mother smoking and me thinking how stupid that was; she died of it! I don't look at drinkers that way yet, but will that change?
Why the 90 day challenge? Anyone can give up drink for a week, a bad hangover's good enough to keep you off the bottle for days, but I wanted to feel how a 'non-drinker' felt.
I want to meet part of me, a part I haven't known for 50 years.