My relationship with alcohol has been a bit of a whirlwind. I’ve had many good times whilst drinking or being absolutely off my tits, but I’ve also had plenty of bad times whilst drinking or being absolutely off my tits.
I remember my first taste of alcohol. I was 13 and one of my school friends had a free house so she was having a party at hers. My grandma dropped me off and a friend of a friend went into the shop for me. I asked for vodka. I honestly didn’t know much about alcohol at that age. All I knew was that there was beer, wine or vodka. Beer was too heavy, the smell of wine made me feel sick so vodka it was! I got some coke to go with it (drinking coke…don’t worry) and started drinking. It wasn’t long till I was pretty drunk but I had a good night. My first experience with alcohol wasn’t that bad to be honest.
Vodka became my go to drink. I didn’t drink anything else. It was always vodka and I got a real love for it. I soon began to realise that alcohol made me more confident in myself, chattier and it made me feel like I could be more open about my feelings and what was going on in my head. My dad had died the previous year and I was still very much grieving, just not in front of people. It wasn’t long till alcohol and I became a bad combination. Alcohol and unresolved thoughts/feelings do not mix well (I’m sure some of you could relate…). It didn’t stop me though. At the time I thought it was helping me. I thought it was good that alcohol could lower my brick walls and release all of these built up emotions but I ended up causing a fair bit of destruction. I started going out round my home town area which can be pretty rough sometimes. I’d either be on the parks or around the streets drinking. There were several occasions where I had walked home pissed as a fart. I tried to convince my mum I wasn’t drunk or that I hadn’t drank at all. Sometimes it worked sometimes it didn’t. Looking back there was a point where mine and my mums relationship was strained, purely because of my drinking. One night I was out and got questioned by the police for underage drinking. A few days later they had sent a letter to my mum stating the date, time and location they found me steaming. Needless to say it caused an argument between me and my mum and she lost some trust for me but that still didn’t stop me.
One night when I was probably 14 I was absolutely wasted. So drunk. I was having a great night till I broke down about my dad. I couldn’t stop crying. I had some friends telling me to shut the fuck up and then some friends comforting me. I was sat in a bus stop crying my eyes out whilst throwing up. Eventually my friends decided I needed to go home. So they walked me back and I broke down when I got home. From the stink of alcohol and sick on me mum knew I had drunk a hell of a lot. The next day I woke up to messages from my friends asking me if I was okay and informing me of everything I was saying that night. I felt so embarrassed and disgusting the next day. It didn’t stop me though. Eventually I changed location and started going out in a neighbouring town. I’d pretty much always be on a park there or on the rugby field. In some ways it wasn’t as rough and there would always be a group of 10+ people out which to a certain degree made my mum feel a bit better me being out with a big group of people.
It was mad Friday (the last Friday before Christmas where pretty much everyone gets absolutely slaughtered) and when I arrived at the park I was already pretty wasted. An hour or so into the night and I had lost all control. The tears started but these were painful tears. The type of tears that actually make you feel the pain that you are going through. I kept falling over in the snow, all my clothes were piss wet through and I just needed to go home. My friends got in contact with my mum and they walked me to McDonalds where my mum was waiting for me. At this point I was mentally going through a lot of shit. I was self-harming and it was one of the first few Christmases without my dad. I wasn’t coping. I wasn’t dealing with anything really. The next day I cowered downstairs to the kitchen where my mum was and she was far from happy. I don’t remember this part of the night but she told me how one of my lovely friends brought me to Maccies and he explained everything that had happened, then in the car journey home I was saying to my mum how I wanted to kill myself. How I couldn’t cope and how much I missed dad. Which wasn’t necessarily all lies, but I saw how broken my mum was about it and I just had to convince her it wasn’t true. It was bullshit that drunk Emma had made up. I hated that I had put her through that but even that didn’t stop me from drinking. Mentally things got worse for me but I didn’t let onto anyone, I kept it all to myself. I used to hide my vodka underneath my bed and there were a couple of times where I took a couple of shots of vodka before setting off for school. That was a real low point for me and alcohol. School was sometimes a struggle. Some days I could cope with it, some days I couldn’t and I could never really predict what sort of day I was going to have. If I had had a nightmare during the night I would usually wake up in the morning depressed and my PTSD would still be active. Those were the mornings where I would drink before heading off to school. It’s hard to really say why I did it because I’m not 100% sure. I guess I thought it helped me. I didn’t feel like I could turn to anyone else about the matter so I just did what I thought was best. At the time I thought alcohol was somewhat good for me in a certain way.
My best friend at the time was having her 16th birthday at a local pub (she told the pub owners it was her 18th). We all ended up getting served at the bat and holy fuck, I got absolutely bladdered which resulted in me having my head stuck in the toilet, crying my eyes out and my mum coming to pick me up…again. It was the same as many previous nights. So many tears but I couldn’t control it. I would be having a great time till my PTSD kicked in and the day my dad died would play on repeat in my head. I’d end up reliving it over and over again. It was something I couldn’t really explain or tell to anyone else. I didn’t even know what PTSD was at this point. I couldn’t quite understand how a few years after his death the day was still so fresh in my mind. I didn’t get it. No one else in my family seemed to be struggling like I was. I felt so alone. There were times where I did try to speak to my friends about it but what could they do? They couldn’t relate and they didn’t understand what was going on with me either. So I just kept drinking.
Over time I developed a name for myself as ‘the piss head’. I was known around school for being the drinker, the party girl, the girl who would never turn down a drink and it made me feel noticed and wanted in a way. People wanted me to come out, people wanted to socialise with me and at the time I liked that but due to my mental illnesses I struggled to socialise whilst sober. Conversations were harder for me to have whilst sober (and I still sometimes have this issue now). My anxiety made me hide in my shell however, alcohol helped me come out of that shell but once I started drinking it was hard for me to stop. I started to get my shit together (kinda) and I stopped going out drinking on the parks but eventually I ended up going out into our local towns to the clubs or pubs instead. On our last day in high school a few of us were heading out to a local club that night. It was a great night until I got absolutely bladdered, threw up everywhere and had a massive falling out with my best friend about how much I had drunk. My brother ended up coming to pick me up and I was in tears. I just wanted it all to be over. I knew I only really had myself to blame but I had just lost all control. I needed help but I didn’t know where to turn for it. I felt like I was just pissing everyone off, I couldn’t do anything right and I felt so alone. Part of me was glad high school was over and I was moving to college. I needed to get away. I needed to be around fresh new people.
It wasn’t long till people at college realised I liked to drink and party. It was different here though. I was still getting absolutely white girl wasted, turning up to my lessons the next day still pissed from the night before but it had been a while since I had mentally broken down whilst drunk. In my first year of college I got into a relationship and it was a pretty immature relationship. I was struggling to open up to him just purely because of my issues. I fell pretty hard for him though, but it wasn’t the best relationship. There was one time where we had gotten into a bit of an argument and I ended up drinking. I was sat at my desk in my bedroom, depressed and just drinking vodka. Eventually we broke up and I took it pretty hard. Needless to say I turned to alcohol for ‘help’. My friends were pretty worried but I bounced back eventually. I started having counselling in college and I spoke to my counsellor about my drinking issues and the subject kinda just got forgotten. I tried to bring it up but it was almost as though it wasn’t serious. I get it, what 17 year old doesn’t experiment with alcohol? But for me it was the first time I had actually thought “Hmm…maybe I do have a drinking issue”. If my counsellor didn’t acknowledge it then I guess it didn’t matter. There was another time where I was walking back from a lesson with a close friend at the time and I was talking briefly about me and alcohol and I told her how I used to take shots of vodka before going to school and how I thought I had a drinking problem and she just laughed. I laughed along but to me it was more serious, but if a close friend and my counsellor weren’t really going to listen or take notice then maybe I was just over-exaggerating? So nothing changed.
At the start of my second year of college my best friend K was having her 18th birthday and had rented out a local club which was popular with everyone from college. I borrowed someone’s ID so I could get served in there and surprise surprise I got absolutely trollied, cried in the toilets and threw up…a lot. The next day I was filled with regret and embarrassment but everyone else seemed to find it hilarious. To everyone else I had had a good night. I had gotten extremely drunk and that’s all that mattered to them I guess. There’s always that one girl who cries when she’s drunk and I guess I was that girl. A couple of months into my second year and I had gotten into a relationship. It was a powerful relationship. To start off with it was great; I thought I had found my soul mate (naive I know…). He listened and he tried his best to understand and that was the type of person I needed. I became pretty dependent on him but my drinking did cause a few arguments. We basically lived together at college and there was one evening where he went out with his mates and I was having a down day. A very down day. I drove to the closest bargain booze, bought a litre of vodka, went back to college and started drinking it. I had some paracetamol tablets with me and I just wanted something to take away the pain I was feeling. The type of mental pain that makes it feel like physical pain. I wanted it gone. I think I took about 4 tablets and then passed out. My boyfriend found me when he got back, woke me up and I just cried. I heard the fear in his voice and I hated myself for putting him through that but at the time I just didn’t think about anyone else. I was alright in the end, I just had an awful headache the next day. I never did it again but I was struggling. I was still going to my counsellor at this point and she mentioned PTSD to me and I began to understand myself a bit better. I wasn’t told how to deal, cope or process it but I could somewhat understand what was going on in my head.
My drinking continued after I left college and it did put a strain on my relationship but I just didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to go back to counselling as I felt like it didn’t benefit me but I couldn’t open up to anyone about what was going through my head. I was scared of coming across as weak, broken or bat shit crazy. I was so confused though it was actually hard to put into words how I was feeling and what I was thinking and I tried to explain that but nobody really understood how I could be so confused. I just didn’t know what to do. The relationship turned pretty toxic and it became a major head fuck for me which resulted in me going out more and getting even more drunk. I just avoided all my issues. Eventually the relationship ended for many reasons and I felt 10 times better afterwards but I still had unresolved problems which me being me, I completely ignored. My drinking sometimes put strains on my friendships as I could sometimes (not often) get cranky/aggressive when I had drunk a lot. Sometimes I’d refuse to go home with my friends because I wanted to stay out longer, sometimes I’d go off on my own or sometimes I’d end up getting into a heated argument but that wasn’t that often. I’d say 2017 was my major party/drinking year. I spent more weekends out on the piss then chilling out at home but one weekend led to my mental breakdown. I had gone down to K’s uni for a night out, bought a litre of vodka from a petrol station along the way, ended up drinking it all before we even left her house. It didn’t end well. I didn’t even make it out into town before I was crying and throwing up everywhere. I broke down. I opened up to K about some of the shit that was going on in my head and when I returned home I broke down to my mum and told her that I needed/wanted to get professional help. I couldn’t carry on like that anymore. I had a bit of a break from drinking after that. To be honest the thought of drinking vodka made me feel sick and brought back the horrific memory of that night. I was put on anti-depressants and I started online counselling. The online counselling was great, really helped me but I didn’t stop drinking. At this point I began to smoke more weed. Weed helped and benefitted me a lot more than alcohol ever did. When I started my one to one counselling I spoke to her about my drinking troubles and she listened. Like really listened and took it seriously. When 2018 arrived I had cut out alcohol almost completely.
When I arrived in Australia back in August 2018 I had only been drunk once/twice in the previous months and it wasn’t the same. I didn’t get the same feeling. I went out and I just wanted to go home and chill out. I found it to be a waste of money and my time. A few weeks into my move to Australia and I had my first works do which I did drink a lot at but again, it wasn’t the same. Over the following months my anxiety came back and work, socialising or just chilling out became pretty difficult. Work became stressful and I’d end up drinking straight after I had finished for the day. Not a lot, just a couple of ciders or a glass or two of wine. Deep down I knew it wasn’t me. I knew it was because my mental health had slipped slightly. I still had control but I had lost some as well. Smoking wasn’t as easy to do here. I still did it and it helped me tremendously but I couldn’t smoke as much or as often as I could back home so alcohol was still there. The wine was still there when I needed to unwind after an anxiety filled day. I’d sometimes sit back and look at who I was before I left for Australia and I’d miss that person. I’d miss the person that didn’t need/want to drink. I began to find it hard here as everyone I lived and worked with drank. They were all drinkers and as my anxiety took over it got harder and harder for me to refuse to drink but during those moments where I did refuse a drink, people would be so shocked or tell me to have a drink. So I ended up having a drink even though I didn’t want to. I got paranoid about what everyone might say/think about me if I didn’t drink. I didn’t want to me the root of everyone’s conversations so in order for me to blend in, I just drank. It was easier to drink with friends then to not drink with them.
It’s been pretty difficult to write this article for a few reasons. Partly because I’ve never really closely looked back at my bad times with alcohol, I’ve been drinking recently, it’s a subject that means a lot to me and partly because my close friends/family might not know all of this. It’s an article I have been meaning to write for a while but the timing never felt right. Now is the right time. In a couple of weeks I will be starting my travels across Australia and it is going to be the perfect opportunity for me to cut out the alcohol, get my anxiety under control and stay on track.
This article has given me time to reflect on my relationship with alcohol. For me a healthy mindset does not need alcohol. It’s when the negatives get into my head I turn to alcohol and for all the negative reasons. My aim is to get back into a healthier mindset, to remain positive and to stay focused on myself.
To anyone who might feel like you’re in the same boat, take a look at yourself and why you turn to alcohol. It might be difficult but there will be a reason why you rely on it. We all know alcohol doesn’t offer many benefits mentally, physically or emotionally so maybe try to find something that does. Figure out the reason and find something to replace alcohol or change your mindset towards drinking. You know it’s no good for you, keep telling yourself that. It won’t be easy but it is doable.
I’m always here for you though,
Thank you for reading,
Sending my love,