How I Discovered Happiness

I’m 38 years old and struggled with depression, anxiety and the odd panic attack for twenty years of my life, prior to April 2011. My nerves frequently got the better of me, and my obvious lack of confidence in work and social situations held me back and prevented me from fulfilling my potential for many years. If you had asked me to describe my personality a few years ago, I would have responded with a jumbled, insecure answer; unsure of who I really was, full of pretence as to the person I wanted to be, knowing that inside I didn’t particularly like myself but not fully realising how to change. All of that stopped when I quit drinking alcohol three years ago.

If you have a sneaky suspicion that alcohol is controlling you a little more than you feel comfortable with then read on – this may be the first step you have subconsciously wanted to take for a long time.

If you binge drink and subsequently get drunk a lot you will, whoever you are, occasionally make an idiot of yourself. You will say stupid things, have unnecessary arguments, fall over, lose your phone or handbag, text someone who you really shouldn’t, make sexual advances towards a person who is, how shall I put this..? Not quite at your usual standard. You may even put your safety at risk, walking home late at night alone, slightly wobbly, looking like an easy target for an attacker, or drink so much that you are sick after you have fallen asleep. Every time that you wake up the morning after a session where one or several of the above have occurred, your self esteem will take a bit of a battering. Multiply those beatings by each weekend/night/day that you binge drink and you will appreciate that your self-respect and self-esteem are severely and negatively affected by alcohol.

Alcohol depresses the central nervous system. Physiologically, that anxiety and nervy disposition that you, as regular binge drinker, have probably noticed is increasing with age, is down to booze. When I drank, I had frequent panic attacks, the last one being so severe that I thought I was dying. I had to walk out of the packed cinema in which I was trying to watch The King’s Speech, because I was fighting to breathe. It was hours later until I regained my normal composure, and days until I fully recovered from the fright and trauma that I suffered as a result of thinking that I was on my way to meeting my maker. The reason behind this anxiety attack was that I had drunk too much beer the night before.

For years I pinballed between unsuitable relationships; one boyfriend would have the physical attributes I was looking for, but not the mental compatibility. I would dump the first one and jump straight in to another union with someone who had the brains and emotional energy I was after, but who, after time, I had no physical connection with whatsoever. I couldn’t be alone. My depression and low self esteem meant that I constantly needed the reassurance of being in a relationship just to feel wanted and loved. I was incapable of loving myself. Alcohol kept me from being in a happy and balanced relationship with a person who loves me as much as I love them.

Drinking put me in a perpetual state of either a) being drunk or b) being hungover. Neither of these conditions is conducive to a productive, fulfilling life. My career, financial wellbeing and physical fitness were all below par (by a long way) when I drank. I am not a lazy person but I never achieved much during the years in which I got drunk. Since giving up drinking, my achievements just keep on growing each week – in turn this boosts my self-esteem and belief in what I am capable of. And so I keep on achieving and aiming higher.

joyful child

Without drink in my life, my self-esteem has been restored; my anxiety and narcissistic tendencies have vanished, and guess what? I like myself! And the natural conclusion to that, of course, is that other people like me more too. I have finally found a man who I think is perfect (for me, at least), and we have a wonderful family life which I value above anything else. I am running regularly and am the fittest I have ever been. My relationship with my eldest daughter (at that tricky teenage stage) is great, and we are very close. I have bags of energy (essential for looking after my toddler properly), and squeeze masses into each and every day. I never stay in bed, idling away those precious hours that I could be spending on accomplishing something worthwhile. My skin and general appearance have improved, my eyes are bright and I don’t have to fight to keep a beer belly at bay. I am happy, the happiest I have ever been in my life, and this is down to one simple fact – I gave up booze.

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25 thoughts on “How I Discovered Happiness

  1. Wow so awesome. I have been clean and sober for 2 years and 8 months and everything you said is true. If you have a chance you should check out my blog mommyx4boys.wordpress.com

    • Thanks Kim for your lovely comment, and yes, it is a wonder why we do it to ourselves in the first place. But until I stopped drinking I had no idea at all what it was taking away from me – now I know that I would never touch the stuff! All the best, Lucy x

  2. It is so great to see everything is going well and that you are inspiring so many others. I have had similar experiences as a result of going AF over seven years ago. I certainly don’t miss the depression and problems!

    • Thanks for this. I’m really glad that you have managed to eradicate the depression through not drinking – I was plagued by it for years and never put it down to the drink. I used to drink to try and make it better!! Really happy for you, Lucy x

  3. What a fantastic inspirational post. I don’t think the most clever marketing guru in the world could take a happy sober person and use them to sell alcohol. There is no twisting the facts.. living alcohol free after boozing heavily is undoubtably far far better. No denying. Whoop! xxx

    • Thanks Mrs D – yes I totally agree, once we get rid of those booze blinkers and see what harm alcohol is actually causing, life becomes pretty amazing! Very happy that you have found that place too 🙂 Lucy x

  4. Trish says:

    A wonderful, inspiring post which arrived just when I needed it. Thank you so much for your wise words and for finally giving me the answer to my panic attacks. Thanks to you, Lucy, I am now no longer in denial about the real source of my problems, and will confront them head-on. I am very grateful to you for sharing your wisdom.

    • Hi Trish, thanks for your message and I am very pleased that this has been of help to you. I used to have those panic attacks all the time and nobody ever said they were down to booze – I had no idea!! Then I quit drinking 3 years ago and have never had one since…Good for you and best of luck on your journey. Lucy x

  5. I swore I was reading about myself. I’m having a down day today but you are so very right about all of it. Since I’ve stopped drinking I care about myself more, I’m more motivated and focused, and I’ve even setting goals. I’ve put my life and myself on hold for so long and it finally feels good for a change. Great post. 🙂

    • Hi there, thanks for your message. I quit drinking without the help of any support groups but now run Soberistas.com which is a great support group! Thanks again, Lucy

  6. Thanks so much for this post – I found it really uplifting. It’s still pretty early days for me (just coming to the end of my sixth week), and I’ve found it rough going emotionally over the last few weeks. This post reminded me that I’m in this for the long term, and that I have nothing to lose and so much to gain by hanging in there 🙂 MTM. x

    • So pleased this helps – it is rough going to begin with but it all gets easier with time, and soon enough there comes a moment when you wouldn’t ever want to go back. Stick with it, 6 weeks is a great achievement x

  7. I love this post, I can relate to everything here. I started the 100 day sober challenge and lasted 5 days. I have drank the last two days to get over the shaky nerves and horrible headaches, brain zaps as we’ll. This had truly inspired me to try again , not give up hope to beat this.

    • Great to read you’ve been inspired to start again – it can be a case of two steps forward and one step back for a while but if you stick with it then it eventually becomes a part of who you are, being sober starts to be the norm and that’s when you really feel the benefits – best of luck. Lucy x

      • Thanks Lucy I come to realize I’m the only one hurting me,no one else,my kids don’t live in my skin nor my hubby so they have no clue.

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