I love Christmas. This will be my fifth sober one in a row.
I love the buzz in the air and the way it brings people together. I love the food and the jampacked football schedule.
But most of all, I love going for a run on Christmas morning. I think that particular run confirms to me just how far I’ve come.
More people are drinking on Christmas day than any other day of the year, and then there’s me, out running and sober as a judge.
But it wasn’t always this way for me.
For a long time Christmas was just another day filled with the same self-destructive routine. I was trapped in a cycle that was killing me.
If anything, Christmas made me feel normal for a week or two. Afterall, I wasn’t the only one drinking at 9am for a change.
I wrote the following a couple a years ago. It describes what every day of my life consisted of, including Christmas day.
‘It’s 5:30am on a Wednesday morning as I wake. I have an indescribable feeling of sickness in my stomach and my hands and legs tremble as I struggle to raise myself to a seated position.
You can’t see the bloodshot in my eyes as the whites are now a dark yellow.
The withdrawals are already well and truly kicking in and my heart keeps ‘dropping’ as it does before I have a withdrawal seizure.
The taste of bile in my mouth is overwhelming, but I only have one thought in my mind, a complete tunnel vision to get alcohol into my system as soon as possible.
Next to my bed is a 35cl bottle of vodka I have made sure is there for me the evening before. The shakes get worse with every movement.
The first thing I do is make myself sick to create a 2-minute window where I can neck the vodka and hold it down to allow it to get into my system.
There’s only bile in my stomach, so it’s more like retching, but it’s the only way to give me that window.
After this, I try to steady my hands so I can grasp the bottle of vodka in one and a can of mixer in the other – before taking alternate mouthfuls until the vodka is gone.
Then I simply sit as still as possible to avoid bringing anything back up whilst I wait for the alcohol to ease the withdrawals and the sickness in my stomach.
My arms begin to stop shaking, my heart begins to seem content, and the vodka burns away the sickness.
I’m now just about functional, well at least until lunch time when my next bottle will be consumed.
I then throw on some clothes to try and make myself look half presentable.
Then off I go, to do whatever I can to make sure I have that bottle for a few hours time when the shakes return, and then one or two more for the rest of the day.
And of course, to make sure I have a bottle by my bed for around 5:30 the next morning.’
I wouldn’t wish the life I led back then on my worst enemy. It was a never ending nightmare.
It wasn’t hard to fall into the above routine. Quite the opposite. It’s so easy to allow alcohol to become a crutch in life. No more so than right now with everything that’s happening around us.
Christmas is going to be a lot different for everyone this year, and I’m sure a lot of people will be drinking more to deal with the change.
My fear is that some of those will end up falling into a similar pattern I did. Once you fall into that trap, it’s incredibly hard to get back out.
It resulted in liver disease for me. But even that didn’t stop me drinking for another year. That’s the power of addiction once it gets a hold of you.
My message to anyone who is struggling with any addiction this Christmas is simple.
DON’T BOTTLE THINGS UP.
You must talk to someone if you think you have a problem. Talking to another person about your addiction helps in so many ways.
- It will help you accept you have a problem.
- It means that problem is no longer a dirty toxic secret in your head.
- It will make you realise how big the problem is.
- It will encourage you to seek more help.
- It will make you realise that accepting you have a problem and asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of courage and strength.
Times are hard and people are looking for an escape. Believe me, I get that more than most. But please take note of my warning.
Addiction is a cunning beast. It will worm its way into your life when you’re most vulnerable.
The longer it takes you to start fighting back, the harder it will be to claw your way out of the pit.
Don’t end up like I did.
Have a great Christmas everyone and thank you for reading.