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Addiction Alcohol Guest Articles Self Confidence Sobriety Wellness

Confessions of a Grumpy Alcoholic Scot (Guest Article)

I always thought of alcoholics as those old men with red pimpled noses that I would see at 6.45am in the morning as they wait (im) patiently for their local bar to open. Alcoholics were those men and women who sat in the big Wetherspoons in my home town (Aberdeen) all day drinking halves, talking to themselves and sometimes pissing themselves at the bar.

They were alcoholics, I was just someone who really enjoyed a drink and yeah I got myself into a state but who doesn’t. It didn’t mean I was an alcoholic, I was just the same as the vast majority of the people I would see in the pub at the weekend. 

A happy looking me as an Alcoholic

It only really occurred to me that I might be an alcoholic when I was discussing the subject with a friend of mine who said that “well we are both alcoholics mate, we might only drink once or twice a week but we cannot control it when we do so that makes us alchies” I thought about it for a second, agreed and moved on.

I just casually accepted that yeah ok fine I am an alcoholic in that sense but that’s better than being that old man waiting for a bar to open pre 7am… it’s different isn’t it, I don’t wake up craving that taste, that feeling, I can get up, go to to work, play football, live normal life without the need for booze on a daily basis. 

Turns out that only because I had some semblance of routine like going to work every morning was saving me from becoming my own definition of an alcoholic.

The Start

I started drinking like most kids do at friends houses and in parks when I was 15/16. To be honest though, it didn’t really do it for me. I didn’t massively like the taste of beers and I could only really manage to force down 4 or 5 on any given night. Yeah I know what a lot of people are thinking, ‘only 4 or 5’ trust me, that was a ‘few’ beers watching the football for me.

Now, yes I did get drunk on some of these nights, sometimes embarrassingly so but I would probably go weeks/months without another similar drinking session. Along with the general dislike for the taste of alcohol I also woke up one morning after a friends 17th birthday party with a kidney infection.

My doctor was of the belief that I was drinking too much… it was one night so either I did indeed drink an obscene amount or my kidney’s were trying to tell me something early doors. I think this scared me off a little bit at the time because the infection was particularly painful. 

I don’t really have any recollection of any big nights out or anything stupid until a month or so after my 17th birthday. I had already left school and was working full time. I was still very shy back then but was slowly coming out of my shell and beginning to speak more and more to the other staff there.

One Friday a couple of lads from the workshop invited me for beers on the Saturday. 17 year old me was so stoked that these two guys who were both older than me (one a year or two the other would have been in his early/mid twenties) wanted to hang out with me in the pub.

We met at lunch time for beers and we. got. on. it. I was so proud of myself that I handled my drink so well that day, managed to stay upright all day/night and stay out until about 2am after an underage trip to the strippers. Despite the hangover on the Sunday I felt like I was both a fully fledged adult and most importantly that I had been accepted. 

These Saturday sessions quickly turned into any day of the week sessions, after work of course but I would find myself clock watching the last few hours of the day away so I could go and hang out with my new friends. I say hang out but really it was to get black out drunk.

I very quickly became enamoured with the reputation that came with being a young prolific drinker who could out drink the older people in the group and then get up again the next day and do it again.

I was very proud of my drinking streaks (30 nights in a row don’t you know) and the sheer amount of booze I was getting through. To give you an idea about my level, if I was half way though a pint and I noticed the bar getting busy I would go up to order my next one so that I had it ready for when I finished. I didn’t want to have to wait a few minutes with no drink in my hand. Mentally I could not cope with it. 

This was my life in Aberdeen for 15 years. Booze/nights out over everything. I would always find someone to drink with, always find an excuse to go out and always find an excuse to stay out more importantly.

It really didn’t matter to me that I had girlfriends, friends, work, plans the next day, money to save for holidays, booze would win out over all of these things. I would rarely justify any expensive purchases for things I really wanted but I’d always have treble that value readily available to spend on drink.

I mentioned the kidney infection earlier, these were a regular theme in my life through these years of drinking. Do you know what I did when I got them… drank more. What kind of logic is that?! The pain was excruciating and to most people it would mean slow down, stop for a while but not me, I would drink through it… like trying to walk off an ankle sprain.

Just for info, a ‘regular’ say Saturday night would involve between 10-15 beers (pints) and then probably about a litres worth of gin…sometimes a little more, somehow. 

I’m not really sure how much detail I need to go into about my nights out, there was a lot of obnoxious attitude, mouthing off constantly at people, falling over, the usual I suppose.

Angry Drunk

In my early 20’s I was an extremely angry drunk but I mellowed (at least a little bit) during my 20’s and into my 30’s. It really didn’t take much for me to fly off the handle though, I would misconstrue almost any innocent comment and become a total asshole.

It’s actually surprising I managed to maintain relationships of any sort to be honest. The biggest problem at the time was that no one called me out on my behaviour when I was drunk so I just passed it off as being acceptable. At most I’d offer a token apology and move on.

Lack of Confidence

One thing I was very aware of was alcohol’s ability to drain any energy and confidence from my soul when I was sober. So many plans, so many ideas, so many things I wanted to get involved in that sober anxious me just couldn’t bring myself to do. The drunk me would speak to anyone, talk relentlessly about ideas and plans and things I liked. Sober me would always be on the wrong side of the anxiety of course and that little voice in my head would always tell me to not be so stupid, you can’t do that, you don’t have the talent for that. And repeat ad nauseam.

Alcoholic at work

One of the many dreams I had was to move abroad and at the very least try living in a different country. I had spoken about this sooooo much but had never even taken tentative steps to do it. Suddenly at 32 the company I was working for were going through a hard time and were making redundancies. I basically just blurted it out to my boss, get me out of here if you can, tell them to make me an offer and I’ll go. I don’t know why but I think subconsciously there was something telling me it was now or never. A few months later I was living in Barcelona. 

Barcelona

So I moved to Barcelona with grand plans – see the correlation here – to take a few months off to rest, explore the city, learn Spanish and start a business. If I needed to take a job in the meantime, just to keep money coming in then I was happy enough to do that for a few months. On my first day in Barcelona I met my new flatmates and stayed out partying with them until 8am…

This was my life for the next almost 2 years. I never bothered to look for that job, never really bothered to learn much Spanish and most certainly didn’t start a business. With zero structure around me to keep me from my worst self I fell apart.

Now, I wasn’t drinking every day so again I could find reason enough to keep telling myself everything was ok. However, I was finding myself drinking for breakfast, baileys in my coffee or breakfast beers… Breakfast beers were the name we gave the mini bottles that you can get in Spain. In the UK a night out would finish at 2am, here in Barcelona my nights out would end the next evening, or later. I would find myself getting up after a few days of tranquility to go for a shower, find my flatmates having a party and join in. At 7am.

I blew 30K in those two years. 30 fucking grand, the things I could have done with that money! Hindsight eh! Sunshine, new foreign friends, cheap beers and too much time on my hands meant pretty much non stop days/nights out over that time.

All the old traits were still there too, flying off the handle for no reason, falling over in bars, walking home obliterated, wearing headphones through the most dangerous of neighbourhoods. I was Indestructible when drunk, incredibly arrogant too. 

There were a few steps towards sobriety for me. First was and I mean this with as little offence as possible but a lot of my social group just seemed to age rapidly in front of my eyes. And I mean rapidly. Every so often I would see photos of myself and see me going the same route and it started to play on my mind. 

Hangover Anxiety – The Fear

Secondly the hangover anxiety was through the roof! I had always suffered with the hangover fear but it was manageable, I could still function. In those times though I could not cope with it, I would hide in my room for days after a night out. Only sneaking out of my room to grab the pizza from the takeaway guy at the door. I wouldn’t even look at my phone during those times, just watch films, sleep and feel like my world was falling apart. 

Thirdly and this was the biggest one, I had a panic attack one afternoon. Long story short I love street art and graffiti and at one point in BCN I started working with one of the street art tours. I had done a couple and after some initial nerves was beginning to become a bit more comfortable with them.

The tour was on a Monday and I had a pretty heavy Friday and Saturday so Sunday was ground zero for the hangover and Monday was the beginning of the anxiety. I planned on cancelling on the tour but last minute decided that I could handle it. I appeared at the meeting point and saw the group, there must have been 50 people.

My heart immediately started racing at a rate I had never experienced, my breathing became really fast and really difficult and I had to crouch down in a doorway. I dragged myself home, cancelled the tour, got fired on the spot and spent the next hour lying in bed trying to calm down. Being fired did not help haha.

The Start of Sobriety

After that, the next few months although I didn’t stop drinking (obviously d’uh) I really pushed myself to call it quits after a reasonable amount of drinks. My idea of reasonable of course but still a huge improvement on my previous lifestyle.

From memory I got drunk twice in around 5 months and both times the hangovers were obscenely bad. I had been speaking about getting sober for a little while but every time I was banging on about it I would always claim that it was impossible and that I just needed to get it down to a beer here and a beer there and I would be fine.

These conversations continued though so obviously something inside me was pushing me to call it quits. Then it happened, I woke up on a Sunday and decided, no drinks this week. And that was it, honestly, that easy. I didn’t drink for two years after that point. I kept giving myself check points where I could start drinking again but when I got to them I would just keep going. 

Is It Hard To Stop Drinking?

I’ve thought about this a lot, Is it easy to quit drinking? I just stopped one day, boom, but only because I had got to a point where my mind could not handle anymore. If I had kept going like I was I would probably have done something stupid by now the way my head was.

I have had so many friends say that they wish they could stop and that I had a lot of strength to do what I did. I didn’t really see it that way, probably still don’t, I needed to stop and I did. But really it took 17 years to get to that point so no, it’s not easy. Especially if like me, socialising always revolved around drinking…

Losing Friends From Stopping Drinking

Stopping came at a cost. I lost loads and loads of friends, basically my whole social circle disappeared overnight. I was a little bitter about that for a while but thinking back in reality it was my lack of ability to socialise whilst sober that was the problem.

It occurred to me whilst at a gig one night that I had never ever been sober at a gig or a festival or, well at pretty much anything I could think of actually. I had zero experience at socialising sober (work doesn’t count) and was absolutely fucking useless at it. Honestly, 3 years in I still am. I went from 100 to zero and then tried to go back to 100 on the socialising part and it was such an alien feeling to me.

I don’t think I’ll ever become comfortable with it if I am being honest, I am FAR to aware of the drunks in the room and too often, their ability to switch from happy to angry in a split second. It leaves me on edge and it’s almost like a sensory overload when I am in bar, it’s pretty overwhelming. I can see why alcohol helped me so much, I was rarely aware of any of this stuff when I was drinking. That being said, I don’t miss the big nights or hangovers, not one bit. 

One and Done

I mentioned earlier about having a beer here and a beer there. Well last year I decided to test myself with a beer to see if I could be sensible with it and just ENJOY one. Well I did enjoy it but the feeling of MORE was gone. After I finished it I was satisfied and I knew that I had gotten over the final hurdle. So today, I have a beer now and again (I’ve not had one for 3 months) if I am out for dinner or if I just fancy one but it’s just that, one and done. 

So that’s my story, even if one person reads it and thinks, shit that’s basically me and it inspires them to at least think about getting help/stopping then great, job done! 

 

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Categories
Addiction ADHD Alcohol Drugs Guest Articles Mental Health Mind Society

Mind Your Business – The Silent Battle Of ADHD

Mind Your Business – The Silent Battle Being Fought Every Day

This is a guest article that a friend wanted to write for everyone to see.

Even though this battle has been making some noise for a few years now, it is still a relatively quiet one, and many of us are fighting it silently while often the people who love us the most doesn’t even know it’s going on, furthermore the very people who love us might even be making it harder for us without knowing,

By the title of this article you might have thought that I’m talking about the old lady who told your mum about that one time you came back home drunk at 3am and fell asleep on the porch, or the one who told your parents how you pierced your tongue and have been hiding it for months.

I mean yes old ladies, mind your own freaking business, but what I’m really talking about it’s not a battle against nosey grannies, I’m talking about a war to be more precise, one that it’s going on inside the mind of those of us who find it hard, or straight up impossible to set our attention to something in order to complete simple tasks – from the most mundane tasks, such as cleaning the room, to much more serious ones like studying for that one test that we needed to pass in order to get into that university (those of us who were able to make through high school, I mean).

Attention Deficit Disorder

At this point you might have heard of it, Attention “Deficit Disorder” with or without Hyperactivity, or ADD/ADHD, I will elaborate on why I quoted “deficit disorder” later on.

“Pay attention”, “what’s wrong with you”, “Can’t you just sit still?”, “You are so smart and you insist on sabotaging yourself”, “You’ve so much potential and you continue to waste it”, are some of the most common things people with ADD/ADHD have to grow up listening to for the most part of their childhood/adolescence and often all the way through our adult years.

They frequently come from people who genuinely care about us and only want the best for us, but as Jesus reportedly said while being tortured to death on the cross “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (I’m not religious, don’t run away)

Adhd Symptoms

 

Photo taken from Wikipedia

 

ADHD Struggles

They just don’t know, so they just can’t understand, not even ourselves can understand why we seem to struggle where other people seemingly thrive, so we’re called lazy, rebels or difficult, they think that we just don’t care, and we feel misunderstood, those feelings turn into frustration, and frustration turns into anger and anger turns into harmful habits… so many of us have a history of alcohol/drug abuse, anger management issues, volatility, sex addiction and so on.

Not to mention what it does to our self esteem when we are constantly compared to those who, with the same apparent tools and opportunities, seem to do it right.

There Is No Attention Deficit

The way we are doesn’t have to do with a deficit of attention or lack of focus, in fact we can focus much more than many, it’s just that we can have many more things in our head at once than most, we find it hard to focus solely on the book that we’re reading, when we also wonder the life expectancy of the fly on the window.

While people struggle with what to be interested in, we cannot be interested in anything that we’re not genuinely interested in, it’s not a choice, that’s an advantage and a disadvantage on its own, on the one hand when we like something, we know we really do, otherwise we wouldn´t pay attention to it.

ADHD and Thinking Outside The Box

We are terrific at thinking outside the box (in fact we very often didn’t even know there was a box to begin with), but on the other hand, this life requires us to complete things that are not always necessarily interesting, yet important for us to properly function within a society with rules and expectations.

Yes, I don’t know many people who enjoy doing their taxes or staying awake until 3am studying for that one test, but for some of us is borderline impossible to concentrate on that (and no, we can’t sit still).

We don’t suffer from a “disorder”, we just function differently in a world that’s definitely not made for us,

We need dynamism in order to thrive, we do impressively well when dealing with a bunch of things at once, we just have a hard time setting our mind to one that doesn’t absolutely fascinates us.

Evolution of ADHD

Maybe it is an evolutionary thing, we humans have increasingly come into contact with more and more information over the years and especially since the internet came into play, you can ask your parents or grandparents what did they do to entertain themselves in the past.

The most important things have always been there; nature, sports, each other’s company, there has been music, books, film and TV for a while, but right now… Shit man! We have all that multiplied by the billions, and we have it just a click away, it is available in our pockets at any given moment.

ADHD Juggling

 

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INFORMATION OVERLOAD

We have Tinder, Netflix, and Audio books, If you want to order food you have 20 apps on your smartphone with hundreds of options, you can learn how to build a computer or to tie a tie by watching a tutorial…

We’re overloaded with information and images and possibilities, is it really that crazy that some of us have difficulty to concentrate on one thing? Shouldn’t areas of society such as education adapt to the new human and to meet the requirements of those of us who can’t sit still also?

ADHD Medication

Medication can be incredibly helpful, but it’s important to note that for many of us, all that it takes is to know that we’re all different and unique, what works for you doesn’t have to work for me and vice versa, yet we insist in trying to fit all into a square box when in fact some of us are a circle, or a line, or my personal favourite, a spiral.

This article is intended for everyone, for the misfits so they know that they’re not alone and for everyone else who need to be a little more considerate and open to those who are different, because we all are. Even those of you who can sit still, yes, you’re also special in your own unique way.

I believe that if you take the time to get to know someone, you will inevitably end up finding out what makes them special.

“Everybody is a Genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid”

                                   – Albert Einstein (maybe) –

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Categories
Communication Guest Articles Motivation Politics Society

Coronavirus in the UK : Keep Calm and Carry On Ignoring the Government

Guest article by Charlotte M

The other day I was speaking to someone who compared the UK’s refusal to abide by the rules of the Coronavirus pandemic in the UK to a naughty child in class. You know the one that won’t listen to the teacher and subsequently gets everyone held in at break time?

A pretty accurate comparison if you ask me. But my gosh, how embarrassing. Who knew staying at home and washing your hands could be so hard?

It’s thought by many that the Covid-19 case is as serious a global pandemic as the war. It’s also thought by many that this pandemic will cause a certain shift in the function of the world, even after it’s recovery. These beliefs alone are enough to shock you into action (one would hope anyway ey).

Granted, most people are now listening. But some still are not.

Coronavirus in the UK

Thus far, the UK in its entirety has received high-level emergency lockdown advice in order to reduce the spread of coronavirus cases. These come from the government and health officials as well as celebrities and many other influential bodies following suit; amplifying self-isolation, restricted reasons for leaving the house and social distancing.

We can’t help but pull our hair out wondering why the UK isn’t getting the message. Could it be because something as serious and life-altering as the coronavirus outbreak has never been experienced by this generation and the last?

Because we have gotten so comfortable with abiding by our own lifestyle rules? Because the people of this country are simply too ignorant to take notice and action for their local and wider community?

When the coronavirus first became a national emergency in China, the country swiftly went into lockdown. Likewise, places such as Ireland, Italy, Belgium, France, Spain and India brought in enforced measures to help reduce cases. Some strategies described as “brutal but effective”.

The people of these countries listened and followed what they were advised to do almost immediately. Acknowledging that whilst the virus may not be life-threatening for them personally, ignoring the measures advised by their government could be fatal to other members of the community.

So what does this say about the UK public and their value for the community; as we watch them still having picnics in the park? Still holding large gatherings? Still panic buying?

There’s something incredibly cringe-worthy about the term “panic buying”.

I think this is because, to me, it connotes pretty much every personality trait I can’t bear: selfish, narrow-minded, ignorant and entitled to name a few. Unfortunately, this panic-stricken reaction has proven to adopt a drastic case of the domino effect (I still don’t understand the toilet roll thing).

For some, it’s impulsive to respond to serious issues with humor. Hence why social media is constantly churning out content that makes jokes in relation to the virus and its consequential measures. From my personal experience, the ratio of serious to humorous coronavirus content across social media is pretty even (if not slightly leaning further towards humor as the majority).

Coronavirus in the uk
Photo by Brian Macgowan

Now I’m no Debbie Downer and a regular advocate for a snort-worthy meme. And similar people are likely to argue that diffusing the tension is necessary for the current circumstances; by reducing the negativity of the situation and “lightening the mood” for the good of the people. But when you really think about it… is lightening the mood, in this way, what we need when people aren’t listening to what needs to be done?

On the serious side, content has been circulating online displaying the elderly struggling to gather basic groceries, the sick unable to obtain the medicine they need. One particular video of a critical care nurse brought to tears after being faced with empty shelves following a 48-hour shift made me feel particularly ashamed.

Of course, it’s upsetting to see. But this is essentially the content we need to share more of on social if unprompted good-will alone won’t spark change in people’s actions. Coronavirus in the UK and the rest of the world is a pandemic that needs to be taken seriously.

If the severity hasn’t been made clear enough already through rising death rates and people under the age of 30 (with no underlying health conditions) contracting the virus and dying, it really makes you wonder how the minds of some people work.

The truth that the people of the UK need to grasp is that the “every man for themselves” and “It won’t happen to me” attitude is what will lead us to fall. The sooner we accept what needs to be done on a united front, the sooner this will end. Recovery starts with unity.

By Charlotte M

A big thank you to our first guest writer Charlotte!

If you would like to read a more positive outlook on Coronavirus in the UK then check the article below!

Click here to read another article about the positive side of the Coronavirus

If you would like to discuss anything that is written here then please get in contact via any of the methods below – or leave a comment on here to start a discussion. I love to hear feedback from everyone!

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