What led you to get sober?
I stopped drinking in January 2020. I don’t identify as an alcoholic, but I wasn’t comfortable with how I was drinking. There’s alcoholism in my family, so I know there’s some predisposition. I struggle with anxiety and depression, and I noticed that drinking would exacerbate them. Then in December 2019, I had to take a loved one to shock trauma due to alcohol. I can’t control their drinking, but what I realized is I can control my own. With anxiety too, it helps to have something I can control.
Alcohol does exacerbate anxiety and depression so much. I still have anxiety, but it’s a lot more manageable. When you’re drinking, you think—or at least I thought—“Alcohol is making me less anxious.”
Yeah and I do go to therapy, so I would talk about that with my therapist. I had also read This Naked Mind by Annie Grace; it takes common myths we have in US culture about drinking and breaks them down with science. One of them is, “It relaxes me.” Maybe it relaxes you in that moment, but your brain is messed up afterwards.
What was it like getting sober so soon before COVID?
I was really grateful I had made the decision ahead of time; I had two and a half months of sobriety beforehand. If I had decided I was going to stop drinking March 1st, I don’t know if I would have stuck with it. It was hard at first.
I will say one thing, and I’ve said it throughout: I’m so glad I stopped drinking during the pandemic.
Is there anything you do for your sobriety? You said therapy—things like therapy, meditation, exercise?
Therapy. A little bit more exercise. More crafts and hobby-ing; I don’t have a diligent practice, but I’ve done a little cross-stitch or weaving. I’m making more time for that because I’m not hungover in the mornings. I’ve gotten a lot better about cleaning up my house. This is terrible, but brushing my teeth. Especially at the end of the night, I would never do it. Now it’s like, “Okay, you can commit to dental health.”
I’m trying to get better about keeping routines. I’ve been using an app for bedtime routines. Now I actually do the skincare that everyone goes on about.
What are the biggest changes you’ve noticed in yourself since you got sober?
Definitely reduced anxiety and depressive episodes. They’re not gone entirely, but I have so much less anxiety; it’s really a godsend.
After a year, my patience for drinking and drunk people—even in the limited exposure I have now—has gone down. As social events resume, I feel more confident about setting boundaries.
That’s awesome that you had some time to practice before things reopened.
Totally. Maybe more time than I wanted, but a full year in it’s like, “Oh yeah, I don’t have to go back to situations that made me uncomfortable—or that made me want to drink in the first place.”