We’ve all been there. We’ve all been in a place so painful that the desperation to not feel said suffering completely overrides any desire to self heal in a healthy and proactive way.
Whether this be through alcohol, drugs, comfort food, oversleeping, self harm or any other method that is used a coping mechanism, these are all argued to have a negative impact on our mental state of mind and make the real root of our problems more difficult to treat as a result.
My way of coping was among the most common…
I used to self medicate with alcohol
Why I hear you ask?
- Well first of all I was a student, so the drinking culture certainly played a part in normalising my laissez-faire attitude towards consuming it.
- Secondly, while there was a period where I received CBT therapy at university, I regret to say that I did not take it seriously enough as I should have done at the time. I simply saw my situation as one where no amount of talking or setting goals would help me.
- Finally and perhaps, the most obvious reason – I drank because of the stress involved in completing and handing in assignments. Particularly in my final year!
On average, I would binge drink about three to four times a week. Like most other students I guess! Except, in my case at least, the drink was a simple and uncomplicated way of escaping the feelings that I kept bottled up inside of me. It was a way in which I could escape reality. and numb the pain for a while…
Yet, would I even still be here if I did not have that temporary form of escapism to turn to when I needed it? Honestly….I do not know. Some days, I even doubt it.
Let me make myself clear. I would in no way recommend someone to turn to unhealthy ways such as over drinking to handle their mental illness. I do however ponder where I would be had I not had the drink to turn to when things got tough.
This is not to say that I felt like this all of the time. I can remember many nights out where I genuinely enjoyed and appreciated the company of friends around me. Yet that feeling of difference and being the ‘odd one out’ always ensured that depressive thoughts were always at the back of my mind.
Nowadays my relationship with alcohol is one I like to compare to an acquaintance of a friend you’re not quite sure about. You engage with them civilly and smile politely at their rather unfunny jokes. Yet you never completely trust them. Just like I can never completely trust myself not to go overboard when it comes to going for a night out and promising myself that I’ll just have ‘one or two’.
So what about you?
Do you or did you used to have unhealthy way of dealing with your demons? If so, do you believe that any good came out of it? Or was it a depressing affair that at best delayed you in getting the help you needed and at worst, put you in a darker place than you were in before?
Emotional support helplines:
Samaritans :116 123
Rethink Mental Illness advice line 0300 5000 927 (Monday to Friday 09:30-16:00; local rate)
Sane Line:0845 767 8000
Mind also has a useful guide of support and services, which can be found by clicking the link right here