Going sober is not easy and you don’t always quite know what to expect.
I wrote about alcohol and mental health in a post quite a while ago now. It is something that I have attempted here and there over the years for a few days, a week, maybe two…
In recent years I’ve been acutely aware somewhere in my subconscious that it was a problem – drunk me used to sit in the toilet Googling local Alcoholics Anonymous groups and crying. It was as cute as it sounds.
They say you can’t start something like this until you’re really ready. So, I guess I must have been. Because 35 days later I’m sober as a … monk (?) … and here to share…
Day 1 – 2
At this point I guess we are in what feels like an amplified, extended hangover.
I had nausea and vomiting – which was horrendous as I am also on Citalopram (at the time this was 20mg of Citalopram).
Splitting headache, feeling unbearably hot, having terrible nightsweats.
My hands were shaking and I was dehydrated. So dehydrated. Like I’d licked a camel that had rolled in sand.
My anxiety and depression played up something rotten. My chest felt tight, I felt panicky all the time. But, at the same time, I had no motivation to move. I just wanted to stay in bed all the time. To be completely honest, as I wasn’t working, I didn’t really get out of bed at all.
Essentially this is not much later, but I just need to add an over share at this moment – mad diarrhoea kicked in here. And ok, you may be like – why are you telling me?! But honestly, it’s better that you’re prepared, because going sober makes your bowels all like, wtf?! And, it’s not pretty. Thank me later.
Day 7 – Yay 1 week!
At this point I was starting to look less bloated. I also had better eyes – by this I mean less puffy, no big bags under the eyes. It is quite surprising how awful alcohol makes your eyes look. You really don’t realise it until it is gone.
I genuinely looked like I was:
a) knackered and
b) squinting directly at the sun all the time and I had no clue.
However, my sleep quality was poor – I had pretty bad insomnia. Just spending the whole night tossing and turning, throwing the covers around and pacing the flat. My stomach was still bad, I was developing some pretty belting headaches and I was so tired.
I started to think about how to tell people about the fact that I wasn’t drinking. Honestly, I was actually really worried about it. I actually felt like they would be upset about it and I felt really anxious.
Other than that, I was starting to feel pretty proud of myself!
At this point I was way more productive and was waking up better; I used to drag myself out of bed in the morning feeling like death, or if I had nowhere to be I would sleep in very late.
I have been known to sleep in anywhere until 4pm. My general pattern was sleep late, eat to line my stomach, have drinks, then go to bed in the early hours. Not the best daily routine.
By Day 10 alcohol-free I was beginning to wake up closer to 9 naturally, feeling more awake in the morning. Starting to exercise – a bit of a walk/jog/walk type thing in the morning.
I had lost quite a bit of water weight as well. I hadn’t realised before, but my ankles, stomach and face were holding a lot of water weight and general puffiness. My trousers were less tight, my socks were no longer leaving lines on my feet and my face was much slimmer.
FYI – it was only at THIS POINT that my diarrhoea got better. Yup.
What to expect when going sober? Boredom.
Me and the other half used to spend the evenings having a drink. Now, we were spending the evenings trying to find something to watch on TV. We weren’t very well off financially so going out wasn’t really an option.
Plus, we didn’t really know what to do that didn’t involve having a drink. Which sounds insane, but it’s true. I said things like, “But, how can I go for a meal if I don’t have wine?” and I meant it.
I also started to get cravings at this point. My brain was like – Ok, this is far enough now, you’ve had your fun, let’s stop. And I know we definitely started buying more sweets.
Day 21 – Week 3!
By week 3, my sleep was so much better. No more insomnia (thank God!). I was sleeping through the night and, according to my smart(ish) watch, I was getting a lot more deep sleep.
As a result of the improved sleep and waking up anywhere between 8 and 9 every day, I started exercising more regularly in the mornings. I was now one of those super smug morning exercisers. (Jk guys you’re awesome).
I had lost a bit of weight – some must be water but it’s still going down so that’s exciting. In context, I’d gained a whopping 20kg over the past couple years as my drinking habits spiralled.
On the downside, my skin – which had begun to look so glowy – had begun to break out in spots. All over my face, clustering around my chin and my forehead. Even on my neck, chest and upper back. Gross.
My guts were equally confused, with random bouts of constipation and nausea. I also had almost constant blinding headaches, like I had been hit in the skull with an axe.
But the worst symptom was the itching. It started with just my arms. Just slight itching over my right arm mostly, just so I thought I had been bitten. This very suddenly progressed to unbearable itching. I wanted to almost tear at my skin; I spent most of the day clawing at my arms, then the feeling extended to my legs. It was horrible, intense itching. Ignoring it was not an option, nor did it make it better.
On the bright side, I had an overall improved lifestyle and attitude. I felt proud of myself for getting this far. I hadn’t woken up feeling an overwhelming sense of guilt in weeks! Plus, I was making better life choices. All good things.
At this point I had also told my family about the whole giving up alcohol situation. They were surprisingly cool with it. Quite possibly because I looked less like a puffer fish. I am yet to break the news to friends (other than one). Mostly because I am actually completely anti-social and avoid going anywhere or speaking to anyone like the plague, therefore it hasn’t impacted my social life because it does not exist.
So here we are! Crazy.
So rather than rabbiting on, let’s have a clear look at where we are now:
- Better eyes (i.e. not puffy, squinty, red, bloodshot, etc)
- Clearer skin
- Improved eyesight (no joke, I can read the subtitles on my TV now. What’s that about?)
- Less bloated
- Reduced belly fat
- Waking better
- Weight loss (4kg)
- Improved lifestyle
- Feel physically renewed
- Normal body temperature
- Improved sleep quality
- Increased energy levels
- Headaches (these are lessening)
- Feeling proud
- Improved lifestyle – (I feel this slots into both physical and psychological)
- Improved positivity
- Decreased cravings
- Improved attitude
- Less guilt
- Making better choices
- Mental clarity
- Cravings – note cravings are decreased but they are still here…
- Nightmares about drinking
To cut a long story short, if you’re considering going sober, as you can see it’s not glamorous. BUT it pays off.
I genuinely don’t want to go back to how I was and I can’t believe how much better I feel now. (Also, my therapist is actually pleased and I swear a therapist has never been pleased with me).
I am a month in and I feel so different. I am looking forward to how things will be further down the line.
I’ve also tried some alcohol free stuff, Kopperberg alcohol free ciders (in pear mixed fruit and strawberry and lime) go down well and Bavaria isn’t bad either. We also drink a lot of elderflower cordial now.
Feel free to hit me up in the comments if you have or have tried going sober or if it’s something that’s crossed your mind. Plus I’m always looking for more alcohol free drink recommendations (please thanks)!