It seems pretty funny to me that I’m writing this post while hungover. But what could possibly be a better time to overthink my relationship with alcohol then now, eh?
Living in the North East of England, and specially in Newcastle Upon Tyne, alcohol has always been around me. My city, in case you don’t know, is famous (or should I say infamous) for it’s drinking culture. There’s even been a very successful show based on just that, Geordie Shore, where it seems that the only goal of each episode is for the characters to get as ‘mortal’ as possible and cause a lot of drama.
“We’re here for a good time!”
It’s called reality television for a reason. Drink is a massive part of our lives in this city. And I don’t mind that – I love my city, in all it’s glory. It’s something I’m used to now.
As any Northerner will tell you, the stereotypes surrounding drink are something we’re strangely proud of. We like being known for drinking and partying – we’re just here for a good time!
At least, that’s always how it starts isn’t it?
Even though drink has always been around me, I didn’t drink myself until I was eighteen and at university. And boy did I make up for lost time with that one!
In the UK the legal age to purchase and drink alcohol is eighteen, which means that people start way younger than that. Especially where I’m from.
My parents never hid or banned drink from me when growing up and because of this freedom around alcohol, I never thought it necessary to drink until I was legal. To be honest I wasn’t too bothered about the whole thing then because it had been so normalised for me.
Then I went to university. And the drinking culture at university is insane. Now I’m not there anymore I can finally look at it and feel a bit shocked with how rife it is. It makes sense though – this is the first bit of freedom for most young adults and that freedom extends to what they consume. Of course alcohol is going to be a big deal!
And that’s how it was for me. Freshers Week is your first week of university and is basically a full week of parties and getting drunk. I loved it! Every year I threw myself into the festivities and, because this was really the first time I had drunk to excess, I was still excited by it all.
I didn’t really think seriously about alcohol until I was in my third and final year of university. This is, of course, a particularly stressful time and it’s something you’re warned about from day one. So it’s pretty reasonable to imagine that this was when I first started suffering with my mental health too.
“Going out and getting drunk can be a very dull cycle”
I was stressed out all of the time; I felt very lost and I was just generally unhappy a lot that last year. Scarily, I started turning to drink to pick me up.
It was normal for us to have regular nights out all throughout uni, but things had slowed down a little in our third year due to the work load and, to be honest, we were getting a little bored of it all by then anyway.
Going out and getting drunk can be a very dull cycle and my flatmates were getting sick of it. But I still kind of liked it then. I found myself at my ‘happiest’ when I was playing stupid drinking games and chugging cheap vodka.
So I started drinking as often as I could. And most of the time I was alone while doing so.
That’s the scariest bit I think. Alcohol has always been a social tool for me and yet there I was drinking it on my own just to feel happy.
I am proud to say that this spell didn’t last long; I did manage to pull myself away from drinking as a relief.
But that doesn’t mean that all my issues with alcohol have gone with it.
To be totally honest, I do like the feeling of being drunk. The early bits at least, when you’re so happy and excited and you just want to be friends with everyone. But I know better than most that it never stays that way for long.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve started experiencing blacking out and it’s such a terrifying thing. I really hate waking up in the morning not knowing where I’ve been, who I’ve been with or how I got home.
I also really, really hate hangovers. I can’t cope with the sickness, the shakes and the headache and there’s been more times than not that the morning after has ruined the night before for me.
So why do I still drink?
If there’s so much I hate about it, surely I should just give it up? It’s something I’ve considered a lot. Especially when hungover! This whole blog is basically a documentation of my journey of trying to better myself. Giving up alcohol would be a sure-fire way to put my physical and mental well being first.
But just when I think I’m being reasonable, a million excuses come to mind. I’m frightened that without drink I’ll be boring; I’ll have less friends and certainly less of a social life.
“I’m frightened that without drink I’ll be boring”
In a world that constantly encourages us to drink and be merry; where alcohol plays a massive part in every kind of adult occasion, it’s so hard to try to change your mentality and attitude to it.
But I’m trying.
And that’s where I stand today. I don’t have any answers for this one and it’s certainly going to be something I try to work on for a long time yet but you can bet I’ll be documenting it here.
What’s your relationship like with alcohol? Are you a big drinker or teetotal?
Whatever you do, stay safe and respectful.