Ok, it's March now... I made it! Despite a couple of touchy moments when I almost walked into a bottle shop as I was overwhelmed and stressed with life, or social events at pubs - where there was a touch of peer pressure to conform, however mostly the time when I actually went into a bottle shop to purchase a gift for a friends birthday, and I wanted to purchase something for myself too.
What am I even talking about?
For the past few years, I have completed FebFast. The challenge is to pause for a cause during the month of February and give up alcohol, sugar or another vice of your choice – to support disadvantaged young people aged 12 to 25 across Australia It is the perfect excuse to kick-start the year with good choices and goodwill. Past FebFasters, including myself, often report the following benefits…
Across Australia, thousands of people give up alcohol or sugar for the month of February to raise vital funds for young people experiencing serious disadvantages to access the resources and support they require to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. Some people say they drink alcohol to "drown their sorrows" after a bad breakup, job loss, or other major life stress. And yes, because alcohol makes you sleepy, a few beers or glasses of wine can seem to relax you and relieve the apparent and present anxiety you feel. A drink every once in a while when you’re stressed out or blue is one thing. But when you need that cocktail every time a problem crops up, it could be a sign of alcohol abuse, or if you are drinking at home and alone as a means to self-soothe. febfast 2022
There’s also a strong link between above-average alcohol use and depression. The question is, does regular drinking lead to depression, or are depressed people more likely to drink too much? Both outcomes are possible.
Does Depression Drive You to Drink?
Nearly one-third of people with major depression also have an alcohol problem, that's a sizeable statistic. More often than not, depression comes first. Research shows that depressed children are more likely to have problems with alcohol in adulthood. Also, teens who've had a bout of major depression are twice as likely to start drinking as those who haven’t. I respond guilty as charged.
Even more surprisingly, Women are more than twice as likely to start drinking heavily if they have a history of depression. Experts say that women are also more likely than men to overdo it when they’re down. Drinking not only makes depression worse, due to its nature of being a sensory depressant, and people who are depressed and drink too much have more frequent are more likely to think about suicide. Heavy alcohol use also can make prescribed antidepressants less effective, and often these medications come with a warning to not drink whilst you are taking them.
Does Drinking Too Much Make You Depressed?
As mentioned, Alcohol is a depressant. Quote unquote. That means any amount you drink can make you more likely to get the blues, and drinking a lot frequently can harm your brain and lead to increased episodes of depression. When you drink too much, you’re more likely to make bad decisions or act on impulse. As a result, you could drain your bank account, lose a job, or ruin a relationship. When that happens, you're more likely to feel down, particularly if your genes are wired for depression.
Alcohol and Depression: What to Do
It probably won't hurt to have a glass of wine or beer once in a while for social reasons unless you have a health problem that prevents you from drinking. But if you turn to alcohol to get you through the day, or if it causes trouble in your relationships, at work, in your social life, or with how you think and feel, you have a more serious problem. Alcohol abuse and depression are both serious problems that you shouldn't ignore. If you think you have a problem with either, talk to your doctor or psychologist.
One complex emotion experienced by people who abuse alcohol is shame. In fact, it may also be possible that the central emotion drawing the individual to their vice is shame. Psychologist Brene Brown (the boss), a researcher on the subject of shame and vulnerability defines shame as “the intensely painful experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging-something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.”
Shame is usually a deeply buried, and repressed emotional state. It is believed that Shame develops early in childhood and therefore is an emotional passenger during the most critical stages of our emotional development. Quite often shame can be mistaken for guilt, or sometimes embarrassment. Guilt and shame, however, while closely related, are entirely different emotional states. Being such different emotional states will impact our thoughts and behaviours differently. There is a feeling and desire to improve and the possibility of improvement, or even a feeling to live up to other expectations. Many use this extremely critical self-talk and identify with their experience of a feeling as who they are, not an emotion they are experiencing at the moment. This is dangerous and can lead to using more of their vice to numb those “shameful” feelings, with the cycle continuing and further fuelling self-hatred.
I don't like being an Alco-Hole, as defined by Urban Dictionary... I don't like who I sometimes become with Alcohol - it sometimes makes me become an asshole or Alco-hole.
Low or No alcohol life is something I hope to continue... It definitely is something I need to be careful around with my tendency to have bouts of depression and somewhat addictive personality. Sobriety is more clearly defined than moderation. When a person chooses to be abstinent, it means that they refrain from all alcohol consumption for a duration of time - sometimes a lifetime. However, when someone commits to a journey of sobriety, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are committing to a lifetime of abstinence. The journey to changing your relationship with alcohol is about progress, not perfection - like all other items of addiction. Whether you’re working towards sobriety or to moderate your alcohol intake, the most important thing is to keep going. Every day presents a new opportunity to define your goals and make progress towards them.
To mitigate social functions, skirt the edges of feeling like I was being judged, and to continue to challenge my social anxiety I continued to go out - even to places that I could have easily succumbed to breaking my FebFast.
I have found the best no alcoholic beverages thus far, in my opinion -
Nort non-alcoholic refreshing ale
Fruity and refreshing, this fully crafted non-alcoholic beer offers more flavour and more freedom.
Carlton Zero non-alcoholic beer
Full flavoured with all the refreshing qualities of a Carlton, but made for occasions when you just don’t feel like drinking alcohol.
Heaps Normal Quiet XPA
The Heaps Normal Quiet XPA is an independently brewed, full-flavoured XPA. Think tropical and citrus aromas, balanced with bitterness and a subtle malt sweetness – refreshing. Absolute winner at Seasonal Brewery
Great Northern Zero
Deep golden hues infused with a fruity aroma that carries through to the palate. The Great Northern Zero balances sweetness with a subtle bitterness - a refreshing and crisp beer without the alcohol.
Tinnies Ultra Low Alcohol
Naked Life Cocktails
The range is impeccable....
Non-Alcoholic Cocktails – Naked Life Non-Alcoholic Cocktails & Mixed Drinks (nakedlifespirits.com.au)
I hope my Brain, Body, and Soul all thank me long-term for this, as I have to stop turning towards self-sabotage and quick fixes including Alcohol when I am stressed. And to wrap up some shameless advertising whilst I still can - if you are in a position to be able to, then please head across to
https://febfast.org.au/sarah-dyer and make a donation :)
Sending love and light to you all!