In this St Valentine’s week we thought it might be useful to talk about loving yourself if you’re drinking heavily. Many people drinking heavily are unware. They don’t know they are harming their health or causing problems in their lives.
A vicious cycle
The really hard time is when we realise we’re drinking heavily. We try to cut down but fail to control our drinking. That’s when the self-blaming and the awful sense of shame starts. Combined with a hangover this makes us feel awful. Perhaps our family and friends start giving out to us.
Often this starts a vicious cycle which ends up with us literally hating ourselves because we can’t control our drinking. We end up drinking heavily to bury these feelings.
Society’s attitudes towards drinking don’t help
So many of our writers describe how attitudes towards drinking really don’t help people drinking too much. Examples include
As a society we venerate alcohol, but once people have a problem with alcohol they’re shamed. Women who have a problem with drugs (which alcohol is) are seen as having a personal failing as Dara describes so well here
HealthCare Professionals may make us feel worse
Valerie felt so bad she went into residential treatment. Four separate times. None of which worked. This was n’t because Valerie was a hopeless case, but because she did n’t get the right treatment. It was all about confrontation and acknowledging how badly she had behaved. Valerie ended up feeling worse. Eventually she tried to kill herself. Her 18 year old daughter Louise screamed in the Emergency Department they were n’t leaving until Valerie saw a psychiatrist. It then turned out Valerie had post-natal depression for 10 years which had never been picked up.
Once she got the right treatment, Valerie made a full recovery. She even wrote a book about her experiences (Available here). Lifewise would never have happened without Valerie. Valerie shows no matter how bad your drinking is, there is always hope.
Be kind to yourself if you’re drinking heavily
It’s difficult not to get caught up in unhealthy self criticism when drinking too much. But as Valerie shows this is just not useful. Our thoughts and feelings influence us so much. If we feel good about ourselves we’re less likely to drink heavily.
If we keep harshly criticising ourselves then we’re less likely to be successful in life generally.
So next time, be kind to yourself when you have a blowout.
Be a kind friend to yourself
Imagine you have a best friend Mary who you love dearly. Last night she drank way too much and made a fool of herself. She’s now feeling ashamed and mortified and wants to talk to you.
As she talks you would n’t tell her
“Yes, you’re a stupid useless twat who always make a mess of things”
As a kind friend you’d listen to what Mary has to say. Maybe it’s about
“She was feeling really anxious about the job situation, so she drank to ease the anxiety. so she could relax”
So you’d discuss how Mary could avoid this situation in the future. There’s plenty of possible solutions. Because of your kindness and willingness to listen, Mary is able to talk and come to a decision about how she is going to deal with this in the future.
The point is if your best friend Mary is feeling ashamed and mortified, you don’t give out to her. She knows she drank too much. So you are patient and help her to find a solution to drinking too much.
So if you would do this for your best friend because you love them, why not do it for yourself?
So instead of criticising yourself for drinking too much, try treating yourself as if you were a kind friend. You might be surprised at the impact it has on your drinking.
“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” – Johnny Cash