Welcome to Episode 2 of the Two of Me Podcast . Join me as I talk about my journey of ditching alcohol and becoming alcohol-free for two years. I share why I did it, how I did it, how it helped me and how I have stayed alcohol-free.
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Transcript Episode 2 – 2 Years Alcohol Free
You’re listening to the Two of Me podcast. Join me, Eva Lewis – a wife, mother, business owner, blogger, and woman with bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder – as I discuss the highs and lows of juggling life with a mental illness.
Two Years Alcohol Free – How It Happened
Hey, everybody, welcome back. It’s Eva Lewis here and you’re listening to episode number two of the two of me podcast. I have been super excited to see all the downloads happening on the introductory episode and episode number one. So, thank you to all those people who have listened. If you haven’t yet listened to the introductory episode, I’d really love it if you could listen, it will give you a bit of a background on me and on the podcast.
But today, I am talking about being two years alcohol free as of the 29th of January 2021. It’s exciting and it is possible for anyone to do if you put your mind to it. It’s one of the best decisions I have made and people… the most common question people ask is, “Don’t you crave it?” And I say, “No, I don’t.”
And I haven’t craved it, since I was beyond the first month of quitting alcohol. So, at the point of me when I was drinking, I was at I was drinking about two to three generous glasses of wine most nights and sometimes I’d finish a bottle. And, quite frankly, it completely messed with my being, and particularly with my bipolar and anxiety. So, I was always tired, I found it hard to get out of bed and get going in the morning, I found it really difficult to focus and gain clarity, and a bugbear was that I couldn’t lose weight.
So, I had bloating, stomach and bowel problems, I had memory loss, I needed to drink to socialize, and I also know for a fact that the alcohol and my bipolar and anxiety medication didn’t mix either. So, yeah, back then I was dependent on alcohol, so I couldn’t just have a little bit and stop there. I needed quite a bit. It was my crutch. It was my crutch for times that were hard and that was almost every day. It was my crutch for, you know, it was just my way to feel good. So, I craved it, I’d sit in think about it. I’d look forward to five o’clock – when five o’clock came on the clock it was awesome because I could open a bottle of wine and feel less guilty about it.
Wake Up Calls in a Drinking Culture
But you know, unfortunately, we currently live in a drinking culture and it can be really hard to even identify if someone has a drinking problem or not. It’s usually the people who are closest to you that notice but it’s really not up to them to make you stop. It really comes down to you.
So, why did I stop drinking those two years ago? This is another question I am asked all the time. So, I’d have to say the main thing is because it mucked with my moods, my mental health. It just… I was a complete rollercoaster, and it was pretty ridiculous. It also mucked with my medications. So, I knew for a fact that they didn’t work like they should be like my doctors were telling me it should.
The biggest wakeup call for me was when, on two occasions, I’m pretty certain I experienced lithium poisoning. So, lithium is one of the medications I take for my bipolar and I’m pretty sure this happened on a couple of occasions. And the reason it happened was because I drank too much alcohol, and I had not enough water to drink. So, alcohol, it’s a diuretic, and then when you’re on lithium, one of the most important things that doctors tell you is that you need to keep well hydrated.
So, when I had these… these sort of poisoning attacks, I remember being in so much pain and discomfort, I thought I was going to die. They were really, seriously bad. So, I think the second one, after that happened, was when I knew that I had to make changes.
So, this is my experience. Everyone else’s experiences are different in terms of the symptoms they experience with alcohol addiction and, you know, how they feel and why they use it. But I’m hoping that me talking about this and my journey to two years alcohol free, might help you on your journey to hopefully quit. But, you see, before I quit I had to come to terms with the fact that, yes, I did abuse alcohol. So, I didn’t just drink alcohol and, you know, have a glass of wine when we went out to dinner and a glass of wine when we went to this party – I abused it. And I had to come to terms with the fact that I was the only one that could change the fact that I, you know, had a bit of an addiction going on.
Having a Reason To Quit Alcohol
So, how did I stop drinking? I stopped drinking… I actually did it cold turkey. So, I came to terms with the fact that, yes, I abused alcohol, that I needed to quit, that there was some serious things happening with my body that I did not want to happen anymore. So, I got to that point. That’s where my journey started – having this belief.
So, alcohol addiction is a disease of the brain, so mindset is the key to quitting alcohol. And so I had a reason I wanted to quit and I did, so I did it cold turkey. Now, how else did I stop drinking? Well, I relied on an awesome book called “The Easy Way for Women to Stop Drinking” by Allen Carr. Now I usually I actually had the audiobook version and I listened to this audiobook version – and it has a paperback as well – It was packed with full of wisdom on how to tackle the voice in your mind that pushes you to drink. So, it was a huge mindset thing and the lessons I gained from this book ended up becoming my inner self talk, when I went through those tough times, and it would repeat in my head, and the realities would repeat in my head when my cravings popped up.
So, a couple of lessons that I just wanted to share that are from the book that are still etched in my mind two years later – alcohol has no benefit to us. We feel it gives us some sort of pleasure and believe that it takes away our pain but, in the end, alcohol is the pain.
The other point that is etched in my head is there’s so much conditioning happening in our society – images of people drinking and smiling; memes on social media saying that to fix stress just have a drink. All of this conditioning draws you back; it draws you back in if you’re not aware of it.
The Perpetual Image of Alcoholic Mothers
Now, I’d like to expand on this point. When I was drinking and I was a mum, I had two young children and I was in various parenting and motherhood Facebook groups. It was the norm to see these memes popping up in the groups about, you know, “Oh, you’ve had a hard day being a mum, you know, you’re gonna hide in the cupboard and discover a bottle of wine or glass of wine…”.
You know what I’m talking about. You’ve seen them. So, I would share them and I would comment on them and Haha, you know, that’s funny. But now I see them from a completely different point of view and it is quite damaging to see these things on Facebook showing and treating them like they are okay when they’re not okay. And that’s definitely not what we should resort to or what we should use as a crutch when life gets hard and parenting gets hard.
The Importance of Support When Quitting
The next thing I used to stop drinking was support. So, support is a critical part of quitting alcohol. You’ve got to surround yourself with those people who are supportive and who understand what you’re experiencing.
So, I had a friend, she was on the same journey as me and I could call her or message her and share my experiences and she would know exactly how it felt. So, that’s really essential. So, whether it’s a friend or it’s a support group that you attend, I highly recommend having that support.
Need a Drink? Find a Satisfying Alternative!
Now, alternatives are really important and what I mean is alternatives to your preferred alcohol. In the early weeks, I still had cravings and I always made sure I had an alternative drink in my hand. I opted for sparkling mineral water with slices of lime simply because it had bubbles, and it had flavour, and had no sugar, because I didn’t want that sugar to be around.
So, I would recommend that you pick a drink that – a non-alcoholic drink – that you actually enjoy, otherwise, you know, you’re not gonna want to reach for it.
Everyone’s Journey is Different
So, the way I quit alcohol isn’t necessarily a good fit for everyone – I did it cold turkey – and it depends on how serious your addiction is, of course.
So, other ways to quit drinking are:
- Seeing a counsellor or psychologist.
- Attending a group like Alcoholics Anonymous, and they also have online therapy, which is good to know.
- Medication can help with withdrawals, if you see your GP.
- And you might want to start with something like, it’s a little while away now, but something like dry July.
Two Years On – Successful Management
So, two years later, people ask me, “Do you crave it? You’ve got to crave it, don’t you?”
And honestly, I do not think about it at all. It’s just no longer part of my life. Most of the issues I was experiencing before I quit alcohol – so the symptoms are gone. And I have to say it’s the best feeling to jump out of bed with a clear head.
Actually, one of the best improvements has been to my mind, which is awesome.
So, I came across an interesting study, published in the Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research Journal, and the study found that brain matter can shrink and cerebral spinal fluid can increase in those people who abuse alcohol. These then act as a cushion for the brain. The shrinkage can then lead to memory loss, loss of concentration, and increased impulsivity. So, there you go! Participants in the study underwent brain scans 24 hours after detoxification and then two weeks after alcohol abstinence with findings confirming a rather rapid recovery of the brain from alcohol induced volume loss.
I definitely can relate to that, because I think that happened to me, because it was just amazing. The clarity and the focus, and my thinking wasn’t, sort of, all a fuzz.
So, how I managed to stay sober for two years is what people also ask me. Yep, they’ve been stressful times – everyone has stressful times – when I would have previously used alcohol as my crutch. There were times when I still experienced cravings and that would have been, you know, in the first maybe 10 weeks. But I can honestly, hand to heart, say that I have not once caved in. I have not once had even a sip of alcohol.
So, how did I manage it?
I remember the teachings I learned in Alan Carr’s Easy Way book and I make sure I’m not hungry, because I remember I always felt like drinking alcohol when I was when I was hungry, but I wouldn’t eat because I knew that the alcohol wouldn’t have the same effect. I would always start drinking on an empty stomach because the alcohol took effect quicker.
I make sure that I manage my triggers, like my anxiety and depression and stress. I try my utmost best to manage these because those are the triggers that would always make me want to drink. As I mentioned before, I always have enjoyable non-alcoholic drinks on hand that I actually want to drink and that don’t taste ghastly.
In social situations, I still sometimes find it a bit hard. Particularly with my bipolar, if I’m sort of in my depression cycle, you know, the last thing I want to do is go and socialize. So, I do find that difficult, but obviously I just have to remind myself that I do not need alcohol to be interesting or funny or relatable. I just need to be myself. And if people don’t like who I am, they can go and get stuffed, pretty much!
I always remind myself that alcohol has absolutely no benefit to me whatsoever. It’s more of a pain in the arse than a good thing. And I remind myself that I don’t need alcohol to be a good Mum, to be a good business owner, to be a good wife, to be a good friend – no one does, no one at all. So, alcohol – it makes us feel good for a short time and horrible for a long time. So, it’s like short term gain for long term pain, Long term pain being monetary, physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Admit To The Problem, Lighten The Load
The term alcohol addiction, or alcoholic is really, really, really confronting and it’s one of the reasons many people find it really hard to quit alcohol, because they find it hard to admit that they have the problem. So, when you ADMIT that you do have a problem, that needs to come first, and when that comes first, and you make that admission and show that you’re strong and determined, then it gets easier from there.
If you know what happens to your body when you stop drinking alcohol, which is sort of why I’m trying to discuss it in this podcast, then it can have a profound impact on your life and on your loved ones as well. So, it’s like a huge motivator. If you need one, that is the motivator.
So, is quitting alcohol hard? No, it’s not as hard as I thought. But with the tools I had in place and the belief I had in quitting alcohol, without those it would have been much harder. So, you’ve really got to set yourself up: make sure you have the right tools, remove the triggers, have the right support. And honestly, if I can do it, you can, too.
The Podcast and Website
Thank you so much for listening to episode number two of the Two of Me podcast. I would love it if you could check out my website. It’s themultitaskingwoman.com and on there I’ve got heaps of free mental health resources that you can download.
And if there’s anything that you want to hear on the podcast, please send me an email, contact me via the website, via my Facebook page, or Instagram, and who knows, it might come up in a future episode. It is still quite new and so I am taking on any recommendations.
But until next week, and I am trying to publish an episode a week on Mondays, I would love it if you could listen to the next one. And I’m also happy to say that the Two of Me podcast is on loads of different platforms now including Apple iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and there’s quite a few more but if you do go to my website, and there should be a link in this episode, you’ll be able to see all of the different platforms that it’s on so you can hopefully listen to me on your favourite one.
Okay, have a great week, everybody and I will chat to you next time. Thanks. Bye.
Thanks for listening to the Two of Me podcast. I look forward to having you back listening to the next weekly episode, but for more content on mindset, mental health and wellbeing, check out my website – themultitaskingwoman.com .
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