Sunday 16 April 2017

Three Hundred and Sixty-Five Days Sober

Andrew writes about his year of sobriety and his desire to break down mental health stigma.
- Andrew Morbey

On Sunday 16th of April I celebrated not only my late fathers’ birthday, but a year of sobriety. A day that will always hold a special place in my heart. A year ago, I made the decision to take time away from alcohol and sort out my mental health. I’m not here to rant about why drinking is bad. I only want to share my experiences on what became another defining ‘fork in the road’ and an exciting period of my life and what lead me to stop drinking.

Being a social person, I would never shy away from having a beer with friends at the pub, meeting friends at university for lunch which would then turn into a night out in town and skipping lectures. My issue was that I never had an ‘off’ switch and didn’t understand how to control the amount I would drink. I always gave into the temptation of drinking during the week and on the weekend, telling myself, “I am fine, I’m just having fun with friends.” But it was a continuous cycle of pretending it wasn’t an issue. After I failed two subjects at university, you would think that would be a natural wake-up call to get on top of my drinking, I continually ignored the warning signs.

I became scared of my drinking habits as I began spiralling out of control, waking up feeling so much hate towards myself, finding out about various events from the night before. Having only slight memories of doing these things to myself, I would tell myself, “it was only a one off, it won’t happen again” and hide the evidence. The cycle had to be broken. 

However, since that night I have graduated, moved to a new country, found a job, celebrated weddings and engagements (not mine); I have laughed & cried and continued to make friends all over the world. You really start seeing who your real friends are when you begin saying no to alcohol and they buy you a lemonade as part of their round. I have met some pretty amazing people this last year, people who have taken an interest and supported me, who have not judged or walked away. And there is, of course, my support group of friends and family who from day one may have joked I couldn’t last a week, but when they realised I was serious about it, constantly made sure I didn’t have an alcoholic drink in my hand and ‘tested’ my drink to make sure I wasn’t cheating.

Now I feel more confident in myself- nothing says that more than closing your eyes on the dancefloor, ignoring the world and just letting loose- in both my new job and out on a weekend. I don’t feel the need to drink to break down awkward social barriers anymore, but instead I enjoy ‘people watching’ and appreciating the company around me.  There is of course the bad day where my depression is winning, but it has no match on my love for sport, exercise and chocolate.

There are so many more things I want to share, but the main thing I learned over these past 12 months is that it’s okay to not be okay. Just because you struggle with mental health doesn’t make you an outsider, it makes you unique and gives you a special outlook on life and a new appreciation that others don’t see.

So the next 365 days will include working at my new job, joining a rugby club, being social and meeting up with friends and maybe even bond over a beer. Hopefully I have matured enough to start respecting my mental health and knowing when to say “its bed time”.

I am a twenty-five-year-old Aussie bloke chasing my dream of living in the UK. After buying my one-way ticket and making the big move, I came into contact with Student Minds through a mental health charity in Australia called Batyr. I applied for their Fundraising Champions initiative earlier this year, and when I was elected, my head filled up with ideas on how I can help break down this mental health stigma. I wanted to start by sharing my story with Student Minds and the extended mental health community.

Find out more about what the amazing fundraising champions are up to and donate here.

No comments:

Post a Comment