I drank excessively from the time I was 17 years old. I had issues with controlling myself with booze right from the start. I could never have just two beers and be done. I would often drink until I threw up and be ready for more. A boyfriend and I would kill a gallon of vodka in one night and we never bought anything less than a 24 pack. That behavior seemed pretty common for teenagers, so no one ever said anything to me about having a problem or being excessive. In my early twenties I got an apartment and lived alone there. Meaning I was able to drink as much as I wanted with total freedom to fuck shit up. And that’s what I did.
My relationship with alcohol started to evolve into something very toxic around that time. My depression and anxiety were becoming more severe and I was beginning to show signs of serious mood disorder. This runs in my family so I wasn’t surprised by this, but holy shit I wasn’t strong enough to handle it on my own; I should have been medicated. On several occasions I attempted to end my life after a night of drinking. I would only self harm when I was wasted. And I had two DUI’s on my record by the time I turned 25.*
After the 2nd DUI, I was sentenced to five days in jail. That was one hell of an experience. I never thought in a million years I would end up there. I was a pretty good kid minus the drinking. And now I was in jail showering with women who had committed serious crimes. I just got caught drinking and driving. Everyone drinks and drives, ya know? But it didn’t take long for me to realize that I did deserve to be in there with those women. And now I’m truly thankful that I went through all of that because I never would’ve gotten sober without hitting rock bottom. And county jail was definitely my rock bottom.
I was released from jail and the next day I got in my car and moved all my belongings to Atlanta. That’s where my boyfriend lived and I needed to change my surroundings in order for me to stay sober. We started dating just a month before I got my 2nd DUI, and he stayed with me through it all. Bless his heart, any other sane person would have got out right then, but he didn’t. We’re getting married next year.
It’s been a little over a year since I’ve been sober and it’s been the best year of my life. I’m getting to know myself and how to deal with my disorders without using booze to mask my problems. Here’s the deal: I knew that I could never live my best life or be my best self if I continued to drink. That was all it took for me to give it up. Finally reaching the understanding that I was standing in my own way. I had been convinced my whole life that I was weak, but that was a bunch of bullshit. As it turns out, I can do anything that I commit myself to doing. Like. A. Badass.
*There is so much more to this than I’m writing here. I’m not trying to glaze over it, just simply can’t write it all at once.
I don’t know how this happened, but I didn’t learn about coping skills until I was a patient in a mental hospital. This is basic stuff (that should be taught to children for fucks sake) and here I am a fully grown adult learning how to control my emotions. The nurses try to teach you as much as they can about coping so you have some tools to work with when you get released. Bless those nurses. They told us that our emotions are okay/valid/normal, and sometimes good for you. “Anxiety can keep you safe. Stress can motivate you.” Yeah, yeah. Right on. That sounds like common sense to me, lady. But I was there because my anxiety was no longer keeping me safe, but driving me to verge of ending my life. (I promise I will get more into the details of that chapter of my life another time, but lets stay on topic) This unstable babe needed to learn some damn coping skills.
In case you didnt already know, coping skills are the tools that help calm you down when you’re feeling out of control. These can be unhealthy like alcohol, drugs, risky sex. Or healthy like deep breathing, meditation, & yoga. It wasn’t until just last year that I realized there can be other tools in my toolbox besides booze. Who knew. Once I quit drinking, I had A LOT of space cleared up in my toolbox for better tools. I think everyone should have a “toolbox” that is overflowing with different coping skills that you can see yourself using. I’m sure there are plenty of sites that can provide a list of coping skills you can use, but let’s get real. It’s much more fun to make your own list and that’s cheating yourself out of a good time. Keep your list with you in a journal or on your phone because you never know when you’re going to lose your shit. Maybe you want to take this to the next level and make an actual kit with little things that you love inside. I’m excited just thinking about it.
After you’ve gotten to know what grounds you best, you’re on your way to being a mentally strong person! Bitchin’, right?
Tell me what’s in your toolkit.
My name is Misty. I’m 26 years old and I live in Atlanta, Georgia with my fiance’ and our 3 dog children. I have suffered from major depressive disorder and general anxiety disorder since I was 14 years old. Shortly after my dad passed away unexpectedly, I experienced my first panic attack & I’ve been plagued with severe anxiety ever since. As for the depression, it has always loomed over me but I’ve got a much better handle on it these days. I still have the anxiety and I still have bad days, but the difference is that I’ve learned ways to cope and that’s what I’m here to share with you.