The Best Decisions I Ever Made

I haven’t always done things the right way when it comes to my diagnosis. For years I tried to do the wrong thing on purpose and turned to the wrong vice. Illegal drugs were never a part of my life (with the exception of smoking weed in high school.) It was never my style to take hard drugs. I never took issue, however, with smoking cigarettes to get past my anxiety or drinking way too much to numb the pain.

One of the best things I ever did was give up these two vices that were hurting my recovery.

I gave up smoking almost three years ago. It sometimes seems surreal that I just quit one day and never took it back up. I didn’t need a patch or gum. I made a conscious decision that I had to stop using it to deal with anxiety. When I started working on my health, quitting smoking was one of the best decisions I ever made. I was never a heavy smoker, it took me usually a few weeks to go through a pack of cigarettes. I would sometimes social smoke, but for the most part, it was only to get through anxiety.

Smoking became a way for me to not deal with my anxiety in the moment. I would smoke and make myself believe that it made life better. It did, for maybe a moment. Moments can be fleeting. What really got to me about smoking is that near the end, I “needed” to smoke every day. The first time I went through a pack in less than I week, I decided enough was enough. It didn’t hurt that I was realizing just how out of control my anxiety was getting at that moment. I was believing the lie that smoking helped keep anxiety at bay, and it became a losing battle.

I made the decision the day after my birthday almost three years ago. I just quit. I was always good at quitting things.

My journey with alcohol was similar, and I used it to numb the pain when I was really depressed. It’s funny most people knew I smoked cigarettes, I never kept it a secret, but I was very good at keeping my dependence on alcohol from my friends and family. I drank on my own late at night to make it easier for me to sleep. Anyone who takes medication for any mental illness knows that mixing with alcohol is a bad idea. It was just easier to find the bottom of my favorite whiskey bottle than to deal with my anxiety issues.

Some of my best “drunk stories” were always when I went on vacation. I am not proud by my behavior, and I don’t condone using alcohol as a depressant. I write the following two paragraphs in this blog post to show just how lost I was at that point in my life, and how I used drinking as coping mechanism in the worst way. I would drink excessively when I was on vacation. I would laugh it off as “what happens in Vegas.” I once drank so much in Vegas in a three hour period, that me surviving it without a hospital visit is a mystery. I puked a lot. I guess that helped, but it stupid behavior that I regret.

Drinking to survive became a crutch and one that became all too familiar in my life about two years ago. I realized that it was not helpful. The more I drank, the less I cared about myself. I always used alcohol because the consequences were never severe. I never got a hangover (this is not a brag just the truth) so I never really thought it was problem. I am not sure why I stopped drinking. It was just something that started one day and hasn’t ended. Not drinking has its drawbacks. Late at night, I had to deal with my problems and it was no longer at the bottom of a bottle.

The decisions that we make in life have to be for ourselves and not because of outside influence. Using things like cigarettes and alcohol (and even drugs) is never the answer. I don’t pretend to be some prophet that is telling people what vices in their life they should/shouldn’t use. In fact, I am not saying that smoking and drinking is bad, but for me it just hasn’t been a good thing. We are all flawed humans. My goal, as always, is to share my experience and to show how vices like alcohol and cigarettes alongside mental health is never a good thing.

I hope that anyone dealing with drug addiction, alcohol addiction, and even tobacco addiction find the strength to fight. Like anything when it comes mental illness, if it doesn’t help you, it’s probably good to give it up. Addictions no matter how big or small can be counterproductive alongside a mental illness. I have learned the hard way.

Always keep fighting.

J.E. Skye


50 Replies to “The Best Decisions I Ever Made”

  1. I used alcohol to forget. But missed out a lot on what was happening with my children. I too would only drink after supper on weekdays. It took an alcohol addiction counselor and meditation to stop the two to three drinks a night. It wasn’t much but it was every night and worse on weekends. I am much better for it. I had to find an alternative for stress and I don’t need to forget now. I have remembered and am dealing with it. 🙂

    1. Thank you for sharing. I can relate to the need to forget things that alcohol helped me do. It was only temporary and in many ways it made life worse. I feel I am much better for making the change as well.

  2. SO often, addictions become a negative way of coping with the things that we don’t want to go through, like depression and anxiety. We don’t want to face our problems head on because they scare us, so we convince ourselves that our addictions can help us, but it just becomes a negative way of coping- it nevers solves anything.
    Great post! This is something that I have struggle with in the past, so I’m glad someone had the courage to talk about it and be open about it.

  3. I applaud you. It’s not easy to share this with the world, but often times it is beneficial to the writer, which is all that matters. I found myself thinking “well, he didn’t smoke that often, his addiction to cigarettes wasn’t too bad”. But it doesn’t matter. An addiction is an addiction, a way to escape & cope. I find many similarities in this article to myself. I still struggle with the alcohol, because antidepressants and antipsychotics are a REALLY bad mix with alcohol. But I will never regret my choice to quit smoking suddenly (2 packs/wk).
    Can’t wait to read more from you.

    1. Thank you for sharing a piece of your experience with me. Your point is valid. An addiction is an addiction. I am glad you found a way to quit smoking. It’s one of the hardest things to do. I have seen so many of my friends and family struggle with it. Thank you also for taking time to read my blog.

  4. I’m glad you found a way to quit those habits! Especially since they didn’t really help you. The problem with smoking, alcohol and drugs is people use them as a temporary release. Alcohol numbs the pain, like you said. It relaxes us – but It makes us stupid. I will admit I’m slightly jealous you have never had a hangover, because they are awful. Drugs are the same thing – the main reason people start them is because they don’t care about the long term, they’re looking for something to get them high and feeling great. To escape reality. As much as It sucks, you can’t deal with your problems this way, A temporary solution that isn’t really a solution. If you’re at the place you’re drinking to forget, you’re drinking for the wrong reasons.

    1. You really do get me. You’re right. They are temporary solutions and it never solved anything. Just made it worse. I honestly don’t mind drinking. It makes people more open and in social situations it’s good. I will probably have another drink at some point but it will be because I want to, not to escape my life.

      1. That’s where the addiction comes in – you do It for the wrong reasons, but feel a need for it. Drinking can be a fun thing! Definitely in social situations, I’m more open after a couple beers. Drink because it’s something you want to, not an obligation. I’m glad you’ve learned that lesson, and you’ve come so far.

      1. I’ve gotten a lot out of your posts. It’s refreshing and honest and it helps me and my journey. So thank you

  5. I have been lucky in my life and have not ever had an addiction to alcohol. I enjoy having a few drinks here and there and remember a brief period in high school and uni where I drank more than I should have but it was never a problem. My husband quit smoking 3 years ago and it was one of his best decisions. He used it to calm him down but realized it was more of a health problem then his stress was. He now uses exercise to calm himself down.
    I worry about Nicole with alcohol and smoking. With her ADHD and anxiety, she is more likely to turn to these vices. I hope she will talk to me openly like she does now and I can help her with peer pressure and anything else that creeps up over the next few years of Jr. High and High School.
    Thanks for posting, very inspirational!

    1. Thank you for sharing with me and letting me know a little about your family. It can be a tough time between middle school and high school for someone with anxiety. I hope that she is willing to open up about things like peer pressure. I know we have all given in at some point in high school but it can be particularly destructive for someone dealing with anxiety. In he moment things like smoking and drinking may feel right but it can have real consequences later. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!

    1. Thank you for the challenge. I will take you up on it. I am not having the best of days today so it will have to be later in the week. I have been looking at cameras today. I actually have a spot in my messenger bag for a camera and its about time get a good one besides my phone.

      Thank you.

  6. This was a perfect read, I definitely relate to your past with alcohol. I’m going through similar struggles right now. Drinking just kinda numbs things out for awhile but never really changes anything. Thanks for this and best of luck in your future! Look forward to reading more from you.

    1. Alcohol was a big issue for me too. I used it so often it became a coping mechanism which only meant I wasn’t dealing with my problems. I hope you have been able to fight your own issues and I am glad you found my post helpful!

      1. Thanks and yes … making huge steps and this blogging, both writing and reading has helped enormously.

  7. I have an extensive history of drug and alcohol abuse. I am in recovery with three years sober, the 20th of this month. I do not remember why I started but it ultimately led to me using to numb the pain and then using to function. The line between just drinking and alcoholism is thin. There is no warning when you cross into the danger zone. No one wants to be addicted. Many factors play into the diease. Many use as a form of self-medication, as did I, unknowingly. Mental illness and addiction go hand and hand more often than not and it is unclear which came first. The most important aspect of the two is education. This post brings awareness to the harm that can be caused. Alcohol and my unmedicated mental illness almost ended my life. I am passionate about this subject and I thank you for bringing it to the light.

    1. You’re welcome Eve. It’s hard for me to determine what came first because even as teen I used marijuana as a coping mechanism and also alcohol. I know my issues stated as teen but was it bad because of drinking and smoking? It’s hard to know. The truth is though that vices only serve to make things worse down the line. I know for me my reliance on cigarettes and alcohol is part of the reason I struggle so much with my social anxiety. In end moment you think, “I just have to get through right now.” It becomes a theme. Thank you for sharing as always Ever

      1. This is true. Addicts are for instant gratification, not long term. Thus the importance of awareness. Addiction creates a crutch for sure.

      2. It does. It’s good to talk about addiction because often it goes along with mental illlness.

  8. Great post.. alcohol though does “help” me get through that awkward period of coming home from work and going to bed. Sometimes I feel that I suck at adulting. But even though it helps, it’s not healthy and there are so many better things to do, like read. I appreciate your honesty too. I quit smoking cold turkey but I was a light smoker like you. I think I need a more structured evening plan to fight the evening silence that I try to avoid.

    1. I know studies have been done that a glass a wine before bed good for you. My issue was that I would drink heavy before sleep. I would drink until I black out some nights. That’s where I had to make a change.

  9. James Edgar Skye you just read my mind and at almost the exact time I choose to be writing it in print. Literally! Meaning that I can so relate with your experience. If you are anything like myself you may not truly believe this, but I know and you have to know it as well, YOU ARE A VERY BRAVE MAN! That’s bout it. Thank YOU for that STRENGTH that I needed today!

    1. I’m glad my blog could help Rocco. I do what I can with the talent God has given me. I was made to write and my experiences are the reflection of triumph through the struggle. I hope whatever you are dealing with is worked out. Have a good day.

  10. Thanks for this post! I don’t feel I have an issue with alcohol, but I am struggling with smoking. Like you, I used to barely smoke – it was mostly a social thing and it took forever to get through a pack. There were even long periods of time where I would just kinda forget about it and not smoke for months. But in the last year or two, I think I’ve been using cigarettes to cope with anxiety to some degree, and it’s harder for me to go without buying a pack. I’ve been thinking about quitting a lot lately, but the more I think about it, the harder it is to quit because it just makes me crave one even more! I’ll get there…

    1. Keep trying. I hope I didn’t make seem as if I am all better. I still have moments where I want to go get pack to deal with my anxiety. It sucks because it helps but it’s a temporary feeling that never lasts. I hope you find a way to quit. It’s done wonders for health but the pull is always there. Take care.

  11. Thank you for your post, I am going through that period in my life where I am learning I need to give up my vices. There is one thing that I needed to just quit to better my quality of life that no one else understood, it is such a small, insignificant thing for most people… Energy drinks! I wasn’t sleeping so I’d be tired and down a bunch of energy drinks, because of that I wouldn’t sleep and the cycle continued. I went through a really rough patch with no caffeine at all but now am at the point where I can have a coffee in the morning and not rely on it to get through the day. I still suffer with insomnia but at least I know I’m not making it worse with such a ‘small’ addiction! Next thing to go will be the cigarettes!

    1. I know what you mean with the energy drinks. It used to be all that I drank most of the time. Giving up those (although I stil have one occasionally) was tough. It’s great to here you are working on your own vices!

  12. Cool that you quit drinking James. I come to this blog from the addiction side of blogs and what I did not know, but found when quitting alcohol (12 to 16 units a day) is that it is indeed a depressant. I was dark, depressed, woke up every morning thinking ‘Will this be the day I kill myself’. I quit alcohol and all that was gone. Just like that. I worked out that a big part of my life long feeling ‘off’ and ‘yuck’ were alcohol related. Well, actually enough to WANT TO TELL & WARN EVERYBODY!!!! 🙂 🙂
    Depression came back 1,5 to 2 years after quitting drinking when I got a concussion and transferred addiction to sugar. Same shit. More difficult to quit for me too. Thanks for writing.
    xx, Feeling

  13. I am glad that you did this little thing for yourself, and shared it with everyone for them to know that they can too. And, just like that it wasn’t little anymore. 🙂

  14. Great post. Addictions are actually classified as mental illnesses in the DSM 5. They often co-occur with anxiety, depression, and bipolar. Glad you have found improvements in your overall health by leaving those two vices behind.

  15. Your story of cigarette smoking reminds me of mine with alcohol. After my dad passed away I started drinking heavily and it got me in to trouble a few times. I became dependent on it the last couple of years and just like you and cigarettes, I realized I had a problem when I was finishing a bottle of scotch in less than two days. I stopped cold turkey as well the beginning of this year after an extreme spiritual awakening. Now the desire for alcohol arises socially and I end up having about 3 glasses of wine per week with dinner.

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