A Dark Time in my Life

Three years ago I made a decision that has been, for the most part, a smart choice–I quit drinking.

I love drinking, and whiskey is my drink of choice (I prefer Jameson Irish Whiskey.) I stopped drinking for a significant reason. I was using drinking as a way to keep the demons at bay. What was worse is that I drank in secret. I always had at least one bottle on my writing desk.

I was never much of a social drinker unless I was on vacation. Some of the funniest “James’ drinking stories” always ended with me not remembering what I had done. I would get blackout drunk. I always said it was “because I was young.”

The truth is, I got so used to the numb feeling that blackout drunk got me. It meant that for a while I could forget about the million things that went through my mind. I loved the feel. I didn’t realize how addicting that feeling was and it became an obsession.

In a particularly bad depression cycle in late 2014 to 2015 alcohol became a way to cope, and not in a good way. I tried to justify it as, “hey I am a writer, and writers always drink at the end of a good writing day.” It quickly became a way that I could sleep, albeit blackout drunk.

It got terrible at one point. I woke up one morning and realized that it was not helping my depression at all. I would wake up worse than the night before. It became a haze of not living and finding myself at the bottom of a bottle.

I knew it was a problem. I am not great at the whole group sharing experience, so I did what I know, I quit on my own. It was not easy. There were days where I fell of the proverbial wagon. Eventually, it got easier. I started to write daily. I kept a journal of my thoughts and daily things. I found ways and reasons to stay sober.

It is no surprise that it helped to start therapy, and get serious about getting treatment, that I found the will to quit. Since that time I had one beer, at my graduation party back in October, but that was it. I decided to write this post because of my recent depression. I wanted so bad to slip and buy a bottle of whiskey. I talked myself out of it, and I am glad. With everything going on in my life, it would be all bad to go down that road.

Anyway I hope that my story is a cautionary tale. Alcohol and mental illness is not a good combination. Stay strong in the fight.

Always Keep Fighting


unsplash-logoJack Ward

unsplash-logoKasper Rasmussen

67 Replies to “A Dark Time in my Life”

  1. It is admirable that you were able to realize the effects and find the will to do that. That is a sure sign of your strength and ability to analyze the situation. I think that is hell of a trait to have!

    Liked by 5 people

      1. I think it is on the contrary. Mental issues are hard to deal with and they tamper with our judgments. If we can make sound judgments and decisions, then that is a sign of strength. At least this is how I view it.

        Liked by 4 people

  2. I most certainly agree with you… Mental health & alcohol do not mix well at all. 2014-2015 is when I hit my bottom. I thought that numbing myself would allow me to forget my problems, but it only escalated them. I then found myself suicidal.
    I applaud you, for realizing that alcohol was not the answer. It takes a great deal of courage to face our demons.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Your words will encourage others to face the truth. I quit drinking about 18 months ago, but I’ve never written about it. So I applaud your courage and your honesty! God bless you, James!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. A number of addicts use substances as a way to ‘numb’ traumatic events or temporarily fix their mental illness. There is usually an underlying cause to every addiction.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I have not drunk alcohol since 17th August 2014. It doesn’t suit me as I blogged about on a couple of ocassions.
    It wasn’t too much of a big issue as it can be with some. But it could have been. But when I was able just to have a drink, without just drinking to get drunk, I realised it didn’t suit me, as my mood dropped I noticed after that one glass of wine. So since that date above, I chose not to drink at all since.

    I have had a couple of moments where I wanted to have a drink, for the wrong reasons. But I didn’t follow it through.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. i totally understand the appeal of mood-altering with substances. just shut the thoughts down, make it easy to exist. i have an affection for the effects of alcohol as well; like you, i’ve made a decision to mostly enjoy it. congratulations on putting yourself first.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. So glad you were able to give up drinking. I had a hard time with it also many years ago. Like you, I was self-medicating and had excuses for why it was okay. I went to work every day but I cam home and drank myself into oblivion every night, usually passing out and sometimes doing foolish things along the way. It was a time in my life when I was younger and thought I was having fun but, looking back, I can see that I was bound up in the alcohol. It had me. I am thankful to God that I came out of that time alive and, even though I get the occasional urge to drink, it is all behind me now. Stay strong, James, and keep fighting. Your story is an inspirational one.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Hi, James.
    Your post today was powerful, especially the part about almost relapsing. I’ve had problems with several substances in the past for the same reasons you drank: keeping demons at bay. The problem was that it worked.
    Today I am sober. I had to go to AA to get sober the first time, and the second time substances became a problem, I used the coping skills that I learned the first time around.
    If you ever start drinking again, please remember that you still have the power to stop by using the same coping skills you used to stop the first time. In fact, you’ve already proven that you are capable of getting sober. You are not powerless.
    Thank you for your brave honesty.

    All my empathy,
    Emily K Harrington

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you Emily. You’re right. I am not powerless. It took a lot of walk away but even if I did drink I know it is not as big of a part of my life as it once was, thank you for sharing your own story.


  9. The battle with the mind is a tough one. I believe it’s more challenging for men then women. I admire your final decision to change. I admire your choice to face what is, what was, and what can be without the influence and denial. The lie that emotions are bad and scary is pushed into mens’ beliefs at such an early age, and when life gets real…. They gain anxiety because of self esteem and confidence issues. They gain depression because of “lack of control” and “lack of manliness”… I’m always so frustrated by mens suffering.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I congratulate your sobriety. Several of my friends and family members have struggled with depression, and coping by binge eating, alcohol and drugs in the past. But close friends and family encourage them in sobriety and maintaining health through lots of activity, including going hiking, walking, projects at each others’ homes and such. Stay strong! Your writing encourages many!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. James, I completely understand in my own struggle with alcohol and pills in my past. It took for a court ordered group for dual diagnosis in order for me to realize I had been self-medicating. The group experiences for me help, because I am able to concentrate on my depression as oppose to my addictions which have not been struggles for the past six/seven months (pills/alcohol respectively). It is amazing to find how many of us use/used drugs to mask our disease of mental health, or how many of us completely ignored our mental health diagnosis thinking we could cure ourselves (ME). Keep writing!! I used to tell myself I can drink while writing as a way to push myself to write. It was like a gift while writing – writing never happened, but the lie remained in tact.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh I can relate to this so much. I haven’t stopped yet. I’m trying to, starting today. I say that a lot though. I can’t get blackout drunk like I used to but I still drink too much and for the wrong reasons. I know my life would be so much better if I stopped, but I’m stuck in a toxic cycle. Well, I hope to go at least one month now with no alcohol. That’s my aim.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. It is so great that you were able to get sober! I had a similar story happen to me as will eventually be posted in my own blog. Thank you for sharing your hard and dark times. These stories have the potential to help others’ quit when they may feel that nothing is wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thank you for this post. My son is an addict who has hit rock bottom and is working on making it to the positive side. The types of posts not only help him, but also helps me to understand better what he is going through. Thank you so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I totally understand how you feel. I used to pour Jameson directly into my water filter jug. At work I used to mix effervescent paracetamol along with Red Bull. At times my heart used to beat so fast I had to take a calming spray. To this day I do not know how I survived that period of my life.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I appreciate your vulnerability in writing about this and posting it for the world. It must be so hard to call yourself out on unhealthy coping skills and actively make changes to stop relying on them. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Being raised in a family of functioning addicts I seen the raw side of what addiction does to an individual and chose to never travel down that path, yet, I have family that was literally pushed into the family cycle of addiction. I often wonder how I was able to escape but today I see it is a great fear of mine to fall prey to genetics and environmental cues and even when I have a glass of wine to celebrate I hear that voice in my head “you know where this could take you.” I’m thankful for the fear but that to has caused some damage to my mental state at times.
    Glad you were able to see your triggers and keep them close at hand to not fall back into the same ole habits 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. As a recovering alcoholic I know exactly what you mean, I am 6 years sober, miss it each and every day, if it were not for the love of a good woman I would still be drinking. I would hide how many empties were in the bin, keep a back up case of beer in the boot of my car, in case of emergency, a wide selection of single malts, some at 3 figure sum a bottle, and Italian red wine, about 100 bottles still to drink when I gave up. I told my therapist that the loss of them is like grieving for a lost loved one. Even now I still get side tracked by a glimpse of a naked bottle on a shelf and wish I had never uttered the words, ‘I will never drink again’, I dont miss the hang overs, the feeling ill all day or being slack eyed and silly 20 plus hours a day. I write often about it on my blog, Accidents 1, 2 and three are a good laugh and memoirs of a recovering alcoholic is a bit more serious.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I admire your strength to quit drinking 💪 You are strong. I also quit drinking two years ago because it only made me feel more anxious and bad. I always thought it would make me happier but at the end it would make me mentally worse and more emotional.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. It’s wonderful that you were able to face the truth about your drinking and find a way out of that loop. Sending on support for the journey you are on. May you find a path to peace and wholeness.

    I appreciate you following my blog and introducing me to yours. It takes courage to face your demons and share that challenge with others!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Thank you for this honest post. Alcoholism is a constant fight, but you can and will be able to overcome it one day at a time. It’s good that you were able to talk yourself out of buying alcohol to cope. “The shrewd one sees the danger and conceals himself,But the inexperienced keep right on going and suffer the consequences.” (Proverbs 22:3). Life throws curve balls at us but seeing the consequences of our actions before we do anything is helpful. Your body and mind will thank you. I pray that Jehovah God provides you with the strength you need to keep up your fight and succeed.


  22. It’s true…the feeling that you get when you drink, all the stress, the anxiety and worries for them brief moments have gone. But only for all for it return once again. Never ending. Great post


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