I’ve been seeing a few friends commit to doing a Dry January…or be a Dryathalete for charity. In December, the thought of this was…well, ludicrous. Now? I think I’m going to do it. I’m not doing it for charity though, I’m doing this one very selfishly. This is all about me and how I want to feel this January.
I was always a healthy drinker (I mean the opposite of healthy, obvs) in my twenties and had a great time partying hard most weekends. For the past six or seven years, my drinking has really slowed. I found I didn’t enjoy it as much any more, I hated the hangovers with a passion…and then I realised that some of the hangovers weren’t actually hangovers, it turns out that the histamine in quite a few alcoholic drinks (red wine especially) really doesn’t agree with me. I instantly feel bunged up and my eyes itch…like I’ve got hayfever and the day after feels like flu. Not fun. Before I realised this, I’d naturally cut down a lot because I wasn’t enjoying the effects. These days, taking a strong prescribed anti-histamine does the trick most of the time. I can drink my red wine again. Phew! However, it doesn’t always clear it up totally and I still can feel a bit rubbish and hayfevery with it.
I definitely have a love-hate relationship with alcohol. I tend to only drink a few times a week and then not many drinks…it usually marks the point at which I can ‘relax’ – e.g. Friday evenings after work. My favourites are Prosecco, cider, gin (I’ve a new-found love of Hendricks) and red wine. I love the taste…but even just a few of these drinks definitely affects my mood negatively the next day and it affects my sleep. I’m a real lightweight these days, so just a few does affect me…and I actually don’t really enjoy it most of the time. I could have easily drunk no alcohol and had just as good a time. Sometimes better, as if I’m finding it’s setting off my allergy then I tend to focus on it with my mind, so I can never figure out which of it is in my head and which is the actual allergic reaction.
My allergic reaction to the histamine has definitely affected my relationship with alcohol hugely…I do view it as the enemy I guess because it was making me feel so bad for years without me being able to work out why. My natural reaction is to think “oh no, this is going to make me feel bad…” then it does because it’s either an actual reaction, or it’s my mind. Either way, it’s not fun.
In December, I drank more than usual because, well, it was December! …and I was pretty stressed with the house move. Still not a lot for most people…but it was more for me, and I think I just got into a habit. Having a drink everyday over Christmas….because it was, errr….Christmas. I associate Christmas with Prosecco and Bailey’s. I don’t feel like it’s Christmas unless I’ve had a good amount of those two drinks! I felt like I should because I could.
My New Year’s Day hangover hurt enough to put me off drinking the next day (I know, I’m a massive cliché) but it did really crystallise thoughts I’ve been having for a while that I wasn’t enjoying drinking at the moment. Then reading this article on Medium from a guy who hasn’t drank for two years was the final thing that made me think I’d be happier in January if I didn’t drink. I’m fed up of it making me feel low afterwards, I’m fed up of it affecting my sleep. I’d like a month off please.
So, Dry January here I am.
Don’t get me wrong…I full expect that come Friday after work I’ll want to have a drink and will kinda regret this…but it won’t be because I actually want to drink, it really won’t. It will be because it’s social, I don’t want friends to think I’m not fun…and I want to relax. I will feel like I need a crutch to relax.
Not drinking can be difficult…friends do judge you. You can see them silently (or not so silently) thinking “oh….here we go” if I say I’m not drinking. Inwards, or outwardly, rolling their eyes. And I think it’s the anticipation of what they will think that makes me stiffer…I relax less because I feel like I’m being judged….which makes me less fun. It’s a vicious circle! Thankfully, Jan is a month where a few peeps tend to not drink…so I might not be alone. We’ll see.
In any case, if a friend of yours isn’t drinking this month, or any month really…don’t judge them…don’t tease them. Be a friend and support them. They might just need some time out.
Happy January everyone…whether you are drinking, or not! x