By Savitre “Rapture” Schaefferkoetter, Staff Writer
My path to sobriety was paved by a desire for better health, better sleeping schedule, and a better self-respect that has been maintained for the past three years. As I start this article, I find myself awake early in the morning due to a change in my life. This bout of insomnia does not bother me the way that it used to:- I used to have it on a weekly, maybe semi-weekly basis. When I started drinking during my college years, the effects worsened. It made me fall asleep fast, but within a couple of hours, I would sit up in bed and be awake. PsychCentral’s article states that although people may purposely drink before bed as a sleep aid, it disturbs sleep homeostasis, and over time will increase insomnia.
I never wanted my family to decide things for me. Seeing that my family was filled with alcohol-abstinent people, suffering alcoholics, or recovering alcoholics, I chose to be a social alcoholic, followed by an anti-social alcoholic. I thought I could beat the odds. But then, the worst summer of my life became filled with sadness for failed relationships, and pathetic nights where I would wake up screaming in pain from calf spasms. According to Healthline, this is a known condition called alcoholic neuropathy. This condition and a list of others are grouped together under a menacing illness called alcohol-related neurological disease.
The website quotes, “Women are more susceptible to many of the negative consequences of alcohol use, like nerve damage, when compared to men.”
When someone clinically diagnosed with mixed anxiety-depressive disorder drinks alcohol, it can exacerbate their symptoms. According to HereToHelp’s website about the topic, “alcohol may temporarily relieve feelings of anxiety; however, long-term alcohol misuse and acute alcohol withdrawal can often increase anxiety levels.” Their behavior starts out fun, then a little alarming, and then dramatic. Erratically, they hit the road, because they are stubborn and feeling invincible.
Once prescribed medication, warnings will tell you to avoid mixing medication with alcohol. Someone I know actually has a severe form of the same condition and is prescribed the same medication but at a higher dosage; they continue to dangerously mix alcohol with it. They did not have control of their life, and I knew I wanted things to be different for me.
Along with improving my well-being, I thought that maybe if I had clearer skin and better behaved hair, maybe I would be more loveable. Oddly, I was able to obtain both since I quit drinking. Once I stopped, my insomnia vastly improved. Better sleep meant better health. I think the wrong kind of friends or even a potential mate, would ridicule you, throw pity at you, or find your sobriety unattractive.
My husband, Justin Schaefferkoetter, was also hitting an alcohol abuse crossroads three years ago. After twenty-five years of drinking, he had developed a crippling dependency on alcohol to the point of losing control of self and finances; that’s when he realized he had to make a change in his life.
“It was very scary going back [to drinking], but it was also very scary going forward. But I was determined to make going forward, with being sober, my goal,” he said.
Upon meeting each other, we became partners in sobriety together, through familiar and strange social events alike.
After three years, he said, “Now I can’t imagine going back to drinking. I don’t ever want to see that [phase of my life] again.”
There are those who find themselves alone, but not lonely, in their newfound sobriety. Luckily, it’s great that we can now keep each other company. Thought Catalog was a great website where I found personal, honest testimonials from other sober people who pointed out that there are downsides to sobriety, but not horrible enough factors to want to return to the bottle. Beth Leipholtz, a Thought Catalog contributor who writes sobriety-themed articles, says “I’ve made connections with other people facing addiction” due to her online posts.
These days, we maintain our circle of friends by staying close with those who have supported our choice but steered away from those who ridiculed us. People I’ve met in the past three years know who I really am from the start. I don’t cry over friends I’ve never made. In fact, I don’t cry much over anything these days. The drama days are over and seeking personality in a bottle is pointless because I know I’m fun already. Along with better friendships, I did find love, but most importantly, I can tolerate my face better, even without makeup. There’s a glow there I could not find before. And good hair days have finally become the norm.
I won’t lie to you and sell you sobriety as a cure-all. There will always be other struggles in life. But I don’t focus so much on the struggle. This morning, after less sleep than usual, I started writing this. For me, it is that simple.
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- Cafasso, Jacquelyn. Alcohol-Related Neurologic Disease. Published May 30, 2013. Healthline. Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health/alcohol-related-neurologic-disease#Overview1.
- Leipholtz, Beth. 10 (Good And Bad) Ways My Life Has Changed Since I Stopped Drinking. Published May 2014. Retrieved from http://thoughtcatalog.com/beth-leipholtz/2014/05/10-good-and-bad-ways-my-life-has-changed-since-i-stopped-drinking/.
- Nauert, Rick. Alcohol Use Can Impair Sleep, Cause Insomnia. PsychCentral. Published December 11, 2014. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/12/11/alcohol-use-can-impair-sleep-cause-insomnia/78498.html.
- HereToHelp. (2016, September). Depression, Anxiety, Alcohol and Other Drugs. Retrieved from http://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/factsheet/depression-anxiety-alcohol-and-other-drugs.