Graham's story: "Drink had become my solution to my mental health issues."

January 2018 | 8 minutes

Blogger Graham Wilson shares his experiences with alcohol and its impact on his mental health.


I was the last person to know

Content warning: suicide attempt.

I never enjoyed the taste of alcohol but I absolutely loved the effect it gave me, that's why my drinking days were doomed from the beginning. I was a pub drinker and would go for a few pints every night after work, which progressed over a short period of time into needing drink. Booze became everything to me - it was my world. If I wasn't drinking it, I was thinking about drinking it. I could do nothing without there being a drink involved, I was obsessed with the stuff.

I was the last person to know I was an alcoholic, thinking I was okay and only enjoying a few beers. My alcoholism had crept up on me and I remember one day sitting in the house trying to convince myself I would not drink that day. I had deliberately left myself no access to money as I was determined not to drink. I ended up in a pawn shop pawning my wife's and my belongings.

Mental health and alcohol

I hated myself and what I had become and made several attempts to take my own life. On one occasion, I had taken a lot of pills and the doctors said that if my wife had left me for 10 more minutes I would have died. I don't think I wanted to die - I just wanted to wake up fixed.

By the end of my boozing I was drinking every day and sometimes all day. I would be in the pub at 8am and that would be me all day and night. One day I had no access to drink and thought that weed killer would give me the effect that booze did. I drank half a pint of it. That's the extent I would go to for a 'dunt', but obviously it didn't give me any 'dunt', it just led to another trip to hospital. I ended up in the hospital for two weeks being fed through a tube because I had burnt all my throat from being sick.

I tried to stop drinking many times but the longest I usually lasted was a day (unless I was in hospital). I also tried to control my drinking, but I was so out of control it was futile and I would end up back on it within no time.

Drink had become my solution to my mental health issues and I was scared of what would happen if I didn't drink. What would I do at Christmas? What about my birthday? What about on holiday? Nobody will like me. How can you possibly celebrate without a drink?

If I didn't stop, I was going to lose everything

When I stopped the last time, it was because I wholeheartedly wanted to. I was broken, I knew if I didn't stop I was going to lose everything, and I mean everything. That was on 4 October 2013. At the beginning it was very difficult, the mental health issues I had were still there and still are today, but my life has transformed beyond belief.

I still struggle with liking myself and giving myself any praise, but that is changing and I am prouder of myself today than I have ever been.

Worried about what other people thought

I enjoy going out more than I ever have. At the beginning, I was so fearful about relapsing and drinking that I would hate every minute of being out. That has now changed completely and I really enjoy a good night out. When I was drinking I generally needed a drink because I was scared of not being very sociable. I was always worried more about what other people thought of me than I did about myself.

Do it for yourself and not for others

I am so happy today with my life. Since I quit drinking my career has taken off and I have moved into a new house. However, most importantly I have regained the trust of my family and am loved dearly.

My one piece of advice would be: if you're going to give up the booze for a bit, do it for yourself and not for others. Otherwise it won't work

If you drink very heavily, it's worth taking our alcohol AUDIT before trying Dry January. If your score is 15 or higher, you may need support to cut back on your drinking. If your score is 20 or higher, Dry January isn't for you; you should make an appointment with our GP to discuss options. If you are worried about your drinking, like Graham, you deserve support.
To read more from Graham, check out his blog here.