So many of us only really pay attention to our health as a reaction to a health scare or diagnosis, and I include myself in this. I am unable to reverse my diagnosis of Parkinson’s, but I am proactively trying to ensure that that’s ‘my lot’ and that I take any steps that I can to avoid any more earth-shattering moments in a doctor’s chair. I don’t want to look back and think, ‘I could have prevented this’.
I decided to stop drinking alcohol 11 weeks ago, but I gave in to FOMO and had a few glasses of wine on two occasions; my symptoms then flared up and I knew that I had to opt for total abstinence; it was time to accept that this little cup of adventure, fun and confidence was keeping me from living my healthiest life, and it was most certainly not aiding my recovery. I want to stress that this is not a judgemental blog about anyone else’s drinking habits, this is about my own healing journey and only mine; I just know that my life is now a lot better without alcohol in it. I firmly believe in letting go of the things in our lives that are not working, and so I had to make a change; alcohol had no place in my wellness regime. My brain is so precious to me and I am trying to create new healthy neural pathways, not destroy those that I already have.
It was time to rethink deeply ingrained habits; most of us know people who drink just like we do and so we can normalise it. I, like many of you reading this, don’t feel that I have a problem with alcohol, and I am not here to shame anyone, I am just reflecting on the role that alcohol plays in our lives; it is everywhere! It is perceived as a fast track ticket to a magical experience, an automatic relaxant, it helps us to fit in and come out of our shells, it anaesthetises our pain, it helps us with stage fright and takes the edge of a tough day or a long week. Our brains are designed to seek out fun and excitement and this bliss inducing magic elixir appears to do provide just that.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s include anxiety and depression, both of which are exacerbated by alcohol. Many Parkinson’s patients take medication that reduces impulse control, so the odds are not in our favour when we use alcohol which is seen to be even more addictive than cocaine. Alcohol destroys brain cells and contracts brain tissues, it interferes with memory and brain receptors; hardly what I need considering that I have a serious neurological condition. Alcohol overstimulates the nervous system, and mine is already on overload. On top of that, it is linked to so many chronic illnesses including cancer, alzheimer’s disease and dementia; all of which I’d prefer to avoid.
Living an alcohol-free life will initially take some getting used to, there is no denying that; you might feel like an outsider, ostracised, and the odd one out. You might feel that life will be boring and that you are losing out, but taking a drink is only providing temporary relief and external fulfilment. Let me assure you that you will have more energy, better mental health, improved sleep, more optimism, and you will greatly reduce your chances of being diagnosed with a serious health condition. The positives significantly outweigh the negatives and there are so many non-alcoholic beers and wines out there that provide the taste of alcohol but without the projectile vomit and feelings of jetlag, and you will never regret your decision the next morning!
Cutting down on alcohol was not an option that I chose as I was still putting it on a pedestal, and moderation was just too much of a grey area. I had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, very often we drink as we have no tolerance for discomfort. Rather than turn to alcohol, we need to work through our feelings, not run from them. We need to feel our pain and not numb it. If you’re not sure that you can do it, maybe that’s a sign that you should try?
‘I didn’t know that I was addicted until I tried to stop’. Anonymous
Now, if only I could deal with my addiction to animal print so easily… 😊