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  • Ru Pearson

The Sober Diaries: One Year No Beer

© Ru Pearson

I know that quitting alcohol was the right decision for me, but it hasn’t been easy. Turns out, when it comes to mental health, you can rum but you can’t hide…

It has been a little over a year since I stopped drinking alcohol, but I’m not here to wax lyrical about how fantastic and healthy and gorgeous my life is now. I’m also not here to shame anyone for their lifestyle choices. While I am proud of my achievement, it’s essential to point out that, even though I was certainly drinking too much too often, I was not caught up in a dangerously codependent relationship with alcohol. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, visit Alcohol Change UK or drinkaware for details on how to find professional support. 

When I first checked in at the six-month mark, (which you can read here) I had started to notice the physical benefits of this lifestyle change. Another six months later, and the shift in my mental state is undeniable. I mostly just keep quiet and get on with it, probably because something in me is weirdly insecure about the fact that I no longer drink. But whenever anyone asks, I tell them the truth: I feel better and more clear-headed than ever, and I don’t actually miss drinking. 


In many ways, this year has been no different from any other. I went out with my friends, never missed a gig I wanted to see, danced for hours in Berghain, celebrated my 28th birthday, and I even attended a Glaswegian wedding all without touching a drop. But, unlike the perfect picture painted by the majority of online content, going sober is not a magical quick fix for all of your problems. If anything, this year has shed light on the aspects within myself that need further attention because, as it turns out, my relationship with alcohol was not the only thing in the way of finding self-love and a sense of fulfilment.


With all the good times alcohol can facilitate, it’s easy to forget that it is a depressant. Since making the switch, my nights don’t end with me snivelling by the toilet, sending questionable drunk texts, or leaning on pissed-up strangers for emotional support. I wake up feeling far less fragile and most of my nights out are just as fun, but there is no denying that it can be difficult to keep up with my friends. I have occasionally found myself getting bored or tired, having to call it early because the noise and lights and crowded settings become over-stimulating. It’s also harder to push through a night if you’re not in the mood to begin with. Life began to feel a little isolating at times, when I was saying “no” to pub trips because I was tired and knew I wouldn’t be riding with the same buzz as everyone else, or when I was having a down day and had to try extra hard to put on a smile when everyone I was with seemed so vivacious and confident. Having had these experiences over the last year, however, I have faced up to the fact that going out and getting drunk is no longer the primary mode of socialisation that I am looking for. 


This sort of clarity is what I’m talking about when I say that quitting alcohol has made me feel clear-headed. I’ve been through some really testing times in my personal life this year, but rather than falling into a destructive cycle of self-numbing, I have tackled the bad times head on. In this sense, the year has been a pivotal time for self-reflection. By quitting alcohol and thereby dodging the clouding effects of hangovers and “hangxiety,” I have opened up space within myself for non-judgemental introspection. I realised that I actually get more out of socialising with friends in settings that are less bound to alcohol – cooking meals together, going to galleries or museums, walking in the park and getting coffee, or hanging out and making something together. I also began to see how vacuous late-night socialising can be. When nobody remembers who they spoke to or what they said the next morning, interactions feel shallow. I have become more in tune with my body and its natural rhythms, too, which has led to a deeper awareness of my own emotions and triggers. While this year has not been a perfect display of self-development, I do believe that it has been an important step in paving the way towards a healthier, happier mindset. 


Going forward, I’m being more mindful about how I spend my time and who and what I give my energy to. Without alcohol to buoy me up, I want to ensure that interactions with friends – old and new – are authentic and meaningful and that my time is spent in environments that leave me feeling galvanised rather than drained. By removing alcohol from my life, I unwittingly found myself in a position where my negative behaviours were observable at a microscopic level, and I had no choice but to address them. When things have felt really bad, a sneaky voice has sometimes crept in, telling me, “fuck it…go get a real drink.” I’m happy to say that I haven’t been tempted. Not even when espresso martinis were on the happy hour menu. I know that if I do drink again, I want it to be for the right reasons and at the right time. Right now I still have work to do and it’s the sort of work that, for me at least, only a sober mind can achieve. 



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