Happy New Year! I hope you’ve been fortunate enough to escape this year’s seasonal epidemic, a cough of epic proportions. To my knowledge, it has forced a generous percentage of the local population to take to their sofa’s for “Netflix and ill. I swear by dosing myself up with overly generous amounts of pure vitamin C/calcium ascorbate. It may taste like the worst kind of cleaning fluid, but personally, I think it’s a small price to pay for keeping the dreaded lurgy at bay.
Gagging on un-palatable preventative medicine is a standard New Year ritual for me. Another equally beneficial tradition at this time of year is to read over my diary from the year just gone. I’ve kept a journal for years, I find it so cathartic to brain dump my day onto paper before going to sleep. I also benefit from having a record of all the things, people and places that had a positive influence on my life. I make a note to see, do and visit these again. It is also equally valuable to recognise the negative influences and experiences, those to be avoided in the future.
This year I re-read my 2018 diary with one of the worst hangovers I’ve had in recent memory. At midnight on the 1st of January, I was living my best life, with my best friends. By 11:00 am I was dry retching, completely sensitive to light and nil by mouth. The only person I spoke to on January the 1st was my toilet. When I eventually mustered the energy to drag myself from the bathroom to my bed, I decided the first day of the New Year was not to be a total write off. In an endeavour to do something constructive with my remaining few hours of consciousness, I picked up last years diary and what I read shocked me.
I considered myself an occasional drinker, but as I read through my diary, it dawned on me that I had suffered quite a few hangovers for someone who professed to not drink much. I had two years of sobriety not that long ago, and gosh, it felt good. I’d had enough of the hangovers and the alcohol-induced self-loathing. Two years with a system clear of boozy toxins, I was motivated and energised. But a glass of fizz here and a glass of Rosé there, slowly alcohol crept back into my life.
2018 happened. There was no trauma or tragedy for myself or my family and close friends, but personally, I felt that I achieved very little. I functioned at a very low level. I struggled to write, my energy was low and I was quite unenthusiastic about life. I assumed my lack of creativity and motivation was partly due to being peri-menopausal, and this may well have been a factor. I now know that my biggest blocker was alcohol. It was there before me in black and white, in my own handwriting.
So yes, I’m doing dry January and quite possibly dry February and March as well. From experience when I get the buzz of being alcohol-free, I realise that it’s a much better buzz than spending the day with my head down the lavatory full of regret. Three weeks on and I still get a wave of nausea at the thought of how wretched I felt on New Year’s day.
My diary entry for the 1st of January 2019 was brief, but to the point “OMG, I feel utterly dreadful. Lots of fun, learnt the Baby Shark song and perfected the dance, shame I didn’t learn to say no to the Espresso Martini’s.”
Here’s to a productive, creative and hangover free 2019.
What I’m reading: Michelle Obama, Becoming. Great lady, great life, but I struggle with autobiographies. I’d rather read fiction.
What I’m watching: Bros, After The Screaming Stops. Surely this is a Mocumentary?
Where I’m going: Three Cornered Copse. Hove’s best kept dog walking secret.
A version of this article appeared in the Brighton and Hove Independent