‘I longed to find out what a year off beer would do for me, but it seems like an impossible dream'. – OYNB Hero
My journey started a year ago. Everything was going well. I have a wonderful wife and son, a nice house, and a good job. But I was broken and unhappy from within and didn’t know the reason.
I was an average to heavy drinker, who joked that health organizations had confused the recommended drink limit with a light lunch. I drank daily and my weekends tended to be heavier than weekdays.
One night a couple of ‘quick’ drinks after work turned into 4 am bender. As I walked around London trying to sober up for work, I realized that I needed help.
I called my boss and told him I had a problem and took the day off. I was told I was suffering from depression and enrolled for counselling. The sessions helped me focus on my family life and I tried to moderate my drinking.
During Christmas, I went back to oblivion; at a family event I felt the need to get totally smashed. My wife was upset and I made the decision to stop drinking to lose weight (I was 15 stone).
I told everyone it was for a month but longed to go longer; I think I now knew it was alcohol that was causing issues but I didn’t want to admit it. January was great. I started feeling happy and dropped to 14 stone.
However, at the end of January, I went out to a gig with a couple of friends and despite my best intentions got tempted into drinking, instigated by a friend.
By March my weight is back on, and I am back to drinking. In April or May, I hear Andy Ramage on the radio and find out about “One Year No Beer.” I longed to find out what a year off beer would do for me, but it’s like an impossible dream.
During the end of May, I was drinking heavily again. I knew if I kept going it would be out of control, but I didn’t know how to stop. Then I had a massive turning point. I went for dinner with my best friend and after some pressuring, he admitted he had a drinking problem, and I shared mine with him.
I told him about One Year No Beer and we agreed to read the book and consider signing up to the challenge. On the 2nd June (Day 1), I signed up for the challenge (my best mate had decided to start earlier but not with OYNB).
I had the help and support of OYNB. I followed the daily emails and did what they told me. On Day 2, I applied for my challenge (the London Marathon) and started running. I latched onto 3 good things. I told people that I was quitting for a year, when they laughed I thought f**k you, I will prove you wrong.
I realized I couldn’t hide for a year so I went out with friends (with a plan) and really analyzed what I was missing and how to fill the gap. I soon realized there was no gap, as being with friends is what I really liked, not alcohol. Each time I went out, I felt stronger. I had the best support group.
The first 30 days flew by. When I had a strong urge to drink, I either ran or went swimming as these curbed my cravings.
Day 30 – 40 were the worst. The cravings were strong every day. I felt like I really wanted to cave in, but I knew that I had to get through the year. I had to prove everyone wrong.
Somewhere between 40 and 60 days, the magic happened. My depression lifted. That baseline of doubt, fear, worry, anxiety was gone and I felt really good. I hadn’t realized how low I had been feeling until it was removed.
On Day 60, I went to a festival with the friend that broke me down in January. He tried to convince me that I am wrong and I need to drink, but this time I was ready. Telling him I was committed to not drinking was was really simple.
On day 82, I started to read “This Naked Mind” by Annie Grace and decided to face the question ‘what do I want after the year is up’. The book is great and Annie highlighted some of the things I had already started to learn with OYNB and opened my eyes to the lies around alcohol. On Day 86, I made the decision to make this change permanent.
I am so pleased I made the decision to stop permanently. I feel real euphoria and have been extremely happy, since it is like a second cloud of depression has lifted and I feel permanently relaxed and at ease. Here are reasons why I don't want to drink again:
- I feel free from my alcohol shackles. I am no longer spending my waking moments wondering when I can have a drink (an activity I hadn’t noticed I was doing previously but really recognize now). I am free to plan activities based on how much I enjoy them, not on whether there is a bar or if I need to drive.
- I never have to wake up on Boxing Day wondering what I missed from Christmas Day. I am exhilarated that I will get to experience the whole of a stag do without passing out early. I never have to experience another regret-filled hangover. I never have to disappoint my wife again.
- I can be a great role model for my son. I can be present and enjoy life with him. I no longer need to worry if my lifestyle is going to cause a serious illness. I no longer need to waste my time feeling drugged. I can just spend my time having fun.
- I can fill my life with fun, healthy challenges and experiences that are interesting and will be more interesting to talk about. I can read at bedtime so that I can discover more about other people’s worlds, either real or imagined. I love the train journey home from a night out after work, which is no longer dead time as I now can listen to new music or watch films, read, etc.
- I love that I am no longer pessimistic. My childhood optimism has returned. I feel ready to take my life forward, in any direction of my choosing. I know that my life will be definitely better now that I don’t have to waste energy drinking.
- I have reached Day 90, and I am 13 1/2 stone. I can run 10 km and have my training plan in place to run the marathon next April. The rest of the challenge feels like it will be easy. I am excited that I am now going to live a sober life.
FYI – my best mate is still off the booze and loves it as well.
An entrepreneur and former senior oil broker, Ruari gave up drinking after excessive consumption almost cost him his marriage, and worse, his life. Going alcohol-free improved his relationships, career and energy levels, leading to him founding OYNB to provide a support network for others.