Not Drinking (Alcohol) Today Podcast

Alcohol and Depression

March 10, 2024 Isabella Ferguson and Meg Webb Season 3 Episode 72
Alcohol and Depression
Not Drinking (Alcohol) Today Podcast
More Info
Not Drinking (Alcohol) Today Podcast
Alcohol and Depression
Mar 10, 2024 Season 3 Episode 72
Isabella Ferguson and Meg Webb

Have you ever reached for a glass of wine to wash away the blues, only to find the weight of the world heavier on your shoulders? It's a story many of us know all too well. In our latest chat, Meg unravels the intricate ties between alcohol and depression, making sense of how this coping mechanism can backfire and deepen our struggles with mental health. We don't just skim the surface; our conversation dives into the physiological disruptions caused by alcohol, how it shifts the body's equilibrium, and the way it can foster an insidious cycle of dependency and sadness. Drawing on the compelling insights from William Porter's "Alcohol Explained" and our own life lessons, we share a picture that is both informative and deeply personal.

Transitioning from awareness to action, we pivot to talk about the transformative journey towards sobriety.  We discuss the profound impact that a solid support system and the guiding hand of a coach can have for those seeking a life free from alcohol's grip. Whether you're just considering a break from the bottle or are in the midst of your sobriety journey, our conversation offers a beacon of hope and practical resources. Join us, not just as voices in your headphones, but as allies ready to walk with you towards a brighter, healthier future.

Books:  William Porter "Alcohol Explained"
                  Annie Grace.    "This Naked Mind" 

MEG

Megan Webb: https://glassfulfilled.com.au
Instagram: @glassfulfilled
Unwined Bookclub: https://www.alcoholfreedom.com.au/unwinedbookclub
Sober Socialising workshop at Seadrift Distillery: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/confident-and-cozy-alcohol-free-socialising-for-winter-tickets-934198341387?aff=oddtdtcreator

BELLA

Isabella Ferguson: https://isabellaferguson.com.au
Instagram: @alcoholandstresswithisabella
Free 5-Day DO I HAVE A DRINKING PROBLEM? Clarify and focus series: https://resources.isabellaferguson.com.au/doIhaveadrinkingproblemwithisabellaferguson
Alcohol Freedom Small Group Challenge - Register here: https://resources.isabellaferguson.com.au/alcoholfreedomchallenge
The Alcohol Revolution 6-Week Program (Online or Podcast): ...

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Have you ever reached for a glass of wine to wash away the blues, only to find the weight of the world heavier on your shoulders? It's a story many of us know all too well. In our latest chat, Meg unravels the intricate ties between alcohol and depression, making sense of how this coping mechanism can backfire and deepen our struggles with mental health. We don't just skim the surface; our conversation dives into the physiological disruptions caused by alcohol, how it shifts the body's equilibrium, and the way it can foster an insidious cycle of dependency and sadness. Drawing on the compelling insights from William Porter's "Alcohol Explained" and our own life lessons, we share a picture that is both informative and deeply personal.

Transitioning from awareness to action, we pivot to talk about the transformative journey towards sobriety.  We discuss the profound impact that a solid support system and the guiding hand of a coach can have for those seeking a life free from alcohol's grip. Whether you're just considering a break from the bottle or are in the midst of your sobriety journey, our conversation offers a beacon of hope and practical resources. Join us, not just as voices in your headphones, but as allies ready to walk with you towards a brighter, healthier future.

Books:  William Porter "Alcohol Explained"
                  Annie Grace.    "This Naked Mind" 

MEG

Megan Webb: https://glassfulfilled.com.au
Instagram: @glassfulfilled
Unwined Bookclub: https://www.alcoholfreedom.com.au/unwinedbookclub
Sober Socialising workshop at Seadrift Distillery: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/confident-and-cozy-alcohol-free-socialising-for-winter-tickets-934198341387?aff=oddtdtcreator

BELLA

Isabella Ferguson: https://isabellaferguson.com.au
Instagram: @alcoholandstresswithisabella
Free 5-Day DO I HAVE A DRINKING PROBLEM? Clarify and focus series: https://resources.isabellaferguson.com.au/doIhaveadrinkingproblemwithisabellaferguson
Alcohol Freedom Small Group Challenge - Register here: https://resources.isabellaferguson.com.au/alcoholfreedomchallenge
The Alcohol Revolution 6-Week Program (Online or Podcast): ...

Speaker 1:

Hey there, join me, Meg, for this episode of Not Drinking Today. It's a bit of a somber episode about depression, but it is also extremely necessary to talk about this and shed some light on the link between alcohol and depression.

Speaker 2:

Are you trying to drink those alcohol but need some extra motivation?

Speaker 1:

Maybe you've tried moderation, but you keep waking up disappointed and hungover Are you curious about sober life, or maybe you're like us, have been alcohol free for a while and are in it for the long haul.

Speaker 2:

Well, you're in the right place. I'm Meg and I'm Bella, and our Not Drinking Today podcast is an invaluable resource to keep you motivated and on track today and beyond.

Speaker 1:

We are this naked mind, certified coaches who live in Sydney and love our alcohol free life.

Speaker 2:

And last but not least, if you enjoy the content of our podcast, please rate, review, subscribe and share it. It really is integral to getting the podcast out to those that might meet it, so grab a cup of.

Speaker 1:

And let's get started. Hello and welcome. Today, we're going to be talking about alcohol and depression. First up, though, I'd like to say depression is a mental health condition and can be very serious, so please see your GP in regards to depression. Now, the link between alcohol and depression is huge. The greater amounts of alcohol consumed and the more regular the intake, the more likely a person will be to develop temporary anxiety and depressive symptoms. I often get questioned which came first, the alcohol or the depression, and it's a good question. It can be either. The one thing I know for sure, though, is that alcohol does not help depression. It only causes or makes it worse. So in William Porter's book Alcohol Explained, he talks about all of this, and I encourage you to read it, as I'm not a scientist and I don't have all the info, but I am going to be talking a bit about what William Porter says in his book and has said in an interview with Annie Grace.

Speaker 1:

Alcohol affects us physiologically and is a chemical depressant and an anesthetic. It depresses nerve activity. Our body, though, wants to be in balance, and there's a process called homeostasis, which is our body bringing us back into balance. So when we drink the alcohol. Our brain counteracts that by injecting in stimulants and stress hormones. As you sleep, the alcohol is processed and moved from your body and then when you wake up you've still got the stimulants and stress hormones and then you're out of sync again. And over time, if you're drinking, your brain will start to produce more of these stress hormones. So the brain will start countering this alcohol intake more efficiently. And, as William Porter says, your drinking cannot remain static. You cannot drink the same amount to get the same effect. It's physically impossible. So in this process your brain is out of balance and having a hard time keeping up with the balancing act. And this is where we become prone to depression, if we didn't already have it. He also says when someone is depressed as a result of drinking, they are not depressed because of an actual reason. They're depressed because of the direct chemical reaction to the previous drinking.

Speaker 1:

This was me I can almost pinpoint when my drinking increased and I could see this pattern happening. I have spoken about it before. When my youngest, my son, was about one, I knew I wasn't having any more kids and I started to have a glass of wine every few nights. It started out just one. I would get a buzz, I'd feel relaxed and I really enjoyed it. But it started slowly creeping up. So over the next seven years it slowly went to two glasses when I had a drink, and then it crept up to three, and while this was happening it was becoming more often as well. So this tolerance, my tolerance, was growing.

Speaker 1:

Exactly like William Porter said, I was needing more to get the same effect and by the time or probably seven years in, I was on over two bottles of wine a night. I was needing that to get the effect I was after. But I had also, in this time, become quite unhappy and I developed a depression of types from the drinking, and so I needed to numb out. I needed to drink more to get rid of that feeling and, as we've talked about, that was the cycle. So my body was needing more and it was to cover up this depression. And then through the day, during all of this time, I was functioning. I knew that every day I'd be going home to have a drink, so I kind of it was easier to manage the days. I could cope with the feelings of being low, sad, depressed, because I knew I was going to self-medicate for it when I got home, so it was quite. It was doable for that time and I'm sure there are people listening who can relate to that it was. It was the bearable amount of time to get home, so I couldn't numb out again Now.

Speaker 1:

I wasn't aware that this was happening at the time. In hindsight I can see it all, but at the time I wasn't aware that my tolerance was growing. I wasn't aware that I was starting to feel lower, but looking back, I clearly, clearly was. I was, I was quite unhappy and there were circumstances in my life that were making me feel unhappy, but I had begun drinking to deal with them and it just was this horrible cycle and when I when I look back and see where I was going, it was absolutely going downhill.

Speaker 1:

I also found that I actually began to need to drink to enjoy the things that I previously enjoyed without alcohol, so even things such as watching TV or a movie like. I couldn't even sit down to watch TV without my wine, and every single morning I'd wake up, I'd have forgotten the end of what I was watching or I'd have forgotten a whole chunk and I'd have to rewatch it. Oh, it was just a everyday thing. I knew I'd have to start again that night with my wine and remember just the beginning. Not a slow process, but what a horrible process or a horrible cycle I was in. And there were, you know, going to a movie I wanted to go to the movies that you could get your champagne. Going to the beach. I wanted it to be a picnic where we could take alcohol.

Speaker 1:

So, you know, 12 o'clock onwards, everything I used to enjoy had to revolve around alcohol. There was nothing really that I wanted to do at all that didn't involve alcohol. And I was also looking around, and this was probably about five years ago. I was looking around and wondering what there was to be happy about. Like I truly was questioning that. I couldn't understand how people were happy or why they weren't drinking, and then drinking stopped making me happy.

Speaker 1:

So by the time I stopped in 2021, I didn't find joy even in drinking. Like the thought of drinking became more of a chore and I was quite conscious of being a bottle or two in thinking I don't feel any better. This is crap, although I was still acting stupid getting into arguments, drunk, texting I was still doing those things but I wasn't feeling good anymore. The alcohol wasn't doing its job. I was also waking up continuously at 3am as I'm sure a lot of people can relate to and having those dark thoughts. Just everything was worse, catastrophizing. It was just a horrible, horrible cycle. My anxiety was so much worse as well. My social anxiety had come back. I couldn't eat in the staff room anymore at work. I was shaking when I ate. Everything was just getting worse. I'd never had depression before this either. Of course I'd had down times, but never true depression, and it really only came about with alcohol for me. So, yeah, by the end of my drinking career in 2021, I really didn't feel much happiness in my life.

Speaker 1:

Now, the flip side of this is that if you do have depression to start with, it's not uncommon to reach for alcohol to relieve it, and I really loved what William Porter said about this. If you're in a cycle of depression and you take a drink, it will bring you back to some sort of acceptable level. So you start to think that there are things in your life that can't be managed without alcohol or they're too overwhelming, and a drink will take away that overwhelm and make the problems a bit more manageable. But the fact of the matter is it will help in the short term. But as ever with alcohol and here's the bit that was a real light bulb moment for me alcohol is only giving back what it has already taken.

Speaker 1:

Now that was a real aha moment for me, and it was around this time, when I was reading this book and it was 2021, that things were. Consciously, I could see I was going down a darker hole, but it was about this time. I just said that's it and I just knew I was heading not in a good way and it really wasn't me. I wasn't. It wasn't in line with my values, it wasn't. I felt that I was here for more and I was never going to achieve that. I felt like I absolutely lost touch with my authentic self. Relationships weren't some of my relationships weren't great. I knew my daughter was incredibly upset, like there was so much going on that I absolutely knew I had to stop it, because there was no way in this world that things were going to get better for me if I kept drinking. So that's when I decided that this was the big one, this was the time I was going to stop and I was going to make that change Now.

Speaker 1:

It's not easy, but doing the research on these things can help so much. This is when I started to dig into everything online the books, william Porter's, annie Grace, catherine Gray any books I could get my hands on. Also, listening to podcasts and anything on this topic is going to be super helpful. Also, you can Google things. It just confirmed how bad this was and how much I needed to stop, and also how much support was out there and that I wasn't alone. And the other side of alcohol was incredible. So I want to stress that it is possible to be truly happy after giving up alcohol. Finally, our bodies have a chance to recalibrate and for me, so much of my depression and anxiety lifted just from removing alcohol.

Speaker 1:

So if you're dealing with depression, however it's caused, but you are also drinking, my first suggestion would be to take a break. Go for a 30 day experiment, or longer if you want to See how you feel during this time. Write down how you feel, listen to your thoughts and emotions over that time. There are many resources to help you through this Coaches like Bella and myself this is what we do, as well as courses, support groups. This naked mind has a free community. Just start looking, reach out, get support, having people around me. Well, I did. This was so important to me. There might be some local groups in your community you could join. Just do whatever it takes to get you through this experiment to see how you start to feel without the alcohol and notice if you're feeling depressed, if that starts to get less. Also, remember, when we numb the bad feelings, the sadness, the depression, you also numb the good, the joy and the happiness.

Speaker 1:

Once you're free from alcohol, it's so exciting to find the joy in all the things you used to find joy in, plus more. So it's taken work, it's taken effort, it's taken some trial and error, but I have found new things that I love, that I never would have thought I did. I absolutely get that excitement back, that feeling of excitement that I thought maybe I'd lost forever. I'm less anxious. I still get some anxiety, as do many humans, and the depression I had from alcohol has gone and that went pretty quickly. Of course, I still have low times, but I have tools to deal with that. I have what I've learned on this journey I've been on since being alcohol free, and I teach these tools and tactics to my clients, as does Bella, and we use them for ourselves. So there is absolutely an amazing life on the other side of alcohol. It's incredible how something like depression can become so much less giving up alcohol.

Speaker 1:

And, like I said at the beginning, please see your GP if you feel that you need further support. I'm quite open about the fact that I did have anti-anxiety and depression medication when I first stopped drinking and it was incredibly helpful and it really helped me through those first months. But please talk to your doctor if you need to. So if you're feeling that you are depressed and you are drinking, I really hope today's podcast has helped you. Please reach out to me or Bella if you'd like to speak with either of us. We do do a free call through our websites. We'd love to chat with you and, of course, there are all sorts of resources online. In the show notes I will put up some of the resources that I mentioned and just remember it is not uncommon. It is actually incredibly common to feel depressed when you're drinking because, as we've heard, alcohol causes that, and I'd like to end today with a quote from F Scott Fitzgerald First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you. See you next time ["The.

Speaker 2:

Last Song of the Year"]. If you don't already know, in addition to our podcasting work, we are each sobriety coaches with our own separate businesses helping people to drink less.

Speaker 1:

If you are a loved one, want to take a break from alcohol, we invite you to have a look at our individual websites. Megs is glassfulfilledcomau.

Speaker 2:

And Bella's is Isabella Fergusoncomau. So take the next step that feels right for you.

Alcohol and Depression
Sobriety Coaches Offer Help