I didn’t know

“I didn’t know.”

“I wish I knew you were struggling.”

“I did not realize your pain (…) and I wish I could have been more supportive.”

These are common things I have heard since sharing my drinking problems in Run For Your Life. People did not know that I was suffering. I was successful at hiding it because I was ashamed and embarrassed. My own actions to hide my addiction and problem likely resulted me in suffering for years more than I had to. And once you start hiding your problem from other people, your brain starts hiding it from yourself. You start to justify your problem.

And then the “incident” happened and I hit the proverbial “rock bottom”.

That is why I wrote a chapter in Run For Your Life – Lessons Learned From Going the Distance. Get your copy today! Just click on the book below!

That is why I am writing Dennis on the Run and sharing my story!

There are other people out there suffering and in pain. And they do not know what to do. Instead of taking a step forward towards making a healthier change in their life, they stick with the status quo. And this can go on for years.

That is what happened to me.

This might be your chance to realize that you have a problem, acknowledge it and dedicate yourself to change before your incident happens.

Why do we hide our problems?

Why do people hide their problems?

I think this is twofold. First off people hide the problem from themselves (or justify it by lying to themselves). And therefore, we get pretty good at hiding it from other people. Secondly, you feel ashamed and embarrassed to have a drinking problem. And you drink to escape the pain you are feeling.

1 – Hide the problem

First off, people are hiding from themselves. Admitting that I had an issue drinking with my loved ones meant that I had to first admit that I had a problem myself. The funny thing is that I knew I was drinking too much, but I honestly thought I was handling life the best that I could. I did not think that a major change was needed.

As I realize more every day about my life while I was drinking, I discover more information about myself. As I write and open up in Dennis on the Run about my alcohol use, I learn more about the extent of my problem and the different ways that I manage to hide my problem.

As I share my chapters with my wife, she continues to be shocked at the depth of my pain and the extent of my internal conflict. I simply did not talk about my problem with her or barely anyone. And I certainly never talked about being an alcoholic or that I did not know how to quit. I just thought I was drinking a little too much. And I lied to myself thinking that I could cut down or quit anytime.

On the outside, I appeared to be someone that enjoyed to drink socially.

According to the Government of Canada site:
“Our findings. Alcohol and cannabis use changed among Canadians aged 15+ who were using these substances prior to the COVID-19 pandemic: 24% reported increased consumption of alcohol during the COVID-19 pandemic. 34% reported increased consumption of cannabis during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

According to statistics. 1 in every 4 people increased their alcohol consumption during COVID-19. And 1 in 3 people increased their cannabis consumption. It is very likely that this happened to someone you know.

The height of my problem occurred during COVID-19. That means that I was at home alone with my wife from March through to December 2020, when the incident happened. A lot of times at night, I sat alone in my computer room, drinking and playing video games. Most of our interaction was during the day or early in the evening when I was sober. By the time evening came, I was either playing video games or we were quietly watching television.

Under those circumstances, I spent so much time alone, it seems like it was easy to drink heavily and not have anyone notice. How could anyone notice? I was not around anyone. There were no events. We did not gather. We all sat in our houses alone.

I intentionally bought alcohol in bulk to reduce trips to the liquor store and reduce the amount of times that I brought liquor home. This makes a lot of sense as well, since we limited the number of times we went shopping to decrease our possible exposure. I intentionally started hiding empties so that no one knew how much I was drinking nightly, including myself. Because it was COVID-19, I never had to be sober enough to drive anywhere.

The only time I limited my drinking was if I had to drive somewhere. And I never drank while I was at work. Those were my restrictions. Otherwise, I likely had a drink in my hand from the end of the work day until bed time.

Also, remember, the people around you have their own lives and their own problems. They might not have time to worry about you. They might have their own drinking problem, so talking to you about it means they have to face it themselves. We were facing a pandemic, there was more to worry about than my drinking.

In hindsight, sure, it was obvious. Everyone says they thought there might have been a problem. Or they say they noticed I was drinking a lot.

My advice: Stop lying to yourself. Acknowledge that you have a problem. Be honest with yourself.

If you or someone you know has a drinking problem, please talk about it and decide to do something about it today.

2 – Feelings

I felt so many emotions related to my drinking. These aren’t easy emotions to share nor discuss with anyone. Frequently, just thinking about feeling these emotions leads to drinking more to avoid or cope with them.

Shame. Embarrassment. Anger. Sadness. Stupidity. Helpless. Depressed.

According to the Mental Health Foundation on drinking:
“The chemical changes in your brain can soon lead to more negative feelings, such asĀ anger, depression or anxiety, regardless of your mood. Alcohol also slows down how your brain processes information, making it harder to work out what you’re really feeling and the possible consequences of your actions.”

Also, alcohol is a depressant.

So it is not really a surprise that I felt what I did.

Some days, I still experience these feelings when I look back to who I used to be and how much I drank. But I am in a better place now to deal with it and accept those feelings. It helps to know that the feelings are normal to feel for someone that was drinking a lot.

But some days, it’s hard to ignore. I ask myself in anger “Why didn’t I do something about my drinking sooner?” I call myself stupid when I think about how I survived hungover every day for months. I am sad that I hide my drinking problem from my wife and loved ones.

I am ashamed and embarrassed about the incident and that I allowed myself to get so low that it happened.

And then I remember to love myself. It is okay to have feelings. Those feelings were real. But it is in the past. I cannot change the past. I can only live in the present.

The best thing that I can do is make healthier decisions today and talk about my feelings with someone if I am not feeling like myself.

And I can share my story so that others can learn from it.

If you or someone you know is feeling down or negative about life, please talk about it and decide to do something about it today.

Wrap Up

When we are struggling, the first response we often have is to hide it from other people. By doing so, we start to become excellent at hiding it from ourselves.

That is why the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. Only then can you be honest with yourself and come up with a program to be healthier.

Stop lying to yourself. Acknowledge that you have a problem. Be honest with yourself.

What are you waiting for? If you are struggling with alcohol or drugs or you are struggling with negative thoughts, be honest with yourself and ask for help today.

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