As we come to the end of 2020, I'm starting to reflect over what was a really intense year for a lot of people.

This year globally we had the Australian Fires, the American drone strikes in Baghdad, the West Coast of America fires, Covid-19, George Floyd's murder and the increase of Black Lives Matters protests, the Hong Kong protests, the Beirut explosion, Trump loses the election, AND SO MUCH MORE.

I am not sure if I'm more aware of things now than ever, but it seems like A LOT happened this year. Again - it's probably because I'm more aware of things.

Outside of these intense events, I was dealing with my own struggles this year.

I took a step back from drinking alcohol. 

On the 8th January I had my last drink, and it's almost been a year since then.

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Unbeknownst to me, over the years I was using my alcohol to deal with my anxiety and depression, and was using it to help me relax. Unfortunately as time went on, the lines got blurred between what was appropriate and what wasn't. 

Suddenly I found myself in a situation where I realised I may have a problem - that I was needing more to relax and escape, and I felt like I NEEDED to have it. So I stopped drinking.

What a bloody year to stop drinking - especially with Covid-19 and lockdown.

It's actually been quite a hard year for me dealing with that to be honest.

I haven't talked about it much, but the reason I backed away from talking a lot face-to-face on social media was because I was struggling behind the scenes.

I was learning to deal with my anxiety/depression without alcohol; actually learning to deal with those things in a healthy way.

As well as the anxiety / depression, I'm still struggling a lot with who I am in this world, and at times alcohol made me forget those struggles. I felt like I was boring and didn't have anything interesting to say, so I just stopped speaking to the camera. 

I disconnected a lot from friendships too - online and in real life. I just couldn't deal with anything more than the basics. I also didn't have the energy to explain myself over and over - or even to say "just can't do it today guys". I don't want people feeling sorry for me, or to feel like they have to walk on eggshells around me. So it was easier for me just to back away.

Dealing with anxiety and depression is a full time job, and for a long time I had been "calling in sick" to work by drinking alcohol; but the work was still sitting there waiting for me to do it. The work being dealing with anxiety / depression (if you didn't get my incredible analogy haha)

Lockdown, albeit the worst for a lot of people, allowed me to stay inside and focus on myself - and I bloody loved it.

It is definitely a privilege for me to say that, considering both my husband and I kept our jobs (although my work stopped completely), and our kids were able to be home-schooled by me.

It's a privilege and that fact is not lost on me - but for me with everything I was dealing with mentally, it allowed me to become a full-on introvert.

I focussed on walking every day, and doing my best to eat sensibly.

I read, my god did I read. I read about alcohol, and about food, and about the state of our minds.

Slowly but surely, day by day, things started getting easier to manage.

There were a couple of things I still struggled with, and I'm still working on them now. Being out in public at night is hard, because I often associate that with drinking.

As well as nightly catch ups with friends.

My friends NEVER EVER pressured me to drink, but there's this thing inside of me that often says "you can't have fun without alcohol", and I have to learn to separate myself from that.

A lot of reading I did shows that society has a lot to answer for when it comes to alcohol and the expectations we put on people to drink.

New Zealand's drinking culture is atrocious, and I have said before that I want to normalise sobriety, not drinking.

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So yeah, it's been an intense 12 months for me, and I'm still dealing with it. Summer is here and as I've said on my Instagram stories - it's a time that I associate with being outside and drinking.

I made a promise to myself that I'd stop drinking for 12 months, to give me a proper chance to re-evaluate my relationship with it.

I don't know what I'll do after the 12 months, but golly I have nightmares that I'm going to slip back into my old habits.

I feel more educated about it now. Perhaps more equipped to deal with my anxiety / depression and not have to rely on alcohol; but I honestly don't know.

If I choose to never drink again, or to only drink every now-and-then, I'm ok with that.

My life is so much better without alcohol, and I enjoy it so much more. No more running from my issues; I deal with them head on now (mostly ahaha).