I read your feature on BRB Panic Attack’s “Speak Out” series, in which you shared you story with alcohol addiction. Could you tell us a little about that?
I wasn’t always addicted to alcohol, but when I was, it was stronger than me. I realized that I no longer looked for the “fun”, but more so, for the confidence it gave me. The more I drank, the worst I felt when I was sober. I often questioned my habits and whether it was normal that I wasn’t able to ‘just have one’ like my friends and family but regardless of that, I continued to suppress my emotions with alcohol.
What would you tell someone who is going through something similar to what you went through?
This is my favorite question, because having someone who has gone through something similar has been crucial for my healing.
I would tell them to reach out, to speak out loud about what they have been feeling, whether it is to someone close, a stranger or in a journal.
At the beginning, I knew something had to change but I was unaware of what exactly. I wasn’t aware of ‘why’ I was drinking so much, or why my mental health was declining. All I knew is that something needed to change.
I simply started with the alcohol. After only ‘quitting’ for a week, I felt extremely emotional and frustrated and all I wanted to do was drink, so I reached out. I made an anonymous account to ensure my identity was hidden and I found an app where I could see the progress and symptoms of others that were also trying to remain free from alcohol. Surprisingly, I immediately felt relieved and my sobriety began from there.
So, reach out, validate your feelings, know that it’s ok to cry, get angry or feel that it’s impossible.
I ‘knew’ it was impossible for me to stop drinking completely so I settled on moderating. But then, I realized moderation for me was impossible and staying sober was, indeed, possible.
What self-care practices do you recommend? Furthermore, why is it important to scope out time for yourself each day?
During the course of my recovery, I have realized how important it is to practice self-care. Everybody’s definition of self care is different but it is also something that represents how each person is able to take a moment away from the day-to-day stress. Stress that they might not even be aware of.
For me personally, on bad days, journaling and having a short conversation with someone who has been through similar struggles has helped me feel grounded, be aware and be acceptant of how I am feeling.
There are days that my self care routine may include taking a break from social media, reading a few pages of a book, or simply watching something that I love without distraction.
In my opinion, the main reason for self care is to remind yourself that even though life goes on, you might still struggle and practicing self care is important to be able to cope with stress in a healthier manner.
Are there any specific psychological conditions/disorders that mean a lot to you? Why do they hold importance and how can we, as a community, help and provide support to people who go through them?
Anxiety, Panic Disorder, and Alcohol Abuse Disorder (AUD) are very important to me because they are some that I have experienced. I believe that supporting others and raising awareness is important for others to know they are not alone. Many people brush it off as being an alcoholic, or weak but don’t necessarily understand that no matter how severe the problem may be, it is possible to change your life.
Why do you think prioritizing mental health is so important, especially for youth?
As children, we were never taught the importance of mental health, it was mostly brushed under the rug. If you were over-sensitive, then you were known as a ‘baby’. If you were always angry, then you were known as the kid who was ‘messed up’. If you were depressed, then you were known as the kid who was ‘emo’. No one ever wondered how important it was to ensure we knew how to cope with our issues or to prioritize our mental health as we grow older.
I do believe in prioritizing, supporting and raising awareness in the importance of mental health for youth and how to cope with it while life goes on.
Who have been your biggest role-models or resources in times of unsureness, grief, and healing?
The community on Instagram has been extremely helpful with helping me heal, recover and accept what I have gone through. I was never comfortable in reaching out for help to the people who surround me, but being vulnerable and open to others who have also struggled has helped me immensely. I have found that with time, I was able to help others while helping myself. It is very important to have someone or some people (even if they are all strangers) that can help you feel hopeful during the darkest times.