February 27, 2013 by John Buckley
Its been a hectic second month in my Hello Sunday Morning Adventure, but one that will shape my future relationship with alcohol
This month has been a test. I can’t remember the amount of times that I’ve just wanted one beer. But I can remember that amount of times that I’ve said “I’ve love to be a bit pissed right now”, and that is ZERO. I think my February has shown me what I want from my relationship with alcohol. I want my relationship to be defined by enjoyment of the taste of booze not the effect. And I’ve been reaping the benefit of not having “that effect” (i.e. pissed, leading to hangovers) in my life.
I’ve never been fitter, mentally and physically. And it’s the mental fitness that I have found to be my greatest ally. I experience depression and have done for a few years now. This month I did feel stress, work, challenges getting to me and I dealt with it. I rode it out. I feel part of this is due to my building of resilience over the past two months. Resilience based on not having alcohol as a part of my life. Previously a big night out would often lead to the amplification of my feelings of depression, self-confidence struggles and general self-loathing.
The physical fitness is awesome! My Sunday mornings of runs and getting stuck in with nature gives me a natural high that alcohol will never rival. I have the Wicklow Mountains Half Marathon this weekend, so here’s hoping it goes well!
The other part of this month for me has been conversations about alcohol. Challenging conversations. On twitter, face to face with friends but also with people I barely know. Many have been positive, trying to focus on what we can do to tackle the issues and harm that alcohol presents to us in Irish society (and there are many. Check out this piece from Alcohol Action Ireland). But also how we can shape a shared space in Ireland where those who choose not to drink on a night out, can do so in an environment that is respectful and fun. These people are not tea-totalers, nor are they pioneers. They’re just people who usually drink, maybe they don’t, but are choosing to have a booze free night. This is a question I’m still grappling with, but I think HSM will help shape that shared space over its course in Ireland.
The other conversations have been hugely negative, “nothing will change”, “stop trying to make us not drink”, “we don’t have a problem with alcohol” and “sure that’s an extreme it doesn’t happen like that for me”. The problem I’ve faced is people being problem focused (am I being a bit problem focused now?). Willing and able to identify a problem but unwilling to looking at developing and being part of solution that ensures we can enjoy alcohol with reduced harm. That’s what I want. I’m going to drink again, but in a different way. What I want for Ireland, is to have the craic minus the €3.7 billion bill to the taxpayer every year. So lets do that together, it’s our own individual choices and responsibilities that are in question, but the choices are often made without thinking of the responsibility. I think I’m trying to get at developing a societal awareness of our collective drinking behaviours to our individual benefit but also those around us.
And this is where the exciting part of the month came in. Hello Sunday Morning is hitting Irish shores. During February we (SpunOut.ie for whom I work) teamed up with Des Bishop to launch HSM in Ireland. We took on the most infamous nightclub in Ireland sober, Copper Faced Jacks (and recorded it for TV, it’s on tomorrow 10.15pm RTE 1). This was an experience of extremes granted, but it showed me potentially what someone who chooses not to drink, but wants to go out and dance, faces on a night out. Pressure to drink, pressure to conform, questioning and grinding….yes grinding.
We also recruited ambassadors, including a Hardy Buck and a Senator, to bring HSM to Ireland. I’m honoured to be a part of something that I feel will give Irish people an opportunity to reflect on drinking, to re engage and experience loving life and having the craic without having to have the few pints. Because we can enjoy life, we can enjoy alcohol, but we DON’T need alcohol to enjoy life.
My journey continues over the next four months and I look forward to the challenges. I’ll be running the Hello Sunday Morning’s social media for Ireland, so make sure to say hey www.twitter.com/HSMIreland.