Christmas was a time to ‘eat drink and be merry!’. New Year was also a time to drink to the future – and to the past – to new starts and new memories. But what if, like me, you don’t drink? (Alcohol I’m talking about here, not just liquid in general. If that was the case, I probably wouldn’t be here writing this blog post). Before Christmas, I took my frustrations to Twitter (as we so often do these days) and the reactions and replies I received prompted and inspired this blog post and I wanted to think and talk about alcohol. Why I don’t drink it, why it’s okay not to drink it and why oh why some people look at you like you’ve got 3 heads when you tell them that actually, it’s Christmas and I’m still not going to have a drink.
The tweet that ignited this burst of inspiration was this one, pictured to the left. Now, before I start, I think I’d better clarify that I don’t drink. I don’t drink wine, I don’t drink beer, I don’t drink spirits and I don’t drink cocktails. I won’t say I’ve been teetotal for X amount of years now because there has been brief moments over the past few years where, *gasp*, I have drunk some alcohol but as of right now, I honestly cannot remember the last time I had any. I don’t think about it, even during social conventional periods – like Christmas, New Year or my birthday.
I stopped drinking around the time my anxiety started. My anxiety was sparked by a awful bout of the flu in 2011 – if you need more information on that, I wrote a post on it here – and, I was so ill, I constantly felt dizzy, light-headed and sick. Does that remind you of anything? I felt so awful during that period that when I got better, the thought of drinking alcohol and having that sensation again was jut a no-go for me. And that, more or less, is the reason why I don’t drink.
Now I don’t feel like I need to justify myself and the reasons why I don’t drink. To be honest, it’s nobodies business and the fact that I don’t drink does in no way affect you and your drinking habits. I’m not judgemental to those who drink and those who drink a lot – before my anxiety started I was a big drinker and I loved nothing more than going out with my friends and getting drunkety, drunk, drunk. I know how much fun it can be, I’ve been there, I’ve done it. But I don’t any more. So why do other people feel the need to judgemental about those who choose not to drink?
I can’t speak for everyone who doesn’t drink as I’m sure there are plenty of stuck-up, snobby people out there who feel like they are above and beyond people who drink and get drunk but I am not one of those people. And the majority of us aren’t. We don’t judge you so being asked why you don’t drink and being told, “go on…” isn’t just incredibly annoying but it’s also disrespectful to others and their personal choices.
Christmas can often be one of the worse times for this. With most people letting off steam, drinking with families and friends and often drinking a little more than usual, those of us that don’t drink stand out like a sore thumb. But, the fact that it’s Christmas really does make no difference to us and telling us to, “go on have a drink, it’s Christmas“, is just a naïve and frankly pointless comment to make. You wouldn’t say, “go on, have some turkey, it’s Christmas“, to a vegetarian, would you? So what makes one of those things okay and the other one not?
I’ve quite literally lost friends over the past few years because I don’t drink or enjoy going out to pubs and clubs anymore. I didn’t realise that my old friendships were so focused on those things and it does make me sad. I’ve heard things like, “just have one, it’ll make you feel better” and, “go on have a drink, it’ll make you less anxious“. And I can’t help now but roll my eyes at those comments. So, with Christmas and New Year out of the way now I wanted to write this post for anyone who, like me, doesn’t drink and didn’t drink over the holidays.
Also, for anyone who has someone in their life who doesn’t drink – please refrain from making these ignorant comments. Leave people to their own vices. Curiosity is okay but judgement is not. Especially for something that has no impact on you, whatsoever.