July 13, 2012

Photo of patterned wallSo I'm at a party and I'm doing okay. I've managed to overcome (well, disguise) my social anxiety long enough to engage in a nice, normal conversation with someone.

Normal conversations are rare for me; usually, when I'm not forgetting to maintain eye contact and twitching like I'm on my eighteenth cup of coffee, I'm making uncomfortable jokes or babbling semi-incoherently or blurting out completely irrelevant and often inappropriate statements to try and cover up the fact that I actually have no idea what I am doing.

(Incidentally, I've found out that saying, 'Did you know that Victorians invented the first commercial disposable sanitary towel?' to cover up an awkward silence will actually make that silence even more awkward than it was before.)

I am actually very, very good at ending conversations abruptly. I wish it were a legitimate superpower so I could wear a cape and go around fighting crime. I would call myself Awkward Girl, or perhaps The Conversation Killer. Oh god, I'm doing it again. See, this is exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about.

... and then it happens. The Alcohol Question

Anyway. For these reasons, being able to convince someone else that I'm a normal, functioning human being who isn't obsessed with superheroes or the history of feminine hygiene is quite a novelty for me. So I'm standing there feeling quite proud of myself, happily chatting away with my new friend, and then it happens: The Alcohol Question.

It has several forms, much like some sort of terrifying Lovecraftian elder god. There's the “What are you drinking?” form, the “Can I get you a drink?” form, the “Have you tried the sangria?” form, but the most terrible form of all is also its most direct: “Why aren't you drinking?”

alcohol makes me depressed

Isn't it rude to be so blunt? I used to think so but, then again, I also used to think that just talking at someone about Star Trek for half an hour was a perfectly acceptable way to socialise with them. Ten years and a good dose of social ostracisation later, I just tend to assume that I know nothing about how to interact with another human being and go from there.

The question tends to dry me up like a slug on the wrong side of a salt pot. So what usually happens is I stand there for a second going “Er... er...” and then I make up something about alcohol not agreeing with me, which is technically true because it sometimes agitates my irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).However, the main reason—and the very thing I don't want to say—is that alcohol makes me depressed.

the one thing that will always send my poor little brain into a five-day slump of enthusiastic self-hatred and irresponsible food choices is alcohol

My depression is a fickle thing. Lots of things can trigger it: the wrong food, too much food, too little food, too little exercise, thinking the wrong thoughts, reading the wrong books, days ending in “Y”. But none of these things are guaranteed to make me depressed every time. However, the one thing that will always send my poor little brain into a five-day slump of enthusiastic self-hatred and irresponsible food choices is alcohol.

I do not want to say this to my new friend, because the last thing I want to do is make them think I'm weird. And I am cagey about my mental health problems now. I used to be more open about them but that was before I experienced the bigotry of others first-hand. Now I stay quiet for the very reason that I should be talking.

instead of telling the truth... I avoid the issue

So I'm at a party and someone has just asked me why I'm not drinking. And instead of telling the truth—that alcohol is a depressive, that I suffer from depression and that the two things mix about as well as white cats and black leggings—I avoid the issue.

Then, of course, we get on to talking about my IBS. Let me point out that I never initiate this conversation. But people ask questions, and I answer them and my ability to change the subject becomes increasingly poor as I realise that we are actually talking about the activity of my bowels. I say this in an attempt to be funny. The conversation dries up. My new friend gives me that look. It is the look that says “that is a bit weird. You are weird”. It is the look that says “I am going to go soon”. And then they do. And I am left sipping my water looking awkward and wishing I were back at home with my cats.

Maybe it would be easier if I just told the truth.

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Comments

Why Aren't You Drinking?

<p>I like your post! It took me back to when I would feel awkward and certainly socially phobic. That has got better over the years.</p><p>I just say "I'm not drinking because alcohol doesn't agree with me" and if that leads to further probing then, although tempted to say "Oh, mind your own business" (I don't quiz others about their choice of food or drink), I say "Well, alcohol's a known depressant and aggravates my depression, so I leave it alone"... or something like that. I have also said that I'm on medication which means I can't have alcohol, which is also true.&nbsp;</p><p>The longer we go on being coy or feel we have to lie about an illness that affects 1 in 4 at some point in their lives, the more we have to carry on facing stigma over mental health. I find most people can handle the honest answer, sometimes even opening up about their own experiences with it.</p><p>I get the same thing when I drink decaffeinated coffee because I can't sleep with more than five teaspoons a day - a shame because I do love coffee. But telling the truth is enough to satisfy most people when I refuse more caffeinated!</p>

I completely understand your

<p>I completely understand your story. I'm only 20 years old and I get the same symptoms. After drinking alcohol, I feel the same every morning which lasts for a few days... depressed, anxious and full of self hatred and hatred for other people. I wrote myself a promise about a week ago that I would stop drinking (and smoking after drinking) because it makes me sad and I want to have more respect and care for myself. I broke the promise after meeting an ex boyfriend for dinner and not being able to be honest that I was trying to change and learn to love myself rather than drinking to please others and not look weird. Anyway I drank a lot and felt terrible the next day, the only person I had to blame was myself which made it even worse. I felt I just wasn't strong enough to say no, which is stupid. Now I'm confused and don't know what to do anymore, how do I tell people that I actually don't want to drink? I feel under pressure by others that do drink. It makes sense now that I feel so depleted the next day as I'm a vegan and obviously all the B vitamins I've tried to get have been sucked away by the alcohol.</p><p>How do you find the strength to be honest?&nbsp;</p>

This sounds exactly the same

This sounds exactly the same as me the say that it's a myth that hangovers don't get worse but my depression and anxiety definitely has over the years since drinking from 17 to now 26

I get the same from people

<p>I get the same from people all of the time and I know how awkward it can be. Why is it such a big deal to not drink anyway?! Still, it makes me feel uncomfortable when people ask. What do they expect us to say as an answer? They've already judged us. I'm not really sure why I don't drink alot, I suppose I associate the loss of control and the dizziness with the symptoms of a panic attack, of which I'm all too familiar. I used to drink loads in my teens, with my friends, who I trusted. Since I've grown up and I don't seem to have those connections anymore, I guess I don't feel 'safe' drinking. I know deep down it is not a problem. It's everybody elses' problem who makes it a problem. You can do what the hell you like, really. But everytime someone asks you about alcohol, you automatically think about your mental health problem (mine being anxiety). So the two become associated more firmly in your brain until you're left in a confused and worried state about the whole silly thing. Since reading your post I have decided that the next time somebody asks me 'Why don't you drink (much)?' I will try to be strong enough to say 'Because it makes me anxious. Problem?' That ought to quieten them. I hope you find the strenght to do this too, however hard it is :)</p>

Just to say, i know exactly

<p>Just to say, i know exactly where you're coming from. &nbsp;Friendships come and go for me. &nbsp;I often struggle to hang onto them for the very reasons you describe above. &nbsp;So reassuring to know we're not alone. &nbsp;My husband is probably the one person who I can be myself with and not feel anxious. &nbsp;It's exhausting isn't it? &nbsp;Hope there is someone in your life who understands you. &nbsp;If not, then I hope you find them (friend or partner) and hope you know there are lots of us out there. &nbsp;I belong in your tribe. &nbsp;It's a tough one. &nbsp;I keep chickens. &nbsp;They do the same for me.</p><p>Jo</p>

Alcohol,social anxiety and depression

It makes me feel very sad that anyone feels like this. It is a waste of a good and sensitive human being who could do so much .AA

Awkward twin

<p>Thank you for such a great blog.</p><p>Also, we appear to be scarily similar - from the IBS to the Star Trek, to the depression and cats. I salute you fellow awkward person! x</p>

I have to say i read this

<p>I have to say i read this with great interest --- i too suffer with IBS and have a 5 day slump after alcohol-- I am bi-polar and although usually up and down up and down like a yo-yo on coffee i have found that since i havent had a drink for 24 days Im actually feeling relatively better xx if people have a problem with the anser you give thats THEIR problem-- after all they asked the question did'nt they ??? I try to remeber this as much as possible :-) its up to you if you disclose why-- but too mix it up why not answer their question with another question-- Why ARE you drinking??? soon flip ten tables on them :-)</p><p>&nbsp;</p>

Why aren't you drinking?

<p>You are definitely not alone, that could almost be my blog. My drinking got worse though..not drank now for almost 10yrs. Depression came back now about 3yrs ago after suffering for 7 long yrs before. Drink plummeted me closer to the centre of the earth than the place i live now!&nbsp;<br>It has taken a while but, i don't suffer that awkwardness now about the question.."It just doesn't agree with me these days, it makes me ill and i like feeling happy &amp; well"<br>Thanks for the blog <br>DAVE x&nbsp;</p>

Alcohol is probably one of

<p>Alcohol is probably one of those things best avoided by people with any form of mental disorder - the effect on symptoms, the interactions with drugs - and yet avoiding it so hard to do. I also have periods of social anxiety and the temptation is to drink moer than I should, to feel less awkward and anxious. Of course, all that leads to is shame, disgust and paranoia the next day, when I am convinced I made a fool of myself and that everyone hates me.</p><p>One small point - it's true that alcohol is often referred to as a depressant. But I think it's important to clear up the misconception that it's a *mood* depressant'; the term isn't referring to mood at all. It means that it's a CNS (central nervous system) depressant, the group of drugs that slows people down and makes them sleepy and unco-ordinated. In fact CNS depressants (including benzos and sleeping pills as well as alcohol) are often misused to induce good feelings. Drinking alcohol can have the fact of lowering mood, but more usually because it's a disinhibitor so encourages us to do/say things we'd rather forget, or takes off the lid we've been keeping on our feelings (I'm very prone to embarrassing everyone by crying if I have too much to drink!). In other words, it's not alcohol that causes low mood, but it may release it, or lead to actions people feel bad about.</p>

You'er not completely correct

<p>You'er not completely correct in terms of the depressant effects of alcohol only being CNS depressant. &nbsp;Alcohol takes a huge whack at the b vitamins in your body, pretty much completely destroying them, and b vit depletion can cause depression. &nbsp;I agree wholeheartedly with the author in that I drink, and I end up in a 2 day depressive slump, it's got nothing to do with how I acted and therefore mental anguish etc, I can have had a drink with a friend who I felt completely comfortable with, and did nothing untoward at all, and the following day I will feel like the world has dropped into a black hole from which there is no getting out of. &nbsp;took me a looooooooong time to realise this, especially as I originally did believe that it was coming down from the high of the social event that I was at when drinking that caused it....... it was when I got older and was still drinking but no longer was always having the "time of my life" when drinking, ie having quiet dinners with good mates, yet getting horrendously depressed, whilst not getting at all depressed after having had a great night out where I'd get pretty high on life that I started to realise that alcohol itself can cause me to become biologically depressed. &nbsp;Not sure of what the biological reasoning is, but as I say I suspect it may have something to do with the severe depletion of b vits that alcohol causes.</p>

Judging from that

<p>Judging from that entertaining (and sobering) blog I'd say you were very much fun to talk to (and the people who walk away very much not:)</p>

Judging from that...

<p>I couldn't agree more. I would much rather meet you at a party than someone who, after several sangrias (or any other alcoholic drink), is giggling hysterically at something which doesn't appear at all funny to anyone else. I really think those people who question why you don't drink have a bit of a problem themselves. Drinking alcohol is not&nbsp;a compulsory activity at any social gathering. It is&nbsp;a choice and there are many good reasons why some people choose not to drink.</p><p>&nbsp;</p>

Me too!

Me too! I think we'd get on just fine and don't understand why you get funny looks at some of your comments- I think they're hilarious. Maybe we should all get together (with our cats of course) and talk about these supposedly 'weird' topics of conversation :) and not drink while we're doing that and not get judged!

Asperger Syndrome

<p>I was so interested to read this and recognise how it mirrors the experience of thousands of people who have been diagnosed&nbsp; / or self diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. <br>Please explore this possibility and find out how to live the life you were meant to live - instead of coping with difficulties and rules imposed by 'normal' society.&nbsp; </p><p>&nbsp;</p>

Don't want to project anything onto you after reading this...

<p>...but have you ever considered or suspected you might be on the autistic spectrum?&nbsp; I know how that sounds, and please believe me when I say that I'm not trying to be at all mocking or unkind by it; I think all of us who've been through depression know that drinking is just a bad idea full stop - so I'm not trying to imply that by not wishing to drink and exacerbate the problem this should mean you have Asperger's...just that, as I have a brother on the spectrum and am also on it myself and have grown up with a LOT of information on it and the characteristics of it, I noticed a few things you wrote about which...pointed to it a bit?&nbsp; Again, apologies for any and all offence or irritation caused by this comment, it is meant kindly and you may well have already considered whether or not you have Asperger's anyway, or sought diagnosis and found an affirmative or a negative result from that.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>Do email me too, if you want to discuss any of this any further as I'm always up for chat when it comes to mental health and autism related stuff!&nbsp; </p>

I'm with you on everything up

<p>I'm with you on everything up to the IBS, although I do get a bit nauseous when IDS is on the TV! Having been sober for 20 months now, I've been in numerous situations where the question has arisen but most of the people I see already know the answer from any encounters theyhad had with me in the previous 5-10 years. I've learnt not to try and give a "socially acceptable" reason for not drinking but to tell the truth. I am an alcoholic. In my experience, this is accepted with grace and often a level of respect that I would never have expected. It has also whittled out the people who were not good for me to be around whilst letting the people I should have been around to reappear into my life.</p><p>Giving up the drink hasn't miracously removed depression &amp; anxiety from my life, somedays it is worse than before without the alcohol giving me false courage. But being sober allows me to manage my illness better and definitely not make it worse!</p><p>Thank you for a really well-written and amusing blog and I echo the sentiments of a previous comment which suggested you were great company to be around!</p><p>Keep safe.</p>

Social Anxiety Disorder does not equal Aspergers

<p>Those who are mentioning a possible diagnosis of Aspergers, please be mindful that what you are reading is written by somebody with (I'm assuming) social anxiety disorder. The lack of ability to interact with others is as perceived by the blogger, not nessecarily by those they socialise with.&nbsp;Overanalysing social situations, being aware that people are judging you and feeling awkward are all part of syndrome... &nbsp;There is a lot of overlap between these conditions. I suspected I was on the autistic spectrum when I was at my worst with social anxiety and I now realise that is probably not the case.&nbsp;</p><p>To the blogger - thank you. Your blog thoroughly amused me, and I can relate the experiences you wrote about. If I were in your position I would probably just say 'I don't drink'. Maybe 'it's for health reasons', is enough? They don't need to know if those are physical or mental. And if they push for more information, (assuming they are an acquaintance rather than a good friend) then they deserve to hear every last detail about your illness. :P</p>

Alcohol

<p>&nbsp;</p><p>Hi am glad u raised this i have the same problem i love to drink but makes my depression &nbsp;worse</p><p>and i often say i am Antibictocs to aviod saying it makes me depressed even more&nbsp;</p><p>and i do find it is sometimes just easier to have a drink so don't look like the werid one :(</p>

What's wrong with talking about Star Trek?

<p>I haven't drunk alcohol properly since I was 18 (I'm now 30) so I can't comment on how it would effect my depression. A bad experience at a friends party put me off and I haven't really been back since. I totally understand what you mean about the questions, everyone looks at me like I'm a complete freak when I tell them I don't drink. It was fine when I was dating a man who also didn't drink, but the guy after was very controlling and practically forced me to try it again (way to go to help with the depression there!!).</p><p>I am lucky that being "straight edge" (meaning you put no toxins into your body - drink, drugs, caffeine etc) is "part of the scene" so I have some excuse, but it doesn't protect you from the new people you meet.</p><p>All I can say is don't let other people make you feel uncomfortable for it, they're not worth it. Stick with the nerds and freaks, we welcome our own kind :)</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p>

I, too, rarely drink. For

<p>I, too, rarely drink. For several reasons. When people ask as directly as 'why aren't you drinking?' (which annoys me - what businees is it of theirs?) I tend to respond with 'because I'm not'. There's nothing wrong with an obtuse answer to a rude question. If they ask in a slightly less abrupt manner I tend to respond along the lines of 'I choose not to, generally'. Or, if they're good looking, 'I'm a cheap date'. There's no shame in being a non drinker. Perhaps I'm lucky that my social group has never put me under any pressure to drink.</p><p>Here are my reasons:</p><p>a) I'm usually the driver, now I have my license back (see point c))</p><p>b) I don't like the feeling of being drunk</p><p>c) I was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2010 that is well controlled by medication, but said medication and alcohol don't mix well. They're not counter indicative per se, I don't make myself at higher risk of seizure, I just get crushingly tired. I surrendered my license to the DVLA of my own accord when I had my first seizure and have recently remained seizure free for over a year so got it back.</p><p>d) I don't like behaving like a tit in the particular way excess alcohol makes one bahave like a tit</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p>

depression and social anxiety

<p>How can alcohol be classified as depression and social anxiety er you drink because you want to drink, you’re an alcoholic because you drink to much and the only reason you suffer anxiety and get stressed is because your on a comedown duo to drinking so much, this is just another way alcoholics make excuses for there drinking habits. But I’m not saying some people who truly suffer from depression and anxiety sometimes turn to drink to help them cope but to classify depression and anxiety for reasons to drink is wrong.</p><p>drinking dosen't help you feel better it just makes you feel wors. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p>

Thank You

<p>Thanks for sorting that all out for me. I'm an alcoholic because I drink too much and the only reason I suffer any anxiety is due to a comedown??&nbsp;</p>

Confused

<p>It’s not helpful to malign alcoholism. It’s not 'just drinking too much', it’s a valid problem, like any addiction or compulsion. Also, alcoholism, anxiety &amp; depression often occur comorbidly - alcohol is a drug that alters brain chemistry &amp; people self-medicate as they don’t want to continue to feel the way their illness makes them feel. Often they may choose this path out of shame, loneliness or fear.</p><p>The blogger didn't say that her depression &amp; anxiety were a reason to drink. She said that drinking left her feeling especially down &amp; this is why she no longer drinks. I take it you're not a neurologist or brain chemist, so how can you say what causes the resultant low? Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain, so of course adding other chemicals to the mix can result in differing side effects to someone with 'normal' brain chemistry. Also, alcohol affects the efficiency of anti-depressants.</p><p>The people suggesting that the blogger may have Asperger’s; making a diagnosis based on little information is not wise. Whilst you may see similarities between the conditions, awkwardness in social situations does not automatically put someone on the autistic spectrum. That is why we have trained professionals to make a diagnosis based on the full picture.</p>

Alcohol is not classified as

<p>Alcohol is not classified as depression, but a DEPRESSANT aka it makes you feel depressed in the days following consumption of large amounts. Not everyone drinks because they want to in the way you seem to be saying. Some people feel so awkward trying to fit in and the false persona of a fun, conversational person that alcohol gives is infitely preferable to feeling like you are being judged. The depressing feelings are not just from drinking too much or a comedown from being an alcoholic. Alcoholics are PHYSICALLY dependant upon alcohol and will drink all the time, not just at situations where they feel uncomfortable. I find your comment extremely judgemental and that is not what this blog and indeed time to change is meant to be about.</p><p>Perhaps you should actually research mental health in more depth before you attack people.</p>

Re: Unhelpful comment

Perhaps you'd like to go back a reread this article then alter your comment accordingly as it bears no resemblance to a reflect on the original (and might I add brilliantly witty and honest) piece of writing.

Alcohol and anxiety and depression

<p>l stopped drinking alcohol 3 years ago as knew it just did not help my ocd or anxiety and it reacted badly with my medication. I am glad I stopped but do find it hard to socialise now as I am anxious when I go out and alcohol gave me a false sense of confidence.That's what it was though false! It is such an inbuilt part of our society that 'going out' involves drinking alcohol and some of my friends found it difficult when I stopped, but mostly friends are supportive. I have been doing lots of work on myself through therapy and group work and I realised that I used alcohol in a negative way. If I want to help myself to get better then I need to do so with a clear head!</p>

You sound like fun to me!

<p>Star trek and cats sounds like perfectly reasonable conversation to me :) but then I am bi-polar and more than a bi of a weirdo! I used to be similar in terms of drinking to relieve anxiety and it's taken me a few years to get past it. I generally tend not to bother going to situations that make me so anxious these days as I would much rather not have to explain either my reluctance to drink much, or end up plastered and feeling depressed for the next 2 days.</p><p>I have learnt a great way to stop people when they ask why you're not drinking is to say you're on antibiotics. A bit of a white lie, but so much easier than discussing your bowels or mental health!</p><p>Thanks for this blog, it made me feel less alone in my social skills (or lack thereof) :)</p>

TBH...

<p>You sound very interesting and funny (in the good way) to me. I think the vast majority of people are just ignorant dumb so and so's; not worth wasting your time on. But then that could just be my 'armour' for dealing with my own social anxiety. </p> <p>Over the 15 odd years I've been an adult interacting in pub's, parties and alike I have managed to form some close bonds with like mined individuals. Rather than blaming myself for my social anxiety I deflect that on to other people 'who are clearly ignorant, stupid, and rude people' who to be quite honest I wouldn't really want to wast my time on.</p> <p>I guess what I do is I treat them with the same level of contempt or disinterest as they have shown to me. I have found it to be quite liberating and something that has helped me come out of my shell with each passing year. Still even now I still have bought of depression and social anxiety.</p> <p>Another form of armour is to put myself on a pedestal, as it where. I have an estimated IQ in excess of 130 (not Mensa). I have other learning difficulties that where identified when I went to college and an form of IQ test was used to astatine weather my GCSE results where a fair representation of my academic potential. They where not (mostly D and bellow) </p><p>(continued bellow).... </p>

This I think was the first

<p style="margin-bottom: 0cm;">This I think was the first major brake I had that gave me the confidence to start coming out of my shell more. As all thought out secondary school I had been the victim of bulling; from just being the 'think kid' to being beaten up in the locker room at PE for being the weedy kid that refused to grovel. On that note I think that has helped me quite a bit as well (not the bullying). Despite my depression and anxiety, I have always had quite a strong stubborn or prideful streak.</p><p style="margin-bottom: 0cm;">&nbsp;</p> <p>On reflection of my IQ I discovered this means I am in the top 2% of the worlds smartest people (that’s still means 100,000's of people as smart or smarter than me). It's no wonder that I have difficulty identifying and socialising with 'normal' people. A large chunk of people are just not on the same weave length as me just based on IQ let alone all the other social variables. I have no idea if IQ and social anxiety go hand in hand... most likely not but again it's another defence mechanism I use to keep my confidence up and not to be to put off when things do go south.</p><p>(continued bellow)...</p>

I don't know if defection is

<p>I don't know if defection is the real answer, but it has been a faithful crutch for me. Just typing this has made me realise how much I rely on it to keep my spirits up and to help me keep trying to overcome my social anxiety. As I said I have no idea if this is a good way to go but it has helped me. I probably should seek professional help? But I've always been very self sufficient on that score not wanting to show weakness... which I'm sure is a hang up from my days at secondary school.</p> <p>Is social anxiety a 'nature' issue or is it an issue arisen from 'nurture' or both? Seeing this on Facebook has made me look at this and realise that I have suffered and for the most part come to terms with this. I'd have never really considered that it could me a mental health issue in its own right. <br><br>Should I seek professional help or should I carry on as I have been? I feel I have moved forwards as I've grown and matured... but I still do suffer with this when dealing with unfamiliar people and strangers. Like at work training sessions with the horrid group 'getting to know each other' games and alike.</p> <p>Anyway waffling on as it is... my train of thought has dribble out on to the page long enough! Thank you so much for posting this blog as it has made me look at my own issues with more openness and clarity and help me identify that I most likely am suffering from some form of social anxiety and depression. </p>

Alcohol, depression and social anxiety,

<p>I have just read this blog, and saw something very familar in it.. actually its like looking at myself. &nbsp;I have never been socially adept, I plod along and aquire people they seem to like my completely random, unfunny and quite often sick sense of humour. &nbsp;The things that come out of my mouth at times you would not believe, and they are out there before I can process them, and some people look at me like Im sick in the head or something. so now I just try to keep my mouth shut but there are times I fail and shock people around me.</p><p>&nbsp;</p>

Depression and Social Anxiety

<p>I have all too often experienced the misery and anxiety of both social occasions and the day after I've had a drink. &nbsp;I however am lucky in the sense that if I am not drinking and someone asks me why, I usually get away with the excuse of "Designated Driver," but on occasions I too have used the Jippy tummy excuse, which doesn't always go down too well. &nbsp;One excuse which worked for me and has also worked with other people is to say that you tend to experience negative hangovers the next day even after just one drink. &nbsp;It puts people off straight away and you can then change the subject very quickly. &nbsp;</p><p>It's still all too clear that talking about your mental health in a social situation is still very taboo. &nbsp;I was told by my employer not to tell the class I was teaching about my mental health disability and to behave as if there was nothing wrong. &nbsp;As long as HR knew about it that was all that mattered. &nbsp;However after 6 months of bullying by the class I had no other choice than to sit down and tell them about it. &nbsp;What surprised me was that the students turned around and said that if they had known this from the start they would never had treated me the way they did. &nbsp;Being honest and open with this group from the start could have saved me a lot of pain and anguish from months of continuous abuse and allegations of malpractice in the classroom, but the staff felt that students shouldn't be told these things.</p><p>&nbsp;</p>

Why aren't you drinking

<P>I'm going out for birthday "drinks" tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to seeing my lovely friends and a great night out.&nbsp; However, I'm slowly recovering from one of the worst depressive episodes I've ever had.&nbsp; I'll have may be a couple of drinks but that will be it.&nbsp; With the anti-depressive medication and the fact I've chosen to drive I'm happy to stick to this.&nbsp; What I'm worried about is the question why aren't you drinking?&nbsp; After a recent gathering I was asked so many times and when I answered because of medication it was a complete conversation killer - it is a real shame that people's attitudes don't change&nbsp; towards mental health.&nbsp; And I can't see things changing in the near future at all.</P>

You could be talking about me

I identify with everything you said (especially the Star Trek bit). I too have IBS and depression and find it very hard to avoid the alcohol question. Most people think I'm weird simply because of the fact that I don't drink alcohol. I find people get very uncomfortable when I talk about my IBS, but strangely they are more uncomfortable talking about depression. I have resigned myself to having very few friends and no meaningful relationships for the rest of my life.

Drink! Award!

<p><em>It has several forms, much like some sort of terrifying Lovecraftian elder god</em></p><p>Anyone who can squeeze in a gag about the Old Ones and a cocktail is a-ok in my book. :-)</p><p>Yes, the 'why are you not drinking?' question. I get that too, although it bothers me less these days. I've never been a big drinker and if I do drink, I tend to get drunk quickly, sober up quickly and then get very hungry. Cue a walk to the nearest chippy etc and 'no' or 'later' are not the right answers ;-)</p><p>I found that by not drinking, I'd enjoy the evening just as much as if I did drink and I'd be able to find my way home / drive if I wanted to. When I started taking the anti-depressants, not drinking wasn't a big problem for me.... although I could quite fancy a Guiness right now. :-)</p><p>Quality blog post, BTW. Thanks for sharing.</p><p>&nbsp;</p>

What an honest, insightful

<p>What an honest, insightful and witty blog! Thanks so much for articulating, and so beautifully, something that is so difficult to talk and be honest about. Once I eventually found the confidence to drink less/none, if asked why I wasnt drinking, I would just say 'I dont feel like it', because actually I didnt- for the precise reason that it would make me firstly out of control anxious and then incredibly depressed. &nbsp;I dont think you saying it doesnt agree with you is dishonest at all - it doesn't agree with you mentally. You don't have to justify yourself to anyone, let alone someone you have only just met, and unless you want to make it a point of the conversation, saying something to that effect is broad enough without going into a huge level of detail.&nbsp;People's rudeness and bigotry astounds me and for people to judge you for not drinking shows how shallow and narrow-minded they are. &nbsp;Given the warmth, intelligence and wit you show in your blog, I can't see that they are worthy of your time and energy and I would urge you to not bother and do the ending of the conversation yourself before they have wasted too much of your time!</p>

Well I wish I'd had your good

<P>Well I wish I'd had your good sense back during my depressed years. I used alcohol to give me a boost, and it did, in the same way that being thrown out of a window gives you a boost.</P> <P>Nowadays I get by with only bouts of mild gloom, but I generally have the sense to think about whether I really want to go out drinking rather than just assuming that it'll be a good idea.</P>

It's time to be yourself

<p>I completely understand your story. I'm 20 years old and I always feel the same way every morning after drinking which lasts a few days... depressed, anxious and full of self hatred and hatred for others. I made a written promise to myself a week ago to stop drinking and look after myself. I broke this promise after meeting an ex boyfriend for dinner and not being able to be strong enough and to admit that I was trying to change and to learn to love myself. After reading your story I feel more inspired and determined to be honest with people and myself that this is not for me. It makes me sad and being a vegan doesn't help and obviously all the B vitamins get sucked out of me after drinking. </p><p>I have the problem that I feel silly about the fact that I'm only 20 and I should being 'having fun' but I don't find it fun at all... really. </p><p>Where do you find the strength to say no?</p>

Star Trek & Orange juice ... bring it on!

<P>I don't drink, never liked the taste or smell of when offer a taste ages back, and not that keen on the idea of something that's been left to bubble away in a vat for goodness knows how long - ugh.</P> <P>Actually, Britvic 55 Apple is good, looks like it could be any drink with a light colour.</P>

No-one should have to explain themselves for not drinking

<p>Thank you for the blog. I admire people who can be open about anxiety/depression issues as I know it is not easy. &nbsp;I can completely relate to drinking to help alleviate with social anxiety – I did that for many years and would usually feel low and depressed afterwards. The reason I finally stopped binge-drinking was after getting chronic fatigue syndrome a few years ago - my body now takes a lot longer to recover after drinking so makes me feel worse physically as well as mentally. </p><p>I find it rude if people comment on the fact I am not drinking as it is none of their business what I choose to drink. If they ask I usually say something like ‘I’m not drinking tonight/at the moment’ and leave it at that. In some situations I might explain that it is for health reasons (perhaps if it’s someone I know better), but I don’t see why it should matter to anyone what I am choosing to drink. &nbsp;I have found that when people ask such questions it usually comes down to their own issues, e.g. their own drinking being out of control. </p><p>I do think the fact that these types of questions are so common shows what an unhealthy attitude there is to alcohol in this country. It is as if a non-drinker is considered abnormal/weird when it is a much healthier lifestyle choice not to drink or to just drink occasionally (not to mention being more interesting company!). No-one should have to explain themselves for choosing not to drink.</p>

Possible confusion about comment

<p>Would just like to point out my earlier comment:</p><p><span>Thanks for sorting that all out for me. I'm an alcoholic because I drink too much and the only reason I suffer any anxiety is due to a comedown??&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>Was in response to a comment (</span><a class="active" href="http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/blog/alcohol-social-anxiety-depression-why-arent-you-drinking#comment-5600">depression and social anxiety</a>)&nbsp;that has now moved in the list of comments and is out of sync. I don't want to be seen as being dismissive or negative about the blog posting, which I enjoyed reading and could really identify with in some areas. In fact I had left a positive comment earlier but I feel my other input may misrepresent me now.</p><p><span>Just wanted to point that out.</span></p><p><span>Cheers,</span></p><p><span>Stephen</span></p>

Great blog, i can relate to

<p>Great blog, i can relate to this completely.&nbsp;It's also really reassuring reading the comments below to see&nbsp;that quite a few people suffer from the same problem! I'm 20 years old and at university, probably the worst possible place to be when trying to abstain from drinking. What I keep in mind when I'm completely sober- dancing&nbsp;awkwardly in a club full of gyrating drunks- is the thought that not only am I not going to have a hang over the next morning, but I'm also not going to be suffering the consequences of drinking&nbsp;my body's weight in what is essentially a depressant. It's just not worth the hassle.</p>

I empathise totally

I'm going to give up drinking simply because it transforms me. I don't feel like I'm an alcoholic in the classic sense. I don't feel compelled to drink all the time. However I do feel like I simply can't control myself . 'My thoughts, my words or my actions' more so than others and it is very destructive to my relationships with other people. I feel like if there is something stupid or offensive to be said. When i've had a drink then I have to be the one to say it. An I simply can't stop myself. Is almost like tourettes. I need to sort it out urgently.

I was like that

Hi, I totally relate, I was like that, same as you I didn't relate as an alcoholic, I even went to a couple of AA meetings, but when I drank I said things that were offensive or rude and I engaged in behaviours that caused me shame guilt and pain, its over 3 years now since I had a drink and I feel so much better, I do miss the social aspect of it but I remind myself that it didn't stop there for me. Hope you find your way.

days after major binge

I suffer with bi-polar and drink a lot, so much so on saturday i binged the whole day on pints and whiskey went to meet a girl friend of mine and was asked to leave two pubs, have no recollection of either pub woke up 300 euro down and paronoid so much, never made to work Monday mates not talking to me, just what to is fucking die, on day 2 of this depressive shit, will have to stop, before i top myself or somebody else does.............

Hello, I'm really sorry to

<p>Hello, I'm really sorry to hear your going through a really tough time. The Samaritans are always available if you need someone to talk to even just for a quick chat. You can call them on&nbsp;08457 90 90 90 or email&nbsp;jo@samaritans.org. Rethink also run an excellent forum if you would like to talk to people who may be going through similar experiences to you:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.rethink.org/talk/">http://www.rethink.org/talk/</a></p>

I can relate

You sound awesome to me. I wish you were my friend.

I can totally relate

I find it quite nice to read that I am not alone in this. I suffer from depression/anxiety and IBS and it is quite an awful combination. I recently became a vegetarian due to my IBS ( I just couldn't digest meat anymore and it left me ill as anything) and I get questioned about it constantly. It is much easier to just make some shit up about me feeling sorry for animals or something along those lines than sit and explain my bowel issues. I do still drink on occasion but I have cut down DRAMATICALLY compared to past years. One main reason is due to the IBS but people dont realise how badly it affects your mood the next day, or the day after that...or the day after. It is safe to say its better to avoid it than to give in for the few hours of numbness you get. For a while i thought I was alone in this but it is quite comforting to see that I am not alone. Thank you for writing this and making me feel slightly more normal.

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