Vomiting, dizziness, light sensitivity, headache, memory loss, fever, aches.
Put any of these symptoms into Google, and you’ll be given an extensive list of nasty diseases you may have. From glandular fever to (always, inevitably) pregnancy, you’ll scare yourself shitless about the illness spreading through your body and paralysing you as you wonder how long you have left to live.
Give me one look at these symptoms though, and I’ll tell you what you have in a split-second:
1. Ill-effects caused by drinking an excess of alcohol.
That’s it. No fancy-named disease to make people feel sorry for you and bring you chocolates – no dramatic exit from this world as you struggle to sign your name on your last will and testament. No, you just drank too many alabama slammers last night. I know WHY I, and other people drink, I just don’t understand how we never follow through with the inevitable statement: “I’m NEVER drinking again.”.
It always seems to be SUCH a good idea at the time.
None of us have a ‘problem’. We get tarred with the brush of ‘youth’ and we’re almost expected to have hangovers. I’ll give you a little run down of my drinking history, although I’m not expecting it to answer any questions.
1. Ready, Steady, GO: I had my first EVER alcoholic drink at 14, on holiday with my father. I’d been begging for months because I wanted to know what it ‘tasted like’. I was bought a Reef (a hideous, orange fizzy alcopop) and was instructed to SIT AT THE TABLE and when you’ve finished it, you’re not allowed to GO OUT OF OUR SIGHT for AT LEAST HALF AN HOUR. It tasted like orange and lemonade and made my head swim for about 30 seconds. I didn’t want to get drunk, I just wanted to experience.
2. The Big One: At 15, I started hanging out with the ‘bad girls’. One evening spent in the park, one of them turned up with a bottle of neat vodka. I can’t remember how much I drank but I do know that I still can’t drink vodka to this day. I experienced my first hangover and also how much I could upset my mother, which was devastating.
3. The Strongbow Years: From 15-17, summers were spent in abandoned fields, each of us clutching a 2ltr bottle of Strongbow. It was the in-between. We were growing up, we were drinking because it was a party and we were drinking STRONGBOW because we were 16, without jobs and we couldn’t get into pubs yet.
4. Turning 18: Being 18 was a massive buzz for all of about two weeks. I could get into CLUBS. Drinking reverted back to binging like in ‘the big one’, as all we would do on the weekend is drink huge amounts in a few short hours to get as drunk as possible because WE WERE 18.
5. Growing Up: But am I a grown up? I’ve discovered the beauty of beer gardens (read: daytime drinking), going to the bar and ordering a coke because of my early starts, and even the ‘just one drink’ rule. But more often than not the one drink flicks a switch inside which says ‘might as well’.
It’s not just me. My friends and I can sit together with our ‘one drink’ and all state loudly: “I am DEFINITELY not going to Barcadia”. Fast-forward 45 minutes and we are all stumbling out the door and the cycle begins again – with me grinding pelvis-first on my OH whilst shouting over his shoulder “GO ON THEN, one more”, to my friend at the bar. To waking up in the morning and thinking “I am NEVER drinking again.”
And I honestly couldn’t tell you why. I wonder if it’s a confidence thing. I often find myself loose-tongued and saying things to people that I’d probably not say sober. They usually appreciate what I say too. Does that mean though, if I were to say (tactfully) what I honestly thought to people, that I would not need to drink? Probably not.
I promise you I am thinking about this in-depth and worrying about everyone’s drinking habits, but I’m also looking at the clock and it’s almost time to meet my friends for some wine-fuelled karaoke. AND SO THE CYCLE BEGINS.
P.S. Would I be able to sing Britney’s version of ‘I Love Rock and Roll’ whilst seductively swaying without a glass of wine in my hand? Probably not. I think we’ve found our answer.