From Social Drinking to Stress Relief: A firsthand story of motherhood, anxiety and alcohol misuse
*Published in the May/June Issue of San Antonio Woman Magazine
During my college days I would study hard throughout the week and look forward to “Thirsty Thursdays” at our local bar. Going out with friends and having some laughs over pints of cheap beer was a reward after a week of hard work.
As I grew older, it turned into a nice dinner and bottle of wine with my husband on Friday nights, toasting the successes of the week. Drinking was always a social, celebratory part of my life. It wasn’t until I became a mother that it went from drinking for pleasure to drinking for sanity.
Like so many other moms today, alleviating my daily anxiety and stress with a glass or two of wine became my normal. And throughout the course of five years, a not-so-healthy daily coping habit formed. I knew it needed to change but didn’t know what to do with the anxiety I was attempting to calm, something so many moms struggle with.
Since the day my triplets came home from the hospital in 2013, there’s been a three-ring circus going on in my head.The subconscious social pressures of today’s society and what it means to be a “good mom” are strenuous, and the more I tried to achieve perfection, the more I relied on wine to get me through it all.
Is their homework done? Did I get everyone to school, sports and all other activities on time? Was there at least one serving of fruits and veggies in their diet today? How am I going to manage this meltdown in the middle of the grocery store?!
All these thoughts and a million more swirl in my brain daily, like a “trying to stay on top of it all” tornado. And I’m not alone. Drinking is considerably up among women throughout the nation, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. It’s something my generation celebrates via social media, memes and more. For better or worse, we have normalized it and made it acceptable practice to drink our worries away.
You’ve had a rough day with the kids? “Wine time!” a friend will text. Sat through two sports practices and a back to school night? You deserve a Chardonnay reward.
My light bulb moment for wanting to change my relationship with alcohol was that I was no longer drinking for pleasure, I was consuming it to cope with the anxiety bottling up inside. Once I sought out therapy and was able to take a sober step back and address my motherhood mental health, I was eventually able to reinvent my relationship with wine.
Not a day goes by in a mother’s life where there’s not something to worry or fret about, especially in today’s fast pace world. And for those like myself, who have self-medicated with their favorite varietals or cocktails, it’s never too late to reexamine your relationship with drinking and bring it back to a healthy place; a place of celebration, not struggle.