So this week I am on call at work. This means that from 5.00pm each weekday until 9.00am the following day and all day/night at the weekend, I may be deployed to incidents which my organisation has to attend. This is the first time I have been on call since I stopped drinking.
I have always found being on call really stressful. I had very mixed feelings about the enforced sobriety it involved. Part of me was glad that I had a reason why I absolutely could not drink but at the same time I felt resentful about not being able to choose whether or not to drink (not that I would ever have chosen not to drink but I liked to feel I had a choice !)The week seemed to go on for ages and the weekend seemed endless. No Friday night “treat”. No Saturday evening “fun”. I would sleep really badly for the first few nights until I would be so tired that I would simply crash out. All the time I would be checking my phone. Was it on? Was it charged? Did I have the volume sufficiently high ? Was there any reception? And over and over and over.
I would think constantly about when I would be able to drink. As soon as the week was over, the first thing I would do was to have a drink. The wine would be chilling for several days in anticipation. As I would have two days off in lieu of weekend working there were no limits on the time of day I could start, so it would usually be around midday.
This time, I can already feel the difference. I am carrying on as usual, just making sure I have my phone with me and its switched on. I am not checking it endlessly and last night I slept fine. It’s not a big deal.
Although some of this is down to the fact that generally I am a lot less anxious than I was when I was drinking, it occurred to me that the main reason why I found on call so hard was probably because I was experiencing withdrawal symptoms. The first week of sobriety was awful when I had chosen not to drink and knew that I would probably feel dreadful. I was prepared for that and I nursed myself through with rest, warm baths and reading. No wonder that when I was forced to be sober and had not made the connection between not drinking and my physical and psychological symptoms, I felt horrendous. If only I had known.
But this time is different. In fact, I wouldn’t really mind if I was called out. Perhaps I should be careful what I wish for !