When I speak to people about my sobriety, they imagine either that I am fighting a constant battle against temptation or that I no longer have any thoughts about drinking at all. The reality is somewhere in between. The best way to describe it is through the metaphor of something most of us can relate to - a relationship with an ex-partner, from the initial meet, to the aftermath of the break-up.
If you are going to black-out at 10pm, why not just go home? What's the difference between leaving a party early, and drinking to oblivion early? Either way you are intentionally checking out and not being there anymore. The only difference really is feeling the pressure of expectation. Of being other people's chimp. Performing for drinks and approval.
When I think about Paul Gascoigne I think about his sheer resilience. His determination to provide for those he loved something that has eluded him his entire life. Yes he fell, hard. And he picked himself back up. Countless times. And as it stands he sadly has fallen more times than he has risen. But not because he had it all then threw it away further down the line.
Alcoholism is a pernicious, progressive mental and physical illness which claims thousands of lives every year in the UK. Managing this epidemic has become a political priority, with various solutions proposed that largely rely on limiting the availability of alcohol, upping the price and adding cigarette style warnings to packaging.
As anyone who's ever suffered from clinical depression will tell you, it's an expert at convincing you that your despair is eternal, and destined to oppress you for the rest of your days. And it was when I was in that horrifically black place, staring down the barrel of what I truly believed would only be a lifetime of wretched agony, that my thoughts turned to suicide.