I am well aware this might be a controversial or uncomfortable topic for some - apologies.
About 18 months ago I went through a period of very poor emotional well-being; ultimately following a series of difficult weekends at home I self referred into an online NHS cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) service with quite severe depression. I was at the higher end of severity for what they could handle but being very motivated to engage with the CBT I began to put the sessions into practice and was able to rebuild my own state of mind and relationships with family. Ultimately I think the experience has given me greater insight and resilience and strengthened our marriage but I am always mindful of potential triggers for the spiral to start again.
Excess alcohol is certainly one of those triggers. At that time my interest in wine was out of control and acted as a form of escapism. I would usually drink half a bottle in a night, decant the other half and drink it the next night - doing this two day pattern almost continuously week after week. I rarely felt explicitly hungover but in retrospect I can see that the buildup of what is ultimately a depressant, combined with environmental stressors, had a profound impact. Most of what I was drinking was red southern Rhône or similar blends at 14.5%+. Unit wise I was probably averaging 24 - 28 per week which was high without necessarily being at a level which would on its own terms be viewed as highly problematic.
I have considered carefully whether I should stop drinking altogether. Programmes like One Year No Beer specifically cite mood and family relationships as improvements in those who quit. I have decided not to quit because I do get a huge amount of pleasure from my interest in wine but I have a two glass rule, ensure I have non drinking days and use the eto. I have also found my tastes changing and will less frequently reach for those heavy southern Rhônes - and as I drink more lighter wines I find I pick up the warmth of alcohol more readily when I do go back to them so am more careful with what I buy and drink. I know I am walking a fine line between a relaxing and pleasant glass and something else (and when I describe a wine as dangerously quaffable I really do mean it!) but at the moment this feels like the right thing. If I needed to stop drinking altogether for a personal or professional reason I would do so without any hesitation.
I don’t know why I’m sharing this except that I feel it is ground we haven’t really covered and whilst this is not written with any expectation that others want to share, I am sure there are others here are cognisant of the impact of alcohol on their mood and have taken similar steps or may be considering doing so. Mental health has a higher profile than ever but is under ever increasing strain - I think it’s important that we acknowledge the complex relationship between alcohol and wellbeing.