Blog: Caroline Mabey

The comic on going sober for October

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As a comedian, I have one of the few jobs where it’s considered OK to drink at work. Most nights I’m surrounded by drunk/drinking people, adrenaline is flowing and it’s not unusual for me to have a couple of shandies (or worse) to take the edge off. I’ve never considered myself to have a problem with alcohol, but I have had problems with tiredness, depression, anxiety and memory. When I heard about the Go Sober For October campaign, I realised that I don’t monitor my booze intake at all and it seemed like an interesting challenge.

Day 1

It is the first day of enforced sobriety and it is HELL. As soon as I remembered I was off the booze, the cravings started. I have recently discovered that I like New Zealand sauvignon blanc. I have always found wine and its genres intimidating, and buying it has always been a terrifying lucky dip/Russian roulette. But now, as soon as I figured out what I really want out of life, it has been cruelly snatched away by Macmillan Cancer Support.

Tonight at a gig I was given a token, to exchange for ANY DRINK. My toughest test to date (and it’s still only day one). I chose a fancy lemon tonic water. I could have had a Laphroaig.

I’ve been sober before, but never like this. Symptoms include: a raging headache, shooting pains in my sinuses and the beginnings of a truly horrifying self-awareness.

Day 2

Today I was still thinking about silky gins, whiskys and wines intermittently. But I got a lot more of the things on my list done today than I usually do. Sure, I caught myself a couple of times staring blankly at strangers’ Facebook pages, but that’s just a natural part of being alive. Somehow I was closing deals all day. I was going all Glengarry Glenross on my own ass.

It’s not as if I normally drink every day/night. As far as I know. I mean, I don’t keep a chart, so I suppose it’s possible that I do. But I don’t. I am just enjoying the feeling of taking on a challenge. Which is most unlike me.

Maybe this will be the one simple thing that will save me from toppling into the abyss? After all, I’ve tried everything else, except pulling myself together.

Day 4

Literally can’t remember anything about today. Abstinence-induced black out?

Day 5

One of the things I was hoping to get out of this challenge is an improvement in my skin. I have a photo shoot coming up and that has been a big motivator in cutting out the booze. Very disappointed that I am not yet glowing.

Day 8

I woke up feeling positive. This has never happened before. Happy and busy all day but ended up very grumpy for no reason. Absolutely furious with my boyfriend/pretend-husband for making a sandwich “too loudly”.

So: mood swings, more up than down (which is unusual), but the down is indefensible (not that unusual).

Headache’s gone.

Day 9

I watched an entire episode of Killing Eve with a slice of onion very close to my head. And I now realise the stench of it seriously impeded my enjoyment.

Is lack of alcohol improving my sense of smell or making me more lazy?

Feeling: martyred.

Day 11

Woke up happy again. Weird. Skin – no visible changes. And I’ve moisturised. TWICE.

Day 14

I am starting to convince myself that abstinence is having a really positive effect on me already, even though it’s only been two weeks. I FEEL like I’m more productive, positive and I am fully intending to be better-looking once the skin effects kick in.

However I forgot my computer log-in details for the first time ever and spent one and a half hours on a helpline before I suddenly remembering it.

I have tried so many things over the last few years to try and get my energy levels up. Finally SOMETHING SEEMS TO BE WORKING.

Although maybe my tired dip is just happening later in the day? Instead of 3.30 school pick-up being my energy crash, I am now losing the plot at about 6 or 7pm. If I can push it all the way to midnight will the curse be lifted? Or will tiredness just attack when I’m already asleep?

To be honest I am a bit disturbed by my incessant happiness flare-ups. The last few days I have been walking around laughing to myself and smiling at strangers (even while I was being sarcastic to the man on the Apple support line).

Memory: FAIL
Energy: Improving
Everything else: BIG WIN

Caroline Mabey is performing her stand-up show Caroline Mabey Leaves the Room Slowly as part of the Women in Comedy Festival at Tribeca at 8.15pm on 24 October

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