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Masking my Pain with alcohol

by Gale (43) from Gloucestershire

TRIGGER WARNING: Alcohol Addiction.

I believe I am neurodivergent.  In reading about hypermobility Ehlers-Danlos syndromes hEDS from my connections at  SEDSConnective, I definitely have some of the symptoms. Neurodivergence seems to keep coming up. I have an ADHD assessment in July but on top of this I'm also a recovering alcoholic.


I believe I was destined to have ‘as you are going to struggle socially, emotionally and physically you might as well be addicted to a substance that will take all your pain and worries away!’

I struggled from birth with feeding, physical ailments and coping with noise. My birth photo is of me with hands covering my ears! Sadly I was given alcohol at age four.



It worked too for several decades. Alcohol lubricated my mind and body in such a way that I felt I fitted in and belonged. I felt happy, confident and invincible. Of course it didn't last. By age 39, I was a very broken person living a destroyed life. My legs kept giving way underneath me. I figured it was alcoholic neuropathy. Doubly incontinent. Auditory hallucinations. I was suicidal and had a plan. My behaviour became strange to others. How I interpreted the world was very warped.

My manager thought I had compassion fatigue which nurses often get when they become so overwhelmed from the suffering of others that they become numb to it. I was working with the homeless community at the time. I was so full of anger and hate I wanted to blow up the planet! Work became a toxic environment and I didn't feel supported or understood. I felt that other neurodivergent employees were dismissed too.


Luckily, I found help. I got sober, I got a therapist and six months into sobriety I noticed things about myself that were similar to autistic traits. I remembered similar things from childhood. Social anxiety, a very blunt black and white way of talking & thinking along with other communication issues. Executive function issues such as an inability to plan, prioritise, impulse control, emotional dysregulation. I was a brilliant multi tasker when I was drinking everyday. My document recording was impressive to managers but sober those skills vanished. I stopped being able to cope in an office environment. Noise and chaos made me go into panic.



Physical changes happened too. I'm no longer incontinent. My legs no longer give way but my knees and ankles are unreliable and I remember having a similar issue in childhood with near miss dislocations. My skin went back to being silky and sensitive. I had a high pain threshold whilst drinking because I was permanently numb but in sobriety scratching an itch stung and blood pressure tests are absolutely excruciating. 


Now nearly three years sober I have achy joints,extreme fatigue. I sleep 16 plus hours a day which prevents me from working, even from home. I've always had allergies to dust, pollen and certain makeup alcohol numbed the suffering of itching for a while but made me get pins and needles instead. It's very hard to unpick what is alcohol damage and what isn't. It gets in the way of a diagnosis if you drink. Also my childhood bladder problems were down to being abused and trauma can cause psychological symptoms such as emotional numbness so it's been hard to tell what causes what and I am still discovering this.


If you are concerned about any of the issues here you can contact us on or the 12 steps rehab programme on




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