One of David McCartney’s parents had a drinking problem and this led to a lot of uncertainties and unpredictabilities in the family, which in turn resulted in young David developing anxiety and fearful states. Rather than ask for help, he internalised everything.
When he was working as an inner city GP, David became overwhelmed and anxious because he could not get on top of his workload during the day. He found that drinking alcohol when he got home soothed his anxiety. As his drinking increased, he began to ignore the fact that he was drinking as much as some of his patients with drinking problems. He was wearing a suit and coming in to work, so he couldn’t have a problem.
As his drinking increased further, his hobbies and recreational stuff that were important began to just melt off into the background. ‘It got to the stage that unless alcohol was involved I wasn’t interested in doing it.’
A patient asked David if he would see her brother because she was worried he was drinking excessively. After seeing the patient, David dropped in a local shop on his way home. ‘I was standing in the queue with my whisky bottle in the basket when I became aware of someone standing behind me, and I turned to look and it was the sister of the man… I felt such a deep sense of shame.’
David eventually rationalised that the only reason he was drinking so much was that he was too stressed at work. He thought that if he took some time off work he could recover. The only change was that he started to drink in the day. He eventually went to see his GP and, despite his feelings of shame, he told her about his drinking.