05 April 2020
An interesting read from The Independent
I read this interesting article from The Independent this week, called “Let’s try ‘Dry Covid’ – lockdown is the time to kick our national alcohol habit for good.”
I’ve often struggled with the advertising and easy availability of alcohol in our country. It’s one of the many reasons I struggled both to identify my drinking problem, but also to do anything about it. Seeing so many other people enjoy a drink and use alcohol for such a variety of reasons, like socialising or relaxing, it is easy to think it is a normal thing to do. Once you’re on the slippery slope you can struggle to see the blurry line between what a ‘normal’ drinker is and what a ‘problem’ drinker is. If you’re like I was, you’ll also look for any excuse to make yourself feel normal.
Once you’ve identified that problem and you choose to do something about it, you find your perspective changing. While you might not change yourself, your outlook certainly will. For someone who relied on alcohol on a daily basis for many years, once I removed it from my life, I had this great big gap that needed filling. I needed to relearn a lot of things, from talking to people to how I behaved in certain situations. It was much harder than I thought it would be.
In the background is the little voice that tells you that you are missing out if you don’t drink, that everyone else drinks, that it is normal to drink and so much fun, and to be honest, what else will you do with your time? I really struggled with that. I felt abnormal from the minute I stopped drinking. I felt like people would notice, like I had a neon sign above my head making me stand out from the crowd. I didn’t know how to ‘be’ anymore and I didn’t like not fitting in. I didn’t know how to socialise, and didn’t want to, but more importantly because most of the drinking I had done had been at home, I didn’t know how to be at home either. I couldn’t relax and I couldn’t focus for a long time. If I had gone through this lockdown when I was drinking I would have been unbearable. There is no way I could have bought enough wine to have lasted me, even for one week I would have needed over 14 bottles. I would have been visiting the shops everyday, and it would have been essential travel for me to do that. I am so thankful that I am not like that anymore.
Hamilton, the author of this article states that sales of alcohol during this crisis have already risen by 50%, a figure I had previously heard on the news. While I suppose some of it can be justified, for example, if we are unable to go to restaurants, it is likely that some of the expense is due to food and drink being purchased at home to replace what would have been eaten out. It is also possible that some has been bought in bulk in order to stock pile for the future, and therefore sales will even out as people are able to get back to normal. However, as Hamilton also says, the World Health Organisation also advises that drinking should not be used as a coping mechanism throughout this time. I would argue that we shouldn’t be using it as a coping mechanism at any time, but that is probably the benefit of hindsight talking.
Perhaps now would be a good time to try going without, to slow down and take the time to abstain? I’ve read other articles that suggest lockdown isn’t so different from the early days of recovery so it might be a good time to start. For me I always found that despite my good thoughts and efforts, it was near impossible to not stop at a shop on the way home for a few bottles if I didn’t have much at home. Not being able to shop removes one argument, although I know it would have been very difficult for me, and probably made me quite bad tempered. On the good side, I did go into social hibernation for much of the first three years of my sobriety. I didn’t want to go out and look different, or feel different, or be questioned, the list was endless really, so it was easier to stay at home. Our lockdown provides much the same basis, but without the need to make excuses. It’s just a chance to batten down the hatches and see how things are when we come out the other side.
Of course, like I did, many people will probably question whether they even have a problem. I’d say this. If you can’t do lockdown without drinking then maybe, just maybe you should have a closer look. Maybe this is the opportunity to stop something before it runs away with you.
Take care everyone, thank you for reading.
Here’s the link to the article.
Running with Barn.
When I used to drink my eating habits weren’t great. I often joked that I’d prefer to drink wine than eat given the choice, but it was more than a joke, it was the truth. I hate admitting that, but it’s the truth and my blog is about the truth, so there it is. As my anxiety and my drinking increased I found eating harder and harder and over time lost a lot of weight. Most people say they lose weight when they stop, but that wasn’t the case for me. I guess all in all I’ve put on about three stone, but the difference is, when I look back at photos of me before, I don’t look well and now, while honestly I do weigh more than I’d like, I know I am healthier on the inside and the outside.
I made excuses when I first stopped drinking, I let myself eat anything and everything I wanted to, because I was replacing wine, and it was fine in my book. I was allowed to have treats, because nothing could be as bad for me as wine was. I was also meant to be being kind to myself, and I thought extra treats were part of that. A little while passed and soon I was expecting our little man Stanley. I didn’t use that as an excuse, I ate well, but not excessively.
I think now though, that I’ve let it get a little bit out of hand. I wouldn’t say that I’ve replaced one addiction with another, although I think my personality is very much like that. I’ve always been a little bit ‘all or nothing’ with things. I am a little bit concerned about my sugar intake now though, I certainly craved it in the early days, but while I hoped it would wear off over time, I think I have just become accustomed to it. The thing I struggle with is sugary treats. Mostly biscuits. If I make a cup of tea in the afternoon and I’m tired I can quite easily demolish a whole packet of bourbons or similar. The problem is, that happens a fair bit. After a day at work, I’ll come home and if Stanley is tired, we’ll sit down for a bit together. He sometimes falls asleep, and that is fatal if I have a packet of biscuits nearby, because I just pick. One after the other and before I know it, a fair few have gone. I always regret it afterwards. I know it isn’t good for me. I know I’d be a faster runner if I didn’t eat biscuits like I do, but it’s hard. Just like with the wine, I tell myself, “Just the one”, but it seldom is. It’s frustrating because I eat pretty well otherwise. All day long I’ll snack very little, maybe on fruit, and I’ll have a salad everyday for lunch, but then I let myself down in the afternoon.
Oh and then there’s the Coke. I’ve replaced my evening wines with Diet Coke. That’s the thing I’ll panic buy now instead of the wine. I get anxious if there isn’t some in the house, because, “What else will I drink?!” I drink water and tea all day, but in the evening, with dinner I have to have something different. So now it’s a couple of cans of coke. Bottles don’t work for me, I quite like the ritual of popping a can open. I guess it’s replace filling my glass up. Just like the wine, I tell myself I’ll cut down, but the thing is, I’ve learned, I’m not very good at the whole moderation thing. It’s not so bad I guess, I know from experience that there is a lot worse I could be doing, but it just feels like I’m letting myself down a bit. Of course there are those out there that say not to worry about it, but the more I think about it, the more I think I should tackle it now, before I get older and it all gets harder to change my ways.
I’m seriously thinking about trying to cut out sugar. But… it seems like it will be a lot of hard work, and I’m not sure that I’ve got the energy for that at the moment. But maybe I’m just making excuses? God knows I did that for long enough when I was trying to stop drinking. Maybe I should just bite the bullet and see if I can do it? It can’t be harder than giving up alcohol can it?
Thanks as always for reading!
Looking forward to more freedom again soon!
I’m seeing a lot about homeschooling right now. I know that times are difficult and that children are mostly all at home for the foreseeable future, but am I the only one who thinks that homeschooling them right now is not vital? I’ve been invited to loads of Facebook groups trying to provide ideas of resources I can use to educate the kids during their time in confinement, but to be honest, I’m not really sure that I agree.
For me, it seems more important to talk to the kids, to spend time with them, and to let them know what is going on, even if my little Stanley has got a bit confused and thinks that the ‘nasty bug’ outside is actually a ladybird. He even showed it to me in a book the other day! But seriously, I think that time spent together is perhaps more valuable. Our kids are going to remember how we dealt with this crisis when they look back in on it in the future. I’m not sure that they are going to remember English and Maths lessons in the same way. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be doing things with our kids, that isn’t what I mean at all. I just think that actually, sharing books, playing outside in the garden, doing board games or puzzles and cooking together are more valuable at the moment.
Education is so important, but all the children out there are in a similar boat, so it’s not like it’s just a few who are getting behind at the moment. Schools are setting homework or tasks, and that in some ways gives the children a focus, and something to give some structure to the day. However, as parents, we are generally not our children’s teachers, even those qualified as teachers, and sometimes by trying to create that sort of relationship we can instead create stress and confusion. For me, I don’t think we need to put much more on our young people right now. Even the brightest of children aren’t going to understand the full potential of this sort of crisis and I feel we need to give them stability in whatever way we can.
Our two year old has experienced so much change recently, on the outside he looks fine, but he isn’t quite himself. How can he be though? He has gone from regularly attending nursery, seeing his friends and staff, coming to work with me in the afternoons and seeing his grandparents most days to being stuck in the house day after day, without even taking his brother to running practice. Not only that but his brothers and sister aren’t going to school, college or work and neither is his Dad. All our routines have gone out the window so it must be weird for him, and hard to make sense of. He’s okay, don’t get me wrong, but he knows something is different and it has been unsettling for him. He isn’t even allowed to go shopping if his Dad or I go. I wanted to make the most of us all being at home and give him the final push he needed with potty training, but in reflection, it isn’t so important. It stresses him out, and I don’t want our time together to be like that. There is always another day for all those things, so it can wait.
Joe popped out to work on his car for a few minutes today. He wasn’t anywhere public, but on our drive, before anyone thinks we might be breaking the rules. What is nice was Barn stopping on the way back from his daily run to talk to him, and getting roped into helping. As brothers they are four years apart. Four years isn’t a lot, except when you are 14 and 18. They’ve grown in different ways as they have got older and don’t share so many interests, or so much time as they did when they were younger. Looking out the window, their Dad caught them laughing together, for me, that is more valuable than any academic lesson if you know what I mean.
Life can be too short. The news is showing us that every day, wherever you live. Things are hard enough right now - our kids need love and to know they are safe. As safe as they can be at least when we are facing something like this. Lessons will occupy them, but so will spending time with them and fun and games, even if we can’t go out as much as we’d like.
Take care and stay safe everyone.
Fun in the sunshine on Bodmin Moor a few weeks ago.
A few weeks ago when we were still allowed to drive to places for exercise we went up to Bodmin Moor for a walk. It was a Sunday, and the sun was shining, despite the March weather not being very warm. It was Mother’s Day and one of the few days that we had all the kids together in one place. From memory, Joe was supposed to be staying out with some friends but it had been cancelled at the last minute due to all the Covid problems although it was before everyone was taking it as seriously as they are now. It almost seems like another world looking back on it!
We drove up to a quiet place, somewhere we could walk without coming across too many other people. It’s not that we’re anti-social, we just like our own space, and we were lucky that we were only sharing our space with the cows that wandered freely.
Miley our black Labrador had a lovely stretch, smelling all the smells that were different to home, and trying to trip us all over as she ran laps on her extender lead. In the distance we could see a farmer feeding some sheep and there were also a couple of riders with their horses making their way across the moor too. Other than that, we were alone. We made our way to some rocks, it wasn’t meant to be a hike, just a nice walk together, making the most of one of the first weekends in a long time where we were together without other demands on our time.
Coming to a natural rock formation Lee and I sat, the rock warm from the sun and fortunately sheltered from the wind. It was such a simple thing to do, but it just felt amazing, feeling the sun charging up my Vitamin D as the sun shone down on my face. It was very peaceful.
The kids all played hide and seek, enjoying the freedom and space they had in the sunshine. Watching them play with Stanley and hearing him giggle was wonderful. Katie is an art student at college, and had managed to sign out one of the specialist cameras to use over the weekend, so she wandered off to take some photos. For a long time she stood, taking photos of an inquisitive cow. It wasn’t until Katie moved, quite some time later, when from a bush at Katie’s feet moved and a calf sprang up and ran to it’s mother. It was such a funny sight to see, and crazy to think Katie had been so close, and she hadn’t even not noticed it there!
Trying to look on the bright side, it’s nice to be forced into time together, but I am really looking forward to the time when we can get outside and enjoy our time with the freedom to spend it where we want to. We’re lucky to have a garden to enjoy, it isn’t the biggest, but I know it is more than a lot of people have. I’m certainly looking forward to days at the beach again, and I know for one I won’t take it for granted, regardless of the weather.
This lockdown is hard, it’s strange for us all, but keep going everyone. With any luck, soon it’ll be a distant memory and everything should be going back to normal.
Take care, and thank you for reading.
Enjoying the Cornish sun a few weeks ago.
As you may know my husband and I have four kids, Joe is 18, Katie 16, Barn 14 and Stanley is 2. Much as I’d like to say they don’t know about my drinking problem, it would be silly to say that. Of course they know, three of the four of them lived here with me right through it. In recent years I’ve spoken to them honestly and openly about it. It wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but it was certainly a good thing to do. As a mum I want to be loved and cared about, I don’t want to seem less than perfect in their eyes, but it was important that I spoke to them as I don’t like secrets either. I wasn’t sure how to go about it to be honest, I didn’t know if I should bring it up, and because I didn’t know how to, I didn’t. One by one they came to me though, and we talked about everything. I’ve always had a policy that if they are mature enough to be able to ask me something, then I will do my best to answer. I have never wanted to brush them off with any subject, but of course, as this was about me it was a bit harder. Barn was the first one to bring it up one day were out on our own in the car, Katie the second and in the end I had to approach Joe. It wasn’t something I necessarily wanted to do, as I didn’t want to blow the topic out of proportion, but I also didn’t want him to be the one out of the loop so to speak. Whereas the others asked questions, Joe was more dismissive, and it made me sad to think how much he probably remembered that I hadn’t realised. I’d been blinkered to it, and thought the kids had been protected, and of course, although I never put them at any harm, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t see me begin to rely on drinking.
I’ve tried to remain as honest as I can be with the kids. I want them to know that they can talk to me if they need to, and not just about this, but anything. I also want them to be aware, because it is thought that addictions can be genetic, I don’t want them to begin to rely on something and end up in a situation like I did.
I don’t preach to my kids. I’ve never told them not to drink. I have however told them to be careful. Joe goes out clubbing with his friends, he sees our neighbours in the local pub, which is something I have not done in a long time, and sometimes he does wake up with a sore head. But, he doesn’t drink every week. We don’t have alcohol in the house any more, well, actually somewhere there are a couple of bottles of beer that we won in a raffle. It seemed wasteful to throw it away, so I brought it home and gave it to Joe. That was last summer and I think it is still in a cupboard. He doesn’t drink at home and has the attitude to drinking that I wish I had had, able to enjoy it when he is with friends, and able to leave it when there is something better to do. I think I was always chasing that high, that good feeling or good time, and when it was over, I felt I could achieve it with another glass. Over time, that good feeling was long forgotten but the drink wasn’t. I hope none of the kids ever drink like I did, but if I stop them or ask them not to, I’m afraid they will rebel against me. So I don’t. I just talk to them, and let them know I’m here, and that their Dad is if they don’t want to talk to me. I’m lucky that they all feel able to talk to both of us.
For a lot of people drinking can be a fun release, but for people like me it isn’t. When that word ‘moderation’ pops up, alarm bells should ring. Anyone who feels they should moderate is probably beginning to lose control, and I know for one, moderation certainly didn’t work for me. It made me grumpy and reinforced the fact I felt like I was missing out. Nowadays, I don’t rush home (if I could go out) for a drink. It isn’t the first thing on my mind in the evening. I don’t worry about how much is in the fridge. Plans aren’t made around whether I can drink or not. I don’t have to think about what conversations I have had, and if I remember them all. I’m not hiding behind a glass or a bottle, I’m just me, and I’m doing the best I can. I’m pretty happy with how it’s turning out at the moment.
Take care, and thanks for reading.
We were watching TV last night when my phone pinged with a message from my 14 year old son. He'd sent me these Instagram stories from Tesco, advertising their 'food' but instead showing beer and wine. His comment did make me laugh, but also, I feel proud of him for not being drawn into the glamour of drinking. He's only young, but I hope he continues to make well-educated choices.
Maybe in this case, every little doesn't help?
Maybe in this case, every little doesn't help?