My Not So Secret Diary

Not Going to Spain

Not Going To Spain view from my airplane window on the way to Spain last year. Sobriety and recovery blog and mental health, called My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
A view from last year. I don't think we'll be seeing one like it again for a bit.

The kids are missing out on so much this year, and I don’t just mean my kids, all of them are. No matter what their ages, they are all a little bit stuck.

I’ve always promised mine that if I did something for one of them, that we’d do it for all of them. As they were so close in age, I’m talking about the older ones, it only seemed fair. There are only four years between the eldest and youngest of the three of them. None of them had music lessons as we couldn’t commit to so much on a termly basis for all of them. For the same reason none of had the opportunity to go on school ski trips. We did, however, make sure they all went on the year 8 Paris trip when they were twelve with their college and had anticipated the year 10 Spain trip too.

It was hard letting Katie go to France. Her trip was a very short time after the terrorist attacks in Paris. We thought about it long and hard and a lot of her friends pulled out, but we decided she should still go, especially as the trip hadn’t been cancelled. You can’t predict these things and without taking undue risks, if we all worried about everything, we’d never go anywhere. There are more and more acts of terrorism nowadays and many of them happen here in the UK, so unless we aren’t going to go out, we must take calculated risks occasionally.

I find it hard to let the kids go, but I’ve got more used to it as they’ve got older. It’s probably easier as they’ve got older to be honest as they’ve been able to stay in phone contact. When they were younger, probably around ten, they all went to London with their primary schools, and they weren’t allowed any contact home unless it was an emergency. So that made it harder. Mind you, I had several texts from Barney when he was in Paris two years ago, panicking because he had accidentally smashed his iPhone. He was so worried I’d be cross with him! I’m still not sure quite what happened to it though.

It’s been good, but coincidentally, because the kids are two years apart, they’ve always been offered the same residential trips. The school alternates them, so if they were in the year inbetween they would have been offered Italy instead of Spain. That would have opened another can of worms I am sure! I do like to keep things fair for them!

This year is different. Barn has been looking forward to going to Spain. They moved it forward slightly so he’d be back for his fifteenth birthday which is at the start of the summer. Joe and Katie both missed the end of school to go away which was a bit strange for them. Of course though, with everything that is going on at the moment, I can’t see it going ahead. It hasn’t been officially cancelled, nor have we had any word of whether we will get our money back for it. But school isn’t on at the moment, so I don’t see them taking a whole year group abroad even if everything is back to normal in a few months. It’s sad that he is missing out and I do feel disappointed for him, but to be honest, realistically I think even if it was to go ahead, I wouldn’t want him to go. It’s a shame there is so much to miss out on, but I do want to keep everyone safe, and for me, that means keeping us all at home as much as we can at the moment. The year seems to be on hold, at least for now. I hope that we’ll get the chance to do some nice things next year, but as long as we stay safe, at least we should have the opportunity to.

Take care everyone and thank you for reading.
Claire x


There’s Always Someone…

Theres Always Someone walking with my family during the coronavirus exercise out of doors and getting some fresh air in Cornwall. My sobriety and mental health blog My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
Lee and Stanley walking with our dog Miley.

We all know things are different at the moment. I don’t really go out much to be honest, I’d prefer to be at home, safely in the garden where we hopefully can’t catch anything. At times though it’s nice to stretch our legs and go out for a walk, or brave the supermarket if we have to. I don’t enjoy that at all though!

Walking is an interesting one. The lockdown seems to have encouraged so many people out. It can only be a good thing really, but I swear I’m seeing people that I didn’t know lived near us. I didn’t know we had so many neighbours! When we walk along the road I notice things that I haven’t before. The strange thing is that people often park awkwardly and obstruct our driveway and at the moment we don’t have that problem. There aren’t many cars at all on our road. The question is, where have they all gone? Or more to the point, maybe they didn’t belong to anyone who lived here anyway. Maybe these missing cars belong to people who park near my house and walk to work? I don’t know, it’s just a bit bizarre.

When we do walk there seems to be so many other people out there. Just yesterday I had to drop a form off to college for one of the kids so I thought I’d walk to give my exercise a reason. It’s awkward though out on the paths. At one point a lady with a dog came towards me and we both stopped because the path was narrow. We were both so considerate that we wouldn’t pass each other and instead one of us had to reverse to pull in to a passing place. It was worse than being in a car on a narrow lane! Some people avoid your gaze, barely anyone smiles or even says hello. It is like people are afraid that by connecting, even from a distance, that they will somehow contract this virus.

The difficulty is, that for everyone that follows the rules, there are so many that don’t. So many that bend them to suit their needs and that is sad. Barn loves to walk our dog, and also loves to run. He could do both, but he doesn’t and chooses to run on the treadmill at home, so he can still take Miley out for a walk. The sad thing was that a few days ago when he was walking, they were approached several times by a dog that was off it’s lead, and without it’s owner. Barn tried to shoo it away but it kept coming back and actually ended by biting our dog. It’s not fair when things like that happen and Barn didn’t know what to do. At the moment, we always keep her on the lead, not because we don’t trust her, because she is very good, it’s more that we don’t want to encourage other dogs or people over. Yet there are so many people that don’t have quite the same consideration and walk too closely or don’t control their dogs.

Would you believe that there was a family having a picnic on the nature reserve near our home the other day? It’s not so much the picnic I have the problem with, despite it being against the rules, but more that they did it on the edge of a pathway and gate, making it almost impossible for others to walk past. Maybe if they’d wanted to do it, they could have found a quiet corner of a field where they would have been unnoticed and not affected anyone else?

Consideration is important at the moment really isn’t it? Well it’s important all the time, but right now, when we are all supposed to be distancing and yet looking out for each other we just need to be aware of how what we do affects everyone else.

Take care and thank you.
Claire x


Simple Things

Simple Things 1 My boys outdoors in sunshine running quarantine and writing for my sobriety blog My Not So Secret Diary
My littlest boys Stanley and Barney.

Simple Things 2  outdoors in sunshine headstands and yoga quarantine and writing for my sobriety blog My Not So Secret Diary
Fun in the sunshine.

We are lucky with the weather at the moment. Despite me not really feeling like going out much, and certainly not running like I have been, it has been lovely to spend so much of our time at home out of doors. Even at home we are in the garden a lot. My little man loves den building and looking for bugs so there is always plenty to do with him at home.

I don’t really like taking him out much right now. It’s hard to control where a two year olds hands go, and despite washing them as soon as we get home, he is into everything, so I haven’t taken him out at all to the shops or anything. We do go out on the occasional walk though, and he is loving the freedom to run in a field that is empty of animals (and people) near our house.

Yesterday, Barn was going for a run, and I decided to walk up with him and to take Stanley. Barn often runs to the same field and then does laps of it. He’s taken to running a bit barefoot too, as it’s supposed to be quite good for your posture, so he often goes for a run which ends up in the field where he takes his trainers off for a bit and does a few more barefoot laps before coming home.

Stanley complained his legs hurt on the way up the hill, but got a second wind once we’d climbed the stile into the field. As predicted, it was empty and several paths have been cut into the grass while the rest is left to grow long to be cut for hay. It makes interesting paths for a small person to run along, and I could watch him safely while I did a bit of outdoor yoga. It was beautifully sunny and warm but with a wind that stopped it getting too hot.

After an explore, Stanley came back to me and we tried to make daisy chains while we watched Barney do a few laps of the field. I’m sure it was easier to do when I was younger! We had a lovely time in the fresh air with a bit of space to ourselves before other walkers began to come through and we decided to walk back home.

I even managed to bring a bit of sunshine home with me, as I managed to stain my leggings from the yellow dandelions I knelt on!

Keep noticing the little things, even when things are difficult, it doesn’t have to be the big things that keep us going or make us happy.

Take care everyone and thank you for reading.
Claire x


Going into Town

Going into Town Bodmin Moor with my daughter Katie Hatwell. Claire Hatwell My Not So Secret Diary blog about sobriety and sober living with good mental health
Me and my lovely purple haired girl.

Recently I realised that I needed to get hold of a repeat prescription of my medication. I can’t believe it has been a month already, I’m not sure where the time is going to be honest. We should have so much time on our hands due to the lack of normality for so many of us and yet, time just seems to whizz by. I don’t do much of the things I would normally do, and yet, I also don’t seem to have the spare time I thought I’d have! Time is spent differently now.

Last month it was a real pain to get hold of my tablets. It was tricky to get the repeat prescription from the Doctor, and once it was done it was sent to a pharmacy I don’t normally use. I didn’t realise they had changed their opening hours, and so couldn’t get in to collect. They hadn’t opened on my way to work, and so my daughter popped in for me. She was turned away despite having waited as they shut their doors for lunch, and rather than come home and possibly miss them again, she waited for two hours to be one of the first in the queue when they reopened. I was so touched. It means a lot to know that Katie understands me, she knows that I worry and panic, and that she’ll go above and beyond to help me.

As I didn’t know how long it would take to get my repeat prescription this month I thought I’d phone the pharmacy first thing on Monday, leaving me almost a week to get the order fulfilled. Before when I’ve asked too far in advance they’ve been cautious of giving it to me because of it’s deemed ‘acute’ so there is a balance of giving enough notice, without too much, but allowing for things to go wrong. I heard back from my email to the surgery almost immediately to my surprise though, to be told the pharmacy had requested it already for me two weeks ago. I’m not used to people organising things for me like that so it was a bit strange, and I wasn’t sure that they were right. I half expected to get there and find they hadn’t got it at all!

Katie said she’d come with me, and we walked to town passing all the closed shops. It was quite eerie to be honest, and not many people were about at all. We were there before the pharmacy reopened, but there was already a large queue forming outside. It took us over forty five minutes to get in, but once we were there, we were done and dusted very quickly and back out in the fresh air. I did feel sorry for one of the members of staff bringing items out to the lady in front of me. She got an earful for the fact a delivery had not reached someone’s home in the time in which it had been promised. I know things are frustrating when they don’t happen as expected, but anyone could see that this poor lady had nothing to do with it once it had left the shop. She dealt with it very well, but it was uncomfortable to listen to.

Walking home was strange. It is the first time in weeks I’ve walked that way, and it was bizarre to see it so quiet, except for the odd policeman. I’m not sure why, but they always make me feel like I’ve done something wrong, despite the fact I was only going to the pharmacy and back home again!

Isn’t it funny how things have changed over the last few weeks? Even the familiarity of the shops isn’t there at the moment. Hopefully it won’t be for too much longer now, but who knows?

Stay safe everyone!
Claire x


Soberistas Article

Soberistas - Recovering soberistas article written by Claire Hatwell sobriety blog My Not So Secret Diary

I wrote an article recently for the fab sobriety website Soberistas about the way running helped me on my way to recovery.

If you'd like to read the whole article, please follow the link, you need to sign in to access the whole piece, but they do have a free trial. It's such a good website, full of great advice and above all, a place for like-minded people to share experiences.

I'm feeling pretty proud to see something I've written published.


Changing Times

Changing Times covid-19 lockdown breakfast in the garden family mental health and sobriety blog
Breakfast with my dog.

Today I had breakfast outside on our patio. It was warm and Lee made us hot crossed buns and jam with a cup of tea and we watched while the world went by. Except it didn’t. One car passed by the whole time we were out there. No one walked by, no children played and all was quiet. It’s very different to the normal bustle we have on our road. Sometimes we even avoid going out the front, as so many of our neighbours are out. Despite the fact that we have a little hidden nook, sometimes it’s nice to be in the privacy of the back garden. At the moment we don’t have to worry at all. It’s easy to forget we live in close proximity to other people when we don’t see anyone.

Here in the UK we’ve just entered our fourth week of lockdown. For something that I never thought would actually happen, it’s going on a surprisingly long time! I honestly thought that this Covid business would all blow over, much as everything else that is sent to panic us does. But on this occasion it appears it is real.

Things are changing. Our company has been closed for several weeks, our employees are at home and nothing is normal. We’ve all got to adapt. Our kids are doing okay but our little man is clingier than normal. He’s okay too, but everything has changed for him as well, he isn’t able to see his ‘Smiley’ friends as his nursery is closed, and it’s the longest time he has had away from them since he started there. On the good side however, we seem to have taken on and beaten the challenge of potty training. I didn’t want to make things stressful for him, for a long time he just wasn’t interested in using a potty and I was in no rush either. Mind you all our others were done and dusted by the same age, so I began to get a bit twitchy as his birthday approached. I shouldn’t have worried. Something clicked and he has got it just like that. He’s properly proud of himself too, and tells anyone who will listen to him about it!

I still do all the normal things I do everyday, except go to work. I mean the things around the house, like hoovering. It still doesn’t need to be done every day, but I just can’t relax without doing it. Sometimes several times. I tell myself normally that people would think I was lazy if they were to come in and see my house less than tidy. Now the chances of that are virtually zero as no one besides the postman and the odd delivery man are going to come to my door. They definitely won’t be coming in! But still, I guess it gives me a bit of normality.

I think it took me a good three weeks to really get my head around this whole lockdown thing. To see that it doesn’t matter if I don’t put any makeup on, because no one will see me besides my family. It’s silly these little routines I have, but I feel so self conscious without makeup, that I seldom go out without it. I don’t wear loads, but I do wear eyeliner and mascara, and I wear it so often that I feel a bit weird without it. Yesterday, I decided I wouldn’t bother anymore. I’m a little surprised when I catch my reflection, but it’s okay, I’m getting used to it, the same as I’m getting used to not going out.

I’m sure soon we’ll be looking back at this and remembering it like it was just a bad dream. At least, I hope so!

I hope you are all doing okay?
Claire x


Sobriety and Medication

Sobriety and Medication running and walking with my daughter during the lockdown sobriety and mental health blog My Not So Secret Diary
My daughter and I.

I’m loving the peace and quiet in my head since I’ve been taking my anti-anxiety medicine. For the first time in a very long time I’ve not got a constant chatter in my head… but… I worry that I’ve lost my inspiration. It seems harder to write. Well it did at least for the first couple of weeks. Maybe that has something to do with lockdown too, there isn’t so much to write about if I can’t go out is there? In the last couple of weeks things are slowly coming back to normal which is a relief. I wondered whether my ability to write was just down to my crazy mind, and now I’m getting a handle on the crazy, I wondered if I’d lost the creative side. It worried me.

I was concerned about taking medication. I thought it might change me. I spent so long drinking wine, and changing my character in that way, that now I am as keen as possible to not do anything that affects my mood or feelings. It’s nice to just be me without worrying if something is making me different, but I can’t deny, this time it makes a welcome change. I still feel like me, just calmer, quieter, and considering how I was, that is only a good thing.

I was supposed to be seeing the doctor a few weeks ago for a review. The medication I’m on is ‘acute’ so they need to check it’s okay and agreeing with me. Luckily it seems to be, because I haven’t got a hope of getting in there at the moment! I phoned before the lockdown and asked if they would like to give my appointment to someone else that needs it and just give me a repeat prescription, under the circumstances. To my surprise, I was told that they had already cancelled my appointment, although no-one had told me! This was right back before the lockdown, but when things were beginning to get worse. I managed, eventually to get a repeat prescription, and then tried to get into our pharmacy, which I hadn’t appreciated had reduced it’s hours to 10-12 and then 2-4pm. So I couldn’t get in, as I was on my way to work and began to stress out that I would run out. It isn’t ideal when your anti-anxiety medication begins to make you anxious! My daughter offered to go for me and was there with plenty of time before the 12pm closure, but obviously ended up in a queue outside. She waited and told me at 12pm they closed the doors and turned the three people in the queue away. Bless her, would you believe she stood there and waited for two hours for them to open again rather than leave and come back later? She didn’t want the queue to get too big again and she didn’t complain once, but did tell me she wished she had taken her earphones!

I was reading on one of my online groups recently about a comment from another member who was devastated by the comments of someone from her AA group. In a similar situation to my own, she had attended the group and told the others that she was feeling better, now that her medication was working, she went on to tell them that she had been sober for the longest time, and was expecting support and encouragement from the group. Instead someone stood up, and retorted that she wasn’t sober if she was relying on medication. It hit her in a weak spot and she said that she almost immediately relapsed, wondering what the point was. Although from the outside I don’t agree that she can blame this other person for her relapse, I do know how it feels to be judged or criticised, and to feel like you aren’t understood. I felt so sorry for this person, that she had got so far, and was unable to ignore the comments of this person, who really shouldn’t have felt the need to comment on her progress in such a way. It made me feel terrible for her, but I’m not sure that I agree that, he made her drink again, like she claimed. Ultimately the only person that has the responsibility for our drinking is ourselves.

I guess for anyone with a bit of an addictive personality, there is always going to be a worry that one dependence will turn into another. No-one wants to rely on anything really, and I know from experience that having relied on alcohol, and overcome it, I don’t want to ever be back in that place again.

In hindsight I don’t think medication affects my sobriety, but I also think it is a slippery slope for anyone, especially those who have had a dependency. I think, I, like anyone else, need to be aware, but ultimately, I think we need to do whatever it is that we need to help us overcome our individual problems. Those looking in from the outside will never quite understand, because they don’t experience things as we do. We are all different and so, we all need different things to help us through, but we need to do it without the judgement of others, like the man from the AA group. His opinions weren’t helpful or needed, and it makes me wonder what his insecurities are for him to speak to someone else that way.

I hope you are staying safe. Take care.
Claire x