My Not So Secret Diary

Relationships in Lockdown

Relationships in Lockdown article from Sky News about coronavirus lockdown and relationships writing about it for my sobriety blog, My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
I read an interesting article this week from Sky News called, “Coronavirus: The psychology of why lockdown is making our relationships stronger.”

Obviously things are different for us all at the moment, whether we are in lockdown, or self-isolating too. Regardless of whether we are alone at home or with our families, and even if we are still working, we are all limited in who we see and how much contact we have with others. Whether we want it to or not, and however positive we try to be, it is affecting us all.

I was concerned that at a time like this, it would isolate us all more. I am not saying it is easy for anyone, even those who live with other people, because no-one is used to living so closely. I live and work with my husband and yet spending twenty-four hours a day with each other is more than either us of are used to, except for holidays and at Christmas. Of course we also have the four children and the dog at home with us too. It’s a full house, and we are just lucky that we have space, otherwise I think we’d be finding it harder. I thought we’d have more arguments, and to be honest things are okay, although I do get a bit ratty when I end up doing ‘my washing’ or other jobs around the house and everyone else mysteriously disappears!

The lockdown itself has managed to push the fast forward button on many people’s relationships. At least two couples that we know have gone from being fairly serious to living together in this situation and I can’t say I blame them. It must be hard to be distanced from those you care about for an unforeseen length of time. But, we must also remember how lucky we are to have the technology we have available nowadays. Although we might not be able to see others, we can invite them into our homes using our phones and iPads. My eldest son is very social, and was seldom home before the lockdown in the evenings. To start with I think he thought his Dad and I were overreacting by asking him not to go out, and so for us the lockdown actually helped. He suddenly saw it was real and although unfortunate, it was necessary. If it wasn’t for social media he and his friends would be totally disconnected, but instead they are with him all the time, via his phone in his pocket. He goes up to his room in the early evening to chat with them too, and I think it’s nice that those connections haven’t been lost. It would be horrible for him otherwise.

Adding on to the change in lifestyle at the moment, we also have the differences with visiting the shops and the fact that many people, like us, are shopping for others too. I thought I’d have more free hours in the day, but once we have queued up, waited to get in, trailed up and down and then queued to get out again, a trip to the supermarket can take me more than two and a half hours. I’m glad I only do it once a week!

The thing is, that beyond the other things, I do seem to have more time to talk than before. This morning for instance, instead of rushing about like I would normally, I found the time to FaceTime my Mum and Dad, which I don’t often do. This morning they watched Stanley cycling in circles around my house and then took me on a tour around their garden to show me what they’d been planting and their new chicken run. It was rather nice. Stanley even wanted to show them how he uses his potty! They’d certainly have missed out on that experience otherwise! Speaking to a friend yesterday, she echoed my thoughts, telling me that she is finding time to do different things and see people that she wouldn’t normally, although again, it’s from a distance when she drops items off. I think it’s nice to have an excuse to connect with people. A lot of us lead quite isolated lives nowadays and this lockdown has affected us in ways I hadn’t expected. The article says, and I tend to agree, that, “Being increasingly interdependent and uniting together against the invisible enemy outside our doors may well make us appreciate one another more than ever.” I actually like being asked to help, although I’m not very good at asking for it myself! I like being able to do things to help. It makes me feel useful, and while I know there are a lot of people out there on the front line doing more than me, it’s nice to think I am doing my part at least.

Take care, and thank you for reading.
Claire x


Here’s the link to the article if you’d like to read it.

No Cap

No Cap
I’d always seen alcohol as a reward - you know the sort of thing, where you get home from work and chill out with a nice cold glass of wine. All the adverts and TV programmes show it like that. A welcome relief to a hard day. I do, and always did work hard you know - I’ve got four kids and a job, a house to keep running and all kinds of other things going on. The problem for me is that one glass was never, ever enough.

I had a conversation with one of my younger sons recently and he told me that he never intended to have a ‘problem’ with drinking or drugs or anything like that, he and his friends just wanted to enjoy but not get carried away. I laughed. His innocence surprised me and I told him so. Once I’d stopped laughing, I even asked him, “Who on earth would choose to have a drinking problem?” I certainly didn’t go looking for one. It wasn’t like something I decided so went shopping to fulfil my need. It crept up slowly and infiltrated every area of my life before I even knew it was there. There was no choosing and no real awareness. Once I was a ‘normal’ drinker, and then I wasn’t. It could happen to anyone.

My husband describes my drinking as not having a cap. I think it’s quite a good way of describing it. I loved the idea of having a drink, whether it was in the evening at home or on a night out. I looked forward to it, almost idolising it. It’s just I couldn’t stop once I got started. One glass was never enough. Well, it might have been in the very early years, before I worked my tolerance up. After that it took a few glasses to even begin to feel something. So I had to drink more, although I will admit, that once I had poured that first glass, and could see it on the side in the kitchen, I relaxed, just a little bit. It wasn’t as good as drinking it, but it was good knowing it was there.

The problem with having no cap is that it ruins things. You don’t realise, or at least, I didn’t realise how drunk I was until it was too late. There were times I prided myself on being able to carry on regardless, especially when we were out. I always found a way to keep going and I have far more stories than I’d like about the many occasions I drank too much. There’s probably far more stories about the times I don’t remember.

I thought I hid it so well. I didn’t. It’s embarrassing now to think of how many people probably knew of my problem, or at least knew I drank too much, before I did. I thought drinking made me the life and soul of the party, I was fun, I was uninhibited. I talked and chatted to people I couldn’t have done before I had a drink, and yet, it wasn’t really me was it? If it was I would have been able to do it without the drink. I came to rely on it to get by in social situations, only in the evening mind you, but of course, the more I drank, the more I needed to drink and the situation got worse. At a Christmas works party, years ago now, I thought I was entertaining, I thought I was doing a great job talking to the guests and making them feel welcome. It wasn’t until I’d spilled a glass of red wine down my (thankfully black) dress, that I cottoned on to the fact people weren’t laughing with me so much as at me.

More often that I would like, perfectly good nights out (or in) were ruined by my inability to know when I had had too much to drink. I never knew it was coming until it was too late, and I would probably have told you that you were wrong if you tried to warn me. I always knew best, and I did like my wine. Most people learn from their experiences, I struggled to do that. Often after a heavy night out, waking up with a sore head would have been reason enough to take a break for a day or two at least, but not me. I saw slowing down as a weakness, as a reason to admit I was drinking too much. So I didn’t. I got up, brushed myself down and carried on where I had left off. It wasn’t so much ‘hair of the dog’ as I didn’t drink in the day, except for Sunday lunchtimes occasionally when we were out for lunch, but taking a day off was not something I did.

As you may know, stopping for me didn’t happen quickly. I didn’t wake up one day and realise. I woke up on a lot of days and realised, and then I had a lot more days after that where a I needed to convince myself. But I did get there eventually. I stopped relying on something that I never thought I could live without. I still have fun, I still relax and do nice things, only now, I am less likely to make a fool of myself, and more likely to remember. Ah, who am I kidding? I do still make a fool of myself sometimes, but the difference is, I’m never drunk when I do it anymore!

I can safely say it is a huge relief to me right now not to need or want a drink. I’d be finding lock down so much harder if I had the wine witch on my shoulder too. It’s a funny old time, so taking the stress out of it where we can is good.

But enough about me, how are you all coping at the moment?

Take care, and thanks for reading.
Claire x


When Not Drinking is Wonderful

When Not Drinking Is Wonderful the view from my garden in Cornwall during the quarantine and lockdown, not-drinking sobriety blog by Claire Hatwell My Not So Secret Diary
The view of the sky from my garden.

I no longer have the need inside me longing for for a glass of wine. It used to be there constantly, a little feeling that wouldn’t go away, a voice that made me feel uneasy until I’d had a glass. It was really the only way I could relax, not in the beginning when it was still fun, but definitely towards the end when I’d been steadily drinking for years.

I’m sitting in the garden now as I’m writing this. The sun is shining and it’s warm. I can here some kids playing a few houses down, but there isn’t much noise because of the quarantine. My little man Stanley is playing in a water tray with some boats, he says his boat, “is very happy”. My big boys Joe and Barn are helping their Dad barbecue. I like to advise from a distance, but I don’t tend to get too involved! Katie is creating artwork somewhere, but she’ll be down soon to join us. It’s a very different picture to the one it would have been a few years ago.

I would never have been this content. I would have had an insatiable thirst for wine. I would have made countless trips to the house for wine refills. Lee may have had a few beers but he wouldn’t have had many. Towards the end, it wouldn’t have quite hit the spot for me in the same way. It as like an itch that couldn’t be scratched. I would have told myself, “one more glass”, but it would have always been more. I couldn’t have felt content and I wouldn’t have been able to relax until I’d had my fill.

I didn’t have an off switch when I drank and I drank often. I couldn’t stop when I should have. It was never enough until it was too much, and then I would have struggled with my concentration, my memory and my patience. Nothing would have been the same. I struggle now when I remember or when I think of how much time I’ve wasted. Of times that should have been good and were spoiled. I can’t get any of the time I lost back and worrying about it or beating myself up about it won’t change anything except for perhaps making me feel worse.

All I can concentrate on is what I do going forward. That’s all anyone can do really isn’t it? So I’ll enjoy this sunny moment in the garden, hearing the birds and listening to the kids and Lee chatting as they cook. I can honestly say, I don’t need wine to make this moment any better.

Thank you as always for reading.
Claire x


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


Coming Out (as an alcoholic)

Coming Out (As an alcoholic) walking and recovering from alcohol addiction and writing for my blog on sobriety and mental health called My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
Feeling better about myself than I have in a long time!

It’s hard to admit you’re not quite who people think you are. At least I found it hard. For years I had constructed an outer shell that looked strong. It did it’s job well. It hid my low self esteem and my lack of confidence. To all that knew me, including many of my family I looked like I had things under control. I think that is one of the reasons I struggled for so long to admit things to myself, but especially to others. I didn’t want to let people down or have them change their perception of me.

I didn’t tell anyone to start with that I had a drinking problem, besides my husband Lee that is. Anyone I had tried to speak to hadn’t really understood. I felt like they might think I was making something out of nothing and blowing it out of proportion. I wasn’t, but unless you spend time in someone’s head, you really have no idea of what’s going on in there.

Many of my friends and acquaintances knew I ‘liked a drink’ so I didn’t want to talk about it with them. It felt like I was failing somehow or letting myself down, although in reality, facing up to my problem was one of the strongest things I have done. I felt scared to admit the truth, and unsure of what reaction I would get if I did. For a long time I felt like I was missing out by not drinking, and so I didn’t want to do anything that gave me any reminders. Instead, I hibernated. I stayed at home as often as I could and rediscovered myself, however soppy that sounds.

When you spend many years drinking, it’s hard just to ‘be’ without that thing you rely on. So slowly I relearned. I found new things I liked that replaced the alcohol and slowly I found I liked myself more than I’d done in a long time.

I still didn’t advertise my non-drinking lifestyle, it’s not that I wasn’t proud of it, but I was apprehensive of what others might thing of me. That they’d look down on me or stay away. I didn’t want to feel any worse about myself and I was afraid that well meaning comments or otherwise could affect me negatively.

I’ve found since I started writing this blog and being more open with my thoughts and feelings that I can relax and be myself more than I had done in a long time. It makes me see that if I didn’t go through the hard times, I wouldn’t be who I am now. It’s a relief to be able to accept myself honestly and authentically, the good bits and the bad bits. Although like everyone, some days are harder than others.

I love the freedom I have now, the fact that I don’t have a constant need for a drink regardless of whether I’m thirsty or not. I don’t ever wake up with a hangover, I never have to try to remember things from the night before. It’s a weight off my shoulders. For a long time I couldn’t imagine a life without wine. I wondered what it would be like, but now I know. It’s great, and that isn’t something I ever thought I’d be able to say!

Take care and thank you for reading.
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



Yesterday boys and dog walking in coronavirus quarantine sobriety and life blog about mental health and family by Claire Hatwell called My Not So Secret Diary
I love this photo of Barn and Stanley with Miley. My daughter Katie took it.

It was a funny sort of a day…. I promised my little man that he would come to work with me yesterday. One of the lovely things about working with my family is that I can take him in when it suits me. The lockdown has it’s benefits too, as we are closed to the public our main gates are shut and he is able to ride his bike around in the compound fairly freely. I can see him from the window by my desk so he is quite safe and he has found a pile of sand that he loves to ride through.

I ended up having to let him down though. On reflection it didn’t seem such a good idea to take him in as my in-laws were also coming in, and it’s the first time in about six weeks that we were all going to be in the building together, albeit distanced. Although I had no intention of getting any closer than we’ve been when we’ve dropped shopping off to them or my parents it worried me that it would be hard for Stanley. At two years old, although he understands that there is a ‘nasty bug’ and that nursery is closed, he doesn’t understand why he cannot see and hug his grandparents. He is so used to freedom at work and potters about by himself, I didn’t want to confuse him by restricting him.

Katie said she’d watch Stanley for me, despite having an online college class (he joined her and apparently thought it was hilarious), so I said I was going to the shop and snuck out. I didn’t want to have to do two trips and make it obvious to him that I was doing more than shop so I struggled out the front door and up to the car with my hands full. My remote wouldn’t open the car which was odd, but having had a couple of goes I decided the battery must have gone flat. I put everything down and snuck back into the house for the spare key, getting back out before Stanley saw me. That seemed to be flat too, which is when I realised it was more than the remotes that were flat. Five weeks of lockdown and not moving my car had killed my battery. Such a pain! I ended up having to phone my husband to come back from work and get me.

On top of that, Stanley keeps coming up in a strange rash. It looks like he’s rolled in nettles, but only on his cheeks and only when he’s been out in the sun. It isn’t sun burn though, and I’ve tried various brands of sun cream, but that doesn’t seem to make a difference either. I made an online appointment with the doctor, sending photos and a description of the rash, but missed the call back from the doctor. The voicemail told me that it looked like an allergic rash and that we would have a prescription for some anti-histamines but didn’t tell me where the prescription would be. It took some chasing down to find it, because the surgery phone line is always busy and we have so many pharmacies so close to the surgery but eventually I got it. I’m hoping it will help, but without knowing what he is allergic to, I’m not holding out much hope.

I came home from work to find Stanley in a wonderful mood. I guess the break from me did him good! He has been getting awfully clingy recently, which is hard, although I know it is a confusing time for him. He had a lovely time with his brother and sister, riding his bike as they walked the dog, although he did manage to crash into a bramble bush. He fell asleep not long after I got back so clearly they wore him out!

The best bit of the day was having a visit from a friend who dropped me off some lovely loose leaf tea which I am currently drinking right now. She owns a cafe which of course isn’t open at the moment. It’s not quite the same as going out for a cup of tea, but almost as good! It was quite strange to talk to someone else, even from a distance, and really perked me up. I’ve been surrounded by family and the TV so to see another real life person and have a different conversation was quite nice!

Doing such ‘normal’ but simple things at the moment really makes me appreciate the normality of life that we took for granted not that long ago. Stay safe everyone!

Take care, and thank you for reading.
Claire x