SoberMe

My Not So Secret Diary

Couch to 5k

Couch-to-5k
At the end of a Half Marathon with my son back in the summer.


I want to take a minute to talk about Couch to 5k (C25k), I know many of you probably know about it, but a lot don’t and as I have found running really useful in my recovery, I thought this might help someone out there. The program takes a complete non-runner to progress to run 5k in between 8-12 weeks. I was a total non-runner and started in 2018, 18 months into my recovery and new sober life. Before that, I think I was still a bit in shock and had no extra energy for anything like running.

I heard running was good for mental health, as I have quite severe anxiety, I was happy to try anything. I didn’t have a great deal of confidence in myself or in my body, so didn’t really love going out in leggings to start with, but persevered, just picking places that I wouldn’t find too many people to make me feel uncomfortable.

So, with my new plan in my head, I downloaded the C25k app, and put on my headphones. This was great for me, it meant I could zone out and just try to run, while a voice in my ear told me when to walk and when to run. There are lots of running clubs and groups that run c25k training sessions and for some people, the camaraderie of training in a group will be great, I just wasn’t ready to run with people back then, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up. My app wasn’t complicated, but the running was! I couldn’t even run for 30 seconds at the beginning. I felt terrible, I couldn’t believe I was so unfit! Before I stopped drinking I was quite skinny, so I convinced myself the two things were linked. They aren’t, and with my healthier lifestyle, I put on a bit of weight, which obviously also needed moving too.

Although it was hard to start at the beginning, I did feel that the way the programme is broken down really helped me see improvements quite quickly and if I struggled, I’d just repeat a week. It wasn’t many weeks before I could run for five minutes continuously, which may not seem like a lot, but believe me, for a non-runner like me it was amazing. As I had the little one at home, we looked out for a treadmill, so for the days I couldn’t get out, if it was too dark or anything, I could run at home instead, and it really helped with my training. They say to book a race, as it helps with motivation, and I chose to run a 5k fundraiser for The Cornwall Air Ambulance. It was great, my son and I raised over a hundred pounds, but it did put quite a lot of pressure on me. I felt like I might not be able to achieve it, or I’d be last, and I ended up hurting my knee and having to take a couple of weeks off.

Soon enough, I could go out again and learning from my mistake, I took things a little slower. I stopped worrying and tried to enjoy it. I remember a turning point quite clearly when I had to run for a set amount of time, and I thought to myself, “Only eight minutes left.” Suddenly I caught myself and realised that I had achieved something I never thought I would! I still struggle a little with my mind when I run, I often have a little voice telling me that I can’t do it. Worrying about completing a distance, however long, worries me, but I know now logically that I can do it, so I just try to push through it. That voice has got to give up one day surely?

So for anyone out there even contemplating running, get out and give it a go. There are so many people of every shape and size having a go, it’s so much more inclusive than I ever thought it would be, and there are so many opportunities for socialising too, whether it is joining a club or having a drink in the cafe after parkrun. Giving you a bit of time to yourself and a a sense of achievement, it’s a great hobby to have, I never thought I was a runner and yet here I am, enjoying it and running distances I never thought I could. You never know, taking up running could be a great New Years Resolution!

If any of you are new to running or doing C25k, let me know how you’re getting on, I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading!

💖💖💖

Couch to 5k

Couch-to-5k
At the end of a Half Marathon with my son back in the summer.


I want to take a minute to talk about Couch to 5k (C25k), I know many of you probably know about it, but a lot don’t and as I have found running really useful in my recovery, I thought this might help someone out there. The program takes a complete non-runner to progress to run 5k in between 8-12 weeks. I was a total non-runner and started in 2018, 18 months into my recovery and new sober life. Before that, I think I was still a bit in shock and had no extra energy for anything like running.

I heard running was good for mental health, as I have quite severe anxiety, I was happy to try anything. I didn’t have a great deal of confidence in myself or in my body, so didn’t really love going out in leggings to start with, but persevered, just picking places that I wouldn’t find too many people to make me feel uncomfortable.

So, with my new plan in my head, I downloaded the C25k app, and put on my headphones. This was great for me, it meant I could zone out and just try to run, while a voice in my ear told me when to walk and when to run. There are lots of running clubs and groups that run c25k training sessions and for some people, the camaraderie of training in a group will be great, I just wasn’t ready to run with people back then, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up. My app wasn’t complicated, but the running was! I couldn’t even run for 30 seconds at the beginning. I felt terrible, I couldn’t believe I was so unfit! Before I stopped drinking I was quite skinny, so I convinced myself the two things were linked. They aren’t, and with my healthier lifestyle, I put on a bit of weight, which obviously also needed moving too.

Although it was hard to start at the beginning, I did feel that the way the programme is broken down really helped me see improvements quite quickly and if I struggled, I’d just repeat a week. It wasn’t many weeks before I could run for five minutes continuously, which may not seem like a lot, but believe me, for a non-runner like me it was amazing. As I had the little one at home, we looked out for a treadmill, so for the days I couldn’t get out, if it was too dark or anything, I could run at home instead, and it really helped with my training. They say to book a race, as it helps with motivation, and I chose to run a 5k fundraiser for The Cornwall Air Ambulance. It was great, my son and I raised over a hundred pounds, but it did put quite a lot of pressure on me. I felt like I might not be able to achieve it, or I’d be last, and I ended up hurting my knee and having to take a couple of weeks off.

Soon enough, I could go out again and learning from my mistake, I took things a little slower. I stopped worrying and tried to enjoy it. I remember a turning point quite clearly when I had to run for a set amount of time, and I thought to myself, “Only eight minutes left.” Suddenly I caught myself and realised that I had achieved something I never thought I would! I still struggle a little with my mind when I run, I often have a little voice telling me that I can’t do it. Worrying about completing a distance, however long, worries me, but I know now logically that I can do it, so I just try to push through it. That voice has got to give up one day surely?

So for anyone out there even contemplating running, get out and give it a go. There are so many people of every shape and size having a go, it’s so much more inclusive than I ever thought it would be, and there are so many opportunities for socialising too, whether it is joining a club or having a drink in the cafe after parkrun. Giving you a bit of time to yourself and a a sense of achievement, it’s a great hobby to have, I never thought I was a runner and yet here I am, enjoying it and running distances I never thought I could. You never know, taking up running could be a great New Years Resolution!

If any of you are new to running or doing C25k, let me know how you’re getting on, I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading!

💖💖💖

Saturday Morning Parkrun, (the last one of the year!)

Saturday Morning Parkrun, (the last one of. the year!)
End of parkrun photo with my son Barn.

I haven’t run properly in the last couple of months. First I wasn’t allowed to, because of my eye surgery, then I used being busy at work as an excuse -although, in fairness, it has been very busy! After that of course it was Christmas. Like most people, I’ve felt like I’m running about trying to get things sorted out and running has unfortunately been the thing I’ve let slide which is a shame, because I like the way it calms my mind. Even when I don’t feel like going out for a run, I always feel good when I get back, I feel like I’ve achieved something and my head feels clearer. It’s funny, I don’t necessarily notice the difference running makes to me, except when I don’t go out for a run.

A couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d try to make the effort to go to parkrun every week again. I find my home run a bit too busy in the summer and with all the rain we’ve had recently, the hills would be pretty tricky too, as it is one of the hilliest in the UK, so we’ve been going to our next local one which is at the Eden Project. Afterwards we get a cup of tea in the cafe. There is a lovely community feeling to it, and we are home and done by 10:30 leaving the rest of the day free.

On my first week back I was shocked as to how much slower I was, almost three minutes slower than my fastest time there back in July, and I couldn’t run up all the hills anymore. But, however disappointed I was, it was probably the incentive I needed and it was better than staying at home on the sofa. The saying that I was lapping everyone on the sofa did come to mind a few times! The next week was a minute faster and closer to my PB, and this week I took another fifteen seconds off again, which isn’t bad considering how much I’ve eaten over Christmas! The main difference is that a few years ago I would have added quite a lot of wine to the Christmas consumption list, and there would have been no way I would have gone out for a run.

I’ve got four half marathons booked in the next few months, so I’m glad I’m getting back into the swing of things, and I think being slower than I was has given me the kick I needed to get myself moving again. It’s so easy not to, and I always feel better when I have.

Thanks for reading.


💖💖💖

Saturday Morning Parkrun, (the last one of the year!)

Saturday Morning Parkrun, (the last one of. the year!)
End of parkrun photo with my son Barn.

I haven’t run properly in the last couple of months. First I wasn’t allowed to, because of my eye surgery, then I used being busy at work as an excuse -although, in fairness, it has been very busy! After that of course it was Christmas. Like most people, I’ve felt like I’m running about trying to get things sorted out and running has unfortunately been the thing I’ve let slide which is a shame, because I like the way it calms my mind. Even when I don’t feel like going out for a run, I always feel good when I get back, I feel like I’ve achieved something and my head feels clearer. It’s funny, I don’t necessarily notice the difference running makes to me, except when I don’t go out for a run.

A couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d try to make the effort to go to parkrun every week again. I find my home run a bit too busy in the summer and with all the rain we’ve had recently, the hills would be pretty tricky too, as it is one of the hilliest in the UK, so we’ve been going to our next local one which is at the Eden Project. Afterwards we get a cup of tea in the cafe. There is a lovely community feeling to it, and we are home and done by 10:30 leaving the rest of the day free.

On my first week back I was shocked as to how much slower I was, almost three minutes slower than my fastest time there back in July, and I couldn’t run up all the hills anymore. But, however disappointed I was, it was probably the incentive I needed and it was better than staying at home on the sofa. The saying that I was lapping everyone on the sofa did come to mind a few times! The next week was a minute faster and closer to my PB, and this week I took another fifteen seconds off again, which isn’t bad considering how much I’ve eaten over Christmas! The main difference is that a few years ago I would have added quite a lot of wine to the Christmas consumption list, and there would have been no way I would have gone out for a run.

I’ve got four half marathons booked in the next few months, so I’m glad I’m getting back into the swing of things, and I think being slower than I was has given me the kick I needed to get myself moving again. It’s so easy not to, and I always feel better when I have.

Thanks for reading.


💖💖💖

Boxing Day

Boxing Day
Exploring in the rain.

On Christmas Day I was so positive. I had a bit of a wobble but it wasn’t a big deal. I felt pretty chuffed with myself. Boxing Day was a bit of a different story. It’s weird how it catches you out. You get a bit complacent. You think you’re fixed. At least I do. Or did. I’ve realised I’m not quite there yet.

On Boxing Day my mother and father in law were planning to come around. It’s a normal thing, some years we go to them, and some years they come to us. It’s just the way we balance things out as we spend Christmas Day itself at home with the kids. In theory, everything should have been fine, I didn’t really have a reason to find a problem with any of the arrangements and there was no pressure. They know I don’t drink and have been totally supportive, but suddenly, about ten minutes before they arrived I started to panic. Over the years my mother in law and I shared quite a few bottles of wine. She is not a heavy drinker so I always drank more, but seeing them was always a reason to have few glasses. Reminding myself of that made me so envious, and I really wanted to be back there enjoying it.

It’s strange how when you reminisce, you remember just the good and not the bad. You forget how one drink wouldn’t be enough, and by the end of the evening you’d either be asleep, have embarrassed yourself or had an argument, or maybe all three. At least I probably would have.

So, I had a little cry, reminded myself that it’s my choice not to drink and that choice makes me a better person than the one I was. We put our shoes on and took the kids for a walk. It was tipping down and we got completely soaked but when we got back I felt so much better. My mind felt like it was my own again, and I’d been able to put off the temporary hijack from unwanted thoughts.

I wonder if it’s an element of being at home for a few days, without the normal routines we all follow? I haven’t even run since last weekend! That certainly makes a difference normally to the way I think and helps calm the chaos!

I don’t ever want to give in. Three years and three months is too long to throw away but crikey, some days are hard!

I hope you all had a lovely day!

Thanks for reading.


💖💖💖

Boxing Day

Boxing Day
Exploring in the rain.

On Christmas Day I was so positive. I had a bit of a wobble but it wasn’t a big deal. I felt pretty chuffed with myself. Boxing Day was a bit of a different story. It’s weird how it catches you out. You get a bit complacent. You think you’re fixed. At least I do. Or did. I’ve realised I’m not quite there yet.

On Boxing Day my mother and father in law were planning to come around. It’s a normal thing, some years we go to them, and some years they come to us. It’s just the way we balance things out as we spend Christmas Day itself at home with the kids. In theory, everything should have been fine, I didn’t really have a reason to find a problem with any of the arrangements and there was no pressure. They know I don’t drink and have been totally supportive, but suddenly, about ten minutes before they arrived I started to panic. Over the years my mother in law and I shared quite a few bottles of wine. She is not a heavy drinker so I always drank more, but seeing them was always a reason to have few glasses. Reminding myself of that made me so envious, and I really wanted to be back there enjoying it.

It’s strange how when you reminisce, you remember just the good and not the bad. You forget how one drink wouldn’t be enough, and by the end of the evening you’d either be asleep, have embarrassed yourself or had an argument, or maybe all three. At least I probably would have.

So, I had a little cry, reminded myself that it’s my choice not to drink and that choice makes me a better person than the one I was. We put our shoes on and took the kids for a walk. It was tipping down and we got completely soaked but when we got back I felt so much better. My mind felt like it was my own again, and I’d been able to put off the temporary hijack from unwanted thoughts.

I wonder if it’s an element of being at home for a few days, without the normal routines we all follow? I haven’t even run since last weekend! That certainly makes a difference normally to the way I think and helps calm the chaos!

I don’t ever want to give in. Three years and three months is too long to throw away but crikey, some days are hard!

I hope you all had a lovely day!

Thanks for reading.


💖💖💖

My Third Christmas

My Third Christmas

Well I did it, and it was a lot easier than last year. And even more easy than the year before that. Three alcohol free Christmases. That’s something to be proud of isn’t it?

We spent the day at home, us and the kids, as is our tradition. Then we see family on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day. It’s only our parents who live near us, everyone else is hundreds of miles away so we aren’t torn in too many directions like some people are. This year work has been hectic though and I didn’t feel we have the time to prepare until the last minute. It was busy right up until closing time on Christmas Eve. Then we stopped.

Christmas Day was lovely. We were all tired, me my husband and the kids, and the little one is fighting off a bug, but just spending time together was wonderful and this year, for once, my thoughts didn’t revolve around drink.

I had one moment, where I felt a little lost, but it was over so quickly that I didn’t even bother to say anything. I was standing by the fridge, and suddenly found myself reminiscing slightly about the thought of that glass. Of course my Christmases always involved wine. I remembered the feeling of the glass in my hand and the taste of the wine, that no other drink quite matched… And then I caught myself. That moment of sadness where I remembered I couldn’t drink ‘normally’ like other people passed, and I moved on.

It’s nice that even these moments are becoming fewer and further between. I used to think they’d never stop and slowly they are, even if now they come out of the blue and surprise me.

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and made it through without too many dramas? Happy

Thanks for reading.

💖💖💖

Understanding

Understanding
My family.

Trying to explain to your family that you have an addiction is not easy. For a long time I felt that I didn’t have a problem and even when I realised I did, there was still a voice in the back of my mind that said I was just attention seeking, that someone like me couldn’t have an addiction, and that everyone would think I was just after attention.

Just to be clear, when I say everyone, I mean everyone except for my close family. My husband lived the ups and downs with me. He was there for me, even when I wasn’t there for myself, and tried to do everything he could to help me. I thought I’d hidden it well enough from my children, I thought they were young enough not to know, that they wouldn’t remember, so I didn’t tell them. One by one though, in the last year they have all spoken to me about it. My eldest has asked me the least, so perhaps he remembers more than I’d like. My second to youngest was the first to ask me, one night when we were driving home. He must have been 13 at the time, and was so nervous asking me. I’ve always had the rule, if one of the kids is mature enough to be able to ask me something (this could be anything at all) then I will do my best to answer. I hadn’t been expecting it to be this though. It surprised me and I wasn’t sure what to say, should I tell the truth or gloss over it? I don’t think there is a right answer for this question and what worked for me, wouldn’t necessarily be the right thing for someone else, but I went with it and told him everything. Over the past year he has had more questions and I’ve answered those too. It’s been tricky trying to explain something that I was so ashamed of to someone I cared so much about, I didn’t want him to hate me, but, I really feel it has made us closer. He certainly knows now why I find things difficult sometimes, or why I might avoid certain situations. It isn’t a conversation I wanted to have, but I am glad I did.

Not long after this, my daughter and I were talking, also in the car. Driving seems to be a good time to talk. She wasn’t talking about me, but a character on the TV show Grey’s Anatomy. We were talking about family gatherings and saying how awkward they could be, and I said I understood. She was surprised and told me yes, but I don’t have a problem like Amy. Amy was an addict in the show. I said actually I did. The conversation went from there, and again, although it wasn’t something I wanted to bring up, I am glad I did.

I always felt like I was stepping on egg shells, I didn’t want to admit to my problem but with it in the shadows I also couldn’t really comment on a lot of things. We’d be watching TV and there might be a portrayal of an addict that was done really well, or really badly, (they do get blamed for everything) and I felt like I couldn’t comment. Now I have the freedom to say what I think about it, and my family knows I am talking from experience. I do find TV shows difficult. They often make addicts out to be awful people who let everyone down and that isn’t always true. Sometimes they are doing the best they can.

Recently my middle son told me that he found me inspirational. Followed by, “Wow, that sounded cheesy!” But he went on, that it showed him he could overcome something difficult, like I had. I hope they never go through what I did, but if my hard-times have shown my kids that they can overcome literally anything if they put their minds to it, then at least there is a point to it.

Thanks for reading!

💖💖💖

Understanding

Understanding
My family.

Trying to explain to your family that you have an addiction is not easy. For a long time I felt that I didn’t have a problem and even when I realised I did, there was still a voice in the back of my mind that said I was just attention seeking, that someone like me couldn’t have an addiction, and that everyone would think I was just after attention.

Just to be clear, when I say everyone, I mean everyone except for my close family. My husband lived the ups and downs with me. He was there for me, even when I wasn’t there for myself, and tried to do everything he could to help me. I thought I’d hidden it well enough from my children, I thought they were young enough not to know, that they wouldn’t remember, so I didn’t tell them. One by one though, in the last year they have all spoken to me about it. My eldest has asked me the least, so perhaps he remembers more than I’d like. My second to youngest was the first to ask me, one night when we were driving home. He must have been 13 at the time, and was so nervous asking me. I’ve always had the rule, if one of the kids is mature enough to be able to ask me something (this could be anything at all) then I will do my best to answer. I hadn’t been expecting it to be this though. It surprised me and I wasn’t sure what to say, should I tell the truth or gloss over it? I don’t think there is a right answer for this question and what worked for me, wouldn’t necessarily be the right thing for someone else, but I went with it and told him everything. Over the past year he has had more questions and I’ve answered those too. It’s been tricky trying to explain something that I was so ashamed of to someone I cared so much about, I didn’t want him to hate me, but, I really feel it has made us closer. He certainly knows now why I find things difficult sometimes, or why I might avoid certain situations. It isn’t a conversation I wanted to have, but I am glad I did.

Not long after this, my daughter and I were talking, also in the car. Driving seems to be a good time to talk. She wasn’t talking about me, but a character on the TV show Grey’s Anatomy. We were talking about family gatherings and saying how awkward they could be, and I said I understood. She was surprised and told me yes, but I don’t have a problem like Amy. Amy was an addict in the show. I said actually I did. The conversation went from there, and again, although it wasn’t something I wanted to bring up, I am glad I did.

I always felt like I was stepping on egg shells, I didn’t want to admit to my problem but with it in the shadows I also couldn’t really comment on a lot of things. We’d be watching TV and there might be a portrayal of an addict that was done really well, or really badly, (they do get blamed for everything) and I felt like I couldn’t comment. Now I have the freedom to say what I think about it, and my family knows I am talking from experience. I do find TV shows difficult. They often make addicts out to be awful people who let everyone down and that isn’t always true. Sometimes they are doing the best they can.

Recently my middle son told me that he found me inspirational. Followed by, “Wow, that sounded cheesy!” But he went on, that it showed him he could overcome something difficult, like I had. I hope they never go through what I did, but if my hard-times have shown my kids that they can overcome literally anything if they put their minds to it, then at least there is a point to it.

Thanks for reading!

💖💖💖

Living a Sober Life

Living a Sober Life
At Eden after Parkrun last week.

Sobriety is hard. It’s probably the hardest thing I have ever done.

It surprised me because initially all my worry was around giving up drinking. I mean, I only ever drank in the evenings, except on weekends when it was allowed to be a little earlier, and holidays or special occasions for the same reason. I wasn’t an all day drinker, but when I did drink, and that was every day, without fail, I’d consume at least one and a half but more often two bottles of wine by myself. But that aside, the drinking bit, although a hard thing to do, was done. All I had to do really was stop drinking. Just refrain from going to the fridge and filling up my glass. It doesn’t sound too hard does it?

It was the thinking bit I wasn’t expecting to be so hard. Suddenly I had a lot of extra time. That time meant I did extra thinking, and the removal of wine from my life meant my emotions started to come back to life. That was weird, and even now, I still think I’m experiencing new things almost every day. Without wine to numb my thoughts, my mind was a whirring mess, but it was mine, and I had to learn to deal with all this excess of emotion. I felt like I was able to appreciate everything, that I could see things that I just couldn’t before. That I felt things that I hadn’t done for a long time. I’d thought wine made me fun and grown up and all that, but I didn’t realise how much it stopped me from experiencing. I didn’t realise how much damage it did to me. I knew it took the ‘edge’ off, but I didn’t realise it almost washed the foundations away too.

Rebuilding is taking time, but I know now that my foundations are strong. They say you have to hit rock bottom to change, and so my foundations are built on that rock. It’s certainly been a challenge, but I feel good now, I’m liking the person I’m turning out to be under it all. Three years is a long time, and yet it is nothing at all. I thought quitting drinking would be the hard part, but learning to live with your true self is harder. It’s also exciting, and although it sounds soppy, you don’t have to let anything hold yourself back.

So to anyone out there struggling in the early (or not so early) days, just go slowly and more importantly, be kind to yourselves. It does get easier and it is so worth it.


Much love.

💖💖💖

Getting out there

Getting Out There
Me and my friend 'Broxanne'

A few years ago I felt like I could do anything. Nothing seemed to worry me, nothing seemed to get to me. Alcohol gave me an armour that took the edge off. If I worried about things more often than not, a glass of wine would help fix it. I never drank in the day, but more often than not, the after effects of the evening before helped take the harsh reality of tricky situations away, and a glass at the end of the day would stop me overthinking. Somehow I could push through most things, but in hindsight, it was like I wasn’t really there, it was like a game that I was watching but didn’t really matter too much.

Of course I don’t have that buffer for my feelings now. It makes doing things just a little bit harder as I have to face up to them head-on. The lack of this psychological buffer really knocked me, I didn’t realise how much harder things would be, and how things that seemed easy before, things that I could do with my eyes closed would be difficult. It became easier to stop doing a lot, at least the things I didn’t have to do. I found my self-confidence plummeted and probably because I didn’t push myself out of my comfort zone, things got worse.

I worried I would get things wrong, I was worried I would make a fool of myself, and in worrying, I stopped doing. I’m not sure what has changed, but something has, maybe it’s just an element of time helping to heal? In the last few months I’ve started trying to do things again. I’ve tackled things a little more head-on. I’ve started going out to business meetings again, something I really couldn’t have faced a few months ago, but the more I do it, the easier it seems. I might not be the most confident speaker, addressing the room makes me nervous and I stumble a little over my words, but I know that I am an authentic version of myself, one that might make mistakes but is doing her best, and actually beginning to enjoy meeting people and getting things done again.

Last week I attended a breakfast meeting. Being there for 7.30am wasn’t something I would have looked forward to before, and to be honest it was hard leaving my warm bed, but I went anyway. Once I was on the road watching the sun break through the dark it was fine, as was the meeting. In fact it was more than fine, I spoke with lots of people, I addressed the room and didn’t forget what I was saying. I laughed and enjoyed myself. I had a photo taken with a colleague/friend and when I showed my daughter later, she said, “Mum you look so happy!” That she could see how I felt and that it was genuine means a lot.

It feels like I am getting myself back, and that can only be a good thing.

Oh, and my stunning friend in the photo? Well they raised over £2000 for charity for attending the meeting looking so beautiful!

Thanks as always for reading.

💖💖💖

WIll Power

Will Power
They say 'do one thing a day that scares you'? Well here's mine - I'm not great with heights and I'm on a rope bridge!

I recently told you all about Tuesday Night Wine Club and some of my friends, well, I also had another friend… I was feeling honest one day about 18 months after I became sober. She was surprised, told me she liked a drink too and asked, “Didn’t you have the will power to stop?” I was so shocked! What a stupid thing to say! (Sorry friend!) Of course I had the willpower, haven’t you seen it? I’ve had the willpower over the last few years to get up and carry on, even when I was struggling. To get through a day, when I was locked in self-loathing for wanting to drink something that I didn’t want, to put myself through that each day and then eventually come out the other side. I had the will power to admit I needed help and then do everything I could to stop. I had the will power to smash a wine glass on the floor because I was so angry with myself for wanting to fill it up again. I had the will power to stop. Eventually. But it is more than that. Addiction isn’t something anyone would choose. It isn’t a choice it is a disease. That’s not an excuse, some people can drink, enjoy it, and stop, and some people cannot. I cannot. Not anymore. It is an insidious, horrible, poisonous disease that saps your self-respect and all your energy. You use everything you have to keep going, to put on the show, so everyone knows (or thinks) you are fine, and you are left feeling isolated and confused, unsure of how to move forward. Until one day you stop fighting and choose. I chose to leave it behind and three years on, I’m beginning to be able to admit just how hard that was. Do you know what though? It’s hard to look back on, but I am so glad I am here now, looking back on that episode of my life.

Thank you for reading.

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Labelling

Labelling
Smile!

The language we use affects the way we think about ourselves. I tried to write this post a few days ago, but I stopped when I realised I hadn’t said what I wanted to. 

By using a word to describe a condition, we create a label which begins to define us as a person. A label can limit us, and make us think that is all we are. 

I struggled with the word ‘alcoholic’. It didn’t sit well with me at all. I worked, I had happy kids and a clean house, how could I possibly be defined as an alcoholic? When I think of the word it conjures images in my mind that I would rather not be associated with and yet I could be. Although I am different in many ways, I am also the same. 

I preferred the term addict, although to be an alcohol addict is much the same as an alcoholic, it felt like the label wasn’t just on me, it was also on the condition. It wasn’t just my failure, it was also the substance’s fault. Before, if tried to define myself I almost whispered the word ‘alcoholic’, I was afraid it could make everyone see there was something wrong with me. More recently I’m trying to come to terms with it, thinking that if I am okay with it, it takes the power away from the word. Gradually it has begun to bother me less and the more I use the term, the less power it seems to have.

I found the same with the term tea-total. Now there is nothing wrong with it at all, but I felt it just a little limiting. I don’t want to be limited by something, I had plenty of that when I worried where my next glass of wine was coming from. Personally I quite like the term alcohol free. That’s how I feel now, free of it, like I’ve shaken it off and it isn’t holding me back anymore. I feel this term implies it’s my choice to be without the burden of alcohol, which of course it is. It makes me feel like I’ve cast something off, rather than have something weigh me down.

Isn’t it funny the power these small words have? I never thought the terminology of something would bother me so much, but I know we are all different, even down to the perceptions we create by using a simple word.

So, is it just me, or do you have any real likes or dislikes about these sorts of things?

Thanks for reading!

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Hangover Days - Is that really a thing?

I was at work when someone mentioned listening to a discussion on the Radio about people being allowed ‘Hangover Days’. So of course, being alcohol related and having missed it, I had to google it. Here it is if you want a read… https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/business-50731781

Is it just me, or is the idea of a ‘Hangover Day’ a bizarre concept? I get the honesty side of it, I’d much prefer staff to be honest, than to lie about time off, but surely if we introduce something like this, then we are just encouraging people to drink more, knowing that they can easily take time off? Surely we should be encouraging responsibility for our actions rather than promoting ways out when someone over-indulges. I went out to an event on a Thursday night recently. I knew I had to get up the next morning so I had to be aware of that even given the fact that I don’t drink. I can’t imagine phoning in sick after a night out, even when I was still drinking.

When interviewed, Claire Crompton, a company co-founder and director, said, ”It’s basically a work-from-home day, but we've sexed it up a bit to appeal to the younger generation.” This opinion just seems totally wrong to me. I know that a lot of people drink and can moderate and that is fine, but to encourage people to go out without needing any restraint because they can ‘work from home’ seems to encourage the whole perception of drinking to excess and of alcohol being a reward, when in reality it shouldn’t be. I certainly don’t like the way she refers to it as being ‘sexed-up,’ what on earth does that say? What sort of message is she promoting, drink or be boring? I hate when people make this sort of assumption. It took me a long time to shake that feeling myself, and I certainly don’t want my kids growing up in a world where you’re only cool if you drink. I think it’s ridiculous! I don’t seem to be the only one to think so. The article also referred to a Dr Miller who suggests that while flexible working hours are a positive thing, the way they are labelled is also important. She states, “[L]abelling them as 'hangover days' might not be as helpful if it's encouraging excessive alcohol consumption. Employers have a duty of care and need to consider that when designing policies. Is it promoting drinking? I'd suggest a rethink on the labelling.”

What was wrong with duvet days? Is it too warm and snuggly? I can’t say I took those either, but the idea of a duvet day certainly appeals to me a lot more than the idea of a hangover day. In fact, I don’t think I could think of a worse way to spend a day, even if it meant a day off work. I’m not saying we should lie to employers about why we are off, I’m just not comfortable with alcohol use (or abuse) being a dedicated reason for time off.

Rant over! I’d love to know what you think though!

Thanks for reading.

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Community

Community
Eden Project Parkrun.

I used to have a lot of friends. I had even more acquaintances. I think I saw my friends list as a badge of success. If I knew all these people, then they must like me, I must be popular. I think ultimately, since school I’d always struggled with how I felt about myself, and how I felt other people perceived me. I never quite felt good enough, I don’t know why, but there was always a little voice of doubt nagging me, reminding me that other people were judging me, and generally looking down at me. I probably should have been able to shake the feelings off, and left it behind when I was no longer a teenager, but I didn’t. Instead I just covered it up and buried it. On the outside I projected a look of self-confidence, because worse than feeling bad about myself would have been other people knowing about it. So following the “Fake it till you make it,” school of thought, I just kept on trying cover up how I felt.

Wine acted as a huge buffer for me, between myself and my feelings. Although events themselves might have been hard, later when I got to overthinking and winding myself up, wine numbed it. It made it easier, but in the long run so much harder. Alcohol not only fuelled my anxiety, but it also prevented me from realising how bad it was.

Over the last few years I shut myself off from everyone I knew. It was hard to go out and face everyone, not only was I more anxious than I had ever been before, but I was also filled with a huge amount of self-loathing for the amount I was drinking as a coping mechanism. I couldn’t open up to anyone about how I felt, I was terrified that they would judge me and think the worst of me. Instead I avoided everyone. After I stopped drinking I had no reason to reconnect with anyone. I really felt any of my old friends wouldn’t understand how much I’d changed, and that they didn’t really know the real me anyway.

My kids joked with me that I had no friends, and to a certain extent that is true, I found it easier just to stay in my little bubble. Even making small talk became difficult, I’d often circle over conversations I’d had in passing, wondering why I’d said something and thinking how stupid I must have seemed. I hadn’t expected my confidence to take such a knock, but then I guess, I should have been prepared, this new stripped back me had nowhere to hide.

Running got me outdoors, it helped my anxiety, it gave me a focus. Something I had never done before, and wasn’t good at, suddenly became something I enjoyed and was getting better at, but people, well, I still avoided them where I could.

Something has changed in the last few months. I’m not sure exactly how or when, but looking back I can see it has. I’m not quite so suspicious of everyone I meet, I don’t think everyone is out to get me anymore. (At least, not all the time!) It’s been 3 years and 3 months, I never thought in a million years it would take me this long to get my mind back on track, but it’s getting there. There were days when I thought I’d feel broken forever, and I don’t anymore.

Today I went to Parkrun at the Eden Project. Unexpectedly my son and I ran into someone we knew and afterwards we stayed for tea and cake and a chat. It was lovely. I forgot how nice it is just to stop sometimes, how nice it is to connect with others.

So, while the last few years have been more challenging than I expected, I am glad I am where I am now. I’m not hiding anymore, I’m authentically me and I think for the first time, I’m okay with that.


As always, thank you for reading.


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Community

Community
Eden Project Parkrun.

I used to have a lot of friends. I had even more acquaintances. I think I saw my friends list as a badge of success. If I knew all these people, then they must like me, I must be popular. I think ultimately, since school I’d always struggled with how I felt about myself, and how I felt other people perceived me. I never quite felt good enough, I don’t know why, but there was always a little voice of doubt nagging me, reminding me that other people were judging me, and generally looking down at me. I probably should have been able to shake the feelings off, and left it behind when I was no longer a teenager, but I didn’t. Instead I just covered it up and buried it. On the outside I projected a look of self-confidence, because worse than feeling bad about myself would have been other people knowing about it. So following the “Fake it till you make it,” school of thought, I just kept on trying cover up how I felt.

Wine acted as a huge buffer for me, between myself and my feelings. Although events themselves might have been hard, later when I got to overthinking and winding myself up, wine numbed it. It made it easier, but in the long run so much harder. Alcohol not only fuelled my anxiety, but it also prevented me from realising how bad it was.

Over the last few years I shut myself off from everyone I knew. It was hard to go out and face everyone, not only was I more anxious than I had ever been before, but I was also filled with a huge amount of self-loathing for the amount I was drinking as a coping mechanism. I couldn’t open up to anyone about how I felt, I was terrified that they would judge me and think the worst of me. Instead I avoided everyone. After I stopped drinking I had no reason to reconnect with anyone. I really felt any of my old friends wouldn’t understand how much I’d changed, and that they didn’t really know the real me anyway.

My kids joked with me that I had no friends, and to a certain extent that is true, I found it easier just to stay in my little bubble. Even making small talk became difficult, I’d often circle over conversations I’d had in passing, wondering why I’d said something and thinking how stupid I must have seemed. I hadn’t expected my confidence to take such a knock, but then I guess, I should have been prepared, this new stripped back me had nowhere to hide.

Running got me outdoors, it helped my anxiety, it gave me a focus. Something I had never done before, and wasn’t good at, suddenly became something I enjoyed and was getting better at, but people, well, I still avoided them where I could.

Something has changed in the last few months. I’m not sure exactly how or when, but looking back I can see it has. I’m not quite so suspicious of everyone I meet, I don’t think everyone is out to get me anymore. (At least, not all the time!) It’s been 3 years and 3 months, I never thought in a million years it would take me this long to get my mind back on track, but it’s getting there. There were days when I thought I’d feel broken forever, and I don’t anymore.

Today I went to Parkrun at the Eden Project. Unexpectedly my son and I ran into someone we knew and afterwards we stayed for tea and cake and a chat. It was lovely. I forgot how nice it is just to stop sometimes, how nice it is to connect with others.

So, while the last few years have been more challenging than I expected, I am glad I am where I am now. I’m not hiding anymore, I’m authentically me and I think for the first time, I’m okay with that.


As always, thank you for reading.


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Tuesday Night Wine Club

Tuesday Night Wine Club
Yoga with my littlest one.

I used to have a friend, (I used to have more than one, but that is another story), we used to take it in turns to pick up our boys from primary school a couple of days a week to give us both a little more time. She’d pick her son up from mine when she was done, it was her other half’s day off so she often didn’t stop long, and I’d do the same, picking mine up from her house when I was done at work. It was nice, they used to play together and we used to chat. One day her sister joined us. I didn’t know her well, but she seemed nice, and the bonus was instead of being offered tea, I was offered wine instead. This was great as it meant I didn’t want to rush home. One week rolled into the next and we joked, while chatting and sitting out in the sun in the back garden as the kids played, about ‘Tuesday Night Wine Club’. This was during the time I was beginning to get concerned (again) about the amount I was drinking, but here I was being offered wine by two other mothers, surely that was proof that everyone else drank as much as me? At least on some days?

I remember being pleased that I had found a little loop hole in my plan, I had an excuse to drink somewhere that wasn’t at home, and of course, seeing as it was after 5pm, that meant as soon as I got home, I could carry on. Another glass as I was cooking, another one with dinner, and so one, until bed time.

The problem was of course, this was another friend I couldn’t talk to about it. Of all my close relationships, the only person I ever spoke to about drinking was my husband and even then it was tricky. If I was feeling vulnerable it was almost easy to admit I had a problem, to ask for help, but I was afraid to, because I knew that the minute I really admitted to it, beyond the wondering stage, I would actually have to do something about it, and I wasn’t ready to do that. In fact, the thought of doing something about it terrified me. As much as I was beginning to resent the hold wine had over me, I also loved it, and in the end it was like saying good bye to a best friend. One I wanted to kill.

For something that is marketed as fun and relaxing, the opposite happened to me. I know I’m not alone, but I have never felt so conflicted in my life. It is a battle at times, one I wasn’t sure if I’d win. Anyway, in the end, I won, I’m still winning and I guess that is the point?


Thank you for reading.

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The Green Eyed Monster

The Green Eyed Monster
My family, no alcohol needed to have a lovely time.

After three years alcohol free I was really surprised to have a visit from the green eyed monster this week. I was having a conversation with my son and he mentioned in passing that he’d seen our neighbour out one night in a pub, and that they’d stopped to have a chat. I was happy to think that our son is out socialising, and that he is comfortable enough to chat with our neighbours, but later in the evening I did start going over it in my head and realised I was a little jealous.

It’s funny, I’m not actually jealous of him going out, I could do that. I’m not jealous of him drinking, I did plenty of that, and I don’t want to do it anymore. I guess, I’m just jealous, if you can call it that, of the fact that he can choose, that our neighbour can choose and I can’t. I know, or at least I have a very good idea, that one drink would not be enough. One bottle probably wouldn’t be. It certainly wasn’t before, on a normal evening. So I took the decision away, and decided not to drink any more. It surprises me that after all this time, that envy or jealousy, or whatever you want to call it comes out of nowhere to surprise me.

Our eldest son is 18. Since his birthday, he has started going out with his friends to night clubs and pubs on the weekends. As we approached his birthday, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about him going out, given my history, but actually I’ve found it doesn’t bother me. I do have an element of worry associated with him drinking too much, I mean, my problems started somewhere didn’t they? But I know that he doesn’t have the problems I have, and I hope that all of our kids will have learned from my experiences. I hope that if they ever get into a situation like I was, that they will recognise the signs and ask for help. Hopefully much sooner than I did. I hope that they have learned that difficulties are not the end of something, but the start of something else, if you can stick with it and overcome them.

I also hope that the green eyed monster gives up, because I’m not giving in.


Thank you for reading.

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I’m Dreaming of an Alcohol Free Christmas!

I'm Dreaming of an Alcohol Free Christmas
Christmas a few years ago.

I read an article recently by Bryony Gordon. She came onto my radar a couple of years ago as a writer who honestly (sometimes almost too honestly) talks about her life and mental health and it is refreshing. She doesn’t appear to want to please or impress people and in doing her own thing actually reaches more people with her honesty. I’ve read all her books but I don’t often read a newspaper, so I don’t see her column that often. This was entitled, “I can’t be the only one who's looking forward to a sober party season,” well she’s right, I’m looking forward to it too.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/cant-one-looking-forward-sober-party-season/

A few years ago, my Christmas party season looked very different to what it does now. I always went out to shop for at least one ‘nice’ party dress and shoes. I knew I always had at least two parties to go to where I’d wear them, as both my own work threw a party and my husband’s work also did, and that was just the events we ‘had’ to do. They were often quite different evenings, my husband’s would always be a bit more of a formal do, normally at a nice hotel, so we’d get a room and make a weekend of it. There was always a free bar too, so that was nice. Of course, that probably wasn’t a good thing for me, I didn’t need much encouragement.

My own parties were often more quirky. We sometimes had nice meals out at restaurants and hotels, but the one year that sticks in my memory most (I’m not sure how) is the one where the school I worked at put on a James Bond themed evening. We closed off the school library and it was transformed into a casino. All the staff dressed as characters from the films and the catering staff put on a great meal, although I don’t remember eating it. I do remember making mojitos and drinking a lot of wine. I remember doing karaoke (badly) with some other Bond girls. I remember a bonfire (I didn’t start it!) in the school grounds where I burned my finger and I remember falling asleep on a sofa. I was woken up by someone I worked with who ignored my protests that I was fine and drove me home. And that was all way before I even thought I had a problem and drinking was still ‘fun’.

So in answer to Bryony’s question, no she isn’t the only one who is looking forward to a sober Christmas. This one will be easier than the first, where I still thought I was missing out, and the second where my youngest was incredibly poorly. This one will be a lovely Christmas, with no expectations except to spend time with my husband and kids, remembering everything and not dulling it with alcohol. Not needing to return to the kitchen to constantly refill a glass that never seemed to stay full for long, or questioning whether the wine I’d bought would even last for the few days the supermarket was shut. I’m definitely looking forward to a Christmas without wine, and it feels bloody great to say that!


Anyone else looking forward to an alcohol free Christmas?

Thank you for reading.


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Christmas Canter

Christmas Canter
Finish line photo!

Sunday was my first race since I had laser eye surgery. I was told not to run for a week, but it’s been three. I’ve run on the treadmill a little bit, but nothing like I normally do. To be honest, although I am so glad I had my eyes done, it has knocked me a little bit. I didn’t expect it to make me so squeamish afterwards, and thought once the procedure was done, I’d be fine. It’s taken me really until this week to feel myself again. I think partially some of that was down to the fact that they told me I also couldn’t swim for a fortnight, so I think once that time passed it also meant that if my eyes were healed enough for swimming they must be back to normal.

It takes me quite a lot of effort sometimes to go for a run. Logically I know that if I get out, I’ll enjoy it, and I know from the past, that I’ll feel better once I get back. It doesn’t matter if it is wet, rainy, I’m tired or angry, once I’ve run, I normally feel loads better. Having not run properly though, I wasn’t looking forward to this one. It became a ‘big thing’ and the more I thought about it, and tried to reassure myself, the worse it got. I even convinced myself I wouldn’t physically be able to run the distance which is ridiculous, but that is the way my mind works. In the end, the only reason I even decided to try was because my daughter was running the 5k, which was one loop of the course through the forest, so I told myself if I struggled I’d just stop there and not do the second loop to complete the 10k. Something was better than nothing.

We heard there was a weather warning for wind and rain, but they didn’t come into force until the afternoon, so we went ahead and got going even though I would have secretly have liked it to be cancelled so I could stay in bed past 7AM on a Sunday morning! It was sunnier than we expected so we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best.

Once the race actually started I felt pretty good which surprised me. I’d decided to run with my Trekz earphones, which I never do in a race, but thought it might be a good distraction in case I struggled. I didn’t want my mind to get the better of me. My son shot off into the distance and I didn’t see him until the end, which I expected, but I ran most of the first 5k with my daughter. It was nice, we didn’t talk that much but it was nice to have company. Then the heavens opened and the hail fell. It was so wet! But it was great, and I suddenly remembered what I love about being outdoors and running. It’s that feeling of being alive. Especially on trail runs. Every runner was soaked, but no one complained, and on I ran. Not once did I have that nagging voice of doubt in my head, and soon enough 5 miles had been and gone with only a little over a mile left to go. I pushed on and managed to pass a few more people during that last mile, and then I saw my daughter waiting to run in with me. As we ran we came to the last hill and saw my son. They’d both come back in the rain to wait for me, and at the finish line the photographer took a photo of the three of us finishing together.

So there we were, up early, soaked through, but what a lovely way to spend a Sunday morning with some of my kids. Pretty special.

Thanks for reading.

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Daily drinking

When I was drinking every day I thought I had everything under control. I thought that on the outside everything was fine. I knew that I was anxious, I knew that I panicked about things, but I thought if I put up a strong outer shell not one would see the vulnerabilities underneath. If I could just make it through each day, at the end I would be rewarded with that magical glass of wine. I relaxed the minute I poured it. I knew then that I could relax.

Throughout the day I was always on edge. It was like being on a state of high-alert all the time. It was exhausting. I’m not sure what I expected to happen, I just felt that something might. The more I felt like this, the more I put into place to control things. I created habits of things that needed to be done to make sure I felt in control. I couldn’t sit and relax, it was impossible for me. I felt like I had to be doing all the time, or people would thing I was lazy. It was almost physically uncomfortable for me to be still. Even on a Sunday afternoon, when there was nothing to do, I felt I should be doing something. It was hard, and as much as I know my behaviour could irritate, I just couldn’t do anything about it at the time.

In the daytime, I was busy too. I’d get up and hoover the house, I had to leave it clean before taking the kids to school and going to work. There’s nothing wrong with tidying, but I couldn’t even leave a glass on the side, the dishwasher had to be loaded and on. When I got home in the evenings it was homework, dinner and anything else that needed to be done as quickly as I could. I knew that once everything was done it would be ‘okay’ for me to have a drink. Not much got done after that you see, well it did in the early days, but as time went on, and my tolerance grew, I drank more, and then spent most of my evening on the sofa in front of the telly.

I had intentions of doing so much more, I often wanted to. I had plans for things I wanted to achieve, it was just that after I’d ticked off all the things on my list, the lure of the bottle became too strong and generally won. So much so that I didn’t like to go out in the evenings anymore. I didn’t like to do anything that could hinder my plans, which just involved getting the day done so I could be at home with a glass of wine.

The realisation of my reliance on wine was one of the reasons I wanted to stop drinking. The problem was, that I was terrified of admitting I had a problem. I knew that once I admitted to it, I’d have to stop drinking, and I had no idea how I would cope without it. It took the edge off and made things seem easier, until the end when I realised it was just making everything worse.

Removing alcohol was the best thing I’ve ever done, but it was challenging and made me face my fears and my anxiety head on. There was no buffer anymore, and unfortunately it made all the difference and my panic attacks got worse, and so frequent I’d avoid simple things, for fear that I wouldn’t cope. I put many avoidance strategies in place to cope, to try to get through without admitting how hard everything was. It has taken three years of hard work to get to where I am now, but I am so glad I chose this path. Difficult or not, it is so worth the fight.


As always, thank you for reading.


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My Not So Secret Diary

My Not So Secret Diary
Running on Dartmoor this Summer.

I’m quite a private person. I keep myself to myself, so the fact that I write a lot down and share the inner most workings of my mind with everyone who reads my blog is quite bizarre. I’m not really an over sharer, and yet here I am over sharing!

The fact is, most of my family and all of my friends would only have found out about my drinking problem by reading this blog. I didn’t tell people besides my close family because I didn’t really know how to. I assumed that people would think the worst of me, that they’d assume, because I let wine get control of me, that I was a bad mother, or a bad wife, and that generally I wasn’t good enough. The truth is, I love my husband and our kids more than anything. So when I can I like to have them read everything I write, sometimes before I post it.

I spoke about this to two of my kids (the middle two) a couple of weeks ago. I was suddenly embarrassed when people I actually knew started reading what I had written, and worried that mattered more than when strangers read it. I know it’s the same information but I wondered if it was more personal somehow. They both looked at me like I was mad when I asked if my blog embarrassed them, then they both reassured me that it didn’t. In fact my son said that if people were to look at my blog or my Instagram what they would see is a Mum who has overcome a problem and is always out doing things with her kids. That made me feel better. A lot better. To think that I have overcome something this big, and I still have the love and respect of my family means the world to me.

Sharing my experiences was not something I took lightly. I always wanted to write, even from a young age, but life got in the way. When I was struggling in the early days of sobriety, reading the experiences of others really helped, it made me feel like I wasn’t alone in the way I felt, like other people, women, mothers, etc, had been where I was. I carried a lot of shame about it though, and for that reason mainly, I kept it to myself. One day, and I really don’t know what changed, I wanted to put some of my thoughts down on paper. Once I’d started it was like a dam had broken and loads more came spilling out. All these memories and thoughts filled the paper, and suddenly my head started feeling clearer. They say that writing is cathartic, and in my case it certainly is. I feel like I am finally filing all these thoughts and experiences away and creating a bit more order. I really hope that someone reading this blog finds it useful, to be able to return the favour would mean a lot to me, but at the very least, if nothing else, it makes me feel better, and that can only be a good thing.


Thank you as ever, for taking the time to read this and connect with me.

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🎄 Christmas Survival Guide 🎄

Christmas Survival Guide
Christmas Shopping in London.

Although it is a magical time, Christmas can be a pretty stressful time too. Of course, there are the predictable elements, of making sure all the presents are bought and the shopping is done, but also there are other factors, like parties and meeting up with friends and family, some of whom you might not see for the rest of the year. It can be exhausting, and that is before we even talk about not drinking.

Everywhere you look from adverts to TV and even in the aisles at the supermarket, you’ll see that alcohol is marketed as an integral part of the festivities. So, whether it is your first Christmas without drinking or you’ve done a few, it can prove a bit of a challenge.

This is not a definitive guide, it’s just a few things I’ve picked up along the way and hope will help. Please let me know if you’ve got any other ideas that I can add to it. 😊

🎄 It’s not just you! (#1)
There are many people who choose not to drink. It’s a struggle to stop, but you are not on your own, even when it feels like it.

🎄 Only go to the events you really want to.
It’s hard enough to psych yourself up for things you want to do. Don’t use your energy going to things you aren’t feeling up to. It’s likely that it will end badly or put you off going out to other events. It may see scary to let other people down, but it might be better for you in the long run.

🎄 It’s not just you! (#2)
Other people have struggles too. You could feel awkward but they probably can’t see it, just like you can’t see their insecurities.

🎄 Don’t be afraid to leave early.
You might have had a good time, you might not, but don’t feel you have to stay to the end. Leave the night on a high and you’ll probably feel more up to another night out. Stretching it out could ruin it for you and to be honest, if everyone else is drinking, they might not even notice you go!

🎄 It’s not just you (#3)
Keep remembering, you aren’t alone. It’s a hard fight, but there are other people wanting to do it, doing it or having done it. It’s hard, but it’s worth it. Just keep going.

🎄 Have an escape plan.
Like me, you might not want to make it common knowledge that you aren’t drinking. I kept it private for a long time, and so it could work for you to have a plan, just in case things get too much. If you have a back up plan, you can get away when you need too.

🎄 It not just you (#4)
There are so many people out there in exactly the same place as you!

🎄 Have an excuse!
If you really want to go and really don’t want to tell people the truth, and are afraid that it will be awkward, just have an excuse ready. Maybe you’re on antibiotics? Maybe you’re in training for a marathon? Maybe you are driving? Not that you need a reason!

🎄 It’s not just you (#5)
I think I’ve covered that it isn’t just you, but keep remembering it, it really helps!

🎄 Connect
Support groups might work, but they might not. You don’t have to meet people to have support though, there are plenty of online groups you can join. Likewise, I found reading so helpful, other people’s experiences helped me remember that I wasn’t alone, and that other people had walked the same path before me and survived. In fact, not only had they survived but it was worth the struggle.

🎄 Enjoy it!
Remember this, you will probably have a fab time. You’ll remember everything you say, and everything you do. You’ll not have ‘one too many’ and embarrass yourself and when someone else does, you’ll remember that too!

I hope this helps, even just a little bit, I know that I felt nervous before my first couple of non-drinking events, and even now, I don’t choose to go to many. I’d rather do other things now, so they have to be good for me to go!

Let me know how your festive season goes though, and if any of these ideas work for you!

Take care, and thanks for reading.

💖💖💖