23 February 2020
29 February. 2020 • Category: Addiction | Mental Health | Recovery | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Sobriety | Running
A photo from 2015. Five years make such a difference.
I get a bit nervous doing things that are out of the ordinary. Well sometimes I actually get nervous doing things that are ordinary, but let’s put that to one side for a minute.
It’s a little bit of an endless circle for me, I feel like I might get nervous, so of course I do get nervous, then I stop myself doing things and when I have no choice but to do them, guess what? Yep, I get nervous. Nervous for me can be anything from chattering incessantly, I don’t even notice I’m doing it, to crying, which is embarrassing, or full blown panic attacks. I try to control situations I put myself in because I hate feeling out of control, but that doesn’t always solve it. Sometimes it can be something genuine, like a lack of the unknown, but other times it is something odd, like being stuck at traffic lights when I am in the passenger seat. Usually it’s more frequent when I am somewhere not so normal, but it can make me really nervous to feel trapped. The same thing happened when we were going on holiday a couple of years ago. I was fine at the airport until we got to the departure lounge. I think it was because I was stuck there until they told us to go, rather than it being of my choosing, but it really affected me, and I began to panic. It was such a relief when they let us board the bus to the plane, and before you ask, no, it isn’t small spaces. I was fine on the plane itself.
The thing is, although I’m nervous, and somewhat cautious of my reactions to things, I am keen to get over things as much as I can and push myself out of my comfort zone. Sometimes challenging myself is a good thing, even when it’s hard.
This year I wanted to run the London Marathon. I entered the ballot and although I had a really good feeling about it, I didn’t get a place so I entered the London Landmarks Half. I didn’t get a place in that ballot either, so I was a bit disappointed, but when I saw the Vitality Big Half being advertised without a ballot I bought a place straightaway. I was hoping to book a hotel and have a few nice days away. It seemed like such a good idea... As it’s got closer to the event though, it all seems a bit much. It is more of a mission than it was intended to be. I’ve even thought of not going, because it would just be easier. Instead, I booked my two middle kiddies onto The Little Half, a 2.3 mile event on the same day that is suitable for under 18’s and those not able to run the full half. They are excited so I am trying to be too. I love the idea of running through London and of seeing the sights as I run. It is exciting, I just wish I wasn’t so anxious about it.
Lots of things go through my mind though, like the last time that my husband and I went to London together without the kids. We had some meetings for work, and went up early just for the day. It was right around the time I was trying to stop drinking and was cutting down a lot. We had a lovely day, and on the way home stopped for dinner. I wasn’t keen to go to a fast food place, I wanted somewhere I could have a glass of wine. I only had one, maybe two, I can’t remember, but I was disappointed in myself for not being able to do without even then and I’m pretty sure the day ended up in a bit of an argument about it. So now, it’s a bit of a worry to me, a little bit of a reminder, and while I know I’m not going to want to stop on the way home for anything more than a cup of tea, I just want everything to go well and not be overly stressful. It feels like pressure, and yet I think I am probably the only one remembering and worrying about it.
So we’ll see, logically I know I can run the distance, so I just have to get there on time to start. The forecast isn’t great but I have my fingers crossed it doesn’t snow, or if it does, it waits for all the runners to finish first!
Thanks as always for reading.
27 February. 2020 • Category: Addiction | Mental Health | Recovery | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Sobriety
My littlest son and me.
I find sharing difficult. That sounds bizarre, especially when you all know I share a lot with you. But I guess what I mean is that I am always afraid that what I think or what I feel will be wrong. I’m afraid of upsetting or offending others, I’m conscious of their feelings and that I don’t necessarily understand everyone else’s life experiences, as they don’t always understand mine. I’m quite sensitive both in the way I am with others, but also in how they are with me. As I think about it, I’ve realised recently that although I share a lot, I only share what I am comfortable with, sometimes keeping those extra details to myself because they are either embarrassing or just too much for me right now. It makes me feel like I am glossing over things, and I’m not. I’ve read a lot of books by other women who have gone through recovery and come out the other side, and some of them have really cringeworthy stories. In some ways it’s nice to read them and to realise that I’m not alone, or that there is someone out there who has been through worse perhaps and yet is still okay now. That they are still loved. But I’m not sure that I have to share that much, sometimes it’s nice to keep just a little bit of myself for me.
I think a lot of it comes down to the shame I felt when I stopped drinking. I was mortified about the situation I had got myself into, and it took a very long time to come to terms with that. It made me feel grubby for want of a better word, and I felt that people, even those who love me, would think differently about me. Maybe that they would be disappointed in me, or feel let down by my behaviour. I’ve realised that isn’t true, and those that really love me have stood by me and care about me, even if I’m a bit anxious and possibly quite hard work at times.
I want anyone reading my thoughts to know that if I can stop drinking and work on overcoming my mental health issues than anyone can. Three years ago, I wouldn’t have believed it if you had told me that I would be sitting in a cafe at 7pm on a Tuesday night with my tea, writing this and not panicking about getting home for a few glasses of wine. I would have been going out of my mind then, and it is so unbelievably good not to be back there. I’ve come a long way and that makes me feel proud, but I also want to use my experiences so that others know that they can too. I’d love to give anyone who feels trapped in their addiction like I did, just a glimmer of hope that things can be different. Because they can.
I’m totally opposed to the insta-perfect way of life. I don’t think it does anyone any good to give an airbrushed perception of a life. I do however post a lot on Instagram. I use it as a virtual photo album really, a way of keeping up with what people I know, (and some I don’t) are up to, and I actually like to share on there. It’s full of all sorts, but that’s fine, because it’s my life and that’s the way it should be.
Maybe I haven’t shared every little detail with you all, I think I need to keep some things to myself although I’m a pretty open book. It feels good to share though, it helps me work through my muddled thoughts and feelings and work out where they are coming from and that is a great feeling. One thing I have noticed though is that I rarely now worry about what I have posted. I mean, I read back and check things, but I don’t wake up thinking who did I tag in that post? Or what did I share and was it even funny? I deleted many of my ‘friends’ back then. In all honesty, I don’t see the point in having a friends list that is full of thousands of people I don’t know. It’s not real and it isn’t an achievement for me. I feel that actually the conversations I have with you all are far more genuine, whether they are on my posts or in direct messages.
What is an achievement is to feel confident and strong in my sobriety. To have genuine connections with real people and hopefully to make a positive difference. If I can go by the messages I receive, then I feel like I am.
Thank you for listening.
25 February. 2020 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | protest | Climate Change | Recovery | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
My daughter at the start of the Extinction Rebellion Youth Protest
I am all for raising the profile of living sustainably, as a family of six we consume an awful lot and being aware of the impact we have on the environment is important. My cynical side makes me question what difference our efforts will make. What I mean is that for everyone who recycles, there are a lot more who don’t. I had friends who lived in a new build house, and had a shared area for their bins. They didn’t recycle and had no intention of it because they didn’t want to store their recycling in their own home and said they didn’t have the space. I get it, and yet I don’t. As a couple with six children they were throwing away so much that it seemed to wipe out all my efforts, and I know that they aren’t the only family like it too. It’s frustrating, and yet it does seem to be common, I mean, I can’t remember the last time I bought a plastic bottle, as I always have a refillable one with me, and yet others use so many I wonder if doing my bit really makes that much of a difference.
We recycle all we can, I’m a stickler for it so we have four boxes in our laundry room where we can sort it all out and empty everything each week to be collected. We have also cut down on single use plastic wherever we can, we buy local where we can and I try to think about what we buy so we don’t waste anything unnecessarily. I know we could do more, but there is a balance between being as eco as we can and making sure it is affordable. I’d like to do more, but with four kids, there has to be a limit somewhere!
My daughter is keen to do something too and is a little less inhibited than me. She hasn’t got age and anxiety weighing her down or life experiences which make you see the worst in a situation. So when she wants to do something, I encourage her. I don’t want her to be constrained by my worries, and I want her to experience what she can. As a follower of Extinction Rebellion, I worry that she’ll get drawn into something controversial, but she will admit she doesn’t agree with many of their methods. She’s not daft, or easily led, but even the most peaceful protests can escalate quickly, and I worry that when you get involved in something extreme only the behaviour is seen and the message is lost. People only tend to remember the negative and forget the reason. I want to support her, but I also don’t want her to be involved in something she ends up regretting. Even locally, where we haven’t been affected by some of the bigger protests by Extinction Rebellion, they get a bad press, and seem to be remembered mainly for their disruption than the awareness they bring to the subject.
Recently though, she has been more involved in a youth movement down here in Cornwall, and has watched from the sidelines as they’ve staged a few peaceful protests. This week they, alongside many other groups in other areas decided to stage a Valentines Day Protest. She talked to me about it and I thought it would be a good experience, why not let her go and see, the worst thing is that she wouldn’t want to go again, but at least she wouldn’t always be wondering and feeling she was missing out. So she spoke to her college tutors, we thought it would be best to be honest rather than calling in sick, and they were absolutely fine about it. Most thought it was a good cause and others suggested she should use the time to get photos to contribute towards her final piece. (She’s an art student).
Thursday night was spent making a placard, and on Friday morning I drove her down. It was a little more than twenty five miles and although she was happy to take a bus, I was concerned about where she was going and who she was meeting so I felt better about taking her. I dropped her outside County Hall and she was quickly engulfed by a crowd of other like-minded young people. I shouldn’t have worried and it was good to see. Young people standing up for their planet.
I’m not sure if protesting is the right way to get their message out, but it empowers them. They feel like they are doing something, not sitting idly by and watching everything go down the drain. They are standing up for what they believe in, and I think that’s good. They’re discovering what it sounds like to have a voice, to try and be heard, and what works and doesn’t work. They’re realising that they can’t throw their weight around without repercussions, that they can’t cause chaos without a consequence. At the very least, they are forming friendships with people with similar interests, how can that not be a good thing?
So for now, as long as it stays peaceful, I’m behind it. Hopefully the government will act, and changes that work will be implemented, but I don’t think it’s a quick or easy fix. If everyone does their little bit though, I have hope. I guess that’s what matters.
Thanks for reading!
23 February. 2020 • Category: Cornwall | Running | Blog | Addiction | Mental Health | Recovery | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Sobriety | Authenticity
Beautiful words from Charlie Mackesy 💖💖💖
23 February. 2020 • Category: Addiction | Mental Health | Recovery | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Sobriety
Enjoying a lovely evening walk with my husband.
I’ve always looked forward to the holidays. If you rewind a few years it was always because a holiday meant another reason it was ‘okay’ to drink. Holidays meant relaxation, and no work, even if we didn’t go away anywhere. It was nice to be able to turn the alarm clocks off for a few days, and not worry about getting up early. To pour a glass of wine just that little bit earlier, especially in the summer, because that was what people do. To drink socially, or to relax at home in the sunshine with that nice cold drink.
Looking back, it seems odd that I could turn so many things into a reason to be able to drink, but then that’s what our society does as a whole really isn’t it? Everywhere you look there is an advert or a program, something condoning the use of alcohol as a reward, as a commiseration, as a celebration, to drown your sorrows, to have fun, to relax you, to give you courage, the list goes on and on.
I think a large part of drinking starts as a way to relax, but also as a way to fit in. We want to connect, to be with like-minded people and drinking allows us to join the club and be part of ‘it’. I’m not really sure what ‘it’ is, I just knew that I didn’t want to miss out. It was nice to join my friends in a beer garden on a night out, it was fun to chat on the phone with a friend, sharing a bottle even if we weren’t together, but now, I’m not sure that these relationships were that genuine. I mean, how could they be when the ‘me’ that was there wasn’t me, but an intoxicated version? As time went on though, these moments weren’t enough, and when others went home, so did I, but I’d open another bottle when I got there.
Even now I sometimes romanticise the idea of drinking. I can get a little lost in my memories, and those I have conjured up that aren’t real, like the idea of sitting somewhere enjoying a glass of something. A few nights ago I was outside a restaurant and looking in through the window I saw a family sitting down to eat. It sounds like I am a stalker, I’m not, I had a valid reason for being there. It was about 4.30pm and at first glance I saw them with their sparkling water and I was impressed, it reassured me that I wasn’t the only one not to drink. But then, much to my disappointment, the waiter bought them over a beer and a bottle of wine. That’s when the envy crept in. It really annoys me that it’s still there, that I am envious over something that I don’t even actually want anymore, but it sparked the whole conversation in my head wishing I could drink ‘normally’. I mean what even is a normal drink? I can take a step back now, whereas a few years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to. I can look at it, and think, “Yeah okay, they want a drink. I don’t need one.” Normally my thoughts are followed up with relief that I don’t need something to take the edge off anymore, that I am able to just be me, whether it suits others or not. Sometimes, I even feel a little bit of pity, that others need a substance to help them have a good time.
Something in our culture needs to change. I think it is slowly, but alcohol is so ingrained, it isn’t going to happen over-night. When I was growing up in the 1980’s it was common for cigarette adverts to be everywhere, on the TV and in football stadiums particularly. Something changed, someone somewhere realised that smoking might do more harm than good and gradually people cracked down on the advertising. I hope one day the same happens with alcohol. People can decide whether they want to drink or not without it being rammed down their throats. We don’t need actresses on adverts telling us that Bailey’s makes Christmas special, and we don’t need soap operas normalising daily drinking. For people that can take it or leave it so to speak, it is fine, but for people like me, we don’t need reasons to excuse our drinking or to increase it, because that is what we do. At least it is until we stop. After that we look for reasons to see our behaviour as normal, but without the alcohol, and messages reinforcing how good it is really don’t help.
So nowadays, I still look forward to holidays and any other special occasion but it’s no longer an excuse to drink. Instead it’s a time to be present and enjoy myself, knowing I am being a genuine version of myself, that I can claim full responsibility for what I say and do and that’ll I remember everything. It’s not a bad place to be!
Thanks for reading!