Why Giving up Alcohol Was the Best Decision I Ever Made

Why Giving up Alcohol Was the Best Decision I Ever Made

IMG_0172Sometimes sharing a list from someone, enables me to explore something that I have been mulling over for a long time. This is one of those instances. Thank you Catherine O’Keeffe aka @welovelella for sharing your experience of quitting booze:


 

  • I would like to share my story in the hope of helping other women (and men) who are desperately unhappy due to an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

  • From my very first experience at the age of 15 (with a bottle of thunderbirds no less) up until I hit 40 in 2015, I abused my body (and mind) with alcohol regularly most weekends (hey, didn’t we all..?)

  • I always suffered from terrible hangovers following a big night out, puking all day the next day, unable to get out of bed and generally feeling very depressed and ashamed, but this never put me off.  

  • During my pregnancy with my daughter Lottie in 2009, I had the odd glass of wine here and there but nothing for anyone to worry about. Once Lottie was born, I tried my hardest to breastfeed (alcohol free) for two painful weeks, but mastitis, a crap milk supply and exhaustion gave way to the temptation of formula and the first thing I did to celebrate her finally having a proper (formula) feed, was pour myself a massive glass of Rioja and then finish the bottle.  

  • Prior to having Lottie I probably drank alcohol 3 or 4 days a week 1 or 2 of those times would be a heavy binge. Once Lottie was born, I wasn’t that keen to go ‘out out’ but I still wanted a ‘reward’ at the end of the day, so I’d get a bottle of wine and crack that open at dinner time. I was diagnosed with PND when Lottie was 6 months old, and started taking antidepressants – I’m not writing this article about PND, so won’t go into detail about that, but it never crossed my mind that heavy drinking and anti-depressants were probably not a good idea. Over the next 2-3 years, pouring a glass would start earlier in the day midweek and at weekends, any time after 1pm was fair game. I always had a niggling feeling that I shouldn’t be doing this, I’m not going to be able to stop at one glass, I’ll feel shit in the morning, but it didn’t stop me opening the bottle and drinking the lot.

  • I went back to my job in HR part time when Lottie was 1. I was successful, responsible and well respected, I never phoned in sick because of my drinking and never obviously had a hangover or stank of booze (well, nobody ever mentioned it), however I was drinking half a bottle to a bottle of wine most nights and felt rough most mornings (as a rule I didn’t drink on a Monday, mainly because the weekend had taken it out of me and I needed a break) It was my non-working days and the weekends though that I drank the most, I would be so hungover on a Saturday or Sunday morning, with Lottie wanting to play, just lying on the sofa persuading her to snuggle and watch a movie so I could shut my eyes. I still to this day shudder at the theme tune of Fireman Sam which just reminds me of feeling hideously depressed, guilty and wanting to puke.

  • I obviously knew I had a problem. I would say on a regular basis to my husband, ‘never again. I’m going to stop, I’m only going to drink at weekends’. But I just didn’t have the willpower to do it and I definitely didn’t have the willpower to just have one drink and leave it there. That’s the problem with an addiction, you can’t just stop at one.  I went to my GP for some support, she had been an amazing support with my PND. I was shocked when she told me that drinking was common for mums with young kids and It wasn’t anything to worry about (WTF!) she made it seem normal, which was very confusing for me, I wanted her to help! Maybe I hadn’t explained myself properly, maybe I appeared too normal to have a problem and didn’t lay in on thick enough. She normalised it, so I didn’t pursue it with the GP and carried on.

  • When Lottie was around 3 or 4 she started talking about ‘mummy’s wine’   and she would comment things like ‘are you having red or white tonight mummy?’ which seems pretty innocent, but I didn’t like the connection she made with me and wine. I know a few people who had/have alcoholic parents and a close friend of mine (who admitted she had a problem) commented that her 10 year old daughter wouldn’t talk to her when she was drinking alcohol because she didn’t like how mummy behaved. I didn’t want this to be Lottie and I. I read a very interesting book about childhood trauma and how having an alcoholic parent is classed as a childhood trauma which can be damaging both mentally and physically for a child way into their adult life, all I could think was I don’t want Lottie to be damaged because of me.

  • I tried a hypnotherapy course (it worked…for 2 weeks) but slowly I started drinking again. I tried doing a dry January and Sober October, I didn’t last more than 3 weeks each time and each time I would end up back in the same situation, more miserable that I couldn’t stop the cycle.

  • A friend recommended a book called the Sober Revolution which was like reading my life. I made a decision there and then I had to stop drinking for ever. I realised that you don’t have to be drinking a bottle of vodka a day to be addicted to alcohol.  I was addicted to alcohol, so no matter how much I cut down by, the addiction will creep up again.IMG_0199

  • In December 2015, I had a big day trip to Paris planned with my lovely friend. She had bought the Eurostar ticket as a 40th Birthday present. I didn’t tell her at the time (she was my drinking buddy after all and I didn’t want her to be disappointed that we wouldn’t have a fun day) but in my head I had told myself that this would be my last day of drinking. We started with prosecco on the EuroStar at 7am. By 11.30am I was guzzling red in a cafe. By 7pm on our way home on the Eurostar, I was so pissed I poured a glass of red all down my white top while devouring a croque monsuier (im sure that was a delightful sight). We carried on until god knows when and I passed out at her house. I felt AWFUL the next day, however this definitely helped cement my decision – I was NOT going to drink again.

  • I’d already done my research before Paris and was going to contact a local alcohol counselling service to ask for help. l spoke to a lovely lady who told me I had to be referred by my GP, which was a worry considering my last experience at the doctors. The doctor I saw this time was lovely. He totally understood where I was coming from, got me to do a questionnaire – agreed I had a problem (phew) and referred me straight away to counselling service. I had my first free session (there were 8 in total) with a counsellor booked in early January 2016. Christmas was pretty tough, watching everyone else drinking, but my husband was really supportive, he stopped drinking wine at home and only had beer in the house (I never liked beer). It was tough, but I took each day at a time. Some friends and family seemed shocked at my decision, but a couple said they knew I had a problem. I wasn’t upset at them for not helping me, it’s all in your own hands to seek help, nobody can force you to do that – you have to want it yourself.

  • The counselling was definitely helpful and just what I needed. Once that finished after 8 weeks, I was advised I can join a support group (part of the HACS service) or try other support options such as AA. I never liked the idea of AA, it just wasn’t for me, so I joined the support group. I went for 4 weeks but it didn’t feel right (I felt uncomfortable and a bit of a fraud as the other members of the group seemed to have far worse situations/addictions than mine). I have a very special friend in the same situation who I regularly see and we support each other in our sobriety.

  • It’s difficult to identify drinking as a problem when everybody else is doing it and it is normalised/encouraged by society.

  • It makes me so cross how drinking is normalised and plastered everywhere for our children to see.

  • I’m not here to bash or guilt trip all the drinkers out there, go for it, enjoy yourselves, but in moderation. But that’s just it, for me I enjoyed myself in the moment but it was never in moderation and the massive crash/aftermath the next day just wasn’t worth it. Most people can take it or leave it, most people don’t feel dreadfully depressed the next day and beat themselves up about their behaviour.  

  • I am now pretty much the odd one out in my circle of friends but I don’t care – I feel good! Some nights I dream about being drunk and the relief I feel when I wake up is amazing.

  • Some people look at me like I’m nuts when I say I don’t drink and say things like ‘what you don’t drink, ever?’ like drinking alcohol is what everyone should do and the only way to have a good time, which is bollocks by the way! I am still able to have fun, more so I would say.

  • I am the happiest I’ve ever been in myself, I am more comfortable in my own skin, I am more confident. I look better, I feel better, becoming sober gave me the clarity and courage to jack in my HR job which didn’t fulfil me and pursue a new career, running my own clothing line. But, above all else, I am a better mother to Lottie.

  • I am so proud that I have made myself a better person for her because after all, she is the most important thing in my life and I want her to remember a happy childhood. 

  • I would recommend:

  • Facebook private Group – Women who don’t drink

  • Book: The Sober Revolution (calling time on wine o’clock) by Lucy Rocca and Sarah Turner

  • Book: Childhood Disrupted – Donna Jackson Nakazawa

 

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2 thoughts on “Why Giving up Alcohol Was the Best Decision I Ever Made

  1. I am a daughter of alcoholic parents and I am 30 now, what to others may of looked liked normal drinking my reality at home was at times soul destroying. The detrimental effect my parents have had on mine and my siblings mental health is staggering. The current trend of ‘wine o’clock’ ‘why mummy drinks’ etc etc fills me with dread and fear for all the children that will grow up in a similar situation to me. My parents are both loving wonderful people but they have an addiction that at many times during my life has been the priority for them. We should be encouraging parents to deal with the stresses of raising children in other ways not to reach for the bottle. To any parent reading this that thinks they have a problem, I can guarantee your children will be effected by it during there childhood and will carry it with them for life. Get help, get well, get sober and get happy. Your children will thank you for it 💕

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  2. A great read. I’ve not had an alcoholic drink for 40 days today (Hooray!). I’m slowly ticking off the mile stones; family holiday, anniversary weekend away, dinner dates, dinner parties with friends, gigs, dancing. Every time I manage one of these sober I feel myself getting little bit stronger and more able to resist the booze! Reading stories like yours make me more certain that I have done the right thing by going sober. Thankyou for sharing.

    Like

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