#club365 – Nic – ‘Life begins’

#club365 – Nic – ‘Life begins’

On 13 April 2017, I woke up from my slumber,feeling like I’d chewed on Ghandi’s sandal for the last few hours and desperate for a break from the pounding in my head.

Thankfully, the house was silent and I was very much alone. I sat up, steadied myself, and headed for the bathroom, bleary eyed and feeling like death.

Thankfully, the kids had been taken to school earlier by my mum, who innocently thought I was suffering with a stomach bug. Only that wasn’t quite true.

When she’d arrived to collect the boys, she hadn’t been allowed to venture as far as the kitchen and was therefore blissfully unaware of the two empty bottles of Pinot Grigio hanging out together like old friends in the recycling basket, ready to join their clan in the maroon haven of the recycle bin.

As I looked at my bloodshot eyes in the mirror, I thought ‘Why the bloody hell do I keep on doing this to myself?’. Someone I didn’t recognise stared back at me. ‘Where have you gone Nic?’ I asked with a lump in my throat.

I trudged downstairs and poured myself a glass of water. Ironically, a copy of Women’s Health magazine lay on my doormat. I scooped it up and headed straight back to bed where I half-heartedly began to flick through before pausing on an article about ‘a sober revolution’.

Giving up alcohol had always been on my fitness agenda. It was the missing piece of the transformation, only it had never quite happened.

I’d had many, many attempts at giving up the vino and received many, many eye rolls from family and friends… ‘Oh, OK Nic, you’re back on the wagon again are you? Let’s see how long it lasts this time’.

I felt they were right. I felt like I was a failure. I couldn’t stay off the sauce and I couldn’t stay on the wagon. I craved its ability to take me away from everything that was wrong and for it to catapult any good news into something far more amazing. I craved its ability to knock me out and make me forget.

Although I didn’t quite know how to describe it, the truth was I had a problem with alcohol. I was ashamed of what I was, of the person I’d become, and I didn’t have a clue how to get my sorry ass out of the tiresome cycle of drinking.

Every day, I’d wake up, get up, feel hungover and get through work feeling like death.

I’d get home, have a wine to take the edge off and reward myself for making it through the day. See to the boys, get them in bed, finish off the bottle, then open a second. Fall asleep on the sofa, wake up in the early hours, feel numb and disorientated. Stagger to bed. Wake up, get up and so the cycle began again.

Weekends were much heavier. I’d drink two to three bottles of wine, have a couple of gins, and to top it off, have a good few arguments. I’d do Jack shit to prepare for the week ahead and could feel the stress building inside.

My life was a train wreck heading for disaster.

The magazine article mentioned Club Soda, which is a mindful drinking movement (https://joinclubsoda.co.uk). The web address glared at me from the page. I signed up immediately and can’t explain the relief to discover I wasn’t alone. It turned out that I wasn’t the only one in the world attempting to shield my drinking habits from the people around me. I wasn’t alone in trying to keep my life together whilst wrecking it at the same time.

I cried.

I actually wasn’t alone.

I wanted to stop drinking. I knew I had a problem and at last I had people to turn to; people just like me.

I’m now 15 months sober. I guess you could say that this attempt at staying on the wagon has been successful so far but I can’t say it’s been easy and there certainly isn’t any room for complacency.

On a positive note, the relationship with my boys has improved so much. I am no longer an embarrassment to them but instead, I’m someone they are proud of. I’m slowly beginning to see my potential and learning to love the real me. I’m setting myself challenges, discovering who I am, meeting wonderful, like-minded people and re-discovering things that once gave me pleasure before the veil of alcohol shrouded me.

25 years of alcohol abuse means I have 25 years of catching up to do.

Today, I turn 40. A few weeks ago, I set myself a list of challenges to fulfil. Nothing like the good old bucket list but a list of things that just nudge me out of my comfort zone  (like climbing Mount Snowdon when you have a fear of falling from slopes- I know right?) or things that re-ignite an old skill or passion. Things that make me feel alive and make me laugh and teach me something new.

For years and years my path has been navigated for me, expectations bestowed upon me and now, I want to be in control of myself. Every single morning, I feel like She-ra the Princess Of Power when I get out of bed!

Here are my three top tips if you are just starting out on your journey ..

1) Make yourself accountable

This could be joining a support group or telling a close friend or family member. Personally, I log onto Club Soda Facebook page every day and write a little message. I honestly think this has helped me stay focussed.

2) Plan for the day

I always make a plan for every possibility. This may seem a tad extreme but having things to combat cravings and trigger situations are crucial for me. This could be something like planning an exit strategy from an event you are attending or taking your own alcohol free drinks to a party.

3) Using alcohol free products

I know some can find these a trigger but they have been my lifesaver on so many occasions. I always have a selection in the fridge.

Now that I’m sober, I feel that my life is moving in the right direction. I have good days and bad days but accept that is part of life. It’s how I deal with the emotion that life brings that is different. The 13th of April will always be the beginning of the end of my slippery slope of destruction. It is the day I began to realise I’m worthy and deserve to be happy.

It’s the day I chose me ❤️

Written by Nic, edited by Sober Fish

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#club365 Week – Andrea – @feravida @saspodcast

#club365 Week – Andrea – @feravida @saspodcast

I want to start by saying that my struggle with alcoholism was the greatest gift I have ever received. It was also the single hardest demon I’ve had to defeat.

My experiences of living with alcoholism and my eventual recovery sent me down a path to a wonderful and perfect purpose for my life. If I had the option to erase it from my past, I’d decline, however, at the same time, I wouldn’t wish this struggle on anyone else in the world.

I started drinking as a teenager like many people do and was about 16 when I first got drunk. It wasn’t love at first sight. The heavy drinking started properly when I turned 21 in May 2010, and I was drinking to excess for more days than not.

I was a full-blown alcoholic before I turned 22.

Alcoholism runs in my dad’s side of the family and he struggled with alcoholism for his entire life. I’d heard that a family history of alcoholism could give one a predisposition for addiction, but on a personal level, I didn’t understand how much more likely I was to get addicted.

Nearly everyone around me drank as often as I did, although in smaller amounts. In some ways, alcohol affected my body differently than the other people I was around at the time. I could drink much more than most people I knew, but near the end of my drinking career, I could easily black-out after only 4 beers on a night despite drinking 24 beers in total.

Anyone who has struggled with alcoholism can tell you what it feels like when you wake up each morning. I woke up in absolute terror every single day for years. I was unable to breathe properly, shook uncontrollably and lived in a perpetual state of panic. I was terrified to look at my phone after a night of drinking which was every morning. I was in so much pain but more than anything, I felt completely and utterly alone. I believed that I was experiencing severe anxiety, which I was, but it was only years later that I made the connection that alcohol was making everything worse.

In the summer of 2012, aged 23, I was living in a city several hours from my hometown with no support system in place. I did have three true friends there who did their best to help me, but I wasn’t getting the message that it was my drinking which was causing me to feel the way I felt and to live the way I was living. It was easier to do what I’ve always done and try to handle things on my own than it was for me to ask for help. That is, until it wasn’t.

I had been on the phone to my mom whilst parked in a grocery store car park about a quarter mile from my apartment. We finished the call and almost immediately, I started shaking worse than I ever had before. I had difficulty breathing and was sweating even though I felt like I was going to freeze to death. Somehow, I drove my car home and although I could barely walk, or see, I made it into my dark apartment and collapsed on the couch.

No one was home and I had no mobile service within the apartment to call anyone but still I tried. My phone screen was so bright in the dark living room but I couldn’t hold it still enough to read it because I was shaking so much. I desperately needed water but couldn’t get up to walk ten feet to the sink to get some. I pulled a blanket over myself and stared into the darkness. The shaking intensified into convulsions, and I had what I now know was my first seizure due to alcohol withdrawal. I don’t remember falling asleep.

Over the next two weeks, I had six more seizures before deciding I needed to go to the hospital. I was experiencing convulsions, auditory and visual hallucinations, severe feelings of temperature change, inability to see, and panic. At the time, I thought I was having panic attacks as didn’t know what the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal were plus I’d never heard of delirium tremens (sometimes known as the DT’s).

One of my best friends took me to the emergency room, where they ran lots of tests, injected me with three entire bags of saline to rehydrate me, wrote me a prescription for 10 Ativan (an anti-anxiety drug) but at no point was I asked about my alcohol consumption.

My first shot at sobriety lasted 14 months. I relapsed the night of my dad’s memorial service in May 2014. For the next year and a half, I fought to stay sober and was sober for much more of the time than I was actively drinking. I continued to relapse because I was not willing to face the pain that I had been trying to mask for so long.

Halloween 2015 wasn’t the worst night of my life, but it was the final straw. I finally stopped relapsing on 1 November 2015.

Today, I have been sober for 2 years, 9 months, and 6 days. To be honest, I don’t count anymore and used an online calculator to get that exact figure.

This time was different because I WAS F***ING DONE. I was READY. I saw clearly and understood for real that if I continued drinking, I would lose everything and everyone I loved and then it would kill me. I became a fighter the same day that I surrendered to these facts.

Fast forward to now, and I am a Certified Sober Life Coach, helping people in recovery rebuild their lives or build new ones from scratch once they get clean or sober. I became the person I needed when I first got sober. Like I said at the very beginning of my story, my alcoholism gave me a purpose for my life. My struggle wasn’t for nothing. My mess is my message and I know that I am here to guide those struggling with the same thing I was able to overcome. I am here to support, teach, and coach those who are just a few paces behind me on the journey of recovery and I’m thankful to have lived through what I did to be who I am today doing what I’m doing for others.

In Love and Service,

Andrea Carr

Sober Life Coach

Host of the Sober and Successful podcast

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Written by Andrea, edited by Sober Fish

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#club365 Week – Jo – ‘Coins in a Jar’

#club365 Week – Jo – ‘Coins in a Jar’

On 27 July 2018, I celebrated my first Soberversary; one whole year of being completely alcohol free.

It’s been a year of ups and downs but most importantly, a year of huge self -awareness. Choosing to live a sober life is so many things all at once. I feel strong, but also have incredible moments of weakness and self doubt.

People often ask why I decided to stop.

Well, to get to the nitty gritty, it took a healthcare professional to tell me what I already knew and had repeatedly tried to justify for at least the last 20 years.

Luckily, hearing her words ‘you need to stop drinking and what you are doing is not normal’, was enough to spring me into action.

I started drinking young, at around age 15 and always, ALWAYS, knew that my relationship with alcohol was far from normal. It just got worse and worse until a year ago, after really listening to this doctor’s words, I decided enough was enough.

I decided to try on my own and knew I needed something to make me accountable so started my blog called ‘Coins in a Jar’. I also actually put a coin in a jar every day so that I had something concrete to monitor my progress and I slowly watched the jar fill up.I did lots of research by joining groups, speaking to people, watching videos, reading books and getting my hands on just about any alcohol related content I could find. Reading and relating other people’s triumphs and struggles really helped me hugely.

The hardest part of the year was my mind.

I don’t think I ever physically needed a drink at all. It was the ridiculous tricks that our mind plays that make us think we are missing out. Like any unhealthy relationship that has ended, we always think of the good times. Not the sick times, the regrets, the mess ups, the wasted time.

A year on, I sometimes look at people drinking and think they are lucky. Lucky that they can relax for an hour or two and have that numbness wash over them but then my logical mind kicks in and screams ‘They’re not lucky! You’re the lucky one!’

I also find associations hard which is totally normal. A holiday, a sunset, a get together with friends, good times, bad times, hell! When exactly didn’t we drink alcohol?!😊

I find it quite easy to be around people drinking and when I am offered a drink, I don’t make any excuses. I’m a straight talker and I am honest when explaining how alcohol was simply f…ing up my life. When I verbalise this, I’m usually met with big eyes and a ‘well done’, immediately followed by their own beliefs, justifications or excuses such as ‘they only drink on weekends’.

Honesty is just the only way for me. I believe strongly in openness about mental issues including addiction. My mother was a huge sufferer of addiction, depression, anxiety, you name it. So for us and anyone else suffering with mental issues, I will never play it down. It’s just as important as any other disease that we can see.

If I were to describe my life one year on in one word, it would definitely be ‘quieter’.

Life is also much clearer. I’ve learnt to sit with discomfort and emotions instead of drowning them which takes a lot of practice! I am much fonder of chocolate these days. I’m not a huge stickler for plans as I once was; they don’t really bother me. My best friend is a planner. She will talk about Christmas plans or holidays next year and I laugh and tell her I just can’t think that far ahead.

I used to be a big planner. Had to be busy, see people, have people over. I realise now it was all mainly an excuse to drink. Now I’m in bed at 8 most nights and I love it.

So how did I celebrate my soberversary?

Well, I went out with some friends and had a giant mocktail but more importantly, I had a tattoo done on my arm! Words that I love and I can look at every day. Words that inspire me and remind me to keep going when I do have a down day.

Sobriety is the greatest personal achievement of my life. It’s not just about having the strength to not drink again; it’s made me believe in myself and my abilities. Cliché I know, but I can really now do anything.

I don’t have any intention to drink again, but I guess one can never say never. I don’t want to drink again and I’m almost on the verge of not having to need to drink ever again. Alcohol has become something I just don’t do. Like some people don’t eat sugar, I don’t drink alcohol. I have absolutely no problem being around it.

In fact, I feel a sense of satisfaction when I’m around pissed people.

I smile and think to myself. Thank God it’s not me.

MY 3 TOP TIPS TO HELP YOU LIVE A SOBER LIFE

1. Find something that makes you accountable. This could be joining a support group either online or in person, writing, finding someone with the same sobriety date and spurring each other along.

2. Always remember what you are gaining and not leaving behind.

3. Be kind to yourself and TREAT YOURSEF OFTEN!

Written by Jo, edited by Sober Fish 2018

To follow Jo’s blog, please go to

FB – https://m.facebook.com/coinsinajar/

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The Great Alcohol Free Drink Debate

The Great Alcohol Free Drink Debate

Here I am, fresh from the Club Soda Mindful Drinking Festival held in London yesterday & thought I’d share my views on a few of the hundreds of awesome products that were available to try!

Alcohol free (AF) drinks are always controversial. Some swear by them, some get triggered by them, some couldn’t care less about them & some buy them by the truckload.

Here’s my advice.

If they stop you from drinking alcohol, drink them. If they trigger you, don’t drink them. It really is as simple as that.

You have to do what’s right for you. Everyone is different. Personally, my first love is sparkling water but in the early days, I drank AF wines, Elderflower cordial by the pint & gave AF ‘gin’ a go. I’ve tried AF beer & enjoyed it, but it’s not my ‘go to’ tipple.

Compared to last year, it really was quite incredible to see how many new drinks are on the market, especially the AF ‘gin’ alternatives. It was really interesting speaking to the founders of these new drinks & hearing how they manufacture & market their products.

Here’s some of my favourites .. why not give them a try?

TEETOTAL CUBA LIBRE ALCOHOL FREE RUM & COKE

OMG, THIS is a game changer!

It was so good to see the lovely Gill again yesterday! We first met at the House Of Commons where she gave me a couple of bottles of her TeeTotal G&T (also amazing) & I promised her I would write about her product. Well, I was naughty & I didn’t, so now she’s really given me something to write about!

If I didn’t know Gill & she’d given me this drink in the dark, I would’ve sworn it was the real thing. It is great chilled, the packaging is awesome and you can buy in multipacks either for yourself or as a gift! Highly recommend!

To buy, go to the link below quoting SOBERFISH for a 5% discount

https://wisebartender.co.uk/teetotal-cuba-libre-rum–coke-0-abv-683-p.asp

Here’s a snap of lovely Gill & I having the best time! Can’t wait to see you soon!

BORRAGO

This is a relatively new product to the market & is one of the ‘gin’ alternatives. It was great to meet the team behind it & they even gave me a complimentary drink which was so very kind of them!

It tastes lovely & when made up in a glass with ice & a garnish, feels very grown up and special.

Again, you can buy this by clicking the link below and quoting SOBERFISH for a 5% discount-

https://wisebartender.co.uk/borrago-47-paloma-blend-0-abv–a-free-gift-592-p.asp

PIMENTO

Whilst water may be my first love, this has always been a close second. I LOVE this drink! It’s ginger beer with a difference as has a chilli kick to it. Try it, you won’t be disappointed!

It was also lovely to see Mr Pimento yesterday. Always a pleasure 😜

To buy, click this link below

https://amzn.to/2LtTy4Z

OLD MOUT CIDER BERRIES & CHERRIES

Cider. Hmmmm. My memories of cider are not great. If I’m honest, just the word ‘cider’ reminds me of hanging over a toilet bowl so I didn’t hold out much hope.

BUT

This is actually quite delicious. I like the packaging & I like berries & cherries & I liked that it didn’t really taste of cider as I remember it! I think it’s a great choice if you’re looking for something fruity & grown up & it’s not a bad price too.

Click the link below to buy & don’t forget to quote SOBERFISH for a 5% discount

https://wisebartender.co.uk/old-mout-cider-berries–cherries–0-abv-1147-p.asp

NIXANDKIX

Nixandkix were definitely one of my favourites last year so was great to see them again! These drinks are so refreshing with lots of gorgeous flavours including a new blood orange version!

Why not visit their site to see the full range?

https://nixandkix.com

Here’s me & Emma having the best time whilst drinking Nixandkix in 2017 😂 missed you SSS X

Written by Happy Sober Fish 2018

#day610

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#day600

#day600

600 days ago, I woke up with my final hangover. I was away with friends for a weekend full of boozing & little did I know, I was done.

As I came around that morning after a fractious sleep, I was dehydrated (as usual), felt sick, had a headache and had scratched my eczema so much, there were bloodstains on the bedding. I remember gulping down water from a pint glass on the bedside table but instead of being replenished, I just felt worse. My hair stank of cigarettes, my skin was beyond dry and my mood was low. How much longer was I going to inflict this harm upon myself?

On top of the hangover symptoms, I was coming down with flu. I was in a bad way. After breakfast, my friends decided to climb a steep hill nearby to shake off their hangovers before the drive home but I couldn’t think of anything worse and chose to go home instead. The real (secret) reason that I declined the hill walk was because I was massively overweight as well as totally unfit and hungover and doubted I could actually make it up (or down) the hill without having some kind of episode.

The following day started with a trip to the doctors about my eczema. It was out of control. I was a sorry itchy mess. The doctor was visibly shocked when I showed her my sore bleeding skin but at no point did she question how I’d got into such a state. Instead, I was given a stronger ointment and told to monitor it. Thankfully it began to subside that very afternoon.

At that point, it wasn’t my intention to never drink again as my ‘experiment’ wasn’t due to start until the New Year but as the hangover faded and the flu took centre stage, there was no other option than to succumb.

600 days ago, my new life began and what a 600 days it had been.

600 less hangovers

600 nights of proper sleep

600 mornings without hangxiety

600 less bacon rolls

600 days free from cigarettes

600 days of happiness

600 less fat cokes

600 reasons never to drink again

600 days of gratitude

600 days of freedom

Written by Sober Fish 2018

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