Mum’s week – ‘Day 1 or 1 Day .. you decide’

Mum’s week – ‘Day 1 or 1 Day .. you decide’

Yesterday was my birthday.

Yesterday was also my Day 1 as I embark on a year without alcohol.

So how am I feeling about it? Well, of course there are some nerves. I’ve thought about how I’ll make it through Christmas or whether people will still want to hang out with me but I also feel surprisingly exhilarated and excited!

I’m looking forward to the amazing health benefits to ease my struggle with auto-immune disorders such as arthritis and psoriasis, to no more wasted ‘scummy mummy’ hangover days and to increased productivity in all that I do.

Like many of us, I’ve always used alcohol as a treat, as a way to relax and an essential ingredient of a good night out. I’m a hard worker with a partner and two daughters and sometimes the need to relax reached supersonic levels! Increasingly, I’ve found myself waking up after drinking a bottle of wine the night before feeling anxious, unwell and disappointed in myself that I’m not being the best mum I know I can be. Our weekends are far more precious since my eldest daughter started school and far too many of them have been spent nursing a horrible hangover.

In April, I gave up alcohol for a month and despite being tempted on several occasions, really surprised myself. I noticed an obvious improvement to my mental health, my skin condition cleared up and my productivity was through the roof. Yet despite these benefits, I continued to count the days until I could drink again and in May, retoxed with gusto, causing all my symptoms to return instantly.

Two of my friends, including Sober Fish herself, have done so well in knocking booze on the head completely that I was inspired. To be honest, I always thought sobriety was for other people and not for me but curiously I’m now wanting to follow suit.

My other friend was a cracking drinking buddy but after becoming the head teacher of a school, decided to stop drinking alcohol for a year. Embarrassingly, I admit I was guilty of trying to tempt her back to having a Prosecco sesh but she stuck to her guns and completed her challenge. She looked great, felt fantastic and is full of tips for me as I start my own journey.

There are also a couple more personal reasons for giving up. My sister had an ongoing battle with alcohol abuse and unfortunately lost her life aged just 35, leaving a son behind. My father also died prematurely from alcohol related illness so I am very aware of the negative effects.

Although I don’t consider myself an alcoholic, I find it difficult to monitor my intake. I’m also concerned that alcohol issues could be genetic which gives me all the more reason to give up completely.

I have an addictive personality so will need something to replace the ‘buzz’. My solution is to get the wallet out for a new gym membership! I know that when I feel fit, I’m far less likely to want to drink (and smoke) so am challenging myself to a new fitness programme to keep me in check. I haven’t read any books yet (did I mention I’m a working mum?!) but will be downloading the Russell Brand audiobook which has been recommended by a few people. I am ridiculously stubborn so I’m hoping this trait will help in my success too.

I am looking forward to keeping you updated with my story over the next 365 days. I know the embarrassment of having to tell you all I’ve slipped up will be a great deterrent!

Wish me luck!

Written by Lou, edited by Sober Fish 2018

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Mum’s Week – ‘Brains Are Awesome’

Mum’s Week – ‘Brains Are Awesome’

Towards the end of 2017, I decided to challenge myself to raise money and awareness for The Brain Tumour Charity, in memory of my lovely mum.

When I was thinking about what to do, I soon realised that I needed to do something pretty spectacular to get maximum attention and support from my peer group and made the decision to give up alcohol for a year. As I write, I’m halfway through my #Dry365 challenge.

2017 was the shittiest year of my life so far. At the start of the year, I realised that my marriage was not going to survive and at the beginning of March, I asked my now ex-husband for a divorce. Two weeks later my mum died from a brain tumour which she’d endured for just shy of 20 years.

Sobriety is actually incredibly relevant and appropriate in terms of a personal challenge as my mother became sober when I was 18 months old. In the process of divorcing my father (they were great friends afterwards), the Judge in court told her that she was risking losing me if she continued to drink and so she stopped immediately.

Since giving up alcohol, albeit in the name of charity, I’ve noticed that nothing bad has happened to me. In fact, the whole experience has been massively positive. Aesthetically speaking, I look better and I am told I am ‘fresher’. I have far more energy and I feel much more engaged with life.

Recently, I have noticed that alcoholism (or whatever label is preferred) is progressive in nature. It has, over time, become increasingly socially acceptable to self medicate with alcohol and people often slide into it without realising.

The contrast between my life last year, surviving on a diet of red wine, peanut butter and Berrocca, is stark in comparison to this year. Last year, I fell into the comforting arms of red wine when beaten by life’s hard and fast curve balls. This year is so very different as I’m getting much better at catching those curve balls! The sense of perspective from the charity focus, combined with the rationality of sobriety, has made this a much easier ball game to play.

The good news continues. After my divorce, I learned how to date as a sober person and went through all the ‘firsts’, which was utterly terrifying. I was so lucky to meet a chap who is bloody amazing and thankfully more Darcy and less Cleaver! I sometimes wonder whether it’s the absence of alcohol and hangover paranoia or lack of drunken social media analysis that has helped nurture this relationship because alcohol always made me question everything. Sobriety has helped to silence any doubts I may have had.

I believe that sobriety was my Mum’s legacy to me. One of the benefits is that I am much more engaged in life and specifically less ‘slummy mummy’. I should make it very clear that I have never shirked my rugby mum duties. I would just pitch up blurry eyed, scoffing bacon and slurping full fat coke whilst the boys played. My sprogs have been very honest with their disdain of drunkenness. They are not keen on inert, hungover parents lying comatose on a sofa watching TV. There was a time that I was presented with an Early Learning Centre plastic wine glass and a lettuce leaf for supper by one of my sprogs. I certainly don’t want them to learn any future poor lifestyle choices from me.

I don’t know whether I will continue to be alcohol free when my challenge is completes at the end of 2018. I do miss wine especially when the sun is shining but can happily give or take shots, beer, etc. Who knows what will happen?! I look forward to finding out!

If you would like to follow my challenge, please follow me on

Instagram @brains_are_awesome

or visit my page

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/brainsareawesome

Written by Kat, edited by Sober Fish 2018

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Guest Poem – The Darkness

Guest Poem – The Darkness

The darkness descends at any given time; without any warning, without sign.

I’ve survived through what was total hell; only I myself know when I will really be well

I’ve been through bereavement and also divorce; my life is so terribly full of remorse.

The demons strike at any given time; I don’t know how to bear it without my crutch; the wine.

My mental state snapped, it had taken enough.

The wine worked itself through to my soul, taking complete control.

It slowly devoured every part of my day; I didn’t know I was drifting away.

Into a world where pain was no more, I could block out the past like locking a door

I’d wallow in pity, sink deeper and deeper until all shapes and forms were of the grim reaper.

It took time, it took effort, so long to get free

It’s one day at a time now, living as me.

Angela X

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Guest Blog – Lysha Holmes Celebrates 1 Year Sober

Guest Blog – Lysha Holmes Celebrates 1 Year Sober

On 10 June 2017, my best friend & I were belatedly celebrating my 43rd birthday. We bought the obligatory bottle of Prosecco as we’d done countless times over the last 20 years, and toasted to good times and our forever friendship.

However, this time was different. This time I chose not to drink it.

I watched the bubbles in the glass try to seduce me but soon realised that I didn’t want to taste it’s bittersweetness. Instead, I drank an alcohol free drink and we continued our night, filled with music, dancing and laughter.

My 29 year relationship with booze was over.

Today, I celebrate one year completely alcohol free. I’ve decided to write a post about how my life has changed since I made my decision, how I coped with the change and what harsh truths have been revealed.

In July 2017, I wrote my first blog for The Sober Fish Story –

A Special Guest Blog ‘Becoming teetotal’ by Lysha Holmes

I was so grateful for the opportunity to share my story and found it really therapeutic. My relationship with booze had always been a heady mix of erratic love and apathy. I didn’t consider myself an alcoholic but more of a socially acceptable dependent whose entire adult life had been linked to booze in some way.

Every major life event was celebrated with booze; weddings, promotions, bad day, good day. It’s considered the social norm to crack a bottle of something open at the drop of a hat and I simply succumbed to the expected parameters of that.

I dabbled with sobriety for nearly a year between August 2016 and June 2017 however every drink I had, I drank in order to conform. I knew I needed to stop but still continued to have champagne to toast in the New Year or a glass of something cold at a BBQ or a cocktail on a girlie night out.

My main fear about sobriety was that I would become a social pariah within my broad circle of friends. This was manifested mostly by my own inner fears however, because in reality, very few people actually berated me for not drinking.

Initially, I felt like I was constantly explaining to people why I wasn’t drinking. Their standard response was ‘I didn’t realise you had a problem’ to which I would explain ‘Neither did I, but my mental and physical health is so much better without it’.

It certainly became repetitive to have to justify my own personal decision to commit to a healthier lifestyle. Perhaps they were reflecting on how I could consider sobriety and whether I would now become dull and boring? I could also sense that a few were negative about it but maybe because my decision was making them question their own habits?

Without sounding too dramatic, it is a brave decision to stop drinking alcohol and to deliberately go against the expected norm of your social group.

Sober Fish has written about how sobriety is a life changing decision. As with any positive healthy lifestyle change, you sometimes only realise the benefits over a period of time. You have to be wholly committed to your choice in order to resist temptation when everyone else is drunk and on a totally different wave length.

I’ve learned that I don’t need alcohol to lose my inhibitions. I am a very confident person and whilst I thought alcohol was my ‘crutch’, it was actually stopping me from being the real me. I’ve had much more fun on nights out since becoming sober and love being able to recall every moment. I also ‘think’ I’m much funnier and quick witted than before!

Since ditching the booze, the change to my physical health is enormous. I’ve lost three dress sizes and instead of languishing in bed with a hangover every weekend, I walk at least 10k steps a day and do a HIIT session with The Body Coach

https://www.thebodycoach.com

I eat really healthily as can actually taste food now. I don’t diet, eat what I want and fully appreciate my health. I think it’s important to respect my body and want to look after it as best I can.

I believe that alcohol distorts the way that you think you look. I never thought I was particularly big or overweight, but when I look back at my ‘before’ photos, I can see how bloated I was and how puffy my eyes were. Interestingly, I was diagnosed with an under active thyroid during pregnancy in 2004 however since I’ve stopped drinking, it has become totally stable.

One of the most precious parts of sobriety is sleep. It is quite simply amazing. I sleep solidly for 7 hours a night without waking up thirsty or needing the loo. I don’t have heart palpitations, which I’m sure were caused by alcohol messing with my metabolic rate at night. Sometimes, I used to feel like I was almost being ‘kick started’ while sleeping! I don’t perspire and wake naturally at the same time every day, fully rested.

Alcohol is perceived as a social necessity and most people who drink cannot imagine socialising without it. There is almost a ‘pack mentality’ with alcohol; when a few people are all drinking together, it can spiral into matching each others pace, opening bottle after bottle.

Sobriety can make you consider friendships and the activities you do together. Personally, I think it’s far more satisfying to have a bonding day at the beach or a satisfying walk through a forest without the need for alcohol. I’ve become so much more aware of my REAL friendships; you know who you are 🙂

Sometimes, I feel like my sobriety can make other people feel uncomfortable or a little paranoid. This could be because they think I’m going to judge them for drinking alcohol but usually this couldn’t be further from the truth. Your choice is yours and my choice is mine.

My final point of what I have learned this year is that, despite stressful life-changing events, I finally feel content. I have a real sense of purpose and achievement that feels so fresh and so authentic, I can’t imagine ever diluting it with alcohol again.

Times are changing. People are choosing healthier lives by swapping junk food for organic and getting fit. The final part of the trilogy to a healthier and in my opinion, far happier life, is to assess your relationship with alcohol and find out what sobriety is really like.

I’m a mum to two daughters and we talk about alcohol and why I don’t drink. I’ve been very open with them and explained that sometimes you have to make a life-changing choice.

My youngest daughter cemented my decision for me when she said ‘Mum, I never used to tell you but sometimes you smelled of wine if we’d been out at a friend’s house. I remember one New Years Eve when you ignored me because you were having champagne with your friends’.

If that wasn’t reason enough to make me stop and re-adjust my priorities in life, then I don’t know what is.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank every one who has supported me during the last year and give a big thank you to Dawn, aka Sober Fish, who I finally met earlier this year. We really are sisters from another mister; we didn’t stop talking for three days and proved that with the right friends, you really can achieve anything.

Written by Lysha 2018

Edited by Sober Fish

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Men’s Week – ‘Alcohol Was Not My Friend’

Men’s Week – ‘Alcohol Was Not My Friend’

I am living the most wonderful life imaginable.

I have an amazing wife, a fabulous job, a beautiful home and lots of good friends. I feel fit and strong and like nothing better than going on fantastic hiking adventures with my wife and dog Betty. I am complete.

However, if I’d written this story 13 months ago, it would’ve been a very different tale. The ingredients would’ve been the same but there was ‘a fly in the ointment’ or rather ‘a raging bull in the ointment’.

It was alcohol.

We think that alcohol is everybody’s friend right? It wasn’t my friend; it was my enemy.

Alcohol embarrassed me, made a fool of me, made me angry, made me sad and turned me into a bad person. It made me hurt the people I love it and stripped me of my mojo. It tried to take everything but luckily, it failed.

If I’m totally honest, I was what people would call a bad drunk. Alcohol did nothing for me at all.

I don’t want to talk about things I did in the past or how I behaved … I’m sure you can imagine. As far as I am concerned, the past is the past and it’s well behind me now.

I tried to stop drinking for years. I tried not drinking in the week or having a month off; we all know the script. The result was that I’d end up drinking more and more; every night and every weekend.

At the time, I wouldn’t have said I was alcohol dependant but looking back, I was. It was hard to admit because the truth was I couldn’t stop.

I’ve lost count of how many times I tried to give up but the problem with alcohol is that whilst it makes you feel awful, it also promises to make you feel good.

Now we know the truth though. Alcohol is a liar.

In April 2017, my wife found Sober Fish online and was inspired to stop drinking. A month later, on 21 May 2017, with my wife’s full support, love and encouragement, I drank my last drink.

To go against the grain is a hard thing to do. To become a non-drinker is ‘against the norm’ however if people love and care about you, they should encourage you. You have to do what’s right for you and find something to replace the alcohol. This could anything; God, yoga, meditation or in our case, hiking. We’ve hiked thousands of miles over the last year; we’re fit, have lost weight and completely changed our way of life.

By ditching the alcohol, I literally found the real me and I couldn’t be happier.

Written by Lee x 2018

Edited by Sober Fish

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Men’s Week – Sobriety changed my life

Men’s Week – Sobriety changed my life

I started drinking cider at the age of 15. Almost instantly, I loved how alcohol made me feel. My shyness would disappear and I would feel like the life and soul of the party.

As I grew up, everyone drank alcohol but I felt like my drinking was different to that of my friends. For example, after a heavy weekend, my mates would be so hungover that they couldn’t bear to touch another drink, however I would crave more alcohol and easily reach for another.

After a few years, I started to notice that I would get ‘the shakes’ and ‘the DT’s’ (Delirium Tremens) if I didn’t drink alcohol. I would therefore drink more to calm me down and alleviate the symptoms.

Before too long, I was on massive benders, drinking morning, noon and night to avoid any unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Food and work went out of the window and I knew I was in serious trouble.

My final bender was in July 2003. It resulted in severe paranoia, crippling anxiety and a depression like I’d never experienced before. It scared the life out of me.

Feeling at an all time low and unsure where to turn, I called the Samaritans and they kindly gave me the number for Alcoholics Anonymous.

In utter desperation to get well, I threw myself into meetings and using the invaluable advice to take one day at a time, the cravings eventually disappeared.

Since becoming sober, I have cleared all my debts accrued whilst drinking. I also met my long term partner and two fantastic sons aged 6 and 8! I am a season ticket holder at Bristol City Football Club and enjoy running, competing in triathlons and going to gigs.

People say that a sober life is boring but I think my life was far more dull when I was drinking. I love my life now.

Last week, my long term partner and I got married. We had a fantastic honeymoon in Dorset, followed by a family holiday in Devon and I enjoyed being present for every single second of it.

I have now been sober for 15 years and I rarely think about alcohol. I no longer attend AA meetings as feel happy and secure in my sobriety but am mindful not to become complacent and take each day slowly, one at a time.

Written by Rich 2018

Edited by Sober Fish

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