#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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Super Sparkly Sober Saturday

Super Sparkly Sober Saturday

Pre Soberdom, weekends were for one thing only and that was getting hammered. On Friday nights, the habit was real. There I was, like a bee to a honey pot, hurtling down the wine aisle to check out the offers. In summer, it was white or rose; in winter, heavy red. Two bottles (one was never enough) were slung unceremoniously in my basket followed by brief stop down the ready meal aisle and not forgetting a nice fresh pack of 20 from the cigarette kiosk. Boom, I was ready to launch.

Home. Bags dropped to the floor. Wine poured before anything else and slugged down in three. One fag out the window. Breathe (smoke). Another fag out the window. Glug. And breathe (smoke) once more. Happy weekend.

When I look back at this little ritual, I can still remember the panic. The excitement. The race. All to get home to slurp and smoke.

I attribute it to habit and relief and stress. In my former job, the weeks were long perpetuated by excruciating hangovers, shouty angry customers and a Hitler style management regime. It was a celebration to leave the workhouse each week and get home to safety. It was what I’d always done, rewarded myself for surviving another week on the planet. After all, I deserved it right?

Now, it seems such an alien concept to reward myself with poisons and toxins. In fact, it’s just plain bloody bizarre! Oh I know, I’ve had a hard week at work and I’m really tired, emotional and stressed so I’ll just fill my body up with stuff that generally makes me even more tired, emotional and stressed, resulting in a shit night’s sleep followed by vomming all day on my day off! Yeah, what an incredibly genius idea!

When you stop drinking alcohol, weekends morph from ‘over in the blink of an eye’ to ‘every minute becomes an hour’. It’s almost off putting at the start. One Saturday, I remember waking up, writing, eating, walking, cleaning and it was still 9am. I was thinking ‘how on Earth do I fill my day?’ and rather than being pleased, the prospect of so much sober time, was daunting. There was too much time to think about drinking.

Now, there is never enough time. There is always something to do. I write, I cook, I blog, I walk, I edit. I breathe fresh, clean air. I did none of those things before. Hangovers literally stole my joy. They stole my creativity. They stole my weekends.

If you want to be successful in sobriety, you will have to change your weekend routine and planning is key. Do activities that don’t involve drinking; get outside, go for a long walk, go to the cinema, drive somewhere you’ve never been before.

You have to train your brain to expect different things from a weekend. Your brain will expect to get bladdered if that’s what you’ve always done. You have to show it who’s boss and get it to look forward to something else! Chocolate, exercise, reading, sex. Do whatever it takes!

I’m not sure I’ll ever get over how fantastic Sober Saturday’s are. They are truly one of the best parts of sobriety. To feel alive and full of possibility is a very beautiful thing. Time is precious; don’t waste it.

#day595

Written by Sober Fish 2018

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The Massive Mood – 6 months & beyond

The Massive Mood – 6 months & beyond

Achieving 6 months of sobriety is a weird old time. On the one hand, it’s an ENORMOUS accomplishment; on the other, it’s a no-mans-land of ‘what the actual fuck am I doing?’

I remember 6 months well. One minute, I was ecstatic, jumping for joy and celebratory, and the next, I was miserable, moody and morose. There was no middle ground.

At 6 months, my beautiful temple rewarded me with the biggest mood of my sobriety. Ironically, it happened whilst watching Glastonbury festival on TV. Now this is strange because a. I’ve never been to Glastonbury, b. I’ve never wanted to go to Glastonbury and c. I’ve never watched Glastonbury on TV. In fact, I’d never even given two shiny shites about Glastonbury before. But suddenly, I wanted to go to Glastonbury and get off my miserable face.

I remember sitting on my sofa, Elderflower cordial in one hand and a wodge of Curly Wurlies in the other, balling. If I’d been a child, I would’ve been stamping my feet and wailing ‘but I WANNA’. I was jealous & envious and the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) was of epic proportions.

Thoughts were whirring through my brain; ‘is THIS it?’, ‘will I ever drink again?’, ‘is my life resigned to staying in on a Friday night, cartoon crying and binge eating Curly Wurlies ALONE?’, ‘was everyone else is the world having fun apart from ME?’, ‘was this IT?’.

The more the thoughts whirred, the more I cried. I was actually making noises like a 2 year old. I was proper wailing like a 42 year old banshee.

And then I stopped. To breathe mainly. But I stopped. I was exhausted by emotion. And actually it felt quite good to have got it all out. Then, Rational Dawn then came out to play.

Did I really want to go to Glastonbury? No. Did I want to camp? No. Did I want to ever see a festival toilet pit again? No. Did I want to go to a festival sober? No. Did I really give a shit about Glastonbury? No.

What I’ve realised about Sober Massive Moods is that often it’s the old (inner) me having a paddy. The old (inner) me is sad that a choice has been taken away and challenging me to do something about it. Sure, the option to festival sober is there. The reality is I’d bloody hate it.

The Massive Mood made me question what was REALLY going on. Actually, it had fuck all to do with festival antics and more to do with me accepting my relationship with alcohol was finally over.

6 months is a long time and 6 months is not. It’s a limbo between your old life and your new. Your body is free from toxins and you have recalibrated. It’s common to think ‘perhaps I could just have the one’.

Personally, I didn’t think this because moderation is not, and has never been, an option. My belief is that if I could moderate, I would’ve moderated and not got myself into the pickle that led me to 6 months of sobriety. Similarly, if Curly Wurlies were supposed to be eaten one at a time, why sell 5 for a £1? Just my opinion.

Despite the doom & gloom of The Massive Mood, some lovely stuff happened at 6 months. I changed the blog name from ‘Sober for 2017’ to ‘The Sober Fish Story’, cementing my intention of sobriety for life. I started walking everyday, discovered Audio books and booked my ticket to Thailand which was one of the highlights of my sober journey so far.

Life, sober or hanging, will always have it’s ups and downs. It’s how you deal with it that matters. If you need to cry, cry. Why are we so conditioned not to cry for Pete’s sake??! If you need to binge eat Curly Wurlies, bloody binge eat Curly Wurlies. Do WHATEVER it takes because I promise you this, if you get through 6 months sober, you’re on the verge of being invincible.

Never, ever, give up ❤️

Written by Sober Fish 2018

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Mum’s Week – ‘CatMother Extraordinaire’

Mum’s Week – ‘CatMother Extraordinaire’

I have been sober for 48 days. Quite the achievement for somebody whose automatic response to any situation was to celebrate (or commiserate) with a beer. Or wine. Or prosecco. Or gin. Good day at work? Have a drink. Bad day at work? Have a drink. Cat fallen out of the bedroom window again? Drink. You finished watching every episode of 13 Reasons Why Season 2 and only cried 8,362 times? Drink.

I have been binge drinking since I was 12 years old. Back then I hated myself. I hated everything about myself and did everything I could to try and be somebody else. The discrepancy between ideal me and actual me was so huge I could never live up to it. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t anxious. There were many factors that contributed to this and whilst I have spent my life trying to resolve these, I have always fallen back to my old friend booze to forget a problem that I could not fix.

But alcohol is the type of friend that ghosts you for months at a time. Or deletes you from social media for no reason. Or invites everyone to the pub except you. It’s not a good friend. But you’ve known each other for so long and sometimes, it’s just so hard to break the bonds of time and habit and parasitic symbiosis that you fall back to them in your weakest moments, unable to remember which one of you is the parasite.

Drinking has always enabled me to lessen the wriggling worms of my anxiety. I know they are still there and they know they are still there, but we’re all drunk and languorous. We can’t be bothered to cause problems. If I could stop there, what a delight that would be.

To have one drink, or two, to take the edge off and enjoy the moment. To stop there, with the gin glow and brighten up the world.

But three starts getting louder and louder and louder and louder.

Four starts slurring and insisting, really loudly, that they are NOT FUCKING DRUNK.

Five wants to take on the fucking world and has forgotten about the Morrisons delivery that’s just turned up at its house.

Six. Well. Six gets so wankered by 4pm on New Years Eve, that it has to have nap and leave its husband to entertain their guests until 10pm when it manages to pull its shit together and join the party.

Then appeareth the morning after the night before. The flashbacks of shameful memories that can’t distinguish between reality or dream. The sticky sweats, the sickness, the shits. The thumping of a thousand tiny plastic swords against the surface of your brain. The lethargy, the hunger, the sickness. The suffocating dryness of your mouth, infused with the taste and smell of stale beer, vomit and cigarettes.

You don’t even smoke.

The inability to keep even a sip of water down. Having to drive home knowing full well that you are not safe to drive. Cancelling plans because no, you can not get out of bed today.

Topped off with the incessant fucking writhing of the wiggling anxiety worms that are now full grown, two metre long snakes and they are beating you to death from the inside. AND NOW THEY’RE IN YOUR BRAIN. The shame spiral that swoops you up in it like a tornado and banishes all logical thought. The texts you think you should send to apologise for being a dickhead but you can’t even write them because to do so is an admittance that you have a problem and your behaviour last night is only the beginning of it. When you say never again, but you mean until the next time, the next party, the next stressful day at work, the next night.

And the cycle begins again.

There was no defining moment this time. No hellscaped hangover to promise never again. No argument with a friend that made me feel like shit. No shame, guilt, humiliation that triggered this decision. Just a butterfly effect that created a change in mindset.

My anxiety has decreased. My capacity to see joy everywhere in the world has increased. My mental health is flourishing. I have so much free time that I have almost got the house in order and started ticking off all the to do list jobs that I have been deliberately ignoring for months!

I have started writing again, with an avid passion. I wrote my first ever short story and submitted it into a local competition where it was one of eight shortlisted out of forty. I didn’t win but putting myself out there has given me feedback from publishers that I can use to develop my work. And for the first time ever, I am blogging regularly about my sobriety journey.

I start reading books and finish them within a month. I meal plan and have time to prepare my lunches for work so I can stick to a healthy regime. I exercise every day. Who knew there was so much you could do instead of being in the pub?!

I had a fear that alcohol was the only thing that made me interesting and yet, having had multiple days and nights out sober and laughing until my throat hurt, I know that this isn’t true. I’m every kind of magnificent and even more hilarious sober. My relationships have improved. I have more patience and time to be supportive, loving and to really listen. Looking after myself means I have more to give to the people I love the most in this world.

All of this motivates me to continue on this overgrown and slightly tumultuous edge of the mountain path I am on. It might not be the right path for everybody, but it’s definitely the right path for me.

Beautifully written by Kia, barely edited by Sober Fish

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Mum’s week – ‘The Healing Junkie’

Mum’s week – ‘The Healing Junkie’

Two years ago, I was a very different person to the one I am today. Back then, I was angry, sad, lost but most of all I was addicted.

I started experimenting with drugs at the age of 13, mostly smoking pot and drinking alcohol until someone gave me a Percocet (combination pain killer). I can still remember the warmness that came over my body as the surge of dopamine flooded my brain. I was hooked. I was in love.

By the time I was 26, full blown addiction taken its hold. My drug of choice was any kind of opiate pill I could get hold of. By day, I was a drug addict; by night, a mum and a wife. I have 2 sons who are 2 years apart in age. Eventually, both of them watched me kick addiction’s ass!!

At first, I did a very good job at hiding my abuse but as the disease progressed, it was harder to conceal. My behaviour clearly began to show something wasn’t right. My husband became suspicious as I fell deeper and deeper into addiction until one night, he finally found my stash. He confronted me and at that very moment, it hit me. I was addicted. I cried and promised I would get help and quit, which I did. I even went back to school to get my diploma and a certification in healthcare. I remained sober for 4 months but sadly gave in and started the cycle all over again.

This time, it was like an out of body experience as I watched my life fall apart from the outside.  I had tasted what a sober life could be like so when I fell back into addiction, it was almost surreal. One morning, as I did a line of drugs from the bathroom counter whilst getting ready for school, I took a long hard look at myself. I was beginning to get blemishes, my nose was red and my eyes were starting to turn dark again. I literally screamed out ‘FUCK THIS’ and at that moment, I decided that I DID NOT WANT this shitty existence any longer!!

I knew quitting was going to be sick mentally and physically so I planned to do it on my last day of class before the summer break started on 27 June 2016.

At 6pm on 27 June 2016, I put the final drug into my body. My husband still had no idea I’d relapsed and thought I was 6 months sober. After 3 days of withdrawal and pretending I had the flu, I finally told him the truth. I had contemplated not telling him, to pretend that the 3 months of active use hadn’t happened but then a saying often used in rehabs and lCA meetings came into my mind ‘Secrets keep you sick’. I was done with being sick and so I picked him up from work and everything just spilled out.

This time I wasn’t messing around. My kids needed a sober mom and I needed to live so I started attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings daily.  I listened to the speakers each night praying that one day I could find the kind of new found love for life they had. In the rooms, the word ‘God’ was used A LOT. It was hard for me as I was raised catholic and my vision of God was a man sitting on a throne, choosing who was worthy of his love. I struggled immensely until one day it hit me that God was whatever I believed it was. To me, God was a universal life force and not some judgey dude picking and choosing who was worthy or not. When I was able to accept that something bigger than me was out there, I was finally able to start my healing journey.

I spent the summer going to meetings every night and found myself a sponsor who helped me dig deep and forgive others and more importantly, myself. I made amends with everything in my life and for the first time, I felt inner peace. I had switched my game from victim to warrior. I began to meditate and do mindful breathing practices. At first, I found it difficult but the more I tried, the easier it became. I wrote gratitude lists starting with maybe one or two things I was grateful for that day. I still write those lists which have now snowballed into thousands of things I could say that I’m grateful for today!! I changed my diet from junk and processed foods to more whole foods which made me feel better physically and mentally. I even quit smoking cigarettes!!

I wish I could say that it was a struggle for me to stay sober but it wasn’t. I was finally done with ruining my body, my life and my family. Don’t get me wrong, not every day is easy but I make a conscious choice to wake up and take the day for what it is. I meditate as often as possible whether that be a guided meditation, a soak in a nice salt bath or five minutes deep breathing in my bedroom. I’ve learned how to let go, how to be compassionate, how to be understanding and most of all, that service to others fills the empty void I had. I graduated high school and obtained my diploma with honours as well as my health care program with an average of 93%.

I’ve started my career and am beginning to branch out and find out what I really love. I am no longer afraid to take risks and I am no longer afraid to be me. The mask that I wore for 30 years has finally fallen off. I love that my kids got to witness their mom fall so hard but also have the courage to stand up and fight. I taught them that you can overcome anything; all it takes is courage. But most of all, I now have this amazing experience to share with the world and hope it makes at least one person realize how much potential we all hold within ❤️

Written by Sarah, The Healing Junkie, Edited by Sober Fish 2018

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