Guest Blog – ‘From therapy to therapist – a true story’ by Rebecca

Guest Blog – ‘From therapy to therapist – a true story’ by Rebecca

I grew up with tee-total parents, and didn’t really discover alcohol until I left my sleepy home town in Norfolk to chase the bright lights of the Bournemouth seafront at 21.

In the relationship I was in at the time, we would think nothing of going on an all-day session most weekends. In fact, looking back, I probably started drinking on a Friday on the way home from work and kept going until late Sunday afternoon. One All Inclusive holiday we were asked to leave our hotel as we had drunk more than our allocation of booze!

It’s fine, I thought;

I can handle it, I thought.

For ten consecutive years, the Universe sent me big piles of shit to stop me in my tracks, and to make me pay attention to my life. Only it didn’t, it sent me to the Off Licence.

Bereavement, divorce, stalking, assault, redundancy, relocation…year after year life’s big traumatic events would knock me sideways and I would self-medicate with booze.

It’s fine, I thought;

I can handle it, I thought.

Until the night I ‘celebrated’ the first anniversary of losing a close friend by going to bed at 6pm and drinking countless bottles of wine…in my bed…by myself. I knew I was losing the fight against my Mental Health, and whilst I was an expert at The Fake Smile, I knew I couldn’t lie to myself any longer.

I lost a whole Summer once.

A. Whole. Summer.

It was wasted on hibernating under my duvet with a sore head from the night before; wasted because the safety of my metaphorical cave was so much more appealing than the real world outside. I would spend the day at work, putting on my brave face and my big girl pants, and would literally race home to hide. I was falling deeper and deeper in to a black hole of depression.

And then my God-daughter was born; a girl who changed my world forever. Suddenly the bright lights of Bournemouth lost their sparkle, and all I wanted was to be back home in Norfolk with my life-long friends and loving family. As I type this I chuckle, as my Dad had his last hangover in 1976, and I’ve not once in my life seen my best friend drunk. I knew I had to change my tribe, in order to change my mental health.

It’s fine, I thought;

I can handle it, I thought.

I was an International HR Superhero by day, and a happy loved friend by night, but there weren’t many International HR jobs in rural Norfolk (!!) so I suddenly found myself in Soho, London, commuting back home when I could. But then there were the late nights (who am I kidding – early mornings socialising) with the colleagues or the bored, and lonely nights with a hotel mini-bar. When I finally kicked myself out of the Groucho Club at 6am and still managed a day’s work, I knew I had to change my career, in order to change my mental health.

I signed myself off sick and asked my GP for anti-depressants. It was time to tackle the Black Dog, and not just tame it, but give it the lethal injection for good. Whilst chatting to the GP, he just casually pointed out that I hadn’t had a smear test for the last 6 years, and perhaps now that I was off sick, it would be a good time to catch up on ‘health admin’. A week later I was given the words everyone dreads.

You. Have. Cancer.

The black dog of depression was no longer curled up asleep by the fire; it became vicious, bitter, obsessive and dangerous. Not forgetting the physical ailments, I became so mentally ill that one night, despite my bedroom window over-looking a field of cows, I was convinced there was a man at my window, trying to attack me. It was a metaphor for my life, and finally gave me the kick up the backside to go for therapy.

I’d tried counselling, but that just replayed bad events, and I’ve since learnt that because the brain can’t tell the difference between imagination and reality, it thinks it’s happening all over again, and releases adrenaline and cortisol to protect you. This just then adds fuel to the “let’s drink and cry loads” fire, which is no good for anyone.

I tried anger management classes, but got asked to leave for being too angry!

I tried Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which helped put rules in place, such as to only allow myself to ruminate for 2 minutes, which comforted my obsessive nature when I literally set a stopwatch and ranted!

It’s fine, I thought;

I can handle it, I thought.

Only then, for the first time in my 40 years, was I actually right. I had finally found a way to be fine, and to handle it, and actually mean it. What I’m about to tell you literally saved my life.

I met a Clinical Hypnotherapist, and was just blown away when he explained to me how my brain works, why it’s stuck in this drink-cry-fall down-hangover-drink again vicious circle, but most importantly what I could do about it. I was told all I had to do was three things in between our sessions:

1. Positive Action. I had to do something that got me out of hibernation and got oxygen in my lungs. For me that meant gentle exercise, which released dopamine in to my system, which is a reward hormone.

2. Positive Interaction. We operate better as a part of a tribe, rather than as individuals, so I had to spend time with people I love. This released oxytocin, which is the love hormone.

3. Positive Thinking: Even at the height of my cancer diagnosis when I didn’t get out of bed for 8 days (not because of physical health, but mental health) I had to notice something good in every day. I was asked to keep a diary of “What’s Been Good” which released serotonin, which is the happy hormone.

When your brain releases these hormones, it blocks the hormones that make you want to drink, and make you feel anxious or depressed. Serotonin is literally the world’s best drug!

I loved the therapy so much that I resigned from my successful career, that I’d done for the last 20 years, and decided to re-train. I am now a fully qualified Psychotherapist, and offer Solution Focused Clinical Hypnotherapy via Skype to clients all over the world.

I have been sober since 2 January 2018, been given the all clear from the cancer, have met the man of my dreams, and whilst life still throws me its curveballs, I’m now stronger than ever to be able to manage them.

Cheers to that!

Written by Rebecca, edited by Sober Fish

www.inspiredtochange.biz www.facebook.com/hypnotherapythetford

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Guest Blog ‘My Awakening’ by Jackie

Guest Blog ‘My Awakening’ by Jackie

When I was 17 years old, I started my first dream job as a trainee Zoo Keeper. I was shy and uncomfortable around people and had always said I would never drink or smoke because I’d seen how alcohol affected people and didn’t like it.

I’d been invited out by my work mates who all liked a drink and was introduced to cider and baby sham, the ‘in drink’ back then. I liked the taste of it and it went down a treat. Then I had another, then another. It was great, I felt great and I could talk to people now! What a night! I felt amazing!

The next morning however, was a totally different story. I felt strange and confused, like I was hallucinating. I didn’t like the feeling and deep down, I knew this was something I didn’t want to do again; it really wasn’t for me.

On the next night out though, I felt shy and awkward and thought ‘I’ll just have the one to give me a little confidence’. And then had another and then another, and so it went on.

I soon realised I couldn’t have ‘just the one’ but I was young and your younger years were supposed to be spent like that right?

My nights out were amazing. I met so many people and had the best social life. Before long, I was out most nights of the week.

Sometimes, grabbing a quick drink after work turned into being kicked out at closing time, still in my work clothes. In the morning, I would head to work red-eyed and stinking of booze from the night before. My boss would shout ‘Were you out drinking last night again? Look at the state of you’ but I’d just laugh and get on with my work.

During those years, I tried all the drinks; different spirits, beers, wine, etc. I loved vodka but it made me violent. I tried whisky but didn’t like the taste and it gave me severe hangovers.

All of my relationships centred around alcohol and none of them ever lasted very long. I’d attract people who liked a drink as much as I did and gradually saw less of my sensible drinking friends.

When I reached my late 20’s and had another failed relationship, I realised that alcohol had played a big part in this relationship from start to finish. I’d become quite violent to my partner at the time and would feel terrible the following day, staying in bed for as long as possible so that I didn’t have to face the shame of what I’d said or done the night before.

After this realisation, I decided to monitor my drinking habits a bit more. I’d choose drinks that were a bit lower in alcohol content and try to have a glass of water in between drinks. I even decided to work in a bar at weekends so I’d still be socialising but not drinking, but none of it worked. Hell, I just drank more working in the bar spending all my tips on alcohol when I finished!

Every time I tried to moderate my alcohol intake and failed, my drinking would then get worse. It felt like going to a weight management class to lose lots of weight only to then put it all back on again and then some.

In my early 30’s, I knew my drinking was unhealthy but thought ‘I’m not an alcoholic’ as I don’t drink in the mornings, can keep a job and a roof over my head and don’t need to drink every day.

I knew I was a binge drinker but that was ok right? Yeah, I blacked out nearly every time I drank, yeah I’d wake up in strange houses and yeah, I’d been in hospital twice this year due to drink related accidents.

I then decided that what I’d do was just drink at home so I wouldn’t embarrass myself any further. I’d buy a box of red wine (because that’s good for you right?) and I’d have just 1 glass of wine per night, no bingeing and therefore consume less than 14 units a week.

This way, if I did drink more than a glass of wine, nobody will see me making a fool of myself. I wouldn’t dread answering the phone or the door the next day. It was sorted.

So on a Thursday night, I’d buy a box of red wine and sit it in the kitchen. I’d have a glass then convince myself it wasn’t quite a full glass so I’d just have a little more. Then I’d think ‘it’s still early and I feel fine’ and have another .. and then wake up at 5am the next day with a hangover and … you guessed it .. an empty box of wine!

So what do I do now? People keep telling me I’m not an alcoholic as I don’t drink every day but something is clearly not right.

On New Year’s Eve in 2001, I had a fabulous night celebrating in Edinburgh and ended up going to a party afterwards.

In the morning, I woke up half dressed with no idea what happened as I had no memory. Still drunk, I went to my parents for New Year’s Day dinner. As the alcohol started to wear off, the hangover and depression started to kick in with the realisation that something had happened, something I had let happen. I was riddled with guilt and fear and broke down to my mother. I was desperate now and knew I can’t go on like this. I knew that after this event, I could never drink again. Never.

I didn’t drink for the next 2 weeks but I missed it. I convinced myself that I’d had a huge fright and that I’d be ok but would stop drinking when I felt like I was getting drunk.

So, once again, I decided that I’d just drink in the house and bought a small bottle of rum. Oh boy I’d missed this; the taste, the feeling. I felt great, amazing, so happy. After a couple of hours, the bottle was empty and I was in a party mood. I called a taxi to take me to the local pub and decided to meet up with some old drinking buddies then go onto a party. It’d be fine, I convinced myself. I was working in the morning so I wouldn’t stay late.

When I woke up, my head hurt like hell. I couldn’t remember but concluded I must’ve drunk whisky. Then I realised I wasn’t at home. Oh no, I’d blacked out again and I needed to get to work. I quickly went home, got changed and somehow, drove to work. I was so ill, I just couldn’t be there and luckily managed to get away early where I climbed into bed, and stayed for 2 whole days.

I couldn’t go on like this. I couldn’t live with alcohol but I didn’t think I could live without it either. I needed someone or something to help me.

On 28 January 2002, my dad was having a retirement party. I didn’t want to embarrass him or make a fool of myself and knew I needed help.

I decided to go to the doctor but he wasn’t much help, telling me I wasn’t an alcoholic. He prescribed me some pills to help with the side effects of not drinking alcohol and refers me to a community psychiatric nurse, advising I will wait sometime for an appointment.

In the meantime, I tried Alcoholics Anonymous but decided it wasn’t for me. I then found a womens group through the NHS that I attended once a week. I found that talking to other women and being re-educated about alcohol helped me so much. My employer was a great help too by giving me the time off.

My parents were so supportive. I thought nobody understood but if it wasn’t for them, I’m sure I would’ve have failed. I cried and cried when I realised this was it. It felt like the end of a relationship I thought I could never leave, I was bereft.

15 years on, I now own my home, have my own business, have travelled all over the world; New Zealand twice, Australia, Kenya twice. I have volunteered for an HIV orphanage for 3 months, went to Namibia to volunteer with the Endangered Species Trust, visited Singapore and Hong Kong, all on my own. I have discovered a love of cooking and found out how magical and amazing life is. I have 2 dogs and a cat who are my life.

I am 48 and still single and that’s fine because my life is so full. I’d like to meet someone eventually but it’s not the ‘be all and end all’; I’m in no hurry.

Being sober is definitely the best thing I have ever done. It’s been an amazing journey of self discovery.

In a weird way, I’m actually grateful for my experience with alcohol, I reached rock bottom, my rock bottom and if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have experienced just how wonderful life can be.

I know if I hadn’t stopped drinking when I did, I’d be dead now.

If I had listened to the people that told me I wasn’t an alcoholic, I’d be dead right now.

Instead, I listened to the inner voice inside me, the one I ignored as a 17 year old. The one I will never ignore again, for that inner voice, is my guide.

Written by Jackie, edited by Sober Fish

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Guest blog ‘Life On The Other Side’ by Emma

Guest blog ‘Life On The Other Side’ by Emma

Hello, my name is Emma, I’m 43 years young and I started living on the 23rd October 2016.

I’d been drinking on all different levels since the age of 13. It started with just sips of beer or Thunderbirds, but I already knew that I enjoyed the feeling of being tipsy.

When I was 13, I was sexually abused by someone I loved and trusted. Life was never the same again and drinking helped to blot out the awful memories.

My binge drinking really gathered momentum from age 16 when I was at college. Most people in my friendship group loved a drink so I believed that was the norm. I was the party animal, always getting completely annihilated and more often than not, my night ended in tears.

When I was 18, I decided to travel the Middle East and become a volunteer on a Kibbutz. They were some of my best years of my life however most nights involved heavy drinking.

I was the girl who let her hair down, the joker, the piss head. The attention was always on me and everyone preferred it that way. I woke up sad, embarrassed and very anxious nearly every day and being away from home meant I didn’t have the reassurance or comfort from my mum that I so needed. I felt isolated.

I decided to stay in Israel for a longer period. I was feeling tired and piling on weight so decided to try and moderate my alcohol intake. My moderating worked on most nights and I limited my drinking to Thursday and Friday nights (disco nights) but boy did I make up for it when I did!

After being in Israel for about 5 years, I decided to go home and be responsible … or so I thought. I met a man, bought my first house and settled down into a very toxic relationship . It consisted of drink and drugs, very late nights and massive come downs.

When we decided to break up, I felt so alone and spent most nights drowning in my own self pity. It was around this time that I decided to quit booze and drugs completely for the first time and felt much healthier, both mentally and physically . I was in a better place . This lasted for around 6 months, but once again, I thought I could moderate.

In 2003, I met my soul mate, Steve. He was a police officer so my life changed dramatically for the better. The drinking was under control however the wine witch was always around still questioning my decisions.

In 2004, we married and in 2006 we moved area and became parents to Isabella. It was pure happiness! I was finally a mummy so knew that I had to be responsible. I continued to moderate but was eating lots and piling on the pounds.

In 2009, our lives changed dramatically. We hit rock bottom financially and nearly lost everything. It was an absolute nightmare. We lost certain friends, we couldn’t go out and we were so unhappy. Steve was working day and night to keep a roof over our heads and I started self medicating with the left over bottles of Cava from our wedding. I was lonely, overweight and my anxiety was through the roof. Memories of the past kept coming back; we were broken and broke.

One lonely night, I was so sad that I decided to call Alcoholics Anonymous for some advice and went along to a meeting the next day. Sadly AA wasn’t for me but it was where I met Jo who was a lovely girl, but dependant on alcohol.

I stopped drinking for a while but didn’t go to any other meetings. I remained in contact with Jo and tried to be a support to her on the phone as her family had disowned her due to drinking.  Once again I started to moderate but kept my distance from Jo as she was so vulnerable.

That summer, my mum decided to take my daughter and I on holiday. I really needed this break however was a little reluctant as Jo had started drinking again and I was so worried to leave her. But I did.

Once we returned back from our holiday, I tried to call Jo but there was no answer. I went straight to her flat and I knew she was home as I could see her glasses  on the coffee table. Worried, I called the police only to receive the devastating news that Jo had passed away a few days earlier. I felt so guilty and blamed myself so continued to drink. You would think Jo’s death would’ve been the wake up call I needed but we need to make our own decisions and find our own journey. Jo had decided on hers and so I continued mine.

After Jo died, I had a few alcohol free stints. I did boot camp challenges for 12 weeks, Dry January, etc, so I knew I could be sober but just chose not to be.

A couple of years later we were in a much better place financially and decided to try for another baby but it just wasn’t happening. It left us sad, deflated and unhappy.

On New Years Eve 2013, we went to a family party and both got very drunk. My mother and brother said some harsh words to us which really hurt me and so I knew things had to change. When we woke up on New Years Day, we decided not to drink anymore and it was life changing. The positivity returned and soon we fell pregnant. We were over the moon! Herbie was born in April 2015. We were so happy; he was our little miracle.

In July 2015, as I approached my 40th birthday, I felt old, ugly, and fat; the wine witch thought she deserved some more of the limelight and so the arguments in my head started again! I managed to keep her at bay for my 40th birthday and had a lovely time celebrating with my close friends and family.

A few weeks later, I really wanted to try moderation again and was successful for quite some time, only drinking on special occasions and sticking to Prosecco. I thought that if I just stuck to one type of drink, I’d be ok! What a joke! My mum was so disappointed with the decision but I reasoned it was my life, not hers.

On 22 October 2016, I went to a friends 50th birthday party with my daughter Izzy (now age 10). I’d promised everyone I would behave and not drink too much but the truth of the matter is I got totally wasted!

I couldn’t remember past 10pm. The following day was our 13th wedding anniversary and I woke up feeling hungover, guilty, sad, and scared and rushed into Izzys bedroom to make sure she was there. She was, thank God, and with mixed emotions she then went on to tell me about the night before.

This was the pinnacle, the final straw, the decision maker.

The 23 October 2016 was the beginning of my new life. I can truly say it has been the best time! It’s not always easy but what is? My husband has also joined me on my alcohol free journey and without him, who knows where my path would have led me?

The support from my friends and family has been fabulous. This time, I chose to read self help books, attended a CBT Course and received 1-1 counselling which helped me so much. 3 months into sobriety, I stumbled across Club Soda (see link below) & Team Sober UK and the rest is history!

I finally realised I wasn’t alone.

I went on to meet Dawn and followed her blog The Sober Fish Story. I had found my sober tribe.

At 15 months sober, Laura from Club Soda asked if I wanted to give an interview for a national newspaper (see link below) about my journey as a sober mummy. This was a real turning point in my sober journey; to hold myself accountable and be open and honest with everyone.

That was it. I was out.

The response was just amazing. I received so much support and praise from friends, family and complete strangers. Being honest with everyone helped me so much. It is so important to be honest with yourself and everyone around you .

I wasn’t physically dependant on alcohol but I also couldn’t moderate. Trying to moderate was one big rollercoaster ride for me and my family and now I’m sober, I am free.

Next month, I will celebrate my 2 year Soberversary and let me tell you, life is really is better on the other side ❤️

Written by Emma, edited by Sober Fish

https://joinclubsoda.co.uk

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.thesun.co.uk/fabulous/5335300/mum-tells-how-her-drinking-one-glass-of-wine-to-relax-spiralled-out-of-control/amp/

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#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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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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