My journey began two and a half years ago in the most scandalous place; a curtained-off corner of a hospital ward in Accident and Emergency. My clothes were drenched with congealed vomit, my memory was utterly ineffective in recalling how I had landed myself in that detestable, shameful bed.
The person who had taken me to the hospital was sitting on a plastic chair next to me. He had been driving past my house at 10:30pm the previous night. I was lying on the pavement, throwing up, unconscious, drunk out of my mind. He did what any responsible person would have done, so he informed me – he called an ambulance and then travelled in it with me to the hospital.
I can still feel the sense of shame now if I transport myself to that bed, concealed by the flimsy green curtain. A grown woman, a mother, so inebriated that she had been taken to hospital in an ambulance where she proceeded to lie unconscious for hours on end, before finally coming to and facing the truth; alcohol controlled me and I had to escape its grasp before it killed me.
And so my journey of sobriety began. Baby steps; avoid pubs, off licences, friends who drink (ok, all friends), stop smoking – the two things were always inextricably linked – and be kind to yourself. Pamper yourself with beauty products, have a manicure, read books, have restful nights, watch films, spend time being sober with your family.
And then the internal scrutiny, my behaviour and all of those demons. Twenty years’ worth of binge drinking to unravel takes time and patience. Weeks become months, moments of panic are slowly lost to the past, downing wine is replaced by other coping strategies; running, yoga, a warm bath, self-help books (lots of those). Begin to socialise again, but now it is different and more to do with the company than the drinking.
The journey is on-going and will last for the remainder of my life, but I know I’ll never drink again. The differences are palpable – no anxiety, no panic attacks, no depression, no mood swings, more energy, creativity abounds, passion for everything – small (jogging in the park early in the morning, just me, the dog and a rising sun) and large (my wonderful family) – and love for other people, a sense of community.
My journey began in April 2011. Taking the first step on a path to happiness was initiated by taking that final step on a road through hell.