Claire's story: "My recovery so far"

Claire | November 2019 | 8 minutes

In this blog, Claire explains how a big change helped her turn her life around.

If somebody had told me two years ago that I’d be able to stay sober for over a year I’d have replied with ridiculous laughter. I forget how many times I failed with Sober for October, never mind a whole year. It wasn’t until I stopped drinking alcohol I realised how much of our lives are consumed by it. It’s everywhere! You can’t go for afternoon tea these days without having the processo option shoved under your nose.

It was October 2017 and I’d had enough of living in chaos. I was in £15k of debt with not much to show for it and day after day I was questioning what life is all about. I was feeling so low I was having suicidal thoughts. I’ve got the most amazing family and friends a person could wish for and had the best upbringing, yet I didn’t know where to turn and nothing I did was helping. I was constantly turning to the bottle for help, telling lies about where I was and who I was with. I was desperate to sort my life out and I’d finally realised the only person who could do that was ME.

"I was desperate to sort my life out and I’d finally realised the only person who could do that was ME."

I didn’t think being surrounded by temptation and the same routine was going to get me anywhere, so I decided to make big changes. The doctor advised me to go into rehab but I didn’t like the idea of that so I moved to the Isle of Man and created my own. The biggest issue I had was keeping myself busy on an island I knew nothing about, and where I knew no one. I started to explore and soon enough I was keeping busy and getting well into my recovery.

Then my first major wobble came: my workplace announced they’d be having one of those old-fashioned office parties. I didn’t know how I was going to cope and I panicked. I was a mess and it was only then that I realised how much I relied on alcohol to deal with my mental health. My co-workers had no idea that I was struggling with addiction. It’s not really something I wanted to admit to my employers. In the end, I asked my boss for a chat in private because I was starting to feel uncomfortable and the whole situation was affecting my work. Thankfully, the response was very positive, supportive and also comforting. I didn’t broadcast my ‘problem’ but the fact I told somebody really helped and I no longer felt I had to hide. Then, gradually, I was strong enough to admit why I wasn’t going to the Christmas party, and my close colleagues understood and swapped that bottle of wine for chocolate!

"...I’m still in the early days of moderation and each time I drink is a learning curve"

I’m absolutely convinced that without change, I wouldn’t have been able to turn my life around. I’m not saying everyone needs to move to another place to beat addiction but I do think without changing my routine and taking myself away from temptation I wouldn’t have ever got those first few months of sobriety under my belt. Without alcohol I was able to change my thinking and understand why I was drinking so much. Sobriety gave me the strength to manage certain situations in the right way and deal with my anxiety better.

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding problems with alcohol and I’ve had lots of people say staying sober is the only way once a problem has occurred, but I disagree. It is absolutely possible to drink in moderation. I just think we need a reset now and again. I stayed sober for 14 months. I’ve always known I don’t want to be sober forever so when I felt strong enough, I made the choice to drink alcohol and I have been doing so since Christmas 2018. I’ve had my wobbles and a couple of times drank more alcohol than I should but I’m still in the early days of moderation and each time I drink is a learning curve.

I turned 40 this year and it's probably my best year yet. I’ve realised a lot and learnt more about myself over these last 18 months than I probably ever will. My recovery started on 29 October 2017. I’m no longer craving the quick fix, I enjoy alcohol in moderation and I’m no longer in debt. It’s amazing what can be achieved when you put your mind to it.

You can read more from Claire on her blog 'My recovery so far'.