My 4 attempts, my anxiety and my fear of relapse

The first time I tried to stop drinking was a half-hearted attempt really. It was about 10 years ago now and I’d just moved to Huddersfield with my then partner. When we lived in Nottingham there had been a couple of occasions when things got pretty bad and we had a couple of drink fuelled arguments then the questions were raised in the morning … “it’s the drink, it’s getting out of hand” etc… I made excuses for my heavy drinking and we’d carry on as normal. Shortly after the move we both decided to go on a health kick and in the back of my mind I was thinking it would be a good way to try and kick the booze without admitting I was wondering if I had a problem. We decided to do Sober for October and go a month without alcohol. We stayed away from most social events so it would be easier and only went out for the odd meal where we’d both order soft drinks. Because I knew it was only for a month, even though it wasn’t easy I kinda knew I’d be able to do it. Especially if none of us was drinking and there was no alcohol in the house. We lasted 6 weeks in the end and then bang … we got smashed!

Stopping is easy – it’s staying stopped that’s the tough part!

After my ‘attempt’ at stopping drinking I’d convinced myself I didn’t have a drink problem. I can’t have a drink problem. I’ve been able to stop for 6 weeks and only people who crave alcohol and drink every morning have a drink problem. Hmmm. I carried on drinking and letting the problem get worse without doing anything about it for a couple of years. At one point when my depression and anxiety was so bad I was genuinely relying on drink every single day. I’d just been through the worst 6 months of my life. In this short time my long term relationship had broken down, I lost my dad to a brain tumour and my lovely Nan suddenly got ill and passed away within 48 hours. I did cope really well considering but then when the funerals are all over you’re just expected to carry on with your every day life. Some weeks I was drinking 2 bottles of red wine every night and sometimes I’d go on to a 3rd. Obviously the drinking wasn’t helping but this was the way I’d learnt to cope with problems and stress. I was just trying my best to get on with things but then all of a sudden what had happened really hit me and I was signed off work for 2 weeks. I thought I was working for decent employers at the time but looking back they were absolute crap. What kind of company makes you book holidays for your own dad’s funeral? Then when I took my sick note in they said “well, I thought you were fine now it’s all over?”. Unbelievable!

My second attempt was ridiculous. I downloaded the Drinkaware app. (it’s good if you want to cut down) a few weeks earlier to try to drill into my head how much I was drinking and make myself realise I had a massive problem. I lasted about 2 days and that was it. Things went from bad to worse and for the next 12 months I was reckless and felt like I was going off the rails. I sometimes wonder if I had some kind of mental breakdown.

I needed to sort out my anxiety as this was the main reason for my drinking and it was starting to cause severe depression. I went to see my GP and they referred me for counselling to help with the anxiety and she also gave me some other information for drop in centres I could try for help with the drinking. I made an appointment with Lifeline Project and had a chat with a lovely lady and she basically confirmed that I didn’t have a drink problem and I was just using alcohol as a coping mechanism. Great! Someone in the profession says I haven’t got a problem so it must be correct. No need to give up the booze now. I called at the shop on my way home and bought FIVE bottles of red wine ‘to fill the wine rack’. I just need to sort my anxiety and I’ll be fine. If only! I’ve had lots of counselling over the years and it really does depend if you click with that person. Thankfully this time it really helped and she suggested I read Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness

. That book is one of the reasons I can manage my anxiety today. The way it’s written and the techniques you can learn really change your thought process and the way you think about every day life. If you’re struggling with anxiety, it’s definitely worth a read. So, basically the counselling helped for a short while and then I went down the crazy path again. I moved to Sheffield for a new start (probably the worst decision of my life) and it was a complete disaster for many reasons. The drinking problem probably got to the worst it’s ever been.

September 2017 I moved to the Isle of Man. Fresh start, beautiful island and I was offered the first job I went for. I need a work permit so I couldn’t start my new job until it had come through. It was easy to keep myself busy as I had lots of exploring to do. I wasn’t quite ready to quit the booze just yet as I wanted to have my mini holiday in my new home. I carried on drinking red wine as usual and nothing really changed, apart from the fact I was living somewhere new. That was another problem. New drinking places to explore! I was hammered for 2 months solid and then I definitely did want to do something about my drinking. I was starting a new job and I wanted to make a go of it. Don’t ask me why but I decided to stop drinking on Friday 13th October. It has disaster written all over it. I was moving into my new place on the 28th and one of my housemates threw a welcome party. The dining table was completely covered with bottles of wine, beer and spirits. How the hell was I supposed to tell them I’m not drinking at the moment? I wasn’t exactly going to confess to my drink problem. That was the end of my 3rd attempt and I’d lasted 15 days.

The feeling I had on Saturday 29th October is something I never want to feel again in my life. In my paralytic state I’d blacked out and I’ll be honest, I’m not entirely sure what happened but I woke up covered in blood. Somehow I’d cut my hand open and I must have fallen asleep with it still bleeding. I think I’d fallen on my car keys whilst going upstairs to bed. It was pretty bad and I had to take myself to A&E. I can’t describe the disappointment I felt with myself. Sat in the waiting room for over 4 hours with a hangover from hell, anxious and generally feeling shit. I’d let people down (again), I’d let myself down, I’d proved to everyone I was just some stupid piss head who can’t control her drink, I’d shown myself up in front of my new housemates. I was more gutted that I’d have to reset my counter on Sober Grid to ‘0’ days as daft as it sounds. That counter is one of the main things that keeps me going. It’s at 121 days today and I can’t stand the thought of having to reset it to zero!

The thought of relapse really scares me. I never want to go through those feelings again. I’ve had a really tough couple of weeks but at no point have I actually wanted to drink alcohol. I’ve definitely thought about it and seen the bottles of beer in the fridge and imagined that nice feeling of being tipsy and relaxed but then all I need to do is remind myself of all the benefits of staying sober and those thoughts quickly disappear.

I can’t stand the thought of relapsing again and it actually makes me shiver when I think about having to go through all those feelings again.

The most important thing in my life right now is to stay sober and next time I post I will have passed the 4 month mark! 😉

Thanks for reading.

Claire xxx

8 thoughts on “My 4 attempts, my anxiety and my fear of relapse

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  1. I read these every time you post Claire. I don’t comment because I can’t find the words to say how proud I am of you. You have walked a long and hard road to get to where you are now. With an amazing mum walking every step behind you who caught you when you fell, who loves you unconditionally like the rest of your lovely family. Your experiences in life both good and bad have made you into the inspirational person you now are. Whether you get one comment or none please keep this going because there are the silent ones like me who weep with sadness and joy at the words you write. Sadness that you went through all this and you hid it so well from the majority that we didn’t know you needed help and joy at where you are now……. You are Claire, for the first time in years xxx

    Liked by 3 people

  2. What a read Claire, so honest and a platform to raise awareness with alcohol anxiety and depression. I have lived it with my family and sadly lost family members, one only last month due to mental health….behind you 100% my friend! So proud of you. Stay strong 💪🏻👏👏😘xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the first comment on this post. It is so encouraging and obviously written with a lot of love. Claire hid her situation from the majority of people so don’t feel sad for not knowing just be really joyful for her in her recovery…xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Talk about being brave! This was an incredible sharing of yourself – thank you for putting more of your story out to the world, it really is helpful. Much like you continue to encourage me, I hope I can do the same for you. Stay strong, my friend – you are doing beautifully!

    Liked by 2 people

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