Tag Archives: binge drinking

Introducing … The Sober School

Hello there! Long time no see! I’d like to apologise for abandoning my blog without explanation. Have no fear, I didn’t disappear because something bad happened. Quite the opposite. I was busy being sober and happy – drinking tea, eating cake, catching up with old friends, making new friends, going out with my running club, trying new hobbies, starting new jobs and all sorts of other lovely stuff. I’ve been sober for 843 days now and I really am so happy with life. I don’t take my sobriety for granted but it’s pretty much become second nature now. In fact it all became so normal that I felt I didn’t have much to say … until now.

I wanted to let you know about a new project that I’ve been working on. Ever since I got sober I’ve been telling anyone who’ll listen that there should be more help for people like me. Bright, professional women who know they’re drinking too much but just can’t seem to get out of the alcohol trap. Women who can’t bring themselves to tell their doctor how much they really drink but don’t fancy going to AA. Women who want to lose the booze, but not their social life – who desperately want to stop drinking, but can’t quite work out how to stay stopped.

Whilst the sober blogosphere is great, it’s quite a hidden corner of the internet. It took me a good few years of searching for help before I stumbled across the blogs that made such a difference to me. I wanted to create something more mainstream. I wanted to create the website that I wish had existed when I was trying to stop drinking. Something that talked about alcohol addiction in a relatable way, providing help and advice without being patronising.

So I decided to set up this: thesoberschool.com

It’s a little space online where you can find inspiration to help you stop drinking and achieve wonderful things. I have a new blog over there, plus some help and advice pages. I’m in the middle of training to be coach, because my plan is to create a course that guides sober wannabes through the first few important weeks of their alcohol free life.

There are also quite a few pictures of me on there, so if you want to put a face to a name have a look…

It’s an exciting and nerve wracking time. I’ve done something that once seemed unthinkable – outing myself to the world. I’ve reduced my hours at work and told my employers what I’m doing. I’ve also had to be really honest with friends. Until recently, even those in the know had only heard a sanitised version of my drinking story. There are still a lot of people in my life who don’t know everything yet, but I will tell them in due course.

So far the response has been brilliant. And I really hope it will all make a difference. I try not to sound too much like a preachy reformed drinker, but I really believe something big needs to change in our society. It shouldn’t be this hard to talk about being addicted to alcohol. We have no problem talking about smoking in these terms, do we?

This will be my last post on this blog. So if you want to follow my new blog, please do head on over to thesoberschool.com

I’m also on Facebook  Twitter and Instagram

Phew. That’s all for now.

Lots of love,

Kate
The Sober School Sub Mark 2
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How did we normalise abnormal drinking?

I came across this article and blog last night.

http://veronicavalli.com/2013/07/how-did-we-normalise-abnormal-drinking/  

It’s good isn’t it? It voices something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. I think it was whilst I was at university that I decided that fun= getting drunk. Until then I’d enjoyed getting drunk (and perhaps more so than any of my friends) but drinking hadn’t been the only way to have fun.

Most people rein in their drinking as they get older and acquire more responsibilities like jobs and children etc. (I didn’t cut back but I’m talking about normal drinkers here, or at least what society considers ‘normal’) What I’ve noticed is that even though normal people may start to drink less frequently, they still consider drinking to be the best way of having a good time. Sure, they’ve grown up and moved on from alcopops and shots to fancy wine …but basically they still look forward to consuming a lot of alcohol in one go because that is the best way to have ‘FUN’.

So if binge drinking chardonnay is considered ‘normal’ that must make people like me abnormal, right? It certainly feels that way at times. What’s annoying is that whilst I can have a good night out sober, me not drinking seems to offend other people. If they don’t notice I’m on lemonade then it’s fine, but once they do the spell seems to be broken. Perhaps they’re worried I’m judging them? Looking down on them from my sober high horse?  

I’ve been thinking about this a lot this past week as I’ve RSVP’d to a few Christmas invites. The festive party season is starting to feel like yet another hurdle to get over when really it should be fun. So I am going to try and come up with a little Christmas party survival plan. Let me know your thoughts and tips…

Sobriety rocks

I cannot believe it’s been six weeks since my last drink! I haven’t been sober for this long since… 2002? That’s when I left sixth form and discovered alcohol properly. I’ve had a few sober stints here and there. I managed a month in August 2011. Last year there were a couple of booze free fortnights and several ‘detox’ weeks. At the start of this year I decided to have a dry January. Even though the whole world seemed to be having a month off the booze, I didn’t make it past the second week.

What has made it different this time? I’m not sure. Maybe I’d reached that point where enough was enough. The 100 day challenge has made a huge difference. It’s such a brilliant idea. A hundred days is do-able and much less scary than giving up ‘forever’. By the end of the challenge I know I will have some distance between me and alcohol. Like splitting up from a toxic but long-term boyfriend, alcohol and I need a trial separation first.

Since I’ve stopped drinking, I’ve noticed lots of changes and benefits – some big, some small. Some days it’s easy to take it all for granted and forget how things used to be just a few short weeks ago. So here’s my list of all the things I love about not drinking. It’s a work in progress. Let me know what’s on yours.

Money: I had no idea how much I was spending on alcohol because I tended to pick up a bottle of wine here and there. It’s still hard to put an exact figure on it, but nights out + plus several bottles of wine a week, (and all the extras that came with that, like taxis, takeaways and days off work) were a real drain on my finances.  

Skin: It’s taken a while, but my skin is looking much clearer. I never have a puffy face and my eyes are brighter.

Weight: Two people have asked me if I’ve lost weight! I’m back in my skinny jeans so I don’t really mind that the scales say I’ve only lost two pounds….

Sleep: I get eight hours solid every night. No more waking up at 4am for me. I love my bed.  

Eating better: I always liked cooking pretty healthy food but could never be bothered. Now I think about what I’d like to eat and I actually go to the supermarket before the fridge is empty. Just like a real grown up.  

I get things done: I’ve always been a list maker, but I was also a great procrastinator. I love getting things crossed off my to-do list. 

More energy: This must be linked to the sleep/food thing. 

I feel happier: I’d noticed that drinking made me feel very depressed the day after a big binge. But I’d almost got used to the constant stream of negativity that ran through my head every single day. If I wasn’t worrying about drinking I was hating myself, feeling guilty and disgusted at my lack of control. Getting rid of all that noise has been pretty amazing.

Memory: I can actually remember the plot lines on TV shows so I don’t have to keep watching the same episodes twice!

Time: This is a big one for me. It feels like finally, there are 24 hours in a day. Drinking steals time from you. There’s the time you waste when you’re thinking about drinking, the blurry hours lost in drunkeness and the time spent recovering from it all. That process can swallow up days at a time. How I ever got anything done I will never know…

The secret’s out, kind of…

I’m writing this from my bedroom at my parents’ house. It’s my childhood home and I’m sat at the same desk I used to do my homework at. I still have my own room here, complete with fading posters and drawers full of old clothes I never wear any more.

I live several hours away from my parents and haven’t seen them since mid March. My brother and sister have also come home and I’ve been looking forward to seeing everyone. But I’ve also been worrying, as I knew my new sober lifestyle would not go unnoticed.

Sure enough, within half an hour I was offered a beer as we headed outside for a drink before dinner. I said no and got a diet coke instead. Nothing was said at this point; my sister also had a coke. But when we came in for dinner Dad was pouring everyone large glasses of wine. “What?!” He said when I told him. “What’s brought this on?”

I’d known this question would be asked at some point but I still hadn’t prepared an answer. So I found myself explaining that I was trying not to drink for 100 days. (Well, this is true). I said it was partly a health thing (again, kind of true) and that I was also doing it just to see if I could.

So … it was awkward. Did I want a drink last night? Yes, kind of. I wanted to drink to fit in again, to ease the slight tension. Sometimes being sober feels so isolating. The irony is that my brother and sister are not big drinkers, but because they’ve always been that way it’s just accepted. It’s annoying. I guess people don’t like change.

It’s a secret…

I figured that as most of my drinking was done in secret, it would be a bit weird to shout about my new-found sobriety. So that’s why no one knows that I’ve stopped drinking yet. That is, apart from all of you wonderful people out there in the sober blogosphere.

On that note, I wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who has contacted me and offered advice, support and inspiration. I don’t want to go to any kind of AA group, not at the moment anyway. But I’ve realised I do need to talk about what’s been going on. My drinking has been such a big secret, a big burden. It’s felt very isolating at times, but not any more.

Anyway, back to life away from here – part of me is proud of what I’m doing and wants to tell everyone, in a hey! Please be happy for me! type of way. But a much bigger part of me is very worried about telling people. Because that would mean admitting there was a problem in the first place. 

Over the years I have put a lot of effort into hiding the extent of my drinking. My friends think I drink like they do: a bit of wine with dinner, cocktails out with the girls. Getting silly and a bit tipsy but never fall down, black out drunk. They all grew out of that at uni. What my friends don’t realise is that when we go out, unless we get really smashed, I will need to drink more when I get home. Because, you know, it’s hard work pretending to drink like a normal person all night. 

Of course, there have been a few slip ups. There was the time a colleague asked me if I thought the lift we’d just got out of had smelt of stale alcohol? There’s the time my sister came round to watch a DVD but I drank so much I passed out and she couldn’t wake me. She’s younger than me and I know this scared her. Then there’s the time I had to explain to a housemate why a night in front of the TV had led to me getting so drunk I’d been sick everywhere. And who can forget last year’s Christmas party, when I pulled a friend of a friend and we did a LOT of snogging in front of a room full of pretty sober colleagues – and my boss. I still cringe at that.

There are countless other embarrassing memories but I won’t go into them now. What I was going to ask was – what are your experiences of telling people you were no longer drinking? I’d appreciate your thoughts.

A big fat slap in the face

I guess I had it coming. My first three days sober were so easy. Suspiciously so. But these last two days? So tough. 

It’s not surprising really – I quite often go three days without a drink. Two or three days is about how long the guilt and remorse from the last big session plays on my mind for. Then I forget all about it and wine is my best friend again.

Yesterday I went back to work for the first time since I stopped drinking. I don’t work regular hours – I work shifts. They’re 12 hours long and pretty stressful. By the time I get home I’m still wired.

Nothing would help me decompress better than an entire bottle of white wine. Wine and some crap telly would just flick that off switch. Precious ‘me’ time after a busy day.

These are the thoughts swirling round my head today. But I am not going to drink. I am NOT. If I drink a bottle of wine I will wake up on the sofa at 2am. I will crawl into bed for a few hours and then wake up again, tired and dehydrated at 5am. I will have to go to work hungover and sit in the morning meeting wondering if anyone can tell. I will struggle to do my job. I will eat crap all day and then drink again as a reward for getting through the day.

So that is why I’m not going to drink tonight.

Old me vs New me

The old me (it may only be Day 3 but yes that’s what we’re calling drunk Kate nowadays) would have been tempted to have a drink last night. I couldn’t be bothered to cook and in the past this would have meant going to the corner shop for something I could just shove in the oven. Old me would have thought, “oh right, we’re being lazy tonight are we? Well let’s make a proper night of it and get some WINE!” And I would have walked home with oven chips or a pizza, wine, and probably a beer or some pathetic mixer in a can just in case the bottle didn’t quite hit the spot. (It never did)

Instead, new me defrosted some lasagne lurking at the back of the freezer. Rock and roll. And as I didn’t have to cook I decided to give my flat a good clean. Now, I know you don’t really know me, but that is quite unusual behaviour – a) cleaning and b) spending a Sunday afternoon doing it. I’ve always liked having a nice flat but I hate, hate, hate having to actually clean or tidy it myself.

Old me would have woken up with a headache and a swollen stomach. Alcohol always bloated me terribly. What made it worse was all the food I used to eat. After I’d finally had my fill of drink, somehow a normal sized portion of food never quite hit the spot. So I would have seconds, probably followed by something else altogether, a dessert and then maybe later I’d go back to the kitchen again.

Old me would have spent the first half of today in bed. If I was feeling really sorry for myself I’d probably drink tonight as well. But NEW me has been very productive. I’ve had the day off work but still got up early – it’s so sunny at the moment – sorted out some paperwork. Went to the gym and did my favourite class. Went to the dentist. Did some ironing listening to the Bubble Hour.

Maybe it’s just because the sun’s out but today, all feels surprisingly ok.