Tag Archives: problem 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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Looking back in anger

There’s a pink box with a combination lock on it hidden at the back of my wardrobe. I bought it years ago to make sure a few valuables and private documents stayed safe. These days it’s home to a rather odd collection of bits and pieces. I was having a tidy up yesterday and tried to sort through it all.

I decided a burglar would be pretty disappointed with the contents. And I’d be mortified if anyone saw inside.  

I found several revealing pages from a diary I decided to shred. There’s a half-naked picture of a much younger me, taken for a boyfriend I think. There’s a (fully clothed) picture of me drinking with friends after my last exam at uni. There’s a nice note from my Mum, scrawled on an old post-it. There’s a note I wrote to myself that says “people who aren’t alcoholics do not lie in bed wondering if they’re alcoholics”. By far the weirdest thing in there is a topless picture of Magnús Scheving (the guy who plays Sportacus in the kids tv show LazyTown). How did that get in there? Maybe I realised it was the kind of crush you shouldn’t tell other people about ….

Also in the box is a book called “Overcoming Problem Drinking – A self-help guide using cognitive behavioural techniques”. Seeing this makes me feel a bit sad. I can clearly remember buying it. It took me so long to get the courage to go to the till, the security guard started following me around. That must have been in 2009. Or was it 2008? I’d started a new job in a different part of the country and I was really struggling to make friends. I was lonely at the weekends. To kill time, I would drink myself into black out every Friday night. When I woke up at 3am I’d carry on drinking. I’d spend the rest of the weekend sleeping, recovering and feeling sorry for myself, and in no time at all it’d be Monday morning again. I was also bingeing once or twice during the week, even though I had to be at work at 5am.  

It suddenly struck me that I bought that book FOUR years ago. So I’ve been worried about my drinking for four, maybe five years. I’d not really thought about that before. Why has this gone on for so long? Why didn’t I stop sooner? If the last four years had been full of carefree, boozy benders then that would be one thing. At least I would have enjoyed them. But it wasn’t like that. I spent those years drinking and worrying. Drinking and feeling guilty. Drinking and filling out “Am I an alcoholic?” quizzes. All that time, wasted. Wasted.

I want to scream with frustration sometimes.

But at least I’m doing something about it now, I suppose that’s what matters. Getting angry isn’t going to change the past. I want to end this slightly ranty post on a positive note – I am three weeks and one day sober! This last week has gone by very quickly indeed.

Almost Alcoholic

whisky

I must have googled “Am I an alcoholic?” a hundred times. Maybe, if you’re reading this blog, you have too.

I think the problem with that question is the word alcoholic. Many of us have a very fixed idea of what an alcoholic is. It’s the person who drinks everyday. It’s the person who drinks in the morning. It’s the old man swigging meths from a paper bag. It’s the down-and-out whose life is literally in the gutter.
 
When you’re used to viewing alcoholism in these terms, anything that falls short is hard to define. When my drinking worried me enough to go to an AA meeting a few years ago, I sat there feeling like a fraud. As I listened to other people share, I felt guilty, like I wasn’t ‘alcoholic enough’. So I slunk off and never went back, telling myself that perhaps I didn’t need to worry about my drinking after all. There were others much worse than me.
 
Last month I discovered a book called Almost Alcoholic. It’s a bit heavy going in places but something clicked when I read it. It’s written by two American doctors who argue that no one drinks ‘normally’ one day and alcoholically the next. They say alcoholics pass through a large grey area first, in which the ‘Almost Alcoholic’ exists.
 
Here are the five key signs of an almost alcoholic:
1. You continue drinking despite at least some negative consequences.
2. You look forward to drinking.
3. You drink alone.
4. You sometimes drink to control emotional and/or physical symptoms.
5. You and your loved ones are suffering as a result of your drinking.
 
I answered yes to every one. Something about that really stuck with me. For the first time it felt like there was a label, a diagnosis that fitted exactly. Rather than trying to guess what would happen if I carried on drinking here was someone explaining it in black and white. I couldn’t pretend my drinking was normal anymore. And that was scary.
 
I realise that ‘not reaching rock bottom’ can be a bit of sticking point for me. Or maybe it’s just an excuse that I cling to. It’s strange because in other areas of my life I’m very proactive. If I put on weight I tend to sort it out pretty quick. I would never wait until I was morbidly obese before tackling it. I have good control over my finances. If I got into debt I would never wait until I went bankrupt to do something about it. So why has my approach to drinking always been so different?
 
I guess the point is I that I’m doing something about it now. Reading that book, alongside lots of fantastic sober blogs, rattled me. It was as if someone had forced me to dangle over a cliff edge, just so I could have a good look at what was waiting below. I didn’t like what I saw down there.