Category Archives: challenge

Fed-up Friday Feelings

Struggling tonight folks. Really have found today hard and I’m trying to think about why that might be the case.

This weekend I’m approaching my 3 month sober milestone. My head tells me that’s a huge achievement but my heart doesn’t feel the same. Tonight I just feel exhausted. Overwhelmed by life and shit. There isn’t really anything specific I can blame it on. I’ve just lost my mojo. I actually sat on the train on the way home from work and really fancied coming home and pouring a large glass of Shiraz. For the first time in a while I thought ‘fuck it, I want to experience that first sip on a Friday night feeling’. I didn’t. I poured a glass of AF wine and drank that instead, whilst taking a bath with bubbles, candles and classical chill tunes on Alexa.

I wonder if I’m spending too much time alone when I’m not at work. Without alcohol I have felt far more at ease in my own company and less inclined to go out and socialise. I still have lots of contact with friends. I’m just not instigating evenings out and they therefore don’t happen as much. I’m fine with that but maybe there is only so much ‘alone’ time one can tolerate.

I suspect myself and my husband often spent our Friday evenings drinking together. Now I just start to get bored of the TV very quickly and tired much earlier. I think our relationship has changed and we aren’t as close because alcohol isn’t there to glue us together. It was what we did. What we’ve always done. Now I’m not drinking the cracks are beginning to show. To be honest they were appearing before but alcohol just papered over them. I can’t address that at the moment though. It’s too big. Just too scary.

I don’t ever regret giving up alcohol though. In spite of evenings and days like today, it was without a doubt the best decision I ever made. If it means I’m going to have to face tough challenges that I have been denying exist or ignoring then so be it. I’ll be better for it. For each ‘bad’ day there are now countless ‘good’ days. I am grateful for that. I’ll start my journal tomorrow. I think it will help. Thoughts still whizz around. I’m learning to pay attention to them but not to hold onto them. Meditation is still new to me but I’m practicing.

It’s hard work isn’t it? Changing, developing, managing without our crutch. Stopping addiction. I’ve become more introverted and introspective than I ever believed I could be. I like being that way but I guess I forget how much I effort this takes and that there will be times where it’s emotionally draining. Tonight I don’t feel there’s much left in the tank. I don’t want to appear negative because none of this journey has been negative. Challenging yes, negative no. It’s important to write about the tough stuff too.

So my lovely sober gang, I’ll go to sleep feeling a little better that I’ve shared with friends how I’m feeling. As we all know, sometimes all we can do is sleep it off. Tomorrow is a new day.

Claire xx

Photo of one of my favourite places just to cheer myself up 😊

Fade to grey

Earlier today I read a post by Ashley at mentalhealthathome.org focusing on major depression and the impact it can have on someone’s day to day living. It’s a beautifully brave post, honestly expressing her experiences. Ashley’s words led to a moment of personal reflection and I wanted to share how ‘depression’ felt for me.

At its worst my depression probably lasted a year, maybe two, with a brief reprieve in the middle. It didn’t feel like I’d imagined depression was supposed to feel. Yep, I was a person that ‘judged’ depression. I’m ashamed to admit it but as they say, ignorance (although stupid) can be bliss. As Ashley describes, depression is not just about feeling ‘sad’. It’s so much more and affects individuals differently. I was unaware that the awful, soul destroying feelings I was experiencing were all part of the label ‘depression’.

For me, by far the worst aspect was the complete disengagement and disinterest in life. All colour gone, not even black and white. Just grey. No spark, no pleasure, not even a flutter of excitement. Added to the this was the debilitating feeling of not giving a shit. About anything or anyone. Seriously, even writing that down makes my chest tighten and triggers an overwhelming urge to go hug my boys. I was no longer there, I had disappeared.

Ashley lives daily with that feeling and talks about dealing with the grief of maybe never finding that person again. I am currently not depressed and I definitely have all the colour back in my life. That being said, I am not the person I was. She has also gone, as Ashley’s old self did, never to return. I am not sad about that. I like who I am now. Depression has changed me, for the better I think. I have a greater understanding of others and a compassion that wasn’t there before. I thank the universe on a daily basis that I feel well and I hope I never stop appreciating rainbows in all their colourful glory.

Claire xx

Can I be an Avenger now?

It’s Friday and after a lot of soul searching and navel gazing at the end of last week and beginning of this one I am delighted to say, I feel pretty darn fabulous tonight.

I have had a great few days. Nothing to mention specifically. I just find myself appreciating the really important people in my life. I am also no longer grieving for those people I have had to leave behind. In fact on Wednesday I was able to engage with a work colleague after over a year of a ‘difficult’ relationship and stand up for myself in a calm and considered manner. I didn’t try to impress, cajole, ‘win’ him over and I didn’t get upset, angry or take his remarks personally. I felt like I had some form of invisible protection, a shield that ensured barbed or suggestive comments bounced off. I stood back, processed, said what I needed to and left politely. HUGE step for me.

I have to admit. This shield, cloak, bubble (not sure how to name it!) of protection is existing more and more for me. Don’t worry, it isn’t a barrier I put up. It momentarily deflects situations and comments. It allows me breathing space to think about how I feel. It’s only a split second but boy does it help! It provides me with resilience and reduces my vulnerability.

Where has it come from? It certainly wasn’t there a few months back and hasn’t been there for a number of years. I’m not even sure I’ve ever held it in my possession. Not as it is at this moment. Is that sobriety? Is it knowing that the company I now keep value and love me? Is it the support and kindness I have received from the community on this blog? Is it one very special person who has helped me see I’m worth so much more than I thought or could believe? Likely it’s all of it and it all mixes together in one big pot to create strength and build self esteem.

I know the first step was stopping drinking. If you stumble across this post and you are wondering if you drink too much and if you should give it the old heave ho …. DO IT! Don’t say it’s forever, but start. You too could have an invisible protective shield just like mine 😉

Claire xxx

Claire’s Disappointment

Hmmm 🤔 I have been self reflecting (or is that self obsessing?) this past few days. I’m not sure it’s been particularly helpful and my brain is a bit addled with thoughts and questions. Forgive me if this post is disjointed and incoherent. I haven’t been drinking, honest! It is also likely to be long and wordy so if you bail now I totally understand. 😉

I’m a 47 year old woman. I work 30 hrs a week in a professional career and I would say I’ve been successful (as far as the NHS allows you to be these days). I have two boys and I am, on the whole, a good mum. I manage a home, the bills, the cooking and food (mostly) and a husband (or does he manage me?). I have a wide social circle that includes good friends (and some not so good but I’m sorting that out!). Why then do I become overwhelmed with crazy feelings of inadequacy, disappointment and fear of being let down? Answers on a postcard. Just kidding – you don’t have my address thank goodness 😅

Anyway, some ‘know it all’ keeps coming up with possible reasons or subtle suggestions as to why this might be happening. Sure enough, when I read up about them I find that this person could, in fact, be spot on.

Today I’m thinking about the feelings of disappointment and not feeling good enough. I hate disappointment. I hate feeling it myself and I hate feeling I’ve disappointed others. Letting someone down is soul destroying for me and I live in fear of being let down. It all ties in with not quite cutting it. Why? Let me see ….

My mum, God love her, has always lived her life as a ‘what if?’, ‘if only’ and ‘we should have’ type of person. I can find it hard to decide what to do sometimes because I’m scared I’ll wish I had done something else and the chosen event/activity will be ruined. This has improved for me but sadly not so much for mum. She’s proud of me but there has always been an undercurrent of ‘I wish Claire had done a different job’, ‘if only she’d married someone more outgoing or wealthy’ etc etc. Sometimes it’s not such a subtle undercurrent with direct statements like “you and your brother went to a good schools and neither of you have done particularly well” and “perhaps don’t wear baggy tops, they can make you look bigger”.

My dad, well he didn’t really have many expectations. I was a girl so why would he? He clearly adored me, his little princess, but all the focus was on my brother to be the sporty champ. Ironically he was never interested in sport and preferred the world of the IT geek! I tried every sport going to prove myself worthy (I just realised that now btw). Over the years he’s mellowed in his opinions of women, a little. He’s proud and very surprised that I’ve achieved all I have. Please don’t misunderstand, my parents are amazing and it’s not my intention to blame them. They have supported me through so much and we none of us are perfect. I love them, I’m just trying to make some sense of this.

In secondary school I had a ‘best friend’. We were thick as thieves for the entire 7 years. She was amazing. She was sporty, beautiful, very clever, popular, cool and loved by all. I was her ‘side kick’. Seriously, I was! She’d get invited to parties and had to beg people to include me. Sometimes they refused. Boys fell in love with her and I might end up with their mate chatting to me if I was lucky! Same at university. I had two girlfriends who were stunning and popular and had a string of men after them. I was the ‘ugly’ friend but a good laugh. Indeed, about 5 men have dumped or left me because they ‘preferred’ one of my friends. Some even got to know me just to get closer to my mates. Don’t feel sorry for me. I was a late bloomer!!!

There are other events that have happened. Some very traumatic and not for this post, but again, all contributing to general disappointment, not feeling good enough and being ‘let down’.

So I guess my period of reflection has allowed me to understand what the feelings are that trigger anxiety and where some of them may have their roots. Now I just have to work out what I do with the feelings when they pop up. Or maybe I do nothing, let them be and accept them. Easier said than done but definitely easier when you are sober! I read something earlier though that I think is important for me to remember:

“people around you won’t disappear or leave just because you’re feeling and showing your emotions in an authentic and OK way”.

Love Claire xx

Two months and I still can’t come up with a catchy title!

Well ‘hello’ my fellow bloggers. To those who have been at this sobriety thing an impressive amount of time, the newbies just starting out, my ‘twins’ who are at the same stage and all the others giving support …. thank you all. 🙏

Sunday 17th November I woke up, feeling utterly shit and told myself enough was enough. If I’m honest, I didn’t truly believe I could do it. Before that day, I’d never read a blog or even knew how to access them, or even why anyone would. The literature I had read recommended Belle ‘tired of thinking about drinking’, I looked her up, followed a few links and a few days later stumbled across Word Press and two sites: Angie’s (liftingweightsnotwine) and Jim’s (Life Beyond Booze). I reached out and they grabbed my hand.

The rest, as they say, is history. I’ve posted ups and downs and changes and feelings over the 2 months I have been sober. I know you’ve already heard what a fantastic decision it was. That 2 months on, I am becoming a different person than the one that’s stared back at me from the mirror for the past 2 plus years. I don’t want this post to be a list of all the many many positive changes that have happened. You mostly know them anyway.

What I really want to say is this: Two months ago, when I finally made the choice to be alcohol free, I had absolutely no idea it would open the door to all this. I could never have imagined that it would introduce me to such an incredibly diverse, supportive, caring and compassionate group of individuals. I feel honoured to have been welcomed into your community. I honestly could not have got this far without you.

So once again ….THANK YOU ❤️

I’m now aiming for the next goal of 100 days sober (plus attempting a little yoga to add to my new meditation routine 😉). Have a great AF weekend 😘

Claire xx

What comes first? Anxiety or depression? (second attempt!)

(I had to re- post as for some reason my previous attempt didn’t allow comments. I’m hoping this works!!)

I know from all my reading and research that they are closely related and one can trigger the other. I also know from my own personal experience that 8 weeks on (YES!! 8 WHOLE WEEKS! … sorry couldn’t help myself) my own depression has lifted and my anxiety, though not completely gone, is definitely reduced and manageable (mostly). I am a little fearful when I write that here because it feels like it’s tempting fate but hey ho, it’s the truth in the present moment and I’m trying to be more ‘present’. I don’t know if I can find out the answer but I wanted to process it because it’s important to me and my overall progress and self awareness.

Why is it important for me?

I’m not really sure. It’s definitely not that I want to find an excuse to drink again. I don’t think that’s the case anyway. It’s more that I have always had an internal struggle accepting my diagnosis of anxiety and depression. I was all “No way, not me. You got it wrong! I’m just tired, fed up, stressed, lonely …. anything but A & D. I’m not ‘that’ sort of person. I’m tough, I’m upbeat, I’m a ‘can do’ woman”. I was soooo angry and I flatly refused to accept it, although I did acknowledge it. I told people about it and I dealt with it. That’s what I do. Problem … sort it. I refused antidepressants; no way, no how. I had counselling and I was going to get better. 8 months later, 2 stone lighter and still engaged with toxic people and unhelpful situations. I was drinking more than I ever had before. There was no choice, I ‘gave in’ .. antidepressants it was.

Meds

I took them, I cried, I was off work for 3 days and I felt like a complete and utter failure. I set a target, 6 months and then no more. I didn’t drink for two weeks because that was sensible and advised. I still had counselling and I didn’t make any other changes. The alcohol consumption once again increased. My behaviours remained the same. My self esteem was nil but I ‘appeared’ to be improving. 6 months later (and actually spiralling into more dodgy, toxic friendships and relationships) I came off antidepressants and my counselling had finished.


That was a year ago. For the next 5 months I rapidly went downhill. My weight was better but I wasn’t sleeping and I was drinking fairly heavily. I was anxious and sliding into depression. I was disappearing and self medicating with wine and unhealthy interactions.

The past 6 months

In June I started different antidepressants. They suited me better. I went back to counselling and I began to examine what was going on. Sure I was only skimming the very surface but it was a shift. I still drank – A LOT! The meds worked but in truth I still wasn’t well. Counselling had stopped. I could go either way. It felt like balancing on a tightrope and any minute I’d fall into the abyss. (God I’m so dramatic 🙄)

Alcohol

On November 17th, after a few weeks of reading and stalking the sober blogs, I gave up alcohol. It changed everything. It opened up my life again and allowed me to ‘feel’. Bit by bit I have reduced my reliance on toxic relationships and I am learning to like myself once again. I always drank .. from 17 yrs old onwards. I have always been a ‘big’ drinker and alcohol has always been a big part of my life. Did it cause my A&D? Or did my mental health issues lead me to rely on alcohol more and then that made my recovery more difficult?

What now?

My concern is this. If I stop taking my antidepressants will I regress or was giving up alcohol the catalyst for improvement in my mental health and the meds are neither here nor there? What if I stop them, I feel awful and want to drink again .. and can’t stop myself? That scares the shit out of me. Don’t worry, I have no intention of coming off meds any time soon but how do I know they are helping? Their impact was minimal compared to the impact of becoming sober. How will I ever know when is the right time to take the risk? So many questions and I suspect there is no answer. I don’t want to take antidepressants indefinitely but the past two plus years have really been a challenge and I never want to go back there again.


If you have persevered to the end of this post then you deserve a bloody medal. I felt I needed to put down what has been churning around in my head for a while so I appreciate you sticking with it. If you skipped to the end, that’s fine too.
Hugs to all you lovely bloggers. My very own ‘sober tribe’ ❤️ 🤗


Love Claire xx
(8 weeks)

The long and winding road

Yesterday evening was not good for me. I did start to write a post but ended up giving up half way through … I just couldn’t get my thoughts and emotions straight. This morning however I feel very different. I had support from two very wise and caring friends and one of them (I’ve mentioned before .. my soul mate) suggested it might be good to blog about it. So here it is …

This week has been tricky. Back to school and work and routine. My boys are 15 and 12. Both are very addicted to games consoles which drives me mad on a regular basis. The 15 year old, B, is however becoming more aggressive, rude, furious and generally uncontrollable each time he plays it. He has broken things .. 3 controllers, tv remote and the tv itself. The anger, mixed with usual teenage hormones is really distressing for everyone and I can’t reach him. Tuesday evening it was at its worst. I disengaged totally because I didn’t know what to do, so I did nothing!

Last night I arrived home from work at nearly 7pm. Both boys and my husband had been in since 4pm. Granted my husband had had to go out for an appt but nothing had been done. I then cooked tea, had my youngest, S, moan about not going back on his games. Listened to B moaning because I wouldn’t let him buy a new game (for 18 year olds and very violent) and my husband moaning because tea was late.

Added to this, I had a personal issue to contend with. Over the past few years I have had contact with someone who comes and goes. Pops up when he needs attention and then disappears with usually no explanation. I have continually allowed him to do this and never really challenged it. There have been other people in my life recently who have also made me doubt myself, lowered my self esteem and basically been unkind and frankly, at times, cruel. I always end up apologising, making excuses, try to find the good in them all. Well last night, this one particular person suddenly blocked me. We’d had no contact for while, I’d been honest about how it was making me feel before Xmas. He messaged me Tuesday and stupidly I engaged. Wanting to please and smooth the situation over. In the middle of the chat he disappeared. Same old story. I said and did nothing. Last night, I notice he has blocked me. He has done this before. I never really know why. My anxiety went sky high. I will be honest; I felt sick, hurt and mortified all at once. Plus, I’d already had a shit night at home and felt pretty lonely. All this led to “I WANT A DRINK” . I was so desperate to just get pissed. I cried, I hid out in my bedroom, I refused to talk to my family (I did tell my husband I felt low). I was miserable. Sick and tired of people treating me like shit. Totally hacked off with myself for continually allowing it to go on. Frustrated that I’m such a bloody excessive person I can’t even have a fucking drink when I want. It was horrible.

I messaged a friend. I spoke to my soul mate. I didn’t drink. I went to bed and slept. I woke this morning, still feeling hurt, used and unappreciated but not down about it. I could see that it wasn’t a reflection on me and that I could do something about it. I got up, sorted out my work day to work from home. Blocked the ‘friend’ from any means of contact to get rid of him once and for all. Made a plan of how to deal with B and how to help him keep calm and control the gaming. I’ve tidied, decluttered and dealt with emails. I feel good.

The important thing here is not the content of what happened, but the way I dealt with it. This stuff happens to everyone all the time. When it happened to me, my default was to drink. I’d probably already be drinking anyway and then I’d just drink more. I would still have been upset, tearful, angry etc but I would also have been pissed. I’d have argued with my husband, shouted at my kids, found a way to send a spiteful message to this guy, then regretted it and apologised, passed out and woken up feeling depressed, guilty and useless. Probably called in sick and slept all day. That is the truth of the matter.

I did none of that, I felt none of those feelings. I saw the positive in the fact that there is no more contact with someone who uses me and abuses my friendship. I didn’t wallow in ‘should have’ and ‘what if?’. I didn’t lie in bed, staring into space, going over and over everything in my mind. I took control of what I could change and let go of what I couldn’t. I didn’t bloody drink and it was the BEST decision I have made since the day I made the choice to give up booze.

I am ok. I am strong, hard working and kind. I am worth people’s time, care and respect. I need to be sober to navigate the long and winding road of self discovery!

Claire xx