Category Archives: mental health

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

Tangled again!

It’s been an odd couple of weeks. I’ve had moments of feeling totally at peace with lovely feelings of contentment and happiness and then suddenly it goes.

The family have been sick but are all recovered now. One of our guinea pigs died .. he was only 2 and my 12 year old has been very upset and distressed about it. I managed all that though. I was a ‘good’ mum and took care of the boys physical and emotional needs and for the first time in a long while I felt I was ‘there’ for them. It was a positive experience even though it had been a tough time. Work has been busy, with a few ‘situations’ leaving me feeling undervalued and overlooked but I’m trying to see positives in what’s going on.

Unfortunately though, as this week has drawn to a close I have felt more and more uneasy. I can’t put my finger on why. I’m not going to drink but I am kind of missing it again. It’s strange because I honestly thought I’d pushed through the ‘cravings’ and that sobriety was becoming more of a natural way of living for me. Have I been terribly naive to think I can do this forever? I don’t want to sit night after night pouring that poisonous crap down my throat. I really don’t. I’m just not sure how I feel about sobriety forever. It scares me still and I’m a bit pissed off about that.

There are so many positives that have directly come from me giving up the booze. Unbelievably great changes to my life that I have been trying to make for a long time. Why then would I even contemplate drinking again? What is wrong with me that I am unable to allow myself to be happy? You know, I’m not even sure I’m going to share this post publicly. I’m reading it back and frankly wanting to give myself a slap!

Right, Claire .. be honest with yourself! Q: How are you feeling right now? A: A bit lost and lonely. Probably edging towards the ‘anxious emotions’ more than I would like.

There, I said it. Anxiety. It’s still there. I’m not ‘cured’ and the disappointment is hard to take. I hate it, and the low mood that follows it. I want to stick my hand inside my chest and rip out that uncomfortable sensation. The worst of it is, it’s about nothing. I have nothing to be anxious about and I’m so bloody angry that it still exists and I can’t control it.

I know it’s improved and is far less than it was. I know I’ll get past it and drinking will not help matters. I know I should meditate, or have a bath, or sleep, but I just want to stamp my feet and shout ‘it’s not bloody fair’. Which I also know is totally pathetic and really very silly!

Actually, I feel slightly better for just writing it down and ‘getting it out’ so to speak. Maybe I will post this after all. This blog is about the ‘ups and downs’ of my journey and my toddler tantrums are part of the process. I will get up, out of my bed and eat. Make a cup of tea and be sociable. Spinning about in my own brain, overthinking, will not help me.

God, what a waffling, confusing post. A reflection of the current status of my brain right now maybe? Here’s hoping for clarity and calm tomorrow. 🤞🤞

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 girl did good!

Well, it once seemed such an impossibility and an insurmountable challenge but I’m delighted and proud to tell you, my blogging pals, that I have now not touched a drop of alcohol for exactly ONE MONTH (I felt capitals were apt here!). Like, a whole god damn month!!!!!! Who would have thought?? Certainly not me (or to be fair, anyone who knew me!). However, here I am, one month on, sober and still standing. It’s probably a good time to consider what’s happened in just one month:

1. I now sleep! I still wake in the night but don’t lie there for hours feeling shocking and reliving past events or worrying about future ones.

2. I no longer wake up in the early hours bargaining with myself not to drink later that day or this week or until Thursday .. only to then let myself down every single time!

3. I haven’t had a single hangover for an ENTIRE MONTH!!! I do still have headaches, which may be related to not enough water and too much caffeine, but compared to wasting days, feeling like shit, with no energy for anything, it’s small fry.

4. I enjoy mornings. I am actually a ‘morning person’ …. who knew? All these years I’ve said I’m a night owl and it was bollocks. Utter rubbish. I especially love Sunday mornings. Quiet and peaceful, just me, myself and I, before everyone else stirs. Bliss.

5. I am calm. My mind is not frantic. I’m still emotional and I’ll cry at the drop of a hat, but it’s good emotions. Positive.

6. My anxiety and depression has finally lifted. I’m still taking my anti depressants as I was before but that great black cloud that sat above me and the feelings of panic that washed over me have all but disappeared. I still feel down at times and I still worry about stuff but it doesn’t take hold like it did. I can manage it. The more I deal with it, the less it happens.

7. I am less of a people pleaser and my self esteem has returned …. at long last. I am starting, slowly, to identify those that are important in my life, who truly care for and love me. The opposite is true, I am beginning to recognise the people that took advantage, who always put their needs first and never truly bothered about my feelings. I am saying goodbye to some of those people and I am learning to step back from others who have the capacity to hurt me.

8. I am engaging with my family. I have made far more effort with my mum and have started to rebuild our relationship, which was gradually falling apart. My two boys finally have their mum back and are so proud that I don’t drink alcohol. I do wish they wouldn’t share my sobriety with everyone we know but I guess if they want to shout it from the rooftops then who am I to stop them?

9. I have realised, through the love and support of a very dear friend, that I am a kind person, a good mum, a decent human being and, though I make mistakes, I am worth people loving and caring for me. I deserve it!

10. I am sober and I intend to remain that way. I don’t feel as though I have given anything up. Instead, I feel I’ve given myself a chance at enjoying life again.

So, I have listed just 10 of many, many positives that removing alcohol from my life has given me. What an amazing Christmas gift I gave myself when I decided to start this journey. Lastly, I want to thank all of you on here for reading my posts up until now, for liking them and commenting. I would not be here if it wasn’t for my ‘sober pals’ and I’m so grateful to you all.

Now for my next month ….

Love, hugs and thanks

Claire xxx

Moderation.

I’ve been thinking a lot about moderation recently. Prior to my giving up alcohol I read up and researched (as I’m sure many of you have) and I noticed many references to moderation and ‘moderate’ drinkers. I most certainly am not a moderate drinker and after years of attempting to ‘cut back’ using a variety of methods it has become clear that total abstinence is my only option.

The interesting thing I’ve discovered is this … my inability to moderate does not only apply to alcohol. In fact, I am pretty excessive and extreme in many aspects of my life. I was totally ‘on it’ when my boys were young. Completely organised, lists on lists, dealing with it all, spinning all the plates etc. Then they reached 13 and 10 yrs two years ago and they didn’t need me (or so it felt at the time). Instead of being able to be moderate in my attention and involvement in their lives, which is what they needed, I disengaged completely. All or nothing, that’s me! I can’t seem to find a midway point.

I’ve been the same with many relationships. Completely giving my all, totally excessive and inevitably getting very hurt at some point. I often have to rely on the other person to moderate, if they don’t just get fed up and bugger off first. Luckily my husband stuck with me through it and after 20 years I’m not quite so excessive with him anymore 😂

So, it’s probably not a surprise that the only way I can manage my relationship with alcohol is to give it up completely. I can’t be a moderate drinker. Maybe though, just maybe, I can learn to be moderate in other aspects of my life. I think being sober might help me achieve that.