Tag Archives: gratitude

Rose

I’ve had one of my little blogging blocks again recently. I’ve started a post a few times this last week but they haven’t amounted to anything. When that happens I just have to go back to my tried and tested method of writing any old waffle that comes to mind. A lovely blogging friend also suggested starting with a photo and seeing where that leads. My photo is of a rose in my parents’ garden. They bought the rose bush as a gift to each other on their 52nd wedding anniversary last year. It has the same name as my first name. Claire is actually my middle name. Pretty isn’t it?

I took the photo on Sunday. We were visiting on Father’s day. A lockdown garden visit. My parents were really excited to see their grandsons. Unfortunately my husband and I rather ruined the atmosphere by arriving in the middle of a very heated discussion. Some more sensitive folk would have classed it as a full blown row. The content doesn’t matter here. The issue is that this past week (and for a little while now) there has been a regular flow of similar spats and disagreements. It’s become wearing. I can’t really work out why it’s occurring more, if indeed it is. Maybe I’m simply more aware of it. It’s very bloody irritating though. It feels as though I need to ask permission to do things I want to do. As though I have to check out if it’s ok to just be me. I know, I know. Here I go, being all over dramatic again. I am starting to figure some stuff out though and once you see, you can’t unsee.

I’ve spent much of my life trying to ‘people please’. Wanting everyone to like me. I’ve agreed to do things I didn’t want to do. I’ve allowed decisions to be made I didn’t feel comfortable with. I’ve even altered my own opinions and beliefs to match those of others around me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve stood my ground in many a dispute and argument. Stated my case and my opinion loudly and at times aggressively. All when I have been as drunk as a skunk. It’s almost like I didn’t set any boundaries within relationships or make my needs known. Eventually that led to bitterness, resentment and anxiety. Mix up that little concoction with a bucket load of booze and what do you get? Fireworks. A mouthy, opinionated (and occasionally obnoxious) Claire. What do you get the next day? A sad, guilty, remorseful and humiliated Claire. A Claire who then apologises profusely for speaking her mind and expressing her feelings. Upset and devastated that people might not like her. Trying desperately to make amends, Back to square one. A little less self esteem, a little more eager to please and so it goes on.

Sobriety has taught me a lot of things. One of the most important being that I have a right to my own opinion and I have my own needs. Not everyone needs to like me and it is ok to say ‘no’ or not agree with others. The knock on effect has been that I am now clear about my boundaries. What and where they are. I express myself more effectively and I walk away from situations and relationships that are unhelpful and potentially damaging. I no longer seethe with resentment or bitterness because I am being used or treated unfairly. I will either attempt to address the issue or simply disengage and try to let it go, knowing I am worth more. No alcohol means no uncontrollable release of frustrations that have built up slowly over time. No regrets and guilt at losing control when pissed equals much improved self esteem and self belief. All this is incredibly positive. It does, however, have a significant impact on some of my closest and most long term relationships. Relationships where, for a long time, I have played the part of ‘pleasing’ and ‘giving in’ to maintain the status quo and be liked (and hopefully not abandoned). Relationships cultivated and built on the ‘agree – fall in line – challenge when drunk – apologise continually – make amends’ cycle. As I have developed and changed, those friendships and relationships (including the one with my husband) are being seriously tested and forced to change too. Some are possibly not going to survive this transition. That’s a scary thought but it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen. I will approach it as I approached sobriety, one small step at a time.

This quote is from my home page. I believe I have started to grow back after a pretty harsh winter. Like the rose with the same name, I may have even started blossom.

Love Claire x

Big steps

I started this blog at the suggestion of the lovely Jim, Life Beyond Booze, who was really my first connection with the sober Word Press tribe. Although Jim’s posts are now as as scarce as a hen’s tooth, he was a great support to me and many others and he occasionally pops up to treat us to one of his hilarious and clever posts. The folks I met through connecting with Jim have pretty much remained a firm group and I now consider many of them friends. My sobriety blog developed into a managing anxiety and depression blog and, unsurprisingly I suppose, others on the ‘sober train’ had similar experiences and mental health challenges. It has been an interesting and eventful journey up until this point. A journey I had no idea I was taking but one I absolutely needed to invest in.

Why am I talking about all this today? Well, firstly, I have reached my 200th day sober. 100 days is supposed to be a phenomenal milestone and now I’ve doubled it! Secondly, 4 days ago I began the very slow process of stopping my antidepressant medication. Almost one year ago I started taking SSRIs for the second time in my life. I’d initially taken them for 6 months, stopped for 6 months and then my mental health regressed so much I was back taking them again in June 2019. Anyone who has followed my blog will know how totally devastated I felt when I started taking antidepressants. It was truly soul destroying and I had tried so hard to manage and cope with my depression with counselling, support, exercise etc. But it had become a desperate situation. For the sake of my family, I finally admitted what I viewed as defeat and I ‘gave in’. Both times I took that first pill I sobbed and was inconsolable. I had two different types of medication because the initial ones triggered some rough side effects that unfortunately didn’t reduce with time. I swapped to a different type for the second time round and apart from the initial 5 days of the worst anxiety I have EVER experienced, I have had no other issues with them.

On both occasions they helped. I wouldn’t say they ‘cured’ me or made life miraculously wonderful, but they gave me a way out of the grey, colourless existence I had been living. They put me on an even keel and hit the ‘pause’ button of the terrible downward cycle that is anxiety and depression. They gave me back a little bit of control over managing my own illness. I still felt pretty crap much of the time and I definitely did not achieve my one focus; to discover Claire again. I continue with counselling which ended around last September. Looking back now, I would say I was ‘better’ but still not well. I started reading more about anxiety and depression, looking further into alcohol addiction and soaking up any literature I could find. Then on the 16th November 2019 I gave it up. To this day I don’t know how I have succeeded. I was a ‘drinker’. I loved my wine. People who knew me knew I loved my wine but oddly had no idea how much I really drank. I also realised I had significantly increased my reliance on alcohol as a crutch for my mental health issues over the years. In addition, I drank rather than ate … my body seriously lacked any nutrients. I was underweight and my hair was just as thin and disappearing just as fast as I was.

Fast forward to today. 200 days later. Taking the antidepressants allowed me to examine my behaviours and realise I needed to make that huge step into the unknown. Taking alcohol out of the equation gave me my life back. It was clear that 2 weeks into sobriety, living an alcohol free life was the answer I’d been searching for. The grey quickly changed to a rainbow and the excitement and interest in life, gone for so long, had reappeared. The past 6 months haven’t been easy. As many of you will know, my mood regularly fluctuates and anxiety and depression still lurk at my door. I am starting to recognise the signs and pre-empt the downward spiral by using new tools. I am 2 stone heavier and my hair is thick and has grown back. Claire returned!

This past few weeks I have been deliberating a lot. I am ready to remove the last crutch and stop my medication. I have read around the subject and want to be sensible about it. (Thanks to Ashley, Mental Health @Home, for the suggested reading material). Some people have suggested I remain on the antidepressants as they aren’t impacting on me with any side effects. I understand their view and I appreciate stability is not something to be sniffed at. The crux though is this … I want to come off them. I want to know if I can do this without antidepressants. If I can’t, then I will have no option and they will be part of my life for a much longer time, maybe a permanent fixture. It’s time to find out.

So, here I am, 200 days sober and 4 days into taking a reduced dose of my SSRI medication. I will keep posting. Checking in is so important right now. I am scared and nervous. It feels like I’m taking one last final big step. It’ll be ok though. Whatever happens I know it will be ok.

Love Claire xx

Waxing lyrical

Goodness it’s been a little while since I caught up with my blog. I find it easier to write about things that have been happening in my life rather than selecting a ‘topic’ so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I think I won’t have any particular order to my ramblings today. I’ll just write as things pop into my head.

On Monday evening this week I was taken aback by seeing photos of many English residents heading out in droves to the seaside and country locations. Pictures or large groups of people sat together and close to other groups. My husband said it was rammed in our local park where he had ridden with the boys. Gangs of lads and girls, groups of adults clearly from mixed families. I honestly thought I had missed a vital government announcement thar lockdown was cancelled. Turns out this virus is so fragile it’s fading out all by itself. Maybe there was a nugget of info I’d glossed over whilst trying to wade through the reports of disgusting and incongruous behaviour of Mr Cummings. But no! I hadn’t missed anything new. We were still in lockdown with strict guidelines that we should only meet one other person, in a public outside area and remain 2 metres away. What is wrong with people? Stop being so bloody self centred!

I’m struggling with a friend of mine who considers herself to have a more ‘relaxed’ attitude than some, proudly announcing that she’s non-conformist but not judging anyone else. I think it totally passed her by that referring to her approach as relaxed immediately places a judgement on the behaviour of others as uptight and OTT. But then she was never one to have much self awareness or consideration for others. Probably why she’s able to feel so relaxed when she risks the health and well-being of others to meet her own immediate needs. Before sobriety I would’ve responded to messages from her with little thought for the consequences of speaking my mind. Now I make a considered decision whether it’s worth putting across my point of view. I decided in this case not. I did make it clear that I take different actions, whilst acknowledging that it’s her own choice. Not drinking has allowed me to let these things go and not create further tension when it’s unhelpful and not needed.

I took a few days annual leave over our bank holiday weekend. Loads of decluttering, moving my youngest son into a larger room and all his consoles upstairs into a ‘gaming’ room. This leaves the back room downstairs for me and the guinea pigs. It’s bright and sunny. I have my office space in the corner, I can lie my yoga mat out easily and I have my boy’s keyboard in there ready to learn piano on my new app. Biscuit, Toffee and I are all set in our new space. It felt good to declutter. We carried on with the garage too. On Monday I took the day to relax. No housework. No food shopping. Yoga, a walk and the new task I had to accomplish… leg waxing. Don’t worry, I am used to having my legs waxed. I’m not totally nuts. I have never attempted it myself though. I must admit, after a few false starts, where I’d clearly not followed the direction of hair growth (tricky to work that one out) and when one piece of waxing strip managed to get stuck to my coffee mug, the table and my finger, I did ok. Fairly smooth and shiny. Unfortunately I’d carried out this activity outside on a sunny day and by the evening I was smooth, shiny, bright red and sore.

I have discovered some lovely walking routes close by our house. All these years and I never knew they were there. My mum and I finally met up for a walk for the first time since March. It was a glorious day and we managed around 5 miles. My mum is 76 – pretty bloody amazing too. My running has slipped. I can’t find my running mojo. As I said to one of my lovely bloggers the other day, I keep looking for it in the biscuit tin and chocolate drawer of the fridge but it’s never there, or if it is, I’m far too distracted by the bar of wholenut or the chocolate covered almonds to notice it. I’ve stuck with yoga every day. Only 20 to 40 minutes. I’m not losing any weight but I find it very soothing and relaxing. I must be the only person who gave up alcohol and gained weight!

Today, when I left for work I received a huge bouquet of flowers. It was a thank you from a lady who lives in the street next to ours. I didn’t know her before the lockdown but she contacted me via my leaflets offering support. I’ve been doing her food shop for her as her son became ill and then went rapidly downhill with COVID-19. Happily, after a stint in hospital on a ventilator, he recovered and is now much better. I was totally taken aback by the flowers and sent the lady a text to thank her. She said I’d been the light in an extremely dark time. I honestly don’t think anyone has ever said anything nicer to me.

My beautiful flowers

I will stop now. I have some other things I planned to touch on but I’ll leave those for another day. Right now I’d like to go play some scrabble with a good friend. Sending you all love and hugs 🤗

Love Claire xx

Liebster Award

Well, how exciting! The lovely Collette nominated me for the Liebster Award and although I hadn’t come across it before, her description of the meaning of the German word ‘Liebster’ is lovely. Look it up. Whilst you’re at it, take a look at Collette’s blog Wine to Water. It’s one of my favourite reads and she writes beautifully. It’s honest, thought provoking and true to life and I just know you’ll love it. Thanks so much Collette, I am very flattered to be nominated. I really enjoyed finding out about you in your Liebster Award post. I hope I do the nomination justice.

Rules

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you, and provide a link to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions given to you.
  • Share 11 facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 5-11 other bloggers.
  • Ask your nominees 11 questions.
  • Notify your nominees one you have uploaded your post.

My answers to Collette’s questions …

  1. If you had the ability to turn back time, what time period would you return to? My answer to this is a little dull really. I’d like to go back to the naughties. 2004 to 2014 specifically. I’d love to just experience my little babies once more and also the toddler and early school years. I love them dearly now but if I had a chance to experience it again …
  2. If you could return anything you own and get a refund, what would it be and why? My food processor. It was on my wedding gift list and it’s huge and literally never been used. It has 101 attachments and a billion different functions. It scares me! It’s sat in a cupboard for almost 17 years and I can’t bring myself to bin it. Oh the guilt!!
  3. If you could get rid of one vegetable or fruit in the entire world, what would it be and why? Raisins. I don’t think I even need to give an explanation. Devil’s food.
  4. Is there an item you find completely useless and it shouldn’t even exist in the first place? Eyelash curlers.
  5. If you could live anywhere, where would it be? This is a really tricky one as I’m not really very well travelled. From the things I’ve heard, read and seen I’d like to try New Zealand. The outdoor living with beautiful scenery. The ‘Swiss Sundayposts of Bereaved Single Dad have definitely put Switzerland up there in my top three. In all honesty though, I love the UK. I don’t like how it’s run and there’s a great deal I’d change if I could but it’s a beautiful place. I’d perhaps move nearer the sea or into the countryside though.
  6. What is your biggest fear? I’m frightened of losing those I love and cherish.
  7. What is your favourite family vacation? We have had some fab family holidays but I have to say, my favourite is probably our trip to the US a couple of years back. We saw so much, visited amazing places mountains, beaches, New York, Washington plus we spent real quality time in North Carolina with my cousin and his gorgeous family. All four of us had a phenomenal experience. It was the perfect family holiday.
  8. What would you change about yourself if you could? Hmmm 🤔 how shallow should I be here? My wrinkles, my pot belly, my inability to do anything musical? Actually my first thought was my depression. It is something I really wish I didn’t struggle with but I am much better now and it happens less and is short lived. I just wish it didn’t happen at all, mainly because of the impact it has on those I love.
  9. What makes you really angry? Injustice and unfairness. In anything. I’ve had to learn to let those things go a little more as it only leads to bitterness and resentment. They are not a good look!
  10. What is your proudest accomplishment? Can I cheat and have two? The first is my boys. I’m so proud of them both and the young adults they are developing into. The second, without doubt, is becoming sober over 5 months ago. I had a very dependent relationship with alcohol and it was a hugely important part of my life. Giving it up has literally changed my life, for the better. I am a different person and I take all the credit for getting to this place. I don’t mind boasting about it!
  11. What was the last movie you went to? What did you think? The Rise of Skywalker. This is the final film in the Star Wars trilogy. It was generally quite boring and all a bit far fetched and fairytale. I don’t often get to go and watch films at the cinema of my own choosing. It’s often star wars, marvel or similar. That’s the joy of being a mum of boys I guess.

11 facts about me

  • My birthday is on Sunday
  • I have ‘twin toes’ on my right foot
  • I love to sing but I’m awful at singing
  • I cross stitch 😡 🧵
  • I am a Speech and Language Therapist and I work with children and adults with cleft lip and palate or speech issues related to palate function.
  • I have two boys. They are 15 and 12 years old. They are polar opposites of each other in every way.
  • I love to play scrabble. My new favourite obsession is Word Feud online.
  • I can balance on my right leg for 149 seconds and on my left for 147 seconds. That’s my best effort to date!
  • I love all things ‘theatre’ … one of my favourite activities is a trip to the theatre. Musicals, plays, classical performances, concerts … anything. I’d love to have acted on the stage but never had the guts (or the talent!)
  • I have a fiery temper.
  • I am sober and delighted about it.

My nominees are:

  • Anne at Nomorebeer2019. This lady is sparky, bright, funny and honest. She can vary her style of writing and is always fantastic to read. Her support on mine and others blogs has been invaluable. She is one of my ‘Wordpress tribe’ and has a great way of saying it as it is.
  • Paige, Beyond Hedonism, is new to this … blogging and giving up the booze. She is doing brilliantly at sticking with something that is incredibly difficult to do. She is following a path many of us have walked down. Go check her out and support her.
  • Bereaved Single Dad has most likely been nominated for this award before but hey ho, he now has to answer my questions! His blog is a delight to read and he touches on many different subjects, with an unassuming and self deprecating style of writing that draws you in.
  • My final nominee is Anna, Storm in a Wine Glass. A lovely lady who has shared some really honest experiences about her life and who is forever encouraging of others. She too is open and honest and a huge support to many. Plus a great writer to boot.

I’m excited to find out more about my fellow blogging nominees so here are your 11 questions ….

  1. If you could have had any job/career what would it have been?
  2. If you were stranded on a desert island what three items would you choose to have with you?
  3. What the thing you like most about yourself?
  4. If you could relive one day again, exactly as it was before, what day would it be and why?
  5. If you could only see one more band/singer live, who would it be?
  6. What is your biggest achievement in your life so far?
  7. What’s your favourite way to relax (keep it clean please!)?
  8. You can have a superpower for a year. Which one would you choose?
  9. What’s your favourite time of day and why?
  10. What are you most afraid of?
  11. What are your ‘words to live by?’ Name the three most important for you.

Thanks again Collette for nominating me. I look forward to reading the responses to my questions and a few little facts about some of my favourite bloggers.

Love Claire xx

Lists, lists, lists …

I can’t sleep. I’m just lying here staring into the dark and wondering what I should do. I’ve decided I will post on my blog. Just fill the time waiting to drift off and put my private thoughts down for all to read. I like to share! I read somewhere that you should write down what goes through your mind when you can’t sleep. I think I’ll do it as a list, spurred on by the recent post by blogger bereavedandbeingasingleparent. Here is my list of ‘keeping me awake’ thoughts …

  1. Why can’t I sleep? All I’ve wanted to do today is sleep and now I’m wide awake!
  2. Why has running become so difficult? It feels as if each leg is filled with lead and every step is a huge effort.
  3. I have successfully managed three days on my significant reduction in sugar diet. It’s bloody torture.
  4. I realised that 5.1g of sugar per 100ml in alcohol free wine is A LOT of sugar!! Now I have to kick that addiction too. Am I psychologically attached to AF wine now?
  5. My 15 year old son looks like a huge adult now. He takes up so much space.
  6. I actually don’t understand what my 15 year old says some of the time. For a speech and language therapist, that’s poor!
  7. I’m still a bundle of pins and needles with stiff wrists, arms and hands. No feedback from MRI over 3 weeks ago. Do I chase it? I suspect I’m just getting old.
  8. I reached 5 months sober last Friday. I celebrated by ordering an early birthday present for myself. An ipad Air. Never having owned an iPad I am ridiculously excited for it to arrive.
  9. I bet my iPad doesn’t come for ages.
  10. My birthday is less that two weeks away. I’m going to celebrate the day by heading to los Lounges, les Gardenia, Santa Bedroomed and Playa de Kitchena. I’ll also take a super exciting trip to ‘Worlde de Outside’ for up to an hour. I’m looking forward to it already.
  11. I don’t really miss drinking at the moment. For someone who loved to drink at home that’s pretty good going.
  12. I don’t miss social outings with lots of people either, particularly centred around drinking
  13. I keep forgetting to face time or Skype people for a social catch up
  14. I’ve realised I’m actually quite an antisocial person.
  15. What if a test for antibodies is developed? Will there be two distinct groups of communities? Those with an ID card that proves they are immune to Covid-19 and those without. The cans and the cannots?
  16. Are my children actually learning anything via homeschooling at the moment? When will they have to submit anything to be checked? How do you learn if you don’t ever have any feedback?
  17. Will I ever know what to do about my relationship with my husband? Why can’t I put my finger on what is wrong? What is it I want?
  18. I’m quite enjoying not having to think about what I’m wearing or what I look like.
  19. For some reason I’m not getting notifications that people have replied to my comments. Am I on a ‘word press’ naughty list?
  20. Will I ever get to sleep?

There we have it. 20 thoughts, listed in no sensible order. Lots of unanswered questions. To be honest I’m not sure it’s helped writing them down. It’s passed the time though. I now have around 6 hrs before a video meeting which I am supposed to be leading. Joy.

I’m going to stay positive and be grateful though. A quick grateful list …

  • I’m grateful my family is currently healthy and well
  • I’m grateful I have a job and I am able to contact and support my patients and their families
  • Thankfully I am working from home tomorrow so I can always move from my office to my bed in two (maybe three) steps and have a little midday lunchtime snooze if needed
  • I’m bloody ecstatic that I have an iPad on its way (that’s terribly shallow and materialistic I know, but I’m being truthful here)
  • I am so so grateful I won’t wake up in a few hours feeling hung over and shitty. Tired yes, but miserable from too much wine, no.
  • Finally I thank goodness for my blog. I can spew it all out here and get it off my chest. Unfortunately you lot had to read it all! 😁

Stay safe, sleep well

Claire xx

My week (in pictures)

When I left you last I wasn’t in a particularly good way. My unwelcome visitors were, well exactly that, unwelcome! Fortunately for me, this time they did not stay long and both Mr Anxiety and Mrs Depression went on their merry way as the week wore on. It’s hard to express how grateful I am that it was short-lived and I am following the advice you lovely people gave me. Yes, it’s normal to have periods like it and really important to continue telling myself it will lift. Things do get better.

The week trundled on. I was working in the hospital for two days and working from home for the other three. It’s been ridiculously busy but only in terms of organisation of services to enable patients to have some form of contact where needed. That’s been successful so far and assessing speech and communication over a video link has not been too tricky. I think it might be due to the ‘screen’ factor. I appear to be far more interesting now I’m on their phone, tablet or laptop. We cover an enormous region as a specialist service and I think this will change how we work in the future. It will enable some families to access services much more easily and not have to commute a one to two hour journey to see us. Every cloud eh? All staff have now received a letter informing us that we may now be redeployed to work on the front line and requested to cover shortages in other locations, in area outside of our usual roles. I just hope they give me some basic training if I have to do anything, particularly if nursing based – I could be more of hindrance than a help.

I’ve continued to support those in need in our local area. The people have been lovely and so appreciative of being able to have some shopping done for them when self isolating. To be honest, they are very straightforward as far as shopping goes. Compared with my own Dad anyway. His list consisted of baby plum tomatoes, Sainsbury’s taste the difference sausages, Rachel’s coconut yogurt, Coleman’s English mustard and a partridge in a pear tree! He and my mum are doing well with self distancing and I’m proud of them for sticking with it and following all the guidelines. We decided to delay Mum’s surgery for the skin cancer on her leg and nose. We agreed it was better to take the risk of a slow growing cancer getting worse than picking up Covid-19.

A little stop on my run yesterday

I’ve carried on running. I’m getting back into it slowly. It’s an interesting experience where some people make a lot of effort to move out of your way and there’s a clear mutual respect of the distancing rules. Others are not moving for nobody. No way. Not even a pretend wobble to appear like they are making an effort. They just keep on walking, sometimes two or three people across the path and I end up being forced to run into the road. I never ceased to be amazed by some people. Like those who are busily clearing out their houses of junk with all th spare time they suddenly have. Said junk is then bagged up and helpfully dumped outside charity shops who are, surprise surprise, shut. Never mind eh? I guess they are being ‘good’ by donating their useless crap to charity. Just someone else now needs to deal with it all.

Before the gardeners came off the Xbox to help

I’m trying to have some ‘me’ time but with work and having the boys home it isn’t easy. To be fair, they’d be happy on their screens all day long but we are trying to restrict that. Today they helped in the garden. It needs a lot of work and much to their disgust they had to spend 3 ours weeding and picking up the pruned branches. I spent my day cleaning. Let me just say, I HATE cleaning. Unfortunately, my anxiety was not the type that encouraged me to get cleaning and tidying. I particularly don’t like cleaning toilets. But today I did three of them and the surrounding areas. I also gave the kitchen a good going over. It actually felt good! My brain switched off and I sang and wiggled about to 90’s Indie music. I’m not promising anything, but maybe I might be persuaded to try the lounge and back room tomorrow. It could be a rock day for Alexa. Who knows?

A sparkly kitchen and alcohol free wine!

So, with the guinea pigs fed, our burgers ready to eat and my alcohol free wine poured, I’ll sign off. I’ll add some photos to make the whole thing more interesting. Oh, one more thing, I have reached 20 weeks sober today. 20 weeks. TWENTY WEEKS!!! I’m just going to give myself a big round of applause. Still the best decision I have ever made.

Biscuit and Toffee enjoying tea

Stay safe all

Love Claire

Up and running again

One of the weirdest weeks ever! Every single day, four or five times a day, things change. Plans are made, then unmade. People can’t work from home, people MUST work from home unless they absolutely can’t. Some of my staff are all guns blazing … let me get out there and fight this thing, others wanting to run away and hide. So challenging to deal daily with tears, tantrums and hysteria .. and that’s just my own.

So, I am finally set up (kind of) with the technology required to work from home for some days. How long for is unknown, like so many things right now. I may be redeployed to help elsewhere. God help anyone I have to care for. I’m not even sure where you shove a thermometer.

My first experience with Zoom teleconferencing was hilarious. Clearly the NHS world is not used to this type of futuristic magic. There were people who just did not realise they needed to mute their screen. We heard someone home schooling and yelling at a very bored child, saw someone relaxing on his hammock in his back garden and listened as a member of staff went to the bathroom. It was the highlight of my day.

Today I had an SOS call from a neighbour. They’d seen my leaflet and wanted someone to get supplies as they are elderly, in poor health and their son is now self isolating. She sent me her shopping list and told me it might be difficult to get her bread as she’s glutton free! I wish I was glutton free. Then I might not have this wobbly chocolate belly,

Finally, today I managed to go for a run. I have really lost my exercise mojo over recent weeks, even months. Today, however, with the sun shining, I stuck on my trainers and off I went. I walked/ran for two miles and ran for another 3. Shattered but good to get out after 3 days of high stress and anxiety (not mine for a change, other people’s). I’m planning to run most days now. Make it a routine.

I was asked by a fellow blogger to post some photos when running, so here they are …

It’s been a week of many firsts and of rising to challenges. I’m coping with change without panic and emotion and with a little bit of humour. I’m doing all of it sober. In fact, what I now know is that I have to be sober to deal with it. As people around the UK clapped for NHS workers, care staff, frontline employees, supermarket assistants, delivery man … etc etc … I realised that we have to ride this storm. I intend to do just that and to do it sober.

Stay safe, look after yourselves and keep in touch by blogging or commenting.

Claire xx

The only constant is change

As usual I have no plan for what I’m about to write. I haven’t posted anything in over a week but I still regularly check, read and comment on others’ posts. It comforts me to do that. This past few weeks have been a total whirlwind. So much happening in such a short space of time. I have no idea what emotion I’m feeling from one minute to the next!

Watching it all unfold has been surreal. Daily counts of those infected and those sadly that have lost their lives because of Covid-19 has quite simply shocked me. Heading into work this week (I work at a children’s hospital in a city centre) on a near empty rush hour train (hence the photo) the reality started to sink in.

The past few days has been full on with decisions and plans at work being made, remade and changed. The impact of each decision being reviewed and considered. Staff in my team in tears at one time or another with the stress and fatigue of the unknown. Then, the schools announced closure, but not for offspring of key workers (NHS staff, children in need, teachers etc). My two boys (15 and 12yrs) went into meltdown. Resolutely refusing to go because no-one else will be. This is still ‘under discussion’.

My mum was diagnosed with skin cancer on Tuesday. Two different types in two locations. She is 76 and already ticks ‘underlying health condition’ boxes. It was upsetting but treatment decisions have been made now and she has astonished me with her positive attitude about it all. I think she can see the bigger picture and is for once not asking ‘what if?’. She and my dad are self isolating and I’m feeling so proud of them both because I know they are feeling scared and isolated right now.

Interestingly I don’t think in my 25 years of working for the NHS I’ve ever felt this valued by so many. All sorts of shops, cafes and businesses are giving out free drinks, 50% off food and even free bottles of hand moisturiser to NHS workers. People are being lovely and so supportive and considerate. That’s such a positive to come out of this.

So, with all the drama and the stress, the sadness and the worry, my anxiety levels have of course been sky rocketing. Change is often so tricky and we are dealing with it daily, sometimes hourly. But for every moment of anxiety, there has been a glimpse of calm and peace brought by all the lovely, kind deeds that I’m witnessing. The renewed sense of community is palpable. Yes, there are stories of selfish idiots and acts of pure nastiness, but I’m not focusing on that. We are all in this together and I hope that after it is over we are all better humans and an improved society in many ways.

Finally, I’m not going to lie, there have been moments of ‘fuck it, I am going to drink’. I haven’t and I’m actually really, really glad about that. It would not help me right now.

Stay safe, be kind and take good care of yourselves. Oh, and keep blogging … reading your posts certainly helps me stay positive when it all gets a little too much. 😊❤️

Claire xx

Sweet Dreams

This morning I woke up and felt I’d had a very deep sleep with few episodes of waking, if any at all. That’s very unusual for me. Even without the alcohol I wake up a few times but now I can usually turn over and go back off. After a few minutes coming round I suddenly remembered my dream.

I also haven’t really dreamt as much since becoming sober, not ones I can remember very well. This week I’ve been able to recall more of them. Last night’s was vivid. I was totally trashed!!! Trolleyed, kayleyed, plastered 🥴. I’d gone to a fancy, posh party with three girlfriends and I drank a shed load of Prosecco. I remember just pouring glass after glass into my mouth and then feeling sick and dizzy. We stayed over at a hotel after sorting problems with crap rooms. I woke up the next day with another party to go to that evening and I felt shocking. The day was subsequently spent trying to find a different hotel, being given more awful rooms, changing said rubbish rooms and then hotels. My husband and dad appeared and refused to stay in the final hotel. I’d decided not to drink again that night but the second party never occurred anyway. I was too busy moving hotels and having room issues.

Completely weird. Bonkers I know. I don’t think I want anyone to analyse all that thank you. I do, however, remember the feelings and emotions it generated. I felt ill, fuzzy, stressed, unclear and generally very out of control. Not just when I was drunk either. I felt on edge all the next day trying to get to the next hotel room. I knew for a fact I was not going to drink again but I couldn’t fathom why I’d drowned myself in Prosecco the night before. I’m not even that keen on it to be honest! Red or white wine, maybe.

Boy it was good though …. No!!! Wait! …. not the getting pissed bit. The good part was waking up this morning and realising, in a Sue-Ellen type Dallas moment, that it was all just a dream. I have spent my day today feeling I can achieve anything. Work has been stressful and busy, with all sorts of things not falling right. I dealt with what I could, remained calm and kept others reassured. There was no panic, no anxiety and no emotional reaction. I felt really in control without having to control everyone and everything, if that makes any sense at all? I enjoyed that feeling and I appreciated it all the more because my dream had reminded me what I would have felt like 4 months ago. That would have been a very different day and an ‘on edge’ Claire to say the least.

I particularly like the new confidence I have that I can’t be so easily thrown off course now. I sense a new strength that comes from understanding my emotional reactions a little more. Rather than seeking affirmation externally, I can often find it within. I know that sounds airy fairy and a bit OTT but quite honestly fuck it!

I generally write these posts with no idea what I’m going to talk about when I begin. Sometimes I delete them because, well because they are a bit shit and I even bore myself. Mostly though, I publish them. It’s a reminder of the ups and downs of sobriety and how far I have travelled. If it helps someone else to kick start their own journey then all the better. Plus, I selfishly love hearing from you guys and knowing you are there 😉.

Sending love to you all

Claire xx