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Mandy's Story

I started drinking recreationally when I was 14, though my first memory of alcohol and enjoying the effect goes back to sipping my parent’s homemade wine in the distilling process when I was probably 6. I certainly had drunk a few times at the end of primary school at 11/12; I was a curious kid with a nose for adventure and a bit of mischief. Things escalated pretty quickly from drinking to smoking and partying. 

From the age of 15 I would sneak off to festivals and raves, stay up all of the weekends getting wasted with my friends and so started my ten plus year love affair with my friends and parties. There were difficult times, most of my best friends had very hard home lives, or if they didn’t like me they were pretty lost in their own sense of self. My friends and I found each other, and lost ourselves in music festivals, substances, and rebellion, we had easy access to the 90’s free party scene, and due to people we knew “in the business” it was easy for us to get wasted and I honestly never questioned our lives as abnormal, I thought that’s just what all teenagers were doing. I had two very traumatic experiences aged 18&19 which I boxed away into the back of my brain, and carried on being a hedonist.

The first time I abused alcohol was at the age of 22. Those traumatic experiences as a teenager, that I hadn’t dealt with were still there and when I ended the secure 2 year relationship I was in, it broke me and everything that had happened in the past overwhelmed me. I would go to the shop and buy a bottle of red and drink it, this was the first moment when I realised that alcohol could be a powerful tool to numb my pain. A year later I met a man and we fell in love. In January of 2005 we did Dry January and it was fantastic, so fantastic we decided to carry on and not drink for six months, and I have such fond memories of that time. 

We made plans for our future. We decided to have a baby and to change our lives and move to France. But who I was hadn’t changed; I thought it would with becoming a mum. I started to live with one foot in the past and one in the present. I had my second child in 2008 and I started to get depressed, I was alone a lot of the time, I was a stay at home mum, I was sleep deprived and having not dealt with a lot of my history consumed with overwhelming fear. I hadn’t stopped partying either, mostly when I returned to the UK, I was only late 20’s and that lifestyle was all I knew. I went back to work, and was very successful but I drank to numb every day it was my go to medicine for stress relief, relaxation, fun and to forget. I. I had black outs, I had accidents. I made a fool out of myself; I had lost my sense of self.

I knew I didn’t want to be that party girl anymore, but I didn’t know how to change, I wanted to be an adult, but I was terrified of the responsibility, all I wanted to do was be a good parent, but I felt I was doing everything wrong. I felt guilty, ashamed, anxious and depressed all of the time. So I used drink to punish myself.

In September 2013 I had a massive panic attack, and I went to the doctor and was told I was clinically in burnout and put on antidepressants. But I didn’t stop drinking, by Xmas 2013 I knew my behaviour was out of control but I couldn’t stop it, I didn’t feel worthy of being well. On Dec 27th 2013 in the middle of the night as I had constant insomnia I searched “do I have a problem with alcohol?” I stumbled across Soberistas, I watched Lucy Rocca’s interview on This morning on and I knew - this is me… I am borderline; I am a habitual/problem drinker. So I tried to stop and at the beginning it was extremely hard, I had lots of slip ups. I went to therapy, and I wrote a lot. 

In Feb 2014 I stopped and didn’t drink for a year, again it was fantastic; I went through a rebirth of strength, positivity and possibility. I lost weight, I quit my job, we decided to move away from the city and start a new in a smaller town by the sea, which had always been our dream for our kids. I was so positive that after a year I deemed myself fixed and convinced myself that I could drink moderately. 

From 2015-2017 I drank on and off, I knew that I was better without booze, but I wanted to be “normal”. I would drink until I could not drink anymore, then I would have three months off and start again, I wanted to be a chic drinker with a fine wine, but it didn’t work, I have no off switch and controlling your drinking is exhausting. In summer of 2017 I sat on holiday again exhausted by a summer of drinking, I went on Soberistas and saw the download for Annie Grace’s Naked Mind, and reading it made me realise that I was truly done, that being sober is something worthy and strong and inspiring. I also read Bryony Gordon’s ‘Mad Girl’ which gave me the reassurance that my struggles with mental health were nothing to be ashamed of. So on the 17/08/2018 I made a commitment to life-long sobriety.  

I realised that if I shared my story, it could help, so I engaged with the sober community on Instagram and Facebook and listened to podcasts and started going to events and realised that there is a really wonderful community of sober people. I don’t regret or feel my sobriety has been forced upon me, I have chosen sobriety for me, my body and my brain. It has been the biggest gift and I am SO happy to be sober.

 

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