My Sober Journey: How a year of sobriety helped me get unstuck and make room for the good

My Sober Journey: How a year of sobriety helped me get unstuck and make room for the good

For the last year I’ve made a commitment to being sober which if I’m honest, saved my life. I decided to try sobriety after feeling like I hit rock bottom, and felt as if I was going to end up dead if I didn’t sort it out. I felt stuck, as if nothing was going to get better, as if I was on a hamster wheel of death. I was just doing the same stuff again and again, but expecting a different result.

Getting out of that destructive cycle was only possible when I gave myself a period of sobriety. And I honestly cannot shut up about how much I feel it has helped me. I wanted to write something about how my sober journey has helped me, and if you’re thinking about it, I’m hoping maybe it might help you too…

This time a year ago I felt like if something didn’t change I would end up in a box, which is exactly what I said to my husband and my mum when I asked them to help me. I fully had a breakdown. Drunk beer fear, anxiety, depressed, drama, sick, tired, then feeling better then back to drunk. That was the cycle I was in. I was on the hamster wheel of death and knew if I didn’t get off - it wasn’t going to end well. 

It was a while ago when I left the Real Housewives of Cheshire in a bid to combat the stress in my life. I was in a bad way at this point, dealing with the challenges of ADHD (which I’d just been diagnosed with), constantly taking on more than I could handle, and  drinking too much to deal with the stress of life and work. This was a point where I knew things had reached a dangerous point. I previously opened up about my struggles, which led to a collapse and a breakdown due to the stressful environments I found myself in. The doctors said I couldn't have any stress, so I left the Housewives and went back to basics. I had thought things were going to get better - I knew what had been behind my depression and anxiety my whole life, which was ADHD. I had a great life with a beautiful family and so many people I loved. Leaving the show helped with things being too intense, but things were still so hard with my mood a rollercoaster, and I began to realise there was more of a problem than I had realised. 

Reaching rock bottom…

I was frequently having ten hour boozy binges which I seemed unable to stop once they started. In the days after drinking, I felt awful. In a shame spiral, filled with anxiety, and to be honest - struggling with wanting to live. I reached breaking point when I realised I was self-medicating and abusing alcohol at the end of 2022, and in December I checked myself into rehab. I felt one of the lowest I’d ever felt and knew it was finally time to admit that no amount of trying to stick to rules, any time I drank it destroyed me. I could tell myself I’d drink water in between each drink, or that I’d have two drinks and go home. These never worked. I was never a drinker every day, I was once a week, but I would drink to oblivion. Once that bottle popped, I could not stop. 

I also didn't realise that my peri-menopause was hitting - and that combined with my ADHD and drinking all the time - that is when I had my breakdown... Peri-menopause is hard for anyone, but it can also exacerbate ADHD hugely. It really really affects it and makes everything 10x worse, and that’s when I realised that I was going to have to quit alcohol and completely change my lifestyle as well. ADHD is also hugely linked to addiction, which was adding to me struggling to get off the ever quicker hamster wheel of death. Not only that, but drinking also makes ADHD symptoms worse as it makes your dopamine shoot up even more than an average person, which then has to come crashing back down again even further. 

I realised that my infrequent but heavy drinking sessions created a vicious cycle of negative effects, from anxiety to bad eating habits and excessive spending. The next morning, I'd be crippled with anxiety, which would go on for about a week. My poor husband Phil would have to drag me out of bed. It removes all of your motivation for life. My drinking was not only affecting my own well-being but also my relationships with my husband and children. I was snappy and short-tempered, and it was taking a toll on my family. The turning point came when I experienced a hangover that left me feeling like I didn't want to live anymore. To hold myself accountable, I started sending videos of myself at my lowest to friends who encouraged me to go teetotal. 

I sought help from my incredible friend DJ Fat Tony, sober for 19 years, who provided guidance and support. He would call me after a night out, questioning whether the current feelings were worth the drinking session. This is when I began to realise how helpful it was to have someone spelling out to me that things were not okay, that I was not okay. I realised that drinking was stopping me from achieving my dreams, and was making me stuck. The hangovers and the anxiety it brings and the cringing at what I’ve said and done and the depression and sickness for days after, and it ages you so much, not to mention it poisons you and costs a fortune too! It took up all my time and energy. Embracing sobriety became a process fueled by self-reflection and my desire for a healthier and more stable life. My journey to sobriety was gradual, marked by moments of darkness where I questioned the worth of a night out.  

What giving up the drink will be like…

I will not lie - the first few times where I went and met friends but didn’t drink were awful and so hard, and felt really strange and weird - but EVERYTHING feels strange and weird the first few times you do it. And the times where you’ve been out of your comfort zone, and pushed yourself, and leant into something that felt strange and weird - when do you ever regret those? You will have the energy and the time to eat better, hydrate yourself, exercise - all the things that alcohol robs you of. Booze makes you feel like crap, makes you eat like crap, and makes you continue to make more decisions that continue to make life crap! And that is the main thing you will have time. 

You will have so much more time on your hands - I literally remember being quite bored when I first got sober because drinking and being hungover takes so much time. This is when you can start your passion projects. Write a journal. Live your life! It can feel like life is going to be boring sober - but I promise you - that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, it’s the complete opposite. Being hungover is boring. Lying on the sofa all week because your body is poisoned from a big binge is boring. Being knackered all the time is boring. Living life sober is like living in HD. 

This is a perfect time to start journalling...

Maybe you think that you will be missing out too much if you try a month or longer of going sober. There is nothing worth staying for at a party past 9pm. Drunk people are annoying. They repeat themselves, they’re loud, they think they’re being really deep - spoiler alert, they’re not. Like my friend Dj Fat Tony said when I asked ‘what will I do at a party if I’m not drinking’ - you arrive, you shine, you leave. I’ll walk out of an event feeling and looking as good as I did when I arrived, will go home and have a lovely cup of tea, and an amazing sleep - and then I will wake up feeling fresh, happy and anxiety free. I would never judge anyone for drinking - who are any of us to judge anyone - we are all humans and we all do things that are bad for us. However I have to say, there is no smugger feeling than waking up fresh when you know all your mates are going to be waking up a few hours later feeling like absolute crap! 

And it can be scary - some people will question you. Some people will even try to make you drink. Some people maybe won’t even want to hang out with you. But if you stay steadfast, you will be so proud of yourself. And if something like that means you lose someone in your life - then quite frankly they weren’t meant to be in your life. But try to not be angry at them, as it’s actually nothing to do with you. It’s to do with them and how they are unwilling or unable to look at themselves as deeply as you are trying to meet yourself. You can also just not really tell anyone - how's it their business anyway? It’s your life. Order a lime soda and tell them its a G and T. Order a cranberry juice and tell them its vodka. You don't even have to say ‘I’m leaving’ - by 9pm no one will remember who left when. As long as you've said hi, you’ve done your part. Or even just staying home is fine too if it feels too much!

It can be lonely too, and you might have feelings of fomo, and feel like you are by yourself a lot. But as you begin to live your life without alcohol then so many more things can grow! I love the saying: ‘Don’t try and chase butterflies, grow your own garden and the butterflies will come to you’. I think this applies to so much, whether it’s career, relationships, love - we have to fill up our own cup first in order to find the things that align with us. And for me, having this break from boozing and going on my sober journey has really given me that.  

Tips to help

Like I said, now is a great time to focus on your passions and dreams, but what tools can we use to give ourselves the best chance of success during a sober journey? A great way to start is to use some visualisation, some manifestation and create some goals. Maybe that looks like making a vision board of what you want to achieve, with plenty of pictures of things that you could do if you weren’t going out every weekend. Such as maybe a Saturday morning yoga class, or a big Sunday walk in nature, or even just not feeling like crap on a Monday morning. Write down things you want to see yourself do, maybe a half marathon or learning to cook. Imagine yourself truly doing those things, because guess what - you will honestly have the time to do them, and the motivation! 

A great way to help with not drinking is starting your mornings right too. I loved starting my day with journaling and practising gratitude, writing down what I was thankful for and what I hoped to do that day (and FYI - on some days, just getting through the day is more than acceptable as your aim for that day). Mindfulness is the best way to start our days. Light a candle and do a meditation, whilst you visualise what you are going to manifest in your day. I love my St Christopher Pendant, which is for times of adversity. If I feel overwhelmed, wearing it is a constant reminder that I have gotten through every single bad day, and I have gotten myself through those days and I will continue to. You are in control of your mood and emotions. When we are allowing ourselves to be ruled by them, to let a bad day make us feel like it is a bad life - then that is when we are more likely to want to be more self-destructive, and reach for a drink. 

If you’re thinking about it, why not give it a go?

If you are sober curious - listen to that feeling, your gut trying to tell you that something isn’t right, your body trying to say that this doesn’t feel good. Not only is it doing something that will actively make you feel shit -  booze is a depressant and a poison to your body and mind - then imagine how good you could feel taking that away for a while and actively making yourself feel so much better. Your body, mind, relationships, wallet, skin, hair, nails, fitness, mental health, bank balance, menopause symptoms, ADHD symptoms  - everything will be better for having done it - even if just for a while. If you are avoiding things with alcohol, and avoiding feeling your feelings - all you are doing is pushing it all down and it will come back up again even worse, and likely come out sideways! Removing alcohol really gives you that chance for self-reflection that can truly change your life.

This period in my life has transformed my relationship with alcohol, and has given me the opportunity to reassess what is important as well as create coping mechanisms that are healthy rather than just reaching for a drink. I'm a better wife, mum, daughter and friend. I’m more confident, and most of all - I want to live. I’ve made being sober an important commitment as part of my transform packages as there is in my opinion - in my honest poinion there is no real way to do this kind of thing if you’re drinking throughout. Having a period of being sober, particularly in a country that is so obsessed with drinking despite the side effects, is an incredible gift to yourself to give yourself space to be truly present for yourself. 

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