If you asked anyone other than my very closest family, they would say I had a happy and stable life and that I was always laughing and enjoying myself. The reality was far from that. I always looked like I belonged but never really felt I did. In fact, I have privately felt as though I am worth ‘less than others’ from a very early age.
I drank a ‘normal’ amount of alcohol for a long time and it wasn’t until I had my first child and was made redundant from my job that I started to drink more and more often. Drinking a single glass of wine a few nights a week turned into drinking two or three glasses of wine almost every evening. I struggled to completely abstain from alcohol while I was pregnant with my second child, and I was shocked at how hard I found it.
Before I knew it, I was a full time mum to two young children. Every day was the same as the day before - taking care of the children, my husband and the house. I had no job and few interests outside of the home, and felt bored, lonely and resentful. I started to drink heavily every night, which meant that I was often tired and feeling ill. I also gradually began to isolate myself; as a few years went on, I would decline invitations, see my friends less and less, and started to suffer from anxiety and low moods.
“I knew I had a problem”
I knew I had a problem with alcohol but I didn’t want to stop. I couldn’t stop. Alcohol was my comfort, my companion and the answer to all of the problems in my life. As my anxiety and depression worsened, I started to drink in the day, then all day, every day. I don’t know how it happened but it got to the stage where I was drinking for everything – sadness, happiness, guilt, and would often wake in the middle of the night and need a drink just to get back to sleep. I drank so much that my health was affected and I began hiding bottles because I didn’t want anyone to know.
The spring that year brought a cancer diagnosis for my husband and I vowed to stop drinking for the sake of everyone in my life. My children didn’t enjoy spending time with me, I was arguing with my husband all the time, and my mother and sister, like him, were at their wits end.
I had tried to control my drinking so many times, but had always been unsuccessful and left feeling ashamed and as though I was a failure. I had to stop but knew I couldn’t do it alone.
Starting my journey to recovery
I admitted myself into Life Works, which is part of The Priory Group. I had no idea what else to do. When I entered Life Works, I was met with a kindness and understanding that I had never experienced before. From the moment of arrival, the support and structure that I received meant I could leave alcohol behind. Not having to worry about hiding bottles or obsessing about the next drink was just a huge relief; I was finally in a place that made me feel safe.
The skills, experience and empathy of the staff at Life Works, along with other residents having similar experiences and challenges, meant I could start my road to recovery. It was here that I learned all the tools that I needed to not only get better, but to stay better. Through group and individual therapy, as well as the 12-Step approach, I had the space and time to really concentrate on why I drank and why I behaved the way I did. I saw and felt hope for the future.
Each day was full and busy and brought new experiences and things to learn. As the days went on, I felt less shame and fear; these were soon replaced by hope and positivity. I spent 28 days at Life Works and the change in me was obvious, to both me and my family. I went in broken and despairing, and left a stronger and happier person. When I went home, I was ready to face all that life would bring, knowing that I could deal with anything.
Living a life in recovery
My life today is a very different story from before. I know, no matter what happens, I never need to have a drink again. I use the insight I gained at Life Works and the strategies/tools that I learned in treatment, across all aspects of my life, particularly in my relationships. I can recognise issues that may result in me feeling angry, frustrated and resentful and take steps to deal with them in a healthy way, instead of turning to alcohol.
My husband has now had his fourth and (hopefully) final surgery, and you know, we’re pretty good! My relationship with my children has improved and we’re able to spend more quality time together as a family. Everything in my life is so much more positive.
If I had to highlight one thing that I have learned from my time at Life Works, which has helped me every day, is that you can’t change the challenges of life, you can’t make other people change, but you can change, and that’s really all it takes.