I grew up in a loving family home with 3 sisters and loving parents. I went to a very small junior school and although I did not always feel part of the school or the group of friends, I was quite happy.
The issues started when I was 11 years old, big school, scary school, lots of people and me, on my own, uncomfortable in everyone’s company but desperate to fit in at the same time. I plodded my way through a few years, being bullied by the popular girls, hibernating and obsessed with escaping in books to get through the nights. Then the magic happened at 13, I found alcohol, got drunk on a bottle of lambrini and all of my problems just faded away for those few hours. I found a new confidence when drinking alcohol and found a bunch of friends, they continued to bully me but I didn’t really care because twice a week I would stay at one of their houses and get drunk. The good times definitely outweighed the bad at that point. I made my way through comprehensive school, even managed to get good grades in my G.C.S.E’s.
I decided to stay on at sixth form where I decided to do 4 A level’s, however, it was cool to hang around in pubs so that’s what I did most days after college. I got a job working as a waitress and when I wasn’t working I would be in the pub, this all felt very normal and what a 16-year-old should be doing but I started drinking excessively and would always cause problems when I was out, get into fights, fall asleep, get kicked out of pubs but the need to escape was too big so this continued.
At only 17 and I was head over heels in love (or so I thought) with a man who turned out to be the father of my 2 children. I spent most of my time with him and we drank together at weekends, still drinking too much and going too far, but he accepted that so it carried on. I managed to make my way to the end of my qualifications however did not get very good grades as alcohol was becoming more and more important.
I was due to go to university but after college and with what I thought to be a perfect man by my side, I decided to take a year out so started working for a well-known energy supplier. The money was great which allowed me to drink even more at weekends and the time flew by. It was very ‘normal’ within the working environment to go home and drink after work, to get totally wasted at weekends and laugh about it all in between taking calls so it did not occur to me that there would be anything wrong with what I was doing.
The culture at work supported drinking alcohol, my family were also always big drinkers (drink to celebrate and drink to commiserate kind of culture) so it all seemed very normal.
Then at 20, I fell pregnant with my first son. I put alcohol down for the time and decided this was the time that I had to change and grow up and be responsible. I moved in with my partner (not that that I had a choice, I was told by my partner that either I moved in or he would leave me to bring the baby up on my own). I had the odd glass of wine but no more than one as I was pregnant and life didn’t feel great but who was I know to what life looked or felt like, I was only 20 at this time. When my son was born the need to drink was straight back on top of me and whenever I could, I would go out, with or without my partner, straight back to drinking excessively as before.
I thought I was unhappy because of the town I lived in so I moved to be close to my family but that didn’t help and the relationship wasn’t great so I would work, go home and complete mammy duties then drink wine when my son was in bed (after all, wasn’t that what everyone did). I became more sad and depressed with my situation, my partner, my responsibilities, my job which was supposed to be a 1-year break from education and 4 years later, I was still there and I hated it.
This period lasted just over a year and I decided it was time to move on from the relationship, leave everything behind and start again so that’s what I did, I moved in with my parents. 2 weeks later found out I was pregnant with my second son and eventually got another house, the alcohol was on and off at this point, I drank more than I did with my first pregnancy but I still tried to keep it under or what I thought was under control. I got a new house just before my second son was born and for the next 2 years, the drinking escalated and work was starting to notice a difference in me. On one occasion, I was suspected of being drunk at work and I was suspended, my family knew there was an issue and then my ex-partner noticed too. I was caught drink driving and I lost my license and swore that I knew there was a problem with alcohol and stated I would not drink again however that same day, I found myself back at the shop buying more alcohol and once again in oblivion.
Life became a little bit of a blur at this point for me and it started to go downhill very quickly.
My ex-partner got a residency order for the children to live with him, I drank more.
I lost my job, I drank more.
My family disowned me, I drank more.
I got another job and lost it very quickly, I drank more.
I got stopped from seeing my children altogether, I drank more.
I got another drink driving conviction, I drank more.
At this point, I was drinking 10 bottles of wine per day.
In between the crazy chaos of my life, I asked for help only to be told that there was no help available unless I had the money to pay privately for rehab which I nor my family had.
However, a charity who my parents were working with for support because they no longer knew what to do with me came to visit me and put a lot of support around me, got me medication to stop me withdrawing from alcohol, told me of the recovery pathways available and got me the right workers in the right services to help put this in place. I went to court sober for the second drink driving conviction and wanted to carry that on but wasn’t sure I could do it but with support around me and my family back around me, I felt I at least had to try.
I started to access a service where other people were trying to stop and recover, I was lost and scared of the world but I kept going back, I tried fellowship meetings and the love, care and support around me started to grow and so did I as a person. I was allowed to see my children again, I started to work on myself and show myself some love, care and compassion like everyone around me was showing me how to do. I started volunteering and got some meaning and purpose back in my life and I went on to complete a qualification to help me better understand myself and how to work in the services and I started to work as a recovery ambassador and this is where I found my passion for helping others.
My life grew, my relationships grew, my confidence grew and I eventually got back into paid employment.
My journey without alcohol has not been easy but I wouldn’t change it for the world. The situations I have faced, the work I do and the things I have had to battle over the last 5 years have made me the person who I am today - someone I can look at in the mirror and say ‘that’s not such a bad person’.