I used to wake up in the morning and take a swig of vodka just to get myself out of bed. The thought of facing the day without that familiar burn in my throat was unbearable. I would stumble downstairs, trying to make breakfast, all the while thinking about the next sip. The weight of my impending day would settle on me, and I knew I needed to have another drink just to make it through.
Life had become a relentless cycle of stress and alcohol. Every day, I'd pick up a bottle on my way home, knowing that it was the only thing that could silence the relentless voice in my head. That voice would grow louder and louder, urging me to drink more, to forget my troubles and numb the pain.
I became a functioning alcoholic. When people hear the word "alcoholic," they often envision an old man sitting on a park bench with a paper bag containing a can of cheap beer. But I was different. I was a young woman, a professional working for a CEO in the bustling city, a mother of two wonderful children. Yet, none of it was enough to make me stop.
In the UK, drinking is deeply ingrained in our culture. It's normalized across the board, making it incredibly difficult to spot who has a problem and who doesn't. Many of my friends could have a few drinks and stop when they felt like it. But for me, I never wanted the party to end. I'd go out to all the pubs and bars, drawn in by the allure of half-price drinks and the feeling of euphoria that alcohol brought.
The craving for more was insatiable. I'd finish one drink and immediately want the next, then the next. When I realized I was running out, panic would set in. I'd frantically think about where to get more alcohol, how to keep the party going.
My first job was in the media industry, where the drinking culture wasn't just accepted; it was expected. I always managed to land high-paying jobs, partly because most alcoholics are naturally charming people. I was seen as a party girl with a wide social circle, someone who was making it in the world. But that façade quickly faded.
I drank socially because many of my friends did, and alcohol provided relief from my anxiety. It made me more sociable, more comfortable in my own skin. When everyone else went home with hangovers, I'd be at the shop buying two bottles of wine and drinking alone in my flat.
My daily routine was a well-oiled machine. I'd get to work, knowing that a shop around the corner opened at 10 AM, selling alcohol. I'd often schedule fake meetings that would give me an excuse to leave the office for half an hour. In the disabled toilet, I had a secret stash—a hiding place for my vodka bottle. There were toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, and perfume, all part of my cover.
Alcohol took precedence over everything, even the people I loved. It became more important to me than my marriage. I'd look at my two children and realize that they should be reason enough to quit. But I couldn't control it. Alcoholism tears apart families and relationships, and the agony of hiding your problem from your loved ones is unbearable.
I reached an all-time low. I had to move out of a beautiful flat, lost my job, and hit rock bottom. One New Year's Eve, I was away with friends, and it was a miserable experience. As I walked along the cliff tops, I contemplated ending it all. I just didn't want to live through the shame of admitting my problem to others. I took a lot of tablets, and my friend found me unconscious in my bed. The only thing I remember is hearing my mother's scream. This was several months before I finally got sober.
But that year turned out to be the best one of my life. As terrified as I was to break free from that destructive relationship with alcohol, it was a matter of life or death. I woke up one day, exhausted from a weekend bender, and a spark ignited within me. I realized I wanted to live. I wanted a life free from the chains that had bound me for so long.
Help is available. You can call a helpline and speak to someone who understands. You're not alone, and you don't have to face this battle by yourself. It's about coming out of isolation, finding a community where you can openly discuss your struggles and work towards solutions.
I often describe alcohol as my ex-husband. It was the most attractive thing in the world, always there for me, even after all the destruction it had caused. It spoke to me, seducing me with promises of relief. "If the day ends in 'Y,' it's a reason to drink," it would whisper.
Getting sober was a difficult journey, especially in a society flooded with alcohol. The normalization of drinking is everywhere, from advertisements for vodka to colorful gins and beautifully packaged champagne. Society romanticizes drinking, making it challenging for those in recovery.
Women, in particular, find it difficult to admit they have a problem with alcohol, especially mothers. No mother wants to say, "I have a problem with alcohol," but some do, and that's okay. Each day in recovery is a new challenge, but it's also a new opportunity to strengthen oneself.
I still think about alcohol every day. It's a constant presence in my mind. But it's no longer in control. I live for my family and my children. There are moments of vulnerability, but I've emerged from the ashes like a phoenix. Some of the best days are the ones where I face adversity without resorting to alcohol.
Alcoholism is a relentless adversary, but recovery is possible. It's about acknowledging the problem, seeking help, and taking it one day at a time. I am proof that there is hope, even in the darkest of times.