Cartoons by Sue Burleigh

Do you know that feeling when you wake up one morning, look at yourself in the mirror (with or without clothes) and think, how the hell did that happen?

I have always been someone that enjoys a glass or two (or three or four) of wine right from my days as a young adult. Can I remember when it turned from just social drinking (whatever that is) to becoming my way of life, my crutch, my relaxant? When did it become my sofa-buddy after a stressful day (or not-so-stressful day)? Given that most of my days are usually quite stressful, the wine ‘o clock time has become an important, essential and (unfortunately) acceptable part of my day.

When did one glass become two? When did two become three? And what the heck, let’s just finish the bottle off. I’m not entirely sure where it started. It just happened through no default planning, it just happened. Life!

Then came the weight gain, because as I drank, my inhibitions for being good and eating healthy all day completely abandoned me. The evidence was there in the mornings — opened packets of crisps, cheese crumbs on the kitchen work surfaces (times I wish we had mice in the house, so I could blame it on them). Savoury is my thing if I’m going to reach for anything, besides the wine.

My wardrobe these days has gone from slinky black sexy numbers (which I have still kept with the intention of getting back into them, huff huff) now looks like something from a charity shop rail ranging from size 10 through to 16/18 sizes. No offence to charity shops, I love them.

I have been on antidepressants for a couple years now. Three years ago my drinking reached up to a bottle a day due to a particularly stressful time in my life, and this became my only salvation and way to escape, numbing myself, covering up any emotional pain I felt. This had a huge effect on my well being. Besides the weight gain, I became more anxious, palpitations, mood swings, unable to sleep, desperately tired, no energy, my relationships were breaking down because I couldn’t seem to communicate on a level without blowing a fuse. I hated myself, self-loathing, low self-esteem. Depression! Desperate not to see my life go down the pan, I thankfully took myself to my doctor and admitted my drinking was spiralling out of control. I was advised to stop and given antidepressants. I stopped drinking for five months, lost one stone without trying, then Christmas came along! One became two, two became three…

Drinking has become a socially accepted part of our society, and as Brits (yes, I’m British) we control our wine o’clock down to a fine art, claiming it begins whenever it suits us, because if we can control when we choose to drink we are in control of our drinking and therefore we can drink in the safe knowledge that we are not alcoholics, a very taboo word, and all (OK, most) drinkers would never consider themselves as being alcoholics. I believe if you drink alcohol on a regular basis and fear being without it forever in your life then you are an alcoholic to some degree.

If I just had one or two cigarettes a day, does that make me a non-smoker? Or ‘I only smoke a packet at the weekends, so I don’t consider myself a smoker’! I actually don’t smoke, I managed to kick that habit some years ago. Just playing Devil’s Advocate.

I admit I have come to depend on alcohol (wine) as my way of life, my wine o’clock time of day. Do I drink in the morning, no, so that means I can’t  be an alcoholic, right?

The morning after a wine night my husband tells me now and then (a lot) how many glasses I consumed the night before, which annoys the hell out of me. No shit, Sherlock, I tend to think. I also annoy him and, using one of my daughter’s choice of kind words (I have five children, by the way, some of them are step-children) ‘passing out’ in front of the tv is becoming a regular thing when I have consumed enough wine to send me into a blissful sleep (a coma).

I work as a nurse and avoid drink when I know I’m going to be working, and for me, this at least ensures I get my dry days. The more I work the more dry days, so working can be healthy (she says). My days off become my ‘weekend’, never mind what day it is. Cracking open the bottle is well deserved, I’ve earned it! Haven’t I?

When I chat with colleagues and friends, I strongly believe I’m not the only woman out there who feels similarly and wants to change to be sober and slimmer.

My New Year’s resolution is to stay sober and lose 2 stone in weight by 20th March 2018. I’ve involved family and friends to sponsor me to help raise money for charity. I have raised over £400 so far. Talk about putting your money where your mouth is, ahaha.

I hope my blog can help me stay on track and I hope it can help anyone else out there wanting to change and turn over a new leaf. We owe it to ourselves, our health and wellbeing. Let’s stand up and shout ‘no more’ and get off that wine treadmill.

Please feel free to join in the blog, your input and stories would be very welcome to encourage us all.

All the best for 2018