Describe what your relationship with alcohol was like
I drank a lot, most days. I tried to have 2 AF days a week, but generally didn’t manage it, sometimes managed a Monday off. Any occasion where it was socially acceptable to do so and on big occasions I was drinking to excess, often blacking out and being sick from alcohol.
Was it becoming a big problem
At the beginning of this year, it became clear that it was.
When I got colds, I wasn’t getting better, I was tired all the time. I couldn’t go to a doctor because I knew they would ask how much I was drinking and just tell me to stop drinking.
I was in denial.
I was struggling to lose weight I couldn’t stick to any diet because most diets wouldn’t let you drink a bottle of wine at night.
I wanted to give up drinking to save my health, lose weight and save my dignity.
How long had you been planning to do this?
It was a lost weekend in Monaco all expenses paid that became an alcoholic mess. I signed up for this programme a week later. I can’t remember what I felt, I just knew I had to change something before I ruined the fabulous life I had.
How did you find me?
I was suddenly inundated with Facebook ads for alcohol free ads, just the tonic one popped up I did the quiz, registered to talk to Sandra and the rest was history. I just knew I couldn’t afford not to do this I didn’t want lots of failed attempts at this.
You signed up, did you have a clear goal of what relationship you wanted with alcohol at the end?
I didn’t have a clear goal, the idea of giving up alcohol horrified me. I was clear about that, but I knew I couldn’t go on the way I was. My goal was to moderate but when I got into the programme about 6 weeks in, I wanted to go AF and that is still my current thinking.
How did you find the group structure?
It was perfect, small, and intimate and you felt like you knew the people on the group. From the first meeting you felt like these were my people, there was a great chemistry because we were alike. I expressed myself through the WhatsApp group was important to me and the support I got was excellent from fellow ‘tribers’. It was always supportive and honest and no judgement. When you hit a low the ‘team’ were there to lift you up
What was the process for going AF?
Some people stopped drinking straightaway some people carried on, in the 8 weeks you do it at your own pace and choose the days you are going to have a drink and the days you don’t. Because my life is hectic with work, I chose to not drink on work events and having a drink instead on a curry night with my husband.
Did you think it was strange to be able to drink on the programme?
It was a different way of drinking. I used to think when can I start drinking, what time is it? can I start drinking? On the programme the drinking became more mindful, you end up thinking about why you are drinking.
When you first started where you scared that after 8 weeks, I was going to ask you to go AF for 30 days?
No not scared but knew I had never manged to do it before. The whole process is blind faith tbh at the beginning before I started the programming hearing how people were AF at the end of the journey, I couldn’t believe it I just couldn’t understand. How you got from where I was then to where I am today, I just had to follow the process. The group is a mixed bag of where people are on the journey, so the people at the end inspire and help you and support you and then you get to do that to people who are just joining. If she can do it why can’t i?
Before you started the 30-day challenge how did you feel?
I felt confident, I had an interesting month ahead of me with travel with work, so I was very busy, but I didn’t have any doubt it was ‘bring it on’. I didn’t have time for hangovers, so I was really glad that I wasn’t drinking.
Did you feel like you learned stuff about yourself?
Yes, definitely I learnt about life in general, the biggest surprised is how many hours there are in a day! There never seemed to be any time left for me as the first 2 hours on a Saturday were always trying to get over my hangover from the night before, then having a nap in the day. So, without the drinking there is more time for me and I am calmer, I have lived with fear most of my adult life feel the fear and do it anyway was always my favourite book. Not drinking has reduced my fear. My husband never judged me and happy me to have me back and it has improved the quality of our time together.
You decided to have your liver tested during the process.
I had had nagging doubts about my health and about 6 weeks in I went to the doctor to get tested. Thankfully I hadn’t taken it too far and had not done any permanent damage, but it was certainly a warning sign.
You are now 50 days AF how do you feel now, you’re on holiday?
It is not always easy, there are sometimes I have to think about it but there are lots of alcohol-free drinks available. There is so much less time spent on hangover and because the days are not focused on alcohol, we are enjoying all the other aspects of the holiday.
I feel excited, I want to go from one challenge to the next. I don’t want to spend the next 20/30 years of my life in a drunken stupor.
What did you think life would be like without AF, did you think you would enjoy life more?
I couldn’t think of what it would be like, it was unthinkable. I had no vision of what it would be like, I just knew I couldn’t go on as I was, and I had to do something. It is only since I have reduced and since stopped drinking that I can now picture the future AF.
You come across as so much more at peace with yourself now. Do you feel calmer and happier?
All of those things!
I am not saying life is perfect, but the ability to feel spontaneous joy and calmness is great.
You enjoyed the group structure do you think you have made some friends?
Absolutely I have made some great friends.
What would you say to someone who is watching this interview, what advice would you give them to do this?
Do it, the process works, if you are thinking about this, the main thing is this process works, not just for me, but for various people with various challenges in their life. People who have got to the end have all felt their lives have got better and enriched. Have faith the process works!