We hear from Katy, Co-founder of Sober Butterfly Collective as she shares her story of how she started her sober journey.
My last drink was a sip of partially flat prosecco on 10th June 2019. I didn’t even want a drink, which was highly unusual for me. It was out of habit. There was an open bottle of fizz in the fridge and I ‘had’ to finish it otherwise it would be a waste. One of many ‘stories’ I told myself to facilitate my drinking. It didn’t even occur to me I could simply throw it away, especially as it was past it’s best. The taste made me feel sick. Again unusual as I always love the taste of prosecco; that sweet bubbly sensation as the liquid hit my lips and the flood of relief as the alcohol warmed my body. This time was different, things had been different and I could feel a shift from within.
A few weeks before I had been out and it was the usual story of drinking too much. I managed to get separated from my friend and in an attempt to call a taxi to collect me, but ordered it to my house instead. The alcohol had impaired my cognitive function so much that I couldn’t work out how to order a taxi to where I was. I called my husband for assistance, but he was working a night shift and tried to explain to my drunken brain he couldn’t come and pick me up. Somehow I managed to get a taxi home. Miraculously I wasn’t sick on the journey but unfortunately saved this for my beautiful cream stairway carpet at home. I was so out of it that I couldn’t clean it up, but what did I think would be a good idea? Calling my long suffering husband again at work telling him he needed to come home and clean it up! Needless to say he couldn’t. By the morning my mess had ruined the carpet and was not the best sight for my husband to return home to after a long night of graft. I wasn’t the best sight either, I was a mess physically and mentally. I felt so ill my daughter had to put me in the bath (see picture). I felt awful, I felt shame and my anxiety was in full momentum.
Unfortunately this was not a one off. The older I got my tolerance levels seemed to decrease and my hangovers seemed to increase. I had always suffered hangovers, but now they were lasting days. My mental health also increasingly suffered. Ironically I turned to alcohol to self-medicate for my anxiety, but it was one of the worst things I could do. In fact for me drinking alcohol was like pouring petrol on a bonfire. The initial relief I would feel from my anxious thoughts from drinking would only lead one way for me, a downward spiral of panic and paranoia.
A little side note on how drinking alcohol affects anxiety;
“Alcohol acts as a sedative, so it can help you feel more at ease. It may make you feel more socially confident at a party or help you forget your worries. But these effects wear off fast and the pleasant feelings fade. If you rely on alcohol to mask your anxiety problems, you may find you become reliant on it to relax, which may lead to alcohol addiction. The way your body processes alcohol can also have a direct effect on your mood. These alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be psychological such as feeling depressed or anxious. Many people feel like this the morning after drinking alcohol. This is because they are withdrawing from the effects of alcohol. This feeling often goes hand in hand with physical hangover symptoms such as a headache or upset stomach. For some people, these feelings of anxiety or agitation may be barely noticeable. But if anxiety is already an issue for you, experiencing withdrawal from alcohol can make your symptoms feel worse.
I have spent an eternity repeating the words ‘I am never drinking again’ after a night on the booze, and it only ever lasted a few weeks each time. I tried dry January many times and always failed. One year I claimed it as a success because I only drank on one of the nights because I was away for the weekend I told myself it didn’t count. However this time I was quiet and I didn’t do the grand announcement. I kept the thoughts to myself as I simply tipped the half drunk half flat bottle of prosecco down the sink and felt a low lying level of strength, and I have never touched a drop of alcohol since.
What was different this time? I have thought a lot about this, I can only surmise a combination of things. I had started therapy for the first time to try and help with my mental health. For as long as I can remember my mental health has been an issue. For many years it kept fairly quiet, an underlying presence but other times it would make its mark, the latter became more regular. My journey to therapy has also been a long and complex one, maybe a tale for another day. However at the age of 38 I finally took the plunge into therapy and I have never looked back. I cannot recommend this enough, the act of seeking such help is the ultimate act in self love.
Just before taking my last drink I went to see a Homeopath, on recommendation from a friend. I was seeking help with my anxiety and I knew the merits of homeopathy as my husband had been cured from crippling migraines years before. Those who have been to a homeopath will know the therapist wants to know EVERYTHING, from your mum’s pregnancy and birth, to childhood diseases and literally everything else. So of course the amount of alcohol I drank came up and I remember mentioning that I would like to cut down on the amount I consumed. She made a note and we moved on. I noticed two main things after I took my homeopathic remedy, I craved hummus and I disliked the taste of alcohol. I still had the cravings for alcohol, but like that last drink I no longer enjoyed the flavor. Now this could have been pure coincidence, a fluke or simply that the prosecco was off. It didn’t matter, as this was my chance at my new beginning.
A side note on Homeopathy;
“Homeopathy is a natural form of medicine used by over 200 million people worldwide to treat both acute and chronic conditions. It is based on the principle of ‘like cures like’. In other words, a substance taken in small amounts will cure the same symptoms it causes if taken in large amounts. For example, a patient suffering from hayfever may benefit from the homeopathic remedy Allium Cepa (onion) because it produces similar symptoms such as watery eyes or runny nose.
Since I had started to face my mental health, I started to talk about it more, giving it a voice was a huge step on my sobriety ladder and something in me had started to ignite. I knew I was at the beginning of a journey to wellness, but to do so I needed help. Asking my GP to help improve my mental health was the most integral part to my sobriety. This was my beginning and I had made that decision to stop, but what about maintaining this, long term?
You can read more about my healing journey and how I beat the drink.
Thank you for reading and please note this account is simply my story, everyone’s story is different. There are so many ways to get to the same destination, there is no right way. We are all beautifully unique, everyone’s journey is valid.
Co-Founder of Sober Butterfly Collective