Sunday, 28 August 2016

Big Events, Triggers and Words.


Several big events this week, passed 2 months dry, dropped below 15 stones and ran 5k in one go without dying. Big event tonight too, Sarah is in London visiting the kids so I`m home alone for the night. Previously this would have resulted in me buying a huge amount of beer and drinking myself unconscious, waking up on the couch feeling half dead and being out of action for a day or so. Today I came in from work, changed into my running gear and pushed myself to a 5k run. Came home, cooked a nice tea and am now trying to decide which flavour of water I should drink while writing this. Amazing how much things can change in such a short time. 

Due to my return to work my group visits are now down to once a fortnight. I missed my first meeting since I started this week. I was a little concerned about this, but the week has gone excellently. Once a fortnight should provide the level of support I need at the moment. My studies towards being a group facilitator have taken a back seat for a little while as I pick up the new job, but should be restarted with a vengeance next week. I`m looking forward to the chance to run my own group, both to help others and also as a support mechanism for myself. The more I read about recovery the more I realise that I`m still right at the beginning. Only 2 months in I`m still learning daily about the way my mind will react to certain situations and triggers and how best to deal with them when they arise. 

One particular trigger that is really getting my goat at the moment is supermarket displays. Most rack ends facing tills in most supermarkets are devoted to Al. Meal deals include an alcoholic drink with very rarely a soft drink option. Every where you go Al is thrust down your throat. It is incredibly tricky to visit a supermarket without having ridiculously cheap booze thrust down your throat. A few years ago supermarkets removed sweets from the checkouts to stop impulse buys, maybe its time to do the same with booze. keep it in one area and avoidable if you wish. Any thoughts on this? 

I don’t know if you read a previous blog where I shared the words of a twitter friend describing addiction from the point of view of someone who lived with an addict.? You can read it here if you like, but be warned it was very hard hitting stuff and quite a tricky read. I had a lovely message on twitter the other day from the author saying that she had shared the piece with her therapist who then shared it with a supervisor and it is now being used to help other people in similar situations. If anyone else would like to contribute something then you would be most welcome. I`d like to read and share words from people on both sides of the addiction tale. If you fancy it drop me a line in the comments below or email or tweet @hippy_jon and I`ll share it on here.

More soon.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Past, present and future


Blimey! Doesn’t time fly when things are going well? Over a week since my last instalment, so let’s bring you up to date. Started my job at the Market. A couple of half days training and a couple of full days too, soon be flying solo. I can`t believe just how right this job is for me. Great team, great workplace, an important part of the community and a chance to be part of events like the Food Festival and Farmers Markets. Not just saying this in case my bosses read this, it seems to be the perfect job for my time and place. All this and only a 10 minute walk to work too. Brilliant.

Had the family around for a barbeque at the weekend. Another possible trigger but no problems. All mucked in to prepare some ace food, huge assortment of soft drinks and several hours talking about not much. Great day had by all. Another big milestone passed there too, first meeting of the Pollard siblings and partners with no alcohol involved. Admittedly I was always the one to insist on the presence of big Al, but I sailed through the day with only having to escape a couple of times to gather my reserves.

The group progresses nicely as does my online training to be a meeting facilitator. It’s been a little slow lately with starting work and such, but back into it with a vengeance now. Had an interesting conversation at the barbecue about smoking. My sisters partner, like myself is struggling with quitting. I plan to try an online SMART group to try to help us. The SMART method is designed to work with any addiction so maybe I can use some of the tools I have learned to help us quit. Might as well try to clean up my act completely while I`m at it. A good group is a great self-help network and can only aid my recovery as long as I take it easy and don’t undo the good work done so far.  If anyone else would be interested in such a group, maybe via skype or facebook please let me know, it’s just a baby of an idea at the moment but you never know..

I`ve been thinking a lot about the future lately, never really paid it much heed before. Now my life has some sort of order and some of the demons have been laid to rest I finally feel comfortable to do this. The whole concept of going forward forever without Al in my life still seems a little alien. Every time plans are mentioned he raises his ugly head. Years of planning events, journeys and days out around Al have taken their toll on me. Never staying out too late visiting friends and family so I could get home and embrace him. I have a new found freedom to do things that hasn’t existed before but I still struggle to appreciate this. Time will be the healer here I suppose, I`m just a baby at this recovery business, it’s a huge learning curve and lifestyle change.

Lastly, Sarah and I are now over halfway through our couch to 5k training and its progressing very well. Running for up to 20 minutes at a time now. Good job really as my love affair with freshly baked cake and bread continues unabated. I`m managing to eat like a pig and still lose weight. The combination of losing the empty calories provided by Al and doing regular exercise really doing the trick. We are on target to do our first 5k Parkrun in Harborough on 10th of September. Next target Tokyo 2020. Look out Mo we`re coming for you.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Big week, all change.


Well what a week that has been. Sometimes it’s hard to believe how much your life can change in such a short time. Where do I begin? I`ll approach it chronologically, because it suits me if things are in order.

Thursday saw me in Kettering for the first of three parts of a training course to help me get my driving license back a few months early. I lost it for 20 months due to being an idiot and taking my car for a spin whilst under the influence and ending up on a roundabout on the A6. First and definitely the last time I will ever do that. Luckily no one else was involved. More about this incident another time. The course was a full day talking about the effects of alcohol, how long it takes to leave your body, how many units are in each sort of drink and how it impairs your judgement. Talking about alcohol for such a period, and reflecting on my own stupidity very nearly had an adverse effect. On the way home I popped into the cafĂ© on Kettering station for a coffee where I noticed they sold cans of beer. I was within a gnat’s whisker of ordering one, maybe two. Had to bring in a few tools learnt in my group to help. A quick cost benefit analysis, looking at the short term gains against the long term price, seemed to do the trick. Reminded me just how easy it could be to have a lapse. I must not be complacent, it’s still very early days.

Saturday we were off to St. Neots to Sarah’s Mums place, she had very bravely agreed to host a party to celebrate daughter Jo`s 30th birthday. Sarah and I had prepared food for 30 odd people, relatives and friends alike and Gwen prepared the garden with a huge gazebo, cleared out the garage as a food area and set up the shed for kids to play in. It was the perfect party venue. This was a real test as there was to be alcohol present. My first outing to a large social event where everyone would be drinking, except for me. We had emergency escapes in place, and I did have to run off with the dog for a while to sit in a field but all in all I survived intact. Another huge milestone for me and a wonderful day had by all involved.

Whilst in the process of setting up the party I received a phone call. Good News.

Let me take you back a week or so. I applied for a job as Assistant Supervisor at the local Market. This caused a little quandary for me. Do I mention that I am in the process of drying out at the interview? I discussed this with the group. My main concern was that if I didn`t offer the facts they may well come back to haunt me at a later date. We acted out a few scenarios and I decided the best thing was to bring it up, which I did. Luckily the facts were well met and I was thanked for my honesty. I assured the interviewers that in no way would this affect my ability to carry out my duties and left feeling the interview had gone very well.

Back to the party. The phone call. “Could you pop in to the Market Tuesday afternoon for a quick chat please?” This I did, quick chat in the office and lo and behold I am now the Assistant Supervisor for Market Harborough Market! Really looking forward to getting back to full time work, in a job I will really enjoy and having a bit of structure in my week again.

So much in one week. So many milestones passed. Things are really looking good at the moment. I haven't been able to say that for a long while. It’s a rocky road and I`m nowhere near the destination, but my journey has started and small steps, mostly in the right direction will take me to where I need to be.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Farewell young man.


Had to say farewell to a friend today. Well, more of an acquaintance than a friend but someone who has played a huge part in my life just lately, and probably a huge part in my life going forward from now. I`ve hardly mentioned this young fellow in my story, a matter I intend to put right this evening.

Let’s go back a few months. I`m still drinking, things seem to be falling apart all around me, I`d been failing to get off the ale quite consistently for quite some time. Maybe through lack of trying, maybe I just wasn’t ready, who knows? I had seen addiction councillors on a couple of occasions to no avail…they didn’t know what I was going through…they had no idea what it was like to be an addict, who were they to judge and advise me I thought. After a long chat with my GP and several long chats with Sarah I decided to give it another go. Self-referred to “Swanswell” as it was then known or "Turning Point" as it has become and got my first appointment. Back of the chemist, little consulting room, Tuesday just after lunch. Perfect. Just in time for a couple on the way home before tea. Sitting in the room waiting for me was a young man by the name of Priyesh. I sat down and we chatted. We chatted about drink, about home, about moods, about my physical and mental health, about the health of those around me. We went through some official stuff and that was it, meeting over. Cool. Not too bad then.

Next meeting we started talking numbers, units, cravings, urges and all the stats surrounding my drinking. When did I start? When was I last dry? All that sort of stuff. He suggested I joined a “group” and I laughed. Never I said. Look how wrong that turned out to be. We agreed on a structured period where I would gradually decrease my intake over a few weeks. Seemed simple on paper. X number of cans this week, x-1 the following week and so on and so forth. Unfortunately, that didn’t work. All through this Priyesh was very understanding and willing to listen, yes, I know that’s his job, but he had managed to get me to talk. No mean achievement.

Following an incident that I may talk about another time, Sarah and I decided things couldn’t go on as they were. She was at her wits end and I was slowly but surely drinking myself to death. Something would have to give. Priyesh and I had discussed the idea of a detox and it was at this point we decided that this was the way forward. Things happened very quickly after the initial decision and the story of the detox is told elsewhere. As part of the discussions Priyesh once again brought up the “group” and I agreed to attend. If you are a regular reader you will know how much of a positive affect the group has had on me. So positive in fact that this is where I come to say farewell to Priyesh. I am now over a month dry, I have a good support network in place in the group and my circle of friends. I also have an outlook on life that is more positive than at any time I can remember. 

So farewell Priyesh. Keep up the good work. Rest easy in the knowledge that you may well have played a part in saving my life, or at least given me some of the tools I need to save it myself.

Post Script
If you have tried counselling for whatever reason in the past and it hasn’t done you any good don’t give up on it. The problem may just be you haven’t found the right counsellor yet. It might be that the time is not quite right for you. Keep trying, it’s worth the effort.