It all started six years ago when I seemed to “sign off” with many aspects of my life.
I think my story would resonate with many women my age (56) who have been through the change of life or whatever you want to call it. Overnight I went from an all-out competitive triathlete and runner to someone who was continually getting injured, putting on weight and feeling increasingly anxious. One way to cope, or so I naively thought, was to drink alcohol. I had never been a big drinker, but I was becoming one before I even realised. It became the norm for me to drink 3-4 glasses of wine per day, every day.
It went something like this…
Stressful day at work, drink a glass as soon as I walked in the front door. Great day at work, drink a glass as soon as I walked through the front door. Cook dinner, drink a glass, eat dinner, drink a glass, settle down to watch evening TV, drink a glass. You get the picture; this was every day.
I developed the delightful habit of waking at the dreaded 3am, having to go to the lounge and sometimes have a small glass of something, to “settle my nerves”. I knew I was in trouble at this point, but still not equating the alcohol intake to my anxiety. I just thought it was my anxiety that was keeping me awake and stressed. My anxiety and stress levels got so bad I left my job at the end of 2018; I was so overwhelmed I couldn’t cope. At no point did I realise that alcohol was possibly the leading part in this picture.
It was at this time I had to have knee surgery
I started putting on more weight. I had talked to my partner about losing weight and the one thing we discussed was giving up alcohol to see if that would help. It’s funny, but it was as though Facebook heard these words and suddenly, I had stuff popping up on my feed about giving up drinking and one of these was OYNB. I loved reading all the inspiring stories and was seeing many similarities to my own alcohol journey. Initially, I had a go on my own, I lasted three weeks and then went back to my old ways. I had felt marginally better but craved the alcohol and was back to square one. I can see now I was ill equipped to give it a proper go.
The glaring issue was my ongoing anxiety
It was still the elephant in the room and it was just as huge as it had been despite starting a new job I loved (nurse tutor at Uni). OYNB continued to pop up on FB, I continued to read these amazing inspiring stories. As I tried and tried to give up, resetting about six times I finally decided to join OYNB. I now had the accountability I needed. I knew I had to do this properly.
I was sick of being anxious, sick of feeling frumpy and overweight and sick of feeling old and tired. I didn’t want to feel like this for the rest of my life. At first it wasn’t easy, the desire to drink was overwhelming at times. But I did everything OYNB said to do, I stayed close to the most amazing tribe of people I have ever met. About day 14, a day I was really struggling, I read Annie Grace’s This Naked Mid which was a game changer for me, I really haven’t looked back since. It was my light bulb moment for why I had become so sick with my anxiety.
As I have gone along this journey…
My anxiety has diminished to almost nothing. It’s funny, I go looking for it in the morning and it’s not there, such a feeling of freedom not to be crippled by its hold. So, this is what has happened in 90 days of being AF: a tribe with the most awesome support in OYNB, my anxiety, although still there at times, doesn’t rule my life. I have the clarity know to see why I’m feeling anxious and do something to reduce it without it crippling me. I have come off my antidepressant medication. I have lost 5kg, my face is less puffy and my grey bags under my eyes have lifted. I now will have a photo with my sunglasses off, I’m not covering up my sad eyes that my anxiety held against me. I have reclaimed my fitness and while I can’t run due to my knee, I am back on my bike and love RPM classes. I’ve found a new love for yoga and have discovered Reformer Pilates. I do the Reformer in a studio where the girls are all at least 30 years younger than me. They play loud funky music and they have made me feel young again. My friends have commented on how well I look and I’m loving my uni teaching, it is exactly where I want to be. I’m so passionate about it. I’m even going to go back and complete my masters in Clinical Education in 2020.
Most importantly, I have reclaimed my life back, which would not have been possible without the help of OYNB. The support has been invaluable. I feel like I can sparkle again, I haven’t felt like this in years.
Thank you OYNB!