I have been a drinker for as long as I can remember, initially a social drinker but gradually turning into a bottle of wine a night and more at weekends. I am an all or nothing kind of person. I couldn’t just have one drink so I would end up drinking too much and not being able to remember most of the night. I was gradually becoming unwell. I felt older than my years, was overweight and breathless when climbing stairs. I would wake up with feelings of anxiety and dread, and had was unsatisfied with who I was and the life I was leading. I knew for about 3 years that needed to stop drinking but I couldn’t maintain it longer than a few days.
Then out of the blue
I scrolled past a post on my Facebook feed showing a woman who had undertaken an OYNB challenge. Her before and after photos were incredible, she looked 10 years younger in the after one. I immediately looked into OYNB and researched the reviews and comments. I decided there and then to stop drinking.
I expected quitting drinking would be hard, and I knew my friends and family expected me to cave after a few days – this was my usual level of commitment. I bought every kind of AF drink imaginable as I presumed I would need to substitute my intake with other things. I quickly realised I didn’t need them. It was good to have a fall back drink that isn’t full of sugar but I was more than happy with water and I initially drank gallons of it. Over time I discovered a love for herbal teas, and I like Seedlip as a party drink but often I prefer to stick to sparkling water when out.
My OYNB journey
After doing this challenge, I felt I could achieve anything. I got a lot of online support from the group and even did a live video. I have been amazed at how reflective I have become, how aware of my feelings and inner responses I am now. I am a lot calmer and my anxiety left me after about 2 weeks into the challenge. I read ‘This Naked Mind’ and started a reflective diary. This helped to clear thoughts and ideas from my mind which allowed some rest from my inner voice that used to play on a loop in my head. I had some periods of regret for the times I lost to alcohol, the things said, memories lost and opportunities missed. Gradually, I have come to reconcile with myself for the choices I have made. Alcohol may have affected some of them but I am determined to go forwards with enthusiasm and an open mind, making the best of my life ahead.
My AF achievements
I have enjoyed meeting new people, taking on new challenges; running, sailing and career changes. I have lost 2 stone in weight, become fitter (running at least 5k each week) and I am healthier and enjoy healthy food. I am surprised at how easy it has been. I have read a lot about how our subconscious mind influences our decision making and have made a great effort to try to impact on my own subconscious by repeating positive thoughts and mantras in my head. I have been open with anyone I meet, happy to tell them I don’t drink. I have had little negative feedback and if I did, I would see that as their problem not mine.
OYNB without a doubt has massively supported me on my quest, being able to share thoughts and ask questions in a safe environment has been key for me. I have inspired others to become alcohol-free and it has been a great place to direct them to for support. I don’t know if I would have achieved 365 days without OYNB but I doubt it. It has been a sounding board for me and an opportunity to try new things and push myself to be better.