I threw myself right in to it and I have not looked back

I started drinking in my early teens as that is just what everyone did. Every weekend I’d sneak to the local park with my friends. It all just carried on from there and there never really seemed any need for that to change. I didn’t have any kids so no responsibilities. What was wrong with having a good drink at the weekends?

But as life carried on alcohol just seemed to be everywhere. A good day, “have a drink”, bad day, “oh I need a drink”, sunny day, “have a drink in the garden” and everyone was doing the same so what was wrong with it? Nothing, right?

As time went on…

I had my wee boy and well, a glass of wine after bedtime was fine, the norm, expected even! Again, everyone does it so there can’t be anything wrong with it, right? But I was exhausted. My hangovers had always been epic even as a young 20-year-old, a badge of honour almost but now with a kid to run around after I was just constantly chasing my tail. I felt tired, flat, I was taking medication for anxiety, I was unfit, I was unhappy and just thought, is this it? Is this all life is?

I saw OYNB on my Facebook

I signed up the first time I saw it. It was like a sign. A 28 day challenge. I completed it and felt good but then went back to life as normal, which included drinking. Then Dry July, Sober October, wee spells here and there. Always felt better but always went back to old ways. Then Covid hit and the world I knew had gone mad. I just wanted to change but it felt so much more necessary this time and I knew I wanted it to last. I wanted this change to be forever. No matter what was going on around me, I knew I had the power to change my wee world. If we were going to be stuck in the house, I needed to make that space as safe, calm and present as I could for me and my family, so I signed up for 365.

Starting OYNB was daunting and exciting

What would people think? How would I socialise? How would I deal with stress? How would I enjoy myself? I wanted this change, but I was pretty damn scared of it too. What if I fail? Would that mean I have a “problem”? I think it just brought about so many more questions than anything else really. After my initial uneasiness, I threw myself right in to it and I have not looked back.

My alcohol-free benefits

Gillian after her challengeThe changes I have seen and felt are almost unbelievable. I am now over 4 months and my skin is so different, I was always known for my red chubby cheeks. Well not anymore. I started running, couch to 5k and could hardly breathe after one minute. I am now focusing on a half marathon. I go to a PT, practice yoga regularly and mediation daily. The weight is coming off, nothing drastic but I just look after myself and my body so much more now so the way I feel about my body is more positive. No more medication either. I am totally off it and I feel comfortable and confident in myself. No more self-doubt or self-loathing, that nagging voice telling me that this is just the way life is, that I could not do this or that has gone and I feel able to try anything.

The greatest part of it for me is the clarity and focus I now have. I get up earlier than the rest of my house and set myself up for the rest of the day. I am present and I am sure I am a better mum. I wish I could go and tell my 20-year-old self that at 40 and during a global pandemic I’d be the healthiest, both physically and mentally that I have ever been and that all I have to do is make one change. I could have been doing all this years ago.

OYNB has opened up so many opportunities for me

Not only around alcohol but also in so many other areas of my life. The daily emails are such a good focus and motivation, it really is a self-development journey. The Facebook group is its greatest strength. People from all over the world, from all walks of life, all doing this for their own reasons and rallying round each other. No judgements, just support, whenever you need it.

Who knows what lies ahead?

But right now, I just do not want to drink. In fact, I rarely think about it which for me sounds crazy. Seeing the benefits of not drinking and also becoming more aware of the effects of alcohol through this challenge mean I just do not want to drink right now. I always post on the group “one day at a time and celebrate each victory”. We do not know what will happen tomorrow so just focus on today and if at the end of that day you are pleased with what you have achieved and how that day has worked out for you and your family, then be pleased and proud of yourself. You have done good!!!!!!

I just wish everyone would try this challenge and see how good it feels. At least just give the 28 days a go and see what changes for you. It only has to be an experiment but please know that lockdown and life do not need to be like this. You can have more energy, you can have more motivation, you can have better relationships and you can feel happy, all with one wee experiment. You just never know what could be waiting for you on a wee AF journey.


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