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My sober pandemic: Helen

August 27th, 2021 Interviews

Marlborough Sounds “I’ve been sober for two weeks. The pandemic threw me into another spin, but luckily I kept a grip on the sobriety.” ======== Today’s pandemic sobriety story comes from Helen in Central Wellington. ========

Helen: I feel disappointed that our special status as one of the few Western countries to be Covid free in the community, and all the freedoms that gave us, had to end. I’m really hoping we will be able to eliminate Covid again, but if not we have to learn to live with it. I’m sad that I’m not able to see my police boyfriend but understand he’s in a bigger police bubble. I have a bubble buddy and we meet for walks and sharing food- this is ok as we both live alone. Jacinda was kind on this one.

Helen: Right before the pandemic started I moved to Wellington from Auckland, changed jobs and started a master’s study. All of these, and related added pressures, caused me to relapse for a week secretly, which is my mode of drinking – at home, alone, nothing to see here. I was in a very strange space, didn’t want to tell anyone, and was reliving that old fear that my sober boyfriend would drop around and find me like this. It was fessing up on this site that brought me back and I’ve been sober again for two weeks. The pandemic threw me into another spin, but luckily I kept a grip on the sobriety. Getting used to all the changes – working from home, not socialising, trying to study – is very challenging. My evenings feel long and whiny, I’m often on the phone.

Helen: I was sober for around 420 days before my last slip up. I had a few one day slips in this time, but the last one lasted a week, so I’ve reset the counter. I’m now on 14 days! Helen: Its making me feel I can get through this and not catastrophize my life and the situation. I had a Zoom meeting with my study supervisor today which I felt unprepared for as I thought it was next Monday. After the meeting I thought, “at least I’m not hungover, I’d be feeling a lot worse”. Last years lockdown meetings were usually done hungover or hanging out for wine so its nice to have neither of those feelings. Mrs D: Have you had any pangs to drink since the latest lockdown began (if in New Zealand)?

Helen: Yes. Very much in the last few days. What’s helping is playing it forward, as I know if I drink I won’t get any study done and I have a full scale critique session next week. To be honest the queues at the supermarket are putting me off as well.

Helen: Hot baths, ice cream and chocolate, playing music and trying to remind myself how fortunate I am to be in Wellington, NZ.

Helen: I am teaching part time, sketching and studying in general. Every morning I walk up Mt Victoria for exercise. Yesterday I cleaned the house and baked a cake. I gave a third to my bubble buddy on our evening walk, and left a third on my neighbours step. The rest is for me.. Facebook, Netflix, Neon and phone calls fill my evenings. Mrs D: What would you say to people who are struggling with alcohol at the moment? Helen: Play it forward- whatever comes next won’t be any easier hungover and alcohol will only increase loneliness, anxiety and stress. Oh, and eat cake- the calories you aren’t drinking can be consumed in cake during lockdown. Its official. Helen: Its a photo of the beautiful Marborough Sounds in the South Island from a trip there in May this year. Kia Kaha South Island. I’ll be back. Helen: Just thanks to everyone on this site and to you also Mrs D! =======

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