"Strangely as time has gone on, I’ve relaxed more. I expected to go a bit ‘stir-crazy’ but haven’t."
Today's Sober hero is Claire who lives in Cornwall in the UK.
Mrs D: How are you feeling about what's going on with this COVID-19 virus?
Claire: It’s been pretty strange to be honest. I wasn’t worried at the start, I didn’t think it would affect us like it has, and it’s been frightening to see things escalate so quickly. I’ve never known anything like it, as most people haven’t and I guess it’s just the unknown that makes it scary.
Mrs D: How have your emotions shifted and changed since the crisis began?
Claire: I panicked a lot to start with. The idea of being ‘stuck’ made me nervous. Everything was chaotic and the lack of food in the shops from all the panic buying worried me. The thought of being without anything was awful and as a family of six I have four kids to entertain so I just wasn’t sure how it would be. Strangely as time has gone on, I’ve relaxed more, where I expected to go a bit ‘stir-crazy’ I haven’t (yet).
Mrs D: How long have you been sober for?
Claire: Three years and six months.
Mrs D: How is being sober helping you at this crazy time?
Claire: Life was always pretty slow where I live in Cornwall, but it has now slowed down even more so I definitely feel calmer and more able to deal with everything. I can look with a better perspective at what is going on and take it in without feeling overwhelmed. Before I would have been overly anxious and I wouldn’t have been able to relax at all. With the shortages in our supermarkets and the social distancing measures here, I would have been constantly worried about my wine supply and conscious that I needed to get more. I’m super grateful that I don’t have to worry about things like that on top of everything else. It’s been hard enough to get food and toilet rolls so I would have been unbearable if I’d been trying to get wine too!
Mrs D: Have you had any pangs to drink since the lockdown began?
Claire: No I haven’t which is frankly quite nice. I sort of expected to, because other times, like at Christmas I do sometimes find things a little bit harder. I don’t like feeling like I am missing out, and I was worried I would. Except for some of the hosts on TV and Radio who just seem to assume we’re all stuck at home drinking, there haven’t been as many triggers as I thought there might be. Or maybe they just don’t affect me like they did a couple of months ago?
Mrs D: Any particular self-care actions that are helping you in these gritty times?
Claire: Well I am struggling to get out and run, and that is my normal go-to for stress relief. There seem to be more and more people out and about, and it makes it hard to avoid people if I run. Instead, I am enjoying nice walks with my kids and the dog, obviously observing the social distancing rules we have. There is a nice field that is always empty near my house and it’s lovely to walk there and spend some time doing some yoga outdoors in the sunshine. We have been very lucky with the weather and that makes me feel so much better. I keep promising myself a bath one evening, as I do enjoy a bubbly relax, but I always seem to run out of time!
Mrs D: What are you doing to fill in the days?
Claire: I’m not sure where the time goes to be honest. I thought I’d have a lot more time on my hands to do things, but it seems to be whizzing past. I do have the kids and they take up a fair bit of my time, but besides that we spend a lot of time in the garden. I write a lot, as it helps me work through things. Although our business is closed at the moment, meaning myself, my husband and our eldest son aren’t commuting or working in the days, we still seem to have a lot of things to think about! I try to go for a walk and do some yoga everyday. Oh, and I read a lot. Thank goodness I have a Kindle, as I don’t have to worry about the book shops being closed! I’m not sure how I’d cope without my constant stream of books!
Mrs D: What would you say to people who are struggling with alcohol while they're in lockdown?
Claire: Lockdown reminds me a lot of my early recovery days. I felt the need to almost hibernate, I didn’t want to see anyone really or talk about it. Sometimes it might be hard, but you don’t have to see anyone and can therefore look after yourself in the way you need to. There are so many support groups now that are online that you don’t have to go out to be able to connect with others. Just stay strong and remember that each day that passes is another one in the right direction. A hangover or sore head wouldn’t help anyone right now.
Mrs D: What's in this photo you've shared with us?
Claire: My favourite trees in my garden. I spend a lot of time looking at them, either from the dens I build with my youngest little one, or from lying on my back on the grass if I’m able to get a couple of minutes to myself! It’s simple but it’s a lovely, peaceful place to be! It helps that the sun is shining and the sky is blue!
Mrs D: Anything else you'd like to add?
Claire: I think at the moment, this situation makes me realise how grateful I am for my sobriety. It’s such a simple thing for so many people, but for me and a lot of others, sobriety is hard work. Now, being able to have a calmer, quiet mind and to be free of the hold wine had over me is something I am so thankful for.