This is a new series of 'Sober Lockdown Stories' featuring people with any length of sobriety sharing how they're keeping themselves well during the global pandemic crisis.
Today's sober hero is Ellen who lives in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Mrs D: How are you feeling about what's going on with this Covid-19 virus?
Ellen: Some days I am completely overwhelmed by what is going on in the world, some days I feel safe and ok at home with my family. Many days are both.
Mrs D: How long have you been sober for?
Ellen: I will be two years sober on April 17, 2020.
Mrs D: How is being sober helping you at this crazy time?
Ellen: I wake up every morning with a clear head. I may feel scared, sad, depressed even, but I deal with those feelings. I drink my coffee and try to come up with a plan for the day. I don't know how I could navigate this time if I were still drinking.
Mrs D: Have you had any pangs to drink since the lockdown began?
Ellen: I felt shaken at the beginning, not pangs like cravings, but I did have thoughts. I started to have drinking dreams again. (I'm actually still having them three weeks in.) I had them often for the first six months of getting sober. I spent some time with my 'quit lit' and with some sober friends online. I quickly put those thoughts away. Instead, I am focused on becoming stronger and more determined than ever to stay sober during this time.
Mrs D: Any particular self-care actions that are helping you in these gritty times?
Ellen: I am a runner, so I run. I do find running alone, day after day, to be a challenge. I really enjoy the support and camaraderie of my running friends. However, I persevere! I have been running solo-waving to fellow runners and trying to take support from others out there alone. I also take spin classes and yoga classes from home.
Mrs D: What are you doing to fill in the days?
Ellen: In addition to working from home and exercising, I spend a lot of time reading. I love literary fiction and memoirs. I also enjoy knitting, doing puzzles and cooking. My teenagers keep things lively. I am so glad they are at home with us. I also drink too much coffee, tea and hot chocolate.
Mrs D: What would you say to people who are struggling with alcohol while they're in lockdown?
Ellen: I know how hard it is. My best advice would be to focus on one day at a time, sometimes, one hour at a time. When I first gave up drinking, my cravings were the worst at night. I would tell myself, not tonight. Maybe tomorrow you can drink, but not tonight. I did that for weeks. I also used one of your tricks - picturing myself climbing into bed sober and waking up without a hangover. That trick got me through my first summer of not drinking. And try to find a support group. There are so many online right now. You can do it alone, but it's hard!! A support group makes it so much easier.
Mrs D: What's in this photo you've shared with us?
Ellen: My current vices...
Mrs D: Anything else you'd like to add?
Ellen: I never want to go back to drinking. I try to put my sobriety first everyday. If I start drinking again, it affects everything and everyone in my life. Sobriety is my super power. When times are tough, I remind myself - you gave up alcohol, you can do anything!!! Covid-19 is not taking me down. Stay strong! xoxo