"There are down days where I'm really cranky, sad and shouty but that's life. Mostly I've felt surprinsigly steady."
Today's hero is Jose who lives in Sydney, Australia.
Mrs D: How are you feeling about what's going on with this COVID-19 virus?
Jose: It's all the things! I feel desperately sad for the world, in particular the countries whose populations have been worst hit by high infection rates and deaths. I have family in Canada, England, the States, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Sweden so it has been stressful watching and waiting to see what will happen. I know I am extremely priviledged to be in Australia and to able to see this time as an opportunity to reconnect with my children and just get off this insane hamster wheel we are always on. I'm hopeful we will collectively find a better way forward after this nightmare year is over. One where we work with nature, not against it, and where we support our communities to build resilience against the mental health and environmental challenges ahead.
Mrs D: How have your emotions shifted and changed since the crisis began?
Jose: There are down days where I'm cranky, sad and shouty but that's life. I've felt surprinsigly steady for the most part. I'm determined to see the positive side and to remember my family is lucky to be healthy and still have jobs. We are lucky I am able to focus on the kids and to be here to hold their hand through this.
Mrs D: How long have you been sober for?
Jose: I have been working on sobriety since June 2016 and have 7 weeks under my belt this time. Quitting is certainly not a one and done and I'm not ashamed of all my day ones.
Mrs D: How is being sober helping you at this crazy time?
Jose: Attempting to homeschool two small children while trying to work and just generally needing to keep my shit together meant I needed to be on my A game. I just couldn't cope with all on top of a raging hangover, despite regularly wanting to mentally check out.
Mrs D: Have you had any pangs to drink since the lockdown began?
Jose: Oh god yes! Alcohol is particularly insidious and pervasive thing to try to avoid at the best of times and being stressed at home was always a trigger for me. The wine memes are literally everywhere and so many times I've thought 'well everyone else is getting shitfaced, why can't I?' It's hard to remember when you are craving wine that you've repeatedly tried that road and that it doesn't end well. You never regret not drinking!
Mrs D: Any particular self-care actions that are helping you in these gritty times?
Jose: I've found comfort in meditation, long walks, not reading the news obsessively, FaceTime with friends, gardening, mooching around with the kids and mantras like 'I can do hard things'. Religiously burning lavendar oil in every room of the house. Devouring sugary treats. I bought new pyjamas and I change my sheets every few days as it makes everything feel so fresh and fancy!
Mrs D: What are you doing to fill in the days?
Jose: Mostly I'm trying to be a good mum and not be irritable all the time. I have my own business so there has been a lot of work to try to keep it afloat while accessing the Australian government supports for our staff. I'm half heartedly working out, although I'm not convinced it's offsetting all the lollies. The kids have thrived in the absence of rules and expecations so we spend a lot of time riding scooters and bushwalking and rubbing our dog's tummy.
Mrs D: What would you say to people who are struggling with alcohol while they're in lockdown?
Jose: Keep trying and if what you're doing isn't sticking add in more sober scaffolding. There are so many incredible and diverse resources out there now. I know it feels like life will fade away if you take out alcohol but it's that voice in your head telling you lies. Honestly, I'm not sure being sober is a magic bullet for your life, but I do know that waking up in the morning without a hangover and seeing clear skin and calm eyes is absolute magic.
Mrs D: What's in this photo you've shared with us?
Jose: This is my dog Obi enjoying a chin rub.
Mrs D: Anything else you'd like to add?
Jose: Thank you for the opportunity to share. Like many other people on this road, hearing stories you can see yourself in really helps.