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 Nick who lives in Wellington.
Mrs D: How are you feeling about what's going on with this Covid-19 virus?
Nick: It's surreal. It is weird to see the streets empty, but there's a sense of unease that I notice everytime I walk past someone. This is something I never thought I'd experience in my lifetime, but I'm glad to be in New Zealand compared to other countries - sometimes it's benefical living on an island at the bottom of the world!
Mrs D: How have your emotions shifted and changed since the crisis began?
Nick: I'm not letting it get to me. Something I've learnt in my recovery is that I can't control everything and when something happens, I shouldn't worry about trying to fix it or let it consume me. This is happening, and I've got to make the best of the situation I can. And that is what I'm in control of.
Mrs D: How long have you been sober for?
Nick: I have been sober for a grand total of 621 days!
Mrs D: How is being sober helping you at this crazy time?
Nick: I'm not on a constant hunt for my next drink and I'm not stockpiling alcohol. I think if was in the grip of alcohol controlling my life, I'd be spiralling out of control and wouldn't be able to cope. Being sober, I'm able to stay focused, have my wits about me and enjoy what I have.
Mrs D: Have you had any pangs to drink since the lockdown began?
Nick: Not at all!
Mrs D: Any particular self-care actions that are helping you in these gritty times?
Nick: Reading (hence the stack of comic books!), watching movies, playing Xbox and continung, as best I can with my routine. I still do my 7 minutes of mindfulness each night and that helps me cap off, and declutter from, the day. And, catching up on sleep!
Mrs D: What are you doing to fill in the days?
Nick: Luckily, I still have work to go to. I'm a Recovery Coach at the Bridge in Wellington, and we're still open and have clients. I'm also studying my Bachelors of Counselling and Addiction and that's running online, so I have assignments and readings to do. Other than that, when I have a bit of down time, I'm doing stuff that I like doing - those self-care actions.
Mrs D: What would you say to people who are struggling with alcohol while they're in lockdown?
Nick: Reach out and stay connected. It was key for me in my early recovery. And remember, you're not alone. You'll get those thoughts and feelings of wanting a drink, and that's normal, so acknowledge them. It's harder to fight them than it is to acknowledge that thought and then just let it pass. Also, try and get a routine into the day - and note down those times of the day where you usually feel like a drink. Being prepared for those times allows you to plan for them and do something else.
Mrs D: What's in this photo you've shared with us?
Nick: I have an absolute fascination with everything Harley Quinn. She's my favourite comic book character, and as a present to myself after completing the Bridge in 2018, I got a tattoo of her on my drinking arm to remind me how far I've come. I've collected quite a stack of her comics, so I'm working my way through them all!
Mrs D: Anything else you'd like to add?
Nick: It sounds weird - but there could be a silver lining to this lock down. It could be that opportunity to address a drinking problem - we're in isolation so having that forced upon us could be used as that sticking point that get you to stop before heading to the supermarket or bottle store.