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 Sam (@sunshinydays) who lives in Orewa, Auckland.
Mrs D: How are you feeling about what's going on with this Corona-19 virus?
Sam: It all feels a bit unreal really. I have been through tragedy in the last 2 years. A journey that has taught me to live for today. I try not to listen to thoughts that are unhelpful. I am just trying to make the best of a very frightening time in history. Staying in my bubble with my partner, 13 year old boy and our 3 cats. I am doing the right things so that I can keep my family and community safe.
Mrs D: How have your emotions shifted and changed since the crisis began?
Sam: I was always realistic about the inevitability of there being a lockdown. I feel so much safer in my bubble and knowing friends and family are in theirs. It’s not forever, but it will really make the difference between life and death for thousands of people.
Mrs D: How long have you been sober for?
Sam: 8 days. I started drinking in 2018 after my son took his own life. It became my coping mechanism. Long story short, I faced up to the fact I am dependent on alcohol. That it was making me very ill and my relationships were suffering. That I could never be a casual drinker again and I had to stop drinking because losing my partner, friends and my health was inevitable if I didn’t stop. I was supposed to start a home detox this week (I took a weeks leave), but it was cancelled because of COVID-19. I decided to do it anyway. My partner was working from home for the first 4 days. If the side effects got too hectic, he had a bottle of rum hidden so I could manage it that way. I had the shakes, headaches, insomnia, sweating and felt really anxious. Day 5 and I feel peaceful. I do have cravings, but I am not giving them too much attention and just talking myself through them.
Mrs D: Why did you choose the username @sunshinydays when you joined our community?
Sam: I named myself after the song - I Can See Clearly Now by Jimmy Cliff. It’s just a song that strikes a cord with me and the journey I have been through since April 2018.
Mrs D: How is being sober helping you at this crazy time?
Sam: I feel like I am accomplishing something massive and doing something amazing for myself during this time.
Mrs D: Have you had any pangs to drink since the lockdown began?
Sam: Yup, but I am just letting them float on by.
Mrs D: Any particular self-care actions that are helping you in these gritty times?
Sam: I have not put any pressure on myself to achieve anything other than sobriety. To pamper myself and live for each day. I only listen to the thoughts in my head that are helpful and lead me in the direction I want to go.
Mrs D: What are you doing to fill in the days?
Sam: I am just doing the things that I enjoy. Sleeping, gardening, painting, and watching some great series on Amazon video.
Mrs D: What would you say to people who are struggling with alcohol while they're in lockdown?
Sam: Don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up. Alcohol is addictive and we have grown up believing it is the stuff fun is made of and the solution to stress and all our problems. It takes time and work to get into the headspace when you are done with the toxic stuff.
Mrs D: What are the photo you've shared with us?
Sam: This is me in my swing chair on the deck in the garden. The rocking and being outside is calming and peaceful.
Mrs D: Anything else you'd like to add?
Sam: You are everything you need to be. Alcohol doesn’t allow you to be yourself. It separates you from really living. Be honest with yourself. You need to be your own best friend because the choice to not drink is one that only you can make. Find another healthy way of dealing with the hard parts of living.