This week's Sober Story comes from Arielle, a 28-year-old living in the West Coast of America.
Mrs D: How long have you been in recovery?
Arielle: I have been sober from alcohol for 5 years. I struggled with an eating disorder as well and have been clean from that for about 3 years now.
Mrs D: So great. What can you tell us about the last months/years of your drinking before you gave up?
Arielle: The last months of my drinking were spent in complete isolation. I only left my house to get more booze. I was extremely sick, had lost about 30 lbs [13kg], and was in such mental turmoil that I was considering ending my own life. I felt hopeless and completely alone. Drinking was no longer something I did for fun, I needed to drink in order to soothe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, even though I wanted so badly to stop - I just didn't know how.
Mrs D: What was the final straw that led you to get sober?
Arielle: I was considering taking my own life, however, I got a text from my sister who was worried about me. The family hadn't heard from me for months. She had attempted to reach out before but for some reason, this message made me realize that there was hope for me. So, I told her I couldn't stop drinking and desperately needed help. She ended up finding a treatment center that included alcohol detox and inpatient treatment and got me into the program.
Mrs D: How was it for you in the early days? What was most difficult?
Arielle: In the early days, I had an extremely hard time dealing with alcohol withdrawals and learning how to cope with cravings. However, the treatment center I went to gave me medication to lessen my symptoms and provided me with therapy that helped me to learn proper coping mechanisms in order to combat my desire to drink.
Mrs D: What reaction did you get from family & friends when you started getting sober?
Arielle: My family members did not understand why I was having such a hard time, however, they were very thankful that I was beginning to recover. I didn't really have many friends because I spent most of my drinking in isolation. I did make loads of friends in treatment and recovery meetings, though. I still talk to them and meet up with them today.
Mrs D: Have you ever experienced a relapse?
Arielle: I have not experienced a relapse in regard to my alcoholism. However, I did relapse a few times because of my eating disorder. I had not properly gone through therapy for that, so I still was holding on to severe body dysmorphia and the desire to cope through purging each time I ate. Although it took time, once I began therapy for my eating disorder I began to recover from that as well. I just needed to be honest about my feelings and thoughts. Now, I have not relapsed from my eating disorder for 3 years as of next month (March 2020).
Mrs D: How long did it take for things to start to calm down for you emotionally & physically?
Arielle: After I completed the detox, I began to start feeling better physically. Emotionally, I feel like I started to even out after my first year of sobriety. I still have a lot of work to do and I think I always will.
Mrs D: Same. What about socialising sober? How hard was it getting used to doing that?
Arielle: I was very shy and untrusting in the beginning, but after a few months, my new friends in recovery had proved to me that they genuinely cared for me. I feel like it is easier to socialize with people in recovery because they understand social anxiety very well.
Mrs D: Was there anything surprising that you learned about yourself when you stopped drinking?
Arielle: I learned that I am stronger than I give myself credit for, I am truly loved by my family, and I do not need substances to function. I have done a lot of work on my self-esteem and have gained new hope and appreciation for life.
Mrs D: How did your life change?
Arielle: I went from having no friends and little contact with my family, to living a full and happy life. Today, I live with my sister - which is allowing me to rebuild a strong bond with her and my parents. I have truly meaningful relationships with my family and I could not be more grateful that I decided to ask for help rather than giving up.
Mrs D: What are the main benefits that emerged for you from getting sober?
Arielle: Being able to hold a job, have relationships with my family members, finally feeling content with myself, and meeting new people in the fellowship have all made becoming sober the best decision I have ever made.
Mrs D: Would you do anything differently given the chance to go through the process again?
Arielle: No, I think all of the mistakes I made helped me to become the woman I am today. I love my life and I wouldn't change it for the world.
Mrs D: What advice or tips would you have for those who are just starting on this journey?
Arielle: Always be honest. I did not disclose information about my eating disorder to my therapist, which could have resulted in me drinking again or possibly losing my life due to health conditions that bulimia can cause. Thankfully, I ended up being honest, but it would have been easier for me if I had been from the beginning.
Mrs D: Anything else you'd like to share?
Arielle: Recovery is possible for anyone. If you think that you are too far gone, or that there is no hope, I am here to tell you that you're wrong. I didn't think recovery was possible for me, but here I am.