Katie's Recovery Story
"Difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations"
My names Katie and I’m an alcoholic, this is a sentence I say twice a week and will do for as long as I attend my 12 step programme. I am living a life in recovery and have been doing so since 24.5.2016 and I love it.
I’ve had a few reactions when I tell people the reasons why I don’t drink, the most common being;
“You don’t look like an alcoholic”.
I’m not offended, I used to think that alcoholics sat on park benches drinking out of huge plastic bottles swearing at passers-by, but not all do. We look like everyone else, we just suffer from an illness many don’t understand.
So my story goes something like this (although massively condensed for insta purposes and the attention spans of millennial’s)…
I was a ‘normal’ teenager; going out at weekends, only drinking with friends, although I always drank to excess – but so did everyone else – didn’t they? As time went on, life happened. Life for me included a great family, a couple of stressful but well-paid jobs, a few relationships, some great friends, some not so great friends; I faced the ups and downs of general life.
But this life got in the way of me seeing how quickly my illness progressed. My late 20’s are somewhat of a blur, and by the age of 30, I had graduated with honours in alcoholism.
I was no longer invited out with my friends, I was a liability. What had started as a once/twice a week binge was now daily. I woke up and drank and I couldnt get through a day without alcohol.
Towards the end of my boozing days, I would only drink alone (sometimes on those park benches I judged so much previously). I was ashamed and knew I had a problem, but I couldn’t stop. I would constantly black out and often woke up not knowing what day it was, let alone the time.
I didn’t look after myself, or care about anything - but yet I cared too much about absolutely everything. My anxiety was out of control, I couldn’t talk to my friends without having had a drink, I couldn’t talk to anyone without having had a drink.
In the last few months of my boozing, my physicality deteriorated. I couldn’t feel my left arm and I shook dramatically if I didn’t have a drink when I woke up, I covered this up by sitting on my hands. I also lost the ability to string a sentence together, I couldn’t remember the most basic of words. Then there was the bleeding, this came out of every orifice you could imagine, regularly (sorry –graphic I know but I am trying to make a point).
One day I was offered the chance to go to a rehab facility that was covered by my private medical insurance, I went into a 28 day programme, to which I owe my life.
I have been sober since the day after I went in (I don’t remember arriving) and I have never been happier. What rehab taught me and what my 12 step program continues to teach me is about the illness of alcoholism, it teaches me how to live - on lifes terms without any anethstetic. I feel everything now - happiness, sadness, boredom, joy. It's amazing.
I’m no longer controlled by my illness, I’ve done things I couldn’t have imagined doing before, travelled the world, have a wonderful job, have a brilliant relationship with the people in my life and my anxiety has pretty much vanished; I owe it all to sobriety.
I was one of the lucky ones, the support of my wonderful friends and family got me through and into rehab, but the unfortunate truth is that others aren’t so lucky. Writing this was difficult but I want to do anything I can to bring awareness to this killer illness, it can happen to anyone, anyone can end up on that bench.