If I thought that my jaw had reached floor level as I wrote up Emma’s story, that was nothing compared to the shock I felt when Emma shared a photo of herself pre-recovery. In Part 3 of Emma’s story we talk about how KD Lang, the Canadian singer, songwriter and actress inspired Emma to become sober.
I was just going to drink until I died
I’d just been sitting on the sofa for weeks drinking.
I’d been to see my psychiatrist who’d asked if I wanted help coming off alcohol. I said no I’d wean myself off.
I walked out of his office with no intention of stopping. I’d made a decision to just carry on drinking until I die.
I didn’t have the strength to stop. The cycle was that I’d stop then I’d start again and I knew I couldn’t keep doing it.
Emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally it was killing me both to stop and start. I’d got to the point where I couldn’t live with alcohol and I couldn’t live without it.
It was a terrifying thought that I’d live in a state of permanent fear both with and without alcohol.
St Patricks Day 2010 my sobriety birthday!
I’d have my first drink at 4am.
I would get up and down a few drinks before sitting on the sofa sophisticatedly sipping a drink while watching TV.
I’d watch the funny channels to try to cheer myself up.
On March 17th 2010 the TV was on a different channel.
KD Lang was singing in St Lukes Chapel in London there was something about her.
KD Lang was no airbrushed celebrity but a woman who was beautiful on her own terms.
The fog cleared. It was like an out of body experience.
I could see the person I used to be, who I’d become and my potential all in the same moment. At 33 years old I realised, for the first time, that I had a choice.
AA was my Saviour!
The rest of the day was spent in a flurry of phone calls. Statutory Alcohol Services couldn’t help me for another 2 months! I decided to called AA.
In the next 24 hours I received more support than I’d received in the previous 5 years. It literally changed my life.
I learnt the power of feeling loved by room full of strangers, from the first meeting.
I chose to do the 12-step program*. The 12-step program is the SUGGESTED programme of recovery, though quite frankly, I wouldn’t be her without it.
The program facilitates the building of a relationship with yourself. It’s not about giving your power away. It is about taking responsibility and being honest with yourself.
I’d rejected the idea of God but I still had a spiritual understanding and this helped me with the 12-step program.
My faith in a higher power is very strong today. I’ve seen it in action, dozens and dozens of times!
You were asked to speak about your journey
Mental Health Services (MHS) saw me transform overnight and that it had nothing to do with the pills and little to do with services though there were some amazing and supportive individuals along the journey.
It was my passion to tell everyone about my journey. I wanted to be able to tell everyone that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and start thinking about what you want for your life.
I was asked to speak at Mental Health Conferences. My first talk was at a Multi-Faith Mental Health & Spirituality Project.
I was asked to submit my speech in advance and include what MHS had done for me. My response was that I’d be honest and tell it as it was.
My recovery was about my inner resources and things I’d found out, the spiritual faith I’d acquired with some help from MHS.
I was only an instruction away from being locked up
I was on a very high dose of medication. One drug in particular was extremely toxic.
I’d been discharged by MHS in 2011 and at the time had said to my psychiatrist that I don’t want to stay on the drugs.
His response was you are on medication for the rest of your life. If you plan to stop taking them I may need to reconsider the discharge. At which point I shut up. I realised that it was simply he was constrained by Law.
The law states you can be locked up if you are a danger to yourself or others. It was extremely frightening when I realised that I was only an instruction away from being locked up at any time.
Another milestone in December 2012…
I started weaning myself off the medication, as I wanted to see what would happen.
By this time I was studying for my third degree this time in Psychology with the OU and I pinned down professors of biological psychology and asked about my theory of the drugs and effect on my brain.
The scariest answers that came back from learned professors is that we simply don’t know!!
When I shared my theory about Dopamine – I was told you might be right but we cannot be sure. The drugs affect our entire nervous system not targeted to a particular part of the body.
I took the last dose of my medication on 21.12.12. Then the real work started.
How did you cope with the withdrawal?
Quite apart from the fact that I had flu, which lasted about 8 weeks, I was totally unprepared for how I would feel when I got my emotions back.
As I was going through withdrawal I felt so awful and had to keep it all to myself. I was frightened I’d be made to go back on the medication or would be locked up!
Never one to do anything by halves at this point I separated from Martin. I had to follow my instinct and being the person that I was to avoid moving backwards.
Martin is fabulous and goes to Al-Anon the support for friends and family of alcoholics. Our relationship is brilliant and we are good friends. The boys don’t really think of us as separated.
In the final part of Emma’s story we will share how she got through the withdrawal from medication and the amazing work Emma is doing now to help others.
If you missed part 1 of Emma’s journey where we looked at what it was like to be bullied at school or part 2 which described how Emma juggled having three young children and studying for a Masters Degree, you can read them here:
Part 1 – School Was Terrifying
Part 2 – Three Babies And A Masters Degree
*There is a common misconception that Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is the 12 step program.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other. Their aim is to solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.
The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for AA membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions.
For more information visit Alcoholics Anonymous