Welcome to The (Not) Drinking Diary Series! I’ll be chatting to people on alcohol and on life; about their sobriety, mindful drinking and/or alcohol free period.
I first met Brid over Instagram. We connected quickly and I love how brave she has been sharing her story on her own (health & fitness) blog. Brid is an online health and fitness professional helping busy women to get fit and healthy in both body and mind, she is also a mum of two and her answers are so honest and open, and so relatable. Keep reading for more of her story & enjoy!
Name: Brid McGill
1.What led you to think differently about drinking?
I began drinking in my mid-teens and knew by the time I was in my early twenties that I didn’t feel the same about drinking as other people. I was obsessed with it almost from the start. I would blackout regularly on nights out, relied on wine to deal with my emotions during the week and also suffered horrendous hangovers which left me anxious and depressed.
I come from a family where alcohol dependency has been a problem so I think that helped me to recognise it. My father went into recovery when I was four and he always made us aware that we had to be careful. Somehow I convinced myself in my twenties that I would get a handle on it and that I’d never be “that bad”. I got married in 2013 and at the time that I quit in 2015 my son was nine months old. I woke up one morning after a particularly bad black-out and realised that nothing was going to change unless I changed. I couldn’t allow alcohol to impact my son’s life in the way it had impacted mine and no longer wanted to take the chance that it wasn’t going to get worse for me.
2.How would you describe your relationship with alcohol now?
I haven’t drank in more than 18 months and have no intention to ever drink again. For most of the first year I felt so hard done by. I had surrendered to the fact that I couldn’t drink ever again but I just felt like it was so unfair and that my life would always be “less than” because I couldn’t drink. Thankfully I found Annie Grace’s book This Naked Mind around the time of my first soberversary and that changed my mind-set a lot. I’m now in a place where I feel like it’s a choice and something that I’m lucky to have been able to discover about myself before it became a big problem and had major consequences.
3.What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced since your approach to alcohol shifted?
I still find it so hard not to be able to “get out of myself”. I’m someone who rarely sits still and my mind is always on. Alcohol was my quick method of shutting down in the evening or on a night out. When I quit I had a nine month old son and now also have a twelve week old daughter.
I find motherhood tough without the “off-switch” and it’s an ongoing journey to find new ways to relax. I am getting better though and most of the time it feels easier.
4.What lessons have you learnt about life (and yourself) since your relationship with alcohol has changed?
SO many! I quickly realised that the life I was living when I was drinking wasn’t sustainable. I was moving at the speed of light, always so busy. It was no wonder I needed to drink the best part of a bottle of wine at night to relax. I was doing all of these things and had never stopped to ask myself if I wanted to do them all or if I was happy. It was the classic case of “well if I just stay busy enough no one can pull me up on this massive thing that’s overtaking my life”.
I’ve cleared so much from my plate now and regularly check in with myself to see if I’m on the right path. I’m not perfect and still do overload myself from time to time but I can recognise when I’m doing it a lot quicker now without the fog of a hangover.
5. How do you start your day? Do you have a morning routine?
With two babies I don’t have much control over routine at the minute but I do make sure to get as much time out for myself as I possibly can. I need to be alone for a period of time every day, whether that’s to run, take a shower, read or just have an un-interrupted coffee. I have to make sure it happens for me because otherwise I can get tense and anxious and it’s at those times that I most feel the need to get out of myself. I’m lucky in that my husband and mother are very supportive in helping me do this.
6. Do you have any rituals you always make time for?
Not particularly but I have to listen to at least one (but usually five!) podcasts each week that relate in some way to sobriety or personal development. I’ve found in the past that when I don’t do this I can become quite negative and suffer from the “poor-me’s”.
Listening to others in recovery talk about all of the different elements, good or bad, helps to keep me focused and inspires me to make more connections with like-minded people.
7. What’s your favourite thing to do (hangover free) at the weekend?
Anything that doesn’t involve that horrendous feeling of dread that used to follow me around when I was hungover! I like very simple things now, going out in nature with my family, eating really good food and reading new things whether it be a blog post or a book. I like to shop but even that has changed for me since I quit drinking. Maybe it’s because I don’t go out as much anymore but it just doesn’t light me up in the same way that it used to and I think that’s a good thing.
8. When it comes to your own personal development, what is one thing that you’re working on or learning right now?
Because of what I do I have a big interest in body image. Since finding out that I was having a daughter I have become so aware of my own negative body image and I’m determined to improve it over the coming years so that I can help her to love her body as much as possible.
I’ve found that since quitting drinking food has become a bit of an obsession for me. Part of me cares and part of me doesn’t but I seem to be unable to let things be without examining them first so I’m currently looking at my relationship with food and trying to make sure that it’s a healthy one.
9. What is the one thing you’re obsessed with at the moment that’s making your life better?
I’m obsessed with making sure that I’m living the life I love. Since quitting drinking I’ve become hyper-aware of the fact that we only have one life. I’m at a bit of crossroads in my life at the minute. I left a permanent and pensionable job in banking in 2013 to pursue other interests.
I’ve found that those interests have changed even more since I quit drinking and I’m at a place now where I need to decide whether I want to take the comfortable and stable road in life or whether I want to take the exciting but uncertain and possibly unstable road. Since I quit I have built up a trust in myself that I didn’t have before. I was never sure of myself and was never confident in my decisions because I always felt like I was only one bad drinking session away from bringing my life down around me.
10. And finally, thinking differently about alcohol can be challenging and isolating, is there any advice you turned to or do you have any words of wisdom for people reading this?
Well this one is easy because it’s advice that I’m giving myself constantly at the minute and that is to be as brave as you possibly can be. I have found it isolating, I won’t lie, but that has been in part to do with the fact that up until recently I haven’t told my story. I have a fabulous online community but connection is my word for 2017 so I’m on a mission to find my IRL sober community and need to be brave in order to do that.