This week I hit the 1,000 day mark; 1,000 whole days sober.
For 15 years or more I had a drink problem. Not a "hiding bottles in the cleaning cupboard" kind of problem, rather a "3-4 glasses of wine a night without fail" problem. For many this isn't perceived as a problem at all, but for me it was. After a long day at work I would stop at the corner shop every single day to buy a bottle of white. While I did not drink it all in that evening, I could not risk running out and being home alone with only one glass of Chardonnay.
The first glass always went down so fast, relieving myself of the stresses of the day, be it a heavy day at work or a long day with my young children. That first glass was my reward, the second was my need. The third was habit. One I could not break.
It blurred my edges; blurred my frustrations of work but it also started to blur my mornings. Mostly I felt fine the next day, but some days I felt truly awful. In time, I was becoming fuzzier every morning, stressed at my kids, and it took an age to settle my brain to focus on the day ahead.
In 2014, I gave up for Dry January and soon felt so much better; my sinus issues subsided and I had more energy. I continued into February but gave in and soon went back to my old ways. I was cross with myself as I could fully remember how much better I felt, but still I drank.
I noticed people that were heavy drinkers starting to quit, getting their lives in order, finding love, getting a better job and going travelling. People who run businesses I admired, were also choosing sobriety and taking their creativity to new heights. I was inspired and by Christmas 2014 I knew that I was giving up and this time it would be for good.
1000 days on I can honestly say that it is the best thing I have ever done. It wasn't easy at first especially as I chose to give up sugar at the same time. On day 10 I was filming for Channel 4 when the detox kicked in; I was literally shaking on camera and my head was pounding. I didn't give in though and by the end of the month I felt better.
The first thing I noticed was the quality of sleep that I was experiencing. While it took me longer to drop off due to my brain being so alert, I felt energised when the alarm clock rang. The blurred edges had disappeared. With that my lower back pain also went, and my sinus issue was a thing of the past.
I felt calmer. I felt focused. The creativity that I had seen from my sober peers came to me; my business went from strength to strength. I now work less hours than I used to, and rarely work in the evenings yet I achieve more. Why? Because I am not running around like a headless chicken, I think things through properly and make decisions wisely. It all down to the clarity of thought I now experience without any blur.
I feel stronger, both emotionally and physically. I feel that if I can do this, I can do anything. It has made me feel powerful; I have the power over my decisions, my nights out, and my body.
The only down side of the last 1000 days is the way some perceive me, the jokes and the "oh just have a drink for god's sake" comments that are thrown at me. People putting their own insecurities or hang ups over the amount they drink onto me, making me feel bad or weird because I chose to quit. Maybe like me in 2014, they are secretly thinking that maybe they have a problem and are considering becoming teetotal too.
And with research showing that the proportion of adults drinking alcohol is at its lowest since 2005, as well as the amount drinking daily and a 2% increase in teetotalism, maybe now is the time that they will join me.
Want to quit and need some help? Have a look at my Dry January articles for Huffington Post: 5 Reasons to give Dry January a go, Don't Quit, My tips for Dry January and 10 things to discover when you become teetotal.