At midnight on Dec 31st 2016, as Big Ben chimed and my friends whooped and cheered, I was filled with an incredible sense of euphoria.
You see, that moment marked the start of my challenge to give up alcohol for a year and, having secretly dreaded it, I was amazed to feel a huge sense of relief.
My love / hate battle with alcohol started years ago. I loved to drink -- literally couldn't imagine a life without it -- but hated how it made me feel.
Aside from the obvious side effects (hangovers and an insatiable appetite) it was the hangxiety which got me in the end.
In my 20s it was known as 'the fear,' in other words 'did I upset anyone last night? / did I give away any secrets? / did I make a complete arse of myself?'
But, once I had children, it was blinding guilt of just not being 'all there.'
It got to the point where I couldn't bear even the slightest whiff of a headache interrupting my day and massive anxiety would set in.
Now I'm not talking about being a raving alcoholic here. I'm talking about a few glasses of wine a few evenings a week and never being able to say no to an extra glass with friends at weekends. But even a small amount of wine would leave me feeling jittery, unsettled and tearful the next day.
And so it had to stop.
To begin with I decided to keep my new booze-free status on the low-down (not even my husband realised I was serious) because, having cut down quite dramatically in 2016, I was aware of the opposition I could face.
But actually, once people realised I was in for the long haul they stopped pestering me to 'just have one,' or to 'cut back a bit / do Dry January / October / November...' and started to congratulate me.
I've been amazed at how many people have told me they're envious and wish they could do it to, but have been at pains to point out they 'just couldn't.'
When people say that to me I tell them; 'But you don't have to. If alcohol doesn't affect your life in a negative way, then you don't need to stop.'
I now no longer wake up with unbearable anxiety and that in itself is worth the massive FOMO and nagging feeling that everyone thinks I'm boring!
There's also been the added bonus of, unintentionally, inspiring others. Someone very special to me to has followed suit and I'm so proud of her.
This blog is in no way intended to question anyones drinking habits. The Unwined Berko campaign is, after all, aimed at women who want to look after their wellbeing and enjoy a glass of vino.
But giving up alcohol is something I've done for me and I can't tell you how much better I feel emotionally for doing it.
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