I was a big drinker from the first time I had my first sip of cider aged 15.
Back in the UK growing up in the 90s, it was standard to spend the weekend down at the local park, sharing bottles of cider or passing around soda stream bottles filled to the brim with whatever we’d been able to sneak out of our parents' drinks cabinet.
This carried on through uni and my first years moving to London and while pints and snakebites soon changed to cocktails and Bollinger, the desire to drink until I was drunk still stayed the same. In those days I was most definitely a binge drinker, drinking heavily when I did drink but rarely drinking at home or alone.
After having kids and moving to Australia, this changed. I was bored, lonely, fed up and I’d lost my identity. My high flying career had been replaced by baby rhyme time and grueling sleep schedules, and soon wine became my reward at the end of the day.
My ‘adult’ switch off time.
Watch: Your body one year without alcohol. Post continues below.
I didn’t really socialise any more with the big nights out of my 20s, so the days of the weekend binge drinking had been replaced by mid-week 5pm wine time and boozy lunchtime sessions.
By the time I hit my early 40s, I most definitely identified as a ‘grey area drinker’ and while I was presenting outwardly as high functioning and capable (running half marathons, director of a successful business, managing a family, busy social life), inside I was suffering with the impact alcohol was having on my self-esteem, anxiety, confidence and physical health.
It had reached the point where alcohol was starting to take so much more than it was giving. Every time I drank, whether it was two glasses or two bottles, I would sleep poorly, waking at 3am unable to get back to sleep. My hormones were completely out of balance with oestrogen so high it was off the charts. My hangovers had gone from being a bit of nausea and tiredness in my 20s and 30s, to severe anxiety, sometimes panic attacks, low mood and self loathing in my 40s. Weight gain, dull and grey skin, low motivation and an overarching feeling of ‘is this it?’ continued to niggle at me until I finally decided it was time to take a break from alcohol.
So in April 2017, I decided to take a month off to see how it made me feel. Little did I know this decision would be one of the most pivotal, life-changing moments I would ever experience.