Shaun Fennings is no stranger to Club Soda, and is one of our most active members, having written guests blogs for us before. Today, he marks nearing a year without alcohol in an honest and raw portrayal of that journey.
So, as the festive period approaches us, many, no doubt will be planning family gatherings and parties with friends.
Alcohol will be a focal point for some and to be honest, was certainly a big part of my Christmas and New Year celebrations for the best part of thirty years. In fact, drinking was a large part of my life in general. I didn’t need an excuse like Christmas to get me started!
Until January 1st, 2015….
Last Christmas and New Year was simply a nightmare. My addiction had rocketed to uncontrollable levels. Whilst it’s ugly, I can be candid and tell you that I had been drinking excessively and at such a pace that I collapsed on New Year’s Eve (2014), in my own home. My partner was extremely concerned and naturally called an ambulance. When the ambulance staff arrived, my attitude towards them left little to be desired. I was abusive and uncooperative, for reasons I recall of being fearful of being sectioned. Anyway, before long, the police were called to diffuse the situation and soon enough, I was bundled into a police car and taken to the police station, soon to be thrown in a cell for the night. This is where I greeted 2015. Happy New Year! Not an experience I wish to revisit ever again!
However, once I woke up from my drunken state, it was the wake-up call I needed. What was I doing with my life?
Ditching the drinking
On January 1st, I pleaded with my partner for forgiveness. Thankfully, she offered to support me through it all. Along with help and support from my family, I owed it to them all to ditch the drinking.
It was a daunting thought, it was tough..but I had to do it..and do it for myself, too!
My first instinct was to distance myself from the many people that I knew would encourage me to “just have one”. So avoiding the local was my first step.
I began to think about my health and ways of keeping my mind away from the habitual daily visits to the pub. I subsequently bought myself a mountain bike and regularly went for rides with my partner whenever the thought of a drink entered my head. We were soon cycling on long journeys together and it really was the beginning of a new relationship. One that had been missing in the eight years that we have been together. It brought us closer and it was great for my partner to see that I was serious about changing my life.
Strangely, the feeling of normality soon returned. A feeling I can only relate to way back, when I was a boy. Contented. Life was starting to feel good again. I felt more clarity as the days went on.
Experiencing this emotion after just a few weeks of being dry really did take things to the next level. I became so conscious of how I used to behave when I drank and how I was abusing my own body, that my health became more important to me.
An addictive personality
I have an addictive personality. That’s just me. I’ve always loved lots of what I like. It was time to channel my alcohol addiction into another love of mine…coffee.
However, in excess, coffee had an adverse effect on my health. Being acidic, I knew that it wasn’t the healthiest alternative for me. I often suffered with palpitations, anxiety and whilst initially I would feel lifted and more energised, I was soon hit with the usual come down and feeling of lethargy later on. So, for all of my efforts in wanting to feel and become healthier, I really wasn’t benefitting at all.
Until, after much research, I found a brand of coffee that comes infused with a superfood. It claimed to be different to your regular daily grind, coming with none of the after effects that I mentioned above and great for your health in general. Could this be what I needed? A healthy alternative to normal coffee?
So, after speaking to a distributor who worked for the healthy coffee company, I bought myself some. I tried it and I loved the taste. In fact, it was just like my usual brand of coffee. So that was a good start.
After a few days of regular consumption, I began to feel even more focused, clearer in the head and what was most noticeable was that my mood had lifted considerably, too. I was amazed!
There is significant relevance to the coffee story. Having suffered with severe depression for many years, I relied on medication every day. However, when noticing such a positive shift in my mood after just a few weeks of switching my coffee brand, I decided to wean myself off of the meds. Now, after just a few months, I am totally med-free and cannot believe how much better I feel.
Kicking alcohol into touch was a massive step for me. Mixed with anti-depressants, I realise now that this was a deadly cocktail, often turning me into a monster.
Breaking free from my habit
I am so proud of what I have achieved in the last twelve months. Breaking free from my habit has totally changed my life. In fact, given the significant help that the healthy coffee offered me, I recently decided to join the company as a distributor. This has also offered a great deal of hope, being surrounded by so many positive people that also, have their story to tell and have taken positive steps to make the change.
My future is looking extremely promising. Much more than I can ever recall. Not only am I enjoying running my new business, but also the journey of self-discovery that I have embarked upon.
All of this has been achieved in just one year and I say with my hand on my heart – it’s because I ended my relationship with alcohol.
Anyone can do the same and I would highly recommend giving it serious consideration if drink is ruling your life, like it once did mine.
Finally, I would like to personally thank my partner, Rebecca, for standing by me and believing in me. She has also abstained from alcohol to make my journey easier. She is my rock. A big thank you also to Club Soda for the great work that you all put in to enable us to share our stories and experiences. It’s so very important.