I function, so what’s the problem?


Things that told me I was addicted to alcohol despite holding down a job (sometimes three at once), home, family relationships, managing money and staying ‘healthy’ through the gym, running and eating well – in other words despite functioning in life were:

– Choosing a drink instead of eating as it kept the weight down (not the bloat though) and anyway after a few drinks I lost my appetite.

– Finding that as the years went on I was getting fewer really major hangovers and just felt shit all the time, but dealt with it by keeping busy and making a joke of it, as so much in my life.

– Really anxious, panicky, irritable when a drink wasn’t likely in the evening, such as if I had to work late or social pressures meant proper drinking (meaning heavy drinking) was off the radar.

– My character changed after a drink; my husband has lately told me how he dreaded me drinking because I became aggressive and snappy, or else too lazy to be bothered with anything and he also often felt lonely when I drank. Or I would do/say impulsive things which didn’t make sense. Either way, I wasn’t Binki.

– I could never leave a bottle till it was fnished, and the thought of that unfinished bottle was enough to drive me crazy. Likewise a glass had to be emptied (even someone else’s). If having people round or going out to eat, the table shouldn’t have any half finished drinks on it and the alcohol bill was often bigger than the food bill, but that was a sign of a good night.

– There was always a part of the previous evening that I couldn’t remember, quite often the end of it, and the details would be filled in by others, quite often as a joke, but sometimes as a developing row.

– If anyone tried to confront or talk to me me about the possibility that I was drinking too much I would be defensive, or at the very least deflect the conversation, again wth a joke. I would metaphorically delete the conversation.

– I could always explain why I had to have a drink. Very rationally and articulately. There was always a very good reason. Unshakeable reasons.

– I sometimes hid alcohol. My husband for instance was given a bottle of Jack Daniels for his birthday once and I told him I had chucked it out as I didn’t want alcohol in the house (another vain attempt to ‘cut down’) but actually it was hidden by me under the sink and I had sips from it as I cooked each night. He perfectly well knew where it was! I also kept vodka in the freezer under the frozen chips etc with the same motive, not to mention the open wine behind the pans in the kitchen to glug from while the petite glassful sat untouched in the living room.

These were some of my signs – I was functioning in life and people with passing acquaintance assumed I was normal in the most part…but really my daily battles with cravings took up most of my thought processes, looking back. If you have read any of the above and thought me too, I hope you are now enjoying your sobriety and you have surely done the right thing.

If you are reading this and thinking, I still do that, please do know there is much support out there on social networking, in face to face support groups and in the form of professional help, but you must come out of denial before you can move on, just as myself and my sober companions eventually had to do – many of us after decades of drinking, as a ‘functional’ person in life. It can be done.

Learning by doing

Everyone has a different learning style and for many of us the only way to get the hang of something (like not drinking) is by actually trying it out. We can read and talk and learn from others but until we actually do it for ourselves the words mean nothing. I found this story to illustrate learning by doing:

I recently had the excellent experience of a days off road rally driving adventure with one of my bestest mates in the world. This all took place in Yorkshire on a WWII airfield. All in a rear wheel souped up purpose built car.

So all I wanted was to experience driving. To do it. Here is what happened.

One of the driving tutors did an introductory speech, before we were allowed into the cars. This consisted of an energetic build up, which was very good and then they went into ‘how’ a rear wheel drive car works and how we ( the participants – all 11 of us ) should drive the car.

I switched off ( you surprised? ) just after 10 minutes of explanations of what was coming and how to do it – explanations of experience. I was literally chomping at the bit, ready to get into the car and just do it. I want the physical experience without all of the explanations. See for me, I much prefer doing something and then maybe talking about it; after the experience …

Luck would have it, I had the same tutor as a driving instructor. After lap one they had me pull up and then went into an explanation of what I should do on the next lap. I know they meant well but their explanations where not helping me build up my experiential knowledge of driving the car. So I told them that what they were saying wasn’t helping me learn to drive.

They responded that they had never been told that before and immediately went into more ‘helpful’ hints and tips. At that point I simply said “Shut up …and help me”. I told them that their help while driving was extremely useful ( it was ) but all this ‘if you had done’, ‘what you should do at corner ‘x’ was to me really unwanted at my present level of experience.

They said they would work with me and went into a story that they had helped a man with severe brain damage successfully drive the car by just offering tips while driving. I said that was a good idea; still not sure about the brain damage.
But hey …

Well, when the competition started; Yes there was a competition, set up
between male and female drivers ( ??? ). With the real assistance of my tutor I did come second place overall. Now, I was never for one heart beat interested in a competition on that day, I am guessing that comes much later when I have the skills to race! Vroooom vrooommm!

So here is my point. When we are learning a new skill, by choice or by
necessity, there is nothing wrong and everything right with demanding an
experiential learning.

When we were little, much younger, we learned to speak and walk
( things we are naturally excellent at ) by experience and not via verbal
description. This is my much preferred and valued learning style.

What is yours? How do you learn at your best? Is the actual experience of not drinking the way you learned how to do it, or did you/do you learn better by seeing/reading/hearing how others do it? If you know your learning style, you are potentially much more likely to succeed at anything you choose to do.

How to tell if you are an alcoholic

article by Sarah Hepola from http://www.BuzzFeed.com

My twentysomething social life was one long drink special. Margaritas with a crust of salt on the rim, a frosty pint spilling foam, and the always regrettable “Who wants shots?”

I had always assumed my drinking would calm down after I graduated college. Instead, it ramped up. The bars opened their pearly gates to me, and I sank into those velvet banquettes and ripped vinyl couches.

I sometimes wondered if I had a problem. I had a tendency to black out — to forget episodes from a night of drinking, even though I remained surprisingly functional (well, “functional” may not be the word for someone pouring beer on her own head) — and every pamphlet, doctor’s questionnaire, and glossy magazine quiz I took listed blackouts as a risk factor for alcoholism.

The problem with checklists for alcoholism is that they look a lot like, well, being young. Do you ever drink to get drunk? Have you ever gone to work with a hangover? They might as well ask: Have you ever been 25?

Over the following decade, I kept wondering about my drinking, as my bar bills grew steeper — Patron instead of Jose Cuervo — and my taste more refined. I continued to build the case that my drinking was normal, totally normal. See that guy over there? He’s at the bar every night. At least I’m not that bad. I had a good job, I never crashed my car. And yet, I was stuck.

There is a saying among former drunks: “At first drinking is fun, then fun with problems, then just problems.” By my mid-thirties, I had found myself in the “problems” portion of the evening.

I quit drinking at the age of 35. How did I know it was time? I arrived at a preponderance of the evidence. Some people do have a lightning flash of recognition, but for me it was more of a slow dawning. I had to sift through data, gather bits of knowledge. I took health surveys online. I talked to my therapist. I read the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (the bible of AA) and many alcoholism memoirs: Drinking: A Love Story, and Lit, and Smashed, and A Drinking Life, and The Tender Bar, all of which offer compelling and varied tales of people who put the cap back on the bottle for good. Listening to other people’s stories may have helped me more than anything else. The more I heard other people’s struggles, the more I found words for my own.

The following is a list of aha moments for me. It is not an authoritative list; it’s simply one person’s experience. I can’t stress this enough. What alcoholism looked like for me may not be what it looked like for someone else, and how I define alcoholism may be different from a medical professional (they use the phrase “alcohol use disorder”) or another problem drinker. I really can’t tell anyone else if they have a drinking problem, or if they’re an alcoholic, or if they need to quit. These are complicated questions you must answer on your own. What I can do is show you how I answered these questions for myself.

Does alcohol interfere with your work?

I spent my early career at alternative newsweeklies, where beer was sometimes kept in the fridge, and anyone walking in with sunglasses and a hangover got a high-five. You see this spirit at many companies with lots of employees in their twenties: Get the work done, and we don’t ask questions.

For a long time, I was getting the work done, which is probably why none of my bosses ever confronted me about my drinking. By my thirties, I had developed some red-flag habits. In the evenings, I kept a bottle of wine by my side. I brought my laptop to the bar, and drank pints while I wrote stories. I had an insane workload, and the drinking was partly an attempt to make it tolerable. I told myself I deserved the booze, and the work didn’t suffer. But then it did.

One morning, I came into my Manhattan office at 10:30 a.m., having stayed up drinking till 4, and my deeply beloved assistant editor Gchatted me at my desk: “You might want to chew some gum.” He could still smell the booze on me, because I was still drunk. Another morning, I called in sick because my hangover was so toxic I couldn’t possibly make it without vomiting on myself in a cab or a subway. My friends at work emailed me condolences, and I felt like such a loser.

I stopped being able to write. I had panic attacks when I woke at 5 a.m. If you’ve ever had a high-pressure position, then you know these can also be part of your job description. But the data points start to converge: Drinking WAS interfering with my ability to work. I was not functioning so well anymore, and it’s debatable if I ever really had been.

Do you lie about your drinking?

Like lying about your weight, lying about your drinking is something many people who are not alcoholics do. “How many did you have, honey?” “Oh, two.” They do it for benign reasons (they forgot) and slightly sketchy ones (to avoid an argument, to maintain a perfect image). But how often are you lying? And why?

I engaged in the typical “downscaling of the number” when necessary, but I did other things. In New York, I would go out to dinner with friends, share a bottle of wine or two, and then stop by the bodega on my way home to buy a six-pack of beer. I did this because even after a night of drinking, I needed more. I would sometimes find myself dropping casual lies to the guy who worked at the bodega about how I was just hanging out with a friend at home. Why was I lying to the guy at the bodega?

Because I knew what I was doing was wrong.

I lived alone at the time, and could drink as I wished without anyone’s commentary, but I could feel the watchful eyes of those bodega guys, who probably saw my wine-stained mouth and my droopy eyes. Mostly I tried to get out of there without any interaction at all.

Other humans can be a valuable metric for our own behavior. Are you afraid of getting caught at something? It might be because what you’re doing is wrong.

Have you had regrettable drunken sexual encounters?

Once again, these can be a part of youthful recklessness. But they can also take a chunk from your soul. The first few times I had a drunken one-night stand, I was excited. Even in my thirties, I retained the idea that such a collision was adventurous, a measure of my desirability and bravado. I didn’t regret those encounters, in other words, and if society says I should, who cares?

But the scenarios grew more dangerous, more cringe-inducing. I came out of a blackout in a Paris hotel room in the middle of having sex with a stranger. They were not a measure of my bravado so much as my carelessness, a misplaced need for connection. This is one to watch, whatever your gender. Alcohol and consent can make very complicated bedfellows.

Do you constantly use the phrase “I need a drink”?

I know everyone says it. I’ve seen Facebook. It can be another way of saying “I’ve had a long day.” Or “I’m going to lose my mind.” What I found, though, was that I needed a drink in just about EVERY situation. When I was happy, when I was sad, when I was bored, when I was lonely. When I was sitting on the futon, watching Flavor of Love. (Maybe “drunk” is the only acceptable way to watch Flavor of Love.) I avoided crowded bars where I didn’t have easy access to a cocktail waitress or a friendly bartender quick with the buybacks. No hot spots for me. And when my friends said, “I need a drink,” they often went to the bar for a couple hours and headed home. I left the tab open all night.

When you start drinking, do you find it hard to stop?

For years, I would go to parties swearing I would have one drink, and then I would come out of the party having had eight. What the hell just happened? I was a person of my word, a person of (some) discipline. Well, for one thing, alcohol is a disinhibiting agent that lowers your judgment; everyone finds it hard to keep their promises after drinking. But more crucially: My body responded to alcohol differently than other people.

I have friends who pass out after two drinks. Friends who have a glass of wine, and then say they are done. (“Done”? What is “done”?) I never understood that. Alcohol was like cocaine to me, probably one reason I never bothered to try cocaine. Booze lit a match inside me; I was often up all night.

The first time I read the phrase “the phenomenon of craving” was in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. As soon as I saw the words, I knew exactly what they described, a sensation I had experienced for years. When I drank, I needed more. If I was drinking, and someone interrupted the drinking — say, the alcohol ran out at the party, or we had to change locations — I experienced the itchy dislocation I imagine daily smokers get when they need a fix. I was the person at your party scouring your liquor cabinet after the keg had floated. I was the person who hammered the wine cork into the wine bottle because nobody had a corkscrew.

“I can’t stop” is one of the key distinctions between a “drinking problem” and “alcoholism,” to my mind. Other people have their definitions, but this is mine. When you have a “drinking problem,” you have some hope of walking it back, of moderating the behavior. With alcoholism, you are done. You cannot moderate, because one drink will never be enough. That’s why your best line of defense is to never start drinking again — which is exactly what no drinker ever wants to hear.

Are you often coming up with new ways to control your drinking?

A short list of things I have done in order to manage my own drinking: I stopped drinking brown liquor; I drank only on weekends; I stopped drinking red wine and only drank white; I never drank before 5 p.m.; I drank a glass of water between every cocktail; I stopped taking shots. None of this worked. Or, rather, it worked for a week, or a year, and then I was back in the muck again.

One night, desperate for someone to save me, I called a woman who had some experience with this stuff. “But I just don’t KNOW if I’m an alcoholic,” I said to her. There was no blood test. No home kit. It was on me.

She told me to try some controlled drinking. I liked the sound of that. The “controlled drinking” experiment — for six months, you drink between one and three drinks, no excuses — is actually a marvelously practical way to test to see if you have a problem. I failed in three days, tried it again and failed it in a week. Then I stopped taking the test. Drinking only two or three beers a night felt like holding my breath underwater. I hated it. I needed more. I didn’t quit immediately after that. I still had a year of mourning and clinging to do. But it nudged me further toward defeat. It was becoming clear I couldn’t lick this thing by myself.

What is your family history?

There is a common saying in addiction literature: “Genetics loads the gun, and environment pulls the trigger.” My heritage is a mix of two strong drinking cultures, Irish and Finnish. (If you don’t know whether your genetic heritage tilts toward boozehoundery, take a look at this list of the world’s heaviest-drinking countries, and my apologies to those from Eastern Europe.) My parents never drank much when I was a kid, but my family trees have quite a few empty bottles underneath them. My genetic predisposition to drinking was great for me at first. I was the “girl who could hold her liquor” (though from 1 a.m. onward, I did have a tendency to spill it).

Ultimately, this was a target on my forehead. “The girl who can hold her liquor” and “the guy who parties the hardest” have a way of finding their way to metal fold-out chairs in fluorescent rooms.

Have friends confronted you about your drinking?

This was a big one for me. Until my friends started talking to me about my drinking, I had convinced myself we were all basically the same. This is how we all drink, right? Everyone thinks I’m funny when I’m drunk, right? No and no. I was lucky that instead of just cutting me off, like many people might have, a couple of my friends sat me down and told me they were worried about me. That was the phrase my friends often used: worried about you. They didn’t count my drinks, which would have incited me to argue. They didn’t even say, “You drink too much.” They said, “I’m scared something’s going to happen to you” and “I care about you.” At first, I was so angry. What the hell? They drank too. But they didn’t drink like I did. I wasn’t holding it together, and they did me the favor of telling me in gentle, loving, and honest ways.

Do you black out?

For decades, the medical community thought that blackouts were a sign you were headed straight into alcoholism. More recent research has suggested the link isn’t so direct. In a 2002 study at Duke, more than half of the drinkers had experienced a blackout. They are a common fixture in a college drinking environment defined by pregaming, shot contests, and drinking on an empty stomach (all risk factors for blackout).

So having one blackout, or two blackouts, does not necessarily indicate a problem. But continuing to have blackouts — having them over the years, or having them despite your efforts not to have them — suggests an inability to moderate, which is the crux of the whole issue. It suggests that you continue to put yourself in harm’s way, despite pretty shocking consequences. (It is incredibly freaky to have a blackout, and dangerous.) It suggests that you are consistently drinking yourself to a risky level of intoxication. Katy Perry songs are all fine and good, but let’s be clear on something: Blackouts are not funny, and they are not OK.

Are you spending an inordinate amount of time wondering if you have a drinking problem?

It’s healthy to occasionally question your consumption. But an obsession on the subject suggests less ambivalence and more denial. People who don’t have a problem rarely stay up reading everything on the internet about drinking. People who don’t have a problem rarely stay in their head for entire Sunday afternoons reading theories about addiction.

If you are that person, what can I tell you? Probably nothing you don’t already know.
I told a friend I was writing this story and asked what she would have wanted to hear, back when she was trying to quit. “Oh, I didn’t ask anybody if I had a drinking problem,” she said. “I knew I did.”

By the end, I knew too. I just wanted a different answer. I wanted the answer to be “Here is this miracle pill.” Or “Hey, drink this raw vitamin juice.” Anything, ANYTHING but “stop drinking.” If you are a drinker, you want to drink. I didn’t need another survey. I didn’t need another medical professional. What I needed was to hear from someone on the other side who could assure me that life wouldn’t be over.

So let me assure you now. The answer is: Not even close.

Sarah Hepola’s memoir, Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget, came out June 23 from Grand Central. She is the personal essays editor at Salon.

Nostalgia = old pain


Thank you to Fiona swan for the article at the end and for letting me know that ”Nostalgia comes from Greek for”old pain”. Do you really want that back??? ”


Hello, hope all good with you. Went to the beach directly after work tonight. I find that it breaks up the transition from getting in and settling in, if that makes sense; stops the wired feeling from being quite as bad. While walking along the sand I realised that this holiday coming up will be my first ever abroad where I don’t drink every day, from early afternoon onwards, well into the night.

The lure of outside drinking, restaurant drinking, beach drinking, pool drinking,drinking while barbecuing, drinking while watching the sun go down, drinking with friends around a table in the dark with just a candle flickering, drinking after a long day sight seeing, drinking while sight seeing, drinking on a boat…oh my.

No idea why the full extremity of doing all those things with a drink on board has hit me this evening, but it did. I am not going to lie and say that when my hub talks about getting a bottle of Mythos and sitting with it on our balcony it doesn’t make me feel a massive swish of nostalgia. It really does.

I am working really hard at the moment to deal with the nostalgia and the false recall really of what it was actually like. The hangover, the waiting to drink, the thirst and headaches, the money (very much so), the poorly tum and shattered looking face in the mirror, the shaking hands, the dumb things that are said and done.

We do have a tendency to remember the good bits and forget the real reason why we decided drinking is not a good idea. Going on holiday abroad will be my biggest test to date and with this in mind I am being especially vigilant in my thinking processes and remembering that even at two years, I am still as vulnerable as anyone else. Addiction sets us traps and it doesn’t matter how far into recovery we are, we are still at risk.


Danger of Nostalgia in Recovery

Benefits and Dangers of Memories

Memories of the past can be like old friends. This is why people like to keep photographs from the childhood and listen to the same music they enjoyed during their school years. Such memories can remind the individual of a time when life felt easier and when deceased loved ones were still alive. Life would be far less satisfying without these memories but if people overindulge in nostalgia it can be detrimental to them. If people are recovering from an addiction but they are nostalgic for those days when they were still engaged in substance abuse, it may be a warning that they are about to relapse. It can also occur that people are so focused on the past that they fail to appreciate what they have in the present.

Nostalgia Defined

Nostalgia can be defined as wistful or excessively sentimental, sometimes abnormal yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition – it is a type of emotion. It usually refers to some idealized form of the past that never really existed. When people are feeling nostalgic they will only tend to remember the good things and forget about the bad. So if an individual is feeling nostalgic for their childhood it will seem as if every day was perfect – even though that is highly unlikely to have been the case. Occasional feelings of nostalgia are normal, but if people are constantly romanticizing about the past it can prevent them from enjoying their current life. The Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Herb Cain once referred to nostalgia as a memory with the pain removed.

Difference Between Nostalgia and Homesickness

The words nostalgia and homesickness can sometimes be confused. This is hardly surprising as nostalgia comes from a Latin word that means homecoming. In fact originally nostalgia was used to describe a sickness that a person experiences when they are not in their native land. In modern usage the word nostalgia is mostly used to describe a yearning for the past – a place that the individual can never return to. Homesickness differs from this because the individual will usually have the option to go home.

Causes of Nostalgia

There can be a number of reasons for why people become nostalgic about the past:

* It can be a positive experience because the person is reminded of good things that happened to them in the past. It is perfectly normal to occasionally dwell on these nice memories.
* Hearing old songs or meeting old friends can trigger this emotion. School reunions are special social occasions where nostalgia is encouraged.
* Fear of death can mean that the individual feels safer looking to the past rather than thinking about the future.
* These memories may play an important role in the development of identity. The back story allows people to make sense of their current life.
* It can be an important element of social bonding. A group of friends can share their memories of the past and this reminds them of their closeness.
* If people are fearful about the future they are more likely to look upon the past as a safer place. For example, when there is a great deal of financial or social insecurity people tend to become more focused on the past.
* People experience dissatisfaction with their current life.
* When people are dealing with a great deal of stress they can yearn for a time when things seemed to be simpler.
* Bereavement can mean that the individual may yearn from a time when their loved ones were still alive.
* If people have low self esteem they may think back to a time when they seemed to be more in control of their life.

Dangers of Nostalgia

Nostalgia can be described as a disorder of the imagination where the mind is dwelling on past memories while losing interest in the present. The dangers associated with nostalgia include:

* It can become an emotional disorder that negatively impacts the individual’s life. The person dealing with this emotion may find it difficult to appreciate anything in their current life.
* Nostalgia may prevent the individual from making the most of their current circumstances. They will not have the motivation to work towards goals and get things done.
* It can lead to symptoms such as insomnia and heart palpitations. It can also lead to symptoms of depression.
* It may mean that the individual suffers from a great deal of anxiety and feelings of powerlessness.
* It can lead to a loss of interest in food and the person may become unwilling to take care of their physical health.
* It may lead to thoughts of suicide.

Nostalgia in Recovery

Nostalgia can be dangerous for people who are recovering from an addiction. This is particularly true if the individual is constantly thinking about the period of their life when they were using alcohol or drugs. This kind of nostalgia is sometimes referred to as romancing the drink or drug. When people first become sober they will have no problem remembering how bad they felt in the midst of addiction. Over time the memory of the pain can fade, and the individual can start to remember times when alcohol or drugs seemed to be their friend. If the individual allows such nostalgia to continue it may lead them to once again return to alcohol or drug abuse.

How to Escape Excessive Nostalgia

The actress Jeanne Moreau made an interesting claim that can help put nostalgia into perspective:

> My life is very exciting now. Nostalgia for what? It’s like climbing a staircase. I’m on the top of the staircase, I look behind and see the steps. That’s where I was. We’re here right now. Tomorrow, we’ll be someplace else. So why nostalgia?

Occasionally thinking about the past is not a bad thing, and it may even be necessary for mental health. It is only when people are overly nostalgic that it becomes problematic. It is vital that those who are recovering from an addiction, but are romanticizing that period of their life, take action to limit this thinking. People can escape excessive nostalgia by:

* If people are working hard to build a good life now they will be less likely to dwell too much on the past. This means that it is important to have goals in life and to work towards these.
* If a person in recovery is remembering the good times of drinking or drug using they need to tackle these memories head on. They need to remember how they really felt during the midst of addiction and why this drove them to yearn for escape.
* It is understandable that as people get older they prefer to enjoy music, movies, and other forms of entertainment from previous decades, but it can also be a good idea to stay interested in what is popular now.
* There is no time in history that was ever perfect. It is good that people remind themselves of this and avoid glorifying the past excessively.
* People are never too old to try new things and experiment. Such an open minded and adventurous attitude will help to keep the individual feeling young.
* If the individual is dealing with excessive stress in their life they will need to develop tools for dealing with this. Relaxation techniques can be a great help with this.
* If people are struggling to cope with bereavement they might benefit from some type of counseling.
* Many people who have a history of addictive behavior will have low self esteem and this can make them more prone to nostalgia. They can increase their own self worth by setting small goals and achieving these – as their confidence grows they will be able to achieve more and more.



10 Thinking Errors That Will Crush Your Mental Strength

Source: Lucky Business/Shutterstock

Mental strength requires a three-pronged approach—managing our thoughts, regulating our emotions, and behaving productively despite our circumstances.

While all three areas can be a struggle, it’s often our thoughts that make it most difficult to be mentally strong.

As we go about our daily routines, our internal monologue narrates our experience. Our self-talk guides our behavior and influences the way we interact with others. It also plays a major role in how you feel about yourself, other people, and the world in general.

Quite often, however, our conscious thoughts aren’t realistic; they’re irrational and inaccurate. Believing our irrational thoughts can lead to problems including communication issues, relationship problems, and unhealthy decisions.

Whether you’re striving to reach personal or professional goals, the key to success often starts with recognizing and replacing inaccurate thoughts. The most common thinking errors can be divided into these 10 categories, which are adapted from David Burns’s book, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy (link is external).

1. All-or-Nothing Thinking
Sometimes we see things as being black or white: Perhaps you have two categories of coworkers in your mind—the good ones and the bad ones. Or maybe you look at each project as either a success or a failure. Recognize the shades of gray, rather than putting things in terms of all good or all bad.

2. Overgeneralizing
It’s easy to take one particular event and generalize it to the rest of our life. If you failed to close one deal, you may decide, “I’m bad at closing deals.” Or if you are treated poorly by one family member, you might think, “Everyone in my family is rude.” Take notice of times when an incident may apply to only one specific situation, instead of all other areas of life.

3. Filtering Out the Positive
If nine good things happen, and one bad thing, sometimes we filter out the good and hone in on the bad. Maybe we declare we had a bad day, despite the positive events that occurred. Or maybe we look back at our performance and declare it was terrible because we made a single mistake. Filtering out the positive can prevent you from establishing a realistic outlook on a situation. Develop a balanced outlook by noticing both the positive and the negative.

4. Mind-Reading
We can never be sure what someone else is thinking. Yet, everyone occasionally assumes they know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. Thinking things like, “He must have thought I was stupid at the meeting,” makes inferences that aren’t necessarily based on reality. Remind yourself that you may not be making accurate guesses about other people’s perceptions.

5. Catastrophizing
Sometimes we think things are much worse than they actually are. If you fall short on meeting your financial goals one month you may think, “I’m going to end up bankrupt,” or “I’ll never have enough money to retire,” even though there’s no evidence that the situation is nearly that dire. It can be easy to get swept up into catastrophizing a situation once your thoughts become negative. When you begin predicting doom and gloom, remind yourself that there are many other potential outcomes.

6. Emotional Reasoning
Our emotions aren’t always based on reality but we often assume those feelings are rational. If you’re worried about making a career change, you might assume, “If I’m this scared about it, I just shouldn’t change jobs.” Or, you may be tempted to assume, “If I feel like a loser, I must be a loser.” It’s essential to recognize that emotions, just like our thoughts, aren’t always based on the facts.

7. Labeling
Labeling involves putting a name to something. Instead of thinking, “He made a mistake,” you might label your neighbor as “an idiot.” Labeling people and experiences places them into categories that are often based on isolated incidents. Notice when you try to categorize things and work to avoid placing mental labels on everything.

8. Fortune-telling
Although none of us knows what will happen in the future, we sometimes like to try our hand at fortune-telling. We think things like, “I’m going to embarrass myself tomorrow,” or “If I go on a diet, I’ll probably just gain weight.” These types of thoughts can become self-fulfilling prophecies if you’re not careful. When you’re predicting doom and gloom, remind yourself of all the other possible outcomes.

9. Personalization
As much as we’d like to say we don’t think the world revolves around us, it’s easy to personalize everything. If a friend doesn’t call back, you may assume, “She must be mad at me,” or if a co-worker is grumpy, you might conclude, “He doesn’t like me.” When you catch yourself personalizing situations, take time to point out other possible factors that may be influencing the circumstances.

10. Unreal Ideal
Making unfair comparisons about ourselves and other people can ruin our motivation. Looking at someone who has achieved much success and thinking, “I should have been able to do that,” isn’t helpful, especially if that person had some lucky breaks or competitive advantages along the way. Rather than measuring your life against someone else’s, commit to focusing on your own path to success.

Fixing Thinking Errors
Once you recognize your thinking errors, you can begin trying to challenge those thoughts. Look for exceptions to the rule and gather evidence that your thoughts aren’t 100% true. Then, you can begin replacing them with more realistic thoughts.

The goal doesn’t need to be to replace negative thoughts with overly idealistic or positive ones. Instead, replace them with realistic thoughts. Changing the way you think takes a lot of effort initially, but with practice, you’ll notice big changes—not just in the way you think, but also in the way you feel and behave. You can make peace with the past, look at the present differently, and think about the future in a way that will support your chances of reaching your goals.

Amy Morin is a licensed clinical social worker and an internationally recognized expert on mental strength. Her new book, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do: Take Back Your Power, Embrace Change, Face Your Fears, and Train Your Brain for Happiness and Success (link is external), is filled with strategies and exercises to help you avoid those common pitfalls that can prevent you from reaching your full potential. Watch the video trailer below to learn about her personal story behind the book.

Visit my website (link is external), like me on Facebook (link is external), and follow me on Twitter (link is external)@AmyMorinLCSW (link is external)

How Alcohol Impacts Your Hormones

Extracted from:


Women retain fluids longer than men, and metabolize the chemicals in alcohol at a slower rate. That means that in general, the impact of alcohol is much stronger on women.

At the same time, alcohol forces the liver to dip into your store of antioxidants and vitamin C to break it down — leaving you vitamin and mineral deficient. It’s also dehydrating, and you lose hormone-balancing magnesium and B vitamins.

Plus, alcohol raises your estrogen levels, which can worsen symptoms of estrogen-dominant health issues like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, fibroids and endometriosis.

And although we tend to reach for a drink when we want to feel happy or sexy, alcohol is actually a depressant — it drains the adrenals and causes you to feel tired and down.

Lastly, alcohol disrupts your blood sugar function. And when we drink, we also tend to make unhealthy food choices, which further exacerbates the problem.


Detox suggested in the article:

First thing in the morning:

  • Take a B vitamin complex, and have a glass of warm water with lemon to flush your liver.
  • Drink a 16 oz glass of my favorite liver support juice. Combine a handful of spinach, one carrot, four stalks of celery, half a cucumber, half a bunch of cilantro, one-third a bunch of parsley, half a lemon with rind and half a green apple in a blender or juicer.
  • Enjoy a breakfast of two poached eggs, a half cup of quinoa, half an avocado and two tablespoons of sauerkraut.

Middle of the day:

  • Eat a big lunch — brown rice, miso glazed salmon and kale or bok choy in soy sauce — to replenish the micronutrients you have lost and balance sodium levels.
  • Drink coconut water to replenish your electrolytes, and take a magnesium and calcium supplement.
  • Step out into the sun for 15 minutes, with no sunscreen, to boost lost vitamin D3 stores.


  • Drink bone broth or have chicken soup to soothe the inflammation from the booze.
  • Do yoga twists. These moves will help to detoxify your internal organs and prevent a backup of estrogen.
  • Head to bed early to detoxify your brain’s immune system.

Remember: Once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that work for you.


Everything Is Awful and I’m Not Okay: questions to ask before giving up


Are you hydrated?  If not, have a glass of water.

Have you eaten in the past three hours?  If not, get some food — something with protein, not just simple carbs.  Perhaps some nuts or hummus?

Have you showered in the past day?  If not, take a shower right now.

If daytime: are you dressed?  If not, put on clean clothes that aren’t pajamas.  Give yourself permission to wear something special, whether it’s a funny t-shirt or a pretty dress.

If nighttime: are you sleepy and fatigued but resisting going to sleep?  Put on pajamas, make yourself cozy in bed with a teddy bear and the sound of falling rain, and close your eyes for fifteen minutes — no electronic screens allowed.  If you’re still awake after that, you can get up again; no pressure.

Have you stretched your legs in the past day?  If not, do so right now.  If you don’t have the spoons for a run or trip to the gym, just walk around the block, then keep walking as long as you please.  If the weather’s crap, drive to a big box store (e.g. Target) and go on a brisk walk through the aisles you normally skip.

Have you said something nice to someone in the past day?  Do so, whether online or in person.  Make it genuine; wait until you see something really wonderful about someone, and tell them about it.

Have you moved your body to music in the past day?  If not, do so — jog for the length of an EDM song at your favorite BPM, or just dance around the room for the length of an upbeat song.

Have you cuddled a living being in the past two days?  If not, do so.  Don’t be afraid to ask for hugs from friends or friends’ pets.  Most of them will enjoy the cuddles too; you’re not imposing on them.

Do you feel ineffective?  Pause right now and get something small completed, whether it’s responding to an e-mail, loading up the dishwasher, or packing your gym bag for your next trip.  Good job!

Do you feel unattractive?  Take a goddamn selfie.  Your friends will remind you how great you look, and you’ll fight society’s restrictions on what beauty can look like.

Do you feel paralyzed by indecision?  Give yourself ten minutes to sit back and figure out a game plan for the day.  If a particular decision or problem is still being a roadblock, simply set it aside for now, and pick something else that seems doable.  Right now, the important part is to break through that stasis, even if it means doing something trivial.

Have you seen a therapist in the past few days?  If not, hang on until your next therapy visit and talk through things then.

Have you been over-exerting yourself lately — physically, emotionally, socially, or intellectually?  That can take a toll that lingers for days. Give yourself a break in that area, whether it’s physical rest, taking time alone, or relaxing with some silly entertainment.

Have you changed any of your medications in the past couple of weeks, including skipped doses or a change in generic prescription brand?  That may be screwing with your head.  Give things a few days, then talk to your doctor if it doesn’t settle down.

Have you waited a week?  Sometimes our perception of life is skewed, and we can’t even tell that we’re not thinking clearly, and there’s no obvious external cause.  It happens.  Keep yourself going for a full week, whatever it takes, and see if you still feel the same way then.

You’ve made it this far, and you will make it through.  You are stronger than you think.

This post is available as a downloadable one-page PDF here.

Some people have asked about making this into a poster or redistributing it.  This post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License: alteration and redistribution are welcome as long as you attribute my tumblr.  For some background and FAQ about the post, see my follow-up post.


I was watching Roxanne last night, something easy to watch and there was a bit where CD’s sister Dixie says a riddle to him ‘what can you sit on, sleep on and brush your teeth with?’ and he debates a bit then she says, ‘well a chair, a bed and a toothbrush’….the upshot being that sometimes the answers you seek are as plain as the nose on your face…well of course!


It seems to me that we could perhaps in terms of alcohol abuse see a similar link. Like, why did I buy that bottle, why did I drink it and why do I regret it…because we have a dependency on a the drug alcohol and we cannot stop once we start.


As plain as the nose… there is no escaping it, no denying it, no way to get round it. If you have a problem with getting drunk despite your best efforts, you need to stop and stay stopped. This is what I revisit in my own head whenever the craving strikes (and the craving never completely goes).


At the weekend I was in the hotel bar, cosy little place with wood panels and swish bottles of wine right across the bar, lots of nice people having friendly chats, smell of delicious food from the restaurant, my red wine sat there at eye level, and I felt the craving very badly. But I made myself remember the truth as plain as the nose on my face. I am no saint, I am not clever, and I do not have all the answers. I am still a work in progress. I am a pain in the butt a lot of the time. But the answer to my cravings is as plain as. Wishing you strength and determination.

How to stop beating yourself up

Announcement: Tired of feeling stuck? Let go of the past and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!

Stop Beating Yourself Up: 40 Ways to Silence Your Inner Critic

Depressed Little Girl

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

If you’re anything like I used to be, your inner critic packs a powerful punch.

You’ve got a vicious voice bad mouthing you for much of the day. And when it’s in one of those moods, wow, are you going to suffer.

It’s no wonder you feel small, disappointed, and ashamed of who you are.

It’s the reason you lie in bed at night feeling like a failure, convinced you’re a nobody, certain you’re a serial mistake maker.

It was exactly why I used to just lie in the dark, a lot. Most days in fact. Not sleeping, not even thinking, just lying.

I was forever longing for my life to go away. I’d gotten so good at beating myself up that each day seemed to present more opportunities to fail, to feel insignificant and never good enough.

Alone in the dark, I could pretend that all my problems disappeared and that I was free of the stress. I could make-believe that the pressure had evaporated.

You see, I’d taken on one of those jobs, one of those supposed leaps up the career ladder. But hell, being the head of a college department turned out to be a bad life choice … given my oh-so critical inner voice.

Every day added to my imagined portfolio of failures. Every day blew another hole in my smokescreen of having any confidence in my ability. And every day, I became more fearful of being exposed as the ‘fake’ I believed I was.

I felt like I was constantly aching yet feeling numb at the same time, which became too painful to bear. I dragged my shameful self into the college and quit. I left my entire library of books on the table along with my resignation.

Four years on, even though I’d tried to move on, even changing countries, I still felt the same. No more confident and no less self-critical.

That’s when I learned that even if I hadn’t packed any belongings, I still took a devastating amount of baggage with me. Even worse, I’d allowed my inner critic to ride passenger.

That voice—that mean, vicious, ever-present voice—had to go if life was going to be worth living.

Consciously and patiently, I set out to understand why this self-critical person had become such a huge part of me. I learned how to recognize and counter the habitual negative messages and destructive behavior patterns. I learned how to beat my inner critic, for the most part.

And now it’s your turn.

Because it’s time you felt free from the pain of constant self-criticism as well. It’s time you finally stopped beating yourself up over everything you say or do. And it’s time you were able to breathe, smile, and be pleased with yourself, just as you are.

How? With one simple, small action at a time.

Some of these ideas will speak to you; some will shout. Others will only mumble. Try a handful that grab your imagination. Add in others from the list over time as you learn to build them into an inner-critic-beating habit.

1. Keep a self-praise journal. Pocket-size is best. Each time you feel pleased by something you’ve done or said, jot it down. Flip through the pages every time you feel your critical voice starting to pipe up.

2. Write a positive self-message. Use a permanent marker and inscribe it on the inside of your shoes.

3. Diminish your inner critic’s power. Repeat a negative thought back in a silly voice.

4. Update your Facebook status: “Happy to be me. Work in progress.”

5. Send yourself a loving text. Keep it, and re-read it often. Appreciate yourself.

6. Add a positive self-message to an image. Put it on your phone and laptop.

7. Draw a caricature. Give your inner critic a silly feature that makes you laugh. Stick it on your fridge.

8. Make a face or blow a raspberry—at your inner critic, not yourself!

9. Visualize your inner critic. Imagine it as an evil gremlin squatting on your shoulder. Each time it speaks up, turn and flick it away.

10. Look in the mirror. Smile and compliment yourself on one quality or trait you like.

11. Keep a list of self-forgiveness quotes. Or sign up to receive daily emails from Tiny Buddha.

12. Write a list of qualities others like about you. Keep it in your purse or wallet.

13. Write a list of qualities you like about yourself. Add it to your purse or wallet as well.

14. Remind yourself: “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.” ~Unknown.

15. End each negative thought with a positive. For example, “But I’m human and I can learn not to make the same mistake,” or, “But I have the power to change this.”

16. Jot down one thing you’d like to be better at. Then take one tiny step toward that.

17. Remember “not good enough” doesn’t exist. “I don’t know a perfect person, I only know flawed people who are still worth loving.” ~John Green

18. Ask yourself why you think you should be good at everything. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Concentrate on your strengths.

19. Find one thing each day to reward yourself for. Make it something you truly look forward to.

20. Apologize to yourself. Do this every time you recognize self-criticism (tell yourself you’re sorry out loud if you can).

21. Ring someone you haven’t spoken to in ages. Tell them how much they mean to you. The best way to feel better about yourself is to make someone else feel better.

22. Remember that self-hate is not an option. You’re the only person you can guarantee you’ll be in a relationship with from birth to death, so learn to love yourself.

23. Remember there’s no shame in messing up. You’re trying to do something, grow, and contribute.

24. Break the cycle. Admit you made a mistake and ask, “Now what can I do about it?”

25. Look at a mistake or “failure” in context. Will it really matter in a week, a year, or ten years from now?

26. Recognize that you make fewer mistakes than you think. You just criticize yourself repeatedly for the same few.

27. Drown out your inner critic. Put on your favorite feel-good music.

28. Stop trying to do too much. Strike one task from your to-do list that won’t stop Earth from revolving if it isn’t done.

29. Reflect on how you’re only on this planet for a short time. You can either spend it beating yourself up and being miserable or learn to love yourself and be happy.

30. Stop focusing on the one thing you got wrong. Focus on the many things you got right.

31. Recognize the good you do for others. The more you beat yourself up, the less good you do.

32. Keep a daily, written tally of positive self-messages. Increase this by at least one each day.

33. Physically pat yourself on the back. Do this for everything you’ve done well this week.

34. Look at a satellite image of the earth. Realize that you are an important part of this amazing creation.

35. Realize that over six billion people in the world don’t care. Only you care that you made a mistake.

36. Think of a fun, positive adjective. Adopt this as your middle name so that every time you criticize yourself by name, you’ve described yourself in a positive way.

37. Buy a houseplant. When you tend it remind yourself you need this much love and attention.

38. Note down kind words from others. Write them on slips of paper and keep them in a compliment jar. Dip into this whenever you need to counter a negative self-message.

39. Halt a negative self-thought. Use an act of self-care. For example apply hand cream, or give yourself a neck rub.

40. Stop comparing yourself to others. Remember Dr. Seuss: “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You!”

Stop Beating Yourself Up Once and for All

Beating yourself up leaves you feeling horrible.

All that constant self-criticism is exhausting. It leaves you aching inside.

Small, simple actions can bring great leaps in breaking this negative cycle—for good.

Let these ideas speak to you. Pick the ones that shout loudest.

Defeat self-depreciating thoughts you’ve heard over and over with conscious, positive acts of self-compassion.

Stop letting your inner critic overpower you. Fight back with self-love.

Depressed little girl image via Shutterstock

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Mind the gap



A lovely lady posted pictures of vintage blankets she is collecting on her Facebook page and this  reminded me of the benefits of having projects on the go at night to stop the feelings of boredom and loneliness that lead to many of us wanting to go back to drinking.


It is absolutely crucial to have something planned to fill in the gap in time, often at night, that opens up when drinking alcohol is no longer a vald lifestyle option.


I am knitting squares at the moment to make what I think of as a sober blanket – in the winter it will keep me warm and each square will remind me of the hours, days, weeks, months and then years I am sober. The warmth and cuddliness of the blanket will be a sources of pleasure, just like being sober. I love knitting and of course knitting one square after another in front of the telly might not be everyone’s cuppa, but it helps me keep the ‘bad’ thoughts at bay. What are you doing in the evenings to fill the gap? Do you have a cunning plan?


cunning plan

thank you, inadequacy

Like a lot of people, I get to feel inadequate several times a week.  A sense of not quite being up to par.  Disappointing, even.  You hear about people who have performed better, earned more, got more friends, seen more of the world, slept better, argued less, looked more appealing…and the list goes on.  Superhuman beings, who seem to attract success.  Or,  the ones that get on quietly with life and put temperamental, flapping people like me to shame. They are just better. Of course it’s possible to learn stuff from everyone we meet, even if it is how not to do things.


I’m not a particularly driven or focused person.  I just like to run with stuff, but I would like to plan better. I have never been one of those that work a seven day week and gets a kick out of it. Writing is my thing, I guess. 


The main element that  makes me feel inadequate in the face of people who are ‘better’ is something I have come to recognise as fear.  I used to label it anxiety, shyness, stress, tiredness, lots of things, frustration, resentment, bitterness – depending on my mood – but in the end it comes down to fear.


Fear of not being to pay the bills. Fear of getting ill. Fear of losing people.  Fear of being judged, or of not getting approval.  Always on the scary rollercoaster. I used to drink to push back the fear, but now it is here in all its dragon like, sober glory.


Someone mentioned to me a while ago the concept of giving myself permission, which sounds innocuous enough, but actually when I considered it further, it became a big deal.  Why wasn’t I giving myself permission not to be afraid?  What was the worst that could happen if I stopped being fearful? Why did I have to have my fists so tightly curled into my eyes?


At this point in time I am trying really hard to believe in a new way forward, using the ‘give yourself permission’ criteria.  It’s ok therefore (in my model of the world) to…

  • change your mind about something you once believed in, because you have learned a better way
  • change what you do and how you do it
  • not know how things will develop as a result
  • feel the fear and do it anyway (love that phrase)
  • not do things because ‘everyone’ (it’s never everyone) else is but because it is right for you
  • leave a situation because it is not working for you or you feel stuck
  • be materially poor as a field mouse but actually possessions mean sod all.
  • not change the world
  • make mistakes, just as others do
  • not to obsess about what other people are thinking
  • not to have the answers to someone’s questions
  • not to answer questions just because they are asked
  • not to have an opinion when asked, and to remain quiet


Like many people, I would guess, I try to be ‘good’; grateful and kind.  I don’t always manage it because I am human. It’s ok not to be perfect, however.  No one else is, after all. It’s ok not to be liked by every single person in the world.  No one else is, after all. Sometimes it is hard to recognise that someone I really want to like me is never going to, but actually that is ok too. There will always be people who argue and people who agree.  That is life.

Are drinking dreams a bad sign?

You can join all the swan discussions by friend requesting Binki Laidler on Facebook and she will add you to the secret group (no one can see it). Set up a dummy account if you want to keep your identity separate?  Binki xxx

From a swan


I wanted to share something with you. After years of struggling I’m finally achieving sobriety 100% of the time, it’s wonderful and my time is so productive now and people I haven’t seen in a while always comment on how well I look. Well anyway, last night I had a dream I had a wine binge last night. I woke up close to tears believing I had a hangover, and the familiar old thoughts of “oh god how am I going to cope with today?” And depression and sadness were crushing. And then I realised it was a dream!! So relieved. So grateful for my sobriety and the support that has made it possible. Sending hugs to anyone struggling – if even I can nail it, you can too – and it’s beautiful xxx

From another swan

I want to share my dream too. There was a bottle of gin lurking in the kitchen last night and I was sooo tempted to open it but didn’t. Had a terrible night’s sleep and dreamed I was really drunk and sick, had borrowed someone’s car, my phone had been stolen and I didn’t even know where I lived. And I was convinced I still lived with my Mum who has been dead for three years. It was so horrible that even when I woke up I still seemed to be in the dream and was convinced my phone had gone missing. I was in this car with other people and they were asking my address but I didn’t even know it.

Tipped the full bottle of gin down the sink this morning as I am sure the thoughts started me off. xx

And from this Swan…

I know quite a few SWANS have been having drinking dreams recently…I have shared this before but now seems like a good time to re post the link. This is an episode of The Bubble Hour that talks about drinking dreams. As you probably can guess I am a huge fan of these podcasts and they have been a huge part of my staying sober in the very early days and now. I still listen to one a day!

‘The Bubble Hour’s mission is to provide hope and inspiration to people who are wondering about their drinking, struggling to get sober, or who are sober and want to stay that way.

The concept of the “bubble” was something co-host Lisa N. came up with in her early sobriety. She recognized that her sobriety needed to come first, and as such she created what she call a “bubble” around herself to keep herself safe, and prioritize her recovery.

Talking with other recovering alcoholics was a big part of Lisa’s Bubble, but she also talked about the role of a good book, funny television shows, exercise, ice cream – anything that replaced the hole alcohol left in her life.

Pretty soon Lisa’s recovery community caught on to this concept, and she began creating “bubbles” for them as they struggled during difficult times of the day, events or simply adjusting to life in new sobriety.

People who had been sober awhile also recognized the importance of The Bubble, which essentially represents a ‘force field’ of safety and support you surround yourself with to remember you’re ARE NOT in this alone.

The Bubble Hour’s podcasts are a way for people to listen to real stories, interviews and conversations between real sober people, offering practical advice, humor and companionship, especially during the difficult hours of the day.

Is five o’clock a trigger for you? Did you usually drink while cooking dinner? Download The Bubble Hour podcasts, stick in some earbuds and listen to The Bubble Hour while you go about your day. Or riding in your car, or when you’re having a weak moment.

It is meant to be another tool we can use to comfort each other as we travel this path together.

The podcasts are the main focus of this page, but we will also be offering sober resources and websites, posting information and articles, or anything else we think may be helpful.

Please remember, no matter what, you are NOT alone.


I do run a bit

by Jessie
I do run a bit …… I am currently training for my 6th marathon and running between 55 and 70 miles a week. But I really want to tell you that I started from almost nothing 7 years ago. I had run the Great North Run in 1984 in 2 hours 8 minutes then marriage , children and life got in the way for over 22 years and I started again when my wonderful Mum finally went into full time care shortly before her death. I felt so impotent and as a way of repaying the Alzheimers Society for all the help and support we received as a family I started to run to raise money and instead of crying.

It has changed my life. Here I am a 53 year old Nana only getting faster at the moment!! My running has had a huge boost since I embraced sobriety and I am able to fully commit to my training and I push myself much harder. But I truly could not run round the block 7 years ago and those people in their lycra tights and running vests were terrifying!!

It is hard at first … I started in the June and it felt tortuous for weeks…only the thought of my Mum kept me going. I was determined to raise money for research in the hope that my future can be different to the one she had. I never intended to keep going after the Great North Run that October but somewhere along that road something clicked and I have truly never looked back.

It has saved me in so many ways. For a long time it helped keep a lid on my drinking, but it gave me both physical and emotional strength. My BP and resting heart rate are phenomenally low, my BMI and weight have reduced. I have faced demons and dealt with them and running through emotional pain has been a godsend.

Last year I ran a half marathon in 1 hour 39 …. 29 minutes faster than I was 30 years ago! So don’t think you can’t ..think you will!

If you can find a charity that is very close to your heart it really helps to focus on the training when you can’t face a run.

If I can help, share bits of my journey, run with you ….then let me know! If running makes you even half as happy as it has made me every investment in time and pain will be worthwhile.

There will of course be Swans who for a range of reasons are unable to choose running ….. But find something and make it yours. Exercise is a life changer.

Finally you might find something else …. ! I met my husband at a race in my second year of running and we got married last August! He is faster than me but can’t go as far!

Now I only look back to see how far I have come.

Happy running ….. And don’t forget Swans have strong legs!! Xxx

  • Hippydippy66 says: Jessie has really inspired me to get out there – Binki, I forsee the London Marathon next year, what do you think lol x

Fluff says:  well, have dusted off my trainers .. it is my cygnet’s birthday today and I am doing a dinner tonight – lunchtime run for this swannette xxxx

  • Sue says:
set myself up for a Race for Life 10k in July so starting to get nervous now but working to plan in the gym! xx

Bonkers101 says:

  •   Have you tried the www.myasics.com site? You can get a plan specific to your personal requirements which will help work towards your goal xx

    MY ASICS helps you achieve your running goals. Create a custom training program for a marathon, half…
Paulita says:

Swooshing swans, i’m going to join you but I will start by walking fast, OK? And i might break into a run when the weather gets better. I don’t have much time during the day so I plan to walk at lunchtimes. And in summer, i can go out in the evening for a little trot perhaps…I did a fast walk at lunchtime yesterday. it was fabulous. I pulled on an old pair of walking boots ‘cos the path is muddy. And off i went with my phone. Didn’t have shower afterwards so it all fitted nicely into an hour. Can’t believe what a difference it made to a busy day. Great

 Cat says:

Going to start running at the gym to begin with & see how I get on………..🏃🏃🏃🏃

 Amanda says:

Ok I’m gonna do it too but only if I can wear this tee shirt… xxx

"Ok I'm gonna do it too but only if I can wear this tee shirt... xxx"

Avril’s running recovery

by Avril

Hello swanitas!
I only got into running around this time last year. I can’t remember what it was that popped into my head as I couldn’t stand running. I’ve been into fitness for years and gyms, classes…….I liked other cardio activities but just not running. Especially outdoor running! I just seemed to get out of breath and couldn’t run for long. So…I entered a 10k run, the British 10k for July last year. I figured 4 months would be plenty of time to prepare. It was quite nice going out for runs in the nice weather.


My event came and I LOVED it! The buzz of running with over 10,000 other runners was incredible. I raised nearly £500 for The Stroke Association and managed to do it in an hour. This lit a fire and I couldn’t wait to enter another event so I entered for the Royal Parks Half Marathon in October. That run was incredible, stunning route and I did it in 2 hours.


So of course I started thinking about a marathon then. Soooooo…….I’m doing the Stockholm Marathon on May 30th! I am so enjoying my training, over halfway through it and can’t wait! If any of you have 2 legs, don’t have injuries and fancy giving it a go, just find some event (no matter what it is) and just enter.


Work towards it and you won’t believe how much you can build your fitness and how much you will love it. What have you got to lose??? Some links below with information about events in the UK, and also training plans that you can set up to help you train for any event you are working towards.


There is also a fantastic FB group called ‘Running the World’. There are over 5000 members of all levels and the support and knowledge there is second to none. Go for it!!!


Note from Binki – if you would like to consider joining the Facebook page for Sober Women Awareness Network (friend request Binki Laidler or send me a message asking me to friend request you) there is a virtual Running Swans group starting 9th March. All welcome and join anytime.

How did I get from drinking 60 units a week to four years sober?

by Sue S

When I started on my road to recovery I got referred to the local drug and alcohol support service where I was living at the time. I was told I had to moderate my drinking first and get to a point where I could stick to the recommended units level (which was 20) consistently. Once I’d achieved that – and it took months because as we all know, it’s almost bloody impossible – I was referred to “after-care” which is where I got the group work, CBT exercises and mentoring I needed to support me stopping.

I think the people advising me were taking the view that the amount I was drinking at the start was too high for me to quit safely straight off (averaging 50-60 units per week) and I needed to reduce safely first to avoid risks associated with stopping suddenly.

I think they possibly also took the view that even without the physical health risks, stopping suddenly from my existing levels of dependence was probably unrealistic. They helped me in:

• setting targets for days when I could drink
• what time I could have the first one
• reporting back with a drink diary would give me achievable intermediate targets and let me build some commitment muscles.

The after care services provided more intensive support and required a greater level of commitment and I think it’s possible they used the first phase almost as a selection process to see whether you’d stick to it. The aftercare service described the group I went into as support for those wanting to moderate or stop drinking. They didn’t tell me I had to stop, and although I was still fighting the idea at the start of the first session, by the end of it I was thinking and saying, there’s no point me pretending – I need to quit.

Once I’d made that decision it was a blessed relief and I completed my group work and individual sessions with a clear date in mind to stop, we planned for it, I continued to reduce but not stop until my chosen date (start of Lent four years ago) and I continued with support tapering off for six months after quitting at my own request.

I’ve never looked back except to see how far I’ve come.

The reason I’ve written all this out dear swans, (if you are still with me and haven’t taken to something more interesting!) is that I’m pretty sure the people advising me from Day 1 knew very well the answer had to be giving up completely but needed me to be able to do that safely and come to that decision myself so I had the ownership of it and the commitment to do it.

Do you know how much you, or your friend, or partner is currently drinking? Above all keep yourself safe, dance with drinkers if that’s OK for you but only if it’s OK for you and don’t let the dancing keep you from your own journey. Keep moving, let drinkers keep you in sight and encourage them to come with you, but keep moving. Lots of love and admiration for your commitment. xxxx

embrace the disruption

There will be some people reading this who have relapsed back into drinking recently – you may in the middle of a relapse right now. You are of course, not alone, not that this knowledge often helps. This is my shit, no one else’s! However it is a part of being human that most of us find significant change difficult to handle at the best of times, and few would argue kicking alcohol our of our lives forever is one of the most significant changes we could contemplate!

No matter how often people list the advantages of quitting drinking, putting the thoughts into action is often easier said than done for us creatures of habit. That sense of inertia, that feeling of mañana, has such an enormous effect on our ability to turn words into deeds. Dare I say there can sometimes be a certain sense of complacency involved; the ‘I’ve got plenty of time’ approach. Priorities are acted on which are different to our intentions…once the bottle (or the cigarette, or the gateau, or all three in fact) is in front of us, all our resolve goes out the window. It’s a genuine surprise; like how the hell did that get into my hand?

Struggling to embrace the very necessary change in thinking about alcohol, or any addictive substance, is one of the reasons why people find it hard to get past the first couple of weeks of sobriety. Sometimes people can go months and relapse, because the ‘stinking thinking’ hasn’t been dealt with. They have stayed sober through fear, or threat to themselves, or emotional blackmail…or any one of a whole set of negative thinking processes. They are basically waiting to start drinking again (or smoking, or over eating) and the urge never quite goes away. Some modes of thinking call it being a ‘dry drunk’.

Accepting the need for a change in thinking is an essential part of choosing not to drink (you can drink any time but you choose not to) as opposed to feeling you cannot drink and are therefore depriving yourself. So how to do it…the eternal conundrum. Some suggestions:

• Listen to the positive viewpoints and discard the negative views of sobriety
• Celebrate being an unconventional thinker and a sober pioneer – it won’t be long before the rest of society catches up with you and sees the harm alcohol does, just as people now understand the dangers of smoking.
• Look for new ways to deal with the old problems that trigger an urge to drink (they will always be there)
• Change your profile. If you choose, you can make yourself over; physically, emotionally, financially, educationally…think about reinventing yourself afresh and cutting those links to old habits.

In the end we can all talk the talk, but ingrained conservatism makes change almost impossible. Self-innovation is blocked by keeping the same kind of lifestyle, environments and relationship balances that always lead to a drink. It isn’t enough to just buy the gym membership…you really need to go, too.


If I am bouncing back, why do I feel so low?

Many people quitting alcohol expect to bounce back with a vengeance, and then doubt their decision when it seems they feel even lower than they did as a drinker. Some kind of pointless exercise then?
Business leaders know that when profits drop, then it is time to reinvest in the company to boost productivity. This might involve investing in new technology, training, system upgrades…yawn! There’s a lot to be said however for applying the same principles to our sobriety when a ‘bounce back’ is urgently required.
For many, money and time come up as issues straight away. It’s all very well people saying pamper yourself, get to the gym, book a holiday; if only life was that simple, we’d all be on the ‘pink cloud’ permanently.
In the end it’s not so much how much money or time you have to reinvest in yourself to create the feel good factor, it’s about how you use what little there is. How money and time get used is very much to do with our individual environments and the personal investment that works for one person is not going to be any use to another.
One way of looking at it is perhaps starting from the bottom and working your way up. A sober bottoms up policy! Focusing on the small things that make you happy and doing more of them. For example, reviewing the way you have your home organised, the way you communicate with and respond to others, the amount of times you get involved with events and people around you.

Your skills and talents may well be under used.

Other people may be draining your energy, and wasting your time and even money. When did you last think about your skills and talents and try them out, for your own benefit?
Tapping into your creativity and sense of innovation can help you to figure out what will work best to create your bounce back. It doesn’t have to involve grand gestures or loads of cash. It could be as simple as having a declutter and a reorganising of your home, yard, garden, workplace…or deciding to spend more time reading and knitting (or whatever floats your boat, it might even be a boat) instead of on the phone/Facebook to that needy friend or relative…small steps. Wishing you luck with your bottoms up policy!