Moderate Schmoderate

The very fact we find ourselves attempting sobriety suggests that our rational brain accepts alcohol is not good for us. I’m not saying that every person who puts down the bottle has an addiction or problem but when we strip back what alcohol is you do struggle to find an actual benefit of putting it into our bodies.

Certainly in the UK where I was born, raised and still live there is a social acceptance of drinking to excess and most people will turn a blind eye to a head down a toilet after ‘one too many’ but how many people would turn a blind eye to somebody over-eating to the point of vomiting?

On the other end of the spectrum we call drug takers ‘addicts’ and stereotype them as thieving, dirty lowest of low in society yet I know cocaine addicts who have six figure salary jobs and hold down a house and the fake facade of a clean life.

The reason I mention it is because I’ve been having a lot of conversations recently with friends about moderating. It must be something to do with it being January and the desire to be healthy and cut down on the stuff that was overindulged on over Christmas! When I respond by saying I don’t think many people can successfully moderate who haven’t previously been a responsible drinker you can see the cogs turning – they don’t disagree with me but at the same time they can’t bring themselves to say they would quit the booze all together. I’m in the minority in society by abstaining. It’s not a boast, it’s just reality!

Anyways, I don’t have a particular subject to cover today but I wanted to blog nonetheless so apologies if this ends up being nothing more than a Happy Daddy ramble. My posts of late have steered more down the Rational Recovery / AVRT route as I’ve been keen to share how the mechanics of this programme work and it’s great to see that many people have taken a look and are now investing in Jack Trimpey’s book – a piece of literature which has changed my life. That said, I don’t want my Blog to solely become a fan page for Jack!

My ‘recovery’ started back on the 17th February 2021 and as I’ve said many times before I didn’t have any long term plans for the Blog. I didn’t take my journal into hospital and we weren’t allowed chargers in our rooms because of the risk of self harm with the wires. It meant I needed to ration my phone battery so rather than trying to watch films via rubbish NHS WiFi and drain the juice I started writing down how I felt. It was easy to use the WordPress App via my phone and before I knew it Happy Daddy was born. I didn’t expect anybody to read it bar me (just like my paper journal back home) but it immediately got views and that in itself fed into the positive human reaction of feeling liked, important and part of something.

The Blog serves two purposes. It’s a great outlet for me to write but let’s be honest – if it was that alone I could have gone back to my private journal after leaving hospital. I continued to blog instead and once I was getting positive feedback and comments from those reading my posts I realised my blogging could help others. So here we are two years later, 179 posts published and over 15,000 blog views.

There have been times when I’ve questioned if blogging on a public forum is the right thing in the long term – especially when you consider the content that I’m covering. There is still stigma attached to addiction and mental health issues in the UK despite the massive inroads we’ve made in the last decade. Would being public affect future career aspirations? Would it bring unwanted attention to my family? Would it lead to increased anxiety and stress if the Blog grew in popularity and more people reached out (including trolls!)?

I love having my Happy Daddy platform but I think it’ll always be something I review periodically and then decide if it’s still bringing any value to my life. I’m still in the infancy of sobriety and recovery and this pathway I’m on could be my life for another 30-50 years.

Desire to Drink

There have been some pretty tough days of late where I’ve come so close to succumbing to my Addictive Voice and feeding it alcohol.

For context (not that I’m using it as an excuse or for approval to drink) my oldest daughter who is 7 years old has been in hospital for around one month now. It’s been a very traumatic experience for her and whilst me and my wife have been strong for her, it is naturally taking it’s toll on us too. We have another daughter in nursery school so the juggling act has been tricky.

During this time our family unit has been split in two. Me and my wife only see each other when we are at the hospital swapping ‘shifts’ between daughters so that in itself is an odd dynamic. Our oldest daughter has her own struggles and long road ahead but we need to be acutely aware of keeping routine for her little sister too. It may feel like an afterthought but the mental health of both me and my wife is so important because if we break we become a burden, not a help to the family.

That’s where I wanted to go with this post – my first in a while. It’s not appropriate or important to share the finer details of my daughter’s condition at the moment and blogging about our day to day in the four walls of a very busy and overwhelmed NHS hospital won’t do any of us any good so I’ll give you an update on me instead.

As you may know if you are a regular reader of Happy Daddy, I’m a man with diagnosed and long standing mental health issues who for 17 years was a binge drinker turned alcohol dependant boozer. Throw in life events like my daughter’s illness and I won’t deny it tests my metal despite the progress I’m making in recovery.

It’s very much about pragmatically using the tools I’ve come to rely on or have successfully utilised in the past to ensure I can keep myself in the strongest mental and physical place whilst also appreciating we are not super human and there is a likelihood that despite all of our best intentions and efforts there will be kinks in our armour during periods of high stress and disruption.

Tiredness, fatigue, exhaustion, agitation, irritation, anger, self pity and despair are just some of the buzz words that pop into my head when describing the last 5 weeks or so since my daughter’s health took a pretty sudden nosedive.

I even reacted immaturely in Tesco tonight. I’d just popped in on my way home from Hospital and was walking down an aisle browsing the shelves. I could see a bloke walking towards me and assumed he’d walk around the outside of me as I was pretty close to the shelf but he didn’t move. We had an awkward few seconds staring at each other before I nudged past him and said “you weren’t going to move were you?” – He replied “nah” so as I walked away I called him an obscenity which he most definitely heard.

Why do that? I didn’t have right of way as much as he didn’t. I could have easily walked around him and carried on with my day but I’m finding that I’m spoiling for a fight more of late. It’s like the old me in the height of my depression (not always drink related) where I would get angry so easily and use any excuse to get into an altercation. I used to have really bad road rage for example, and that has increased again of late despite a good few years of being a zen driver. When I got back to my car after paying for my bread and chocolate I told myself off and accepted I was pathetic. That’s the difference. In the past I would have justified my behaviour and let it wind me up for hours later.

I suppose it’s all a way of saying I’m under a lot of stress at the moment and in the past I would have used alcohol as my go to relief yet all it would do is fuel even more intense anger and irritation further down the line. I know deep down that I’m not a bad person but I also know I have unresolved deep rooted issues which need to be addressed by a Therapist or Psychologist.

In the past when I had counselling or a psychologist I wasn’t being fully truthful with them because I was hiding the severity of my drinking. I think I’m in a unique place in my life now where I can address my issues clearly and without alcohol blurring and undoing any work I achieve through therapy.

I’ve made the first steps to accessing said help.

I’m off now but I just wanted to thank everybody for their kind words and thoughts. I’m still active on Twitter (albeit maybe not as much as normal) and the majority of interactions I have in the Recovery Community are positive. Focus is of course on my little girls and wife but it is so imperative that I recognise my own struggles before they become something more uncontrollable. I think I’ve done that successfully just by writing today but the next important step is applying solutions to the problem.