Thursday patterns

It’s been an interesting Thursday! I got up early and went for another run. Thursday runs on my marathon programme get longer every week, but I’ve got into a good pattern of doing them first thing in the morning, so I’ll be getting up at the crack of dawn once I get into the really intense part of training in a couple of months’ time. Hopefully the daylight will be more on my side by then!

Afterwards, Geth came with me to Slimming World this morning so that he could join the group. We’ve been working out what would be best for him to eat on the plan, and it sort of feels like starting again for me because I’ve spent two years falling into particular habits in terms of what I eat. We’re having jacket tatties tonight, which I honestly don’t think I’ve had since long before I started Slimming World.

I had a quiet afternoon, which is becoming another Thursday habit, followed by Pilates class. I’d have preferred not to have to go out so much today – it snowed heavily this morning and then froze, so it’s really icy out there – but Pilates is really helping with the overworked muscles at the moment.

OOTD 17th January 2019
OOTD: my favourite jumper is becoming a Thursday habit too. It’s so cosy for when I’m out and about! Glasses Emporio Armani (2017), jumper Carlo Colucci (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2017).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Thompson Twins – Hold Me Now
Duran Duran – Union Of The Snake
Eddie Murphy – Party All The Time
Rick Astley – Together Forever
Cass Elliot – Make Your Own Kind Of Music
Duran Duran – Hungry Like The Wolf
Dusty Springfield – I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself
Katy B and Ms Dynamite – Lights On
Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J Balvin – I Like It
Zara Larsson – Ruin My Life

A tired Thursday

I’ve been doing really well with getting up early every day this week, and this morning it meant I was able to get a run in before I went to Slimming World. Because I’d slept badly last night, though, I didn’t have a hugely productive afternoon, mostly having a bit of a doze before I had to go to Pilates.

It’s not been a bad day, though – I lost 3lbs at Slimming World, which is a good start to getting rid of my Christmas gain. I’ve now got a nice quiet evening to myself as Geth is in London for work, so it’s just me and the Now! ’80s channel on TV.

OOTD 10th January 2019
OOTD: yup, still loving my favourite jumper – plus bonus Mel & Kim in the reflection behind me. Glasses Emporio Armani (2017), jumper Carlo Colucci (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2017).

Today’s earworm playlist:

James Arthur and Anne-Marie – Rewrite The Stars
Duran Duran – The Chauffeur
Mabel and Notes – Fine Line
Tom Walker – Leave A Light On
Jess Glynne – Thursday
Jools Holland – Enjoy Yourself
Jax Jones, Mabel and Rich The Kid – Ring Ring
Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas?
George Michael and Aretha Franklin – I Knew You Were Waiting For Me
Duran Duran – Do You Believe In Shame?

An ideal Wednesday

Some weeks, when I’m feeling marginally sociable, Thursdays are my favourite day of the week, because I’m out and about doing things like Slimming World and Pilates (plus, starting this week, a bonus early morning run! Gotta love marathon training…I suppose). Apart from anything else, I get to eat my post weigh-in treat meal, which is always pasta and pesto and is always delicious.

But let’s face it, a typical Wednesday – where I get a whole glorious day just to write, nothing else – is much more ‘me’. Even if I’ve usually run out of syns and so am getting a bit crabby food-wise!

Today has been one of those good Wednesdays. I’ve done a lot of writing and editing and am feeling very productive. Tomorrow, in contrast, will be a lot more hectic.

I am looking forward to that pasta and pesto though.

OOTD 9th January 2019
OOTD: cosy winter day in. Scarf unknown brand (gift from Geth 2019), t-shirt Cyberdog (originally early 2000s, thrifted from Geth 2014), belt unknown brand (vintage 1980s, thrifted from Mum 2019), tights Primark (2017), shoes La Redoute (2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Sigala, Ella Eyre, Meghan Trainor and French Montana – Just Got Paid
Richard Marx – Right Here Waiting
Modern Romance – Ay Ay Ay Ay Moosey
Julian Lennon – Too Late For Goodbyes

The last cider

I have a can of Flat Tyre in the fridge for tonight.

This would be a normal aspect of a Saturday night for me, so normal that it’s the kind of thing I wouldn’t even bother mentioning on my blog, not usually.

But it’s not a normal can of Flat Tyre, not to me.  It’s the very last Flat Tyre, the very last cider, and the very last alcoholic drink that I will ever have.  I’m going to explain why.

As such, this is going to be a long one.  But then, it’s a long story.

It was late summer 2004 when someone first told me I had an alcohol problem.

A few weeks earlier, I had suffered a complicated nervous breakdown due to a year of undiagnosed mental health problems coming to a head.  The end result was that my parents sent me to the GP, and I walked out with a clinical depression diagnosis and a list of referrals to more specialised mental health services.

There were so many specialists I went to see that it’s difficult to remember them all now, but they were all adamant that I couldn’t be treated unless I also got help for this alcohol problem I apparently had.  As you might guess, I didn’t see myself as having a ‘problem’ at all.

I had been a messy teenage drunk for several years – I had discovered the buzz that drinking too much gives you when I was about thirteen, and as my friends and I started to look old enough to get served in pubs, it became routine to spend the weekends binge-drinking, often to the point we would vomit and black out.  But that was normal, right?  All teenagers did that, or so it seemed.  I’m sure this particular brand of teenage idiocy was ubiquitous at the time, but it was especially prevalent in Scotland, where the culture normalised it so much.  We were Scots, and Scots were notorious for being able to drink all those other nations under the table.  (We were no cop at team sports, so we had to take pride in something.)

When I started university at seventeen in 2002, the binge-drinking weekends became binge-drinking weeks.  University culture involves societies, and societies do all their business on weekday evenings, and all of that business is done in the pub.  Being a shy person, and finding myself in a position of having to make new friends by myself for the first time since I’d started primary school in 1989, I felt I needed the extra Dutch courage.  Furthermore, being wholly in charge of keeping myself fed and watered for the first time, I found I was running out of money earlier in the month than I would have liked, and so I got into the habit of eating less so I could drink more.  I had enough energy that I was just about making it to classes – most of the time – but it became normal to me to feel constantly ill due to the drunk/hungover cycle.

However, I was still immersed in a hybrid of cultures that normalised this kind of drinking, and so when my psychotherapist referred me to the Alcohol Problems Unit at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, neither I nor anyone I knew really took it seriously.  I’d fallen into a comfortable role as ‘the drunk one’ in every friend group, and so I was used to treating the whole thing as a joke.  I vaguely tried to follow the advice I was given – which was to alternate alcoholic drinks with soft drinks – but as soon as I had one alcoholic drink, I wanted another, and soft drinks just seemed like a waste of time.  I attended the APU (sporadically – I would often miss appointments due to being hungover) between late 2004 and early 2006, and yet my 2005 diary, where I recorded my daily intake (the Bridget Jones influence was strong with me at that point) is frightening.  Almost half of my entries are written in my drunk handwriting, and I was averaging about 100 units a week.

2005 diary
‘V+O’ = vodka and orange. I measured it in eggcups because the APU doctor had told me I needed to measure it out rather than just sloshing it into the glass, and eggcups were the only thing I could find in the house for measuring. I also smoked a lot of cigarettes and weed when I was out, which was almost every night. SO HEALTHY.

After I got together with Geth in late 2005, things didn’t improve.  He liked a drink as much as I did, and he was also fond of big weekends – Six Nations rugby weekends, weekends away in London, music festivals.  All of these basically constituted hardcore weekend benders – there are many festivals and rugby days that I don’t actually have any memory of, and my memory is really good – and that was our lifestyle for a good decade plus.

Post-festival Facebook post
31 Somersby ciders equals 80.6 units in a single weekend, and that’s not even counting all the spirits and mixers we would have as nightcaps. Music festivals were always like that.

Furthermore, when I graduated from university in 2008, I quit smoking (meaning alcohol became my only stress-relieving drug), stopped having a reason to walk anywhere, and so started piling on weight.  This just meant that I had a greater tolerance for alcohol, so I ended up drinking more, and putting on more weight, and the cycle continued.

Coupled with the weight gain, my becoming more of a hermit – I couldn’t find a traditional job after graduation and so I ended up gradually building my own business, meaning I’ve mostly worked from home since then – meant that I became even more shy, and so unfamiliar social situations felt impossible.  Whenever I had to face one of these – such as a job interview, or joining a new exercise class – I would down a few ciders before I left the house to get rid of the nerves.  This was probably the one aspect of my drinking that I knew wasn’t ‘normal’, and so I would hide the bottles in order that Geth wouldn’t realise what I was doing.  When he was away at work conferences, I would switch to vodka so that I could drink late into the early hours by myself without having to worry about running out of alcohol.  On these occasions, I would often get through two-thirds of a bottle per night.

I still didn’t see myself as having a problem.  In 2011, I gave up alcohol for Lent, and I thought that managing not to drink for six weeks proved that I had a healthy relationship with booze.  But every time I had to tell a counsellor or a doctor what my average weekly intake was (which I always deliberately underestimated), they would look at me with absolute horror.  I’m not sure why this never bothered me.  I suppose in your twenties, you’re still hanging onto a sliver of that youthful feeling of immortality that caused you to pick up bad habits in the first place.  Either way, I had no desire or plan to cut down on my drinking at that point.

But in 2015, the year I turned thirty, three things happened.

First of all, after I moved to Newcastle, I (obviously) had a new GP.  I don’t always like going to see my GP in Newcastle, as he doesn’t sugarcoat things.  He’s the first GP I’ve ever had who I think may actually be my age if not younger than me (one of those signs that you’re getting old), and he really makes me work hard to explain why I still need my antidepressants at my annual review, which can be distressing.  The first time I went for one of these reviews and had to estimate how many units I was getting through per week, rather than doing the usual doctorly ‘you know, you should really think about cutting down’, he flatly told me that I’d end up with liver disease within fifteen years if I kept drinking the way I was.  While I still believed that genetics were on my side with that one – my mum has a fairly frequent wine intake and a very healthy liver – it was the first doctor’s comment on the subject that ever stuck with me.

Secondly, I started running.  I run in the mornings, and you can’t run with a bad hangover (well, you can, but it’s not pleasant), so heavy drinking nights before run days were out.

Thirdly, the running – much to my surprise and disgruntlement – was not causing me to lose weight.  I ran (very slowly, due to my near-constant joint pain) all through the second half of 2015, then all through 2016, culminating in my first half marathon in September 2016.  Despite this, in the autumn of 2016 I was back up to my highest weight, and so I decided to join Slimming World in the new year.

Slimming World is the most manageable way of healthy eating I’ve ever tried, which is why I’m still doing it two years later, but it is fairly strict about the amount of syns you’re allowed to have, and alcohol contains a lot of syns.  It quickly became apparent that I couldn’t keep drinking the way I had been if I was going to follow the plan properly – my weekly alcohol intake pre-Slimming World probably amounted to about 400 syns by itself, and you’re only supposed to have 105 in a week.

As such, I immediately cut down a lot.  I saved up syns for special occasions like weddings and festivals where I would ‘need’ to drink a lot of alcohol, and if I planned a weekend evening where I was going to have a couple of ciders at home, I made sure to time the start of drinking so that I would only have time for two drinks before bed.  If I mistimed it, I would end up having more.  It simply didn’t occur to me to stop drinking after finishing the two ciders that I’d planned.  It’s kind of awkward to explain, sitting here typing this out while sober, but when I’m a couple of drinks down, it feels like the most imperative, important thing in the world that I have another one.

(This is another thing that I just never saw as a problem for many years, simply because it’s so normalised – Geth always refers to the state of having had a couple of drinks and wanting to continue drinking as being ‘warmed up’, and so that’s how I always thought of it.)

As I lost the weight, while I felt healthier than I had done in years, I also found that alcohol was starting to affect me more strongly as my body mass went down and my tolerance with it.  Since I’d started taking antidepressants in 2004, I’d been told by doctors that I shouldn’t drink with them because it would negate the effect of the pills, but again, this was just something that went straight over my head.  After I hit target in May 2018, I found that even one or two drinks would often lower my mood to near-suicidal levels.  It’s very hit and miss – sometimes I’m fine, sometimes I’m really not – and throughout the second half of the year, as my mental health declined for unrelated reasons and the bad experiences became more frequent than the times it was okay, I realised that I would have to stop.  Not ‘for now’, not for Dry January, not for a few months or even a year, but for good.

As such, I spent Christmas finishing all the cider that Mum and Dad had kept for me at their house, and observing the way it was affecting me in a safe environment with lots of people around.  I had a lot of unhappy, melancholy thoughts over the holidays, just like I always do, but for the first time, I was able to understand how alcohol was contributing to that.

I love cider.  But my health is more important, and I’ve finally realised that due to mental health issues I’m not capable of functional, healthy alcohol use.

I’m terrified of giving up in some ways.  I’m scared about how it will affect my relationships with people with whom I will no longer be ‘drinking buddies’.  I’m scared about how I will feel the first time I catch sight of a new cider that I never got to try.  I’m scared about all the things I want to do in my life that I’ve always believed I would never be able to attempt without a few drinks in me.

But, because I’ve made this decision, I’m also feeling more positive about things than I have in years.  I’m looking forward to disengaging with all the stress around timing my drinking and worrying about what I said and did when I was drunk.  I’m looking forward to being able to focus in the evenings.  I’m excited about being able to use my syns for other things.

Tomorrow is my first day as a sober person.  I am hopeful that it will be the start of a more peaceful existence.

Thirty-four

It’s my birthday today, but I didn’t go out tonight. I’m thirty-four years old now – I have far better things to do. Things I did do today:

  • Got up early and went to Slimming World, because it’s important to keep an eye on things over Christmas even when it is your birthday.
  • Opened presents and cards under Mum and Dad’s Christmas tree, just as I do every year. It’s the tenth day of Christmas and that Christmas tree is still important! Nobody’s ever got me any lords a-leaping for my birthday though.
  • Listened to my birthday number one – Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas? – more than once. Was inordinately pleased that the current chart rules mean that it is currently yet again sitting in the Top Ten a whole thirty-four years later.
  • Drank prosecco and blew out candles on my birthday cake – it was a New York style cheesecake as usual, made by the world’s best dad as usual!
  • Packed up and left Edinburgh to go back to Newcastle after ten lovely days spent at Mum and Dad’s for Christmas.
  • Got on a train. Geth was worried about travel stress spoiling my birthday, but it was actually a really relaxed journey.
  • Got home and put on the heating and both fires to warm up our ice block of a house!
  • Ordered takeaway pizza and drank more prosecco. It’s my last non-sober birthday, and it’s been a double-prosecco day. I am okay with this.
  • Spent a perfect birthday evening watching ’80s episodes of Top of the Pops recorded off BBC4. I’m very nearly at the point in the marathon where I’ll get to watch the episode from Thursday 3rd January 1985! So glad I was born on a Thursday. That one’s going to be staying on the digibox and constituting my birthday viewing for many years to come.

It’s been a good day.

OOTD 3rd January 2019
OOTD: favourite day, favourite jumper. Glasses Emporio Armani (2017), jumper Carlo Colucci (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2017), leggings Primark (2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Alison Moyet – This House
Duran Duran – Hungry Like The Wolf

And a bonus track that Geth was humming earlier:

Kraftwerk – The Model

Plus my awesome birthday playlist that I made on Spotify earlier:

will.i.am and Cody Wise – It’s My Birthday
50 Cent – In Da Club
Lesley Gore – It’s My Party
Bowling For Soup – 1985
The Birthday Massacre – The Birthday Massacre
The Crüxshadows – Winter Born (This Sacrifice)
Altered Images – Happy Birthday
Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas?

New rules

I was up early this morning for a nice brisk walk to Slimming World, where I found out I’d put on an obscene amount of weight that I don’t want to talk about. Mum reckons it might partly be the scales at the group I go to during Christmas, though, ’cause the same thing happened last year.

Anyway, it spurred me on to cook an actual healthy SW-friendly meal tonight, so Geth and I had a delicious pasta dish. There are some new rules for the Slimming World plan that have come into force this week (everyone is being given an updated book), and the main change is that you can now have two Healthy Extra A choices. I’m slightly dubious about this (I don’t drink coffee every day or have cereal that often, so on non-coffee days I’m likely just to end up doubling my cheese portion, and that can’t be right…can it?), but I’m going to give it a go over the next few weeks and see how it works out.

The rest of the day has been nice and relaxed with lots of background music from Geth’s videogames!

OOTD 27th December 2018
OOTD: slightly inept weigh-in outfit (I’d run out of clean leggings, and I’m sure the jeans didn’t help my scales result – this is what happens at Christmas when I can’t remember what day of the week it is). Jacket unknown brand (estimated vintage 1990s, bought at vintage shop 2003), jeans Vivid (2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas?
Duran Duran – Hungry Like The Wolf
Captain Sensible – Happy Talk

Shelves exist now

Dad worked his shelving magic today, and we now have lots of shelves.  Tomorrow morning I will be able to begin the magical process of putting stuff on the shelves!

In other news today: maintained at Slimming World (fine), another 4,000 words on NaNo (consistent), felt slightly better but still a bit ill (improvement), went to Pilates (necessary), ate Indian food (risky in terms of feeling ill, but it was super tasty).

OOTD 8th November 2018
OOTD: practical to evening. Top David Emmanuel (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2018), leggings Primark (2018), boots Primark (2017).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Alison Moyet – All Cried Out
Panic! At The Disco – High Hopes
Duran Duran – Hungry Like The Wolf
Queen – Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy
Arcadia – Election Day
Duran Duran – The Reflex
Miley Cyrus – We Can’t Stop
Curiosity Killed The Cat – Down To Earth
Pine Ridge Boys – You Are My Sunshine
Duran Duran – Rio
The Corrs – Breathless

And a bonus track that Geth was humming earlier:

Shania Twain – That Don’t Impress Me Much

NaNoWriMo begins, and another Slimming World award!

It’s been a really good day today, even if it wasn’t quite the start to NaNoWriMo that I wanted!

I was so keen to get writing that I stayed up past midnight last night to start November with a couple of paragraphs, and then managed to get some more done before I went to Slimming World this morning.  I lost half a pound this week, taking me back into target range (I swear staying in range is harder than getting to target in the first place!), and was also delighted when my group voted me their Miss Slinky 2018!  I got some lovely flowers and a certificate.  I felt a bit embarrassed though as it’s the third award I’ve won this year – next year I’ll be happy for someone else to have a chance!

When I got home, I found a client had sent me some urgent work to do, so I got that done and then managed to squeeze in another hour of writing before I had to go to Pilates.  After Pilates (and a detour to the pub to meet Geth), I was finally able to get into my writing properly, and have just finished for the day.  I’ve managed nearly 4,000 words on my NaNo novel today, which puts me well on track for my goal this month (my aim is not just to get the standard 50,000 words for the month but also finish the draft, which I’m expecting to take closer to 80,000 words).  Not bad for a mostly-interrupted day!  Looking forward to a more solid day of writing tomorrow.

OOTD 1st November 2018
OOTD: love these flowers! Glasses Emporio Armani (2017), dress unknown brand (thrifted from Steff 2016), tights Primark (2017). Photo by Clair Turner at my Slimming World group.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Bucks Fizz – Piece Of The Action
Swing Out Sister – Breakout
Traditional – Carol Of The Bells
Paula Abdul – Opposites Attract
Cyndi Lauper – True Colours
The Power Station – Some Like It Hot
Ariana Grande – Into You

A quiet Thursday

A fairly good Thursday today.  I had a loss at Slimming World, which I don’t usually manage in a race week, so I was pretty happy with that.  I was then able to spend the afternoon and evening getting admin done, ’cause Pilates class is on a break at the moment.

Looking forward to a quiet weekend starting tomorrow!

OOTD 18th October 2018
OOTD: nice to be able to dress up a bit on a non-Pilates Thursday! T-shirt Punk Masters (2018), skirt unknown brand (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2017), tights Primark (2017), boots Irregular Choice (2012).

Today’s earworm playlist:

The Beatles – Nowhere Man
Debarge – Rhythm Of The Night
Jax Jones and Raye – You Don’t Know Me
Sigala, Ella Eyre, Meghan Trainor and French Montana – Just Got Paid
Duran Duran – Come Undone
Wilson Phillips – Hold On
Arctic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
Duran Duran – Meet El Presidente
Ariana Grande – Into You
Duran Duran – Hold Back The Rain
Duran Duran – Hungry Like The Wolf

Admin and SP

A full admin day, which was great, and an SP day, which was not so great (I can’t wait for my pasta lunch tomorrow) but was necessary due to having carbed up so much for the race at the weekend.

Geth’s put Buffy the Vampire Slayer back on, which will be nice background for the rest of my evening!

OOTD 17th October 2018
OOTD: comfy not-leaving-the-house outfit. Jumper Carlo Colucci (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2017), leggings Primark (2018), boots Carefree (2017).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Keala Settle – This Is Me
Puddle Of Mudd – She Hates Me
Janet Jackson – What Have You Done For Me Lately?
Arcadia – The Promise
Arcadia – Goodbye Is Forever