Staying Sober offers both advice and practical solutions for anyone who has had enough of alcohol, no matter what their personal or professional circumstances. As well as sharing her own route to an alcohol-free lifestyle, Binki Laidler draws on the experiences of friends also giving up drinking, and guides readers in losing weight by quitting, and improving both wellbeing and mental health once the Drink Demon is banished.
Read an Excerpt
I have suffered depression and anxiety on and off all my life. When I think of my childhood, I can remember vast swathes of time where I was worried about one thing and another. I was afraid that I didn’t fit in at school with anyone, even my friendship group, and likewise at university. I worried about being misrepresented by people who were supposed to have my back. There was anxiety about my capacity for blistering anger. Finally, of course, there was worry that as a young teen and onwards I could not seem to stop drinking.
When I married my first husband, I was always afraid of being beaten and humiliated by him if I stepped out of line, which I always seemed to do. I was worried about him having affairs and lying to me, and of course it was because I was a terrible person and a useless wife. I worried that my pub habit had developed into daily bottles in the house, and no longer just in the evening.
I worried about not being able to focus at work because I was constantly hungover and simply waiting to get home to a drink. I started my working life in PR, where socialising and drinking were almost a requirement of the post. Later, as a teacher, long hours and continuous stress were a breeding ground for bottles of red. Bouts of depression led to too much time off and self-medicating with the old vino increased. I was an accident waiting to happen, and eventually it did. My drinking immediately before horse riding led to a snapped femur and a year off work, to add to all the other sick leave I had taken.
I worried that people didn’t like me and consoled myself, alone, with alcohol. I worried about being lonely to my core for the rest of my life and that red wine had somehow become my best friend. Worried that everyone else was having children and doing normal stuff where I remained childless – I couldn’t have my children worried like me; that would be too cruel.
It was this constant anxiety that led me to drinking to excess, and it is only in recent months that I have finally got a handle on it, leading me focus on recovery and to record the first hundred days of my sober journey in the pages which follow.
I don’t feel worried with my lovely second husband. He is the love of my life. I trust him with everything. He doesn’t generate worry in me. Worries are just ordinary stuff, like getting enough shopping in for the weekend and the quickly-mounting housework. I don’t worry about coming home to find him gone, or him turning on me out of the blue, playing mind games because he enjoys it. He would never hurt me; I know that with absolute conviction. He likes the fact that I am me, even though I puzzle him. I am lucky, although I had to wait a long time for my soul mate.
It was the website Soberistas, a social network for people who want to give up alcohol, which rescued me, plain and simple. I came across it entirely by accident, using the search ‘how to stop drinking’, as I suspect many have done before and since. I could never have quit drinking alone, I had tried too many times in the past, and each time I failed, my resolve for the next time weakened a little more. Blogging on Soberistas, receiving feedback, and making new sober friends were all lifesaving developments. With the sense of community on the site, I made it.
At the time of writing, I am forty-seven immature years old and would rate myself in my drinking days as an addict who loved the thought of being pissed but was never any good at it. I was a rubbish drinker but kept practising. I had several hundred attempts to give up before July 19th 2013, when I finally decided enough was enough and I was having my last ever alcoholic drink. This book recounts my diary and blogs during the first one hundred days, and I am happy to report at the time of writing I am still happily AF (alcohol free).
Please be aware that there are some distressing incidents described in this book involving domestic violence and sexual assault, where the Drink Demon, the one who enticed me to over-indulge, was ever present, and you should not read on without being ready to deal with how this might affect you. I have included the worst elements of my drinking years because I want women, particularly younger women, to be in no doubt at all about how dependent drinking puts us in danger, causes us to lose our judgment or any accurate assessment of other people’s true character or intentions, and wrecks our mental health for many years after. And it made me fat and wobbly.