My First Step

For years I have thought about starting, or been told to start, a blog. I kept saying yea yea, I will get to it, and I never did. I think now the time is right. I want to blog because I have been through such a difficult, interesting and profound series of changes over the last 4 years that I want to share my thoughts, ideas and hypotheses with the world – in the hope that these might help others going through similar difficulties. Why go through something awful, come out the other side and not share what you have found so that you can help others? Now that I’m here, it seems a no brainer.

There are so many writers and websites that I have used on my journey, and I will make sure that I credit them for their contributions to my recovery, but I see a huge gap in the world of psychology and the value of the therapeutic relationship. Not enough is researched, published and made readily available to people, and the subject is so taboo that no one likes to talk about it. Well, I want to open up the forum, help gradually diminish the taboo, and speak about my experiences and realisations.

Part of the reason that I have not published anything earlier is fear that I will offend or upset the people closest to me, because of course my experiences involve them. I realise that it is all about balance, and speaking the truth but in the right manner and with the right intentions. I hope that I can adhere to this, and that my nearest and dearest can respect my decision to share this information, find it in their hearts to understand, support and trust that I do this in good faith and with only honourable intentions.

Since this is an introductory post, I won’t go into too much detail about this journey of mine, but I will begin with a few recent realisations and useful thoughts that hopefully strike some chords with people. If not, then this will be a great release for me and another part of my journey forward.

I recently went to a group therapy meeting with Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA) in Sydney, for the first time, another first for me after deliberating for years whether to go or not. One of the members opened with an introduction that cut right to the core of me, bringing tightness to my chest and tears to my eyes. He said “I was born into co-dependency, and so the symptoms I suffer are not feelings as such, but actual physical pain”. This touched a raw nerve in me, he described exactly my early life and upbringing, and the symptoms that brought me to psychotherapy a few years ago. It has taken so many dark moments, torturous self-reflection and lonely days and nights to identify the source of my deep-rooted unhappiness and lack of self-esteem, but I feel I am getting there.

Co-dependency is an area of psychology that has been intensely researched, but finding advice on the subject has been no easy feat. I am originally from London, and moved to Sydney 6 months ago to try and further ‘find myself’. It is here that I have found these resources readily available, mental health seems less taboo here, and that has been a breath of fresh air. People don’t like to talk about therapy or co-dependency – or dependency of any kind – back in London, and so I have felt like the black sheep with her panic attacks, depressive episodes and total reliance on therapy and antidepressants. I believe much of the UK is unaware of the root cause of our binge drinking culture; it seems everyone wants to numb their feelings, pretend that life is great and that no one is really hurting.

I say this because I have been there, I still do it now sometimes and it takes an awful lot of effort not to. I am also not over generalising or stereotyping, as people are entitled to have a drink, relax and do what they please. I am talking about the binge drinking, the drinking yourself into oblivion, seeking out a one night stand so that you don’t feel lonely (again, I am not over generalising, I’m only speaking of people trying to fill a void with promiscuity – no harm in sex if that’s all you want), starting a fight because you can, allowing yourself to lay on the side of a street where anyone could rob, rape or murder you, or wasting the time of the already stretched emergency services and getting your stomach pumped because you wanted to drink yourself to death.

I know it happens, we’re young, we want to party, to test the boundaries of society but also to fit in and to feel confident. However this problem causes great distress to everyone, be it the neighbours, family, friends or those in the services, everyone is affected by this. The government don’t seem aware of the possible cause for our culture, that it is just a mask for people’s unhappiness, and a symptom of a deeper-rooted problem. So instead they put the prices of alcohol up – as if this is going to make a difference to an already unhappy public who are in need of some honesty, understanding and respect from those in power. It’s the British way, we don’t speak about those things we call feelings, we repress, stiff upper lip and all that.

I love the UK, it has it’s positives, it’s caring, polite and well mannered, and above all, it does try. However, I have lived a mostly unhappy life which I have spent in denial as a result of upbringing, culture and the habits of older generations, and I would like that to change for the future. I won’t lie, I also want the validation of knowing that I am not alone, of realising that what I always thought is true – that if you are raised by unhappy, emotionally unavailable, co-dependant but well-meaning parents, who on the surface provide you with everything you think you need – you wind up becoming the same yourself, in a job you dislike, single and sleeping around or in a bad relationship, drinking yourself into a stupor to numb the pain of the truth that you are desperately unhappy, but you don’t know why.

On the face of it, everything seemed fine – a home, food, warmth – but the fact that Dad would come home late and Mum would discuss her relationship with her oldest daughter, complaining and in need of professional counselling, couldn’t be a problem – or the reason for such unhappiness – could it? I’d look around on my nights out, at my colleagues; attractive, young and with so much potential, drinking themselves silly and fawning over each other trying to find someone to love them for the night, and I realised this wasn’t for me anymore. Something wasn’t right, something had to change. There must be a reason for this deep dissatisfaction and unhappiness with myself and with life, and I won’t find the answer at the bottom of a bottle or in a strangers’ bed.

I am a depressive, anxious, co-dependent, recovering alcohol dependent woman hoping to help others who feel stuck in similar ways by my sharing thoughts, experiences and ideas. I hope this helps anyone who happens upon it, and I will keep blogging. Thank you for reading.