Decades of self-medicating my anxiety and depression created a spiral of physical and mental health issues which led me to making an attempt on my own life on the 16th of March, 2015.
Recovering in hospital, despite feeling unworthy of saving, I decided I would invest in myself and do the necessary things to keep myself alive. I had been utterly destroyed but I was now in the unique position to be able to rebuild myself from scratch.
I made the decision to try sobriety.
Four weeks in hospital and off alcohol led to a reduction in my weight from 100kg to 95kg. When I left the hospital, I decided on a goal weight of 75kg as a way of dealing with low self-esteem.
By the 11th of July, 2015, I reached that goal. This was through a combination of a ketogenic diet and daily walking or swimming.
Exercise also provided me with a distraction from cravings for alcohol and carbohydrates. As my weight dropped, I naturally found it easier to move. Being a runner in my teens and early twenties, I was attracted to the idea of running again. I started a ‘couch to 5k program’.
Pretty soon it became obvious that my smoking would become an impediment to my goal of running a non-stop five kilometres so that had to go.
I quit smoking on the 12th of October, 2015 using the same physiological and psychological techniques that I used to quit alcohol and reduce my carbohydrate intake.
I relied upon exercise and some chemical assistance. Mindfulness, reference to the stages of change model and implementation of a delay / distract / decide response to cravings were all useful techniques. By deploying the tools of cognitive behaviour therapy I could more constructively deal with challenging situations.
On the 25th of November, 2015, I graduated the C25K program and ran my first non-stop 5km since the early 1990s. Running has provided me with a framework for the new me. As I continue to run further and faster, including my debut marathon on the 5th of July, 2020, I am regularly astounded by what my body and mind can do.
I am now prouder of my sobriety than I am ashamed of my addiction.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of SMART Recovery Australia.