A mother-of-three who would drink to the point of blackout has revealed how she has turned her life around – and now delivers workplace presentations about alcohol and mental health.
Alex Walker, 41, from Cheshire, told how at her worst, she would wake up with ‘terrible hangovers, vomiting and tiredness’ – but it still wasn’t enough to stop her from going out on another boozy session.
She would waste weekends self-loathing and her anxiety would be through the roof – to the point she would wake up crying and sweating thinking her children had been murdered or abducted.
In July 2018, after giving up alcohol, she devastatingly suffered a miscarriage which then led her on a downwards drinking spiral for a further eight months – before she was encouraged to turn her life around by a friend, who had done the same.
Now, the mother-of-three has been sober since June 2019, and says she has noticed huge changes in her health and well-being. She tragically lost a baby to miscarriage during lockdown, but feels that she was mentally able to deal with this personal tragedy a lot better than before – because she no longer drinks.
Alex Walker, 41, from Cheshire, who would drink to the point of blackout, has told how she’s turned her life around. Pictured, during her drinking days
The 41-year-old (pictured, right) has now been sober since June 2019 and delivers workplace presentations about alcohol and mental health
The mother-of-three would wake up with terrible hangovers, vomiting and tiredness – but it didn’t stop her. Pictured, during her drinking days
The 41-year-old says that from a very young age, alcohol had always been a normal part of her life.
‘I grew up in pubs because my grandparents and parents owned them until I was in my teens,’ she explained. ‘I then worked in pubs during my early adult life and my father was a club entertainer, so alcohol featured in most things we did as a family.’
Over time, Alex went to university, got married and had children, and for the most part, was what society would consider a ‘normal drinker’.
‘Having lived through the “ladette” culture in the 90s, binge drinking and keeping up with my male counterparts was what all my friends and I did,’ she said. ‘We could handle our drink.
‘I was not an everyday drinker, didn’t drink in the mornings to handle the day, and to the outside world, I did not have an alcohol problem.
‘However, I was using alcohol at the weekends to relieve stress and numb out negative experiences instead of dealing with them.’
Alex’s hangovers were so bad, she would waste weekends vomiting and self-loathing and her anxiety would be through the roof. Pictured, during her drinking days
The 41-year-old (pictured, during a night of heavy drinking) has put herself into several very dangerous situations due to alcohol
After a night of heavy boozing (pictured), Alex has found herself asleep in train stations, waking up in random houses and wandering the streets alone in the early hours of the morning
She continued: ‘I suppose I didn’t notice the point at which I would drink wine in the house at home on a weekend, initially one bottle over the weekend, then two and sometimes three.’
‘I presumed it is what everyone else who had children was doing, and actually, most of my friends and family were, so it didn’t feel abnormal.’
Alex says she would wake up with terrible hangovers, vomiting and tiredness, but it didn’t stop her.
‘If I went out, I drank more, often to the point of blackout and I have put myself into several very dangerous situations, including falling asleep in train stations, waking up in random houses and wandering the streets alone in the early hours of the morning,’ she explained. ‘Thankfully, no real harm ever came to me.’
The mother-of-three went on to explain that it was only after several tragedies, losing her father and two friends, all related in some way to alcohol, and suffering a miscarriage, that she started to think about stopping.
For Alex, the turning point came after her best friend Lisa stopped drinking in July 2018.
‘We always drank together and excused each other,’ explained Alex. ‘She called me one morning to tell me she had stopped and it was like someone had shone a light on my drinking.
‘This was the first time I ever even considered stopping drinking, but I didn’t really want to do so. The thought of never having a drink again scared me and filled me with dread and I told myself I didn’t need to stop but it was there, niggling at me.
Alex’s first attempt at stopping was in late July 2018 – after she had started to become argumentative and bitter whilst drinking.
The 41-year-old said that from a very young age, alcohol had always been a normal part of her life. Pictured, during her drinking days
‘I would start arguments over nothing with my husband and fly into jealous outbursts over small things,’ she explained. ‘He asked me to stop drinking, so I tried.’
‘About a week into it (all the while craving a drink at the weekend), I found out I was pregnant. I had never drunk alcohol in my pregnancies, so this news took the thoughts of drinking away, and I stopped working on myself and my mindset. It took it out of my hands.’
But when she went for her 12-week scan in October, Alex was devastatingly told the baby had died a few days earlier at 11 weeks 3 days.
‘I was grief stricken and distraught,’ she explained. ‘I went straight to the pub, fetus still in place and drank – a lot.’
‘Three days later I had surgery to remove the baby and started counselling to deal with the grief. I was drinking every Friday and Saturday, as much as before but now I was trying to moderate, so my husband didn’t ask me to stop again.’
Alex started sneaking a last glass as she “locked up” after he had gone upstairs – and also noticed she was starting to get very red in the face after drinking and was concerned that alcohol was impacting her physical health.
‘My hangovers were worse than ever and I would waste the weekends vomiting and self-loathing,’ she explained. ‘Worse though, my anxiety was out of control.
‘I started to lie awake at night panicking that I would die. Part of me hoped I would, then I would feel guilty for thinking these thoughts because I had three beautiful children and my husband who needed me, and whom I love unconditionally.’
She continued: ‘People kept telling me I was lucky in some ways to have my other children, but I started to become frightened that something bad would happen to them.’
When Alex did eventually fall asleep, it would be broken – and she had awful nightmares, particularly after drinking.
Alex (pictured recently) would lie awake at night panicking that she would die – and said part of her hoped she would
Alex (pictured) still has anxiety but the lack of hangover and a full night’s sleep means she recognises the symptoms and can deal with them
‘It’d be that my children would be murdered or abducted and I would wake up sweating, crying and trying to get my breath,’ she said.
‘During drinking, I would become progressively more bitter and angry about my miscarriage, my father’s death (which was 10 years ago) and my childhood throughout the evening – even when the night was going well and I appeared to be having fun.’
‘It got to the point where I knew the drink was making me resentful and I wasn’t dealing with my grief, trauma or anxiety at all.’
However, around eight months later, Alex decided enough was enough and after an evening of red wine and cocktails, she decided to quit.
‘I had hit my own personal rock bottom as far as my mental health was concerned,’ she explained. ‘During the evening, I had gone from enjoying the night to sitting alone in a corner feeling angry and hateful. I no longer wanted to feel that way.’
Alex called her friend Lisa and told her to help her and that was the last drink she had.
‘I started my journey reading Annie Grace’s book ‘This Naked Mind’, which is how I first discovered Simon Chapple and his Be Sober group,’ said Alex.
‘At that point, Simon was the UK’s only This Naked Mind coach and intrigued, I joined his group so I could, if ever needed, reach out to people.’
‘He always responds to messages and leaves comments against your posts. He makes himself available. I also recently read his book ‘The Sober Survival Guide’, and found the second part particularly helpful.’
Grief stricken and distraught after hearing about her miscarriage, Alex (pictured) went straight to the pub, fetus still in place, and drank
Alex has since set up a wellbeing company, The Sober Experiment with Lisa – who is also sober – delivering workplace presentations about alcohol and mental health. Pictured, a recent sober night out
Since quitting booze, Alex has noticed how her hair is thicker and nails are stronger, while she has 10 hours of unbroken, restful sleep each night.
‘I still have anxiety but it does not get out of control,’ she explained. ‘The lack of hangover and a full night’s sleep means I recognise the symptoms and can deal with them.’
‘I have always done a lot of running, but now I use it to deal with my anxiety instead of drinking a glass of wine.’
Speaking of her family, Alex continued: ‘My relationship with my husband is strong again and we talk more openly when I feel down.
‘My children have expressed how much happier they are that I don’t drink as they see me as more present and available. I have also found that the desire to drink has completely gone and I feel much happier.
‘Emotions are much more raw in sobriety so when you feel pain and sadness, you really feel it, but I can honestly say that happiness and joy far exceed anything I felt when I was drinking. I know I will never start drinking again.’
The mother-of-three says that not only has she found an amazing support network and new friends, but her best friend and wellbeing business depend upon her sobriety.
‘My mental health has improved no end, as has my sleep and I have achieved this without any medication,’ she explained. ‘In fact, simply by removing my self-medication, alcohol, and actually facing the problems I was having, instead of numbing them out.’
Since getting sober, Alex has set up a wellbeing company, The Sober Experiment with Lisa – who is also sober – delivering workplace presentations about alcohol and mental health.