TSM – How Real Am I? … Very! – Joanna’s Journey

Back in early May a message arrived in my inbox from a lady writing that she was feeling terribly isolated during her early days on The Sinclair Method.  She wrote of how unsure she felt when some days the naltrexone curbs her drinking and other days she still drinks more than she wants.  Her email ended with the words….

‘Are you real?  Are your websites telling me the truth? I’d like to hear from a real person.’

This is understandable and sums up precisely why I am here – to try ensure that those who need support receive what they need.  It doesn’t matter if that is factual advice about TSM, or just a sympathetic ear.  I become a partner if they need one, or just a temporary shoulder to lean on during their first few months.

When I think of why this website is proving so successful, I can only come to the conclusion that it may well be because I am indeed ‘real’.  Behind the words on the page, I’m just a normal person who is experiencing TSM.  I’ve promised hundreds of times in vain to quit, just like you have. There is no difference between you and me in that respect, only different circumstances.  Though I can never be in your shoes, I can understand what you are telling me.

A trend that seems to run through most of the messages is the sense of desperation.  Without fail, I am reminded of my cry for help.  That was less than a year ago, September 2013 to be exact.  I am sure it must have rambled on quite a bit as I know I was drunk when I wrote it.  I wasn’t only drunk when I wrote the email, though.  I was angry, and at the end of the line.  I’d been given my last ultimatum to sober up – a book thrown on the sofa along with the instructions to f##king read it.  That book of course being Babylon Confidential, the memoirs of Claudia Christian.

I was trapped in my drinking.  Trapped by desperation and self loathing for this problem that I couldn’t solve.  I absolutely, positively meant it every time when I said that I wanted to stop drinking.  I would do anything to stop.  Anything!  But it even sounded quite hollow to my own ears.  How many times had I already promised that?  If TSM didn’t work, what else was there left for me to try?

I’d walked the well-worn routine of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for years, having limited success but finding the time between binges was getting shorter and shorter.  I’d voluntarily undergone outpatient treatment involving antabuse, and been on the receiving end of some very stern warnings from my doctor after visits for various medical issues directly related to my drinking.  During some of my worst drinking sessions, I’ve passed out on a hot water bottle and given myself a 3rd degree burn on my arm of which the scar remains as a constant reminder (to this day, I still cannot believe I was that drunk that the pain didn’t wake me!)….. I’ve blistered the back of my throat from downing so much neat vodka which resulted in losing my voice for three weeks with the very real fear that it would never come back….. the list could go on and on, but I don’t like to think back as these are things which are far removed from my sober personality.

My life remained messy, but under some vague form of control for the most part.  Between binges, I white-knuckled it the best I could, desperately trying not to have to go back to an AA meeting and say I got drunk again.  Somehow, I was ‘functioning’.  I don’t know how.  Everything suggested I shouldn’t be.  Hell,  I even managed to stay sober for the majority of the time I was in training to cycle the French Alps, only to get to the top of one of the mountains, drink a couple of large beers and then stupidly cycle down it again with a very foggy brain.  For anyone who hasn’t been to the Alps, we are talking hairpin bends with sheer drops.  I petrified myself that day.

Against all the odds of trying to juggle staying sober the best I could, I was holding down a good career. That slight bit of control was everything to me at that time.  It was easy to forget that the reason I still had my career was mostly due to a very understanding boss who could have fired me on the spot for being drunk on the job the first time, let alone the second and third, but didn’t.  Thankfully, I was fortunate to be good at my job and my career progressed as I was extremely well respected at work. This brought relief for a while.  After my promotion I no longer had a boss to guide me so that meant I was in less danger of being fired. However, it also meant that I was less aware of the risks I was taking as my slide downwards continued to gather speed over time.

How confused was I when I found myself loading those little inkjet cartridge refiller syringes with vodka and injecting it into oranges to take to work with me?  Is that the act of a rational, sane person?  Of course not!  However, it is the act of someone firmly entrenched in an addiction that just would not let up, no matter what.  I was so intent on fooling everyone that it wasn’t a problem and that I could handle it, including the one person who really mattered – me.

Since beginning TSM my experience seems to have been smoother than others I have spoken to, but it hasn’t always been easy.  Or rather, I should say TSM has been quite easy to follow, but life certainly hasn’t.  In the last 3 or 4 months I have had some horrendous life events thrown at me and some changes still ahead of me.  All beyond my control, sure, but all enough to throw me into potential chaos.

Thanks to TSM, you no longer have to reach ‘rock bottom’.  I had not yet hit my final rock bottom but was getting closer. Certainly had a few practice rock bottoms that’s for sure!  There is no doubt in my mind that if things had continued the way they were I would have lost my job, my house and drunk all my savings down the drain.  I believe very few people are strong enough to hold off that avalanche indefinitely.

I was selfish in drink!  And that really is not like me at all. That is not who I am.  Anyone who knows me, knows that.

I am so grateful that in the 8 months I’ve been on The Sinclair Method I can honestly count on one hand the number of times I have been drunk.  For quite some months, I was not drunk at all.  The change in my drinking was so radical that as long as I drank the first drink quite slowly, I really couldn’t drink much at all – the ‘switch’ moves to the off position for me quite quickly.  It only took a few weeks for me to realise that a change really was happening within me and it felt real.  This was worth fighting for, no matter how long it took.

I have been tested to the limits recently and though I have never once wavered from the golden rule of one tablet, one hour before drinking, I have once or twice drunk a few drinks very quickly to try get the relief that I thought I needed.  My plan hasn’t worked once!  The naltrexone does what it promises every time. Somewhere in a mind that is engulfed in pain and anguish and hurt, and very newly sober with all the challenges that can bring, half heartedly trying to beat the system seemed the ‘right’ thing to do at that time, the thing I needed to do to make myself feel better.  It was a silly thing to try but in the first months of being sober we sometimes try irrational things.  It can take a while to learn how to deal with stressful events without that drive to drink the way we used to.

For me, this is the absolute beauty of The Sinclair Method – once I take that tablet, I am protected against the weak moments of doubt when on an abstinence based treatment model, I would’ve ‘failed’ for drinking, like I had over and over before.  In the first year of sobriety, it is often said that it can be the most difficult time to keep sober.  For me personally, what I have been through the last few months would’ve made staying sober virtually impossible.

I believe TSM is a padlock protecting my ongoing recovery in those moments of doubt – I could try pick the lock again and again, but it would get me nowhere.  Like you, I have one decision to make….. take the tablet or not.  Believe me, that decision is not a difficult one, not when you see how it is changing your life immeasurably for the better.

So, does all this make me a real person who can help you?

Yes, you bet it does!