Last year at this point I was at my lowest low.
I’ve chosen not to remember much of what went on; I’m sure my therapist has something to say about that coping mechanism. Sometimes a story might pop up here or there, but I usually don’t ask for memories – and honestly, my own memory is spotty.
I’m embarrassed of what happened and how it escalated. I’m even more embarrassed that I affected so many others’ lives with it. But it did all happen. I take responsibility, and although ashamed of that time, I’m also so proud to have gone through it and come out triumphant on the other side.
Today marks ONE YEAR OF SOBRIETY! I could not be more proud of the year I have had.
But let’s back up. After a few close people have found out, long after the fact, they stare at me in disbelief. “What? How? But…wait… do you even drink?”
How DID it start?
There was a lot going on.
–I was home alone with Greta all day, most every day. Yeah, I had my coaching business, but that didn’t require me to get out of the house. I went to mom class once a week, which was alright.
Nate was in the middle of his ski season and I wanted to be a super wife and support his training and racing (like he is for me with my running!) – but that meant he was gone a lot of evenings and weekends. That just led to more time at home, alone with baby. I’d look forward to him coming home every day, but then be miserable when he was home.
-Running sucked. I healed fast, running 4 miles 13 short days after my C-section, but that was about the extent of what went well with my running. I started working with a new coach, Chris Lundstrom, but never fell in love with training and goal setting like I had in the past. I was slow. I upped mileage too fast and tried to lose my baby weight too fast, which led to injury and me not being able to breastfeed (which makes you feel like you’ve failed).
I could have cross-trained like mad to keep the 2016 Olympic Trials Dream a reality, but in my head I knew the desire and current fitness just wasn’t there. And… if I wasn’t going to make it, why do anything???
-Bi-polar swing triggered: I stopped breastfeeding around Feb ’15 as I was a terrible producer. Little did I know that the upward hormone swing that happens when you stop breastfeeding triggered a bi-polar plunge even deeper into depression
-I had no interest in anything. I was overwhelmed by the piles of dishes and laundry so simply didn’t start. For those of you that know me, know that this is the EXACT OPPOSITE of healthy, “normal” Nichole. When Nathan would get home I’d feel even worse that he worked all day, and he was coming home to a stay-at-home mom who hadn’t done anything all day, a house looking like it did, etc, etc.
I would wake up in the middle of the night next to Nathan and just cry. I thought of myself as worthless. The “old Nichole” was awesome, achieving great things, so positive! This “new Nichole” felt so empty, hopeless.
Depression’s darkness consumed me, so much that I seriously considered ending my life on two different occasions. All I could think about was the burden I was to everyone and how they would be better off without me.
Nathan shared this with me. He cried when he watched it. This was us a year ago, and it could very well have ended this way.
-Nathan and I were working out new roles as mom and dad, and as a couple. There was a lot to this one, probably more so because of my deep depression than anything.
-The first drink, sometime in January or Feb of ’15. I remembered a drink or two fondly; it had made everything more fun in the past! And… it did this time, too! That day I was able to start on, and even mildly enjoy tackling the sink of dishes.
-The first drink spiraled into many, many more, consumed earlier and earlier in the day. Pretty soon I was relying on it to start on anything.
It was bad. Dark. It’s hard to imaging that just a year ago that “harmless” first drink had led me to a point where:
-Very soon, I found myself willing to do anything for a drink. I continually thought about where my next bottle would come from, how I could hide it, and when I could drink without others knowing. Addiction is all consuming. If you’ve been there, you know what I’m talking about.
-Finances were a mess. Insurance and hospital bills were left unpaid for months. Every day I’d aim to pay a few (or comb through an account, since things were a little messy), but then think: I would be so much more productive if I had a drink first. Riiiiggghttt. I’m still embarrassed at the state of which Nate found things in when I went into treatment. Mostly because I take pride at being good at this whole finance thing!
-My health was a mess. My muscular build had atrophied into something soft and squishy. I had bruises all over my body, from the slightest of touch (alcoholics blood is so thin that they bruise super easy). I hadn’t eaten much of anything for months – who would want to eat when you could drink your calories? Plus, eating would slow down the effects of alcohol – another reason to just drink.
-I was in complete denial. After the second detox visit, I made a pact that I would go into in-patient treatment if I couldn’t stop drinking myself through out-patient and pure will. Problem was, I didn’t want to stop. I just wanted to get better at hiding it!
After drinking DURING AN OUT-PATIENT meeting (hidden in a water bottle – oldest trick in the book, but I thought I was brilliant) and passing out outside of the building, I relented and agreed to treatment. But… I kept telling everyone my admission was held up due to insurance. I didn’t need to start until next Tuesday! Not today, not tomorrow!
Finally, after a few scary days at my parents place where I was still adamant on procuring and consuming lots of alcohol, my parents and Nathan took charge. My dad drove me, still drunk, to Beauterre, a treatment facility in Owatonna, MN. My dad, Nathan and Greta saw me off there.
Entering treatment was perhaps the scariest and saddest thing I have ever, every done in my life.
But – it was the first step towards one of the best years of my life. I am so thankful for what I’ve worked hard for and have been given in this last year. I’m even more excited to see what the next year, two years, decade, and beyond brings.