Jenny’s Journey Part 4 - Addiction - How I Overcame What Seemed Impossible!

Written by Jonathan Kattenberg on September 4, 2020
Est. Reading: 5 minutes

Addiction: ” A person who cannot control how they use a substance or partake in an activity, and they become dependent on it to cope with daily life”.

In more technical terms: “Addiction is a psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a chemical or drug, activity or substance, even though it is causing psychological and physical harm”. (Medical News Today)

I was sat on my thinking step and I thought…”what advice would be useful to someone in the depths of addiction, that I wish someone had told me at that desperate time?”

I really hope someone finds this useful. This is based on my own experiences, not scientific textbook stuff.

I had to take myself back to one of my lowest moments, June 2018 on the Psychiatric Ward. I had another “blip” after this. This was pre latest detox (which was my very lowest). Sadly “blips” happen, you learn from mistakes and all! As long as it is only a blip.

I was having a really tough time accepting that I wouldn’t be able to drink ever again. The thought of giving up alcohol forever was frightening, if I’m honest. This was because I believed (which I now realise was the illness talking) life would be boring without alcohol, and the following are just some of the thoughts you have to try and rationalise and overcome: –

I would be boring without alcohol, especially in social situations!

I’ll be socially awkward and restless without it.

My anxiety will be massive.

Is there such a thing as fun without alcohol?

It settles my nerves,

I have more confidence and care less what people think of me.

I like the “merry” feeling (who was I kidding, that feeling vanished years ago).

Drinking is everywhere, everyone does it.

Why am I finding it so hard to stop, I’m so weak?

I shouldn’t have let this happen, I’m a horrible person.

Guilt! Everything I’ve put my family and friends through.

How can I be honest about it all, it’s embarrassing?

I could pretend I was “ill” no one would know.

People will think I’m a weak, selfish, pathetic, heartless and a horrible person.

They’ll think I only care about myself, how could I do this to people that love me.

They’ll think “why has it happened to her, Jen has a nice life, loving family, a little boy.


I’ll have to be careful what I say, and keep things bottled up when I’m struggling, they won’t understand.

This is when I recap the definition, “it Is An Illness” both physically and mentally

If you had another illness would any of those thoughts go through your head, probably not.

If you gave up smoking (I smoke, I’m no quitter!! Haha). One thing at once, which is an addiction, could you relate to any of those thoughts?

In reality, and I’m living proof that none and I mean NONE, of those statements are true. Ask yourself “where is the evidence that any of those statements are true”? It is unhelpful, negative thinking, that I completely made up. That’s part of the illness. I can see that now but at the time I believed it was true. I had almost convinced myself it was. But it takes time and practice (lots of), which is hard to accept when you are so desperate and want to be “normal”.

Please talk to Walking With My Bear, he has the ability to turn any negative thought/situation into something positive and realistic (I don’t know how they do it, some kind of sorcery). They make me realise that there is no logic behind my irrational thinking and I always end up thinking “I can’t actually believe I believed it”. Walking With My Bear allows you to metaphorically have a “lightbulb moment”. I’m still having these now, it’s a working progress.

Can you see a link between all those negative statements? They’re all to do with self-confidence, self-worth and my view on people’s expectations.

At Walking With My Bear, we did a lot of work on my confidence, self-esteem and anxiety issues, all of which are underrated. They are so important from social events to daily tasks. They were the biggest instigators behind my drinking.

Here are some helpful statements and food for thought (I hope) to counteract the negative ones, which I wish I had known in the early stages of my recovery…

Don’t think of recovery as something you’re giving up (ie alcohol, substances and certain behaviours) think of what you are gaining,

Try not telling yourself that you can’t have something as you will want it more,

Try see the addiction as a relationship (a toxic one!!), and it’s like a grieving process of the end of the relationship and you only remember the good bits. Even though the bad bits may outweigh the good.

I under-estimated the amount of anxiety/panic attacks, low confidence, low self-esteem that I’d experience in recovery. Ensure you have the correct support, knowledge and tools ready to deal with them. They have to be dealt with; it doesn’t go away until you do. These issues have been numbed for so long, but it’s natural to experience them even when you are not in recovery.

I now accept I’ll be in recovery for the rest of my life (although Walking With My Bear may explain and bring to my attention I won’t be!) which took years and several relapses to realise. Once I accepted this, it completely changed my mindset, I was so much mentally stronger.

This made me realise that I don’t agree with being labelled an alcoholic for the rest of my life. I’m not going to be known as anorexic or bulimic for the rest of my life. As with any other illness ‘I’ve previously had (had, being the operative word), they stay in the past. The reason why I don’t agree with being labelled, is because this reinforces a state of mind with an illness.

I use the phrase “I was alcohol dependent”. Using past tense, because that’s where it is staying. It doesn’t define me or who I am now. That was not me anyway, it was my illness. I AM NOT MY ILLNESS, neither are you.

It’s amazing the amount of people (family and friends) that already knew this and knew my negative thinking was irrational. They didn’t judge me; they knew it was the illness. Honestly, people understand more than you tell yourself. They didn’t judge me on my eating disorder so why did I think they would with my alcoholism? I just had a hard time accepting alcoholism was an illness too.

I am therefore encouraging anyone who is going through a similar situation to please, please, please believe me, this is an illness. It Is Not You.  People want to help; they want to understand and they actually empathise with you and most don’t judge. There is obviously the odd few that are jerks but why would you want a narrow-minded person in your life anyway? Reach out, there is so much help out there, but you need to accept the situation.

Be honest… with yourself and others, it gets you the correct support. Support is vital, even if it’s not to talk about your problems. Reach out.

Thanks for reading.  If you have any questions, I’m sure Walking With My Bear will have no problem with passing them on to me. I have more wisdom to pass on. You are not alone.

Warmest wishes

Jenny x