I find it fascinating how quickly bad habits are formed. Take this blog as an example, I let a puppy excuse my regular posting until the habit of avoidance became so bad I considered abandoning the blog altogether. But why is the reverse the case when trying to adopt good habits? All those good intentions, (usually formed the morning after each New Year's Eve when the memory of the second bottle of Tequila is forcing the resolution.) - "I will go to the gym three times a week." "I will eat fruit every day." "I will stick to that yoga class." How hard can it be? Apparently harder than Arnold Schwarzenegger's knob! The gym winds down at a gradual pace from three times a week, to one, to never before the end of January; similarly the bags of apples fester in the fruit bowl until you could drink the fermented result and call it home brew along with the yoga class that almost makes it to half term until a new series of Ripper Street starts at exactly the same time and it's farewell Downward Dog and hello fat arse!
Meanwhile the bad habits wriggle into our being while we defend them with our lives. "I have to have the large bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk for my blood sugar levels." "Oh there's nothing wrong with 6 cups of coffee a day, at least I don't drink Coke." "I have to watch Jeremy Kyle after drop off to learn Street Patois." "I need a bottle of wine a night to relax." That habit's the toughest one to crack of them all.
My alcohol consumption was quite measured before I had sprogs; social events aside, I hardly drank at all. A shared bottle of wine over dinner was the pinnacle of my habit, rarely done on week nights and often was the bottle left unfinished; so why, with the onset of kids, did I nurture a tolerance to the stuff that would have given me a fighting chance against Russell Brand in a drinking contest?
It started innocently enough; the odd snifter with fellow mums while discussing sleep deprivation and Mastitis, but faster than I could say AA I was yanking the cork out of the bottle come the girls' bedtime at 7pm like a woman being involuntarily sectioned while cursing the sodding cork and vowing to only buy screw tops from then on. It probably didn't help that Bob joined me in this new found recreation, but it made it more acceptable that he did. When once we could have been spotted enjoying an evening swim after a hard days' work, perhaps having a salad for dinner to complete our smug virtue, now our nights were spent in drunken conversation and later and later meal times. If having children meant we couldn't go to the party then we would create our own. And so it was that the habit was formed with remarkable ease believing it an aid to marital relations; who needs marriage guidance when you can simply open a chilled bottle of Chablis? What I didn't know then, was the wine was rapidly morphing into a crutch which I used with increasing skill while adapting to the new life I was carving when we had children. Call me mad, but endless washing cycles and Annabel Karmel recipes just didn't float my boat. I didn't give a shit how cute she made a baked potato look, with chive whiskers and radish ears, my kids weren't having any of it!
My days plodded along between the mundanity of daily chores and the hedonism of the evenings until Tuna started nursery and I went back to work. That was when the wine stopped being a crutch and became a wheelchair. The mood soothing properties of the fermented grape became necessary on my return home to stop me snapping at the girls for dragging their heels over bedtime because they hadn't seen mummy all day. With the first sip the world adopted a rosy glow and I could cope with anything.
Until it stopped helping me cope and started exacerbating my utter exhaustion. In my busy day to day existence I ate little of nutritional value (unless the cheese in cheese and onion crisps counts. Probably not!) and propped myself up with coffee and plonk before picking petty fights with Bob culminating in sleepless nights of regret. I was a train wreck. I knew I needed help before I ran right off the cliff edge.
I had read an article somewhere that hormone imbalances in post children and forty plus women can be misdiagnosed as depression as the symptoms are virtually identical. Armed with this knowledge I skirted round the doctor and sort the help of a Naturopath. She discovered that my adrenal glands were on the floor and needed urgent attention if I was to return to a happy, balanced disposition. (I'm not sure I've ever been balanced, but I didn't mention that!) Supplements and tinctures specific to my needs were prescribed along with recommendations for a healthy diet, all of which I swallowed religiously along with putting a cork in the bottle. Bob also leaped to my rescue by preparing meals so chocked full of veg my plate resembled an allotment each night.
Within six months I was back to my mostly usual self with thoughts of cliff edges a distant illusion in my memory. All it took was physical maintenance. I wouldn't have treated my car as badly as I treated my body - in fact, it's illegal to put an unfit car on a road, and yet the potential damage bald tyres could inflict is nothing compared to the destructive consequences of a neglected body.
And now, three years on, I no longer need the supplements, enjoy alcohol in sensible quantities, maintain a balanced diet and most importantly, enjoy my life again. It's not rocket science, and yet sometimes, it may as well be when those bad habits retain a firm grip. So stop looking at that apple and pick it up and eat it, unless it's the apple wielded by the witch in Snow White, it won't poison you!
A Naturopath brimming with knowledge and human compassion. She also loves dogs!