My first dalliance with alcohol was, of course, at school around 14 years of age. Not really a big deal but my tipple of choice in those days (early 80s) was ‘’spritzer’ aka white wine and soda water. Later I would strangle anyone for diluting my wine! Also as the years went by, the wine percentages and glasses got larger, so half a bottle of pinot in one glass. Hoorah at the time.  It came at a big hormonal shift into teenage years, an uncomfortable relationship with body image having red hair, ridiculously large breasts and a weight problem and drink gave me confidence. I was also under the impression that I loved socialising, all the possibilities of a great flirt or finding the love of your life…what a farce in some dingy nightclub, it’s hardly likely. Although on saying that I did meet my husband while paralytic in a pub. Poor man, little did he know what he was letting himself in for. I loved the anticipation of drink, the dreaming of the next night out. It took over from my love of horse riding, netball, and tennis. I was growing up and regrettably I gave up sports and just gained weight physically and emotionally. Ironically in a profile when I was hospitalised for the second time (see H hospitalisation) I was described as an introvert displaying extrovert qualities. Most of my friends and indeed family would laugh at loud at this. I am seemingly the loudest, brashest, life and soul of the party. Indeed contradictorily, I had no hen night and my marriage was very small with only family and no friends. This was partly financial but also it was deeply out of character and was a wedding to please other people. Given another opportunity, it will be done very differently!

So the seeds were sown quite early and with hindsight I can see the warning signs gleaming like neon lights. I now know this was the beginnings of bi-polar. I was deeply shy really and deeply insecure, so acting a clown and being quite funny was a sure-fire way of dealing with this…add alcohol to the equation and I thought I had struck gold.

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