Anna: “I've never felt this sense of peace and happiness."
Updated: Apr 5
Anna always knew she didn’t drink like other people – they didn’t drink to blackout nearly every time they drank – but for her, that behaviour was “kinda normal”.
She started drinking alcohol aged 16 and struggled with it right from the get go. “I always had shame and guilt about how I drank, right from day one. The only way to deal with that was to drink more.”
Like many people who struggle with substance abuse, Anna’s life appeared to be okay from the outside. She worked, had children and friends but it was all an illusion and the fight to appear “normal” became harder as time went on.
“My kids used to see me in some terrible states. Sometimes they’d even put me to bed. That made me drink even more because I couldn’t stand myself.”
Anna wanted to get sober for her kids and entered recovery through a community support group. She stayed dry for about 10 years.
“During that time I still wasn’t truly happy. I wasn’t comfortable and lacked confidence in social situations without alcohol. I overthought my past mistakes and all of the shame and guilt that went with them. I was confused and in a state of chaos of anxiety the whole time.”
Seeing counsellors and psychiatrists didn’t help back then. “I must have been to over a dozen different people. One psychiatrist said I was not an alcoholic but a hazardous drinker. I thought, ‘That’s okay – I can carry on drinking!’”
“I was full-on drinking every night and often in the morning, when I’d start drinking again, I’d wake up in the morning and still be holding a glass of wine in my hand."
After years of drinking and damaged relationships, Anna was drinking more than ever.
“I was full-on drinking every night and often in the morning, when I’d start drinking again, I’d wake up in the morning and still be holding a glass of wine in my hand.
“Every morning I’d wake up and think, ‘What am I doing?’”
Her rock bottom came when she was pulled over by the Police for driving under the influence of alcohol.
“It turned out that was the best thing to happen to me. For years I thought, ‘Maybe I just need to take myself away and go to rehab. But I never made it happen. Now, I’m just so grateful I got pulled up cos I probably would still be doing the same things today.”
Her rehab dream came true when Anna called Ocean Hills.
“I was very nervous but as soon as I saw the staff, nurse and doctor I felt instant warmth and caring. I felt so welcomed. I knew it was absolutely the best place for me to be because I felt so safe as soon as I got there.
“The place is lovely. It’s so fresh and has a really good feel about it. The beds have beautiful fresh crisp sheets, with yummy white duvets and pillows. And the food is amazing.
“The staff are just amazing and all have their own stories and strengths and like Elaine, absolutely one hundred percent genuinely care and want the best for you.”
After resting and sleeping “for the first time in years, because I felt safe”, the real work of recovery began for Anna .
For most of her life, Anna felt unconnected and like she was playing someone else’s part. She found it hard to make sense of her life when it was full of confusion and chaos.
“I wasn’t really authentic – I didn’t know how to be real. I said what I thought people wanted to hear and I didn’t know what boundaries meant, right from wrong or what feelings I had. I didn’t know myself.”
Through the Ocean Hills programme of recovery, which includes an addiction education programme, counselling and EMDR therapy, Anna slowly unravelled her life and learnt the skills of sober living.“I completely let go and I said to myself, ‘I’m going to be open to anything’.
“There was lots of fun stuff as well, like horse riding, massage therapy, meditation, yoga, going out for lunches, pools at night time, art therapy and walking every morning."
After one month, Anna returned to her life with some big changes, including doing a different (low-stress) job and a refreshed outlook on life.
"I carried on with all of the Ocean Hills routines, like reading, affirmations, prayer, smoothies (I can’t start the day without one of those now!) and writing in my gratitude journal.”
Feeling healthy, fit and living a life of sobriety is the only plan for Anna's future.
“Now I get so excited about going to bed sober, knowing that I’ll sleep well and peacefully. I wake up with a smile on my face, excited to start my day."
Anna has carried on with the routines she learnt at Ocean Hills, such as daily recovery readings, meditation and affirmations.
“I've never felt this sense of peace and happiness. It just blows my mind – I wake up every day excited with a smile on my face and ask myself, ‘Why didn’t I do this years ago?’
“Today, I can look at myself in the mirror and know I have my own best friend looking back at me.”
Call Elaine on 027 573 7744 for a confidential chat if you'd like to talk about a stay at Ocean Hills for you or your loved one.