Through the lens of a loved one – the hidden battle

The gratitude comes in waves. At times it’s like having an out of body experience and watching from above. I watch my husband as he sits on the floor building LEGO with our son, as he is out in the surf teaching our daughter to ride the waves, play fighting with our Golden Retriever or simply lying beside me peacefully sleeping at night.

The sliding doors moment is much more painful. Somewhere along the line, my husband Jason’s relationship with alcohol turned from being an avid wine lover to someone who relied on alcohol to get through his day. In a very short period of time his passion for wine went from proudly choosing the perfect wine to share with friends at a dinner party to struggling with being able to get out of bed due to the depression and the mental battle that his addiction brought with it. 

My husband’s mental health was declining so rapidly before my eyes yet for a long time I was unable to see it. A perfect example of the ‘typical’ Australian male, he powered through, hesitant to allow any form of perceived weakness to be shown. Slowly at first, then at full speed, alcohol stole all of the joy from his life, and it almost stole him from our lives.

If anyone knew Jason, they would never believe the battle that was going on between his ears. From the outside he looked fit and well. He appeared to have it all. The perfect job, two incredible children and close family relationships. From the outside nobody would have known. 

Of the many things that attracted me to Jason was his passion for life; he was a go-getter and was excited for each day. His moral compass was strong, he had a wonderful family upbringing, he was a hard worker, a loyal friend and I later found out, after the birth of our two children, as far as Fathers go, he was the best.  

The steep period of decline was probably only around 18 months to 2 years. As his dependency on alcohol increased he pulled away from me. I watched on helplessly as my beautiful husband began to sink into a deep, dark hole.  Occasionally he would reach his hand out asking for help, but his old ‘friend’ alcohol would always draw him back to that familiar place.  

It’s hard to take myself back to that terrifying and lonely place, a place where hope was beginning to fade. To the chaos and fear of what might come next. The constant adrenalin running through my veins, worrying about his safety, his mental state. He was never violent or aggressive when he was drinking; my fear was more around his failure to resist picking up a drink and how that would destroy his confidence in his ability to stay sober. When it happened it would send him down the cycle of shame and hopelessness and he would withdraw further from me. I worried for my future, what it would look like and I worried for our precious children. 

 

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The hidden battle – this photo was taken in early July 2018 while on a family holiday in Fiji. From the outside it looks like the picture perfect holiday snap, the kids and I were oblivious to the torture going on in Jason’s mind. 

During that time I found strength by talking to others. I began to share my concerns with family and friends. Conversations would open and I found people who had battled addiction themselves so they were able to help prepare me for how Jason may have been feeling and advised me on the best way to handle situations (in their opinion). I read, researched and educated myself on alcohol addiction, listened to inspirational podcasts, I focussed on choosing compassion over anger (although at times this wasn’t always easy) and tried to maintain a cautious form of optimism. I found a psychologist who had an understanding of the complexities around addiction and worked on controlling my anxiety with meditation and mindfulness.  

One of the most difficult lessons I had to learn was that no matter how much I wished Jason would stop drinking, unless he wanted to stop, there was absolutely nothing I could do. No amount of begging, pleading or bribery can help someone get sober unless they are ready themselves. Similar to fitting the oxygen mask on yourself first in the case of an emergency during a flight, I had to learn to focus on my own mental health for myself and for our precious children.

Everyone has a different story. For Jason there was a lot of skidding along rock bottom, attempts at sobriety, failure, defeat, picking himself up and trying again, short stints of sobriety, failure again. The failures at the time were shattering for Jason and for those who love him, but I now know that these are an important part in his journey and his realisation that moderation is not possible.

On July 19th, 2018 we nearly lost Jason to his addiction. He was sick of the constant fight between his ears; he was sick of the noise in his head and the shame that the illness brought with it. Alcohol nearly stole my husband away from us. But it didn’t win. Jason has recently celebrated 2 years of sobriety.

Today the gratitude I feel is palpable. Our life now is unrecognisable to that period. Today I have a husband and father who is fully present, who selflessly speaks up about his challenges with alcohol in the hope that it may be able to help others before they swim too far down stream. Jason has once again become the man I fell in love with 18 years ago, and dare I say it … an improved version.

Life is not perfect; I know that now.  While I wish our family didn’t have to go through the heartache of those painful years,  I know the lessons from the journey our family has taken have given greater meaning to our lives and have built a resilience I didn’t know I could find, and for that I am forever grateful.

Andy is the co-founder of ETCH Sparkling with her husband Jason Quin. ETCH stands for Every Time Choose Health. You can read Jason’s story published previously here. ETCH is also on Instagram and Facebook @etchsparkling

15 Comments

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  • Dear Andy (and Jason). Thank you. Your story has hit a raw but mush needed nerve with me. I have just come out of ICU for the 4th time after being tired of failing in trying to be sober and all the associated hatred and guilt I have from my alcohol addiction. Your story (and going back and reading Jason’s story) has given me inspiration to reach out more, reconnect with sobriety groups and get more help. Thank you.

    By Getting There!!
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    March 4, 2021
  • Thanks for sharing your story &I am so very glad that Jason has had 2 years of Sobriety . What an achievement ! 2 years is exceptional in terms of sobriety & it’s almost a knowing that you’re done with it , the joy & mental & physical benefits are so ingrained. I too loved a glass of wine until it became only ever a bottle & then more if it was there . I would wake up sick , anxious & disgusted with myself saying that’s it , I’m done with it , I would wonder what I’d done ( was it bad ) had I been awful to my husband ( who doesn’t drink at all ) I might have a day off but was into it again the next night at home on the phone talking to other friends who were having the same relationship with their bottle of wine . All of them educated & holding good jobs . It became ok to do this because hey they were doing it too . I’d hardly want to go out because that meant getting home & not drinking when I felt like it . I hate alcohol because it destroys lives & families & it is a poisonous substance that is as addictive as as any illegal drug but there it is , next to the supermarket & down the road & in every ones homes .

    By Tracey Dixon
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    March 4, 2021
  • Great article – well done Jason 🙂 I have almost 18 months of no booze under my belt… just a reflection from my own personal journey…I don’t talk in terms of “failure” when it comes to the times I have “chipped away” at giving up booze, I prefer to think of the shorter stints as test runs, I found it helped in my not beating myself up about things too much. It also allowed me to look at those periods and analyse how I felt overall – which for me was so much happier. Try try try – for me that was the key.

    By Linda
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    March 4, 2021
  • Thanks for your brave compassionate story. I was holding my breath to learn that Jason was okay. Inspirational.
    Gail

    By Gail Scarlett
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    March 4, 2021
  • Love you dearly Jase & Andy …
    Congratulations.
    And what a day to celebrate recovery and love !!!!

    Shan & Tim. X

    By Shanna Whan
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    March 4, 2021
  • I’m writing this not sober!! I need help !!!

    By Alex
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    March 4, 2021
    • Thank you for sharing Alex. It sounds like it’s a tough time for you right now and we want you to know that there is support available.

      Check out the Daybreak app to connect with others who may be going through a similar experience or reach out to a health professional such as GP. Lifeline is also available for support 24/7 on 13 11 14.

      Take care, The HSM Team.

      By Hello Sunday Morning
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      March 4, 2021
  • Thankyou thank you thankyou
    I thought it was just our house that suffers this. My husband is on a similar path and I can no longer help as I have learnt you can not help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves. I fear I have lost my husband, friend and father of my kids as he is merely a shell of the person he was. To everyone on the outside our life seems great, he seems great – everyone loves him yet within our walls its a crumbling tower. I hope our lives get turned around Im just waiting for the ‘rock bottom’ moment

    By Putting my mask on first
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    March 4, 2021
  • Thanks Andy for sharing your Journey. I met up with yourself and Jason last Sunday and with only 6 months of Sobriety under my belt I came away after our brief chat feeling so inspired and wanted more than ever to stay Sober. Thanks for sharing.

    By Ann
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    March 4, 2021
  • Wow Andy, This is so heartfelt and such a powerful insight. As someone who has faced these same issues head on. I am inspired by you sharing your story and going as far to create a product that helps people stay sober and on track. I am a huge fan and I am so grateful for you. Love Jade xoxo

    By Jade Szonyi
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    March 4, 2021
  • Honest, open, raw and vulnerable. A heartfelt piece written with love and compassion. You and Jason should be so proud of how you have navigated the past two years. And that you have managed to create ETCH – my fave non-alcoholic small-batch beverages – another great achievement! Amazing work guys!!! 🙏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

    By Robyn Lea
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    March 4, 2021
  • Lovely to read about, thanks for sharing

    By Terry
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    March 7, 2021
  • thanks for your article. it would have been great if you were able to share how he nearly died and how he was able to beat his addiction.

    By scott newman
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    March 8, 2021
  • Hi Jason

    Your story is inspiring I’m not quite there yet but I will be I used to be an amazing mountain bike rider finishing in the top 10 percent in races but unfortunately that doesn’t happen anymore I would love to talk to you both

    By Mick
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    March 14, 2021
  • Thank you for sharing. Inspirational.

    By Bill
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    April 1, 2021
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