Recovery with Irma: My story part one

Recovery with Irma is a new opinion column with Irma Schutte. Irma supports men and women who are ready to create their own alcohol-free happiness. She offers her clients a holistic and unique approach by combining her experience as a clinic homeopath (British Institute of Homeopathy), certified health coach (Institute for Integrative Nutrition) and recovered addict (sober since July 2015). Her work on holistic addiction recovery, mental health and natural medicine has been featured in popular publications such as Elephant Journal, NZ Women’s Weekly, Sivana East and more.

Here’s the truth…

I had a problem with drinking before I realised I had a drinking problem.

Why? Because of the way I felt when I was sober.

I lived and breathed a holistic and healthy lifestyle. All except for one thing – alcohol.

On the outside, it seemed like I was the poster child for natural medicine and wellbeing.

On the inside I was barely keeping it together.

I drank… and not just occasionally. I drank daily. I was trying desperately to escape my discomfort and outrun my pain.

Wine time was my down time. I knew I needed it to relax and feel better about myself. This awareness always bugged me.

Daily life looked something like this – wake up, feel worthless, fuzzy, hungover, go to work, promise myself that tonight I wasn’t going to drink, get to 5pm, give in to the cravings, listen to my excuses, grab a bottle of wine after work, go home, turn on my music, start cooking, finish the bottle before dinner, hide the evidence from my boyfriend, try my best to not look too tipsy when he got home, eat, have a shower, pass out for a few hours, wake up at 3am with a dry mouth, anxious mind, heavy heart and repeat the ongoing cycle the next day. Throughout the weekends I would drink even more and spend most of my day-time on the couch recovering. This became the longest guilt-trip of my life. I felt lost without alcohol. The idea of not having it was overwhelming and yet wanting to stop was all I could think about.

In the end, all it took for me to go from this daily functional ‘take-the-edge-off-alcoholic’ drinking pattern to a hardcore 24/7 drinker was the experience of grief and loss. Without getting into the details, in 2015 my boozy snowball had gotten so big and out of control that I was unable to function. In the final six weeks of my drinking life, I drank from morning to night…just to survive and feel ‘normal’. I never thought it would happen to me, but it did.

I had my last drink on 25 July 2015. If I wasn’t going to end my relationship with alcohol, it was going to destroy me.

Now that I’ve given up alcohol, I feel like my inner and outer reflections are more aligned. I’ve one less thing to be ashamed of and I’m learning how to be with it all…the ups and the downs of life without repression or resistance.

A work in progress!

Not having alcohol has been the single most important thing I’ve done to enhance the quality of my life.

And I’m nothing special. I’m just like you – someone who wants to feel loved and accepted. Someone who’s doing her best to not be so afraid of life and it’s uncertainties and unknowns.

Next time I’ll share with you what I did to quit and what it takes to enjoy an alcohol-free life.

In service always,



*Would you like to share your recovery story or personal journey with depression, anxiety, grief or addiction with our Chronicle readers?

Please contact Irma to register your interest.

If you are looking to chat to somebody, Raglan has many health professionals available.

Contact West Coast Health, the Raglan Community House or Irma to find out what services are available in Raglan and find the best fit for you.