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Talitha-Cummins

Journalist humbled by response to her sobering confession

We’re not going to change anything by fabricating the truth – I’m approaching this with complete honesty.

I lost my identity and fought a long battle to stop.

I tried controlled drinking, switching from wine to vodka, drinking red wine, water in between. Nothing worked. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. By that very definition, I was insane.

One week ago I decided to blog on Hello Sunday Morning, about my battle with alcohol.

I celebrated (in a very different way) my four month sobriety and I felt I’d reached a point where I was ready to tell my story. I woke up that morning and thought, I’m doing this.

People had been making comments for a few weeks – you look healthy, your skin looks great, you’ve lost weight, what are you doing, you look different? They’d noticed. Work was going well – I was given more opportunities. My health and fitness was increasing – I could run ten km’s easily and was in training for a marathon. Life was markedly different to four months prior, where I was trapped in a cycle of heavy drinking, self-hatred, depression, anxiety and desperation.

So when The Daily Telegraph picked up on my blog on Sunday afternoon and contacted me, I agreed to an interview. Gulp. The story ran Monday. My phone woke me up that morning – by 5am there was already a flood of messages and the barrage didn’t stop all day. Twitter, Facebook, email, phone – there were hundreds of people contacting me, thanking me, telling me I was speaking their story.

One man told me he’d lost his six-figure salary job because of alcohol. Another woman’s children were taken away. There were career women who feel they have to drink hard to keep up with men, there was a housewife who hid bottles of vodka in the pantry.

The response was overwhelming. And so very heartening. These people currently battling the bottle were brave and open enough to write to me. To tell me things they could probably never admit to their partners or family. They did the very thing I struggled to do for years: admit to having a problem.

What many didn’t realise was they’d taken the first step in recovery – acknowledging alcohol was a problem for them. Even if at that point in time they had no intention of quitting, a seed was planted. And this very concept made me speaking out so very, very worthwhile. I went to sleep that night with a heart full of hope.

It took me years to do that. For so long I was “doing the dishes while the house was on fire”, simply not ready to face it. Made even more difficult by the way heavy drinking seems to be lauded in our society.

Our culture has evolved to a hard drinking culture. It’s not fun anymore. It’s not pretty. We need to make changes. I’m not talking about alcohol bans or anything like that – I think we as individuals need to examine our own relationship with alcohol.

Ask yourself – why do I drink? For confidence? For happiness? Because I’m upset? Because I want to forget? It’s a good starting point to understanding whether or not your relationship with alcohol is a healthy one.

In the past four months since I stopped drinking, my life has changed beyond measure. Every. Single. Area. Just from changing one aspect – so much has improved. I really want to show other people how theirs can change too.

Last night I was told an extra 800 people signed up for Hello Sunday Morning the day the article was published. I am so incredibly humbled by the response.

Hello Sunday Morning is a free online program for people to take a break from drinking for 3,6 or 12 months. Changing your relationship with alcohol, one Sunday at a time.

Talitha Cummins

Talitha Cummins

Talitha is a Television Journalist and a recovering alcoholic.

7 comments

  • Talitha you are an inspiration. So many Australians feel like they always have to drink – to have fun, to fit in, to go under the radar, to get through the day. But stories like yours tell us that there are many benefits to not drinking alcohol. More people should come out with stories like this so that we start shifting the incredible harmful social norm that people must drink alcohol often and to excess.

  • Thank you Talitha.
    It must have been scarey for a public figure to go public like that. But you have done a tremendous thing for Australia and people in general.
    I hope you continue to do well and get great Karma in the future.

  • Great article and hopefully it encourages people to change their drinking habits or stop altogether. I do not understand alcohol or why people drink. It is not required to enjoy life or be successful and there are other ways to cope with bad days depressing situations. I have never had one drop, drink or taste of alcohol. It was actually easier when I was younger to say no but now as I have gotton older the look on people’s faces when they find out I have never tasted alochol is that of amazement and confusion. They simply can not comprehend that as a 37 year old Aussie woman I have never drunk. Of course when I tell them there is no real reason I just chose not to they then see it as a challenge to try and be the first person to get me to try it. Unfortunatly for them I have never had a hangover and never plan to no matter how socially unaccepted I may be.

  • Talitha wishing you continued success with this battle. You have made the first step in the right direction. I too, agree that changes need to be made with the Australian idea of unlimited drinking of alcohol. Hopefully in the not too distant future we will see more advertisements on the television and radio warning people of the problems associated with alcohol and less showing how great life is when you are drinking with your mates. It is a similar shift in attitude that is needed as when cigarettes were first associated with bad health. I think a lot of people drink because they are unhappy but they don’t understand why. We have a family of four sons and two don’t drink at all. One is a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for over a year. It never ceases to amaze me how so many people try to push alcohol onto people who do not want it. Good Luck with your journey.

  • While it may be challenging to use your prominent persona in this way, thank you for being brave enough to do so.

    You are just like anyone else. It’s clear that the glamour of being a public figure changes nothing when it comes to being human. But you are able to get the word out. You are able to communicate things in a unique way.

    It’s not a matter of inspiring people…it’s a matter of raising awareness and helping them to plant that seed, as you so rightly put it.

    Thanks.

  • I have been ‘meaning’ to ‘contact’ via this forum since reading about Talitha in ‘Sydney Confidential’ on January 14th, 2013.

    I still struggle with issues of addictions to various substances – I have to acknowledge my ‘times’ of sobriety have given me so much more joy, peace, compassion, intimacy & ‘growth’ than ever experienced in my ‘using’ & I am grateful beyond words to all who have supported me – ‘good’ & ‘bad’.
    YOU are extraordinary in your courage & your sharing YOUR story.

    Blessings to you, Talitha Cummins -and to all who ‘challenge’ & ‘support those’ with this devastating ‘illness’.

  • Hi Talitha,
    It is inspiring and brave to share your vulnerability here regardless of what others may think. Well done and more power to you!
    thanks
    bren

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