Weekend Sunrise presenter Talitha Cummins doesn’t look like an alcoholic or fit any of the usual stereotypes of a drunk.
For years the successful TV news journalist masked her binge drinking habits. After a difficult conversation with her boss, she signed up to Alcoholics Anonymous and Hello Sunday Morning and was completely overwhelmed by the positive feedback and support she received from Australia in response to her brave admission.
Now four years sober with a newborn son, Talitha Cummins has shared her experience of alcoholism, recovery, and sobriety on the ABC’s Australian Story.
In recognition of how far she has come, we take a look back at a post Talitha penned for Drink Tank in 2013 at the start of this incredible journey.
From the Drink Tank archive: 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.