Wednesday, 1 October 2014


Into the Woods, October 2014 (C) S.Dickens
Well it's that time of year again: the nights are getting longer, the mornings mistier, and the leaves are drifting into satisfyingly crunchy piles. And here in the UK thousands of people are beginning a month-long festival of abstinence, under the banners of Stoptober and Go Sober. Motivations are various: for some it's about raising money for charity, for others a chance to give our poor besieged bodies and wallets a chance to recover from the summer before the excesses of Christmas begin. For many, I'm sure, it's an opportunity to weaken the power that these horribly toxic yet socially acceptable drugs seem to hold over us.

I'm really glad that I was able to stop smoking over a decade ago. I don't say that to be smug but just to let you know, if you're still stuck on the other side of that river, that it is possible to get across, and the grass really is greener on this side! Alcohol, I must confess, has been a trickier customer for me, but I think I can now say with some confidence that it no longer has a place in my life.

Thinking about the important and self-empowering step that these Stoptoberons and GoSoberites are taking, I found myself wondering: what compulsions am I still clinging to, what habits that no longer serve me?

I didn't have to think hard to identify the thing that I'm most "addicted" to. In this body, it causes horrendous, potentially lethal mood swings (sorry hubby), not to mention weight gain, bleeding gums and acne, and as a known inflammatory may even be exacerbating my MS. I'm talking of course about my arch nemesis: SUGAR. Of all my vices, this is the one that I would never have dreamt of relinquishing. But I have successfully let go of so many things that I would have considered "sacred cows" years ago: pizza, bread, cheese, even chocolate. So maybe now I am ready to stop hurting my body with sugar.

As for habits, it's clear to see that the habit that has the most profound impact on my health and wealth is my tendency to spend hours iGlued to my laptop watching junk TV or flittering around on Facebook. I know that doing so is depriving me of so much. Sadly my imagination is now so soggy from too much of the "idiot box", that I can't quite figure out what, exactly, I'm depriving myself of. But I remember vaguely that BC (before computers) I enjoyed a very interesting and active life. I wonder if I can still remember how to do that?

So, in the spirit of experimentation and in solidarity with those wise women and men who are turning their backs on their own addictions this October, I have decided that this month I will also drop my remaining addictions. I will consume no sugar, no junk TV (i.e. no to "junk", but yes to the occasional documentary or talk) and, toughest of all ... drum roll ... no Facebook!

No sugar, no TV, no FB for a month is an idea that fills me with horror. This is proof enough that I have an unhealthy attachment to these things. There is a rationale for cutting them all out at the same time though. As the Stoptoberons and GoSoberites probably know, or will soon discover, it's difficult to change an ingrained habit while still plugged into the media machine that got you hooked in the first place. Easier to just drop the whole lot, and as the old kids' TV programme used to say "Go out and do something less boring instead".

With less time wasted in front of the goggle box, I hope I'll be able to write more, so you may see some updates about my experiment here on the blog. Or I may be too busy writing my book, finding a job, walking in the woods, or skydiving...

In the mean time, you know where to find me - I'll be in "real time". Maybe I'll see you there?