‘Grief turned to drinking when my baby son died’ – brave Weston-super-Mare woman speaks out about battle with alcoholism
PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 April 2017
“It crept up on me. It started as grief and then became binge drinking. I turned to alcohol to escape, but it made things worse and I hit rock bottom.” – These are just some of the memories of a Weston woman who has spoken out about her battle with alcoholism which started after her five-week-old son died.
Ronnie Merritt, aged 53, has bravely decided to share her story of how she spiralled into a life of depression, which saw her turn to the bottle.
But she eventually found solace thanks to Addaction, a drug and alcohol treatment charity, and she has now been sober for a year.
The charity’s Weston branch is in The Boulevard and Ronnie said she decided to get help when she realised her problems were affecting her daughters.
Ronnie says she was always described as someone who ‘radiates warmth, humour and ease’ when she ran a pub in London and was the life and soul of the party. But when her five-week-old son died in 1998 her life was turned upside down.
She said: “It was Valentine’s Day. He had died of pneumonia on his left lung. He was beautiful; I was the proudest mummy you could imagine.
“When he died I was still making bottles and buying nappies, I was just hysterical with grief.”
Ronnie then spent six weeks in a mental health hospital but says the treatment she was given left her isolated as ‘all they did was sedate’ her.
She added: “When I came out, I took up drinking and with the cocktail of medication I was on, I don’t know how I woke up some days. People didn’t talk about depression back then.”
Following a relationship breakdown, she then moved with her daughters to Burnham but things only got worse for her.
Ronnie said: “I started dating and then living with an alcoholic, so it was hard not to rely more and more on it. It crept up on me. It started as grief and then became binge drinking. I turned to alcohol to escape, but it made things worse and I hit rock bottom.”
But Ronnie went on a two-week detox and received support from Addaction and she now says she could not have beaten her demons without them.
She said: “I’ve learned to enjoy life without alcohol, something I didn’t think possible before.
“My relationship with my kids is now amazing. They’ve noticed changes in me. I’m happier, there’s no alcohol in the house, we can sit and have proper mother and daughter conversations again and I’ve got a glow back in my hair and skin.
“You couldn’t wish for a better service in this town. It is refreshing and inspiring. I might eat more chocolate than I used to, but it’s better than putting poison down your throat.
“Life without alcohol is brilliant; it’s like a big fluffy world I have not seen before.”
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