I can't believe it actually. It is one year ago today since I went on the tele and outed myself as an alcoholic in recovery. One year ago since I cried reliving my last drinking days. One year ago since I came out publicly from behind my safe 'Mrs D' moniker and revealed my true, full identity. One whole year.
I made the decision to go public months before this TV outing when I contacted a publisher about writing a book. I knew that if I got a book deal I would publish as 'Lotta Dann' and not Mrs D.. and in doing so my cloak of anonymity would be thrown off. I was prepared for that, so that when the publishers said yes, it felt ok.
But boy did things take a massive turn when TVNZ's Sunday programme decided to do a piece on me and my book. I knew this would blow things wide open. This is New Zealand's most watched television show. Sunday night prime time current affairs. Holy Shit......
So yeah, I was nervous as all hell about doing it, but also quietly strong and determined. I told myself that it didn't matter what anyone thought or said, it just mattered that others who might be locked in a boozy hell-hole could see that they're not alone. My friend Sue was also asked to take part in the piece - it was also a big decision for her to go public. You can read her reflection on the process here.
Filming took four days. The crew were lovely but it was exhausting and extremely emotionally draining. On the day they packed up and left I took to my bed at 3pm with a pit of anxiety in my chest. I felt incredibly vulnerable and exposed. But I trusted that they would do a good job, and I kept firmly in mind the main reason why I was doing this - to let others know that there is a way out of the hell of addiction.
Today one year ago Mr D was in America for work and my mum was up staying to help with the kids and offer me emotional support. We went ten-pin bowling in the afternoon to keep ourselves occupied. We were nervous!
Close to the time of the show airing we all got our onesies on and gathered in the living room with drinks and nibbles. Then it aired....
You can watch it here.
The reaction was swift and immense. Holy shitballs-a-rama. I was inundated with emails, text messages, Twitter and Facebook messages, and phone calls. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people reached to me out and most of them were strangers saying 'I'm just like you'. I'm not exaggerating. Hundreds. It was an amazing response and the ripples continue to this day.
Since then I've done numerous media appearances, many public speaking events and have launched a community recovery website that has thousands of members. A few Living Sober members are today celebrating their one-year soberversary because when they saw me on the tele they decided to stop the boozy madness as well.
Going public with my drinking problem is one of the best decisions I've ever made. It was worth doing.
Love, Mrs D xxx