The process of becoming sober is a very individual experience.
Rachel Hechtman is a mental health advocate and founder of "Sober in Central Park," and she joins Dr. Fedrick on this episode of Calm, Cool and Connected to share her experience with sobriety.
Key Takeaways from Liz's chat with Rachel:
• Hear about Rachel’s story
• Learn about Rachel’s relationship with alcohol prior to getting sober
• Find out factors that lead to the unhealthy relationship with alcohol
• Discover Rachel’s pivotal moment that caused her to want to change
• Learn some of the tools she used to become and stay sober
• Find out how Rachel decided to start “Sober In Central Park”
All of this and more, on this episode of Calm, Cool and Connected.
Follow Rachel on Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/soberincentralpark
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DISCLAIMER: THE CONSULTATIONS OR INTERACTIONS OFFERED ARE NOT MENTAL HEALTH THERAPY. THE CONSULTATION IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND NOT STRUCTURED IN A WAY TO PROVIDE MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELING/PSYCHOTHERAPY/THERAPY/ DIAGNOSING OF ANY KIND. YOU UNDERSTAND THAT CALM COOL AND CONNECTED IS NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION AS YOUR TREATING MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELOR, PHYSICIAN, ATTORNEY, LEGAL COUNSEL, EMPLOYER, MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL. We offer no guarantees or promise of results from event nor assume liability for any information provided.
Dr. Liz: [00:00:00] Now more than ever. We have an opportunity to be a positive force in the world to help heal the divide, to treat each other and ourselves with respect. Well, there's so many tools out there from meditation to physical training, proper nutrition therapy, and so many others. We all need a little help navigating all the options.
Join us as we share in-depth information, insights and thought provoking discussions that will help answer your questions about how to stay calm, cool, and connected. During these times. Welcome to calm, cooling, connected your guidebook to peace of mind.
Hello and welcome to calm colon connected. I'm your host, Dr.
Elizabeth Bennett. The process of becoming sober from an addiction is a highly unique experience for each individual. It's often quite complex and really difficult. At times we've talked to multiple mental health professionals about the pains of addiction and the process of sobriety. But today we're going to talk with an individual about her own personal story with sobriety.
Rachel Heckman is a mental health [00:01:00] advocate and is here to share with us today about her journey. I Rachel,
Rachel: welcome to our show. Hi, thank you so much for having. Thank you for being
Dr. Liz: here. So tell us a little bit about your story,
Rachel: a little bit about your journey into sobriety. Sure. So I guess I really started struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues going back to when I was about 14.
And ever since then, you know, I kind of. Drink to numb my feelings. And it was a constant cycle of, you know, drinking and, and just not feeling well until one day I just kind of had enough and I was, I was done and I decided, you know, I'm going to change my life. I'm going to stop drinking. And my life just totally changed.
When I made that. Yeah,
Dr. Liz: that's really powerful. And that it's a hard decision to make, especially with the societal pressures. Right. And I'm sure even it for all generations, but your age group, especially, I mean, that's how a lot of people spend their weekends or their [00:02:00] evenings. So that must've been really difficult for you.
Tell me. What was your relationship like with alcohol prior to this decision? Tell us a little bit about like the revolving
Rachel: cycle you talk about. Sure. So before I made the decision to stop drinking alcohol kind of was the center of my life. That sounds kind of sad, but partying was more of the center of my life.
I would get out of work. I, the first thing I'd want to do is have a drink. So then I have a drink. I would go to sleep and I wouldn't get a good night's sleep. I would wake up feeling like crap wouldn't want to work out. Really wouldn't care about what I was eating would go to work kind of feeling mad all day unmotivated.
And then the second I got out of work, I would just want to drink again and repeat. And it was just stuck in this loop of kind of feeling like crap all the time. Sure. Sure. And
Dr. Liz: what do you think are some factors that lead to this unhealthy relationship with alcohol? When, so when you talk about using it to numb, what have you identified as maybe some factors
Rachel: that led to that.[00:03:00]
So I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was 15. My parents divorced when I was 14 and that led me to be sent to boarding school, which was great. But I was diagnosed with ADHD. I've had anxiety since I was about 14 and I suffer from depression from major depressive episodes to minor. So I think all of those factors really led me to alcohol because when I would drink, I wouldn't feel as anxious or I wouldn't feel as depressed.
For a little bit until later on when I was extra anxious or extra depressed, but at the time that didn't register with me, that it's all interconnected. So now looking back, I would say the biggest factor was not being consistent, not being consistent with my routine, not being consistent, taking medication, not being consistent just with my life.
And so having consistency in your life and a routine, I think that's a big factor as. Absolutely. Was there
Dr. Liz: a straw or pivotal moment for you with when you decided
Rachel: enough? Yes. And I can [00:04:00] actually pinpoint the exact moment that I thought to myself, I need to change. So when COVID happened and the pandemic and everything shut down, you know, I live in New York city.
So I was lucky enough to leave the city. My lease was up not and I was in New Hampshire and I lost my job and I would kind of just eating whatever I wanted, drinking, whatever I wanted. I kind of thought that was the dream. Right. And then I was sitting there. I thought to myself, how do people live these active, healthy lifestyles where they get up and they work out and they have a fulfilling life.
And it kind of dawned on me that they're not drinking the way I'm drinking. They're not living the lifestyle that I'm living. And that's when I was like, okay, I need you to make a change. So that was in the summer of 2020. And. January, 2021. I said, I'm going to do dry January and just try to go 30 days.
And at the end of the 30 days, I just knew I was never going to drink again ever. So. And so what supports
Dr. Liz: did you have in place or what tools or resources did you [00:05:00] use? Because that can be a really hard decision, especially as you're describing when that's kind of the center of your lifestyle. What were some tools that you use to make that transition?
Rachel: So some of the tools I used were getting outside and walking. That was the first thing I started doing even in January in New York. So I have a dog as well, so that really makes it easy to stick to a routine. And we just started walking to central park and we would walk there, turn around, come back and, and all the free time that I had from not drinking or feeling hung over, I kind of spent.
Exercising or moving my body or trying to meet new people, et cetera. So I would say really, you know, stepping out of my comfort zone as much as I could. Those were some, some tools that I've used. I'm sure. And what about
Dr. Liz: socially? Did you have, did you build, you said making some new friends, so was it important to build a new network around you?
How did you, what type of social supports
Rachel: did you have? So I didn't have that many because it was the pandemic and I actually was in a [00:06:00] relationship at the time that was not healthy and needed to end. So it was really, it was really challenging at the beginning. And that's kind of what led me to create silver in central park because I was having trouble.
People that I could identify with, or that were going through similar things that I was going through. So it was tough. It was definitely tough. So tell
Dr. Liz: more about sober in central park. Tell us what, what is that platform and how are you using
Rachel: it? Sure. So I started so we're in central park because I didn't want to push all of my new silver content that I was trying to find on Instagram, onto my party friends that works.
I thought, I thought that was kind of weird. Like one day I was. But in party content and not on there the next day sober. So I decided I'm going to make sober in central park and every wants to follow me on there, can, it really wasn't about the followers. It was about holding myself accountable. I kind of felt like putting it on social media, made it like more real which it did because people started messaging me from all times in my life.
So talk about it. And the reason why it was [00:07:00] sober in central park is I was literally sober incentive. Every day and live steps from central park. I live about 0.7 miles away from central park. So when I first started going, I didn't know the park at all. I was never someone that like hung out in the park.
So my dog, we would get there. We'd turn around and write. We wouldn't even really go anywhere. I didn't know where I was going. And it's interesting. Cause I was thinking back to it, it's almost like a metaphor for my whole sobriety journey. I was uncomfortable in the beginning and so I didn't really step out of my comfort zone and the longer I went, the more comfortable I got until now my dog and I, we do a six mile loop every morning in central park and he's awfully high.
Dr. Liz: adapted.
Rachel: Yeah. Yeah. We went from literally getting there and turning around into doing an, a massive loop of the park. And I just kept pushing myself out of my comfort zone and now it's my happy place that I have to go to every morning. Cause we were there this morning.
Dr. Liz: That's so great. And that's so important.
I, I. [00:08:00] Really think you're right. It's looking for the replacement, looking for things that you can fill your time with that also creates some type of excitement or endorphins that you can get those neuro-transmitters really working, which is the reason you were using alcohol was just to feel better for a brief moment.
And so now you've replaced that with healthier
Rachel: alternatives. Exactly, exactly. And I would, I will say. Once I started seeing the results of not drinking, such as let's start to talk about health. Right? My mental health drastically improved in terms of my anxiety and my depression, but my physical health really too.
I lost over a hundred pounds actually. Oh, wow. Journey, which was just an, an added benefit of, of this whole entire thing, but also just feeling better. And, and, and that really keeps me going. Yeah.
Dr. Liz: Absolutely so far viewers that are listening that are like, I can maybe relate to this a little more than I want [00:09:00] to admit.
What would you suggest for a first step for them to maybe start
Rachel: this journey? Small goal, give yourself a very small goal. 30 days, two weeks would take it one day at a time. You cannot think in forever terms. If you think I'm never drinking again, you're kind of just setting yourself up for failure.
I that's my biggest piece of it. Small goal and see how you feel. Because after 30 days I felt amazing. And then after a hundred days, I knew that this is what I was supposed to be doing, and I was supposed to be recovering.
Dr. Liz: Yeah. Yeah. That's so great. So where can our viewers learn more about you? Where, where can you be found?
Rachel: I can be found on silver and central park on Instagram. I put a lot of content on there and I'm constantly putting my central park walks that a lot of people like to follow along on, especially if you're not from New York city. So yeah, you can find me.
Dr. Liz: Very great. Thank you so much for being here,
We appreciate it. And thanks for having me.
Dr. Liz: Absolutely. And thank you all for tuning into this episode of calm, cooling, [00:10:00]connected. Please make sure to find us on Facebook and Instagram and also make sure to rate and subscribe to our podcast so that others can discover our content as well. Thank you again for joining us on this episode of Collin cooling, connected .