LINDA ROBSON: Alcoholism diminished me to a mortifying behavior

I used to be the final individual you’d anticipate it to occur to. Not me, Linda Robson.

I used to be one in every of life’s sturdy individuals. I soldiered on, it doesn’t matter what. Whatever the world threw at me, I may address it. I used to be the least probably candidate for a breakdown.

But if there’s one factor I’ve discovered over the previous few turbulent years, it’s that psychological well being points don’t discriminate — and that they don’t have anything to do with how ‘strong’ you’re.

If it will possibly occur to me, it will possibly occur to anybody, and I hope that sharing my expertise may assist somebody who’s struggling related issues. Because I wouldn’t want any of it on my worst enemy.

I’ve thought quite a bit about what may need triggered my psychological sickness, however I don’t assume it was ever only one factor.

Linda Robson has written about her struggles with OCD and alcoholism in her new book Truth Be Told: Tales From A Baggy Mouth

Linda Robson has written about her struggles with OCD and alcoholism in her new guide Truth Be Told: Tales From A Baggy Mouth

Jane Moore, Maddie Sawalha, Stacey Solomon, Linda Robson, Nadia Sawalha and Kaye Adams at a VIP launch party in 2018

Jane Moore, Maddie Sawalha, Stacey Solomon, Linda Robson, Nadia Sawalha and Kaye Adams at a VIP launch get together in 2018

Linda, with Loose Women co-panellist Nadia Sawalha, said she always considered herself 'one of life's strong people'

Linda, with Loose Women co-panellist Nadia Sawalha, mentioned she all the time thought of herself ‘one in every of life’s sturdy individuals’

It probably dates again to the nervousness I started to endure after the horrific homicide in 2008 of 16-year-old Ben Kinsella, a detailed household pal who’d grown up with my youngsters. The tragedy made nationwide headlines, and maybe if I’d bought assist for it on the time, slightly than permitting it to fester, issues may need turned out otherwise.

Then there was my sleeping capsule use, which I’d deluded myself for years into considering was high quality as a result of it cured my insomnia. And alcohol, too. I’d all the time loved a glass of wine, however by 2017, once I was practically 60, this had escalated to a bottle an evening. There’s no planet the place that is high quality.

I’ve all the time had OCD — extra than simply liking my home to be spick and span — though I’d managed to cease it from changing into a difficulty. It was solely when every thing else began to implode that the OCD went into overdrive.

I assumed I had issues underneath management. But over the subsequent yr my grip on every thing grew weaker and weaker till I used to be lastly heading for an entire breakdown. A breakdown which might see me pressured to stop work, verify into rehab and be placed on suicide watch.

The actual deterioration began with an episode of Loose Women in January 2017, once they confirmed me the energy and sugar within the bottle of wine I used to be having an evening. It was the equal of one thing ridiculous like 100 doughnuts a month.

I discovered that basically surprising, since you don’t consider wine as being fattening, do you? But I had gained a number of weight and was apprehensive about diabetes and the opposite situations which may develop while you’re greater than you have to be.

The producers had requested me if I might go on a sugar-free food plan and they might comply with my progress on the present. They mentioned they’d get me a dietitian to watch every thing, and we’d do some kind of large reveal once I’d misplaced the load. So I ended ingesting my bottle of wine that very night time; I successfully went chilly turkey.

With grandchildren Betsy and Lila at Trolls premiere in 2017. Star says she now loves nothing more than picking them up from school and receiving cuddles

With grandchildren Betsy and Lila at Trolls premiere in 2017. Star says she now loves nothing greater than choosing them up from faculty and receiving cuddles

Jane Moore, Linda and Nadia Sawalha get some Dutch courage in the pub ahead of their Body Stories campaign shoot for Loose Women in 2017

Jane Moore, Linda and Nadia Sawalha get some Dutch braveness within the pub forward of their Body Stories marketing campaign shoot for Loose Women in 2017

Ruth Langsford had recommended changing it with elderflower water however I wasn’t eager on that, so I’d make myself smoothies and cups of tea at 10 pm, which was the time I’d often be breaking out the booze.

There was a significant downside with the brand new regime, although. I discovered I wasn’t capable of sleep, and so to fight the insomnia I upped my zopiclone sleeping tablets to one-and-a-half each night time. I went to the GP to attempt to get some extra sleeping capsules however she refused me and as a substitute prescribed diazepam, which she mentioned would assist me come off the zopiclone, calm me down and get me to sleep.

I used to be hyper on a regular basis and my OCD was at one other stage. I used to be having 5 baths a day and continuously washing the bedclothes. As quickly because the bin had been emptied, I’d have to alter it once more, even when there was solely a teabag in it.

After stopping ingesting the wine, I went right down to a dimension eight and everybody was telling me how good I appeared. But inside I used to be falling aside.

Desperate for an answer, I went again to ingesting, hoping to search out some peace there. I drank till I handed out. As I sank into what I now know was a deep melancholy, passing out was precisely what I wished. I didn’t wish to get via the remainder of the day.

On days once I felt OK, we typically used to go for lunch at a pleasant restaurant on Upper Street, Islington, close to the place we reside and solely a mile from the place I grew up. I’d say to the household that I used to be going to the bathroom after which secretly ask for 2 glasses of white wine on the bar on my manner there. I’d neck them each after which go to the toilet.

Then on my manner again I’d order one other two glasses and neck them as nicely earlier than going again to the desk, having downed the perfect a part of a bottle of wine within the area of some minutes.

I began taking my toothbrush and toothpaste with me in all places, which was partly to do with my OCD, but additionally to attempt to disguise the scent of alcohol on my breath.

My husband Mark and the youngsters would ask why I’d introduced my toothbrush out and I’d get nasty with them.

‘What? I can’t even carry my toothbrush out with out being interrogated?’

So the stress was making me snappy and irritable with the individuals I cherished. I hated that.

Actress with Birds of a Feather co-star Lesley Joseph at London's Savoy Theatre in 2015

Actress with Birds of a Feather co-star Lesley Joseph at London’s Savoy Theatre in 2015

Linda with her husband Mark Dunford at the British LGBT Awards in London in 2017

Linda together with her husband Mark Dunford on the British LGBT Awards in London in 2017

Star, on the Loose Women Tour Live in Newcastle last year with Jane Moore, Denise Welch and Charlene White, said she used to eat oranges to cover up the smell of alcohol

Star, on the Loose Women Tour Live in Newcastle final yr with Jane Moore, Denise Welch and Charlene White, mentioned she used to eat oranges to cowl up the scent of alcohol

I used to eat oranges to cowl up the scent of alcohol, however I don’t assume it labored. I now understand it’s nearly unattainable to disguise, and the women at Loose Women should have smelled it on me once I bought into the make-up chair, as a result of I can scent it on individuals now.

You can’t child a kidder. It was all the time going to succeed in a disaster level, and every thing got here to a head whereas I used to be away on a break with a number of the ladies from the present in Ibiza in July 2018. It was an annual journey and we’d been three years on the trot.

I’d taken vodka in my case, which I’d drink alone in my room. I by no means drank alcohol in entrance of the others as a result of I used to be nonetheless attempting to disguise how unhealthy issues have been.

But my OCD was utterly out of hand. I needed to have my cellphone charged at 100 per cent on a regular basis in any other case I’d go right into a fluster that the battery would run down and the youngsters wouldn’t be capable of contact me.

So I’d take these transportable chargers in all places and if the cellphone went down even to 96 per cent I’d begin panicking and must plug it in, unable to settle till it was again to being totally charged once more.

In earlier years we’d been up on the tables dancing and having a good time, however I wasn’t having fun with myself on this journey in any respect. The ladies have been apprehensive they usually confronted me in my bed room one night time.

‘You’re not proper, Linda,’ mentioned Nadia Sawalha, who took the lead. ‘Something is really wrong and we think you need help.’

I agreed and for the primary time admitted that I couldn’t cope.

Nadia mentioned later it was like my dimmer swap was fading, they usually had truly thought it is likely to be the beginning of dementia.

Back within the UK, I went straight to a clinic for six weeks earlier than lastly being allowed dwelling. But issues have been shortly as unhealthy as they’d ever been.

I hadn’t had a drink in on a regular basis I’d been on the clinic, however now I used to be greater than making up for that and downing no matter I may get my arms on.

I went again to work at Loose Women the place I managed to maintain how unhealthy issues have been at dwelling underneath wraps by keen myself to carry it collectively for lengthy sufficient to get via the present. Then I’d revert to self-destruct mode as quickly as I used to be completed.

I’d come out of filming and on the best way dwelling I’d ask the motive force to cease so I may come out and get slightly bottle of vodka, which I’d get into mattress with and drink till I handed out.

My household needed to go spherical to our native store and inform the person he wasn’t to serve me alcohol any extra. So I began going to a store a bit additional away the place they didn’t know me. In the top the household needed to begin locking me in the home, which was the one technique to cease me.

I do know that feels like drastic motion, however they have been on the finish of their tethers. Even that didn’t rein me in. I might attempt to climb up the wall of our roof terrace to get out over the opposite facet.

Or I might go and stand on the gate and beg strangers passing by to go and get me some vodka.

The most heartbreaking second of this complete interval got here when Lauren, my eldest, informed me I couldn’t take care of my two little granddaughters by myself any extra.

The last straw for her had been once I’d had the youngsters within the automotive and had left them there whereas I bumped into a store. I assumed it will be OK as a result of I may see the automotive the entire time, however she occurred to be strolling alongside the road and she or he noticed the youngsters on their very own. I’d left the keys within the ignition and she or he was saying somebody may have pushed off with them within the again.

Linda and the Loose Women crew take a selfie on the way to the National Television Awards in 2017

Linda and the Loose Women crew take a selfie on the best way to the National Television Awards in 2017

Linda, pictured with Saira Khan, Nadia Sawalha and Andrea McLean in Ibiza in 2018, said things came to a crisis point while she was away

Linda, pictured with Saira Khan, Nadia Sawalha and Andrea McLean in Ibiza in 2018, mentioned issues got here to a disaster level whereas she was away

Christine Lampard, Saira Khan, Stacey Solomon and Jane Moore celebrate with Linda at her 60th birthday in 2018

Christine Lampard, Saira Khan, Stacey Solomon and Jane Moore rejoice with Linda at her sixtieth birthday in 2018

She was additionally changing into involved in regards to the considered me doing hurt to myself in entrance of them. Some days I’d stroll into a store with one in every of them, purchase slightly bottle of vodka after which secretly drink it when she wasn’t trying, which I really feel terrible admitting to now.

By the Christmas of 2018, the scenario was insupportable. The police had been known as to the home on fairly a couple of events, as I’d been going to the gate and screaming ‘Help! I’ve been kidnapped! They received’t let me out!’

I used to be spending complete days crying and I appeared completely horrible, actually skinny like a skeleton. When I look again on the photos from that point, I’m horrified. It was as if I used to be at dying’s door, with hollowed-out cheeks and contours etched throughout my face.

Even on household journeys out with the grandkids, my thoughts was fixated on getting maintain of alcohol. We went to see a present on the Hammersmith Apollo and I mentioned to Lauren that I used to be popping to the bathroom.

‘Don’t drink, Mum,’ she warned.

I didn’t have any cash on me anyway as a result of they wouldn’t let me have money in case I sneaked off and purchased alcohol. So as a substitute, I drank the dregs from different individuals’s glasses of wine left on the bar or tables.

How unhealthy is that? But I didn’t care. I used to be behaving in methods which have been to this point faraway from who I used to be, I would as nicely have been a unique individual.

By now the household have been having discussions about getting me sectioned underneath the Mental Health Act. They have been frightened. I used to be frightened, too. They determined in opposition to it ultimately as a result of they knew I might hate it and apart from, I used to be keen to return into therapy voluntarily. We couldn’t keep it up like this and I knew that.

The household secured me a spot on the Nightingale Hospital in London and I went there, not understanding if I’d ever come dwelling once more.

I hated myself. I informed myself I used to be only a burden to Mark and the youngsters and that I used to be ruining all their lives. I couldn’t even be trusted with my very own grandchildren.

That’s once I began to assume I’d be higher off lifeless. At least with out me round they’d be capable of get on with their lives and wouldn’t have to fret about who was going to be taking care of me.

I informed the Nightingale workers that I wished to kill myself. I used to be instantly placed on a suicide watch with somebody sitting exterior my bed room door the entire time.

I considered how I may do it and regarded saving my diazepam up and taking them multi functional go. I imagined getting a knife and slashing my wrists. I had began self-harming.

The workers did their finest to verify I didn’t have entry to something I may use to do it, however somebody who is decided to harm themselves will work out a manner, and I managed to search out issues which might work.

I’d even use the plastic knives and forks, and I grew to become very expert at concealing what I used to be doing as a result of there’s mainly somebody watching you wherever you go. I’ve nonetheless bought the marks all up my arm. It makes me shudder once I catch sight of them — they’re a reminder of how horrific issues bought.

I used to be trapped in a hospital bed room, the place dying felt like the one technique to escape the ache I used to be in. I wished nothing greater than to die. This was it — I’d hit all-time low and I had no concept how I used to be going to crawl my manner again up once more.

I attempted to flee so many occasions, however I used to be by no means going to handle it. The safety would all the time catch me and take me again whereas I used to be kicking and screaming. I used to be so closely medicated, I wasn’t capable of assume straight.

Lesley Joseph [my Birds Of A Feather co-star along with Pauline Quirke] came visiting me whereas I used to be in there and I used to attempt to run out together with her on to the road as she was leaving.

‘I’m coming dwelling with you, Les,’ I’d say, pleading together with her. ‘You can’t, Linda. You’re not nicely; that you must keep right here and get higher.’

She was such a tower of power for me whereas I used to be in there. Lesley is likely to be like slightly princess however she’s the kind of individual you want in your facet in a disaster. I do know she’ll be there for me it doesn’t matter what.

I had a lot love and assist on the skin, though I wasn’t able to understand it till a lot later.

All the Loose lot — Nadia, Kaye, Stacey and Jane — phoned Mark and the youngsters each day to verify on me.

Janet Street-Porter did too, and I bear in mind my sister saying, ‘I thought she was hard as nails!’ But she’s bought a smooth facet, has Janet. She’s an actual darling.

After a couple of weeks within the Nightingale, one of many nurses recommended I used to be nicely sufficient to enter the skin world for a stroll and a cup of espresso. I used to be so joyful to be getting out but additionally felt fairly weak, as a result of I knew it was a check and I used to be removed from 100 per cent.

While we have been out, I requested if we may pop into Marks & Spencer and whereas the nurse was having slightly browse, I went as much as the alcohol counter, requested for a bottle of rum after which instantly began necking it proper there in the midst of the store. I didn’t care who noticed me.

The nurse got here working over (as did the M&S safety as a result of I clearly hadn’t paid for it) and I used to be hurriedly taken again to the clinic the place I stayed for one more month. By the time I lastly went dwelling in March 2019, I used to be feeling a bit stronger. But it was solely after checking into the Priory a short while later that issues began to enhance and I noticed glimmers of hope for the primary time.

It was Dr Neil Brener there who actually helped me. He was the primary individual to contemplate that it is likely to be the diazepam that was inflicting a number of the problems, so he took me off that and launched sertraline as a substitute, which I responded to significantly better.

And then at night time I’d have an antipsychotic drug, and that labored for some purpose. My sleeping improved and my frame of mind felt quite a bit calmer and clearer.

After a few weeks, the medical doctors mentioned I used to be nicely sufficient to have some freedom to go dwelling each on occasion, and having that ‘escape’ was an enormous a part of my general restoration. I’d have a couple of days with Mark and the youngsters on the home after which head again to the Priory for additional therapy.

I began the AA’s Twelve Steps programme whereas I used to be in there and I started attending conferences at any time when I used to be out of the clinic. I by no means felt capable of communicate, however it helped me being round different individuals who knew what I used to be going via.

It didn’t matter who you have been or what you probably did for a residing; we have been all the identical there. I’d have counselling periods and was inspired to put in writing plenty of my ideas and emotions down, which I discovered actually helped. I’ve nonetheless bought my diaries and it feels emotional studying them now as a result of they transport me again to a harrowing time.

I had a glance via them to assist me write this and it wasn’t straightforward, though in addition they present me how far I’ve come since. And that makes me proud.

There’s no going again now. I’m doing rather well and I’d say I’m again to the place I used to be earlier than this nightmare started. I’ve been off all my treatment for the reason that finish of 2020, and my OCD is significantly better.

I nonetheless have two baths a day and I’ll all the time be a clear freak, however it doesn’t really feel overwhelming any extra. I haven’t had a drink since that episode in M&S with the rum and I’m completely high quality to be round alcohol. I’m by no means tempted.

The first time my daughter Lauren and her husband Steve left me by myself with my granddaughters once more was actually emotional. I used to be away with the 4 of them on vacation and Lauren mentioned she and Steve have been going out for a drink — would I thoughts staying in with the youngsters?

Would I thoughts?! I used to be ecstatic. And so grateful that she trusted me with these valuable ladies once more.

Now I take care of them on a regular basis and there’s nothing I like greater than choosing them up from faculty and having them come working as much as me and giving me the most important cuddle. There’s no feeling that may match that.

Truth Be Told, by Linda Robson, can be revealed by Penguin Books Ltd on February 15 at £22. © Linda Robson 2024. To order a replica for £19.80 (supply legitimate till February 24, 2024; UK P&P free on orders over £25), go to or name 020 3176 2937.