MY NAME is Monique Parker and I haven't had a drink in three and a half years.
Until she quit "cold turkey", Monique Parker didn't realise how much she had used alcohol as a crutch.
A former marketing manager at an international firm, the flambuoyant, colourful woman now lives on the Sunshine Coast after moving here to start a healthier lifestyle and build her own business two years ago.
Monique shared her story with her friend Kerrie Atherton and the Daily's reporter over coffee at Cafe Italia in Mooloolaba.
Both women were passionate about helping others overcome addictions. They decided to share their personal stories in the hope it would help others suffering gain the courage they needed to seek help.
Monique's appearance and playful nature made a strong contrast to the depression and alcoholism she described in her recent past.
She had been a successful marketing manager at a fast growing franchise based in Brisbane, and while her lifestyle was busy and her job fun and satisfying, she was desperately unhappy.
"I had the perfect job from the outside but on the inside I was quite unhappy," she said. "I was lost and disillusioned with corporate life."
She and her husband were very close, but he worked in a fly-in-fly-out arrangement, and she was very lonely, she said.
Monique decided to stop drinking in September 2011.
"I got to a low point ... I realised that I really hated my life," she said.
She said while she had money, resources and opportunities to create whatever she wanted, she was depressed and "stuck".
"I got to the point where I knew no matter what I did if I continued down this path I would never have the life I wanted," she said.
"I was using alcohol as a crutch. I made a decision that I was going to radically change my life."
When Monique decided to quit, she found herself socially isolated.
All the "high fliers" she knew used alcohol to escape the reality of their high pressure jobs and enjoyed regular drinking sessions where they let off steam together.
"Quitting alcohol was very socially unacceptable," she said.
Once sober, she realised she no longer had anything in common with the friends in that scene.
"I pretty much lost most of my friends," she said.
Monique didn't reach out for help in quitting, a decision she still regretted, she said.
"It was really, really hard because I did it all by myself. I didn't know Kerrie at that time," she said.
Monique said she was surprised how quickly her life improved after the decision to quit.
"You have to create the life you want when you don't have that crutch," she said.
"Because of making that decision I was able to create my own business.
"I had to do deep inquiry within, because if you remove one thing, other (addictions) come in like sugar and over-eating."
She said addictive behaviours had stopped her from making the best of her life and from creating meaningful friendships.
"You never discover what's truly possible in your life until you're free from the addictive behaviours that control you," she said.
Monique's advice to others suffering from addiction was to quit, but not to do it alone.
THERE IS HELP
If you or someone you know needs help, you can contact these services for confidential support.
Buddina 07 5444 8616 or 0457 119 009
Nambour 07 5476 2166
13 11 14 24-hour support line. Visit lifeline.org.au