Deborah admitted she used alcohol as a prop

As someone who uses alcohol as a prop myself, I can see there’s a problem.

So says the well-known English journalist Deborah Orr who died recently. There were lots of tributes. From

She was formidable, magnificent and funny as hell, she was a lioness in a world full of mogs.”

To

“One of the cleverest, most unconventional, most fearless people on the planet”.

A star talent who used alcohol as a prop

Despite a reputation for putting people down she was known to be warm and supportive of up and coming journalists.  She wrote on a wide range of topics from politics, feminism, modern life, social media and mental health. Many years ago, long before it became more acceptable, she wrote about her own drinking   and societies attitudes to drinking with some fantastic insights. She helped expose our very troubled relationship with alcohol.

The state of our heads

In one report she wrote about how everyone knows there’s a line beyond which drinking stops being a prop and becomes self-destructive.  She argued the focus on units is not helpful and we should focus on what’s going on in people’s heads or their lives.

An excellent suggestion, but still not the norm in many of our treatment services

Don’t blame the women

After one lurid headline, where women like Zoe Ball were blamed for leading women into temptation she talked about her own drinking and the double standards that apply to women. She spoke about how as a younger woman. drinking binges were an easy release from tension with very little effort. Only now did she become aware, that there was an emptiness, she was trying to escape from.  She posed the very important question, why are we blaming women, when they are using alcohol as a prop?  Why are we not asking the question why do so many women want to get off their heads!

This is a great question, all people trying to manage their drinking should ask themselves.

Raw unflinching honesty

Ms Orr also spoke about her own personal life. One time she asked on Twitter

 ‘My ex wants to divide up the contents of the former marital home by coming round, when I’m not there, putting a red dot on absolutely anything he wants, then getting me to organise it all into a place where he can have it picked up. Anyone else had this?’

Her responses to the comments on this tweet were laugh out loud funny. She had such a wicked sense of humour.

A drunken lunch

She had a complicated relationship with alcohol which she was totally straight about. She would write about Britain drinking too much and describe a drunken lunch she had. Here’s one extract

“It’s pretty dreadful, screwing up your work for the sake of a drink. It’s really awful, screwing up your responsibilities to your children for the sake of a drink. I’m not proud. Except I made that up, too. I am proud. I regret nothing. It was a golden afternoon. We may not have been officially worshipping gods, but for one day, we were both Ferris Bueller and we both had a day off. The memory still gladdens my heart. That’s how much I needed a day off.

She was also very open about her difficult childhood which is covered in her book which will be published in January. Early reviews are positive. Once again it shows the relationship between adverse childhood experiences and difficulties in later life.

Rest in Peace

Deborah Orr was just 57 when she died of breast cancer.  As well as her many other achievements she helped shine a light on the stigma that many women who drink too much face. By the way she lived and the way she was so open about her own life she helped change how we view women. May she rest in peace.

This post was written by Carol

As some who gets hangovers lasting a week, Carol never drank too much - Once she got to a sensible age! However as a patient with an auto immune illness, since she was a teenager she has to drink very little. So she really understands how Irish society makes this very difficult. Carol is responsible for all aspects of Lifewise operations that Valerie and Angela do not cover.

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