PART 1 – Recovery
Who is Nina Kosen Sambu?
The hardest of all questions, especially when you have soooo much to say. Let me try summarise this;
I rent space on planet earth and keep her safe for the generations to follow.
I am a wife, sister and daughter.
I am a lover of all things Sustainability & Wildlife and I am a student.
I am 5 years sober from alcohol.
Do you remember when you took your first drink?
Definitely. It was an innocent dalliance as a young teen. I thought it was what I had to do to be inculcated into adulating. I was young and stupid ☺
How and when did you first suspect you had a problem with drinking?
This was tricky for me, a sort of battle within myself. When I kept on having recurring mental health & relationship issues, deep down I knew something was wrong. Also, if I would hide and lie a lot. These were red flags I ignored until I could not anymore. Plus I could outdrink everyone I knew at the time … not an achievement at all, I have realised in the last 6 years.
Would you say you were self-medicating, or were you a social drinker? Do you attribute your alcoholism to anything in particular?
I drank both socially and as a coping mechanism or self-medicating as you have aptly put it. I attribute my addiction to alcohol to trauma and poor mental health.
What was your “drinking career” like?
I can summarise this in 3 words
How did alcoholism affect your relationships?
It does what addiction does best. Broke them down 100%. I am still mending some of them to date, including with myself which is one of, if not the most important relationship of them all. To face thyself unashamed and unafraid, still working on it. I thank my Higher Power for the power of compassion, empathy, forgiveness, love and knowledge. Bravely, my people have embraced these ethos and principles with me and ideally we have put back, together and with gold, a previously shattered and unsalvageable fine antiquity. There’s still cracks but, the gold not only holds it together but makes it stronger than before!
What did your addiction destroy forever?
I refuse to believe that it did.
Addiction, while like a cruel thief in the night, is not a nail in the coffin. Recovery is always an option. The fruits of recovery are sweet, let me tell you! I honestly cannot wait to see what I will conquer next in this life!
What’s your Sobriety Date?
9th February 2018. I accept sober anniversary gifts guys!!
When and why did you decide to get sober?
9th February 2018. I was going crazy to be honest. My mental health was in the gutter, no in the landfill; and it showed every time alcohol touched my lips. I was diagnosed with ADHD in 2012 but I drank on. Stupidly and Regrettably. My Bipolar II diagnosis and the reality of possible self-inflicted early death made me realise I don’t want to live chained to this monster anymore. I want to wake up hangover-free and well everyday! I want to speak without fear of my reeking alcohol breath, even 2 days after drinking! I want to face life’s demons, confident of my mind’s ability to find the best way forward! I want to be free!
How did you get sober?
I was fortunate enough to go to rehab in sunny beautiful healing Diani, Kenya. Hate them or love them, rehabs do serve a purpose and I am living proof that “It works, if you work it.” I spent 90 glorious days in Rehab. They called me ‘Brainbox’. I did all the classes, homework, activities you name it! Oh I had a ball! I had been given a second shot at life and I was not trying to waste it. (The ‘Pink Cloud’) Thereafter, I went to a halfway house for 5 months. This time was tricky, I will not lie. At a halfway house, you work as normal during the day and work on your sobriety during evenings and weekends. It took the selfish desire to want better and to want a full life; to hack living there. I mean of course there is guidance through programs and therapy but you truly must need not want but NEED to be clean and sober for it to work. Oh and don’t forget a ton of honesty and positive criticism with self especially. Funny that this, while being one of the most trying times ever and at my most selfish … led to a beautiful love story that I am overjoyed to still be a part of.
How would you describe your early days of sobriety?
My early days in sobriety were confusing, filled with raw emotions, exciting and again very very selfish.
How did you get over FOMO when you stopped drinking?
This was another tough nut to crack. I remember staying away from the PPTs as I had been taught, People, Places and Things. It worked for early sobriety so give or take 9 months to 1 year. But, for me it wasn’t the solution, long term. So I decided kujiita mkutano (call myself to a meeting) and really think about what I want from my life. Am I going to be sober forever? What were/are my reservations? What triggers me? Will this be the end of my fun & bubbly self? For a while I was like a deer in the headlights. Scared to venture beyond what my narrow mind at the time perceived as safe.
Then I realised, going out to concerts, clubs and events is not for the drinks alone. THERE IS FUN WITHOUT ALCOHOL after all. Others before me and those who will come after me did or will do this. What makes me so different? What makes them so special? I too can do this! I just need a plan (I learned this over on Sober Instagram).
This formula works to date;
- Always have a companion you know and are comfortable with, for the vibes. Also, in case you need to leave or need reaffirmation of your lifestyle choice. Also, why not? ☺
- Make sure they have your drinks or you have access to NA drinks.
- Have an exit strategy. All the time, everywhere, compulsory!
- Make sure you are NOT hungry, angry or tired. Your mood or vibes play a large part in how the day/night will go.
- The party will NEVER stop. If you feel like you cannot be there, it’s okay. Your feelings are valid and your gut never lies. Go Home! Try again tomorrow. The world is literally your oyster. It owes you nothing, you owe nobody nothing.
What is the hardest thing about being sober?
People who drink alcohol almost always think you’re judging them, their choices or their lifestyle! I have received lectures, bad looks and a lot of judgement verbally because of my lifestyle choice.
What is the best thing about being sober?
Too many to choose! Intimate time with my partner has to be the top one! LOL
How can one deal with alcohol cravings?
Play the tape till the end. I drink, then what?
There’s a lot of literature from self-help gurus and psychologists on this. This specific method works for me.
What do you miss most about alcohol, if anything?
Nothing. There’s nothing I did drunk/drinking and seemingly enjoyed at the time that I cannot do now and enjoy even more.
Going public with your recovery can be intimidating. What tips or benefits do you have to share?
A-G-R-E-E-D!! Take time before/if you decide to go public with your story. Make sure you feel grounded in your recovery and like all major life decisions, certain of your actions. Remember the world owes you nothing. Also just remember the good when it gets ugly because it does.
Not everyone wants to see you win, but your story can help someone out there too. It can be a source of encouragement and even double up as motivation that you didn’t know you needed. And that, right there is why Sobergirlke exists.
Do you have any tips to share with people considering being public about their recovery?
You’re no longer accountable to just yourself or your support system. The world is watching.
If you could go backward and give your newly sober self some advice, what would it be?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. You will make it because you have decided you will make it.
How has recovery impacted your family life and career?
I can hold a steady job now and my family and I are closer than ever. As in the ‘Drunk babe for the club’ has her own family. Amazing isn’t it? Recovery is truly the gift that keeps on giving. I am FINALLY who I pictured myself to be and I love that I can say that.
If you could say one thing to a newcomer or someone who is on the fence about getting sober, what would you say?
The grass is greener on the other side.
The fun will not stop.
A day is only 24 hours.
You will live through and beyond this.
PART 2 – The Fun Stuff!
Favourite Non-Alcoholic Beverage of Choice?
There are so many! ☺ Right now it’s a close tie between Monster Energy Mucho Loco and Iced Vanilla Latte from Java. Just a couple though, I also don’t want to have too much caffeine in my system, a girl loves her beauty sleep.
Which drink do you miss the most now that you’ve quit drinking? If any.
Wow, definitely Vodka. It was my go to drink. This is usually during cravings (yes those still happen sometimes).
Let’s talk self-care. What do you do to take time for yourself?
Well, I watch stand-up comedies, series or cartoons. I’m currently into meditation with scented candles. Something I am hoping I can keep up is Mental Health Journaling. I try to have No Phone Days and colour when I can. Most importantly, I’m in therapy.
What is your favourite guilty pleasure?
All the Cheese and Chocolate! Period.
Ok, let’s get spiritual. What’s your practice?
Meditation and the Rosary even if I’m Agnostic, I was raised Catholic and the latter stuck.
Do you have a favourite place to travel/vacation or go to sober?
The Kenyan Coast. I don’t know, call me crazy but life is more in colour there. The sun, the breeze, the people, the culture, the food, gosh it’s all so wonderful and surreal. Always reminds me that I am part of something bigger than myself!
What’s on your playlist right now?
Wueh! It’s usually very eclectic but today I’m on Afrobeats of 2022.
Favourite Sober Celeb
Robert Downey Jr for sure. “From Addiction to Iron Man!”
What’s something that has transformed your life?
Listening! Gosh I wish I knew the power of listening before. I know I sound like everyone’s mum lol but I listen more especially to everyday advice from my loved ones. One of my best and oldest friends gave me an eternal gift the day I went to rehab. He said, “The worst thing that could happen at this point Nina is that you come out a better person.” I listened and it turns out it was true!
Anything else you think our readers would want to know about you?
If you happen to see me, come say hi ☺ I won’t bite.