Sobriety, Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place and realising you’re not alone

Giving up booze can be a shock to the system, so Sam Delaney has got himself hooked on Fearne Cotton instead

Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place is a podcast so popular that it’s been turned into a festival. As someone who spent most of his life thinking that talking about your feelings was a load of pointless old bollocks, I have been very surprised by how much I enjoy listening to it.

My grandma used to advise me to get straight out of bed in the morning in order to avoid thinking. “No good ever came of thinking,” she’d say. I subscribed diligently to this maxim for years, avoiding any sort of contemplation of what you might call my inner life. Booze and drugs used to be a good way of protecting my mind from wandering too far in dangerous directions. But then four years ago I had to knock all of that on the head because it was making me too much of a miserable, fat dickhead (and, ironically, hindering my ability to get out of bed in the morning).

At some point all of us have to learn new ways of coping with the little bits of ordinary pain,

Sobriety was tough at first. I had to confront each day, however stressful or boring or shitty it might sometimes have been, without the safety nets I’d trained myself to rely on since I was barely adolescent. Even if I’d just had an average, mundane sort of day, where nothing that bad had happened but I just felt lonely or tired or grimly indifferent to life, I could no longer take the quick fix of livening things up by smoking, snorting, popping or drinking something.

At some point all of us have to learn new ways of coping with the little bits of ordinary pain that punctuate even the happiest of lives. And guess what? I’ve found the most reliable way is to share stuff about your anxieties or stresses, however tiny, trivial or embarrassing they might seem. Because you will invariably find that there are other people who feel the same way.

Realising you’re not alone and we all have this crap going on in our hearts and minds every day is a magically liberating experience in itself. And at times you might even find that other people have practical ways of coping they can recommend to you. At the very least they will testify that they’ve been through what you’re going through but still come out the other side with a smile on their face.

Talk to your mates, talk to your relatives, find a bunch of strangers in a group near where you live who are up for the same sort of chat – it’s helpful. Or plug yourself into Happy Place and listen to all the funny, honest, smart and inspiring people Fearne Cotton talks to about this stuff. Unlike booze and drugs, it’s free. What’s the worst that can happen?