Irish-born photographer, Fiona McCosh, launched her Sober & Sexy exhibition on 29 September in Cape Town. The models in the Sober & Sexy calendar are all in long term recovery and Fiona, who celebrates her 4th year of sobriety on 19 September 2015 – Fiona illustrates September.
Fiona told her story to Janet Gourand, Founder of Tribe Sober
I come from a family with a history of alcoholism and depression. I always felt different and when I got drunk for the first time I took to it with such enthusiasm that I got alcohol poisoning! Later, I went to Art School and worked in a pub in the evenings. Speed, ecstacy and cocaine all featured in my life and boyfriends tended to share my enthusiasm for drugs and alcohol.
At the age of 36, someone introduced me to GHB. I used this drug to try to moderate my alcohol intake. For four years I was using alcohol and GHB (which is also called the ‘date rape’ drug as it causes users to pass out). One day, I dropped some GHB on my laptop and it melted the keyboard!
My ‘rock bottom’ lasted for about a year. I was living with a boyfriend and we would be awake for about two hours at a time – get high – then pass out again. We didn’t wash or clean our teeth or go out.
One day, I rang my mother who was so shocked by my appearance that she took me straight to the Priory – a rehab centre in the UK.
The Priory didn’t work for me but they suggested a rehab in South Africa. After 28 days in the South African rehab I was still a mess so I extended my stay for three months. After another two months in a sober house, I relapsed and managed to nip down the road and drink a bottle of vodka. There then followed a further four months of ‘research’ into why I needed to put down the red wine.
It took yet another stay in one more rehab centre in SA for me to finally get clean. The relapse had given me the necessary rude awakening I needed and I was able to work the “12 steps”. I still go to about four meetings a week and have an addiction counsellor but I have absolutely no cravings now and feel totally secure in my sobriety. I can socialise with people who drink although most of my friends are in recovery. I appreciate the laughter of people who have ‘suffered’ – somehow it’s more authentic. Cape Town has a vibrant recovery community and I now live here permanently. I feel like I have been given a new lease of life – a second chance.
Last year, I had the idea for the calendar. My passion for photography has been re-ignited and I was inspired by the Calendar Girls story based on women posing nude for a calendar in order to raise funds for a cancer charity. I actually had no trouble finding people to pose for me, so will probably publish a calendar every year!
My passion with the calendar is to spread a message of hope. If I can get clean, then anybody can! I want to raise awareness as well as money for a good cause. I am grateful for the gift of recovery and want to start a dialogue and encourage people to seek help. I am hoping that the Sober is Sexy show and calendar will help make it clear that there is a solution, that recovery is not only possible, but pleasurable – and even sexy sometimes!
Proceeds will be donated to the Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre.
Tribe Sober is a social network that enables men and women to successfully moderate their drinking and become sober by developing tools to support their journey to sobriety. Workshops, sobriety coaching and support groups all work together to provide the encouragement needed.