Michelle Bridges Needs Empathy, Not A Public Shaming

When I read Michelle Bridges had been done for drink driving with her five year-old son Axel in the back of the car, I felt sick.

The Twitter trolls were quick to condemn, as they always are  – baying for her blood, bad mother tweets, irresponsible, selfish….for someone who has made millions for selling a healthy lifestyle, she messed up, didn’t she. I’m sure there are those who are shaking their heads in disgust.

How quick we are to judge, to hate, to condemn, aren’t we?

But I felt sick.

Not with anger, judgement or contempt. Not because she could have crashed, caused injury to her, her son and innocent people. She didn’t.

But because that could have been me.

Her alcohol reading was 0.0086. It was late morning. Bridges admitted she had been struggling with ‘emotional turmoil’ and was devastated after the recent split between her and Steve ‘Commando’ Willis, and made an ‘error of judgement.’

It doesn’t sound like Bridges was hammered the night before dancing on the tables at a nightclub.

It doesn’t sound like she was having fun.

It sounds like she’s going through a really tough time and made a stupid mistake. Like most of us have.

I’ve made no secret of my battle with the booze, and that I am days away from one year of sobriety, the longest time I have been sober since I was a teenager.

I’ve also outed myself as a proud member of a 12 step program, where without the support and daily connection, I would still be struggling.

I hold no shame in admitting my imperfections. I have no shame in being human. And I know since talking about sobriety and addiction, hundreds of you have contacted me wanting to know how I kicked the habit, how I got sober and that you think you have a problem with the booze.

If I can help just one person kick the habit, then going public was worth it.

Talking about addiction makes it real, less shameful. If we talked about it more, more of you would know how, where and when to get help. You would know it can happen to anybody, no matter your age, sex, profession and status. Bridges isn’t just a ‘celebrity’. She is a mum who is going through a tough time, whether she be famous or not.

We live in a society where drinking is celebrated, normalised and encouraged, yet addiction to the same stuff we are encouraged to drink is seen as weak.

And let me assure you, alcoholism progresses pretty damn quickly. My drinking ramped up in my late 30s, and once it got its grip around me, I was powerless.

I’m not saying Bridges has an issue with alcohol – it could have well been a one off error.

But I know what it’s like, to be struggling, sad and to hit the bottle to fill a very empty void.

Alcoholism isn’t just about the way we drink. It’s about the way we think. It’s about that ‘hole in the soul’ that needs filling with booze, drugs, whatever we can get our hands on to numb the pain.

I know what it’s like to get into a car and to think ‘I think I’ll be OK,’ having had a few drinks the night before. I know what it’s like to blackout and not remember how I got home. I know what it’s like to wake up shameful about my behaviour and to make apologetic phone calls. I know what it’s like to pass out in the hallway of my home for friends to come in and find me the next day.

I know what it’s like to be in a very, very dark place.

Hold a mirror up to yourselves, look yourselves in your eye and tell me, do you see absolute perfection?

Bridges has learnt a lesson this week, she was lucky.

Those quick to tut tut had better be perfect people, living perfect lives and be perfect humans. Because I know I’m not.