“My mental breakdown and alcohol addiction inspired and changed me”- Daina Renton.
We at BoxHuman are passionate about highlighting and celebrating inspiring humans; especially the ones who are inspiring, helping and bringing light to the world. We do this in order to rebalance some of the negative messages we often hear, see and receive on a daily basis. We quickly met up with one of these amazing individuals…
Hi Daina, it’s so nice to meet you. So without further ado, let’s get this interview started! Can you please tell me in one sentence who are you and what do you do?
Hi I’m Daina and I’m a photographer and fashion stylist from Glasgow, UK.
Brilliant intro, thank you Diana! At BoxHuman we are passionate about highlighting the stories of inspiring humans. Can you please tell us in your own words when your inspiring journey began and what happened?
I always start the ‘inspiring’ part of my life story at the moment I had a mental breakdown in 2015. I can’t say that I had reached rock bottom yet in terms of my mental health and alcohol addiction, but it was definitely the beginning of a tough journey.
I was working too hard and my addiction to alcohol was getting completely out of control. I was turning up to photoshoots drunk and ruining all my friendships through my poor mental health and addiction. I began getting therapy but it wasn’t until I got sober that I started really putting the work into improving my life.
I grasped every single bit of help I was given. I had to essentially start all over again, move back home, keep myself safe and learn to be a human being again.
In the first year of sobriety I completely turned my life around and went from multiple attempts on my own life and self harm, to working for big name clients and giving back to my community through service. I launched my second fashion magazine and found myself ending up successful, but not in any of the ways I had imagined.
Thank you for being so open with us and for sharing that Diana. Wow, we’ve only just started this interview and it’s already so inspiring. To get to know you even more can you please tell us…What has been your biggest challenge and how did you or are you overcoming it?
The biggest challenge I’ve had to personally overcome is figuring out how to live life as an autistic person without masking it with alcohol. Women are said to be more adaptable to social situations but it doesn’t mean that they struggle any less.
Sensory overloads and general social issues have plagued my whole life but in getting sober I had no choice but to learn to live a life without masking my autistic traits. Not every friend I had when I first got sober still exists in my life. There’s a lot of things I just don’t enjoy doing.
My whole life was ironically turned upside down when I got sober because I hadn’t lived any of my formative years without the help of alcohol. Learning how to live life after so long not living it is surprisingly difficult.
It takes a strong human to recognise their vulnerabilities and to empower themselves by openly embracing them. Can you please kindly tell us what you’ve learned from your own personal journey and what others could learn from it?
I have learned that if I don’t learn to balance my life in the ways I need to – eating, drinking, medicine, therapy, a 12 step program, I will lose my mind again. I can’t ever go back to living the way that I was.
Understanding that recovery from both addiction and also complex trauma is not as simple as going from A to B, it is a life long journey that doesn’t have a set end date. You don’t wake up one day and feel fine. You have to accept what is and what isn’t.
For me, keeping my life as simple as I can and taking everything one day at a time has been the key to completing impossible tasks.
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Such honest and valuable advice, thank you Daina. What has been your biggest achievement so far and how does it make you feel?
My biggest achievement so far is a toss up between styling for Sony, (I never thought a country gal like me could work for a client so big) and reaching a year of sobriety. I don’t know how it makes me feel. I think I am extremely surprised to the point it still hasn’t sunk in that any of it happened yet. I would rather have died than lived a sober life. Yet here I am. Weird.
Congratulations Diana! What amazing achievements that you should be super proud of! Let’s keep the positive vibes flowing even more and start our BoxHuman ‘Fire-Inspire’ questions.
1) What inspires you at the moment and why is it important to you?
2) What makes you smile?
3) How do you motivate and inspire yourself on a daily basis?
1. At the moment I am working two different photography books and exhibitions. I won’t say what they’re about but I’m really passionate about the themes contained so it’s good to have something I’m really into to work on.
2. Otters make me smile. Otters are the most precious thing on this planet and I will fight anyone who argues with me on it.
3. To keep myself inspired I understand that motivation is fleeting but self discipline can be cultivated. If I waited until I felt like doing something to do it, I would never do anything. Self discipline means I get what I need done, and I can revel in the smug satisfaction that some days I CANNOT STAND getting out of bed but I dragged my ass out anyway. Motivation doesn’t feel how people think it feels.
The less snide response to that question is that to keep myself inspired I listen to podcasts and Ted Talks on things that I find really interesting. I browse Pinterest and Tumblr instead of Facebook and Twitter. (Best for creatives). I eat. Which doesn’t seem like much but as I have an eating disorder, sometimes even the simplest of tasks get me going.
Love it! You’ve overcome so much within your life. What advice would you give to someone who is wanting to change their life for the better?
It depends on how they are wanting to change their life, but I would say that unless you’re willing to do whatever it takes to have that change, you’re not ready to change. If you aren’t ready to change that’s absolutely okay – but you’ll find that progress happens so much quicker when you’re really ready to reap the benefits of the efforts.
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That’s very true and I’m sure that your advice will resonate with so many! We’re nearly coming to the end of the interview (sad face) but before we finish, I think we should do another quick ‘Fire-Inspire’. Ready?
1) What future life goals do you want to achieve and why? 2) In three words how would you describe yourself. And… 3) What is your favourite quote?
1. A future life goal of mine is to contribute something accurate and meaningful to the popular culture and positively influence the world’s perception on people like me.
2. I would describe myself as resilient, intelligent and dark.
3. My favourite quote is probably the one I have tattooed on my ribs:
“I’ll face it with a grin, I’m never giving in, on with the show.”-Freddie Mercury
A BoxHuman is an empowered individual. They will not be defined by society’s labels. They show the better qualities of humankind, such as strength, kindness and inspiration. Can you please tell us what makes you a BoxHuman?
Sobriety has empowered me. Kindness has empowered me. My self love of my atypical mind has empowered me. To be kind despite all that has happened to me is a rebellious act and I’m not afraid to keep doing it.