She recalled one day when, after finishing an early shift, she drank two bottles of wine at home before moving on to pubs in the evening, returning to drink a bottle of gin before passing out for just over four hours before her next shift began.
A few days later, she told her deputy editor at the Evening Express about her problems.
In her blog, Esther recalled: “He was pleased I had told him. He was not expecting that. I’d been doing well with a run of decent splashes and had seemed so on top of things.
“I couldn’t tell him about the baby I had lost. Probably through my drinking. Or about the dad that didn’t want to know. But this wasn’t his fault. I’d been on this path a lot longer than since that horrible lonely night in the bathroom with nothing but a clump of bloody tissue and a bare lightbulb to tell me what hadn’t happened.
“Work looked after me so damn well. He’d have to tell the editor, but that was okay. I was safe. They made it easy enough for me to talk when I needed to. And secure enough to admit when I’d had a blip. They made me brave enough to get my GP to write “alcohol withdrawal” on the sick note. They were marvels. Supportive, compassionate marvels. Surely alcoholism can’t be that unusual in a newsroom.”
Esther was then referred by her GP to a counsellor called Christine, who worked with her for a year.
Now working as a communications advisor for the NHS in the North-East of England, Esther dedicated the blog to “Christine – the woman who saved my life.”
Her blog has since received a positive response from former colleagues after she published it last week.
Simon O’Neill, her former editor in Oxford, praised it as “extraordinary, brave and brilliantly written” on Twitter, while University of Gloucestershire journalism lecturer Paul Wiltshire posted: “I am a snivelling wreck because of the aching beautiful honesty of Esther Beadle – and the compassion of her fellow journos.”
Esther told HTFP: “I am completely blown away by the response to this. I just got in on Wednesday night and needed to write, and just happened to start writing about what I went through in Aberdeen. I flung it up on the blog expecting perhaps a dozen views – certainly not this.
“It’s perhaps a bit of a cliché, the whole soaked-up hack, but when it gets too much, the reality is scary. Yet the support I had from the newsrooms in Aberdeen and particularly in Oxford – for everything surrounding my mental health problems – was the best support I ever could have hoped for.
“Yes, editors can be terrifying at times, but they can also be the most compassionate, practical and supportive people you could ever want fighting your corner.
“If anyone feels they might be going through something similar, then I’d say when the time is right reach out for help. Ring AA, call a friend, make an appointment with your GP, tell a trusted editor or a union rep. You being on top form is absolutely what you deserve.”