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Singer Mary Coughlan

Mary Coughlan answered your questions during a Booze forum on Tuesday, 19 March.

Click here to watch it or read her story below.

Mary CoughlanAt the time, Mary Coughlan, attached little importance to the abuse she suffered as a child, an ordeal her parents knew nothing about.

It was only during therapy, decades later that the 44-year-old Dubliner realised the part it played in her downward spiral into alcoholism.

In an interview for the BBC One series, Booze, Mary reveals: "Yes, I was abused as a child. I mean it's almost a cliché to say it nowadays, but almost everybody I knew was as well.

"It was something I remembered I never told anybody about. I actually attached very little importance to it."

She adds: "It wasn't full sexual abuse like rape, but there were lots of other little interfering things from a number of people and I remember them all vividly.

"I think I might have blamed myself or blamed my father, but he didn't know, so I mean how could he do anything about it or how could my mother do anything about it when they didn't know?"

"I was abused as a child"  real 56k

It was during sessions at the Rutland Centre in Dublin - a detox clinic - that she came face to face with the memories once again.

She explains: "I learned that people who that's happened to just begin to feel bad and rotten and stuff.

"I'm not saying that that's why I became an alcoholic or that's why I drink, but I certainly drank on all of those feelings that I felt."

Mary, 45, says: "From the age of about seven, I knew that there was something wrong with me. I don't know what was wrong with me, but I started becoming really depressed.

"I didn't feel like other kids and I didn't know why. After that, I made life hard for myself - I rebelled totally against my parents, my family, school, everything."

"First time I got drunk I was about 13"  real 56k

After leaving home at 17 to work in London as a street sweeper, Mary began drinking regularly with friends.

She went on to forge a successful singing career and became a household name with songs such as I Wanna Be Seduced and Invisible.

But it was when her singing career began to flag and she lost the family home because of poor business advice, that her drinking began to get out of control.

She says the lowest point came after what was a mammoth drinking session, even for her.

She had stopped drinking after being hospitalised 32 times in the previous two years following binges and, shortly afterwards, discovered she was pregnant.

"I was hospitalised 32 time in two years"  real 56k

She says: "I was kind of delighted about it and I said, maybe this will fix me, maybe this will cure me, a baby or something, get back to normality."

But she began drinking again - this time with devastating consequences.

She says: "One evening, Frank and the kids came in and I was laying on the kitchen floor with a piece of bread and butter stuck to my face. I had passed out."

The next day, Mary began vomiting and was rushed to hospital where, tragically, she lost the baby.

She then had to undergo emergency surgery, without anaesthetic, to start her heart again.

She spent a fortnight in hospital with few visitors and reveals: "My kids considered me to be a baby murderer who had deprived them of a brother or sister.

"I suppose I felt lower than a sewer pipe. I just hated myself and I hated everyone."

Her family initially refused to allow her to return home they were so appalled by what she had done.

"I think I have broken the cycle this time"  real 56k

They finally relented after she agreed to be admitted to the Rutland Centre - a rehabilitation clinic, specialising in alcohol problems.

It was there that she finally confronted her addiction and the reasons why she began drinking.

It is now seven years since Mary has had a drink and she says being sober means more than anything in the world to her.

She explains: "It means I can have this house, I can have my children, I can have good days and I can have absolutely miserable days and that's alright.

"I don't have to drink and it means I can actually take anything that comes up - anything."

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Their Story, Your Story
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Their Story, Your Story
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