In this country, with such an ingrained drinking culture, it seems like there’s those who drink and those who don’t. Even though we all know the negative side effects of alcohol, it’s easy to feel oratcisied if you don’t drink. Former Made In Chelsea star and podcast host Caggie Dunlop has known for a while that alcohol hasn't always been the best idea for her. ‘I knew instinctively that [alcohol] didn't work for me,’ Caggie, 31, tells Grazia, ‘But yeah, I didn't want to be like, "Oh, well, I have a problem. So I can't drink." So I would just basically keep drinking.’
That was until she discovered being ‘sober curious’, a term coined by the writer Ruby Warrington. What is being ‘sober curious’, though? Caggie explains. ‘Essentially, it doesn't mean that you resign yourself to sobriety - of course, you can if it works for you,’ she tells Grazia, ‘but it's just about opening up the conversation to sobriety being more normalised.’
While she says her relationship with alcohol never got out of control, Caggie, who is ‘susceptible to depression’, says the main reason she decided to reevaluate her relationship with drinking was because of her mental health. ‘I can go into a depression for a good week after drinking a lot,’ she says. ‘I think a big part of my relationship with alcohol was escaping when things got too difficult or too emotionally challenging - it was like my default setting,’ she adds.
If you’re thinking about doing Dry January next year, Caggie definitely recommends it. ‘I think a massive issue with sobriety is that people don't want to resign themselves to a particular camp, myself included,’ she says. ‘I've had a lot of friends that like will do Dry Jan and probably shouldn't drink - and I've witnessed their behaviour enough to know that they shouldn't - but they can't quite get that point yet themselves because they don't want to say, “Oh, I don't drink”. So I think Dry Jan is quite a nice opportunity for people to explore it without having to explain it very much.’
Her top advice? Not to beat yourself up if you do slip and choose to have a drink - and, importantly, to find other ways to handle your emotions. ‘It’s about having self awareness that it’s about progress, not perfection,’ she says. Caggie exercises, and finds using a journal immensely helpful. She also finds an outlet in writing music, something which she hopes to pursue more in the next year.
Of course, those who watched Caggie on MiC will remember her singing - but she says that wasn’t all it seemed on the surface. ‘The first time I ever sung in front of anybody was on Made In Chelsea,’ she says. ‘So people presumed when they watched it, they were like “Oh, she’s trying to be a singer!” No, I was so scared of performing, I think the producers were like, well, it might go really wrong and that will make great TV.'
‘It was quite the baptism of fire,’ she continues. ‘And then I really got into the music industry. But the music industry was quite a tricky one. I think doing Made in Chelsea gave me exposure, but it didn't necessarily give me credibility. And I think the thing with any kind of fast kind of fame is that it comes with a price. Yeah, I think that's where we're living in a dangerous world at the moment, where fame has been democratized by social media. And I can say from experiencing it firsthand that it's an empty vessel.'
Caggie left MiC when she was 23, which is eight years ago now. But she doesn’t regret her time in the reality spotlight at all. Since leaving the King’s Road, Caggie has now turned podcast host, and is currently on the second season of her incredibly successful podcast, Saturn Returns. ‘A big incentive for me leaving [MiC] was that I really wanted to know who I truly was without being told by the press, or producers, or a TV show,' she explains. ‘[Made In Chelsea] took me on a path to where I am now, and I've got to say I’m now probably the happiest I've been - for as long as I can remember.’