'I turned to drink to cope with the pain when my WAG life fell apart' Paul Merson's ex wife Lorraine Fletcher tells of her own battle with booze
09:54 GMT, 27 August 2012
Life as a WAG isn't always just about the glitz and glamour of designer handbags, daily shopping sprees and far-fetched jaunts abroad.
And one of this country's most famous WAGSs, Lorraine Fletcher knows this only too well.
She experienced the highs and lows of life in the fast lane during her ten year marriage to England and Arsenal star and notorious party boy Paul Merson.
Paul and Lorraine married at the tender age of 21 but as Paul battled drugs and alcohol problems, they relationship crumbled
She battled with his adultery, drink, drug and gambling addictions which eventually drove them apart.
The divorce was an uphill battle and 43-year-old Lorraine admits that she hit rock bottom, turning to alcohol to help battle her depression.
Speaking in a candid interview with the Sunday Mirror she said: 'The turning point was the day I walked
away from Paul.
Paul Merson was known for his love of alcohol and once celebrated a goal by pretending to down drinks
'Until then I was a WAG, but splitting meant life changed
instantly and I just couldn’t handle it. Everything became too much
and before I knew where I was, I was in the Priory.'
Ironically, Lorraine was teetotal during her marriage to childhood sweetheart Paul, who she married at the tender age of 21 and raised three boys with.
As Paul's career rocketed and he became one of the country's most popular players, Lorraine's existence became more miserable.
Despite all the money sitting in the bank and the glamorous life she led, she was lonely and unhappy.
Her husband's life began to spiral out of control and his gambling and cocaine habits hit the headlines in 1994 after he lost 7million to the casino.
Incredibly, Lorraine was oblivious to
his problems. 'Paul hid so much from me. I couldn’t see
what was happening in front of my own eyes. I was blinded by my love for
Paul, the fact we were married and had three fantastic sons. I didn’t
want anything to spoil that. That’s what you do if you are a WAG,' she told the Sunday Mirror.
Friends broke the news to Lorraine that Paul was playing away but she refused to believe it and when news of his affairs splashed the front pages of the tabloids she forgave him, the pair even renewed their wedding vows in a bid to strengthen their relationship.
Life as a WAG wasn't all about designer handbags, Lorraine was lonely and miserable in her lifestyle. Today she is remarried and has battled her demons
But she was depressed and alone and as their relationship began to crumble, she turned to alcohol to numb the pain.
'I couldn’t manage my
emotions. I couldn’t manage my life. I had nowhere to go. I didn’t know
who to speak to or who to ask for help.
'People may be surprised by this
but I was teetotal during my marriage. It was only after we split I hit
the bottle. Every day would start with a bottle of wine and Jeremy Kyle
on TV. I would drink all day and stay in bed two or three days a week,' she said.
But by 2001, Lorraine decided she needed to turn her life around and get help before things took a dramatic turn for the worse.
She checked into the Priory clinic and it took her two whole years to finally feel she had won her battle with depression.
The couple at their home in Saint Albans in happier times with sons Charlie, Ben and Sam who are now teenagers
She has now remarried and maintains that there are no hard feelings between her and Paul, who she counts as a friend and says is in a 'good place' now.
She is turning the hardships she once faced into positives to help others to overcome the problems that she battled.
She is launching a counselling and motivational speaking company which aims to give women more confidence and next week she will host a lecture in a women's prison called Live An Amazing Life.