“I’m *name* and I’m an alcoholic.” – the thought of ever having to say this freaks the hell out of me. Yet alcoholism is a disease, just like depression, and I know that it’s something that one day could happen to me.
Yesterday, June 11th, was a miserable day for me as I outlined in my previous post. If I was any way a rational thinking person I’d simply shrug and treat it as any other day. Alas, my brain doesn’t work the way it should; I’m obsessive, unstable and prone to overanalysing everything. And because it was such a crappy day I decided to indulge myself in a whole day and night of comfort eating and drinking. Among the various crisps and chocolate bars I gorged on I managed to put away two 750 ml bottles of red wine and two 500 ml bottles of cider. I’m not a health professional but I can tell that this is not a particularly recommendable course of action, especially for someone who’s already battling with depression and is on medication for it. But screw it; yesterday I didn’t care. Yesterday was all about indulging in the worst aspects of my personality. Yesterday as an exercise in being as miserable and angsty as possible. Yesterday I actively wanted to be unhappy. And that’s where alcohol comes in.
The UK and Ireland, it must be said, have quite an unhealthy drinking culture. Other European countries seem to drink beer or wine mostly for taste and to compliment a good meal, whereas we drink it to lose our minds and distract us from the mundanity of everyday life. Drinking cans in a ditch or abandoned field or somewhere is a teenage rite of passage. A birthday isn’t properly celebrated if you wake up the next morning and you’re not either covered in vomit or in bed with someone you wouldn’t have touched with a 50 foot pole while sober. The drunker, the stupider and the more reckless you get, the better. It’s all just good fun, right?
I was a pretty quiet teenager, well behaved and hopelessly naive. I wasn’t particularly excited by the prospect of alcohol and didn’t really see the big attraction with it. Also I was on a course of Roaccutane (isotretinoin) for about a year when I was about 16 or 17 and didn’t drink for the whole time I was on it because I thought my liver would explode or something. I didn’t get properly drunk (i.e. throw up and then black out) for the first time until I was 19 years old. I found out afterwards that I told a straight friend that I was bisexual and then told him he was sexy. It was not my finest moment, to say the least.
When I was diagnosed with depression and first started taking anti-depressants I knew full well that I was supposed to stay away from alcohol. However, being a young person in this part of the world means nearly all forms of socialising revolve around drinking. As someone who was pretty awkward and quiet at the best of times I felt like there was no way anyone would want to hang out with me if I was sober and “boring” so I took my chances. In all honesty I never noticed any ill-effects of alcohol mixing with meds, though perhaps I just wasn’t depressed enough yet.
Fast forward to 2013; I’ve pretty much stopped going on nights out these days because I realised I didn’t enjoy them anymore. Being in clubs surrounded by well dressed and physically fit people made me feel even uglier and more self-conscious than I felt in my teenage years. The claustrophobia, the mostly terrible music, the boredom when you lose your friends and end up just heading to the bar ’cause you’ve nothing else to do….all this usually led to me spending an obscene amount of money on overpriced booze. The next morning I’d wake up and find debit or credit card receipts for drinks I had no memory of buying. I once came home from such a night out incredibly angry, turned off my phone and deleted my Facebook and Twitter for a few days because I decided I didn’t want to speak to anyone. Another time I semi-drunkenly got on the wrong bus home and ended up in a different part of the city to where I actually live.
So I made the decision to avoid nights out like this. A sensible move on my part. However, I increasingly found myself drinking alone in my bedroom at weekends because not going out made me feel boring and frustrated. I’d never drink as far as throwing up or blacking out or anything but I would usually go past the point of “few drinks to relax”. This drinking alone thing does occasionally benefit me, weirdly; for example, it would give me the courage to say hello to someone on Facebook that I’d lost touch with and lead to a good conversation. It also kept me awake and wanting to do things, like search for new music or read about stuff that sober-me is far too lazy/apathetic to do. I use examples like this to justify drinking alone; after all, surely it’s better to drink in a controlled environment, where I’m not gonna end up spending way too much money at a bar or risk being mugged/assaulted at some point in the night?
Sadly, the buzz that alcohol gives me can sometimes backfire. One lesson I don’t think I’ll ever learn properly is that logging into Facebook, or Twitter, or forums that I’m a member of, when drunk is NOT A GOOD IDEA! Ok, so I may talk to a friend I haven’t seen in ages but it’s much more likely that I’ll end up rambling nonsensically, irritating people, making cringey or self-indulgent status updates/tweets and basically just end up looking like a complete tool. Maybe alcohol is good at making me happy temporarily but I’m well aware that it ultimately is a depressant and it’s just not worth it.
I guess I’m fortunate in that I’ve never really suffered a bad hangover, though if I had perhaps it would be a further deterrent from drinking in the first place. Alcoholism doesn’t run in my family (as far as I know anyway), I’ve never woken up thinking “oh God I really need a drink”, I don’t spend every night downing a bottle of night or wishing I was….so I don’t have an alcohol problem. I do, however, have problems with alcohol. Writing this post will hopefully put that in more perspective for me.
So what next? Well I’m due to go out next Wednesday night (the 19th of June). It will be my first night out in about 2 months and I’m hoping it all goes ok. In the meantime I guess all I can do is avoid drinking between now and then and do my best to drink responsibly on that night. I’m hoping it works but then again I always hope that one day I’ll wake up and have beaten depression too. Sadly, hoping for something is a million miles away from that something becoming a realistic possibility.
And now for one of the most talented women in the world (who just so happens to be bi-polar and a recovering alcoholic):