Today I ran into someone I knew while I was recovering from alcohol addiction. A flood of memories came back. Back then, I was only a quasi-participant in the support group. I guess I felt I paid my dues with the experience I went through which ended the drinking to begin with.
Alcoholism and mental illness go hand in hand. People use alcohol to numb their psychological suffering. Studies show that 50% of those who suffer with severe mental illness have alcohol related issues. I was one of those people. I was a big drinker to begin with but after I was diagnosed and went untreated for a couple years, I drank like there was no tomorrow. I used my line of credit on alcohol to an embarrassing sum.
Anytime I drank, it was over the top; completely excessive. Was it the bipolar? Alcoholism? Or both?
By age 32, I could drink 12 beers and still go to work the next day albeit a little late. If I knew I wasn’t going to work the next day, it would be 18 beers. That last night I touched alcohol, I drank 12 beers, 2 litres of red wine and several anti-histamines. Go me.
I always believed that I was more fun when I was drinking. I often pre-drank before going out with friends so that by the time everyone was feeling good, I was sloshed but still the life of the party. Or so I thought. I look back and now realize this was self-esteem issues. I never was really comfortable in my own skin. That, and I had undiagnosed bipolar disorder.
While I thought each time I drank it was going to be a “fun time” nothing ever turned out so fun. I tote several hundred embarrassing stories, but a couple for your reading pleasure. I’m sure everyone can relate to at least one or two of these:
- I have barfed all over myself and in several cars
- Urinated all over my clothes and pissed my pants in bed
- Jumped into a pool in the middle of the night, with the pool cover still on (and rescued from what was a very dangerous situation for both myself and my rescuer)
- Dove head first into the shallow end of a pool
- Wrestled a homeless man asking for change at Union Station
- Ran around my front lawn completely nude
- Told a gang of bikers that I would kick their ass for no reason
- Barfed in bed and slept in it
- Fallen down countless flights of stairs (and usually never spilled a drop of alcohol)
Needless to say, after an Easter weekend incident involving the police, I had to quit drinking. I had to come clean about my diagnosis with bipolar disorder and get help for that too. I did just that and I haven’t looked back to alcohol ever since. At the time, I had a friend who belonged to a support group so I immediately picked up the phone and called him. He took me to my first meeting that night. I am so grateful for everything he has done to keep me sober over the years. 6.5 years so far. I am no longer a statistic and it feels great.