Addiction has always been my demon. I believe having a mood disorder that went untreated for decades added to a genetic propensity for addiction leaving me vulnerable and willing when the opportunity presented itself.
My dad’s father died from complications of alcoholism and tobacco use. My mothers father died from complications of diabetes and gangrene that was a result of alcoholism.
I started overusing medication at an early age. I would sneak into the medicine cabinet all the time and take anything from baby aspirin to Di-gel tablets repeatedly. My parents insisted I was a hypochondriac and I believed that as a child. However as an adult I now can tell you for certain that I took medicine because I was physically uncomfortable, even if the cause was psychological. Each time my parents would catch me and make me stop for a while. At 13 or 14 I started drinking, but it didn’t become regular until I was 15 or 16 at which time I also started smoking. When I started working at 16, I was introduced to coke, which led to meth. Once on meth, I completely gave up drinking and smoking and I was hooked on meth until I was 19.
The first time I got clean I was 20. The irony was not lost on me when I was the cleanest I’d ever been on my 21st birthday, a time when many are welcomed into adulthood with the ability to legally drink.
Once I finally made it through meth withdrawals and back to some semblance of normalcy, I had to start taking Ibuprofen to sleep each night or otherwise I couldn’t get but a few hours and it wasn’t enough for me to function.
I was also a roller coaster of emotions. Anger was a common one, but the spectrum was readily available, welcomed or not.
I went to the doctor asking for a sleep aid and she said she would rather I take ibuprofen than risk getting hooked on a sleep aid. In hind sight, I probably should have found another doctor, but I understand her reluctance to give a former addict a potentially addictive drug.
Soon the ibuprofen wasn’t enough and I began drinking again. A little, quickly turned into everyday complete with hard liquor and many binge drinking episodes over the next decade or so (prior to getting pregnant). I also smoked off and on.
When I met my ex-husband, we mostly hung out together and drank. It was fun, we didn’t have a child at the time and we always went to work, so I became a high-functioning alcoholic.
I didn’t drink during the day (unless on vacation), I didn’t crave it at all during the day. I got home, made dinner and that’s when the wine started flowing.
When I was pregnant, it was the second time I became clean. I didn’t drink, smoke or do drugs and I have to tell you, that period of time was horrific. Not because I was pregnant but because I couldn’t sleep and there was nothing I could do about it. I would get 5ish hours a night, when I was lucky, and stayed completely miserable all day. My anxiety hit a whole new high. I was so desperate for my son to be born thinking it would surely all subside, but to my surprise things actually got worse. I didn’t realize yet how taking pain medication would throw me into deep depression. Only in hindsight (after looking back at each time I ever had to take it in the past) did I finally make the connection. So after a c-section I spent two days in a morphine haze, which turned into a deep and difficult depression.
By week 4 of baby, since I never (ever!) got milk, I decided there was no harm in drinking a little at night after baby was asleep.
I still maintained that I was not really an alcoholic because I never thought about it during the day, I didn’t miss work, I didn’t drink and drive, I just drank a bottle of wine between dinner and bed. I didn’t get drunk in case baby needed me.
Years later when my marriage hit the rocks, my bottle turned into two. I’m fairly certain I was poisoning myself daily but all I cared about was getting out.
Once I was out, 2 bottles turned back into 1 and about a year into my freedom I actually stopped drinking for 3-4 months. Then the ex’s girlfriend moved from another state, to in with him and life spun out of control once again. My drinking went from none to a bottle and a half a night, in the span of about a week.
Two years ago, the ex & his moved out of state and things settled down again. Down to one bottle I went and I drink it over 3-4 hours, so I’m not even really drunk, I just get super tired and I love that. It something no sleep aid has ever been able to accomplish without severe after affects.
Lately the amount has been creeping up again. I know that my drinking is a problem. I’ve tried to quit several times as of late. I can no longer hide behind my fantasy that I’m not an alcoholic, despite all my excuses: I don’t drink during the day or even really think about it. I’m not drinking to get drunk, because I don’t like being out of control, I just drink to slowly relax and eventually induce sleep. I don’t drink and drive. I go to work.
But the truth is that it does affect me.
I want to stop.
It’s good money going out the window. It’s hard on my body. I can’t lose the weight I want to. I sometimes oversleep. I hate feeling trapped by the addiction.
So in recent conversations with my therapist, I told her of my 3 year plan. My son will be out of school. I won’t feel as vulnerable, if I should lose my job. And ever since my first addiction, I desperately wanted to do an in-patient addiction program. I’ve quit “addiction” at least 3 times on my own, it’s hard, painful and I always end up back there. So my plan was to get the kiddo through high school and check myself in.
Now is when the demon rises…whenever I get to the point that I recognize addiction holding me back, I quit. I quit drinking, I quit smoking, I quit meth. So my brain is in a tug of war over the fact that I shouldn’t wait 3 more years. I’ve quit before and I should quit now. Save the money, the fat and the bad influence on my son and just stop. So I go a day without drinking and then the next day I have two bottles. It’s like I’m on a roller coaster and it’s become mostly what I think about.
I know from past experience that by week two of being sober, I’m pretty much home free if I stay away completely, but I can’t see making it to week two in my current life.
I realized last night, after drinking one bottle (all I had at home) and not being able to fall asleep, that in the last 3-4 weeks I’ve had about a dozen hair brained ideas of businesses I could start, but eventually talked myself out of.
I kept thinking it was born out of boredom. It’s not though, it’s my subconscious trying to uproot my life enough to help me quit drinking. But then addiction sweeps in and says, you can’t keep up with a business, go relax and have a glass of wine.
I want to wait and check myself in and do it right this time…with support, with medicine for the withdrawals, with no outside influence from the real world and with the proper support when reintegrating back into the real world. I want real skills to keep it at bay. I want to break the neuro-pathways for good. I want to be really healthy. I also think it would be SO incredibly helpful for them to see what I’m really like not addicted so that they can be sure I’m on the right medicine to control my different brain. I’ve never had a real diagnosis and my meds are always a best guess based on how I am at the time, including addiction. Yes, my doctors are aware I drink wine with my meds. They are not happy about it, but would rather I take meds and keep functioning than possibly slip back into suicidal ideation.
Yet, I feel like I am wasting my life. I have so much to offer, but I can’t truly be stable if I’m drinking. I don’t want to keep throwing good money away. I want to lose weight before I end up with a permanent illness like diabetes or a heart condition. I want to exercise and it not kill me like it does now. I want to get off the asthma inhaler and cure the re flux…both caused by my drinking. I want to stop feeling sore everyday when I wake up. I wan’t to break out of this 9-5 job and live the american dream…be self employed, have a for-profit to fund my non-profit. Do something that really has impact on others (in a good way!) I want to find love.
There is a tiny part of me that is afraid. I keep hanging my hat on the fact that if I wasn’t drinking I would achieve so much…lose the weight, get healthy, save up for a vacation, start a business, find love…but what if I quit and none of that is true…and I’m really am the same person even without alcohol. Would that reality spawn the next deep depression.
Maybe that’s addiction talking, but maybe not…I have been sober before….
If you made it this far, thanks for reading. I’m sure this will be the subject of my life for the next weeks to months, but I probably won’t be posting about it unless it’s that I quit, so don’t worry about having to go through this again anytime soon. 🙂