Introduction? Venting? Somewhere in between?
I'm brand new to the group but I have been reading over the discussions here and elsewhere on the internet and I am very impressed with what this group is doing for your members. Thank you all for sharing your stories.
My own story is not so different from many of yours. My life has been pretty amazing, there's just this one thing I've been having trouble with. Well, two things, but they're called 'co-occurring' for a reason.
Bah. This is more difficult than I expected.
Rather than laying my faults out there for all of the Internet, let's try this from the other direction. There was a funerary tradition in ancient Egypt where, rather than talking about the amazing things they did, the intent was to point out the horrible things the deceased DIDN'T do.
I have a wonderful and loving wife. I have a daughter so amazing that it makes my stomach drop. I finished my doctoral program with a 4.0. We have no debt to speak of. Dollars in the bank. Why does any of that matter? I think it matters because I don't have any excuses.
"What's the problem then", eh?
I also had some pretty horrible things happen, but haven't we all? Those things ballooned into a near crippling depression. To get through that I was "self-medicating". Eventually, I got smart and went to see a psychiatrist and psychologist. Then there were about two years of a medication rollercoaster: citalopram, prozac, atarax, ativan, lorazepam, gabapentin ... and now Lamictal. I know, logically, that I'm finally getting the meds I need in the way I should be taking them. The bottle of vodka, however, still sits there. I spent so long 'medicating' myself that it became normal. Then I realized it was habitual. I went cold turkey.
That worked for a few weeks then I thought to myself "why can't I just have one or two? I've proven I can be sober if I want to". Then you find yourself stashing bottles from your wife. One day you're trying to help your daughter with a school project and she withdraws. Later, when trying to give her a bedtime hug, she points to picture on the wall and asks if we'll ever be like that again. She asks "will your brain be sick forever?"
"Well, that was depressing AF. I could really use a drink."
Rinse and Repeat.
I just can't seem to put the bottle down and walk away from it for good. That's not a habit, it's an addiction. I want to be healthy. I have no excuses. I just don't know how to stop.
Well, there you have it. I guess it's time for me to say it out loud for the first time. I'm an alcoholic. I have a real problem that I desperately want to solve.
The reason I'm here is that I need the help of those that have done it. People that are doing it.
So, there it is. That's why I'm here. I need to do the work.
"Do", good to see you here, welcome to the group. As you say, your story is not all that different than many of ours. And so you know, if we can stop, so can you - there is nothing special about us.
I like the "things I didn't do" idea - I went through that too. I drove all the time with a buzz on and once blacked out briefly an a country road - but I never got a DUI. And I worked at a medical research facility - so obviously if I had a problem someone would notice.
I will try to pass on one tip - I spent a long time trying to figure out why I drank. I thought if I understood that, it would help me stop. Now I believe it doesn't work that way. There are many reasons we start drinking - they are the same reasons nonalcoholics drink. But those are not why you drink as an alcoholic. Alcoholics have the urge to drink for no reason - what one person called "a bare want." That is more or less the definition of an addiction - a completely irrational desire.
So that's what you have to work on controlling - and as I said, if we could do it, there is no reason you can't.
Another tip - give us a nickname, it makes it easier for us.
And let us know how you are doing.
I realised in my early 20s that I drank differently from others and often to excess for no reason I could explain to myself. Sometimes I stopped early and didn't feel the need to drink more, often I seemed more sober than those around me. Sometimes I was distressed or angry about something and thought that might explain why I drank so much. I drank to celebrate, to take the edge off things, to comfort myself, to lift my mood. I had no control over how much I drank once I had started, no idea if I would stop, or drink myself unconscious. Hangovers were horrendous. My behaviour changed, I did not recognise myself. I simply didn't know why I needed to drink as I did. The obvious solution was to stop drinking or cut down and I couldn't consistently cut down.
And I never had trouble stopping. I could stop and not feel any need to drink or any serious withdrawal symptoms. But as weeks passed, I would drift back to drinking again for no reason I could explain to myself. And the old problems of drinking to black-out or making myself horribly sick would be there again.
I had therapy, had 'reasons' that might explain why I had started. I still couldn't cut down consistently or stop for good. It was baffling. I felt I could stop at any time, that drinking wasn't really a problem. All I had to do was stop. And so I would stop and things would be fine for a while. But I would start again.
When I finally stopped in 2007, I sat down and thought really hard about those lost years. Gradually I came to realise I had grossly underestimated the depth of my addiction to alcohol and the vigilance necessary to stay sober. I never felt addicted until I stopped for good. Then after some weeks I had severe cravings, drunk-dreams that startled me, mood swings and a pervasive sense of loss. I kept wanting to drink and talking myself down off ledges.
The need to stay stopped is why I find a recovery community helpful to this day, why I made staying sober a top priority in my life, why I found out what would work for me.
Keep talking and let's figure out what might work for you in recovery. It isn't easy but it does get easier.
Thanks all. The name is Mel. I just forgot to put that into my little diatribe. :-/
I have a good friend that is a counselor and she took some time with me this weekend. That discussion put a lot of things into perspective for me. We talked for a good while. Her assessment was that, while I might occasionally drink too much now and again, the underlying factors have to be dealt with or none of it will get better. After thinking about that I decided to take the 'worst case scenario' to both matters.
Joining this group was one part of that equation. I'd like to think I've been overreacting or trying to pass the buck from one set of issues to another but I'd rather be over cautious than under-healthy. Talking about these things helps a lot. Talking to other people who have 'been there' helps a lot.
When I stopped cold last time I kept a daily personal journal. I logged my diet, sleep, daily urinalysis (home testing), blood sugar, blood pressure, and daily thoughts/feelings on everything. That helped me a great deal but I wasn't getting any feedback so the only person I had to gauge my progress against was myself.
Now I'm here. Don't worry, I'm not going to bombard yall with a daily medical chart. I just think that, data aside, I might benefit from some real world references.
Thanks again for all that you are doing.
i’d like to say i recognize you in your thinking, but that would be presumptuous. nevertheless, how you describe your situation and the thoughts around it sounds very familiar to me.
i, too, used to enumerate the horrible things i didn’t do. this activity was not the least bit helpful to me in facing anything at all, but it did help me to justify and minimize ongoing drinking, since i wasn’t anywhere near as bad as those doing all the horrible things i wasn’t.
it’s great you have all the blessings you enumerate and you worked for, and you are seeing that they are no protection for what you have run up against.
your counselor friend makes a good point that the underlying factors have to be dealt with. whatever they might be is likely to be difficult to discern while drinking. was for me, anyway. and for a long time i convinced myself that i had to know what they were and fix them in order to stop drinking. that turned out not to be true.
hm. interesting that you called yourself an alcoholic and your friend described you as someone who occasionally drinks too much. these are rather different things. i was a very secret drinker, so nobody else’s assessment would ever have been based on the reality of my experience.
fantastic that you are willing to look deeper, reaching out, showing up.
tschuess to you, too.
Her point, as I understood it, isn't that I don't have an issue but that if I don't deal with the bigger issues then I'm setting myself up for a cycle of relapse. Yes, absolutely stop drinking. Yes, I may be an alcoholic but if I don't address the factors that lead me down this path then those efforts will likely be fruitless. As I said above; it is a multifaceted approach.
For some reason, the background on my screen is dark blue and I am finding it hard to type on this.
Yes, I hear you. From the outside my life looked fine in that I had a great job, travelled, had many friends etc, but only once I had sobered up could I address those other issues. And some of my fears about those other issues disappeared once I had been sober a couple of years because they related to the secretiveness and guilt around drinking.
It works in tandem -- I hear what you're saying and I'm also wondering about what Margit mentioned, how being sober alters our perspective on those problems. If drinking isn't a problem, it can play a minor or insignificant role in ongoing difficulties and solutions. But if self-medicating depression or anxiety is what we do when the meds don't kick in or even if they do, the role played by drinking to excess or habitual drinking may be subverting or undermining any kind of treatment or therapy.
I've had a hard time this last year dealing with the onset of depression and I am relieved I'm not also dealing with drinking issues any longer because whatever I was dealing with -- bereavement, depression, work stresses -- the drinking was always just another problem added on. If I had three problems defined, drinking was number four. Of course while drinking, it seemed like a weird kind of solution.
oh yes, would never want to discourage you from addressing the "bigger issues".
and it could be very interesting for you to find out what those are....my perceptions of what those were, what was "bigger", really changed after a while sober.
Hi Mel, and welcome. I'm five years sober and still doing the work! It's a process. The first couple of years were fabulous as I felt so bloody great physically by comparison with before-but bit by bit for me the underlying depression returned and it's still tough at times. But there are reminders that help me stay on the path- my husband had a whopping hangover the other week and I was so grateful I never feel that way any more! I've had a couple of months away from the forum as I hadn't got my laptop, and coming back I realise how helpful it is to touch base with everyone here. If you have any face to face LifeRing meetings near you then that would also be brilliant - I'm in the Uk and there are only one or two and far away from where I live. (I pretty much need to start one, but I haven't yet. ) I went to AA for a while and it was helpful in that I met other people with similar issues, but I couldn't stomach the doctrines, and most of all I couldn't stomach the idea that if I didn't follow the 12 steps I'd never get sober. Well I didn't and I have. As Brian said, if we have managed it then really and truly you can. It's the fact that you feel you can't that signals there is a problem needing to addressed. But you really can turn that around.
I was still drinking for quite a while after I joined this forum, for me it took that time to get a mental approach that worked for me. I needed to feel it was my choice to stop and I needed to feel that if I really wanted to I could drink again. But I also needed to learn that choosing to stop and stopping require a whole lot more effort than choosing to drink and drinking again, and that it would likely be months or years before I could muster the effort to get sober again. I went through that cycle a few times and finally found that even if I fancy or crave a drink, I have become stronger than the desire. Nicolaus talks about building up our 'choice muscles.' That worked for me.
For some people it is perhaps just about the drink. For me I think really it is as much or more about the depression and finding healthier ways of dealing with it. But whilst I might feel depressed at times, I have a great deal of self-respect from having got sober. You talk about your daughter. My daughter was the first person to tackle me over my drinking. She was nine years old at the time. It took me until she was 12 to stop, and she is now 17. last year I drove her up and down the country to do auditions for performing arts schools and she is now studying at one of them. We have a fantastic relationship. My son is 20 and at university studying computer science. Maybe my drinking affected him less because he was a bit older when it really escalated, plus he was always playing computer games, but it may have affected him more than is apparent. He is a more reserved character but has been receptive when I have discussed the issue I had with alcohol. My line to them is generally that alcohol is fun in moderation, but do be careful not to overdo it because once it becomes an addiction you pretty much have to stop. There's no point in being puritanical towards them - my kids drink, as do their friends, and sometimes to excess, but I am relieved to be able to say that I have shown them that if it becomes a problem, we can with effort sort it.
Bah, gone on about myself, but hope there is something there that might help a little. Thank you Mel, been feeling a bit down and it has been helpful to me to remember what I have achieved One more thing, I went on citalopram a number of years before I stopped drinking, and I felt that being on it seemed to reduce my capacity to control my alcohol intake. I was told that the effect of alcohol on us is pretty much doubled by SSRIs and that would accord with my experience. However, I'm still on them - because if you can cut out the booze then they do help (me) with depression. But that's a whole other area of discussion, as the wisdom now is that they may only mask depression, or that they are themselves addictive. I want to get off them at some point soon- they have definitely been a prop. As I say, it's ongoing. But SSRIs and alcohol really don't mix in my experience.
Good to see you here. The folks here got me sober. It's a good forum.