May 06, 2019
OVERALL DISCLAIMER: First of all, if there is some sort of certification or training required to be qualified to dispense advice on alcoholism, I don’t have any such thing. Therefore, any opinions stated herein are just the opinions of one person and any observations on what has, ‘Helped,’ are just based on the personal experiences of that person. In no way should anything in this writing be taken as a substitute for proper medical advice, proper counseling or anything along those lines. Here’s a link to an alcohol hotline because it seems proper to include, I guess.
The first thing that I want to say is that I don’t want anyone congratulating me for two reasons: The first reason is because I haven’t succeeded at anything yet and I don’t know if you ever really do succeed. The second reason that I don’t want anyone congratulating me is that I don’t know what anyone would be congratulating me for. Congratulate me on what? Not drinking? “Good job, you’re back on par with people who never drank in the first place!”
Anyway, if you offer any words of encouragement, we’re not friends anymore. Feel free to offer observations in the Comments, but no encouragement or congratulatory remarks.
There are also two reasons that I am writing this:
- I’m not keeping a daily journal, or anything stupid like that, so I might want to go back and read this one day.
- Maybe it will help someone who reads it somehow. I don’t know who it would help, or why it would help them...it’s probably going to be more depressing than anything else. But, who knows?
I didn’t sit down and make an active decision to stop drinking in advance of not drinking. There was no big, “This is the last time,” session of drinking that I enjoyed. It wouldn’t have been a good idea anyway, anytime I have ever seen anyone have a big, “Last time,” it ended up just being the last time until the next time.
Vodka had been my most recent drink of choice in the several months leading up to Wednesday, March 27th, 2019. I like the fact that it doesn’t have much of a taste, (the inexperienced drinker or one who mixes might say no taste) which is why the avid drinker has to search around to find subtle difference in the aroma, taste and burn from one vodka to another. There’s a perfectly reasonable vodka called, “Rain,” that can/could be had for $19.99/handle (a handle is 1.75 liters, for those who might not know) and Rain is surprisingly close to being as good as Ketel One which is over $30 for a fifth. (A fifth is 750ml)
Honestly, if I would give Ketel One a 9.5 out of 10 (and I would) Rain is probably somewhere between an 8.5 and a 9, which is unbelievably good when you consider the price difference between the two. Factoring in price, I would likely have to give Rain a 10 out of 10.
I think it’s a fair estimate that I had somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-15 shots that evening, which is honestly a pretty normal drinking session for me. It’s tough to calculate exactly because I drink vodka over three rocks in an Old Fashioned (or lowball) glass. I know that I definitely had three glasses, but then I’ll also pour in an extra splash here and there if the ice hasn’t completely melted by the time I finish the current glass.
I guess some people would say I’ve more often than not had a, ‘Drinking problem.’ I’m putting that in quotes for several reasons:
- I’m generally not the type to get angry or belligerent when drinking.
- I don’t drink and drive.
- I drink at home 95% of the time.
- I don’t drink around my kids except in rare social occasions. (Ex. Glass of wine with everyone on Christmas Eve, a beer at a barbecue, things along those lines)
If I am going to be honest, there are arguments in favor of the notion that I do have a drinking problem. I guess the first one is that I love to drink, plain and simple. The second one is the fact that the only thing that keeps me from drinking is (certain) responsibilities that a drunken state would prevent me from undertaking. The third is the fact that I drink at pretty much any available opportunity, unless I just drank the previous day.
(Yes, I am using present tense. It just doesn’t seem far enough removed to go past tense.)
We’re not going to talk about HIgh School and College because, depending on your social group, just about everyone drinks heavily during those years. Hell, if that’s ALL you did during those years, you’re doing pretty well.
I got into hotel management while I was still in college in a different state than the one in which I currently live. I literally just fell into it as much as anyone could. My shifts were pretty steady (though I worked a ton of hours) and were followed up by a few hours of drinking in just as steady a way. Being young, my drink of choice was usually Peppermint Schnapps (straight) or some flavor of MD 20/20 (which actually stands for Mogen David, not ‘Mad Dog,’ as people think). It is what it is. An alcoholic with good taste really just means an alcoholic with a little bit of money, anyway.
I would go to the pizza place or the bar on my, “Off nights,” (meaning not drinking to get trashed) and usually drink one or two glasses of Beamish from the tap. Heineken bought out Beamish and Crawford and, for whatever reason, pulled Beamish completely from the American market. Beamish is only available in Ireland now.
I moved back to the area that I’m from and slowed way down on the drinking. This was mostly due to the fact that (having just gotten out of college and managing finances poorly, in general) I was drowning in debt. Of course, that didn’t stop me from hitting the bar when I had a few bucks to spare. I couldn’t drink at home at this time because I lived with my Mom and Stepdad for a few months after I returned to the area. I had just gotten out of college, after all. More than that, my Mom had all but directly asked me to come back to the area for a few different reasons. Anyway, one of my stepdad’s parents (forget which) had a serious problem with being a belligerent and angry alcoholic, as did my stepdad’s brother, so alcohol was forbidden inside of the house.
I met my ex-wife at work and drinking was a big part of the social dynamic of that family to begin with. They weren’t daily drinkers to the point of intoxication, per se, but they found every reasonable excuse to throw, ‘Parties,’ in the garage. These weren’t all out parties, (except Halloween and New Year’s Eve) just get togethers with music, football or both with a bunch of people who came and went during the course of the day and evening. I usually wouldn’t start until the evening. I’m a poor, ‘Day drinker,’ not my style. I’m better at just going hard and fast for a few hours. I could handle it in Vegas, but that was probably with the aid of adrenaline.
I would eventually get married to my ex-wife and would ultimately find a job at a different hotel with pretty demanding hours. Before that, I was a supervisor at a telemarketing place and was off Sundays and every other Saturday. My former father-in-law typically drank on Sundays, so that’s where you could find me. I can’t quite recall whether or not I drank on the Saturdays I had off...if I had to guess, I would say probably not.
With the hotel job, I was only off on Sundays and I drank pretty much every single one of them, but usually not until after the kids had gone to bed unless something was going on at my in-laws.
I guess the point of all of this is that it hides alcoholism pretty well. “I don’t drink that much, probably only once a week.” Well, yeah. I didn’t drink that much because I couldn’t. Even when I worked day shifts at the telemarketing place, there’s no way I could have gotten drunk the night before because it was hard enough for me to wake up with enough energy to get my ass to work so early in the morning (yes, 7:00 is early for me!) sober.
Opportunity is the Mother of Alcoholism
I stopped working at the hotel for reasons that are irrelevant here, but then I took up advantage play and writing for the sites. I was already doing both of those things while I worked at the hotel, but I wasn’t doing either of them as often.
The short story on this is that I would drink basically anytime the following two conditions were met:
- I didn’t have the kids.
- I hadn’t drank the night before.
Of course, condition number two didn’t even always need to be satisfied. I’ve gone back-to-back nights, just not very often. To be blunt, I’m obviously older now than I was in college...and with the extent to which I drink, back-to-back nights just really kicks my ass.
Anyway, drinking calms me down. It reduces stress, anxiety and alleviates any concerns that I have about anything. Even when it doesn’t do that, the inevitable unconsciousness eventually will. No, I don’t mean passing out, I just mean eventually you choose to sleep.
On the rare occasions of going to a bar, I would usually start off by asking for five shots of Southern Comfort (goes down easy, even warm, 70-proof) in one glass and hammer that down in one gulp. After that, I would switch to either beer or double shots of vodka on the rocks. The key to the five shots is that it kicks everything into gear and gets me started fast enough, otherwise, it’s impossible to get drunk in a bar without spending a ton of money. My average night is probably right around fifteen shots, but for those of you thinking you would die, fifteen shots doesn’t really seem like much if you drink with my kind of speed and frequency.
Anyway, the alcoholism was always there. It never left. It was just masked by a lack of opportunity.
REMINDER: Please don’t congratulate me because it will make me puke in my mouth if you do.
March 27th and After (It Starts)
The lack of drinking in the days immediately after March 27th happened quite organically. The simple fact of the matter was that I was scheduled to have the kids for three days after that, (my ex-wife’s work schedule) and then I had them a fourth day for reasons that I don’t remember. In other words, my first four days of, “Not drinking,” were days that I wouldn’t have been drinking anyway. At no time during these four days did I take notice of the fact that I wasn’t drinking...and I don’t believe I made the decision to stop during those days. I could be wrong.
I had tried to stop drinking a few weeks prior to that and failed. It wasn’t really a meaningful effort, I don’t think. I also think it’s possible that I had to fail so that I could succeed. I know that makes no sense, but you would have to be in my head to understand what I mean by that. It’s a psyche thing, really difficult to explain.
At this point, I had one day without the kids and then I was scheduled to have them again for another three days. As I recall, the weather looked such that they might not have school on April 1st, so if not, I would have to be up early in the morning to get them. It was (I believe) only for that reason that I did not drink on the last day of March.
I had the kids for the three days, and by Friday April 5th, I’d officially not had any alcohol in seven full days. Again, none of that was planned and happened quite organically.
I would normally be pretty...I can’t think of a good word for it, maybe, ‘Ill-content?” after a week of not drinking. Not only that, but now I had any of the next three or four days that I could drink if I chose to, but for whatever reason, I chose not to.
Wanting to Quit
Prior to this article, I believe I have only told three people about my not drinking and asked them not to make a big production out of it, or anything, I’m certainly choosing not to. Again, I’m just writing this so that I have one thing to look back on and also the outside chance that maybe it will help someone.
DISCLAIMER: The thing is, from here on out, you’re reading this at your own risk if you have a drinking problem. I’m not going to be flowery. I’m not going to go out of my way to inspire confidence and/or give you hope. I’m going to tell you the full and miserable truth of the experience and, quite possibly, make you want to have a drink.
One of the three people that I told about it suggested Alcoholics Anonymous, which I personally think is just a front for organized religion. I’m an Atheist-leaning Agnostic, so that bullshit really isn’t up my alley in any way whatsoever. Another one of the three people I told suggested counseling, I probably will eventually decide to benefit from counseling...but it won’t have anything to do with being an alcoholic. More likely, it will have to do with whatever it is (I certainly don’t know) that made me an alcoholic in the first place. I’m not going to get into any whiny bullshit here. Let’s just say some people had a worse childhood than I did and some people had a better one...we all have our own problems.
I told both of these people the same thing, “I think all it really takes is that you have to want to quit.”
The simple fact of the matter is that consuming alcohol is a physical action, as is going to the liquor store and purchasing alcohol. It actually helps me to look at drinking in the light of a physical choice being made. An individual has to make the physical decision to put his wallet in his pocket, drive to the liquor store, hand over money in exchange for the liquor, then return to wherever he came from and consume the liquor. An individual must open the bottle, place the ice cubes in the Old Fashioned, pour the vodka, and then that first relaxing gulp and feel the warmth of the liquor course down his throat, into his chest and eventually his stomach. The person must choose to feel the calm sensation that the first drink that he has had in awhile (and it certainly has been awhile!) UNFAILINGLY provides.
THE FIRST DRINK IS OUTSTANDING 100% OF THE TIME.
Or, the person can choose not to undertake any of those physical actions in that multi-step process. It’s all about accountability, which isn’t generally the thing I’m known for being best at, but that’s what it is. Either way, you either choose to commit a series of decisive physical actions, or you don’t commit any of them. Because each of the physical actions require a non-zero amount of physical effort, it is physically easier not to drink than it is to drink.
Technically, that’s true of most (if not all) physical actions, but thinking about it in those terms seems to help me a bit.
Why Did I Quit?
Even though the ordinary course of events led me to not drink for a week, ultimately, I did make a decision to quit. I suppose some of you would be inclined to ask, “Why did you quit?”
I don’t know.
I really don’t.
The truth is that I cannot point to any specific reason that caused me to quit drinking. I didn’t get a hangover from my drinking on March 27th, in fact, I almost never get hangovers. I really have to go way out of bounds to get one, and here comes that famous tagline of the alcoholic, “I know my limits.” The truth is, I don’t, “Know,” my limits or I would never get a hangover...but I have a pretty general idea what my limits are.
It also doesn’t hurt that I can sleep until the late morning or early afternoon after most drinking days, or if I do need to get up, it’s only for a half hour to an hour and then I can grab a nap.
I think that might be most of the reason why, in fact. The truth of the matter is that I spent way too much time sleeping or generally being unproductive, so that needs to change. If there’s one truth to alcoholism for some people that I’ve discovered, it’s that four hours spent drinking usually costs you about eighteen hours. Most of that time spent sleeping, of course.
It’s really just not a good ratio when you consider the amount of time that you get to enjoy being drunk relative to the amount of time that having drank costs.
The productivity increase that has stemmed from this excursion is relatively recent. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, the first couple weeks of not drinking are pretty draining from a mental standpoint. The organic week was fine, but somehow everything became harder after making the decision as well as having the opportunity to drink and choosing not to do it.
I suppose my first tip would be to create a situation in which you can’t drink for the first few days or weeks...but I guess that’s a different standard for some people than others. Some people drink and drive, I don’t. Some people will get completely smashed in front of their kids, I won’t. I guess what I’m really saying is that:
If there’s a situation under which you will absolutely not drink, then try to make that situation the actual case as often as possible the first couple weeks. If there is no such situation, then sorry, I have no advice for you for getting through the first couple weeks.
35th Day Thoughts and 35 Days Experience
The first point of interest is that I had to keep going back the first few weeks to figure out how many days it had been. It’s only recently that I can remember the exact number without really thinking about it. Maybe my memory has started to improve now that I haven’t been drinking...that’s probably not a totally implausible theory.
DISCLAIMER: This is the big section where I must again advise that nothing is going to be sugarcoated in any way whatsoever. If you don’t want to hear about how miserable your personal journey into sobriety is about to be, turn around now. If you’re looking for hope and inspiration, go buy a self-help book, they’ll lie to you to sell copies.
I don’t know if it was during this week or when during this week I decided that I would go ahead and stop drinking. I think it was toward the end of the week. I didn’t suffer any real effects of not drinking during this week, but I think that was mostly due to the fact that I wouldn’t have been drinking during the course of this week, anyway. I think I was a little bummed about not being able to drink on the one day that I would have otherwise had the opportunity, but then I just looked at the calendar, pinpointed the next day I could drink and was satisfied with that.
The decision not to drink anymore has been definitively made by this time and it is absolutely miserable. I had trouble sleeping for the first several nights (usually something I have NO problem getting done, in fact, most would say I’m way too good at it) after the decision had been made. I believe that the first few nights that I slept okay had to do with trace alcohol still being in my system, the belief that I would drink at some point in the near future and the fact that I routinely go up to a week without drinking.
Granted, after anywhere from 4-5 days the chinks in the armor start to show when it comes to my patience and attention span, but I have routinely gone up to a week over the last several years. Even during the most recent couple of years, going up to five days is normal.
It’s also during this second week that doubt started to creep in, even with my, “It’s a physical action,” mantra. The doubt probably would have started immediately, but I don’t know that I had even made the conscious decision not to drink until this week. There were, of course, justifications. The main justification was that there would be no harm in failing since nobody really expects me to succeed. Maybe the three people do expect me to succeed. I have no idea what about me would give them the confidence to feel that way, but I never asked any of them for their expectations, so I don’t know what they are.
Besides, my reasoning was I was either going to drink or not drink...so the expectations themselves were immaterial to the fact.
The other reason that I haven’t told but three people until now (and am still not planning to tell other family members for quite some time or until they notice it organically) is because having a bunch of people congratulate me for not accomplishing anything of value would make me want to hang myself. I’m not doing something good, I’m mitigating/correcting something that I screwed up to begin with. I’m playing from behind with the goal and motivation of correcting past errors, just like anything else that I ever do. I’ve got a ways to go before I’m back to, “Even Par.”
Additionally, I don’t need to have a bunch of people cheering me on or saying, “You can do it,” because it’s counterproductive for me. The truth is that I don’t operate very well under pressure, so having a bunch of people, ‘Checking in,’ or being, ‘Accountability buddies,’ or what have you would do more harm than good. Two of the three people who know check in with me about it pretty regularly, but they know how to do it in a non-detrimental way because they seem to understand how my personality works.
It was on the eleventh full day, which I actually thought was the tenth full day until I looked back at the calendar and thought about it, that I decided now I had a history built up. I think that having a history built up helps a little bit, because then you can compound it. I didn’t look at things in terms of, “Quit drinking forever.” Rather, “If I have already went ten days, then there is no reason that I cannot go ten more days. Ten days has already been done.”
Anyway, ten becomes eleven which makes twenty-two a cinch, eleven becomes twelve which makes twenty-four days a mortal lock...and on it goes.
Does looking at it that way help? Well, it helps me.
I don’t know that there is any great difference between Week 2 and Week 3 that won’t be addressed in the, “Overall Retrospective,” section, which is to come.
I guess Week 3 was a little bit easier than Week 2. For one thing, my body and mind rebalanced somewhat and I was able to start sleeping a bit better. I suppose a second thing was that I noticed a significant reduction in weight, which absolutely makes sense even with no other changes, but wasn’t something that I had considered going in. Given that I am overweight anyway, I guess this is a somewhat positive development. Not unexpected, obviously, just not really considered beforehand.
Even after 30+ days, I’ve not lost as much weight as one might think, maybe about twenty pounds. There are no other changes except that I might be slightly more physically active, but that’s only by virtue of spending more hours awake. The lack of drinking seems to have no effect on my appetite at any time, but then, I’ve been a one meal a day guy for quite some time. My stomach protests having to do any work before the early afternoon. From an appearance standpoint, I do not appear bloated anymore and my face looks significantly reduced in size, and perhaps obviously, much less red.
These physical changes are, ‘Positive,” I guess, just not ones that I care about at all.
I will first say that there is nothing specific to Week 5, so it’s nice to finally stop having new developments.
Week 4 is the first week that I experienced strong cravings (which are ongoing) for the taste of alcohol, rather than just a desire to get drunk. It’s actually kind of funny how it works because the craving for the experience of a nice glass of vodka is stronger than any desire for the mere act of being drunk has ever been. I’m not even talking gulps, just sipping.
That first glass of vodka, when taken slowly, is almost always a very calming experience. One takes the time to explore the subtle characteristics of a good vodka, the, ‘Brightness,” on the tip of the tongue...at least, that’s the word I used to describe it. One also fully appreciates the smoothness of the liquid as well as the barely perceptible burn, if taken on the rocks. At room temperature, Rain vodka burns like hell.
Alcohol Does Not Cease to Exist
The first thing that I don’t think is helpful to an alcoholic trying to quit is pretending that alcohol suddenly ceases to exist. If an individual avoids the mere presence of alcohol, then I think it will be more likely for that person to drink when eventually confronted with it.
I’m adjacent to a kitchen as I type this, so let’s take an inventory:
- Peach Schnapps (GROSS!), 15% alcohol, approximately 300 ml.
- Southern Comfort (Gas Station Lite), 21% alcohol, approximately 200 ml
- Sweet Red Wine, 8% alcohol, two bottles. (Used for cooking)
There is some alcohol at my fiance’s, but I don’t have the specifics. I can say:
- Irish Creme, Low Proof, roughly 375 ml
- White Wine, 10-something%, two bottles, used for cooking.
- Marsala Wine, 10-something%, half a bottle.
- Moonshine, homemade, proof unknown (HIGH), full jar.
- Blackberry Wine, homemade, percentage alcohol unknown, full bottle.
Anyway, people are going to drink around me and I’m going to be confronted with alcohol that I would like to be drinking from time to time and that’s just how it is. I really think that an individual could be doing himself/herself a disservice by avoiding the presence of alcohol completely because then it might become all that much more tempting when it is around. IF someone lives alone and doesn’t cook with it, then I could understand why such an individual wouldn’t have it in his house. Beyond that, if you’ve tried actively avoiding alcohol and still failed to quit drinking, maybe try not actively avoiding the presence of alcohol.
I mean, you’re just going to have to deal with temptation eventually.
I DO NOT, ‘Feel Better,’
The first thing that everyone should understand is that alcohol is a drug, and if someone likes to use or abuse that drug, then there is likely a reason why. For recreational and/or social drinkers, that reason is because it makes them feel good and reduces inhibitions for some short amount of time, but then after that, most of these people can essentially forget about drinking until the next social occasion comes up.
In my opinion, alcoholics are fundamentally no different. I have heard people say that, “Alcoholics need to drink whereas others drink when they want to, but do not need to,” and I think that is a complete load of bullshit. Personally, when I see the word, ‘Need,’ I believe that the word operates with the definition equivalent to, ‘Necessity,’ and I fail to see how drinking is a necessity. Personally, I cannot think of many (or any, but maybe there are some) situations in which a person is going to perish unless he/she drinks alcohol, therefore, it is generally not a necessity.
Anyway, when you have a tendency to drink too much, too often or both and you come out on the other side after a long stretch of not drinking...there is no sunshine, there are no rainbows and there are no tulips on the other side of that bridge. If anything, it looks pretty much the same over here, except maybe with a slightly darker sky.
I don’t like to make a big production out of it, but I, “Suffer,” from Persistent Depressive Disorder, though it has also been suggested by a previous psychiatric professional that I may be Manic Depressive (aka Bipolar Disorder). Personally, if I have Bipolar Disorder, I have pretty unfair Bipolar Disorder because my, “Downs,” are way more in frequency and duration than are my, “Ups.”
Anyway, I put, ‘Suffer,’ in quotation marks because I don’t like the word used in that context. I don’t, “Suffer,” from anything, it’s just something that I have. It’s as much a part of me as the very small partial gap in my front teeth.
Furthermore, I’ve only accepted medication for this thing on a few occasions and pretty much never took it for very long. I guess I could always try more stuff, but in my experiences, the side effects are worse than the thing being treated. I definitely don’t need medications that will cause me to feel more tired or will cause me to require naps more frequently. Ideally, I would sleep six hours every night and take zero naps. I’m getting closer to accomplishing that, at least. Ironically, another reason for not taking medications is that I don’t like the thought of being drug-dependent.
Anyway, Persistent Depressive Disorder just means that you have suffered from Major Depression for a period exceeding two years, let’s look at the list of traits for both of these things and see what boxes I can check. First, Persistent Depressive Disorder, taken from:
Change in your appetite (not eating enough or overeating) --- Arguably Yes (Not Eating Enough)
Sleep too much or too little - Definitely Yes
Lack of energy, or fatigue - Absolutely Yes
Low self-esteem - No, I’m arrogant in many ways.
Trouble concentrating or making decisions - No on Concentrating, Yes on Decisions and Every Decision is a Bad One
Feel hopeless - Generally, yes, but interspersed with fifteen minute periods of feeling very hopeful.
Let’s take a look at Major Depression
Loss of interest or pleasure in your activities - YES * 1000!!!
Weight loss or gain - Arguably, Yes
Trouble getting to sleep or feeling sleepy during the day - Yes to Feeling Sleepy
Feelings restless and agitated, or else very sluggish and slowed down physically or mentally - Yes, Pretty Much Always One or the Other
Being tired and without energy - 100% Indubitably Yes!!!
Feeling worthless or guilty - Guilty, Yes.
Trouble concentrating or making decisions - Making Decisions, Yes
Thoughts of suicide - You Betcha!
I pretty much check every box except for two things: My self-esteem is actually reasonably good (benefit of recognizing my own intelligence) and I don’t have too much trouble concentrating. I’m usually concentrating on the wrong thing and that wrong thing is generally unproductive, but I can do just about anything for several hours in a row. No problem!
DISCLAIMER: IF YOU WANT TO STOP DRINKING, MAYBE SKIP THIS AND JUST GO TO THE CONCLUSION.
Anyway, if you’re an unmedicated depressed alcoholic and stop drinking, all of these depressive traits become so much worse!
Just look up above and read all of those traits again. Okay, now imagine that these traits have always been the case most of the time, but you have the occasional reprieve that lasts several hours, or perhaps even half a day. On rare occasions, maybe even a full day.
Those reprives are 100% gone once you finally commit yourself not to drink anymore. Gone, gone, gone with the wind and never coming back. It’s not even like the reprieves are always in direct conjunction with the drinking, no, sometimes you would just feel pretty okay for no reason even though you hadn’t had a drink in a day or two. You would feel some energy and a desire to be productive pretty much out of nowhere. Always fleeting, of course, but it was there from time to time.
Let’s go through the Major Depression Symptoms + Not Drinking One by One for Fun:
Loss of interest or pleasure in your activities:
You’re goddamn right loss of interest or pleasure in your activities! First of all, with exception to drinking, I never had much of an interest and did not derive much pleasure from my activities to begin with. If you had asked me 36 days ago, I’d have said, “There is no way this aspect will get any worse, alcohol or not.”
I fail to look forward to anything. First of all, there is nothing that I even really like to do to begin with. Even advantage play and gambling math are only two things that I, “Enjoy,” only to the extent that they are occupying enough that I’m at least not thinking of anything else.
Anyway, when I was drinking, I did occasionally feel motivated. Sometimes I would feel a sudden wave of relief and serenity accompanied by an unexplained sense of motivation. It never lasted more than a few hours, but it felt like it was going to be genuine and remain the case at the time. Every time. You always fall for the tricks your brain plays on you. It’s depressing. (Get it?)
Weight loss or gain:
-Well, I was consuming 500-750 ML of liquor, each night, two or three nights per week...so, yeah, loss of weight does naturally follow not doing that anymore. My weight has always fluctuated pretty dramatically, though, almost regardless of any actual changes in diet.
Trouble getting to sleep or feeling sleepy during the day:
Hey, it’s not all worse! Feeling sleepy during the day was worse during the first thirty days, or so, but it hasn’t been as bad over the past week. I think the most obvious reason for the initial thirty days was because I wasn’t sleeping well at night the second week. Another obvious cause is the simple fact that I have been getting up earlier, even when I don’t have the kids. I think my body is adjusting to the new schedule.
I have discovered over the last two weeks that I will usually experience two periods per day, usually about a half hour each, during which I will feel remarkably exhausted. If I cannot, “Power through,” a given period...I will probably sleep for three hours. If I can, “Power through,” such a period, then I will be, “Back to normal,” (Low energy, but functional) until the next period and/or the rest of the day.
Okay, so I’m losing weight that I could stand to drop and have slightly more energy throughout the day.
Feelings restless and agitated, or else very sluggish and slowed down physically or mentally:
-Look, I don’t know what it means not to feel sluggish and slowed down, but I see people do it. The only times that I have ever experienced, “Normalcy,” have been during an adrenaline rush that has taken place for one reason or another, but those have experienced an extreme decrease in frequency during the last several years. What I mean is, almost nothing gives me an adrenaline rush or makes me feel any differently whatsoever.
I told a few people about that deer I hit on the turnpike that trashed my car. More than one person had the reaction, “And, you just kept driving!?” Yeah, the car was moving, so why stop? Hitting the deer is just another event that happened. That’s just how I feel about almost everything, I do my best to, “Play happy,” but when it comes to genuine emotions/reactions...you’ll almost never get anything out of me because I do not experience anything strongly enough.
I do always have a constant sense of foreboding in the back of my mind at almost all times, so that’s a lot of fun.
I’m mainly just trying to get through the next eleven years until the kids are adults, and then after that, I have no idea. I don’t have any plans or hopes for my future after that because, quite frankly, I can’t care enough to think that far ahead. I mainly just want to guide them to adulthood more or less intact and then I guess I’ll see what happens.
People look forward to things and that’s not really something I experience, especially not now that I quit drinking. After all, I’m the idiot who takes away the one thing that he actually looks forward to doing, right? There are no good days, days are measured by how easy they are to get through. That’s pretty much all that happens. You get through one day and then you have to get through the next. There are events that can make that easier, but it really just makes the day, “Less bad,” rather than good. Not even, ‘Less bad,’ just, ‘Less hard.’
Being tired and without energy:
This honestly hasn’t gotten that much worse because there isn’t much more room down for it to go. I wouldn’t say, “Tired,” all the time, but definitely without energy. Everything that needs to be done seems like much more of an ordeal than it actually is. I recognize that. I also recognize that I feel a sense of accomplishment when I have overcome everything and spent a full day being productive...and then you think you can do it again...but then that sense of accomplishment is gone the following morning.
Feeling worthless or guilty:
I feel guilty about a bunch of things. I feel guilty for being who I am. Read everything that I just said above and will say below about my depressive symptoms...all of those depressive symptoms make me feel extremely guilty which leads to more depressive symptoms which leads to more guilt which leads to more depressive symptoms which leads….
They say, “Depression affects everyone around you,” and I suppose that must be true. I usually try to hide it when dealing with anybody, but then they say that’s not really good for you, either. Well, from an emotional standpoint, I’d rather be the only one affected by any of it, if possible.
Trouble concentrating or making decisions:
-Well, almost every decision I make is wrong. You’d have trouble making decisions, too, if your decisions always sucked.
Thoughts of suicide:
I wouldn’t say that I necessarily think about the suicide so much as I think about the dying, in general. Definitely suicide would be the most likely means by which one would get there quickly, but I can assure anyone reading this that, as of the time of this writing, I am not an imminent suicide threat.
Anyway, it would be way too selfish and there is a responsibility to my children to consider. Ironically, were it not for the same children, I would probably think about suicide less frequently. The endgame is really just to reach a state of existence in which I have as little as possible to worry about. I really don’t mind the day-to-day as long as the immediate needs (think 1-3 days) are in order and, without kids, I’m pretty sure I could guarantee that is always the case. With kids, one has to think a bit longer term than that...and that troubles me more than it should.
Anyway, to agree to die would also be suicide...even if you’re not killing yourself on direct. Those are the kind of things that a person thinks about. Here’s a hypothetical:
If I could choose to die by way of some accident, such as getting hit by a car such that nobody except me is physically affected, would I choose to die right now as opposed to choosing to continue to live?
Anyway, the answer might well be yes, except I can’t escape the notion that a, “Yes,” answer is effectively committing suicide...which is currently unacceptable.
Fortunately, I don’t believe in God, so my belief is it’s just over after this. Not that you would know that it’s over, because there is no, ‘You,” to comprehend the knowledge that you have died. It just ends. That’s honestly more comforting to me than any notion of, “Heaven,” could ever be. Honestly, I think Heaven sounds awful and dreadfully boring.
Anyway, no, I do not feel better. Overall, I would have to say that I, “Feel,” worse from a mental aspect and very slightly better from a physical aspect. In sum, I think I would be forced to conclude that I feel a little bit worse overall. Maybe a few months more of not drinking will change that. I don’t know. We’ll see. Probably not.
Drinking and the Future (Bargaining)
The bargaining has been taking place and is still taking place. I’ve only talked with one person about the self-bargaining and I tend to think this person is placating me.
The first bargain that I made with myself would just be that I would go thirty days without drinking, just to prove to myself that I could do it, but then I would be able to drink unfettered by any restrictions. Clearly, I have rejected that bargain already.
The second bargain, which I made somewhere during Week 3, was that I would go ninety days without drinking...which absolutely definitively proves that I can do it...and then I would be able to drink without any self-imposed regulations. I have since rejected that bargain.
The third bargain also consisted of ninety days without drinking, but was structured such that I would only be allowed to drink wine (since wine has never been a, “Go to,” for getting drunk) and that I would not be allowed to ever drink beer or liquor again. I tentatively reject this bargain, but have reserved the right to revisit it at a time more than ninety days from now, but not at any set point in the future.
Anyway, the only part of that bargain that I accept is no more beer or liquor again. Wine remains a maybe, but is not to be even considered until ninety days have passed.
The problem with bargaining is what it really does is set a date and set of conditions that, when reached, mean that you, “Can drink.” In other words, you’re already planning to drink in the future, and with that foreknowledge, it makes not drinking now easier because, in the back of your mind, you know you’re going to do it again.
The fallacy is that there is no self-bargain that means you, “Can drink.” That’s just a nonsensical way of looking at it. The statement, “I can drink,” never ceases to be true. Three days, ten days, fifty days, 1,482 days...at any point in time whether or not arbitrarily set I, “Can drink,” I’m just always choosing not to.
Anyway, bargains are meaningless. Alcohol exists, it’s within ten feet of me, I can drink within the next three seconds if I choose...I’m simply choosing not to.
Much in the same way I have chosen not to drink for the last 34+ days, I can choose to change other things, too. The only thing that remains to be seen is whether or not I will.
I can become more productive or not become more productive, it’s just a matter of making a choice. I can participate on the Forums more frequently or not, again, it’s a choice. I can be more social or not be more social, it’s a choice.
Of course, these things are all positive actions, whereas not drinking is the absence of an action. Given my weird way of looking at the world, all of these positive actions will be more difficult because they require non-zero energy expenditure whereas NOT doing something requires zero energy.
The depression makes it harder. You would have to know it to understand. Most people I know well know my phone tends to be on, “Do Not Disturb,” but they don’t really know why. The truth is that every sound my phone makes, any notification of any kind, sends a small feeling of panic through me because I don’t know what it is. The only thing I know is it is something that must eventually be dealt with.
Maybe that’s not an ideal way of thinking of friends, family and associates, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t care about them. I actually care quite a bit which is why notifications make me uncomfortable in the first place. All of these things also require non-zero energy output...which isn’t exactly what us Major Depressive people are best at.
Anyway, if I can choose not to drink, choose the absence of an action, then certainly I can choose to undertake actions. I can simply choose to be more productive and more present simply because...if I have the willpower not to drink...I also have the willpower to do that.
I don’t know, but I damn well hope so.
Tomorrow will be the 36th Day.
Alcoholism and depression together, it's difficult to sugarcoat it.
Raw and honest articles like this one are surely more helpful than popular psychology articles. I do agree with your friend who suggested counseling. The depression part needs to be addressed as well - and I speak from my personal experience. It takes a lot of time and hard work, but with a professional help, it is a bit easier. It's a choice, too.
>if you offer any words of encouragement, we’re not friends anymore
I don't know how often an alcoholic who tries to quit at the stage you are now at succeeds. It's always a matter of probability and percentages anyway. I'd guess 75% go back to drinking, and maybe 24% do not. One percent , maybe, find they can go back to moderate use, like maybe having a glass of wine at dinner once a week.
I say this because I personally believe most people have to be at the point they realize what they are doing is going to kill them, and kill them pretty soon. And they have to decide they don't want to die. If someone is not at that point, they know they can drink again, and will a large percentage of the time. I just wouldn't know if I have the percentages right.
OK, then, my comment should fit the bill for "not being words of encouragement"
Wonderful and poignant article. Thank you.
Thanks for the compliment as to the potential helpfulness of the Article! I did feel the need to ladle it with disclaimers because I could see where it would be counterproductive for some people. I took a shot at self-help books, but for many people, maybe some of them benefit from hearing how great everything is going to be on the other side.
I also appreciate your statements on the counseling! I think it's only a matter of time before I choose to benefit from it, but I need to go one thing at a time on this for right now. I usually don't have too much of a problem acknowledging my flaws, but I feel like the counseling is going to come to the realization that I'm even more fundamentally flawed than I believe myself to be.
I need to spend a month or two just getting more productive and making positive (action) changes to add things rather than just subtracting the alcoholism. After that, I think I'll be ready to deal with anything underlying.
Thank you for no outward words of encouragement, I really do appreciate that! I think it's disgusting to have dozens of people give me encouragement and the thought makes me a little sick. All I am doing is unf***ing something up that I shouldn't have f***ed up in the first place. That's not a good thing, it's just not doing a bad thing anymore. It's not an accomplishment.
I'm not sure of the numbers, and even though I'm a numbers guy, I'm going to channel my inner Han Solo and say, "Never tell me the odds."
You make a good point about the actions killing a person. Interestingly enough, my blood pressure is WAY DOWN, just checked it yesterday. I almost fell over in shock at the rapid decline. That definitely wasn't my initial reason for doing it...I think my initial reason is along the lines of being in control of everything I do in life and, to do that, starting with what I perceived to be the hardest thing (not) to do. I figured if I could do that, then it just makes everything else that must be done so much easier by comparison.
You're welcome, thanks for the kind compliment and superlatives! I guess I am a writer, but it's nice to write something that makes me feel like a REAL writer. I think my words reading the first draft were, "Holy shit, it's actually good." Not to say my other stuff is bad, but 90% of what I write is just about presenting facts and math.
Thank you for posting Mission. Do you think starting an exercise regimen would help?
You're welcome and thank you for the comment! An exercise regimen is on my, "To-do," list, but it's a few items from the top. I put that at probably in about two months. I presently kind of pressed for time.
>You make a good point about the actions killing a person
But you may be missing the point that *you*, i have to believe, are not at the point where it will kill you *soon*. Therefore it will be easy to go back to drinking for you, if I am right. Those that go back to it always picks up right where they left off, that you can count on.
"Kill" can mean the utter destruction of everything that is important, not just the obvious meaning.
"Soon," is a very relative word, is it not? Although, even if you did not mean, 'Kill,' in the literal sense...continuing to drink the way that I was would inevitably create a set of conditions as bad, if not worse, than death...and it would probably do it, "Soon."
For me, there's not really a matter of, "Can," as much as there is one of, "Want." I definitely want to drink, but I want NOT to drink more. If I can make the current set of conditions resulting in my desire NOT to drink even better, then I will want to drink even less and will want NOT to drink even more. I guess that's the general idea. Mainly just having to consider the future at some point and taking it over the quick fix.
well, the percentages change for those who get help, and are bad for those that don't get it
I'm not able to help much because I do drink. I might PM you later.
Thanks! I'll look forward to hearing from you if that ends up being the case.
I really do hold steadfastly to the notion that the biggest contributor is the degree to which a person actually wants to quit. I know it seems like an oversimplified view, but it's honestly worked for me so far. I also understand that, in my case specifically, alcoholism is more a symptom of an underlying cause than it is a cause unto itself.
Good article. Did you consider writing this article from a third party perspective to avoid have people question you about your personal life and choices? You say you don't want congratulations but I still think you will get it.
My favorite sentence in the article was "I am not an imminent suicide threat."
Thanks for the compliment! I did not consider writing it from a third-party perspective because it is about my experience. If people decide to question my personal life and choices it is only because my personal life and choices have been questionable. If I don't want to be questioned about those things, then I have to get to a point where my personal life and choices are (at least to most people) above reproach.
I really don't want to be congratulated. People who know me would understand why. It's difficult to describe, but in addition to reasons stated, it's just a lot of added pressure that I really don't need.
I think another part of it is I wouldn't want anyone to congratulate me who doesn't actually expect me to succeed long-term...and I don't see how most people could ever expect me to succeed long-term.
Great article my friend. Nothing else to say.
I agree with the focusing on ACTION rather than 12-step nonsense which starts out affirming your helplessness and surrounds you with others who pull you down to the levels of their despair .Insight is meaningless. Insight and three dollars will get you a cup of coffee.
Looking at sleep, somnolence and depression shows the overall impact. You are what you do and you do what you choose.
Thanks, that’s about how I feel about it and you put it better than I did! It’s like, “Wait a minute, but I’m trying to convince myself that I’m NOT helpless and powerless!”
Good point on oversleeping!
>Good point on oversleeping.
It is not just the long hours of sleep but the poor quality of sleep which dis-entrains circadian rhythms thus increasing depression. Its the daytime somnolence that is the real time-sink. A state of technically being awake but being in such a brain-fog that nothing gets accomplished.
I agree with you completely, Fleastiff! In the most recent days, I've actually been waking up...ah...coherent. I'm not going to say waking up with energy because that has basically never happened since I was a kid, but coherent and ready to be somewhat active. (Lots of caffeine helps, of course...that's one drug I won't be quitting anytime soon or ever).
I definitely know the brain-fog feeling! I'm still getting that about twice a day, but my power through it to taking a nap ratio has increased significantly on the power through it side.
Just wanted to let you know that I am still benefitting from re-reading this article from time to time. All gamblers seem to have some xanthine oxidase problems, so I too need caffeine to get me going and keep me going. I enjoy chamomile tea but it is usually very high in flouride so I just switch to rosemary, but I do need those xanthines too get me through the day.
Thanks, and I am glad if this article helps you in any way! I definitely feel a need for caffeine to get me going and certainly to sustain throughout the day. I think that's why I only drink water (other than coffee) because I have a lot of compensating to do for all of the coffee I drink. I'll also drink pop, but only if I go out to eat...I don't drink it at home.
I suppose I also like cranberry juice, but the stuff I like is 100% pure, not from concentrate and with no added sweeteners or anything else. It's great, but it's tough to justify $4.99 for 64 oz.
It has gotten to the point where caffeine often seems ineffective. I've tried arginine, dandelion root, milk thistle, vitamins (c, b6, b12, d3) celery root, peppercorn water. Nothing seems to provide a jolt anymore. I just seem to vegetate rather than tackle any task, much less stick with a task.
Congratulations on realizing you have an addiction and taking steps to overcome the negative effects of it. Everybody has an addiction. If you are lucky, it is not a harmful one. Hopefully someone reading this will follow in your footsteps.
I know the feeling!
Thanks! I've reached the point where it's hard and easy at the same time. The temptation never seems to go away, but it's easy enough to resist.
Hey! I'm not congratulating you on your abstinence: I'm not. Really. I'm not. Nor will I rebuke you if your decisions change.... or not.
May I congratulate you on a fascinating, well written and helpful article?. Yeah stuff it: Congratulations on the article. It helped someone $:o)
Opening up that way on a forum is a deeply generous gesture. So, sincerest thanks for that.
The section about personal bargaining struck a chord with me. I'm just a few days into my break and I've not yet expressed any intention to permanently quit. Indeed, I'm currently brewing some beer and wine for the summer and I have stocked up with JD while it's cheap.
Bargains: "I can and will drink on 1 April": "I'll cease to drink EVERY night": "I'll restrict drinking alone". Blah Blah Blah.
The great thing with striking a bargain with yourself is that 'yourself' can suggest you didn't need the bargain and so cancel it.
Or is that the worst thing?
Maybe I'm a reprobate, or maybe in denial. Maybe some of those off-forum lurkers will enjoy the red meat (fk 'em)
Thank you for the compliment as relates the article! Please don't congratulate me on the abstinence, I assure you it has been and continues to be thoroughly miserable, just for reasons unforeseen when the article was originally written. Imagine that you only truly enjoy a very select few things, and then you take one of those few things away of your own volition...kinda messed up, right?
You're welcome on the opening up, but I was compensated for the writing of the article, so please don't give me undue credit for generosity.
The only thing that I really believe is that the bargaining would have made it easier. I don't really have any sort of a bargain now. I can drink anytime I want to and I am the only one stopping myself.
Thanks for the compliment on the article!
bargaining with yourself?
No need for that sort of explicit stuff, its enough to re-affirm that you are in control and simply choose a certain course of action whether it be with precisely defined rewards and precisely defined reasons or not.
the roads you choose during rush hour are exactly that: [b]your[/b] choice and do not require any explanation to yourself or others.