Trouble in Paradise

I didn’t want to believe it at first, but drinking alcohol really does prevent my medication from working.

I am in Israel with my father; in this beautiful place experiencing the opportunity of a life time and all I seem to feel is anxiety, tenseness and gloom. I so desperately want to have a good experience here, and make sure my dad enjoys this because he has been talking about and wanting to come here for the past 35 years, but the novelty of drinking again has yet to wear off and I can’t seem to keep myself away from it, even though it has a negative and destructive effect on me.

I picked up a drink for the first time in almost four and a half years a few months ago, and I spent the majority of those months in denial, pretending my days of addiction to alcohol were over and I must have recovered from alcoholism. I was so pleased that I could finally join in with everyone else when we go out in the evenings, instead of sitting at a bar with a lemonade or a mocktail. I had missed the effects of alcohol for so many years, even though, much of the time, I knew I was doing the right thing by abstaining, especially when I attended AA and NA.

But my addictive nature slowly crept up on me, yet again.

It all started out one night, at a bar on a Greek island. I’d been obsessing about alcohol for some weeks and I had practically made the decision in my brain to ‘relapse’ already, at some point (although I didn’t know when exactly I was going to go through with it, and truthfully I was hoping I wouldn’t and that the craving would pass as it usually does). I discussed the idea with my boyfriend and for the majority of those conversations he told me it was a bad idea, both because of my medication and having bipolar and because of the nature of my history with drinking. But I went on and on about it for so long that eventually we decided it could just be an experiment and if it went wrong I would return to abstinence. And so, that night, I sipped a cocktail for an hour. It was frightening at first and I felt very strange, and with that first gulp I knew I had just erased my clean time, and that felt dark. But when the effect of the alcohol kicked in I got that fluffy, warm feeling back and I relaxed in a way I had not in so many years and I thought to myself ‘why have I been depriving myself of this feeling for so long?’

For some weeks I was extra vigilant about when I allowed myself to drink, for the most part because I didn’t want to worry my boyfriend, but also because I wanted to prove to myself and everyone else that I didn’t have a problem anymore. But as the weeks went by I began to obsess over it; constantly and only waiting for the day when I could have another, and thinking about it 24 hours a day. My habit slowly started to increase until one night I had five cocktails and got moderately drunk. I suffered terribly the following day; hungover and withdrawing from my medication. A few of us went camping on an island (in Greece), to this beautiful place, and all I could do was cry and feel awfully negative and depressed. The innocence of my life and stable relationship began to fall away.

When Gabriel and I went on our holidays last month I drank every single day. It wasn’t fair on him, with his reservations about my habit, and it wasn’t fair on me because I was being self-destructive. Eventually we started arguing about it.

I abstained from alcohol for a week before I came here, to Israel, and then the night before last I had too much wine, got very emotional and probably starting talking a load of rubbish. I woke up the next day feeling sore, psychologically and physically, and I regretted drinking so much. I told myself that morning that I won’t drink for a few days, to give my medication a chance to do its job, and that I will only drink while I am on holiday and that I will probably, once again, have to give up altogether when I return to Athens if I want to feel stable and happy.

I thought I could do it. I thought I had grown out of it, but it is blindingly obvious that I have issues with alcohol. Whether or not I need to seek outside help again, like alcoholics anonymous, I am unsure of because I quit attending meetings for several valid reasons. But I can’t allow this problem to escalate any further. Even if I was not an alcoholic, it is unwise to drink at all on my medication because I need it to get by on a daily basis, and at the moment it’s not doing its job, I don’t give it a fighting chance to do so.

One thing I need to let go of is this AA view that I have to put my clean time back to zero, and some attendees will convince you to treat it like the clean time that you gathered was worth nothing at all and you are back to square one after a relapse. I was brainwashed into thinking that for a long time and I need to let go of the concept if I want to survive this episode, otherwise I will feel depressed by the idea and find it even harder to stop again.

The caption in my blog, ‘An insight into the life of a bipolar-alcoholic-anorexic’ still rings as true as it ever did.

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