Sunday, October 23, 2005

Substance Abuse: Alcohol PART THREE

Got BiPolar? (or know someone who has)? Ever get totally trashed? Ever get chronic, lingering hangovers?

PART THREE of this mini-series is about the consequences of alcohol and the consequence of giving up for the BiPolar.

As I said, I used to get fairly sizzled when I had to go to social occasions. The occasions turned out great, I could dance like an idiot with total abandon, exude confidence and generally portray myself as a well-adjusted and exciting socialite.

...Until the next morning. Right from the beginning of my part-time drinking hobby, hangovers used to kick in far worse for me than my drinking buddies. Real "Got-a-gun?" stuff. Worse - they used to hang around for a few days. Often on the second day after the binge they'd be even more terrible and I developed a definite dreaded "second-day syndrome".

Why? Actually it shouldn't come as any great surprise. Alcohol is a depressant remember. That's right - DEPRESSANT. Wonderful stuff for a depressive to be partaking in.

But it was my good psychiatrist that pointed out an even more important effect. Alcohol stops your medication working. Ever read those little slips that come with your medication. "Avoid Alcohol". Sometimes I forget to take my pills on some days. By afternoon "Pretty Shitty" is firmly ensconced, and "Got-a-gun?" knocking on the door. It happens every time.

So here's why getting trashed causes depression: First you load yourself with depressants (aka beer, alcohol, moonshine), and then, for good measure, you make sure that your Anti-depressants don't work for the next couple days. It's a no brainer.

There's other consequences to. Those loved ones who share your space can understand the inevitable BiPolar downs (if you're lucky as I am), and it's difficult enough to put up with those. But those are not self-inflicted. The elbow-exercising on a Friday night is definitely self inflicted. So why the heck should the loved ones sympathise come Monday morning?

For me, the consequences of stopping alcohol have been amazing. Of course moderation would probably have worked too, but moderation is not on BiPolar Guy's repertoire. So I chose Nothing rather than All. And that crossroads I was at: No alcohol - No Socialise? Easy - ditch socialising for 6 months. Socialising, in my reclusive opinion is way over-rated anyway.

So for the past 8 months I've been feeling much better sans alcohol. My mind generally feels a lot sharper too. Definitely more clarity than before. And I'm finding Coffee Shops way more enjoyable than bars. You can sit at a table on your own drinking your coffee, smoking your cigarette and reading the morning paper - ah...Bliss! Sit at a table at a bar on your own and you look like some kind of AL Queda recruit.

Fringe benefit: I get bottomless coffee and a 20% tip for the waitress for 10 bucks which won't even buy you one tot of good whisky. Hey, if I'd stopped drinking 10 year's ago I could buy that amazing motorbike I'm hankering after.

But listen - I'm not preaching. You must do what works for you. I'm just sharing what works for me.

(You can lead a horse to the river, but you can't make it stop drinking)

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