I’ve done a fair bit of thinking and writing about my relationship with alcohol. I’m sharing chunks of longer pieces here to provide some context as to why it’s not always as clear cut as just drink in moderation to be okay. I basically need moderation and not ignoring brainweasels, depression, and whether I’m aware of being (passively or actively) suicidal or not. I do have other pieces (that are less emotionally exposing) planned that touch on working with personal limits and boundaries and drinking, so I’m not 100% avoiding alcohol forever.
If we ever meet irl, the crying bit isn’t going to be talked about, ‘k?
Alcohol (Or why I seem to love / hate drinking and 21 was important)
“Looking at the family history that I know of, alcohol doesn’t play nicely with my family. Drinking is tied with the abuse that I know of happening, and I’m pretty sure there’s some alcoholism that people didn’t quite want to admit to. I figured that I have a genetic predisposition to alcoholism, which didn’t seem to be helped by alcohol playing a role of avoiding emotions in any scenario in which I could imagine myself drinking.
Partially for these reasons, and partially because my mother scared me into following the law, I decided that I wouldn’t drink while underage, since I need to have healthy means of dealing with emotions. After my episode of situational depression, I decided that I also wouldn’t drink while underage because alcohol doesn’t play nicely with undiagnosed depression and/or suicidal ideation, even if the person is in denial.
I did okay with my first and second years here [at OU]. I was okay for a good portion of my fall semester this year [third / Junior], but in the latter part, I got to a certain point where I’m not sure if I was wanting to live a little and not follow every single rule forever, or the brainweasels (*) were messing around with things mentally, or some level of both. What exactly was I holding back for?
[Describing my first experience drinking; it involved whiskey.] I was slaphappy and giggling, and I couldn’t stop myself from laughing even though I knew nothing that was funny was happening. I was hoping that I wouldn’t have a spiral further into depression experience with drinking, so I took that slaphappiness (and in terms of recent events, feeling that happy / good / something for several consecutive hours currently holds the place of ‘something happy enough to cast a Patronus Charm with’).
I’d had something to drink, and I had felt good. Throughout November, I kept returning to that: I could self-medicate and feel good, or if I couldn’t get to that point, it would just be easier to test to see if I really wanted to live. […] I’ve realized that I primarily want to drink when it’s an issue of self-medication / testing to see if I want to live.[…] So based on the past few months, wanting to drink is either an indication of wanting to avoid emotions and self-medicate or an indication of the passive suicidal ideation trying to nudge more into being active.”
I talked about being CODE FUCKING RED this past winter [actively suicidal] and gave an overview of my experiences with depression here [it explains my seasonal depression and the relation to a Hel-road board game]. When I say that I got to the active end, I mean I had a rough idea / plan, and it involved alcohol (because of the expectation to drink heavily on one’s 21st birthday, that was the date). I’ve really had to address the fucking elephant in the room and fully handle the depression aspect in order to get to a point where it’s personally safe to drink. Because my brainweasels feast on alcohol, I have to be particularly mindful of how well I’m managing my depression when considering drinking.
(*) brainweasels – a term that I’ve run into on the internet as shorthand / slang for the negative brain chatter that can accompany various mental illnesses. I’ve also seen it used in a manner like the brainweasels are the mental illness itself.
Alcohol II (Or alternatives to alcohol and drinking)
This one is less likely to be applicable for sharing. I wrote it the midst of winter when I really needed a plan on why I might be wanting to drink and how to handle it.
Am I numb / empty and trying to feel something? Am I specifically trying to recreate that feeling of slaphappiness? Am I unaware of being passively suicidal? Am I feeling stressed out / need to blow off steam / need to unwind whatsoever? Each question has a list of alternatives rather than turning to alcohol to solve the particular problem.
Alcohol III (It’s dangerous when you like the taste)
This is a very detail specific journal entry concerning me figuring out that my brainweasels really come to play after I’ve been drinking. It’s been modified here to take out some of the details. Important to know – I’m a theatrical electrician, and Priority is a big fucking deal; we finish getting ready to focus on the Friday work call, and the next two days are devoted to focusing the entire plot.
“I was all kinds of not ready for Priority, and it was very stressful for me. There was an issue with recording the correct dimmers for the channels, and our board programmer had an unnecessarily rough time with patching and bringing up the correct lights. [One part of my job during this show entailed making sure the board is patched and ready to go for the programmer, it was the first time I filled this particular job.] I was taking this blame and feeling very incompetent and very much like a failure.
At the end of the evening call on Friday, a fellow electrician invited me to have a drink because quite a few of the electricians will do that to unwind after work. [We were at her place, so she made a glass of iced tea and added something for a bit of kick.] I could tell the tea was a bit off, but it was a lot better [than other drinks] because 98% of the taste was tea. However, I declined socializing at the bar with everyone because I felt really tired.
It was that feeling of Someone pressing my ‘reset’ button, and I knew I just need to sleep. However, the alcohol brought the brainweasels out to play, and I ended up being overwhelmed by feeling like a failure and it was all the previous emotions of the work call magnified by alcohol. I cried myself to sleep and woke up in time for Priority on Saturday. I felt fragile, like all my emotions were much closer to the surface than they’ve been in a long time, and I had to calm myself down at times in order to not tear up. [My job has a lot of stuff to do before Priority, but during the Priority, I’m a runner and retrieve items others need as necessary.] …so I didn’t actually do a lot until someone needed me to go get something. So, I had plenty of time to be unable to avoid the dimmer issue and to feel useless and worthless by not ‘really working’.
Several people assured me that I was doing a good job and we were in line with previous priorities in terms of being on time / behind. The first time or two I was okay and almost accepting, but after a few others brought it up, I started to feel questionable. Was I looking visibly upset? Were we really behind and they were lying to me in order to not upset me? [Tea electrician] would later (in the week leading up to the opening) say that she wanted to me have a good time at the Opening party because I seemed to have been under a lot of stress, and I had sort of seemed to collapse inward on myself at times at Priority. I knew I shouldn’t go near alcohol, so I didn’t go with the crew to the bar Saturday night either. I cried myself to sleep again and woke up in time for Sunday’s Priority. Rinse, lather, repeat.”
While I quite likely did need to do some emotional venting / releasing, I basically had to learn the hard way that alcohol + brainweasels + not sticking with my personal boundaries = crying myself to sleep (not fun).