Tag Archives: Alcohol Abuse

Tips for Surviving the First Week Sober

The book I’m [procrastinating] working on is a guide to surviving the initial week of sobriety. Why write this? Because Why the hell not? Sure there’s a few other reasons but that’s the main one. It’s always good to have some big project to dedicate yourself towards, and besides soap making, I guess this is good enough thing to work on.

That’s not the only reason though. Helping people is also a big motivator. Sobriety sucks, especially the early period, and if I can help a single person stumble through their first week it’d be worth it. My first week sucked and I ‘discovered’ a few things that helped, so why not pass that forward to other people?

A full book aside, the original idea was for a blog post. It grew outside the scope of a short blog post so I rolled it into a full(ish) book. Abbreviating it into a post is still a good idea and can help me brainstorm what the hell I’m actually trying to say so anyways here’s my tips on surviving the first week sober.

Why A Week?

I think a week is a good goal for not drinking. It’s long enough to learn to deal with life without alcohol but short enough that it seems doable; if you’ve been drinking for years the thought of an entire month sober seems utterly impossible. After a week most of the withdrawal symptoms should be bearable and you should have a grasp on life again.

Life is structured around weeks as well. You know, seven days, five weekdays, two weekdays, so running through a whole week sober covers the entire experience. With a week sober you learn to deal with the weekends, work, school, and whatever else usually happens in your life. Sure, things vary from week to week, but one sober week should leave you with some confidence to handle the usual stuff life throws at you.

Be Honest with Yourself

This is preliminary to doing anything big like not drinking. Drinking is a sneaky bastard that uses your own flaws against you. Drinking is both physically and mentally addictive so quitting is kind of a two part process. The physical part of quitting sucks, but the psychological part is a bit harder to work around. While you don’t need to analyze the shit out of why you drink immediately, you’ll have to tackle it eventually.

You’ll have to be honest with yourself. No lying to save your ego, no denying the hard truth, no whatever, just be honest. Sounds dumb to make that a step, but let’s get it out of the way. It’s hard to stop drinking if you continually construct a façade between you and your own mind.

Do You Even Want to Quit?

I’ve always wondered why my therapist never flat out told me I needed to stop drinking. She’d always dance around the topic, asked why I drank, suggested AA as a support network that might be a good idea, among other things. I now know why: People are stubborn as fuck. People don’t do anything unless they decide they want to do it. This is normally true but even more so regarding sobriety. You have to want to quit.

Sounds stupid to even say but it’s true. You can’t push the reason to quit on someone else like your kids, your friends, or your job; it has to be you. People like to lie to themselves –”I’m quitting for my family!” — but are you actually wanting to quit for yourself or are you only doing what you think you’re “supposed” to be doing? There’s a subtle difference here but it’s important. On one hand you can quit because you love your family and want to be a better person, and on the other you can quit because that’s what people that love their families are supposed to do. See? One is you deciding and the other is you putting the reason off on someone or something else. You have to quit because you want to, and it’s a lot harder to quit if this isn’t the case.

Taper

Alcohol withdrawal can kill you. Seriously. It’s one of the few things that can kill you if you stop too suddenly. This will take some honesty to know. Are you that seasoned of an alcoholic that you could die if you stop? If you might be, consider tapering.

Tapering with alcohol sucks as many of us have a hard time stopping once we start. One beer gets popped open and the rest of the case will soon follow. Tapering isn’t easy-mode, but it might be safer than stopping cold turkey. It will also make the withdrawal a bit easier to manage when you do quit, and might make your mental state easier to manage in the early parts of sobriety. Just know that tapering might be hard, and you might find more success stopping cold turkey. Just be honest with yourself (there’s that tip again) if you’re in danger of alcohol withdrawal.

Obviously none of this is medical advice and shouldn’t be taken as such. If you do a simple Google search for “alcoholism” you’ll find countless articles directing you to a proper detox or rehab facility. “Talk to your health are provider if you think you’d like to cut down on your drinking. Bullshit. That seems like the last thing an alcoholic would want to do, out themselves to their doctor about drinking, especially if they’re doing Google searches at 3 a.m. about drinking problems. Anyways, taper smartly and go see a professional.

Know Your Drinking Triggers

You don’t need to know all the deep-down and depressing reasons why you drink — that’s going to be a bunch of nasty bags to unpack so let’s not get into that now — but you should have a decent idea of the excuses why you drink. Obligatory “Be honest” again. For me it was boredom and as lame as that sounds it us one of my triggers. You probably have a bunch of different ones. “Unwinding after work.” “It makes social situations tolerable.” “I’m anxious about tomorrow so I need a few drinks to calm down.” It could be as simple as, “My mood is shit and drinking cheers me up.” It really doesn’t matter, just be familiar with how you justify drinking.

It’s obvious to see why: when you see why you drink, how you justify drinking, you can take steps to avoid your drinking triggers. If you like to unwind after work with a drink start plotting out a non-alcohol way to unwind. Boredom? Line up shit to keep busy with (I bought a bunch of books before I stopped). Depressed? Well, that one is a bit harder to avoid but if you’re going to stop you must learn how to deal with the things that cause you to drink.

You don’t have to have a clear plan for each trigger, just be aware of them. Write them down, brainstorm, do whatever helps, just be prepared to fight your triggers when you stop.

Stay Busy No Matter What

Another side effect of being alcohol dependent is that your system seems to upregulate itself to stay alive. When you constantly flood your body with a depressant — a drug that slows things down — your body reacts by upregulating stuff. Churning out all those good hormones and neurotransmitters to keep you from dying and all of that good stuff. I’m pretty certain this is why you’re jittery and anxious as fuck when you’re hungover. Your body is still vibing right along on all of those natural uppers to counteract the booze and of course you’re going to be shaking, have a rapid heartbeat, and have crippling anxiety. It makes perfect sense if you think about it.

When you stop your body is still upregulated, but there’s no booze to balance it out. Your body is expecting one thing — more depressants — and where the hell are they? It takes time for the body to adjust, and it’s adjusted over years to having booze only to have it gone one day so it’ll take some time to get itself back to normal. But for the time being you’re in for a hell of a time.

Antsy, anxious, panicky, jittery, bored, unmotivated, like you’re skin in crawling with boredom — can I please have something to do! — but there isn’t anything appealing to do. It’s miserable. About the only thing you can do is to keep busy. You won’t want to keep busy, but keep busy you must. Making matters worse is nothing will actually be fun. Video games suck, reading sucks, going to a park is boring, nothing seems fun so what’s the point? Keeping busy is the point! You feel like shit and about the most important thing you can do is pass the time forward. The longer you go without drinking the more your body will stabilize and you’ll start to feel ‘normal’ whatever that means (and during the first week sober you’ll wonder exactly who sober you is; it’s been so long since you’ve been that person). You can either sit around and sulk in the shitty physical and mental feelings or you can be somewhat proactive and try to pass time forward as effectively as possible.

Everyone knows that the busier you are, the faster time passes. Keep busy for the sake of keeping busy. Don’t let boredom set in. You might not enjoy what you’re doing — everything might feel like a chore — but keep busy even if it isn’t enjoyable.

Ride the Emotional Waves

My mood was all over the place in the first week. I’d be high, I’d be low, and obviously everything in between. One moment I’d feel so elated that I was on my third day sober only minutes later to feel totally depressed and in shambles for no apparent reason. It was shitty and I kept trying to keep that wider mindset in prospective: I was not going to drink. Keeping my eyes on the goal if you will. That was the goal so let’s just suck it up and make it through.

I’d imagine a surfer on a paddle board in the ocean. Totally out there where he probably shouldn’t be, paddling helplessly trying to get somewhere impossible. He’s being bombarded by waves. Anytime he thinks he’s making progress another rough wave will come up, knock him around, and then it’ll pass. Sure it’s only temporary — another wave is sure to fuck his day up — but for that moment it’s all okay.

That’s how I viewed the emotional rollercoaster during that first week. My mood was turbulent and I was well aware it was from the lack of alcohol. It was part of the journey I was on so might as well deal with it the best I could. What really helped was to detach myself from my mood swings. Instead of thinking the mood swings were real I’d blame the alcohol for fucking my stability up. I wasn’t really feeling those things, depressed or happy or anything, it was the alcohol bouncing me around. If I felt upset, depressed, anxious, or hopeless I’d tell myself, “Okay, the fucking lack of alcohol is fucking my mood up,” and do my best to ignore and disregard the feeling. I’d put the feeling off for later. “I’m pretty depressed but I’ll wait a week to see if I really am depressed.”

One Day at a Time, Exist in the Moment

Not to get too metaphysical here, but only the present exists. Sure, the future and the past are sort of real, but the only people that need to worry about if the past and future actually exist are theoretical physicists. As of right now, as you’re reading this, you are in the present, not the past or the future. You can remember reading it in the past or might read it in the future, but these are only abstractions or memories that aren’t part of your current reality. Sure, they’re useful abstractions — living your life without knowing lessons learned from the past or with no regard to the future is a bad idea — but existence is in the present. That’s where you are at all times.

The whole point of that is to narrow down your sober life/year/week/day/hours to the infinitesimal present. Sobriety only seems daunting when you think of the big picture. The future is scary because are you really going to never drink again? Never again is a long time to be sober. What if you’re at a bar with some friends (because it’ll certainly happen sometime in the future) and it’ll be a challenge and can you even pass that challenge? Are you really going to be someone who will celebrate their 1,000th day sober when each hour without alcohol is torture? Looking into the future is daunting and terrifying.

But if you’re sober in this moment, you’re doing okay. To hell with the next year, month, week, day, hour, or even minute. You’re existing sober in the present and isn’t that all sobriety is? Abstract it out a bit further. If you live each moment sober, the future will write itself. Sobriety isn’t a full thing on its own, you don’t define a decade by not drinking, it’ll happen naturally as time passes.

A saying that often seems to get tossed around with sobriety is “Take it one day at a time.” As bullshit as it sounds, it does help. If you’re feeling really bad you can always drink tomorrow, but for today, tough it out and stay sober. When you wake up the next day, do the same thing. Tell yourself you might drink tomorrow, and stay sober for just that day. String the days together, forget the big picture, and you’re good to go.

Have a Support System (and Use It!)

I said you must want to quit to actually quit and might’ve made sobriety sound like a purely solo effort. I suppose it is — you’re the one being sober and dealing with your shit — but it’s not as cold and as harsh as that. Sobriety is a lot easier if you have people to support you.

I don’t even think the support needs to be firm and direct support. I don’t think you need AA or a group of sober friends to have somber meetings with. I don’t think you need a therapist or professional help. If you want and need those, go for it, it can only help. Support systems come in many different ways and forms and you’ll have to seek out what kind of support you’d like to have.

I found a great support group on Reddit, the stopdrinking subreddit to be exact. It’s great for people like myself that don’t like social situations or strangers or anything too difficult to do. Stopdrinking is great for people who like to Google questions and browse on their phones. You can go there and even set a sobriety date so Reddit will count the days for you! This is a great passive way to count the sober days without actually counting (and stressing) about them yourself.

Friends, family, strangers on the internet, find whatever will give you the support you need. Professionals are always there to help as well and go crazy doing whatever you need to do to stay sober. Sometimes it doesn’t take much support to help you through the rough times. Sometimes just complaining to a friend who is sympathetic to your challenge and struggles is all you need. Someone to acknowledge that you’re trying to better yourself and offer up a simple, “That sucks…but you’re doing good and I’m proud of you,” whenever you’re struggling. Find those people that have your best interests in their hearts and keep them close.

Love and Forgive Yourself

No one is perfect and you might be kicking yourself really hard when trying to sober up. You’ll feel like shit and ask yourself, “Why the hell did I get myself into this situation? Am I stupid? What the hell is wrong with me to even be doing ‘sobriety?’ Did I really get this deep into alcohol? What a fuckup failure of a person I am. Why can’t I just be normal?

Take comfort in knowing that you took the right step. I don’t mind people making stupid choices, all I ask is that they learn from them. It might take a long time but learning is growing. Love yourself enough to forgive yourself for your fuckups. Drinking is a drug of self-loathing and sorrow. It wants you to feel like shit, to feel guilty, so you’ll eventually pick the bottle back up. It works doesn’t it? But you can work too. It’ll be hard, dealing with your past and your endless fuckups, but everyone fucks up occasionally. Think of a friend who is a fuckup — you might love and forgive them frequently — and why shouldn’t you extend this to yourself? You fucked up, you’re an alcoholic, but you realize it and are trying to stop. If a friend did this you’d be super happy and supportive. It’ll be hard, but bring yourself into your circle of love and forgiveness. You owe yourself this!

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Or my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Sober January? Sober 2021?

Well let’s give this a try again: sobriety. Despite the wonderful success of Sober September I took up drinking again in October and I’ve drank every day since. Part of this was justified (in the grasping-for-straws way us alcoholics are exceedingly good at); as a UPS worker dealing with the holidays I did whatever I needed to do to survive the season. And survive I did, even if I did have to make excuses to justify the alcoholism. Now that that’s done I don’t really have any excuses for drinking. There’s no drama, nothing to survive, nothing to deal with, only life itself. It’s that boring time of year where nothing happens at work, where life in general is in stasis until the warmer months, and when I wonder if humans have any small genetic and evolutionary tendency for hibernation. It’s the time of year post-Christmas/New Year’s where I just want to disappear until March when I feel like I can live life again. You know, go outside, exercise, get some vitamin D, get my general health in order, and enjoy existing.

Most of what I told my therapist last Friday piggybacks off this post (Adderall Sucks) where I argue that drugs don’t solve a damn thing. She asked why I wanted to stop drinking and I told her that it’s boring. It offers nothing anymore. I’d used to drink to get motivated, write, clean, and do whatever needs to be done — it worked as a general mood enhancer and motivator, and worked well — until now when it doesn’t do a damn thing but make me sleepy. I’m currently 10 beers deep and I don’t feel a damn thing. No motivation, no joy, no nothing, just some vague feeling of obliviousness which detaches me from reality. Like I guess I have to wake up tomorrow and go to work and figure out what my investing accounts are up to but that’s so far away that it’s an abstraction.

Not to say that the next few days won’t be difficult. It’s easy while drinking to notice that alcohol doesn’t do you any good but it’s another thing to be sober for an extended period of time. Booze has a way of working it’s way into your mind where it’s an ever-present solution to anything you encounter in life. Sobriety sounds great now, but what about in a few days when I’m depressed after work and feeling useless, bored, and a failure? That’s when the real challenge hits.

Trying to recall my lessons from Sober-September: Keep Busy. Alcohol has a way of keeping you occupied and in its absence you must have a backup plan to keep yourself distracted. I plan on reading. I plan on writing. I plan on playing video games in an obsessive manner because while useless and wasteful it’s still better than drinking. I’ll have to rely on my hobbies, whatever they are, to keep me occupied and sober, and how is that a bad thing in the long run? You can only improve and get better while working on hobbies.

Luckily I have a good support system. My sister stopped drinking about a week ago and tried to get me on board, but I didn’t want to start sobriety so close to the New Year because it seemed like it’d be a resolution; last year I learned that resolutions fucking suck. Plus, relying on other people doesn’t seem to work either; you’re being sober for them and not yourself. Despite this, having someone in a similar situation (with a similar genetic makeup!) does give you someone to sympathize to. Hell, I’m even thinking of getting a few coworkers to join me in sobriety to extend the goodness and support to others. And Sober September? Setting a time goal only seems to make you do good enough to “win” or “succeed” and then toss it all away. Rereading that post only convinces me that I’m more competitive than I am an alcoholic; I’ll be sober just long enough to prove how I can “win” without doing it for myself. This time I have no window of sobriety and plan on just going with for however long I do.

Let me not ignore my wife here either. While not prone to any substance abuse at all she does seem to somewhat understand the struggle in someone like myself. She’s obviously been wanting me to quit even if she doesn’t personally understand why someone would drink as much and as obsessively as me. She wants me as healthy as possible and despite being ignorant of how alcoholics are seems more than supportive in keeping me as healthy as possible. I’m positive that whatever I go through the next week she’ll be kind and understanding and work through me being grumpy, anxious, bored, combative, and sleep-deprived.

And my readers. Blogging doesn’t seem to have the network-supportive feedback that other forms of media do, but the numbers do hint at some form of quiet support. I check my views daily (probably unhealthily) and I can’t help but notice that my 10 Reasons to Not be a Drunkard post seems to always show up as one of the most read posts (along with that damn Watermelon one for some reason). It seems contradictory to be an alcoholic and have one of your most viewed posts be a list of reasons to not drink, but here we are. I like to think I’m speaking from a position of total honesty here — no one is perfect and while I know how stupid I’m being I have a total inability to not be stupid — and maybe that dissonance with what I’m saying and what I’m doing has some meaning behind it. If anyone is not perfect it’s me and I’m fully aware of it.

Disjointed rant there, but whoever reads this I’m sure will be supportive of the journey and the struggle. Everyone is in their own shit, dealing with their own unique struggles, and this is mine. So we keep struggling. Keep fighting whatever demons we need to fight. Lose over and over again but keep kicking and screaming in the correct direction. Fighting means you have will and life in you, that you haven’t given up, and that you still have spirit and vitality in you. We still know the way forward towards the dim light at the end of the tunnel. And even if it ends in failure after failure, each step forward is still a step in the direction that we know we need to head towards. I’m certain that we’re all in this struggle together and while the battles are different the war is the same. It’s fucking 2021; let’s kick the shit out of this year together.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing also sometimes post stories.

Adderall Sucks

Work sucks. It’s boring. There are so many people on my shift and so few airplanes to load/unload. Maybe six flights in/out and 100 people to do the work. I think 50 would be a good number, but 50 is not my current reality: 100 is. I sit. I do nothing. I get antsy. I want to get out and run around because I feel like a hamster trapped in a cage. Untapped energy but a somehow a lack of energy from being so damn bored.

I already wrote about this and don’t want to go over it again, but my boredom is so palpable that I can’t help but stress it one more. This is my hell and it is a hell, let me assure you!

A person at work offered me an Adderall to help get me through these long and sleep-deprived days. I didn’t accept the offer the past few weeks because I know how Adderall affects me. While used to treat narcolepsy and ADHD, Adderall is a powerful stimulant; it’s literally pharmaceutical amphetamine! If you don’t have these actual medical issues it’s meant to treat, you get wired and focused on the most random things. If you can channel the motivation, great, if not you’ll spend hours doing whatever the hell you find yourself doing without explanation. I’ve taken it twice in the past, never for any real purpose, and clearly remember how it affected me. The first time I taught myself piano for four hours straight. The second time I wrote the most elaborate physics paper for my class that I’d ever written. And today is number three…

I wrote my blog post about Christmas and am now writing this. Yes, two drafts in a single day. Because I’m in the zone! Because I have shit to say! Because I’m excited and motivated and feel good and let’s just keep on writing! Because I’ve channeled the energy that Adderall has given me! While it’s sad to know this is only temporary, I might as well make the best use out of my time as the situation allows.

But is it temporary? What if I just take Adderall daily and write? Can I get a prescription because I’m a writer with a severe lack of motivation? I bet if I wrote every day like today I’d have a fucking book done in a month or two. This is surely the best idea I’ve ever had.

No. No it’s not. I wasn’t being serious there. That’s a terrible idea. While I am sad that tomorrow I’ll be the same lazy writer that I always am, I’m aware that that is my natural state and there isn’t a good chemical fix that will magically work.

I’ve learned this through my functional alcoholism. Alcohol used to be my Adderall — drink a few drinks and I couldn’t wait to write — but the key thing to notice is the past-tense in that statement. I drink six beers and could care less about writing. I watch YouTube and play video games. The alcohol somehow doesn’t motivate me like it did a few years ago.

There’s always the urge to use substances to fix a problem (at least for me) and it’s a hell of an urge to fight because they work. There’d be no alcoholics if alcohol didn’t do something to fix you up. The stereotype of drinking heavily after a bad day at work, or after heartbreak, are stereotypes because alcohol works. You wake up the next day still aware of the trouble, but it’s more like a smeared chalk-board image of the problem that you can more easily deal with. Drugs work and that’s why people abuse them.

But substances only sidestep the problem and should only be temporary. This is clear in theory but difficult in practice. If it works, why not use it all the time? The catch is it doesn’t always work. You get a tolerance and the magic, whatever it might be, isn’t quite there anymore. This is especially bad with the physically addictive substances because then you’re hooked without any benefit at all. Cigarette smokers get quite a head rush the first time trying nicotine. It quickly goes away. Vodka mellows you out for quite awhile until you find you need more than before and it doesn’t mellow you out quite like it used to. And Adderall? Luckily I’m not addicted to it and never want to be. It’s the same as anything else. Adderall works until it doesn’t and by that time you’re probably moderately addicted and in a big mess when you try to stop.

Alan Watts said something like, ‘Drugs are a tool and nothing more,’ in one of his books, paraphrased obviously. He likened them to any other tool, like binoculars for example. Binoculars are fantastic for looking at far away objects, but if you think they’re so fucking amazing to use all the time you’re missing the point. If some asshole did walk around with binoculars attached to their face they’d run into some issues in life, just like the use-drugs-as-a-solution person does. The analogy goes pretty deep if you’d like to take it there. Binocular-Man, as we’ll call him, will probably have a rough time adapting, but he can do it. I once read a story about a guy who put a contraption on his head that swapped the images between his eyes where his right eye was seeing from the perspective of his left and vice verse. And guess what? After awhile he adapted and could live life normally. Apparently his brain dealt with the image fuckery and got to work doing what all human brains do: adapt. His vision was swapped, his brain adapted, and he was perfectly fine. 

Until he took the damn things off that is. His brain was dealing with more fuckery and despite seeing the normal way his entire life (minus the previous week) he was fucked. The world was fucked. He couldn’t see right. And then eventually his brain realized what was up and adapted back to it’s original state. I shouldn’t have to explain this analogy with reversed-vision-guy and binocular-man because it’s all pretty obvious how this applies here.

That’s my working theory on drug use/abuse. Abusers mistake the tool for the thing that will fix everything about them or their lives, myself included with alcohol. Users are those who can dabble and not become entranced by the drugs. I believe most drugs are useful, even the more esoteric stuff like LSD and DMT for mind and perspective expanding — not to mention painkillers like morphine — but all have limits on their uses. Adderall is great for allowing those with ADHD or narcolepsy to function better, but outside of that it’s also great for (illegally) allowing the sleep-deprived student and the unmotivated writer/blogger at UPS to finally get shit done. It’s really good at this too, let me assure you of that! But with that last example you can see this is quickly getting into the “tool-not-solution” problem from earlier. I have no qualms with the students using this drug to write a paper here and there, but it’s obvious it can go from tool to solution way too easily, once again because it’s so damn effective.

(Note: I talked with a friend about why it’s okay for an ADHD person to use Adderall to solve their issues but not for someone like me, and unmotivated writer, to use Adderall to solve their motivation issues. It seemed to come down to this: what is the best solution possible? ADHD is a brain chemical imbalance so drugs are likely the best way to solve the problem. Me with motivation? No, this isn’t a chemical issue but a ‘mindset issue.’ It’s impossible for the depressed/ADHD/chemically imbalanced person to ‘think their way’ out of their problems, so the only solution is a drug. Sounds like a beautiful explanation doesn’t it?)

To problem with my motivation is, well, a problem with my motivation. It’s a battle against myself. While Adderall is currently fucking kicking my motivation into high gear, it’s not the be-all end-all solution. The Adderall will wear off and I’ll be me, the flawed me, once again as always. The Adderall me can still exist with Adderall or without it. I can write like Stephen King suggests if I drug myself up, or if I just work through my issues with motivation. One is hard, one is easy — both work — but the easy one is dangerously temporary. So what’s the choice? What do I do?

Looks like I’ll sit my ass down tomorrow and try to write something sans-Adderall.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing also sometimes post stories.

Hangxiety Sucks

November what? The 26th? It’s late November? Already? The demons of Thanksgiving, Christmas, peak season at UPS, the hell of Winter, and the struggle of buying gifts is already upon us? When did all of this happen? I’m not ready for this. It was only a few weeks ago that it was July and everyone was miserable in 100+ degree heat indices. Right? 

Sober September was great enough and it was the happiest I had been in awhile. I’ve said before in some post before that surprisingly I don’t have anxiety when I’m not drinking. It has been so long since I’ve been sober for an extended period of time that I’d just accepted anxiety as part of my natural state. Sure, Jeremy is somewhat anxious, but it was never a crushing and terrible thing that I couldn’t work through until I made alcohol a part of my everyday existence. But here we are and I have no choice but to deal with it and work through it. Life is always a struggle to fight through your problems and this is mine currently.

Sober September quickly turned into Intoxicated October and Not-Sober November which is where I am currently. And it’s the absolute worst time of the year to realize that maybe you should stop drinking, that it does you no good, and that it’s a crutch you use to limp on by in life. Fucking stand up on your own and live up to your potential, right? But it’s cold and dark and work is hell and stress is high and despite any meditation on the matter I can’t help but feel that life and everything is spiraling apart hopelessly. Add in the second/third wave of COVID-19 looming over all of us and I don’t even think I want to attempt sobriety just yet. I just don’t think I can pull off during this point of my life. Maybe I’ll just camp out until things finally fucking calm the fuck down…eventually…whenever that actually happens…maybe January?

Anyways, hanxiety. It’s a term I found on Reddit a few days ago and it has struck me with its personal resonance. If you can’t tell, it’s a portmanteau of hangover and anxiety which makes its meaning quite clear: hangxiety is the anxiety you experience while being hungover. Apparently the Irish have a term for it (according to some random Reddit user): The Fear, which is quite fitting really.

(Note: here’s a link that is pretty damn informative about ‘hangxiety.’)

It’s comforting knowing there are terms so fitting to my current state used by a massive part of the internet population. It removes the ‘personalness’ of the problem — maybe it’s not a problem with you our your mind but with the alcohol use/abuse and is something chemical — which makes it a ton easier to deal with. When there are a bunch of people experiencing the same crap that you do you don’t feel quite as bad about it as if you were going it alone and thinking it was some issues with you a person or something. All of us borderline alcoholics are in this together, in some nebulous struggle against a molecule of all thing, and it gives you a feeling of camaraderie. It’s not just you going it alone and a ton of us experience this ‘hangxiety.’

Apparently hangxiety is a medical side-effect of alcohol use/abuse. It’s as natural as any other drug side effects and it’s not something to beat yourself up over. Sure, you’re drinking way too much and may have fucked up temporarily, but the next day side-effects are as much of an issue of biology and chemistry as they are to your possible drunken texts to your ex, if you sent them or not. As said before: don’t beat yourself up over things if you can help it. No one who is prescribed opioids beats themselves up over the ability to shit (as opioids stop you from being able to take a dump) so us alcoholics shouldn’t fret over the next-day anxiety, guilt, and stress that we always experience.

(Big Note here: obviously alcoholics and those prescribed prescription drugs are totally different, but I’m trying to say don’t personalize the side-effects of the drugs you’re taking I guess.)

Alcohol is a depressant, and as the brain and body’s way of dealing with this is to increase the ‘flight or fight’ response of your body so you don’t die. By drinking you’re basically slowing everything down and your body speeds itself up with its funny tricks so you don’t pass away. It’s a battle of chemicals; as you dose your body with things that slow you down, your body increases the things that keep it going like cortisol: the stress hormone. Do you ever notice how you wake up anxious, on edge, fearful, and terrified after a night of drinking? Thank cortisol and your super-effective brain and body for this. You’ve dumped a bunch of depressants into your system and your body is fighting it and what did you expect to happen? Welcome to the hell you’ve brought upon yourself. And you have nothing else to do but accept it with open arms and own it because it’s all your own fault.

This is the hell I’ve been in for about two months now, and despite being in this hell I’m surprisingly adapting just fine to it. It sounds awful, but I’m used to waking up after four or five hours of sleep totally stressed out and feeling guilty for some unclear reason despite not drunkenly texting my ex or doing other silly shit. Sure, I didn’t do anything to feel guilty over, but the feeling is there and ever-present and it feels real. It’s hard to shake a feeling of guilt despite knowing you’re not guilty of a damn thing. I suppose with this outside opinion from thousands of Redditors I’ve detached myself from the hangxiety in a way. Yes, I was drinking a bit too much and brought it upon myself, but the hangxiety itself is just a byproduct from my stupid life choices and not a problem on its own. I wasn’t guilty, a failure, or held some vague form or regret for any real reason: it was just the booze changing my brain chemistry.

It might be the functional alcoholic speaking here, but I’m getting to the point where I totally ignore and disregard my hangxiety. It’s just a passing feeling and if I fight through it, chill out, focus on being at peace with my life, and I find I can get through it just fine. It does seem like everything in life is a tradeoff, and if you do accept functional alcoholism into your life you can still learn some sort of lesson about stress, anxiety, and depression even if it’s at the expense of your greater health. I’m not saying people should willing drink to induce the temporary hell that is hangxiety just to deal with general anxiety, but damn if I haven’t been learning things over the past few months about dealing with stress and anxiety.

As for my hyped-up, hopeful closing statement: if you are a total drunkard who wakes up after a paltry three or four hours of sleep totally stricken by The Fear: you’re not alone. While I’m not facing the actual problem of alcoholism here, I am trying to give you some comfort over your hangxiety. It’s just a temporary side-effect of drinking heavily and if you give yourself time and turn your thoughts over to more comforting things you’ll find that you can fight through it. Don’t fret, don’t worry, it’s not a big deal and you can work through it. Despite you bringing these feelings upon yourself, remember above all else try to love yourself! No one is perfect, you can eventually work through your issues, but please don’t put extra effort into beating yourself up! Hangxiety, while awful and difficult to deal with in the moment, is just a temporary effect of alcohol on your brain and body and has nothing to do with your mental state, even if you might think it does. Hangxiety doesn’t speak to your mental state or fortitude, security, or safety in any way and should be totally disregarded. Don’t put too much emphasis into how you feel in the moment and try your best to work through it. Like me, you might find that it’s not a big deal at all once you face it and deal with it the best you can. It’s only a passing shadow, or something…

Maybe it’s best summed up by Sam’s speech in the middle of The Lord of the Rings movies:

“I know.
It’s all wrong
By rights we shouldn’t even be here.
But we are.
It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo.
The ones that really mattered.
Full of darkness and danger they were,
and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end.
Because how could the end be happy.
How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened.
But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow.
Even darkness must pass.
A new day will come.
And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.
Those were the stories that stayed with you.
That meant something.
Even if you were too small to understand why.
But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand.
I know now.
Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t.
Because they were holding on to something.”

-Samwise Gamgee

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing also sometimes post stories.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all, but I do appreciate more followers.

Alcoholism Sucks: The Slow Descent

So it’s 3:20 a.m. and I’m pounding my seventh beer. I feel slightly better about life but not quite okay with it. It’s a struggle to drink enough to feel okay with life but not drink too much to lose your mind to the drunken haze. And with every drunken day that passes that line becomes thinner and harder to follow with less margin for error.

I don’t even know what the point of this post is but I hope it eventually gains some direction. Typing is hard and I’m hitting the wrong keys all the time. Constantly smashing the backspace button to erase any signs of my drunken typing while desperately trying to stay on topic. Maybe it would be a fun project to let the errors stand as-is and just display it to the world: this is what drunkenness looks like. That’d be fun, right?

I find it interesting that many bloggers have a “recovery blog” where they write about life away from alcoholism while no one seems to document the descent itself, which even in the midst of beI find immensely interesting. No one signs up to be an alcoholic and everyone that ends up as such seems to be totally caught off guard that it could, or was, happening to them for years. I’m in the fucking depths of it and the world seems so damn twisted, confusing, and depressing that I doubt anyone who hasn’t experienced it could imagine it. Here there is no hope. Here there is no progress. Here there is only limping along day after day just trying to survive the best you can, beer after beer. There is no outlet. There is no escape. You wake up hungover and try to get to the evening when you can drink again. One more escape after the last, until something happens, something to change the addiction. Something to change the hell of life.

After the past like two months of drinking everyday I just don’t care to work on anything. I haven’t anything in the past month due to the drinking. Not that I haven’t had anything to write about, it’s just that while being perpetually drunk it’s hard to string any coherent thoughts together. It’s hard to let your mind fester on a certain idea and let it lead to a natural conclusion. Alcoholism seems like a fucking blur: the past few days don’t mean anything, the past few weeks seems like a puzzle, and the past few months seems like some barely recountable dream that you’re not sure you actually lived through. When I try to recall the past couple of months I can’t seem to come up with anything. Sure, I lived through it, but I have nothing to show for it except vague memories, dream-like states and experiences, but it doesn’t seem like it was me experiencing them. It seems like someone else was there and I have no personal relationship with the memories at all.

The Descent

I don’t even know why I’ve been drinking so heavily over the past few months either. Surely part of it was due to my month long vacation and drunkenness, but besides that I have no idea. Well, maybe I am aware of a few other important issues but I don’t feel like discussing them here. There’s a bunch of stress in my life currently, and stress seems to be nearly as bad as alcoholism is. Stress wears you down and drains you, especially over long periods of time, and this is certainly part of it. Alcohol eliminates stress for a time, but it seems you must pay the debt back later. Any stress you eliminate with alcohol comes back the next day and if you continue to avoid it by drinking it’ll snowball into some intense hatred of life and anxiety, which only makes you drink more to avoid it further on.

It’s such a subtle descent that it’s difficult to realize how dangerous it really is. I had my first drink at the age of 17 and have fended off alcoholism until now — 17 years later. I’m 34 and never had any real issues with it — sure there were signs here and there but no obvious problems — until now. 17 years later! Half of my life I survived with a casual relationship with little to no abuse until now? Why did I fall at this time? What happened? If I wasn’t an alcoholic ten years ago, why am I one now?

For fucks sake, it sneaks up on you when you least expect it. With 17 years of not really having a problem I let my guard down. I decided I could drink once per week in 2020 and was fine with controlling the demon until a few months ago. Then something happened. I don’t even know what it was, but here I am drinking every fucking day. What happened? How did I fail? How did I become this person?

You don’t even notice it. A drink here or there in social situations just to ease your anxiety. A few drinks on the weekends to help you unwind. A drink on a weekday to help you deal with a stressful day. A drink the next morning to let you deal with the hangover. And then a drink after work because it was a bad day. And then another drink the following morning because you’re hungover from the drinks after your bad day. And…and before you know it you’ve been drinking for a fucking month or two struggling day after day just to survive life itself. It happens so slowly that you don’t even notice it, but eventually you realize it’s there. It’s you. You’re the alcoholic. You’re the person you never thought you’d become. But here you are, at 3:47 a.m. writing a blog post after eight beers trying to confess your soul to some strangers on the internet. You feel like you can’t escape and you feel like you’re in too deep. How do you even escape the person you’ve become?

A Way Out

I talked to my therapist about this a week ago. I said I felt fine, that I was doing okay with depression and social anxiety and that I felt pretty damn good really, but that I was drinking every fucking day for some reason. She gave some vague advice that I loved, “Perhaps you’ve gotten over the past issues you were struggling with and now the next problem presents itself. Understanding is like an onion, and maybe you’re moving on to understand the next layer.”

I sat dejected on the sofa and joked asking, “How many layers does this onion have?”

And she replied, “The layers never end…”

“So it’s an infinite-layered onion? Well…Fuck.”

And this gave me hope but also with a slight tinge of meaninglessness. An infinite onion never allows you to reach the core –to where you never fully discover your true self — but maybe I’d moved on from my other issues to confront the next issue: alcoholism. Progress, right? But it’s still strange. You’d think as depressed as I was months ago I’d be drinking a ton then but no, somehow when everything finally started to improve elsewhere in my life the drinking became uncontrollable. So maybe this problem is manifesting at an opportune time, the next problem to solve, the next layer of my personal onion, and it’s up to me to face it.

Two of the supervisor I work with (whom I consider friends) mentioned something about “Substance-Free September” where they elaborated on giving up any substances they struggle with for the upcoming month. They looked at me and said, “Hey Jerm, you want to do this with us? Substance-Free September?”

I gave them a glassy-eyed stare as I knew the one thing I’d have to give up would be alcohol; I was dreading giving up my singular coping mechanism for life. They kinda laughed and I eventually choked out, “Well, I’ve been drinking every day the past three months so maybe I could give up drinking for a month, but…fuck...”

I had been so used to drinking everyday that I wasn’t sure I could do it.

There is a certain appeal to involving others in your life choices. It seems easier to be sober if you haven other people you’ve made a pact with. It’s not just me making choices for myself when I’m suddenly accountable to others. It sounds strange but I’m a very competitive person: if I’m in a “competition” I give it my all just to prove that I’m a badass and if it comes down to me not drinking for a month, I’ll fucking try to prove everyone wrong and beat their asses with sobriety.

And I think this might be a way out, at least a temporary escape from the haze of alcoholism, if even for a month. A competition, a deal, a pact between a handful of us at work that maybe we can try to make it through September without any of the substances we’re terribly depended upon. For one of us, it’s marijuana. For another one, it’s nicotine. Another person is hooked on nicotine and alcohol, but to a minimal degree for each of them. For myself it’s obviously alcohol, perhaps one of the hardest to stop because I’m so goddamn depended upon it, and I think I got the short end of the stick here. But it’s fine because I want a way out. I want to escape, and I think this might be my first step forward. I’m terrified of Tuesday, September 1st, where I might have to face the world in all of its terror and beauty without anything to cope with it all. It’ll just be me and over the past few months I don’t know if “me” can even deal with it without freaking out. But I’m ready to accept it, face the challenge, deal with the struggle, and toss myself into the hell of sobriety after being almost perpetually drunk over the past quarter year.

I suggest anyone who reads this considers getting on board with Substance-Free September no matter what your issues are. Maybe just as a commitment to yourself knowing others are in the same September sobriety boat as you are. It doesn’t have to be anything major either — caffeine, soda, meat, cocaine, xanax, sleeping pills, whatever you use as a crutch — because any tiny act to make your life better can pay immense dividends in the future. We can all be strong by being sober and dealing with live as is without anything to assist us but our own selves. Let’s do this guys and gals.