Tag Archives: Drinking

Quitting Drinking Sucks

I think I’ve realized that I’m what people call a “High-Functioning Alcoholic” meaning that even if I drink quite a bit more than is healthy/good/normal I don’t exhibit any of the “classic signs” of being an alcoholic. I don’t miss work. I don’t drink and drive. I don’t gamble or blow unusual amounts of money when drunk and I don’t beat the shit out of my family. But by being this type of person you get sucked into the mindset that you don’t have a problem when you probably do. Since there is nothing to really gain by maybe, possibly being an alcoholic I think I’m going to attempt to stop drinking. Again.

That’s right: Again. I gave it a decent shot a few months ago and failed miserably. I made it two weeks sober and just totally fell off the wagon (or got on the wagon?) You might think that two weeks sober is pretty good, and while I suppose it is, it apparently means you’re not out of the woods yet. Upon reaching two weeks sober I realized that shit was beginning to get very very difficult. Let me digress for a moment…

I used to smoke cigarettes and nicotine, the addictive ingredient in cigarettes, is one of the stupidestly addictive substances known to man. Like it’s right up there with heroin in case you didn’t know. I smoked for about five years and tried to quit countless times and met failure each of those times, except for the last of course. Because I did quit smoking! I told myself when I was free from nicotine to never get addicted ever again because it was such a bitch to quit. I just never wanted to have to quit smoking ever again.

It’s common knowledge that quitting smoking is hardest in the first week; if you make it a week without smoking you’re good to go. I found this to be not precisely true as you still crave nicotine even after a week. In fact the urge never seems to totally go away; the cravings just sort of tend towards zero after a long time. But I would say after two weeks of not smoking I felt pretty decent and not at risk of smoking again. The hardest time occurs during the first few days though. Upon trying to quit cold turkey I found I became suicidal within the first six hours. It was no joke how nicotine (or the lack of) fucks with your mind. I know it was nicotine withdrawal causing my mental havoc because upon smoking a single cigarette my suicidal thoughts magically disappeared. My point here is that nicotine withdrawal peaks really fucking fast and is really shitty. With nicotine I found I needed to slowly “wean” myself off them because cold turkey just didn’t work at all for me.

Here. I made a rough chart showing how miserable I felt when I quit smoking. As you can see your misery peaks in a day or two and then slowly subsides to a low level by a week.

A scientific chart on how awful you feel when you quit smoking.

Since I quit smoking — which is one of the most ridiculous and addictive things ever — drinking should be easy to quit! Right? After all I never drank as much as a “real” alcoholic would; I wasn’t drinking daily for years upon years. Even if there were scary withdrawal symptoms (alcohol is one of the few substances that you can die from during withdrawal) I was confident that I wouldn’t suffer the worst of them like DTs or those fucking “pink elephant” hallucinations from the Looney Tunes cartoons. Like I wouldn’t end up hospitalized or anything so I have that going for me.

One thing that should’ve tipped me off that not drinking wouldn’t be that easy — even without any serious medical issues to worry about — is realizing how I can easily go a few days without drinking and that cravings really only happen on the third or fourth day. I assume I had this “nicotine withdrawal” mentality going on where I thought if you made it day or two without drinking you instantly win against alcohol, which is obviously easy to do. This is not the case.

I made it about a week and a half before I really started to know something was going on. I began to feel tired and exhausted all the time. I would sleep nearly 10 or 12 hours, drink three cups of coffee, and still be tired. I also started to feel like I was “fake” and in a dream for large parts of my day where I would blink and sort of be surprised at the fact that I existed or something. My mood noticeably degraded where I came close to snapping on a few of my coworkers. These coworkers are perpetually aggravating but somehow being sober brought my frustration front and center and almost allowed it to boil over. I was agitated, depressed, tired, and didn’t even want to eat. I’d come home from work and go to bed and just want to be left alone with the lights off. And everyday that passed made it worse.

Like this!

You’re told that when you quit drinking that things are going to get better so a descent into depression, lethargy, and misery is shocking. You can power through the tough times here and there, but it seemed like the bad feelings just kept piling up without any reason or way out of feeling like shit. It felt like walking into a dark cave where there is supposed to be an exit in front of you but the further you walk the darker it gets and the exit seems like a made-up lie. Every day would seem worse than the day before, and eventually I wanted to drink again not to be drunk but just to feel like a normal person again.

So I made it two weeks and broke down just because I felt like I was going insane or losing my identity. As what happened with my nicotine-withdrawal-induced-insanity, upon having the drug you’re craving you instantly feel better. After one beer I felt calm, mellow, and like myself again.

Here’s my nicotine chart slightly tweaked for drinking. The dotted line is what I think will happen if I make it past two weeks. As you can see the time period here is about seven times longer: if you flip out without smoking in a day or two you will probably flip out by not drinking between the first and the second week. This also makes me think the comedown period will also be a ton longer, like on the order of a few months.

I guess I left the “legend” on the side?

This is obviously some shit. Nicotine gives you a fucking quick battle with misery that starts and ends relatively quickly while alcohol seems to drag on forever. A huge downside to this is that there’s just more time for something stressful to happen to kick you back down again. If you stop smoking you can pretty easily pick a span of a week or two when nothing stressful should happen but how do you ensure that you have a span of three months without stress to stop drinking? Alcohol is a pain-in-the-ass to stop using, and I have a newfound appreciation for anyone who has become an alcoholic, realized they are an alcoholic, and made the effort to stop drinking. It’s apparently hard as hell to do so congrats to any and all of you who’ve succeeded. Stopping drinking fucking sucks.

Update: I wrote this about a week ago as a way to sort of write about my problems and not drink. I knew it would be frustrating to stop again so venting helped get my spirits up quite a bit. I’m now on my 11 or 12th day sober and it still fucking sucks, but the key it seems is to not think about things too much and to keep fucking busy with whatever you can find.

The New Year Sucks Part Two: The Nostalgia of New Beginnings

Back when I was younger (and stupider) I always found myself sitting around on December 31st with either a piece of paper or a Google doc writing and reminiscing on how the year went and reflecting on all of the shit that had happened. This would inevitably run into dreaming about The New Year and wondering what the next 365 days would bring. I have suspicion that many — if not most — of us do this and while I never really told anyone about this habit or asked others if they do it, I’m sure I’m not alone.

On a very superficial level many people like to party and celebrate the new year, which as you can probably tell from my first post I think is stupid because it’s so arbitrary. I’d be all up for having a celebration at the solstices or equinoxes (like dancing around a campfire on the first day of spring or some shit) but outside of pagans, witches, and astronomers (maybe?) no one actually does this. If anything the news just blurts out something like “It’s the first day of summer, and the weather is nice!” while maybe mentioning that it’s the longest day of the year. Ya know, by the way. But The New Year is a big circle jerk of partying, drinking, kissing, and watching some fucking ball in New York “fall”. This is if you have an “ideal” life; if you’re single, miserable, and/or depressed the holidays in general just make you want to kill yourself or hide in a closet for a month. After any intense year-end partying I just can’t help but ask myself “Okay. So…now what?” The whole thing feels pointless and hollow. Like at the end of the day you wake up in The New Year: Day One with the worst hangover you’ve ever had and smelling like expired pizza and sweat. Happy New Year!

Failed Goals

People also like to use The New Year as a start for various goals and self-improvement plans they set for themselves. These are usually referred to as “New Year’s Resolutions” and have a horrible failure rate. At the very least this should prevent people from starting any goals on New Year’s Day; why start a goal if it will have a 55% chance of success after only a month! Like if you set two resolutions for yourself, only one will succeed on average; if you start a diet and stop drinking for New Years you’ll either be eating a doughnut or drinking a six-pack on February 1st. Maybe even both. The rate of success also becomes worse with time. After two years only 19% still followed their resolutions — higher than I would’ve guessed — but still dismal. If you started a diet you most likely would’ve fucked up between a month and two years. It was a good run but in the end you still failed at your goal.

I attribute these failure to various things, but the most obvious reason I can think of is that New Year’s Day is a terrible time to try the typical shit people like to set for their resolutions. Think dieting, losing weight, exercising, starting (and maintaining) a hobby, being a “better person,” and whatever else. This is mostly because New Years occurs near the start/middle of winter and immediately after the holidays. How is this not setting up for instant failure?

Let’s say you want to exercise like maybe run a marathon or something by summer. Well, January 1st is likely cold and shitty so why would you want to force yourself outside to run when it won’t get warmer for another two months? You might be able to get out and run a mile or so, but this isn’t the situation that actually favors sticking with it. Even if you keep with the goal of training for a marathon, running a few miles every few days isn’t going to help much in the long run. It makes more sense to wait until the season improves a bit and then hitting running in a hard but sustainable way.

What about dieting? You just came from stuffing your fat face all holiday season and a week later you’re all of a sudden going to eat vegetables and fruit? Cut your calories in half in a day? It could work but it seems like the worst time ever to start an actual diet that you can stick with.

What about not drinking? The holiday season has probably been so stressful that you’ve been hang onto reality bottle by bottle but then have to cut the cord right immediately after? Good luck…especially when your first day sober is you waking up after a YOLO-final-New Year-drinking-party with a terrible hangover and craving another shot of vodka just to make the headaches, spinning, and the shaking stop for awhile.

Any sort of these motivational, self-improvement goals also have one primary thing in common: motivation. You can’t just do your goal: it takes drive, dedication, hard work, and persistence. Once again, the cold darkness that is early January isn’t conductive for any of this especially in regards to some goal you set for yourself in a make-or-break attempt to make progress. You’re putting it all on the line with a hard start date at a time where your motivation is likely total shit and waning. Pile on multiple goals and you’re left grasping for any sort of willpower you can find. And January isn’t helping any of it.

Then again maybe all of this is just a problem for me.

The Nostalgia of it All

In the end, all of this hating on the practical downsides to resolutions are nothing with the whole naive “starting over” aspect of it all. Remember when I was talking about my little journal entries on December 31st? And how every year I’d reflect on things and while I wouldn’t set hard resolutions I would try to pick a direction for the year: how to improve on things, what large ideas and goals to keep in mind, what sort of person I should be, so-on-and-so-forth, etc. It always seems so nostalgic to sit and write and dream about a whole new 365 days where you can start over and I still find myself wanting to do such a thing.

The truth is I recently went back and read some of these entries and they’re cringeworthy at best and depressing at worst. Any sort of lofty goal I’ve had like “helping the family achieve their goals,” “investing more in ETFs,” “do something with my life,” or “day-trade cryptocurrencies” have fallen totally flat on their fucking faces in the course of just a few months. Is this my fault or the fault of the entire idea of “starting over?” I don’t know, although it could be both.

Everything seems so clear from the year-ending perspective. You can see how the year has been, what your mistakes were, and what you could’ve changed. You realize how you didn’t spend the summer outdoors enough, or you didn’t garden as much as you wanted, or whatever and you regret it. But this is all in hindsight and in the actual moment you “screwed up” you never had that hindsight perspective and clarity. When you could’ve been outside gardening or biking you decided instead to sit inside and play video games, but that was your reality and you made the best choice you could at the time. It’s only by looking back you’ve seen how you “screwed up.”

Looking forward also offers this messed up vision, but this time it’s based on vague hopes for the year. While hindsight is 20/20 the future is always rosy, dream-like, and successful. Even if you fucked up in 2018, 2019 will surely be different because, well, it’s in the future and you can construct as rosy of a picture of your year as you want. Even if you end up filing for bankruptcy or losing a loved one in 2019, you don’t know this on January 1st so obviously 2019 will be a landmark year of happiness and success for you. In short, no one realizes how much of a challenge the next 365 days will be and we always imagine the best possible outcome.

Hency my newfound hatred for looking backwards/forwards during the New Year. When you look back you seen how much a struggle it has been and see all your mistakes in perfect hindsight clarity. When you look forward you see a clean slate that will probably end up as much as a struggle as the last year where you make the same stupid hindsight-obvious mistakes that you always end up making. When I’d read my past entries regarding The New Year, I always see this nostalgic vision I put forward into the past and the hope I put into the future; it never seems to arrive. Each New Year is just as bittersweet as the last — if not more — because it’s the same shit all over as it’s always been. Determination, hope, mistakes, reflection, regret. Then determination, hope, mistakes, reflecti……….

The New Year Fucking Sucks.

Hangovers Suck: Existential Anxiety

Hangovers Suck. Obviously. If there was ever a “low-hanging fruit” post on this blog it would be about hangovers. What is really shocking is that it’s taken over a year for me to actually acknowledge that Hangovers Suck. Why’s that?

The fact is that since hangovers are so obviously shitty there’s little point in writing about it. And like most things in life you probably have to experience one to fully enjoy appreciate how shitty they are. I could go on and on about headaches, aversion to light and sound, dizziness, shaking, nausea, and all around “feeling shitty” but that won’t make you feel how physically awful a hangover really is. And even if it did, most people probably know it anyways so whatever.

In my 20s hangovers were primarily a physical phenomena. I’d feel like shit as described above but that was it. I would take some pills to help the symptoms, drink some water, take a nap, and I’d feel much better. At the very worst I’d just drink more as that instantly cures hangovers if you can believe it. Something happened when I made it into my 30s though; hangovers have suddenly became much worse and not just physically worse. Now they have shitty mental effects too. And boy, those make the physical effects seem like nothing.

Alcohol, being a depressant, makes it quite a bit easier to fall asleep. Hell, the term “passing out” is what happens when you just randomly fall asleep because you’ve gotten to drunk, although you probably wouldn’t qualify it as a healthy normal sleep. Alcohol is a depressant and it makes you sleepy. After a few days of drinking I find I that can’t fall asleep as easily for the next day or two. I’ll be tired and sober but unable to sleep. What happens is usually this: I lie down and then I think and eventually a thought like this comes into my head: I’m going to die someday.

What?! Where did that come from?

What’s worse is that the train of thought, once started, continues down the tracks towards total and soul-crushing existential anxiety:

I’m going to die someday. What’s that going to be like? I’m not going to exist? What? What does that even mean? What will not existing feel like? It’ll be like before I was born I suppose. Huh?!? Do you know you’re dying when you’re dying? Will I die in a surprise accident or will I waste away from cancer fully aware of my impending doom? It seems so far away but it will happen eventually. Hell, I could die at any moment, even right now. I could have a heart attack in the next few moments. What if I do? Listen to my heart, it’s beating pretty hard and fast now. Oh shit, what if I do die right now? What happens to my family and friends? They’d be destroyed like I would be when my loved ones die. Oh shit, when’s that going to happen? My family will die someday. Even my kids. HOLY. FUCK. LIFE IS TERRIBLE.

It’s not a fun time. Try to fall asleep after that flies through your mind.

I mean I’m aware of that stuff because it’s simply part of life but usually I don’t think about it in that way. Usually it’s there as a sort of background or backdrop to everyday life and I continue on aware of my mortality but not burdened by it, if that makes any sense. I know I’ll die but I just don’t worry too much about it. In a way I think it’s nice being aware of your mortality because you enjoy life a bit more. You don’t sit on the couch and piss your life away if you know you’re going to die eventually. It keeps you motivated and it shouldn’t leave you crippled like my random overnight, hungover thoughts do. They’re just a whole new level of anxiety from what I usually experience.

I blame this on being hungover because there’s nothing else to explain it. When I haven’t recently been drinking I go through life pretty happily. I go to sleep at night. If I can’t sleep for some reason I go play video games or read a book until I am tired. I don’t lie in bed and think about how and when I’m going to fucking die. It only happens a day or two after drinking so of course I’m going to blame the alcohol. I always feel “off” a few days after drinking so it’s no surprise that my existential anxiety is probably due to drinking. And I should probably quit drinking.

Everyone knows hangovers suck and they usually bitch and whine about the physical aspects of it. The physical aspects of a hangover aren’t shit though. The really terrible part of a hangover is the feeling of being “off” and the random existential anxiety I get at 3 a.m. that makes it impossible for me to sleep or feel comfortable. Once again, I’m pretty average so I assume this happens to other people as well and it’s no surprise if no one really talks about it because it’s terrifying. Hangovers Suck.