Tag Archives: Stop Drinking

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!

Check out my YouTube channel about off-grid green energy setups!

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.

Vacation, Drinking, and Not Drinking

I guess I’m doing this again. 2:30 a.m. tired but unable to sleep. Might as well write.

I’m back to sober life and today is day four. I fell of the wagon or whatever it is a few weeks ago…maybe? It’s amazing how I’ve lost track of all time and structure since I started boozing it up again. A fewish weeks of being drunk is a whole lot better than my last three month streak. I’ll take the victory and move forward.

Something came along and hit me so hard, or maybe I wasn’t prepared for any life difficulties, that I took up alcohol. It was only for one day but any drinkers/ex-drinkers know how that works. It doesn’t. Anyways, and this sounds pathetic as a drinking trigger, but we’re being grouped into new teams at work. Instead of a big group of 25 people working together like a chaotic beehive were going to have actual supervisors and teams separate from each other. The big news that shit on me? I wasn’t going to be with my friends or anyone I really knew.

This sent me on such a violent downward spiral that I didn’t know how else to cope but alcohol. My mind was racing with shitty thoughts that I couldn’t banish with the cute protips the therapist suggests to me. No calming thoughts or self-soothing (that’s a shitty word really) could do anything. My thoughts went something like this: “No friends. It takes me literal years to make friends. Why am I so scared of not having friends? Why can’t I have friends outside of work? What about me makes me so ineffective at keeping friendships? Work will suck. And why is work sucking such a big shock to me?” It all sounds like dumbest shit ever to kick you into drinking which made it even worse for me. “I’m drinking over this? What kind of insecure dipshit am I?” And as you go down this path it only gets worse. “I’m a defective human being, holy shit. Pathetic. Why am I such a softie?”

And so on. I’ve been pulling myself out of that rut recently so it’s fine. Progress is slow but I’ll take it. I think it helped that we don’t start our new rotation until next Monday which is nice, but life is never that easy because…

…I’m on vacation this week!

Last week at work I was bullshitting with one of these friends I’m scared to lose about how there’s no work to do. He said soon people would be on vacation and then maybe I could actually do some work and not feel useless. This sparked some interest in me and I wondered when my vacations were. Next Week?! Fuck! Yes, I somehow didn’t know I was going to be on vacation this week until last Wednesday. Fun. And that was the day we had our meeting about the new shifts. Fun. I had that strange feeling that the universe was purposefully shitting on me again for some reason. I was a drunk by that time, but a wise drunk. I knew I had to quit before the new crews started because I obviously cope with stress with alcohol; I better get used to stressful situations before that lest I’d be an alcoholic for the near future. And while I tried to sober up I’d be off work, antsy and bored. Boredom is a massive trigger for my drinking. And when I go back to work it’ll be totally different. Did I say insecurity/fear is also why I drink? Fucking three things to deal with! Stress, change, and boredom are in max force and I have to stop drinking? Sheeeeeeit.

I hit that moment Saturday that all drunks hopefully get: the do or die moment. Some probably call it “rock bottom” but luckily I wasn’t there. I wasn’t in the ER, I wasn’t on a bridge, I wasn’t in a car wreck, and I wasn’t dead. I was at home in bed, unable to sleep, feeling drunk but also ultra-aware of how shitty I felt. It just clicked in my mind a certain question: is this really who you are? More thoughts followed. “Alcohol doesn’t work for you and you know it. What are you scared of? Let’s just not drink. Sure it’ll be shit for a few days, but you know you’re better without it. You’ll write again. You’ll talk and be social. You joke and act like you’re actually alive, like your soul isn’t fucking dead and rotting away.” And so on. You get the idea.

I guess this is day four, or whenever I actually go to sleep and wake up is day four. I still feel…off? Like I’m in a dream and that feeling is disconcerting, but I’m telling myself it’s the lack of alcohol and it’ll pass. It’s a terrible feeling though and hard to explain, maybe fellow ex-drunks know what I’m talking about. Despite feeling perpetually “funny” vacation is actually going great and I’m not too antsy. Once again I blame the antsiness on the lack of booze and am trying to channel it the best I can, like writing at 3 a.m. I’m surprised at how fast it’s going! Like damn it’s Wednesday already? I tilled our garden yesterday and maybe we can plant some vegetables today. I’m also helping a friend move in today; he’s coming back from a stint in North Carolina (Plans apparently change…). My wife’s birthday is tomorrow and hopefully we can get out of the house and do something. Friday and Saturday we’re visiting my sister who had her gallbladder removed. Most surprising of all: I still feel like there’s a million more things to do and I don’t have enough time. Write. Blog. Run. Lift weights. Bike ride. Visit a park. Play guitar. Clean the garage. Clean the cars. Pick up my meds. Cook some meals. Trade stonks. Reply to an email. Fuck with solar power. Make a YouTube video. This all sounds silly coming from someone who drinks out of boredom. I have tons of shit to do and why would I ever drink because I’m bored? Maybe drinking makes up its own reasons to exist like some parasite on your soul. 

Anyways, big disjointed rant over. I feel great. I’ve been silent for awhile but I’m ready to get my shit back together again. I’m skeptical it’ll last long — when is the next crisis going to hit? — but until then, fuck it, I feel fantastic and I’m feeling pretty positive about the future.

Check out my YouTube channel about off-grid green energy setups!

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.

Lessons from Substance-Free September: Don’t be too Hard on Yourself

I think I want to do a “series” or something about what I learned during Substance-Free September. It probably won’t qualify as a series and will only be two or three posts, but I do hope I can churn them out together and quickly with few distractions.

Not that I will because I’m terribly flawed. Once again I’m going to shit on myself for not being able to write consistently. How hard is it to get the computer out and type? How hard is it to write a post once a week? It’s hard because I want it to be perfect! And perfection is always the enemy of completing something. Nothing is perfect, just fucking write and go with it.

Let me circle this back to the topic at hand: not being too hard on yourself. I excel at being hard on myself almost consistently with regards to everything, and the previous paragraph is a perfect example of it. Or when I gave up on the Morrowind story. Sure, I came to some ‘positive’ conclusion that sometimes you have to throw in the towel to move on, but the entire post is me shitting on myself with the conclusion being some half-assed attempt at not being quite as hard on myself.

I do this all the time too, and not just with writing. Why can’t I stay motivated? Why can’t I keep the house clean? Why does it take me so long to fix a car? Why can’t I just stay sober? Why aren’t I an airline pilot right now? Why did I drag my feet so much in my 20s and even today? Why can’t I do anything right? And why do the things I do right seem to be outweighed by the things I do wrong? I am a perfect example of endless self-loathing.

It can’t be just me either. Countless people certainly do this. We’re all our own worst critics and enemies. No one sets a higher standard than we ourselves do (at least most of the time) and it’s easy to be unnecessarily cruel to yourself.

A good example: I wasn’t completely sober last month. I drank two nights one weekend due to a notably stressful and shitty situation that happened. I felt bad, I felt like shit, but I was able to get my act together and completed the rest of the month sober. It reminds me of when my work buddy said she smoked a few cigarettes: she felt like an utter failure over it but I tried to be positive. “Well, you mess up. Just acknowledge it and move forward!”

It’s strange how we view other people as opposed to how we view ourselves. Other’s problems seem so easy to solve when it’s not us personally experiencing them. Nearly everyone who has some issue going on I find myself thinking of the most obvious (and easy) solution to their problem. They still don’t see it though and the problem somehow makes itself harder to solve if you’re the one going through it. Friend smokes a cigarette on the weekend? No big deal, just realize you fucked up and move on. I drank two days mid-month? Holy fuck I’m an utter failure and why can’t I do anything right and damn I suck. Like that.

I find it helpful to switch the situation and to try to see yourself as someone else, like a form of ‘reversed empathy’ or something. Tell your story to yourself as detached as possible; think of yourself as a coworker or a friend and see how it sounds. If the roles were reversed, I wouldn’t tell this person who fucked up by drinking during a sober month they’re a failure because no one is perfect! Everyone messes up! By being so hard on yourself you’re treating yourself as perfect while everyone else is flawed and forgivable. It’s kinda selfish in a way, being too hard on yourself. Why are you so deserving of high standards and perfection when no one else is? You, like everyone else, should just acknowledge the problem, move forward, and do the best you can. Obviously it’s hard to reflect this upon yourself and really believe it — it’s always a struggle — but eventually maybe you can move forward and not be too hard on yourself.

I think this became apparent to me during September because I didn’t have anything to distract me from my problems. Maybe drinking so much made that the prime problem in my life so when that was gone I noticed the slew of other issues. My lack of writing. My lack of progress in flying. My inability to shop around for a house. My inability to wake up before 2 p.m. and so on. Or maybe the drinking was my way to ignore the problems where they never bothered me. Either way, I’ve been a lot more loving to myself the past few weeks, and much more willing and able to love myself for the flawed person that I am.

I had a therapy appointment October 2nd. Towards the end of the sessions she always asks me what my intentions and goals are moving forward. I sat there and spaced out, thinking as hard as I could for which goal I would chase after during the next month. I couldn’t think of anything. “Uh, I don’t think I have any intentions or goals this next month,” I said. She then mentioned that not having any intentions was itself a valid intention and I went with it. “Oh, okay! Yes. My goal this next month is to have no goals. I’m just going to exist.”

It reminds me of Peter in Office Space. He’s asked what he would do if he had a million dollars as this is supposed to be what you should do for a career. His answer: “Nothing. I would relax, I would sit on my ass all day: I would do nothing.”

“Two chicks at the same time, man!”

Why was that my goal for the month? Because I’m too hard on myself. I’m too goal-oriented. I feel the need to achieve to the detriment of myself. I see myself as perfect (that sounds awful) and that I should hold myself to this standard of perfection to my own detriment. When I’m inevitably not perfect, I feel like a failure, like I let myself down, that I’m flawed in some way. So I’m not going to have any goals or intentions this month because I want to try existing as this flawed person that I am. Not dangle carrots in front of my face in mosty-wasted attempts to ‘move forward’ in life or ‘accomplish’ some undefined goals. That is my goal: nothing, and I’m doing it because I’m trying to not be too hard on myself.

Think of yourself and think about all the ways you’re hard on yourself. Would you treat friends and loved ones the way you treat yourself? Or would you show them kindness and grace and forgive them for their flaws? You’re just another person like anyone else, not special, and are deserving of forgiveness just like anyone else. Don’t be too hard on yourself and be willing to forgive the most fucked up person you know: yourself.

The next part of this series? Lessons from Substance-Free September: Life Goes On

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.

Substance-Free September Sucks: Sleeplessness

It’s the fourth of September, 2:45 a.m., and I’m still hopelessly awake. The two Tylenol PMs I’d taken an hour ago aren’t having much of an effect at all; I might be slightly groggy but otherwise by brain is cruising right along completely unable or willing to shut down for the night. Ill probably pop a melatonin to really attempt to knock my ass out. In fact I’ll do that right now as I write this.

It seems when you drug yourself with a depressant everyday for two or three months (however long the blurry existence actually was) your body says, “Hey, what the hell is all of alcohol doing here? It’s slowing things down! Better crank up the sympathetic nervous system to counteract it!” And over time your body gets use to the constant chemical bombardment, keeping your body into high-gear/combat-the-alcohol mode perpetually. The first sign of this is poor sleep: you pass out drunk and wake up four or five hours later totally drained and tired but unable to sleep anymore. Its a bad feeling. Shaky hands, fast heart beat, racing mind, feeling totally on edge like impending doom is just around the corner, and the only thing that can put you in a calmer state is, you guessed it, more alcohol. It’s not the correct long-term action to take, but damn if it doesn’t work like a charm.

My current problem is similar: trying to sleep without drinking. My body is still in high-gear and is unable/unwilling to sleep without booze. I expected this state so prepared for it mentally. Before I stopped drinking I bought a pack of Alka-Seltzer Night Cold Medicine: Lemon Effervescent Tablets because those always knock me out quickly and was fully prepared to drug myself to sleep instead of drinking. I went through those four packs in the past few days and couldn’t be bothered to buy more. And that’s why I’m on Tylenol PMs which apparently don’t do a fucking things.

The active ingredients in Tylenol PM are acetaminophen (paracetamol) and diphenhydramine HCl. Diphenhydramine, more commonly known as Benadryl, is what puts the PM in Tylenol PM. Popularly used as an antihistamine for seasonal allergies, diphenhydramine is also used as a sleep aid for obvious reasons: it makes you groggy as fuck. I recall taking two Benadryls before work one day for some reason (I think I thought it’d be interesting) and clearly remember driving a tug feeling like I was in some sort of dream. It was a battle to stay awake, probably wasn’t the safest or smartest choice, but I managed. I haven’t ‘Dryl’d it up before work since, and that was like six years ago.

Visual aid. I get so happy seeing this box. I’m conditioned to associate it with comfortably passing out asleep. Plus I think it legit tastes good!

I wrote a post months ago about how I quit taking sleeping meds while on an alcohol binge. I simply didn’t need them anymore. I even stopped drinking high-dose caffeine, although sodas and teas occasionally are fine, and this made me feel so much more lively and coherent when I woke up. My commonly abused sleep medicines were, you guessed it, Benadryl and Alka-Seltzer Night Cold Medicine: Lemon Effervescent Tablets. So I’m on the wagon with alcohol, and totally off it with ‘Dryls.

A friend at work who is also doing this silly Substance-Free September is having similar drug-replacement issues in her quest to be rid of nicotine. I don’t have to say it but will anyways to stress the point: nicotine is a hell of a drug to quit and it’s right up with heroin in addictive potential, even if it isn’t anywhere near as life-destroying as heroin is. Luckily for her she wasn’t a raging nicotine like I was (and still am). Still, she’s having issues and I’m surprised at how well she’s holding up especially considering like 3 or 4 of us at work are constantly vaping. She hasn’t asked for a hit from our vapes since August 31.

Her replacer for nicotine is coffee, well caffeine technically. She mentioned something about ‘replacing one drug with another’ and it’s always interesting when someone says something like this and how I interpret it differently than if I said it. I said, “if you replace one drug with another that isn’t as bad, who gives a shit? Nicotine is stupidly addictive and if you’re pounding caffeine to cope, it’s a net benefit really.” And if I felt I was replacing a drug with another I’d probably shit all over myself for it, feeling like I’m a failure or something.

But this is how I’m choosing to see my burgeoning Benadryl addiction. Sure, the ‘Dryl isn’t healthy to be eating daily because I’ll have the same sleep issues alcohol was causing, but I also don’t want to deal with two or three days of sleeplessness as my body adjusts to sobriety. If anything I think this could lead to more drinking with the justification that I just need to sleep though! This actually happened to an alcoholic friend of mine a few months ago. He was sober for a few days and couldn’t sleep worth a damn so on day three he drank just to sleep. And he did. But then I think he kept drinking because, well, who gives a fuck. Off the wagon for a day, you’re a failure, so why not embrace it?

Alcohol is a bitch to quit even if it seems strangely easy. This is day three and I feel fine. I’m not craving it, I’m not spiraling into any strange depressive mental states, and I’m wondering why it was so hard to be sober in the first place. Let that little bug sneak through a crack and you have a problem. “What if I have just a few drinks to celebrate not drinking? It wasn’t that hard to quit, I just had to quit. Maybe a few drinks so I can sleep?” Nah, fuck all of that, that’s the alcohol trying to get back to being drunk by you. In the meantime I’m going to focus on not drinking even if it means I’m giving myself away to legal OTC pills a bit too much. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

(Note: Its now 3:16 a.m. and the melatonin seems to be gladly working with the Tylenol PM. Thank God…but I should probably wrap this up.)

I’ll probably write a few more posts about alcohol and my Substance-Free September because I feel I’ve learned much about myself and alcoholism traversing through the hazy binge and the clarity and motivation that occurs when you stop. Maybe after this phase is over I can get back to shitposting about video games or something. Thanks for reading!

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.

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.

My Sobriety is…Meh

Today is my fourth day sober. It’s nothing to celebrate, but after the past month it kinda is. Before this recent streak, I had been drunk for nearly three weeks. Not perpetually drunk but just drinking everyday. The worst days were those where I pounded down 15 or 18 beers (although it’s hard to count after that many drinks) and the best days were those where I “only” had six. It was a mess and my life was a blur.

Only one day out of those three weeks did I stay sober. Somehow, during all the haze, I called the airport and scheduled a flight lesson to become current with flying again (three landings in the past 90 days). The night before that I didn’t drink because one thing I’ve learned is that you don’t want to fly a plane hungover; you get hot, you sweat, you get airsick, and everything is generally awful and uncomfortable. Add in the anxiety of an instructor judging your skills the entire flight and it’s a recipe for disaster.

The flight went okay, by the way. He was impressed with my professional flying skills, until my first landing that is. I bounced the plane three damn times and it was embarrassing like nothing else. Here you are trying to show an instructor that you’re good to fly and you bounce the plane a few hundred feet down the runway. Yikes. I vaguely remember trying to get the plane under control while muttering to my instructor over the intercom, “God…..damnit. Jeez…Man…” as we hit the ground, went back up, hit the ground again, went back up, until the plane finally decided to land.

The mighty Cessna 172 SKYCOCK

I told my therapist about my total two-week binge (it was only two-weeks at the time) fearing she’d shit all over me and tell me to get the hell out of her office. How I’ve fallen, how much progress I’ve pissed away since the start of the year. Remember the “drink once a week” goal from January? Whoops. Surprisingly she almost seemed supportive of it, mostly worried that I was drinking to cope. “No,” I said, “I don’t know why I’ve been drinking so much. I’ve been in a good mood and I’m not depressed or anything. It just seems like something to do I guess.” She kinda smiled and said something along the lines of, “Well, sometimes you need to do whatever works, and if you’re mood has been good…” That sounds really bad but it wasn’t worded that strongly; she didn’t seem to be encouraging me to drink. Like she was acknowledging that maybe there was some reason for it all and that maybe I had to abuse my body until I felt I was done with it or something. What she said felt very cryptic.

And damn if there doesn’t seem to be some good to it all. In the final week of my binge I was starting to feel pretty worn down. Just tired and exhausted and burned out all the time and feeling like I should take a break for a bit. Not for my mental health (because I wasn’t suffering from depression/anxiety issues for some reason) but for my physical health. Anyone who has drank that much should know what I’m talking about here. That ever-present exhaustion with life that comes with drinking all the time.

I also realized that I wasn’t taking sleeping pills every night either. I used to have issues with sleeping, but during my binge I wasn’t taking many pills to sleep. Sure, I’d stay up until 5 a.m. but I’d go to sleep “naturally” (minus the alcohol, of course) without the need for Benadryls or Alka-Seltzer Night TimeLemon Flavor. In my three-week binge totally abusing alcohol I somehow stopped taking sleeping meds like I had been doing the past three or four months. Is this progress?

And towards the end of my binge I realized I wasn’t even drinking coffee when I woke up like I usually did. Sure, I’d try to drink my usual three or four cups of coffee, but when you’re hungover, jittery, anxious, hot, sweaty, and nauseous the last thing your body really wants or needs is caffeine. I’d make my coffee, drink maybe half of it, and head off to work. As before, is this progress?

I decided I’d just stop consuming caffeine and sleeping meds during the final days of my drinking binge. The sleeping pills were mostly gone, but I was still weary of the dreaded caffeine withdrawal, most terrifying of the symptoms being the headaches. Caffeine headaches aren’t like any other kind of headaches, and luckily I can’t explain why they’re different because I weened myself off coffee this time. Sunday, I had two cups, and Monday I had singular cup of coffee, just enough to ward off the headaches. But Tuesday, my first sober day with alcohol, was also my first day with zero caffeine. I was mildly hungover and sleepy and really wanted a cup of coffee, but stayed strong and felt okay the entire day.

I did have a Coke from Chick-Fil-A today but that’s like, what 90 mg of the stuff at most? That’s not going to do anything and my main goal was to not require like hundreds of milligrams of the drug to function during the day which I’m glad to say I’m succeeding at.

It really makes me notice how much I’ve been forcing my body to do what I want it to do by using drugs. Can’t sleep and want to sleep? Benadryl/Alka-Seltzer. Wake up groggy and nonfunctioning (probably due to the Benadryl at 3 a.m.): caffeine! Hundreds of milligrams of caffeine! Can’t sleep because of the caffeine? Benadryl! And repeat this over and over. By not taking either of these drugs that seem to lead to the other, it’s like I’ve broken the cycle and don’t need them anymore. I feel worn out and tired at the end of the day and it’s a healthy and natural exhaustion; my body is ready to sleep and does so easily. Amazingly, I even wake up and not feel dead either! Who would’ve guessed! Sure I still need my nicotine to get going, but it’s tons better than needing nicotine and caffeine to wake up.

It’s strange that by abusing alcohol for three weeks I’ve somehow came to this random idea to not drink caffeine or take sleeping pills every night. I doubt this is what the therapist was hoping I’d do, but I still feel like I’ve made some positive life choices by abusing alcohol for three weeks. I’m not saying that if you want to stop drinking coffee or needing pills to sleep you should go on a three-week drinking binge (any week-long drinking binge isn’t smart for any reason) but I’m rather surprised that’s what it took to get me where I am. I’ll take any minimal form of progress I can and try to be happy with it.

Streak Day #7 Sucks (and some stuff about New Year’s Resolutions)

Seven days?! Really? Wow. I’m proud of myself, but at the same time realize that it wasn’t really that hard. All you need to do is plop your ass down for an hour each day and force something out. I was skeptical about these posting streak proponents but now I realize they’re probably onto something. While I don’t think these posts are “typical” Everything Sucks posts like everything else is, I think they still fit the tone of the blog. Instead of bitching about big, grand, and ‘complex’ topics I find myself complaining about smaller mundane and bothersome things that I encounter during the day. Being sick (but not too sick), depression, and in this post, my failed New Year’s Resolutions.

A friend at work said she wasn’t going to commit to any resolutions this year because most of them fail. Fine, I thought, she wasn’t wrong. Somehow I think I’m an idealist or something; I love the idea of things and to hell if they’re practical or not. Go big or go home, I suppose.

Referencing this post right here for my list of resolutions. If you check it out, you’ll see the post (for once) is overflowing with optimism for 2020. Sadly, it only took a few weeks into the year for everything in the world to go off the rails. The stock market has fucking died, coronavirus is terrifying everyone, and we almost went to war with Iran. I’m sure there are other fucked up incidents in the year that I’ve forgotten over the past six two months, but with me having so much optimism for 2020 it sure was depressing to see things go to shit so quickly. And the same was true with those damn resolutions of mine.

The first to go was the “compliment a person daily” resolution. That was always the hardest one to pull off, me being a raging pessimist that never sees the good in anything. At first I was surprised at how complimenting people daily actually got me to see the good in people, but that didn’t last. What happened was depression. Anyone who has struggled with depression knows that it puts you into a very basic and lowly mode of survival. It’s like a haze of limping along blind hour after hour with no overarching goal in life but to survive to the next moment. At least for me, I found myself sleeping all the time, feeling tired and unmotivated, antisocial, and eating just enough food where the starvation didn’t make me feel worse. Naturally, complimenting someone in one of these moods is a no-go and that’s exactly what happened. One bout of depression into the new year and the compliments stopped. First I missed a day, then got back to it, then missed a few more days, got back to it, and then I don’t think I’d given a compliment purposefully for my resolution in at least a month. Not that I never give compliments; they’re just not part of my daily routine anymore. Resolution #1: DEAD.

And let’s go back to depression real quick: it makes you exhausted and tired all the time. One of my resolutions was to wake up at 10 a.m. everyday and that was great for a few weeks (maybe a month) until depression kicked the fuck out of that goal too. What’s funny is I still wake up around 9:45 a.m. naturally for some reason, like my body knows it needs to wake up. Maybe I trained myself well. But I wake up after having went to sleep around 4 a.m. and feel like utter shit; I then roll over and go back to sleep until noon, 1, or 2 p.m. depending on how shitty I feel about the day. Resolution #2: DEAD.

What about only drinking on Sunday? Moderate success there so far. I do have an exception to the rule: something like “special occasion drinking” whatever that means. Social events, unusual events, etc. The past few weekends have been hell. We had to drive to Chicago two weeks ago and finally got back home around 11 p.m. That meant my day was totally and utterly fucked and what better way to cap off the shitty day than with a six-pack of cheap beer? Last weekend my sister and I went rock climbing — same deal — gone all day, physically exhausted from climbing up walls and riding in a car, and what better way to relax than to pound a six-pack down? Luckily, drinking on the weekday is still a major no-no because that’s where the real cliff edge is. Once you start that it’s a full-send into fully-fledged alcoholism. Hopefully this weekend is uneventful and I can wallow in depression/boredom without needed a six-pack on Saturday. Resolution #3: MILD SUCCESS.

Resolution #4: Publish two Kindle ebooks. Yeah, I’m working on it.

Resolution #5: Write and post my Morrowind fanfic on Wattpad every Sunday. I’m going strong on this one. At first it started off really rough; I was struggling every Sunday to finish and post, but now I think I have a flow. It’s still a chore, but I make progress during the week now. I usually start working on the next chapter on Monday or Tuesday, really tidy it up Wednesday-Saturday, and edit the damn thing on Sunday. It’s great. The biggest thing I’ve learned so far is how much having a routine you stick to helps the project actually progress.

Which leads me back to resolution #4: the ebooks. I really think I need to force a chapter out, like the Morrowind story, weekly. Doing this almost guarantees 50 finished chapters in a year making the book probably complete. Even if the chapters aren’t as inspired, at least they’ll fucking exist. I haven’t written anything for these stories in at least a month and it’s depressing. But somehow the Morrowind story keeps trucking along because I have a schedule hold myself accountable.

Lastly, and to wrap this post up in a nice and tidy bowtie: reach 1,000 monthly views on this blog. This one has suffered in the past two months: December had record viewers and each month since the viewer count has went down.

But for March? Fuck. I really think I’m on track. Like with the Morrowind story, having a routine is awesome and really helps productivity. This impromptu posting streak really seems to be bringing people here. It makes perfect sense too: the more you post the more people have to look at. Duh. But so far this month I’ve had 102 views in only 4 days. Doing a little math and assuming the same rate of views per day puts my monthly views on track to reach around 800. This is still 200 short but would be a record month in terms of views at least. I’m still debating if I want to keep this streak going — I really think I’ll burn out — but the idea of going for the major goal of having 1,000 monthly views is tempting.

Drinking Sucks: 10 Reasons to Not be a Drunkard

Lists of ten, top-ten lists, or whatever you want to call them kinda suck in their own right, but I want to write one anyways. It seems fun, clickbaity, and will be a challenge putting together ten individual items to discuss here. Since my slew of vacations and my mental meltdown I’ve had one hell of a time with alcohol, and in a way I think I’m writing this post mostly for myself to get back on track. So what better way to make a “top 10 list” than to bitch about alcohol abuse. So I hereby present to you ten reasons to quit drinking!

10. Save Money $$$

The best motivation to do almost anything is to make money/save money; it’s the driving force behind everything in a capitalist society. Despite this, I put saving money as far down the list as possible. This is due to a few reasons. Firstly, people don’t change addictions based on cash savings; no one would smoke, drink, or shoot heroin if this was true. Addiction is one of the few things that exist outside the motivation to make/save money. Secondly, alcohol is actually pretty cheap! Smoking a pack a day will leave you out literal thousands of dollars in a year. If you are an alcoholic you simply won’t save a ton of money by quitting. The benefit it in everything else.

While alcohol is cheap (and probably the cheapest of any substance addiction you can have) it still isn’t free. Even if you won’t save as much as a heroin-addict would by getting clean, you still are saving a bunch of cash. Consider a six-pack, three-days-a-week sort of drunk: a cheap six-pack can cost about $5 (if you’re not buying utter trash beer that is). This would be $15 a week, or about $800 every year! If you drink every day of the week this cost obviously doubles to well over $1,500. While saving money shouldn’t be your primary reason to not drink, it also shouldn’t be forgotten.

9. Not Be Hungover

Anyone who has drank moderately/heavily in a single sitting should be familiar with the dreaded hangover. I don’t need to explain it too much because if you’re reading this you’re probably familiar with the symptoms: the dehydration, dry mouth, rapid heart rate, anxiety, jitteriness, hunger, nausea, lethargy, light sensitivity, and the pounding headache. I mean what else can be said of the hangover? Sometimes I find music sounds better when hungover, but besides that they’re fucking miserable and horrid affairs. Obviously if you don’t drink, you don’t deal with a hangover.

8. Eat Better/Lose Weight

A serving of alcohol (can of beer, shot of liquor, glass of wine, 5 pumps of hand sanitizer, etc.) has some calorie content to it. This varies greatly, but the fact is that alcohol itself has calories means there is no “diet alcohol” or whatever you’d want to call it. By simply drinking you’re consuming extra calories than you normally would. Consider that a shot of vodka has about 70 calories: six of them would have 420 calories! This isn’t a whole lot but it’s the bare minimum you can get drunk from. A can of beer has over 100 calories (usually) and anything with added sugar is even worse. The fact is if you’re an alcoholic you’re probably consuming a fuckton of calories and probably packing on weight. The term “beer belly” has reasons behind it.

This is considering that you’re not exercising or lowering the amount of food you actually eat. If you’re drinking heavily it probably means that you’re not exercising or taking good care of yourself: in fact I’d assume you’d probably be eating horribly! Everyone knows alcohol, greasy burgers, and fried foods fit together perfectly (shout out to pizza here) and the alcoholic isn’t usually stereotyped as deeply athletic. This stresses the point even further: if you’re an alcoholic you’re probably also getting fatter. So if you quit drinking you might lose weight.

7. Sleep Better

While alcohol can knock your ass out in heavy doses, it doesn’t seem to give you a good night’s rest. Even if you pass out drunk and are unconscious for eight hours you’ll wake up feeling like you only had an hour-long nap. While this might not be detrimental here and there, dragging this shit out for weeks and months of fully-fledged alcoholism, you will end up feeling like shit. Even though you’re sleeping enough your body simply isn’t repairing itself and recovering like it is supposed to. By not drinking, you just rest better and feel better during the day.

6. Stave off Insomnia

This is probably a subset of what I talked about in number seven (sleeping better), but fuck you because this is my top ten list. I can break it down into as many or as few sections as I want! I separated them not only to add more numbers to this top-ten list bullshit, but because insomnia usually occurs a few days after bingeing. Since your sleep quality is trash when you’ve been drinking, when you stop you do get a few days where you’re so tired and worn out that you sleep really well. I’m talking nights where you sleep 10-12 hours and wake up feeling energized and refreshed.

The problem occurs after those restful days. I think, and I don’t really know for sure, this is due to alcohol being a depressant and “slowing your body down” or something. The human body adapts, or tires to adapt, to things; if you’re drinking a depressant your body “upregulates” everything to keep you moving. It’s like the reverse of drinking caffeine, a sort of “inverse crash” or whatever. As your body finds itself without alcohol, you find yourself “upregulated” and your mind just constantly keeps running, especially at night. This is especially bad because you might turn to drinking just to sleep normally. Another downside to insomnia is that you’d think if you couldn’t sleep you’d be awake, but you’re not. Alcohol insomnia leaves you tired, exhausted, and unable to sleep. It sucks.

5. Have a Better Memory/Focus

Drinking puts you into a haze while sobriety clears things up. If you drink a lot, you’re basically entering and exiting hazes daily (or whatever) and this makes reality get kinda…confusing. You start to forget what you were actually doing in regards to life planning/projects you’re taking care of. Take writing a book for example: you need to remember what the hell you were actually writing about to make progress at it in the future. I, like many others, have found that drinking greatly improved my ability to write at the expense of having no idea what I had actually written. This leaves you feeling lost in the grand scheme of whatever you got going on. It becomes hard to tie thoughts together into a coherent project.

I’ve also realized that I’d forget what I’ve talked to people about even if I was sober at the time. Like I’d tell a coworker a story and repeat the story days later without remembering initially telling them. I found myself prefacing every conversation with, “Not sure if I told you this before, but…” just to acknowledge that I was at least aware that I might be repeating myself.

This is related to drinking but I don’t know how to explain its direct relationship to it. Obviously you forget shit when you’re actually drinking, but a general effect on memory seems to exist and is especially scary. Everyone expects to forget shit when drinking, but when this effect spills over into the weeks after drinking it is especially frightening. Quit drinking and you might have a better memory and won’t feel like you’re on the verge of Alzheimer’s.

4. Have Better Teeth

I don’t know if this is really a thing, but whenever I’d go to the dentist for a routine six-month cleaning they’d always ask me if I drank a lot of pop. I’d always say “no” and they’d give me a look of complete and total skepticism. The dentist and the hygenist know exactly what the effects of sugar look like on teeth so they’re the last people you want to lie to about what you actually drink, but fact is fact: I didn’t drink pop hardly at all. I’d have a can of pop once a week, maybe twice, but this wasn’t nearly enough to cause dental trouble. And I’d brush everyday! What the hell was going on here? Why were they looking at me suspiciously like I was telling a lie?

It might be alcohol. As we know, alcoholic drinks have sugar and starches and whatever else and this can’t be good on your teeth in heavy amounts. This is another one of these “I don’t know this for a fact but I assume it’s true” things: drinking probably fucks your teeth up just as much (if not more) as heavily-sugared sodas do. I did tell the dentist/hygienist that I did drink a lot of beer but that I didn’t, in fact, drink soda ever. I mean if they’re going to accuse me of dietary habits that were fucking my teeth up they need to at least get it correct: beer was fucking my teeth up.

3. Anxiety

I was sober for a span of 5 months this year, and holy hell, I didn’t have any anxiety. I mean there was still a background level of anxiety, but it was nothing like the physically-shaking-before-going-to-work style of anxiety that I was used to. This was surprising because being a total alcoholic lead me to believe that maybe I just had anxiety that badly naturally. Sobriety made the anxiety just disappear. It was a slow and easy-to-miss process, but after a few months I’d find myself not worrying as much about stressful upcoming events. I’d still be stressed and worried, but for some reason this didn’t translate into anxiety. You might drink to help relieve your anxiety, but in reality it is probably making it worse. By not drinking you might find that your anxiety slowly vanishes, or turns into something manageable.

2. Motivation

I like to think alcohol works by moving happiness from one point of your life to another, usually from the next day to the present. You drink and you feel better, but you pay for it the next day by feeling miserable. This “sum of happiness” never changes but it’s just shifted around and isn’t a scientifically quantifiable amount at all, but it makes some sense I guess. I think this happens with motivation too.

Drinking for me gets my ass in gear. I love drinking on the weekends and doing dishes, cleaning the house, work on blog posts and stories, and generally just knocking out projects I need to do. The problem occurs the following day when I seemingly moved motivation to the previous day: I’m lazy, uninspired, and don’t want to do a damn thing. This can obviously lead to problems where you drink just to get your motivation back and this snowballs quickly into alcoholism.

By not drinking you can have motivation!

1. Not be Depressed

This one is very similar to #3 (anxiety) in that drinking probably makes a problem worse that you’re trying to cure in the first place by drinking. I think many people have a sort of “background level” of depression and if a notably shitty day happens, they drink to make themselves feel better. But like with anxiety, you end up shooting yourself in the foot because over time drinking just makes you even more depressed where you need more alcohol to feel better. And so on.

And like anxiety it’s hard to notice it happening. Over months and years of periodic drinking you accept your current depressed state as just how things are, and that not drinking can make things worse for you, and even make you feel suicidal. It’s this that keeps drinker hooked and coming back for more with almost zero choice in the matter. While it’s true things usually get worse when you initially stop drinking, hanging in there can prove beneficial.

Months after not drinking your mood is just lighter and you feel better. And like anxiety, it’s hard to realize this and one day you discover that your perpetual depression has just kinda melted away. You stop thinking that people hate you and are trying to avoid you or that everyone talks bad about you behind your back. You stop feeling bad for the shitty state of your life, and with no alcohol to feed the self-doubt and self-hatred, you find yourself making progress towards improving things. I know this might not be true for everyone, but after not drinking I have found zero downside and all upsides to it. And when you find yourself in the clear you wonder why you tortured yourself for so long, because sometimes you realize that life isn’t too bad and in some ways it’s downright enjoyable.

So if you’re a drunkard, maybe consider these ten items and maybe attempt sobriety. It’ll take some effort and it won’t be easy, but usually immensely beneficial things take time and effort and this is certainly one of them. Drinking sucks.

My (near) Mental Meltdown Sucks

On this blog I try to do proper posts — posts about actual topics/themes — as opposed to the more blogesque type posts of just telling people how I feel. There are a few of those posts here but I try to keep them to a minimum, mostly because I feel that people don’t like constantly hearing how you feel. For example, I try to not be the guy at work that tells people about every miserable detail of his life while constantly whining about the most mundane shit. A conversation is a two way thing and talking about your feelings is very one-sided most of the time. I hate burdening people with it and I feel it also applies to blogging. I’m just some random fucking dude in Illinois so why would anyone want to hear me bitch about things? This is why I try to stay focused on real topics. I think people want to read a directed post about a topic that gives the reader something to relate to, information they might be interested in, or something they will be entertained by. Sadly, I don’t think I’m very good at doing this and that many of my posts are these exact rambly, preachy posts that I despise.

Today I want to write one of these rambly “feelings” posts (It’s my blog so fuck it, right?) mostly because I feel like I’m in the midst of a real metal crisis. Although my mood is slightly better than yesterday, it’s still like a 3/10 if I want to put a value on it. Yesterday I was drunk and seriously considering riding my bike down to the river and tossing myself into the frothy and turbulent water near the dam. It’d say my mood was a legit 1/10 or maybe even a 0/10; I don’t understand how you could feel worse so maybe a zero does make sense here. It was one of those times where you see no real purpose for continuing on. Part of this is surely attributed to my vacation “list of goals” and having accomplished most of them. While my life isn’t “completed” by finishing a few low-tier/mid-tier goals over the past few months I still have nothing to look forward to or to direct my energy towards. It’s easy to limp onto the next day if you have projects to keep you busy and distracted. It seems that I’m in limbo currently.

My mood has improved to where it isn’t blatantly suicidal and I’m to the point of thinking something like “I’ll carry myself through this day, sleep, and then worry about feeling miserable later.” I’m still miserable but I’m willing to fight on through until tomorrow at least, even if tomorrow doesn’t offer anything really. It’s a very basic existence, just taking every minute as it is, and hour as it is, until they all pile up and you find yourself making progress throughout the day. And sometimes your mood even changes for the better if you just give it enough time to do so. 

I think why I want to write this post is because others might find some comfort in knowing that others also feel like shit. One of the biggest downsides to feeling like shit is the belief that no one else understands how you feel. Depression is so isolating that you lose sight that everyone else is also human and most likely also feels exactly like you do occasionally. This gives you the feeling that everyone else has it all figured out and is happy, making being awake at 2 a.m. and feeling suicidal even more depressing. It makes your skin crawl. That’s the only way I can think to describe it: it’s an utter and total hatred of yourself and existence that your skin crawls. Like you have on a horrible and ugly costume that you somehow want to rip off of yourself but at the same time it is you and there is no way to escape. Sometimes I just want to black myself out for a few days even though it’s not possible. Just knock myself out for a few days to wait out the worst of it. Even if I do know logically that I’ll feel better in a few days (because I always do), it doesn’t help the awake-at-2 a.m.-and-unable-to-sleep feeling because your skin is crawling at your own existence. Sometimes you just want a skip button for life.

Hence drugs. Or in my case alcohol. That’s my typical skip button along with OTC sleeping pills. Can’t sleep and miserable? Benadryl. Miserable at the end of the day? Drinking. Drinking always helps because it’s like a good friend. That is until it doesn’t help and it manifests itself as a dangerous threat.

But didn’t you quit drinking boss?” Why, yes I did, but the seesawing of work and vacation the past few months has left me unstable and dabbling with the alcohol again. This week, being my first week back to work with zero vacations left, means I am in the thick of the shit until next year. No escape. No reprieve. And our Christmas holiday shipping season is coming up. Total dread of the future. Yeah, pass me one of those beers right now. Thanks.

And as a side note I agreed (because I’m a fucking moron) to do a really shitty job at work this week. I really like my supervisor and wanted to do her a favor at the expense of my mental and physical health. Claire, appreciate it if you read this.

With my vacations being over I’ve taken up to alcohol as a means to “ease back into work” or some other alcoholic’s justification such as that. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were all drunken days celebrating/mourning the end of my vacation and celebrating/mourning the return to work. I have no idea why I feel the way I do sometimes because it makes zero sense.

Actually going back to work lead to more drinking because of the aforementioned shitty job I stupidly agreed to do. So Monday was another drunken evening (“celebrating my first day accomplishing the shitty task at work”), and Tuesday was a genuinely horrible day. So I drank then. Wednesday, while I initially had hopes of the day being good, spiraled down the toilet so I begrudgingly purchased another six-pack after work and pounded that down even if I didn’t really want to.

This is when I noticed things were going horribly wrong for me. I didn’t really want to drink anymore but I didn’t feel like fighting the urge to not drink. It was easier for me in my stressed/depressed state to drink than not to drink. Somehow those celebratory beers over the weekend turned into something that I needed in some strange sense. I knew I’d have to quit drinking eventually, but I wanted to postpone that day always to the next day, which would hopefully also be stress-free. If this sounds like addiction it’s because it probably is.

Drinking used to improve my mood especially early on in the binge, but by Tuesday and Wednesday even two beers didn’t improve my mood much, and by the fourth and fifth beer my mood was starting to plummet for some reason. Once again my “friend” the alcohol was severely letting me down. I imagine this is how abusive relationships are; at first they’re very loving towards you and over time they start to mentally tear you apart for some evil and unexplained reason. This is exactly what a fucking marathon week of drinking did to me. It was severely degrading the quality of my life in a time period that I didn’t expect possible. I assumed real alcoholics had their lives slowly spiral down the drain over years and decades, not within a week like mine was doing.

So, hence, crisis time! Despite being totally suicidal and creeped out by my own existence and consciousness as described earlier I took a benadryl to just knock my ass out. Just trying to make it to the next day as quickly as possible. To not think for just a few hours until I was in a better mood. I woke up utterly miserable, tired, hungover, and feeling all around shitty. This is where I am currently. I’m at the fucking dentist’s office at 10:45 a.m. feeling just…who the fuck knows. It isn’t a good feeling but it isn’t as bad as before mostly because I’m occupied with something to do. And the more I’ve typed this the better I’ve felt. Toss a few points up to blogging/writing for getting those evil thoughts out of my head, even if it is partly. A friend of mine used to say that writing has some cathartic powers or something and I believe her. When I feel really shitty I have this strange urge to write and giving in usually seems to help.

Once again, why blog about all of this in such a rambly, emotional fashion? Because other people surely find themselves in a situation like this occasionally. The scary part is that logically it’s hard to remove yourself from the mindset. I know that I’ll feel better tomorrow and know that drinking probably caused it, but it’s hard to believe all of this when you’re depressed. I can know I’ll feel better later but that doesn’t help right now when I actually need it. As much as you might feel alone in a state like this, you’re really not. There are countless others who are feeling the exact same way that you are so you’re not alone. I don’t want to say everyone feels like this because it seems that some people are just immune to being depressed, but I think most find themselves here now and again. If people know they’re not alone, maybe that will help. Perhaps doing what I did can help: go write something, find yourself a project to keep busy, just do something to pass the time until your mood inevitably improves. Don’t give into that dismal mindset that tells you there is nothing left for you to accomplish in your life and that you might as well call it quits. And probably don’t fucking drink nonstop six-packs for an entire week straight. Take care of yourself, because near mental breakdowns suck.