Tag Archives: Substance-Free September

Where Did the Sun Go?

Last Monday, Labor Day, was a beautiful day. I was running low on vape juice and pods, and went to the local vape shop to buy some more. I even made it to Hobby Lobby to buy some glue for a model rocket that I’m building. It was a gorgeous day and seemed to be the idyllic late-summer day with the temperatures in the high 70s/low 80s and comfortable humidity. It was a nice change after the prior week with heat indexes nearing 100 degrees, a perfect day to have off work as well.

But looking back I realize this was the last time I had seen the sun. Seriously. Over the past week I haven’t caught a glimpse of the nearest star to us, the one that supports nearly all life on earth. In a way it feels like I’ve been cut off from the very thing that gives me energy to live. Literally.

I kinda miss it too. On Labor Day, after the hellishly sunny and hot month of August, I was looking forward to one of those dreary, rainy, and lethargic days. I was sick of the heat, the humidity, and the dead brown yards throughout the city. I was sick of driving around in our Honda Civic with AC that barely worked while the Focus was being repaired. I was sick of being cooped up inside because it was too miserable to be outside longer than it took to grab the mail. I work outside as well and this is it’s own special hell in the summer. To hell with it all, fuck summer, and could we please have some rain just to change things up a bit?

Be careful what you wish for.

My job assignment last week was my least favorite job, but somehow I was able to weasel my way out of it. I was put on one of my favorite jobs: driving the cargo loader, the big machine that lifts/lowers containers of packages out/into large cargo aircraft. I like the job because it’s one of the most important jobs at UPS. If you’re terrible at it, everyone hates you and talks shit about you, and you can even cause the planes to depart late if you’re incompetent enough. The opposite is also true; if you’re good at operating the loader you become somewhat of a workplace hero. Other loader operators watch how you do your job, and I’ve picked up on my coworkers doing some of the same things I do. Not that people worship you or anything, it’s just nice to see your skills rub off on others and know that you’re good enough at your job to be relied and dependent upon. As a one-man job operating the cargo loader has quite a bit of responsibility, but is very fulfilling knowing how important your skill is to the operation in general.

One of these. Source.

Kinda a rant there, sorry. The loader operator also stands outside in whatever weather is going on, as you can see above. In the summer you sweat and are miserable and in the winter two pairs of gloves and socks can’t stop your extremities from going numb. The wind throws rain, sleet, and snow into your face while ripping your skin off in subzero temperatures. But when the weather is pleasant, like on Labor Day, it’s a wonderful time where you get to stand outside, enjoy the weather, and do nothing physical besides move some joysticks and hit a few buttons.

Last week? Rain. Rain every fucking day. And I couldn’t complain about it either because I weaseled my way out of a hated job into a better one. You can’t reneg on a deal and I made sure to see the week through despite the terrible weather. Tuesday was rainy but not too bad. Wednesday didn’t have too much rain, only a wind-driven mist, but I wore a t-shirt like an idiot with temps in the 50s; I froze my ass off. More wind and rain Thursday but at least I wore a flannel while Friday only had drizzle here and there. I just find it interesting how shitty my luck is sometimes, and how I somehow bring it upon myself.

Saturday was also dreary, although it didn’t rain. I’m still struggling with sleep (it’s 4:05 a.m currently and I pounded down an Alka Seltzer and a melatonin a half-hour ago, to no avail) and wake up around 2 p.m. feeling fucking dead. Groggy, sleepy, unmotivated, and the view out of the window never helps. The ambient light level looks more like 7 p.m. than 2 p.m. This has been my past week: wake up at 2 p.m. feeling like a zombie despite sleeping for 9 hours, walking through tiny puddles on the way to my car at 3:30, lethargically driving with my eyes half-closed trying to decide what to listen too (upbeat music or something more lethargic?), drifting towards the timeclock, answering “Ehhh?” when my supervisor asks me how I’m doing, and standing out in the rain while I move some joysticks and smash some buttons during an airplane unload. Feeling my pants slowly become soaked by the rain and wind. Unmotivated to write or to read or do anything but also wanting to do something to pass the hours at work. Luckily when the sun does set you aren’t aware that it’s still fucking cloudy out.

According to the WeatherBug app, tomorrow (today I suppose) will be ‘partly sunny’ (is there a difference between partly sunny and partly cloudy?) with temps in the mid-70s. Not sure about the wind because no one cares about the wind. It sounds like it’ll be a beautiful day and I think I’m going to sit outside and bask in the sunlight, at least for a few minutes until I get bored and lurk back inside to play video games, post this, or whatever.

And holy shit, look at this:

THERE IT IS!

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Substance-Free September Sucks: Books and Boredom

It’s time to write a blog post even though I don’t have anything in mind to write about. Hopefully as I write a topic will appear. Kinda like my month long streak experiment where somehow I was able to write something every day even if I didn’t think I had anything to say.

Substance-free September is going great, and I’m surprised how much my mood has improved. Apparently I don’t have anxiety issues when I’m not drinking, who would’ve thought? I shouldn’t say that though, anxiety is still around, It’s just manageable. Like I can feel tense or anxious about a situation but find myself acknowledging it and going along with it. “I’m very nervous and anxious but, oh well, there is nothing else to do but to face it head on.”

This is noticable in small ways. Take for example some paintings I bought from a garage sale last weekend. Garage sales are terrifying for me: social interaction with strangers, social protocol that I’m not aware of, it’s a big mess of shit that makes me uncomfortable. Yet I drove by a garage sale, saw a painting that looked interesting, pulled over, and contemplated if I was really going to go through with buying it. I was terrified and the coward in me wanted to find any reason to drove off, but I got out of the car, talked to the lady, and walked away with four pieces of art for $20.

I feel terrible for this. Writing about anxiety and how I turned into a big boy finally where I could buy something from a garage sale all by myself. But hey, I’m trying to be proud of little acts like this where I manage to get over my anxiety, even if it’s something as silly as buying art from a garage sale.

Reading and video games have been keeping me sane over the past two weeks. Boredom is one of the key triggers for my drinking (the others being stress and depression), so avoiding boredom is a huge part of Substance-Free September. To start, I purchased American Psycho and Lolita from Thriftbooks before the month began, ready to jump into reading in the evening to dissuade myself from drinking. One issue here: I’m a fast reader. I plowed through American Psycho within a week, and then turned to the third book in The Wheel of Time series to keep busy. Book three is whopping 770-page book (which I was halfway through) and I finished in a week and a half. Being a bit weary to jump into book five in TWoT series (1,000-pages…) what else could I read?

(Here’s a post I wrote about The Wheel of Time if you’re interested.)

American Psycho was a fucking trip, and one of those books that you finish and immediately think, “Wait…so what actually happened? Huh?” I think most people like ‘tidy’ endings to stories, but I love the random “What the fuck happened?” endings, and not just with books. Movies that end this way are usually some of my favorite films.

(Note on Thriftbooks: I used to buy all my books from Amazon until a coworker told me about Thriftbooks. They sell books (obviously) and you can get a wide selection of used books ranked by quality. This means you can snag books for literally a few dollars each and they even credit your purchases towards a free book after you spend a certain amount. There are two things I like about Thriftbooks: they’re not Amazon (Amazon is basically taking over the world so fuck them) and I love buying used books. Used books are amazing because 1.) you’re basically recycling books/they’re good for the trees 2.) they smell nice and have some ‘history’ to them 3.) they’re cheap meaning you can buy more 4.) I love physical books and can’t into ebooks and 5.) buying a used book that is terrible doesn’t give the author royalties. In short, Thriftbooks is amazing.)

I hopped on Thriftbooks today and purchased the next two books in The Wheel of Time series — books five and six out of thirteen! — as well as Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Journey and On Writing by Stephen King, both recommended by a certain reddit thread asking about amazing nonfiction books. Lolita still needs to be read as well as book 4 of TWoT. I should be able to keep plenty busy over the next few months and hopefully stay away from alcohol.

That was rambly enough and I’m not even drunk. What the hell? Anyways, I feel like leaving off on some grand lesson, something to note, and I don’t really have anything besides keep busy! I know any drug/alcohol abuser has their own certain triggers, and while I’m not representative of everyone, I should be representative of a good portion of alcoholics. A good percentage of people probably do drink out of sheer boredom and if this is the case it’s obvious for me to stress the importance of never letting yourself become bored enough to drink. Find a hobby and do something even if your heart isn’t into it. The past few weeks I’ve taken solace in reading, it’s relaxing, wastes a ton of time, and gets your mind and imagination working. I really don’t see anything bad about reading besides the time sink it is, but what else is there to do? Keep busy, do something, do anything, but do not get bored! Do not drink!

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.

Substance-Free September Stucks: 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.