I stopped drinking two years ago next month. I really needed to stop drinking. I was going to have health problems of the irreversible variety if I didn’t get control of the alcohol situation. In just five or so years of drinking too much I was bloated and pale and sick to death of waking up with my heart racing and smelling of vomit. So I quit. But I think I’m doing it wrong.
To address the alcohol first, I have had a few (very few) beers after a year of completely abstaining. I don’t like the taste. I don’t like how it makes me feel. Alcohol basically sucks now. I don’t think about it, I don’t miss it, I regularly pass when friends are drinking and it’s no longer because I’m trying to stay sober. It’s because I don’t want it. That’s cool I guess. I had a patient last week wake up from surgery and the first thing he told his friend was that he needs to stop and get whiskey on the way home because he doesn’t have enough to get through Sunday. I don’t miss the constant buying of booze, calculating how long it will last and rotating liquor stores. Happy to leave that behind.
I do miss early sobriety. I had an excuse to do almost nothing but take care of myself even if that meant staying in bed with a book all day. That is long gone and my life is a bit of a mess. The way I isolated myself when drinking hasn’t changed. My ability to deal with life seems somehow WORSE. I hadn’t noticed my fence was about to fall down so my neighbor just fixed it himself. I have leaves from last winter in my back yard. I hate myself a lot of the time. I’m easily made anxious. I seem unable to deal with simple things and it’s all piling up. I GAINED weight after I quit drinking. I feel like alcoholic rubble. A pile of wreckage after the storm. Ugly and disorganized and useless.
The psychiatrist I was seeing for about a year before and after I quit drinking wasn’t all that helpful. I started medication a bit before I quit drinking. My anxiety was never well controlled though. It was better for a while just from getting the alcohol out of my system but that was temporary. With SSRI’s and SNRI’S we could not get the dosing right. I was having vomiting and weight gain but not great relief of symptoms. In the end, he actually said he does not believe that anxiety disorder is a real thing. I was like whaaaaat? Are you sure you have a license? He put me on medication for bi-polar disorder with which I have never been diagnosed just because nothing else was working and after about two months I weaned myself off because I was having no improvement and that drug has deadly side effects. I stopped seeing him and found myself worn out again from trying to get help and it going nowhere.
Anthony Bourdain hurt my feelings when he killed himself. He reinvented himself at 44. He was impossibly cool. He went everywhere I want to go and his curse words were like fine oil paintings. Several years ago I was drunk and struggling and I spent a lot of time watching No Reservations and cooking badly. It helped. I mean shit. That was someone who gave me hope that you could get your shit together and still be badass over 40.
I feel like I should clarify that I am not suicidal, no need to try to get my ISP to 911. There is a life I want to be living and I still feel like getting sober was a step toward that. I just can’t seem to get myself there. Life doesn’t need to be this hard. I don’t know why I make it so hard. How do I make it less hard?