Friday, May 6, 2016

Need Help!

It's Friday night, and it's all starting to come back again. It's louder now. Much louder.

This is Day 6 and it felt like I'd started to get on top of it.  But no way, in the middle of being hit hard.

It's like being gripped tight on every inch of me, and ever so slight, ever so slowly, it's tightens.

It's only 7pm here.  I could make it to and back from the nearest store in 10 minutes.  I poured my last bottle away a few days ago on good advice from one of you guys.

I've no strategy here. I don't know how to get through tonight.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

I've stopped looking at the bottle of wine in the fridge

The bottle that I talked about at the start of the week; the one my wife has a small glass out of each night, and only drinks half leaving the other half standing overnight.

That one.

I've stopped looking at it. I've just realised I opened the fridge to get some milk, and didn't pause. There was no fleeting moment of memory about how great it would be if...

There was nothing.

Except the milk, which I'm now using to make a cup of tea.

I'm notching that up as a win for today.

Goodnight Day 4

Day 4: Teaching myself - alcoholism and mental health

The was an old guy in our village when I was growing up. I don't know what his real name was, but we were kids - we called him PishPot.  That's a Scots term for a bucket you wee in.

Kids are great, aren't they.

He must have been over 50, so not so old. He had a small house which he'd lived in forever.  He'd lived there with his wife.  

I remember at first that he was just another old guy in the village.  I vaguely remember being told that he and his wife were saving to immigrate to Australia where their children had already gone. They wore cheap clothes because they were saving.

And his wife died before they had enough.

I remember how after that he used to stand by road crossings holding a hand bag. That was the odd thing for us, not that he stood as the lights turned red, then green, then red round and round. It was that he had a handbag.

I asked my parents what was wrong with him, but they 'shooshed' me.  I saw him get beat up once on a Friday night - don't know why.

It's about that time that we started calling him PishPot.

Right up to the time I left to go to university he was still there. Slowly degenerating, drinking. Always drinking.

The temptation now would be for me to say "that could have been me." Actually, it could be any of us.

The stats:

  • 1 in 4 of us all experience mental health problems at some point in our lives.
  • 9 in 10 (!!!!) of those experience discrimination and abuse. And it's not just from kids and strangers. It comes from health workers, friends, family members
  • 49% of those with mental health issues also have issues with alcohol.

This is a great site to check this out one: https://www.seemescotland.org


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Another dry night

Whisky whisky everywhere and all my mind did shrink;
Whisky whisky everywhere, nor any drop to drink.

:-)

End of Day 3

So being a geek I've been trying to Science the hell out of this situation.  

Here's what I've come up with. It's a list of the most common suggestions about how to go sober.  And if you're wondering, this isn't going to be a good news story for me. I'm doing it all wrong.

1. Make your intentions known

Ok, so that's a big fail right off the bat. The reasoning seems to be that you'll fail without the support of your friends and family around you.  

I totally get why that would be sensible. But I also wonder how many of us in this position got there with a supporting, loving network still in place around us to call on. 

My family network is torn into pieces; one side is suspicious and angry about the road that got us here despite not being exactly sure about what that road is; the other is vulnerable because they're not sure what all this means, but dearly wants the shouting to stop.

So being honest would be lovely. I'm just praying for time. I just don't want it to all shatter yet. Give me time - I can't tell you why. But things will get better.

2. Avoid Temptation

How? 

No, seriously, how?

I can take every drop out of the house and still be within 10 minutes of buying enough whisky to fell a, well, a Scotsman in this case.

And all the way to work, and all the way back.

Then helpful little temptation bombs, and a consistent message - drinking is fine - wine is the answer! 

I get it that this is a difficult balance to get right. I'm pretty libertarian in outlook and don't like too many laws. Just enough to keep us safe. 

But for pity's sake don't say that the road to being sober is to avoid temptation. Don't make it hard on yourself, definitely. Don't keep alcohol around, but there needs to be something more. A way of coping with temptation that's going to be as overwhelming as it is inevitable.

3. Gradually decrease alcohol intake - don't go cold turkey 

I've tried that one. I tell you, it was a lot easier than this. I got so good at reducing my alcohol intake that by the end I must have been doing that two or three times a day.

Of course this one assumes that giving up is a matter of willing it and changing habits. It's a bit like joining a gym. 

It's a bit like joining a gym if your body feels terrified everytime you approach the building, and fills your mind with compulsive thoughts about running away from that gym, doing anything to stay away.  And when you do get away from it, rewarding you with the most relaxing, enveloping, beautiful daze you can imagine.

4. Reward Progress

Ok, so I've got to number 4 before finding a suggestion that I could actually do something about.

I've been treating myself wildly today :-)

I'll have to stop at some point, but, except for alcohol, it's like I'm my own rich, guilt-ridden Uncle who's come to stay for a while.

Yeah!

5. Enjoy the benefits that come from giving up

This is the whole reason for doing this. It should be front and centre in my view. We're not idiots, we wouldn't have started drinking if there wasn't a massive positive pay off. 

For me it was being able to function like everyone else. I always felt like I was just one pint of beer the wrong side of being a great, popular, successful guy.

Sure it stopped being fun. But do you know, when I think about it even this short time in, with a horrible ache across my body and a brain that's obsessing, constantly obsessing, it's still this good part that comes to mind. Just for an instant.  It lives in the space between refusal to give in and the pounding battle to drink, and your hand that reaches forward towards that glass without you even realising it.  In that space is good thoughts. Then the grim dog fight is back on.

So to have something to replace that with matters, I think. It's what I'm going I try. I'm going to short circuit the good alcohol feeling with a good something-else feeling.

I'm just not sure how to do that yet.

And the last one...

6. Be aware of potential withdrawal symptoms 

  • hand tremors (‘the shakes’) - yes
  • sweating - yes
  • nausea - oh yes
  • visual hallucinations (seeing things that are not actually real) - no idea. I don't think so...
  • seizures (fits) in the most serious cases - really? Didn't know about that one. That's bad.

Psychological alcohol withdrawal symptoms:

  • depression - I've had that on and off for years, so no biggy right now.
  • anxiety - yes
  • irritability - yes
  • restlessness - yes
  • insomnia (difficulty sleeping) - not so much. Bonus!

See you guys later tonight. 

Day 3 - A Sting

I woke up feeling OK-tired!

Small steps, right?

Last night, after I posted the picture of the wine bottle, I just went to bed.  My wife thought it was odd and rude, but she went with it.

I had the same broken sleep as I've had for years, but I'm guessing that sleep will come.  I've been reading up and that seems to be a pattern.

So I got up feeling ok, had some coffee, noticed that my mouth didn't feel like a badger's backside and that I didn't have headache.  I didn't feel thirsty either.  I felt, well, OK-tired.

There was also a small victory.  When my wife had come in and had her usual small white wine, she hadn't finished it. There it was, not much, a taste. But I didn't drink it. I poured it away.

All in all, not bad for the morning of day 3.

But there was a sting in this morning.

It was a change in routine. Because of who I am, I need routine to feel comfortable. Routine is my friend. I call it 'locking on'; it means I can get things done quickly, well, without fuss, without stress. It's not at all debilitating when it's not there, it's just calm.

And this morning there was a whopping big disruption of routine and it all came back.

"Give me a drink"

Back it came.

At the last moment, before going to work, something came up. I've had to cancel everything I had lined up. I've been getting phone calls I've been ignoring. I've felt the stress build. But then I opened that firdge again and there it was - the wine.

I've been alive for over forty years and I've never felt a craving like that. It burned. It took over. There it was, so easy to get to, and it was burning me to look away.

But I did.  

I didn't expect that sting.  It was over nothing. Before, if I'd been drinking the night before, I'd never have given it a second thought. It would even have been somewhat repulsive, if I'd drunk a lot.

And the thing I was getting stressed over - also nothing.

I've now made my way to work, and everywhere there are shops with whisky in them, and cafes with whisky in them, and bars, and hotels.  

I'm going to have my lunch now.  I might have eggs.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Help help help

This is so hard.

Is it always like this the first night?

Someone tell me it gets easier.

This is my wife's.  It's in the fridge next door.  Just sitting there.

She's home in 10 minutes and I know she's going to have one. A tiny one, because that's what she does. This bottle will last her 4 days.

 

The First Full Night

It's not really the first night of course - that was last night.

But that seemed easy.

Last night even seemed quite good.  I felt virtuous, it felt great that I'd taken the first step.  But that really wasn't a test.

 I'm coming back from work now, and this is where it all usually starts off.   I've been thinking about drinking since around mid-afternoon.

It wasn't my usual "would love a drink" thought.

It's a nasty, imposed, violent thought that ramming itself into my head.

And if I push back, it does it again. Pounding, horrible, grim.

 I'm pretty sure it's not withdrawal.  I ache a bit, I feel thirsty, my brain is slow, but I don't think that's it.  It's more of a compulsive thought - "drink, get a drink, get a drink". 

 "Get a drink or bad things will happen."

This isn't about willpower, is it...  Guys, I don't think I've realised until right now what this all means.

I'm gripping on to this tablet, punching away at with my thumbs, reaching out through this blog, shouting out.  I'm trying to stop the pounding thought that when I get home I'll be home without a drink. There won't be any first sip.  There won't be the warmth as the whisky seeps into that thin layer under my skin where it goes first. There won't be the soothing and blunting of the day, or the smile that always comes next.  There won't be the second sip, or the third swallow, or the fourth which empties my tumbler and makes me feel human.

 "Get a drink or bad things will happen."

And my kids will be there, who I love so much and who probably love the quarter bottle daddy best. Maybe not so much the half bottle daddy, and the full bottle daddy is definitely time to get into bed quickly.

But the first one; they love him.

He's not coming back.

And my wife - she's still at work. But I'm sobering secretly, so how will it seem to her? Will she see the pounding on me? We've had so many arguments over the last few years but we're still together because of the children, and I don't want to lose her - that would be the end. But will this be the final straw? 

 "Get a drink, get a drink..."

"Bad things, bad, nasty things.  They'll happen to you...."

I'm nearly home now. I'll post this, and please, if you read it, say hi.  I need humans around me. I need witnesses, I need friends. Bad things are about to happen and I'm not changing my mind.

Twenty Four Hours in

It's been almost a full day so far.

That's a whole day without a single alcoholic drink of any kind.   But it was Sunday, and it was the first day.  Now it's Monday and I'm on the bus going in to work (I have a well paying job, but no drivers license - drunk behind the wheel about a year ago.) I didn't usually drink at work, although it wasn't entirely unheard of.  But I did get through most of the day thinking 
Isn't it going to be great, getting home having a small glass of wine, or a wee whisky, just to take the edge off the day.
Then there'd come the planning.

Because I couldn't ever buy in bulk; it was too shameful.

I didn't even like buying from the same shop regularly. There are four places I can buy whisky on the way home from work, and I know the faces and most of the names of the people who work there. And they know me. I always made a point of being cheery and nice, hoping they wouldn't be wondering why I was in again to buy whichever scotch was on offer that week, even though I'd been in a couple of days ago.

 So I'd need to stagger it a bit, hoping they wouldn't notice. Then there was the unexpected upsets to the plans - these used to get me angry.

Because I didn't keep much in the house and bought daily, if anything stopped me from being able to buy the next bottle I'd start to panic.

And let people down. Or lie about where I was.  And that was my working day. And here comes the first one without any of that. I'll let you know how it goes

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Clearing it all out


I spent today clearly out the empties (and semi-empties).

This was about a week's worth.  It wasn't even everything, it was just the bottles I felt I couldn't get away with by hiding them in the recycling.  I sometimes could take an empty to work and dump it there, but I was generating new empties faster than I could get rid of them.

Some this was what was left at the end of the week, when I usually get a chance to get rid of a few at a time.

So can I ask as a question. There is now one bottle left in the house, and it's full. I haven't thrown it out. I'm thinking that maybe I should, and get rid of the temptation, but that maybe I shouldn't, as it's all so available anyway and it might be easier to take away the temptation of heading off to a shop to maybe get some, maybe not.  

I've no idea which is better to do. 

It all starts today

Here's a thought experiment.

Take a frog, put it in a pan of water that it finds comfortable.

Then heat it up, slowly.

It's getting warm, but the frog doesn't notice.  It gets warmer, and warmer.

So, does the frog ever jump out?  Or is each change, moment to moment, so small that it never notices until it's too late?

I'm that frog.  Last night I noticed - this thing that was once comfortable, which was nice.  That thing isn't fun any more.  It's actually going to kill me.

I need to get out.

Why does it all start today? I've no idea, but it needs to, and now I've noticed its suddenly the most important, urgent, vital thing I can do.

And I don't know whether it's too late, or even possible.