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26 January, 2021

Reflections on Depression and Alcohol Abuse Part 3: I Know Why The Caged Bird Drinks

 Reflections on Depression and Alcohol Abuse Part 3: 

I Know Why The Caged Bird Drinks

The day has ended, you leave work... and you have 2 options:

1: Go home

2: Go to the bar

But we are living in a "work from home" environment and the bars are closed... Or at least limited in open seats. So... here you are, sitting at home all day, working on your laptop, answering Skype calls and having Zoom meetings for 8 hours - or 5 hours if you lie like some of my coworkers - and now the metaphorical whistle blows and you're done for the day!

Only you're not.

You've got 2 kids who just showed up from school and they're grumpy and angry and don't want to do their homework. You have a friend texting you because they hate their job. Your spouse is just as unhappy with their job as you are, and you can't scream into the void that you 'JUST WANT EVERYTHING TO BACK TO NORMAL!!!!!'

So... you go to the kitchen at 5PM and pour a drink. And another. And another. By 5:30, you've got a nice buzz and the bullshit from work seems less bullshit-ish. Your kids' whining about school seems less obnoxious. You're able to take a moment, relax, and say, "Well, at least I'm alive and I made money today."

THIS... is the new American dream.

And Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and AOC aren't going to magically make this better. You can't legislate happiness folks. You can't legislate morality either... but that's a whole different blog post.

The American dream is now not losing your fucking mind after 8 hours in the "home office" and then changing venues by "going to the kitchen." Jesus, I feel bad for people doing this in an apartment. I would've burned that shit down by now.

So there it is... In glowing technicolor - the life and times of a guy who doesn't want to scream at his kids or spouse so he uses antidepressants and and alcohol to TURN THAT FROWN UPSIDE DOWN!

And I know I'm not alone in this. Fuck, if I was - the term "Happy Hour" wouldn't fucking exist. And Happy Hour has been around longer than I have... 

We all just want to get by... but the system is fucking broken. The new American Model is broken even more than the rest. Because we pray at the altar of Capitalism and the money gods need their sacrifices... So work hard, shut up, and ignore your family. Be so down-trodden that by the end of the day you just want to stare at your phone to escape and drink wine or bourbon or beer to just NOT FEEL... 

Then wake up, down 3 50mg tablets of Zoloft and go on about your day... 

The American. Fucking. Dream...

16 January, 2021

Reflections on Depression and Alcohol Abuse Part 2: What Dreams May Come

Reflections on Depression and Alcohol Abuse Part 2: 
What Dreams May Come

The world is burning, I've spent most of the week sober, and Trump leaves office this week. All in all - I think it's been a good week? 4 days in a row sober. 2 nights in a row not...

I saw the VA doc this week. They tell me I'll live another day. This, I suppose, is good news. I like living. They haven't tried pushing anymore meds on me - so that's good. I am still on my build-up of Sertaline... my last dosage increase will happen on Tuesday. And thank fuck for that. Every time I go up to the next dosage level, my body reacts with 3 days of diarrhea and that... just fucking sucks. On the bright side, however, I am feeling the effects of it.

I've never taken anti-depressants before. I took Welbutrin once to help quit smoking, but that did not end well for me. It caused me to have horrible nightmares, major anxiety, and paranoia. It was, in a word, misery. Which is why I quit smoking cold-turkey this time. Fuck that noise... 

I am pleasantly surprised with how I am reacting to this new one. My dreams have been, more or less, entertaining and less "We're all going to die." - which is huge. They are, however, really vivid dreams. Which is actually really cool. I've had dreams about all sorts of cool stuff over the last week - if this side-effect keeps it up, I'd be okay with it. I love vivid dreams.

When I was a kid, I used to dream all the time. I had the best, most vivid dreams of adventures in great caverns and subterranean worlds. For a long time, I had a reoccurring dream in which a large hole opened up in my town and I was chosen to go down and explore it... I had this dream often. No idea what it means... but I always enjoyed it. 

My dreams were like that for most of my youth... all the way up until around 2000... when started drinking for a living. Well, not a living - but I associate 2000 as the year when drinking became an integral part of my identity. A friend even made a custom action figure of me that came with a small bottle in hand... so... yeah.

The drinking, it seems, causes my dreams to sort of... go away. I just sleep. Or at least I think so. It could be that drinking just causes me to immediately forget my dreams. Which, I guess, could happen. I'm not a shrink or a dream therapist so I don't rightly know. I just know that around 2000 is about the time when I stopped having regular, awesome dreams... and when I started to have more stress, more anger, more... everything. I had a few failed relationships around that time that really took a toll on me psychologically as well.

Then 9/11 happened and then I got sent to Iraq... and when I came home my dreams were no longer awesome in a different way. They straight-up sucked. Death. Fire. Explosions... and, believe it or not, those weren't the worst ones. The worst ones are the dreams where I'm in uniform again and everyone in my unit is shipping out and I can't go. I try to go... but I can't. And I wake up feeling like a failure for the day. I wake up feeling worthless and lacking as a human being. Those are the ones that fuck with you the most.

So I drink. When I drink, as I said above, the dreams go away. Or at least become less memorable?

And now - here I am struggling with cutting down on the alcohol consumption and living with this new reality of once again having good dreams. This is still very early on in the whole process, but I view it as a good thing. I view it as a possible 'return to the life I once led' kind of moment. One where I didn't stay up until 3am because I knew what sleep held for me - but rather going to bed early in the hopes of a fanciful flight of dreaming good dreams... 

I hope.

I hope that's the case. I hope I have good dreams. I hope I can go another 4 nights in row of sobriety. I hope I can dream about colorful adventures in the dream-version of Paris that I hold in my head. There is a large, cobblestone bridge that runs 3 miles across shining waters. It leads to old buildings stacked with food and books. To me, in my mind, it looks like something you'd see in the movie "Inception" and it's a recurring setting in some of my better dreams. Along with a dream-version of where I went to school and met Lady Bourbon... Those are the dreams I hope for. 

More often than not, however, dreams are more adult in nature. And, no, I don't mean sex and drugs. I mean stress. I mean work. I mean anxiety over the fucking pandemic... Those dreams can fuck RIGHT off. They are the bane of my existence and the re-introduction of good dreams into my life has been an amazing thing for my mental wellbeing. 

So... there is my update for now. Hope you are all well. 


10 January, 2021

Reflections on Depression and Alcohol Abuse Part 1

I need to change things. But that's the same shit I've said before. It's the same shit most people above the age of 25 have said countless times as they inch closer to death and see their bodies and their lives move in a direction that, while inevitable, isn't what was wanted.

We all start out invincible in our early adult years. Nothing hurts us. We drink ourselves stupid, sleep 2 hours, and go to work the next morning with water, some Tylenol, and the promise to not drink like that again until next weekend.

As time goes by we start noticing small changes... an extra ache or pain in the knee or ankle. A shoulder that doesn't feel like it used to. We find ourselves asking, "what?" more often simply because we couldn't hear the other person... and then it hits us - we've reached the start of "Middle Aged." The thoughts of death creep in around the edges. You're no longer invincible. You sleep wrong and hurt for 4 days... And we all wake up and say "I need to change." "I need to diet." "I need to correct the path I'm on." "I need to X, Y, and Z." - And you wake up with heartburn or acid reflux wondering, "Is this a heart attack? Am I finally dying?"

And if you haven't hit this point yet - be thankful. If you have hit this point - you have my sympathy.

Now let us add to the mix that I drink. A lot.

Recently I began a personal crusade of sorts to attempt sobriety and make something better of myself. You may remember a similar failed attempt two years ago about wanting to get in shape... also failed. And why is that? Am I lazy? Probably. Am I afraid of failure? Most assuredly.

So - combine those traits, along with an unhealthy predisposition for alcohol abuse and TA DAA! Here we are. Sitting at the edge of my 43rd trip around the sun with an unhealthy amount of weight hanging off my body, a chronic level of dehydration, and probably a list of ailments waiting to happen... and I want to change... again or still. I want something better for myself or my family... but I'll be damned if I know how to do it.

In the last 2 months, I've had a 2-day streak of sobriety. More than once, but still. I can only seem to get about 2 days before the urge to drink creeps in and takes over. I say, "Oh, just one." Then I look down and realize I'm on my 4th and the bottle is almost empty. I am a high-functioning alcoholic with PTSD and depression - and sometimes I really hate that I am aware of this. It'd be better to be blissfully ignorant of this fact, but let's face it, it's pretty obvious. 

And I just want to change... 

Fuck, if I was a religious man, this would be where I break down and pray to Jesus, Buddha, Allah, and Vishnu to step in and make it all better.

If this was a Hallmark movie, I'd drink myself into a coma, wake up and have a heart-to-heart with the doctor/shrink/pastor and come home to a celebration of sobriety at the house with my friends and family... 

But I'm not religious and this isn't hallmark... and if I had friends, they'd be alcoholics too. Instead, I just get to whine on the internet and have long, introspective thoughts while I sit in the house waiting for the kids to go to bed so I can drink again before going to sleep and waking up for another day of the exact. same. fucking. thing.

I did the math... Lady Bourbon and I spent over $3,000 on alcohol in 2020. Granted it WAS 2020 and the drinking was a bit more liberal from March through July... but that still seems to be a lot.

So, yeah. There ya go. My first blog post in a while... the first of any writing I've done since February... I'm calling this "Part 1" because I plan of there being a series of these as I navigate the waters of being in my 40s and trying to not die from drinking myself to death.

I quit smoking overnight. Just put them down and have never looked back... I still want one from time to time, but that's not the same thing. It's easier to quit being at home with no other smokers in or around me... I assume drinking would be the same. But we like to drink. The friendships I DO have locally revolve around gathering and drinking... So, not the best group to go to for sobriety help. My family - HA! They are of the mindset of "Well, just stop." - They do not grasp addiction and mental health as well as you might think. And Lady Bourbon's family thinks that mental health is a dirty word developed by Satan to turn people away from Catholicism... 

I'm not really sure what I'm saying anymore. I've written more than I planned to today and I'm no better off than I was 2 hours and 5 failed starts ago... My kids are currently running wild through the house and I need to go reign them in... they're supposed to be folding laundry.

Farewell for now, internet. See you when I see you.

-Dr. B

It's my first day