Depression can get worse than being a hurtful liar. Depression can get ugly. The kind of ugly that no one really wants to talk about. And maybe I shouldn’t talk about it, I don’t know. You hear that some things are better left unsaid. I just don’t know how to leave them unsaid. I’ve tried that. And I’ve also tried being totally transparent. And I’ve found that saying the very things that I thought I shouldn’t, actually freed me from the shame that I was in.
Yes, depression can get ugly. When depression hurts so bad that you no longer know how to sleep at night. When the only relief from the pain is a few moments of apathy. I wanna make sure you heard what I said there. Alcohol doesn’t take away the pain. It doesn’t relieve anything at all, mentally or physically. I still think every thought I had ever thought. I still feel every sensation I’ve ever felt. Except with the alcohol, I don’t notice and just don’t care anymore. So you see, it’s not even effective medication. It’s just temporary avoidance…or escape.
I don’t even know which to write about first…my own experience… or my warnings to you because of my experience. Let’s start with my experience…that’s always the best place to start. I had never had a problem with alcohol until just a couple years ago. I know that’s unusual. Most addicts don’t become addicts after 40+ years of age. Unless, of course, you’ve had gastric bypass surgery. But I’m gonna leave all that medical stuff for another post. Another, probably most important, post of this series. Anyway, it’s never been an issue before. But when people tell you it can happen to anyone…please, please listen.
I’m a married mother of five. I have a great career which I’ve worked my butt off to create and maintain. I’m highly intelligent. I’m a great woman of God, with a strong faith. I’m a leader in my community and in my church. I have supportive family and friends. My support system at home is about as good as it gets. All this to say, statistically speaking, I wasn’t at risk for alcohol abuse/dependence/addiction. When you think of the word, Alcoholic, someone like me is not who comes to mind. So, I know it sounds cliche, but alcoholism is no respecter of persons. Anyone, at anytime, can be vulnerable. I’ll be the first to admit that I never thought it could affect someone like me. And yes, I’m embarrassed to admit how insensitive I was. How naive and stupid I was. How I thought I could never be like “them”, the alcoholics. I was so wrong.
So this is where I feel compelled to warn you. To save you, if at all possible, from the hell I’ve been through. If you’re using alcohol as a sleeping pill, as a medication of any kind, to help you cope with life, to get you through the night (or the day). Please, please put it down if you still can. It’s the ugliest liar of them all. It does none of those things that it says it can do for you. It only destroys. If given the chance, it will destroy you and everyone around you. It will use you to destroy the people you love. It’s ugly.
And all the while that it’s destroying everything you care about, it will lie to you and tell you that you’ve got it under control. Ok, maybe you’re drinking…let’s put this in the first person…maybe *I’m* drinking more than I should. But it’s OK. It’s not affecting anyone. So I choose to have a drink or two, or a few, after I put the kids to bed. Who does that really hurt? No one at first, but then I start to see the consequences. The fights with my husband. The kids’ stuff I meant to take care of last night. The mornings I slept in instead of getting them off to school myself. The exercise I’ve totally abandoned. Seriously, I would walk in the mornings, and maybe even run. But how am I supposed to do that with this hangover?? I start choosing the alcohol and the temporal benefits it gives, over my own welfare, and the welfare of my family. When I choose ANYTHING over my kids, something has gone WAY wrong. THAT is just not who I am. And that’s where the lies start telling me who they think I am. I’m just not good enough. I don’t try hard enough. This was the real me all along, and I finally had to admit that I can’t be who I wished I was. And then the fog of depression sets in, and how am I supposed to tell fact from fiction?
I can only cling to my values. I know what’s important to me. I know WHO is important to me. And the only measure I have left is “are they better or worse”? Alcohol use/abuse makes them worse, and makes me worse, which makes them even worse. It’s a very quick downward spiral. My only choice is to white-knuckle a road block in the spiral. It WILL NOT get past here. Where-ever today’s here is. And I really didn’t mean that to sound so cynical. But the road block, the self-appointed rock bottom can seem so arbitrary at times. ”Why does tonight’s drink matter and last night’s did not?” I’m coming to terms with the fact that ALL of them matter. And that for now, for me, none of them are OK, because none are beneficial, or even benign.
My body is broken. And whether I broke it, or the gastric bypass surgery did. Or some combination of the two. I’m the only one who can manage the results effectively. So that’s my job….my take-away from all this rambling. It WILL get better, because I’m empowered to make it so.