So here I sit with my cuppa joe and my laptop, ready to come clean.
I mentioned loooooong ago (a whole month?) that I have two nasty ol’ monsters hanging on my back – 1 Alcoholism, and 2 Bipolarismness. I really did not tread lightly into addressing them both head-on this summer, because the day before I started a mood stabilizer was the day I got sober. And that is where my confession lies. I feel like I’ve been cheating somewhat, or maybe had an added impetus to stay sober, which has helped a lot some days.
There are definitely others out there who take meds which cannot be mixed with alcohol. And? My shame-based secret is that I avoided any med that would require me to stop drinking for a long time. I think that’s weird. I think it’s sad that I would choose drinking over balancing out my brain and making my life easier. … I thought the drink was making my life easier. I didn’t want to let go of my daily reward (1 bottle of wine) for the life of me. Three months ago, I started one drug option, only to develop the beginnings of a life-threatening syndrome (eep!), which led us to realize I was allergic to said-scary-drug, and thus discontinue use. (I pride myself on the wise decision that was.)
I kind of hung out with myself for the next two months, avoiding another jump into a new mood stabilizer, and dragging my feet while kind of, sort of doing a little work towards getting sober. My shrink prescribed gabapentin, which I took maaaaaaybe once a week, instead of drinking. I was not to mix the two at all, so I would have a mini-convo in my head every night to decide which way I would go. Let’s be honest, after two weeks of choosing the drink over the drug, I stuck with the drink and only told my shrink a nicer version of the story… That I had maybe ten sober days in two months, when I really maybe had three. Her whole goal for me was to get me off alcohol so that we could discern which symptoms were which – alcohol’s or bipolar’s – definitely not an easy puzzle to figure out when they’re a-happenin’ at the same time.
So. After the gabapentin, that was right around the time when for whatever reason, I was just kind of Ready. And I still don’t know why I chose it when I did – Sobriety, I mean – but I did. I just started. The next day, I went to my shrink and told her I was one day sober. She jumped on the chance to give me a nighttime mood stabilizer (quetiapine/Seroquel), as well as Naltrexone for the drinking – to help me stay away from it, or at least to change the way it affected me. So, I started those right away that same day, and I’ve been on them ever since.
The ‘fessin’ up’ is because I feel like a little bit of a cheater. These drugs knock me the fuck out. I take them around 10 pm most nights, and by 11/11:15, I am sawing logs. As someone who used to reach for alcohol for the numbing effects it has, I feel a little like I’ve replaced it with something else. Granted, I can still function on the drugs (mostly), but there is definitely a relaxation and drooly-sleepiness that comes with them. So in that way, I feel like I’m cheating a little, because I have the release into the extra, expanded drowsiness.
I guess what I’m saying is that I’m not doing this without a little (or actually, quite a lot of) help, or without a little threat hanging over my head, i.e. I can’t mix the quetiapine with alcohol or its side effects may worsen. And I have the Naltrexone to soften the effect of alcohol if I do jump off this wagon. (Not planning to, for the record.) I have been an easy-A-student my whole life (I’m an asshole), and along with it, I have this weird moral code in me that gets flustered even at the idea of cheating. And I think that’s how I am feeling a bit about these meds and trekking the sober path this past month. I feel like I’m cheating. Like I’m pulling one over on… Someone. Somewhere. Intellectually, I know sobriety is hard enough as it is, and that I shouldn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed or like I’m cheating, because the truth is I Am Sober. And who cares how I got here? … It also goes to show you (and me) I am not doing this Alone (for once in my life). I have got support up the wazoo, and I am reaching out for it on a regular basis (also a first for me).
… … Oh…. …..Wait… … Um, okay…. … …. Thanks, blogopolites! You just reframed my thinking. You are so sneaky and so clever when you do that! So, okay. What I hear you saying is that I am seeking and asking for and depending on help to get through this sober- and mental-rebirth, and you know what? You’re right! Awesome. Now I feel better. You’re the best, blogolopitans.*
Moral Crisis Averted.
Day 31, gettin’ high (on Life) with a little help from my friends.