Daily Archives: May 9, 2016

Why I’m Taking A Pill To Make Myself Sick

After my AA meeting – in which I refuse to take my “30 days sober” chip, stating quite matter-of-factly that I can’t commit to sobriety yet – I find myself walking alongside the road, searching for the nearest liquor store late at night.

To a non-addict, this would set off about a million alarms. But to me, nothing about my situation was troublesome.

I had been plotting my next drink obsessively the entire thirty days I’d been sober, and I’d finally devised the perfect moment to enjoy a solitary night of drunkenness.

That is, until a man starts to follow me. He comes from behind, asking me what my name is, where I’m going, if I’d like to talk, if I’d give him my number, if we could talk on the phone sometime, and he insists I shouldn’t walk away, insists that I’m being rude when I try to, insists that he’s just a nice guy.

A nice guy that is getting in the way of my drinking. A nice guy that doesn’t realize that I am transgender and this whole exchange is awfully gay, which I suspect isn’t his intention.

I’m growing impatient and afraid. Finally, I fake a phone conversation to pull myself away.

Shaken, I hide out in a cafe while the “nice guy” huffs and puffs about the rejection as he paces down the street. I promise myself that tomorrow I’m buying enough alcohol to hide multiple stashes in my apartment so I never have to wander around this fucking late again.

I tell my therapist the story a few days later, being sure to emphasize over and over that I’ve never really had a problem with drinking.

He looks at me and asks, “Sam, do you see that you’re not in control?”

His words shake me, hard, like I’m being woken up suddenly from a deep sleep.

No, I wasn’t in control. And it’s painful to realize, because it confirms what everyone has been saying but I desperately didn’t want to admit: Somehow, some way, I’d developed a drinking problem.

I think about the AA meeting I had been at before I went wandering that night. I think about how I couldn’t concentrate because the mere mention of alcohol was causing me to obsess and ruminate. I think about how I had promised myself, right in the middle of someone saying that alcohol had ruined their life, that I would go straight to the store after the meeting and not tell anyone.

You’d think the rousing speech about the dangers of alcohol would’ve had the opposite effect, but not for me, because I thought I was special – not like them, not like that.

And you’d think that would be another warning sign for me – that kind of obsession and the subsequent need to hide it, paired with the denial of my struggles – but it didn’t matter.

Really, none of the warning signs ever mattered, because drinking was more important than the truth, or my safety, or my sanity.

I knew that drinking agitated my bipolar disorder, and I still did it. I knew drinking was a terrible idea with the numerous psychiatric medications I was on, and I still did it. I knew drinking only made my problems worse, and I still did it.

My affinity for alcohol defied logic or reason.

I was told once that if you want to know if you’re an alcoholic, take a drink. But for me, I didn’t realize I was an alcoholic until I stopped drinking.

My drinking hadn’t created catastrophic consequences like the stories I’d heard in AA – I had yet to reach a point where drinking had ruined my life, though I’m certain that’s where I was headed.

But when I stopped drinking, a really painful truth came into view: in the absence of alcohol, the intensity of my obsession became undeniable.

It was no longer about a fun night out and was instead a sinister compulsion, one that I struggled to maintain control over.

When I sought out help, I was given two options: Get out of the game while I’m still ahead, or wait until I lose.

I could commit to sobriety wholeheartedly, or I could relapse and go back to drinking. Drinking, I was warned, would mean getting help later, when the consequences were more dire and I was deeper into my addiction.

Alcoholism, I was reminded, is not a game that someone wins.

And that’s exactly why I’m taking a medication to make myself violently ill.

That is, a pill called Antabuse, which, if taken while you consume any amount of alcohol, will result in an adverse reaction. Most folks know it as the pill that makes you vomit if you have a drink – but the reaction is complex, severe, and downright horrible.

We’re talking like, exorcist-style vomiting after a beer. It’s not fun.

But you know what else isn’t fun? A DUI. Spending the night in jail. Blacking out and waking up on the street. Alcohol poisoning. Destroyed relationships. Losing your job.

And while alcohol has not wreaked this kind of havoc in my life yet, people just like me – people with the same addiction – have ended up in these and worse situations, after swearing for years, like I did, that they didn’t have a problem.

I am not exceptional, or special, or strong-willed: Alcoholism is not a game that I can win, either.

But I can be thankful for the early opportunity to take control. I can pursue sobriety knowing that it’s the better choice for me. I can accept that I struggle with an addiction to no real fault of my own.

I can waste time trying to justify my drinking by saying I didn’t get drunk too often, or I didn’t really drink too much, or that there’s nothing wrong with drinking alone – the hamster wheel in my brain has spun for weeks upon weeks like this, making a million excuses about my drinking.

But it’s clear that my brain is wired in such a way that I am inclined to abuse alcohol, so I need to stop putting myself in situations where I do.

Even if it means taking a pill to remove any shred of enjoyment I could find in drinking. Even if it means threatening myself with intense illness just to battle my cravings. Even if it means running the risk of becoming dreadfully ill if I relapse.

This is the best chance I have at a future that doesn’t involve senseless pain and an unmanageable addiction. This is the best chance I have at sobriety and wellness.

If it means taking a pill that could make me sick, I guess that’s what I’m doing.

588 Likes on Huffpost for my post called “How You Treat Someone With a Mental Illness” !

Wow, my post on Huffpost called “How You Treat Someone With a Mental Illness” got 588 likes!!! So, it’s clear, people are looking for practical answers about mental illness. I’ll be doing some posts like that soon. And thank you for all the likes, dear readers!


What Doing Theatre Taught Me About Life

  1. For the audition: Read up on the play, know who your character is and what they do. Be positive, execute the reading or scene with emotion and flair. And then let it go, try not to obsess over your phone, checking over and over to see if there is a message. Let it go. If you don’t get this one, you’ll get another one. Be positive. Positive!
  2. In rehearsal: Be polite, professional, and pleasant. Kinda like a Stepford wife… No, I’m kidding. Just be positive, engaged, listen, interact positively with the cast and crew, and learn your lines, learn them yesterday!
  3. Read your cues: The last lines the actor who speaks before you are your cue. You’d better be on the lookout for those words and be ready, set, go, to speak your own lines as soon as the last person is done. If you miss your cue, if you don’t say your lines, the play will turn into a jumbled mess. Unless some other actor comes to the rescue…
  4. If you drop a line, let it go, and immediately go on: If you keep thinking about your dropped lines, you will miss your next cue and drop the next lines as well. Acknowledge to yourself, in the split second it takes, that yes, you dropped a line, and move on, move on, move on! Onstage is no place to dwell in the past, keep moving!
  5. Be dressed to the nines! Dress for the part, whether it is glam or old person, theatre calls for perfect wardrobe. The way you dress your character will give the audience clues to their nature, intent, future actions.
  6. Makeup and Hair are important: Very important, don’t want to look washed out in those bright spot lights. Contouring and color and false eyelashes, oh my! Don’t want teeny bopper hair for a 70 year old character, or maybe you do…
  7. When it’s your turn in the spotlight, SHINE! Shine! Find your light, the light techs are trying to find you, if they’re off a bit, if you’re off a bit, STEP into the light and own it and speak your lines with all the emotion the scene calls for! This is your moment, life has thrown it your way, own it and shine!
  8. Enjoy it as much as you can, it goes by fast: Always be positive! Just enjoy it, don’t gripe, complain, live in negativity. It really does go by in the blink of an eye, so enjoy your scenes, enjoy working with the other actors, who are craftsmen in their own right. Enjoy the comedy, the tragedy, the pathos, the sheer excellence of the play and your being in it!
  9. Enjoy time backstage with the other actors: This is your family for the next little while, enjoy their company backstage, support and give them praise. High five, high five, and more high fives. If you zip up someone’s dress, they’ll zip up your impossible to zip up dress in the 5 minutes you have to change from 65 year old to 35 year old glamor girl!
  10. Leave the negativity out of it altogether. Always be positive, it goes by fast and you’ll miss it: Yes you will miss it like the devil when it’s over. All those feel good chemical levels in your brain will crash, and you may experience a very low low. It’s scary, but just remember the brilliance of the play and know that the low will pass, this too shall pass!
  11. Mind the director, his job is to put on the play and he is thinking about all the characters, scenes, places, all at the same time. Write down everything he says so you don’t have to ask him again. The director’s job is not to be nice, it IS to put on a smashing play. So mind the director.
  12. Don’t worry too much about the critics, they have nothing better to do than pick apart a good and valiant effort and someone else’s hard work. Take it as constructive criticism as much as you can, after that, if their words are hurtful, let them go. you are not defined by someone else’s words, negative or positive.
  13. Bask in the glory of applause, and adoration the audience directs your way. The standing ovations, the sitting ovations, the comments in the greeting line of how marvelous you were, yes these feed an actor’s soul, so enjoy them. And then let them go and move on to the next show.
  14. And always break a leg!

My last play and my most favorite play is the brilliant Larry Muhammad’s “Jockey Jim” is about the great African American Jockey James Winkfield, who was written out of history, but we are bringing him back. Some links about this great man below:



About Larry Muhammad, the brilliant playwright: http://insiderlouisville.com/lifestyle_culture/larry-muhammad-play-highlights-the-fascinating-story-of-black-jockey-jimmy-winkfield/


My favorite pictues of “Jockey Jim” and Lyddy, Lyddy, and more Lyddy. I miss her.


DSCN0227 DSCN0229


Weekly Wrap-Up May 9, 2016

Mood What a difference a week makes. As you may recall, the week before last was pure hell because of depression. The worst I’ve had in a long time. I was hoping it would be better this week, but Monday morning was much worse. It was terrible. However, when I woke up Tuesday morning, I […]

The post Weekly Wrap-Up May 9, 2016 appeared first on Insights From A Bipolar Bear.


I’m listening to my oldest unpack her stuff from college.  She has to go back tomorrow to finish her exams but she took out a day to come home, unpack, and spend the night with us before she has to go back up.

I’m done with school until June 1–I ordered my textbooks yesterday and saw what we will be studying by reading up on the  plays in Wikipedia.  I think it’s going to be interesting if a bit leftist.   A lot of agitprop plays on leftist ideas, that sort of thing.  We’ll study Eugene O’Neill, Thornton Wilder, TN Williams, and others.

I hope to start on my essay on joy today for Creative Nonfiction Magazine.  I hope what I’ve got in mind works for them.  We will see.

Rachel has awards night tonight–I wonder what she will get.  Her grades aren’t good enough for the all  A’s honor roll.  But we will see tonight.

I’m feeling okay today. I slept in and that was nice.  I can’t do it on the days I have physical therapy and so I will be up tomorrow  Not very energetic but enough that I m getting some things done.

Hope everyone has a good week!



Dis nogal ‘n storie as jy na jou ou skryfwerk kyk en wonder… Hoekom skryf ek nie meer so nie? Hoekom klink ek nie meer so nie? Het ek so […]

A Hole in the Breast is Better than Three in the Head

Poppies may make us sleep, but will it help us think?

Poppies may make us sleep, but will it help us think?

Warning: whinging, swearing, boobies, Smurfs.

I’m writing this in the garden, though I may have to break off and go inside. Because it’s a mite chilly, & I’m nesh.

Another day, another hospital appointment. But at least it’s a day off, which is why I’m sitting in the garden, annoying the very birds I’m trying to feed. Though to be fair, they’re probably more frightened of the cat than of me

This was supposed to be a picture of the cat on the garden wall. It isn't.

This was supposed to be a picture of the cat on the garden wall. It isn’t, though it is the cat.

At a previous appointment I learned that I’m getting a blue boob, thanks to the dye they’ll inject during the operation. I’m sure they told me why they’ll be filling me with blue dye. I’m equally sure I can’t remember why.

I told my husband I want him to get me a little white hat, so I can be Smurfette. A  pornagraphic, chubby one.

Get your heard round that, folks. Or don’t, if you know what’s good for you.

Long live the mug!

Long live the mug!

WordPress is running a bit wild and free today, perhaps because I’m in the garden. Which is a bit wild, despite my having weeded. Instead of a photo of a garden gnome, there’s a picture of the latest addition to my mug collection: a Rington’s cup which commemerates the Queen’s 90th birthday: her real birthday, in April. The official one is later this year, in what passes in Britain for better weather. The mug is a gift from the Beloved, and my only bone china one.

My favourite mug is currently living a life of leisure in the cupboard, on account of having a slight crack.

Queen of the feckin' world, plus toast rack.

Queen of the feckin’ world, plus toast rack.

If I had to diagnose myself, I’d probably go for low level mixed episode. Meaning I’m active, but a bit cranky, and sweary. Also tired, which I’m told is probably an emotional thing, rather than a cancer thing.

Which is a good thing. Arrgggh, too many things there. This blog is starting to turn into an Adams family reunion.

The title of this blog refers to the fact that in many ways, I’d rather have early stage breast cancer, than the sort of mental health shite I went through in February & March this year. For starters, there’s the fact that people – at least, the ones I am fortunate to know – don’t tend to treat cancer as contagious and/or embarrassing any more. I’m glad I lived through and beyond the days when John Wayne did a serious of adverts about how he beat “the big C”.

Also, so far at least, no one has told me that this cancer is my fault, or that if I just do this therapy, or that therapy, I’ll be fine. Or, gods help us, to “pull myself together”. Sure, people have been surprised, upset, distressed even. But so have I.

I never would have guessed, poor naive bemused woman that I am, that talking about cancer would bring me head bangingly against blatant cases of mental health stigma.

The Elephant in the Room: Doncaster, 2012

The Elephant in the Room: Doncaster, 2012

The medical team told me my right breast will be sore and swollen for awhile after the operation, then asked questions about what I do. When I said I work in mental health, and that I plan to work as much as possible, they then asked whether this was a good idea, because what if someone attacked me?

For fuck’s sake. No, I didn’t say that, but I wanted to. Instead, I said that they are far more likely to harm themselves, than me. The biggest likely threat to my post-op, still poorly breast is if a client hugs me. (1)

I then heard the same thing, a day or two later, from another person. The bit about being attacked, not hugging.

The silver side to this ignorant, insulting black cloud of stigma is that I’m helping out at a Time to Change stall next week. It’s at a university in Sheffield, a city I know and came to love after many years of working there.

Clearly, it’s still Time to Change.

Balloon, anyone?

Dopey expression, plus balloons: White Rose Centre, Leeds

(1) Which happened just a few days later.

Tagged: bipolar, birds, breast cancer, Cancer, cats, gardens, mental health, Smurfette, stigma, the Queen, Time to Change, writing