Daily Archives: December 23, 2016

5 Signs It Was Time For Rehab (Regardless of How Much I Was Drinking)

In seven days, I went from being sober for eight months to sitting in a chemical dependency center after a relapse, being evaluated for a potential outpatient rehab program.

I remember the bitterness and resentment that I felt as I exhaled into a breathalyzer until it clicked, sitting motionless as the nurse asked me what I meant by a glass of wine – big glasses? Small glasses?

I remember saying repeatedly – to anyone that would listen – that I couldn’t be an alcoholic because comparatively, I didn’t drink as excessively as an alcoholic should (whatever that means).

And no matter how many times I was diagnosed with a substance use disorder or gently told I needed help, I’d stamp my foot and insist that getting drunk with some regularity didn’t make it a problem.

And maybe it doesn’t. But there were a hell of a lot of other red flags that did make it a problem.

Substance abuse exists on a wide spectrum, and I’m a big believer that no two people struggling with it will look exactly alike.

But some narratives perpetuate the idea that substance abuse is simply using excessively and using often – and while these can be indicators of a problem, they are by no means the be-all and end-all of substance abuse.

I certainly got drunk and maybe more often than I should have, but that’s not why I made the decision to enter rehab. Here are five signs that helped me realize I needed support – regardless of how many drinks I had in a night.

1. My Drinking Became More Important Than The Consequences

In a single week of relapsing, I’d managed to jeopardize my employment, my relationships, my health and my sanity (including stopping my psychiatric medications because they didn’t mix well with booze).

And at the end of a night, sobering up, I was absolutely ready to do it the next day – even as I watched my job crumble, grieved as the people I loved distanced themselves from me, risked legal troubles (drinking in public, FYI, is a terrible idea), and lost my mind as my bipolar disorder started to seize hold of me again.

I had rapidly gotten to a point with my drinking where the potential consequences didn’t matter, even if it might kill me. Somehow, drinking had become more important – and I started to wonder why this substance had so much control over me.

When I talked about this with a therapist specializing in substance use, she simply looked at me and said, “I see what you’ve lost. What else are you willing to lose?”

2. I Repeatedly Compromised My Values

I’m not a liar. At least, when I’m sober I’m not a liar. When I’m not sober, I’m willing to lie straight to my partner’s face as I’m walking out of the door to the liquor store.

I try to be fair, caring, considerate. I love my friends to pieces and would never want to hurt them. But like a tornado, I willingly create chaos and fear for my loved ones when I binge. Everyone in my path has to endure a lot of pain as they try to protect me or push me away.

I put them in an impossible position again, and again, and again.

I love my job. At least, sober Sam does. But drinking Sam will miss entire days of work and blow past deadlines with complete and total numbness, leaving others to clean up the mess.

I think about who I am when I’m sober, and I think about who I am when I’m drinking, and I see all the ways my values don’t line up. The ways in which I can be selfish, hurtful, and deceptive.

And even knowing all this, I desperately still want to drink.

That sounds like a problem to me.

3. I Dehumanized Other Addicts (Because I Wasn’t ‘Like Them’)

The stigma around addiction is so real, and I found that even as someone with social justice values and ideals, I treated other addicts like shit.

I may not have the healthiest relationship with alcohol, but I’m not like them.

I don’t belong in rehab, I won’t be able to relate to these people.

This place is for addicts, not for someone like me.

I continually employed an “us versus them” mentality, othering people who struggle with substance abuse in an attempt to elevate myself as being better than, above, or more enlightened.

In my denial, I treated addicts as categorically subhuman – people I could never relate to, understand, or have empathy for. The further I distanced myself from them, the more secure I felt in my substance use.

Ever heard the phrase “thou doth protest too much”? I spent so much time and energy defending myself as a “not addict” – and no time cultivating any kind of empathy for those who were.

Why did I feel the need to do that?

4. I Wasn’t A Social Drinker – I Was An Emotional Drinker

I remember going to my first AA meeting and explaining to someone that I didn’t really think I was an alcoholic. She asked me casually, “Do you ever have just one drink?” To which I blurted out, “What’s the point of that?”

“You tell me what the point is,” she replied. And then I realized I’d never really asked myself why I was drinking in the first place.

I drink for a lot of reasons, some of which I’m still working on understanding. I use it to cope with my mental illnesses. To self-sabotage when I can’t handle the pressures or stress of my life. To put me in another headspace when I don’t want to be in my own. To slow down time when I’m dreading something.

I drink to take the immense avalanche of emotions I deal with on any given day and subdue it so that I might survive it all.

Notice nowhere on my list does it say “to have fun with my friends” or “to get a good buzz.”

Alcoholic or not, addict or not – I don’t think these terms are necessarily useful for everyone – nothing screams red flag like “I use alcohol to deal with my emotional problems.”

5. Everyone Around Me Could See It But Me

This. Is. So. Common.

And it is no exaggeration when I say that I felt like I was losing my mind. Here I thought I didn’t have a problem, and an abundance of therapists, psychiatrists, friends, and loved ones told me numerous times that I did.

For my short time in AA, I refused to call myself an alcoholic and sat bitterly in the back row, murmuring about how none of this resonated with me because I wasn’t like them.

Instead of being open to recovery and community, I left AA, and tried to do sobriety alone, much to the dismay of everyone around me. It worked, until it didn’t work at all. And here we are.

I believe that only you can ultimately decide to take on a label like “alcoholic” or “addict,” but I also believe that when there’s writing on the wall – and on literally every inch of that wall – it might be time for a conversation.

About nine or so months ago, when people were trying to tell me I needed help, I wish I would’ve taken the initiative to find a therapist and talk through it. It didn’t mean I had to go to rehab, or AA, or commit to any kind of substance abuse support group or program.

It meant I would’ve gotten some support from a professional as I decided, for myself, what my substance use meant in the scheme of my life – and what I might want it to mean moving forward.

It can be hard to hear folks when they’re trying to impose a terrifying and life-changing label. Take it from someone who knows. The word “alcoholic” still makes me cringe (forever unpacking that stigma, even now). But these days I’m willing to accept that if everyone sees something except me, it might mean that I have something I need to work through.


It can be hard to see your own substance abuse when you’re in the midst of it, especially when the narratives around it can be confusing and limited.

I by no means drink heavily. And for varying reasons, I don’t drink every day. And I’m still working to admit to myself that I can be an alcoholic despite that.

When I took the time to honestly evaluate how drinking operates in my life, I finally started to see the red flags I had been missing while I was too busy counting the number of drinks I had.

It doesn’t always matter how much or how often. It never did. For me, so much of it was about the kind of person drinking made me, and the consequences waiting on the other side.

And that’s a good enough reason for rehab as any.

The Enigma That Is Bipolar Depression

Hollywood, to an extent, has glamorized bipolar disorder, inasmuch as portraying only manic episodes or screaming semi psychotic episodes. While there may not be much entertainment in months long depressions, it is a part of what bipolar axis 2 amounts to. Throw in seasonal affective depression and it’s an even less entertaining but no less real.

The other day, be it hormones or whacked out brain chemicals, I simply could not bring myself to function beyond the bare minimum. Child and cat care. I risked a friendship because I simply was not in my right mind.

Yesterday I was forced into functionality to make sure we had food and my kid has xmas gifts. My mood wasn’t great but I was functioning and I wasn’t in menstrual pain anymore. I even went out for food and drinks with Mrs. R in the evening while my kid was at my mom’s.

Today I am functioning, not feeling too awful, but also…nowhere near optimal. It’s a resigned sort of peace. Knowing a couple more days and this helliday nonsense will be over. For another year, at least.

So I burned some bridges this week, took my lumps, came to amends.

No matter how many years I  battle bipolar depressions, I never really come to understand them. I know the signs, the  lows, the distorted thoughts. I just never understand what “triggers” it.

Because society insists there be a trigger, be it lack of sunlight, poor diet, lack of exercise, the stars aligning with satan’s pentagram, whatever…They even have mental health programs that teach “self discipline” for bipolar sufferers.

I don’t even know what to do with that.

It’s flies in the very face of the disorder. NONE of us would discipline ourselves to be vulnerable to highs or lows. We fight with all we’ve got. We take the crappy meds. We talk to professionals til we’re  blue in the face. We try to structure our lives into some semblance of order in spite of our chaotic brains.

Self discipline? Akin to telling a diabetic to “think” their blood sugar into the appropriate level.

I am not saying we are not to take any responsibility and let our disorder ravage us. But if our disorder really is a disorder…how much control are we actually in when required to take medication?

I dunno. It’s a conundrum. Wrapped in a riddle.

What I have come to realize is that, my moods determine a lot of my actions even when I fight  them tooth and nail. Especially the menstrual dysphoria that turns me into practically a whole different person. Its impact has become destructive yet doctors and society treat is as one more thing to suck up.

It is so destructive that every month I end up feeling like a monster for the 10 days I am plagued with pms then actual shark week. When my reactions are all wrong, too many tears, too much anger, lack of ability to function outside  my bubble. People get the wrong idea, think I am cold and unfeeling.

Yet I am watching this show where this utterly horrid man was killed and only ONE person bothered to attend his memorial. ONE person. Maybe it was karma, and yeah, it’s fiction…But I feel badly for him. Even I could probably muster a half dozen mourners.

So if I am able to feel empathy for a character who I otherwise found repulsive…I think whatever distortions I am subject to…my heart is still in the right place. Even when my head is up my ass.

Blogmas 2016 – Gifts Among Friends

Day 23 I can write this now because my friend Dee just left and I know she reads this blog. We exchanged presents and I was so excited for her to see the one I got for her. Now when … Continue reading

Blogmas 2016 – Gifts Among Friends

Day 23 I can write this now because my friend Dee just left and I know she reads this blog. We exchanged presents and I was so excited for her to see the one I got for her. Now when … Continue reading

Holiday Baking

SO today we made sausage balls finally and are ready for Christmas morning. I’ll make  a cobbler Christmas Eve for CHirstmas morning breakfast as well. We’ve made chocolate chip cookies two ways, snickerdoodles, and pecan turtles.  Busy busy.

My girls go up to see the cousins tonight and to spend the night with my mom .  Then Bob and I will go up tomorrow and spend Christmas Eve with my family and we will have a good time, I think.  All signs are looking positive this year

I wish I oculd come up with something to write about   I feel like I’m wasting time.

My mood has stayed good so far and I think that is great!  I;ve stayed out of the bed once I get up so that has been nice as well. I haven’t been  obsessing about anything and that is a nice feeling as well. But I’m not hyperactive either.  SO that makes me feel good as well.

So I’ll most post again until after Christmas so I hope everyone has a merry holiday.  May all  your dreams come true!




Reblog – What is “Viral”

Originally posted on HarsH ReaLiTy:
We all have a different definition of what viral is. I was watching television the other day and the reporter shared a story that had “gone viral” because it had 5,000 shares and 100,000 views.…

Reblog – What is “Viral”

Originally posted on HarsH ReaLiTy:
We all have a different definition of what viral is. I was watching television the other day and the reporter shared a story that had “gone viral” because it had 5,000 shares and 100,000 views.…