I used to think drinking was cool. I longed to be 18 so I could sit in the pub and get royally hammered. And that’s what happened. I spent the best years of my youth drinking my ass off. Is there a bar here? What time is it open until? Do you mind if I get messed up?
These early years of drinking coincided with the onset of my mental health condition. I drank when I was up. I drank when I was down. I drank when I was only halfway up. The Grand Old Duke of Booze! Everything I learned as a young adult was learned under the influence or hungover as hell. Bring paranoia and depression into the mix and I’m lucky that I didn’t cause myself more damage than I did.
Drinking for me was a rebellious act. I started boozing on holiday in Switzerland at the age of 13. After that I was always looking forward to events where I might be able to score a few drinks. However, this isn’t a really a tale of alcohol woe. It’s more one of how I deal now with the desire to get drunk and how rebellious this state of mind is and how it might help you or someone you know.
During one bout of heavy drinking I was surprised to hear that anything over 5 or 6 units of alcohol was classified as a binge. For me, 5 or 6 units was a regular mid-week mini session. I think in the future the government will dispense units of alcohol to your house 1 or 2 units at a time. The alcohol would have to have to have some massively corrosive half-life to stop you stockpiling it around Christmas time, though. I can remember telling this tale of what essentially amounted to Civil Servants becoming the milk men of an alcohol delivery service. This one chap thought it such a good idea that he bought me a drink.
One of the things I miss the most about drinking, is the way it opened up your mind. Ideas and jokes seem to come quicker after a drink. But it’s a small price to pay really.
Then there is stuff which you bleat out and think ‘I’d never think of that in a month of Sundays’. You declare your genius to the world with stuff like:
“The trouble with Kafka was that he was an intolerable Czech lightweight”
Essentially I was throwing a massive degree of caution to the wind. I am now teetotal and never allow a drop of alcohol to pass my lips. Now that I have stopped drinking, when I am at my best I see it like a game. A game that you win by not giving into the desire to get drunk. For me this means total abstinence. I am sorry for having allowed alcohol to take over my life. It’s the same with cigarettes. Philip Morris and I are toe to toe in a fist fight! He tempts me with half-finished cigs left in bus stops. I run around town like a manic preacher slapping fags out of the young ones mouths.
So that’s it. Life is hard. But it’s only made harder by cigarettes and alcohol. This story is ongoing. The game is never won. It’s more like trying to keep a clean sheet. I thought that when I was drinking and smoking I was being a rebel but really I’m more of a rebel now. I am changing into a better human being. I do get help from my medication but the side-effects make them as much of a hindrance as a help. As far as the meds versus booze debate goes you really just have to trust your doctor. I’ve learned that through painful experience. Booze is a bad medicine.
I read somewhere that Bill Hicks stopped drinking and smoking before he died. He still espoused all the rebellious, humorous clap trap he was famous for though. That’s how I see myself now. A sober Bill Hicks but not as funny and hopefully not dead before I’m 40.
It seems to me a sober rebel is somehow more difficult to control than a drunken one. Sobering up is like a drug in itself.