So today is St George’s Day, which for me always brings images of dragons…OK I’ll be honest it doesn’t take much for me to get images of dragons. Such large majestic creatures. I love the idea that once they really existed! I’ll be honest though, I don’t much like the idea that humans once slayed these creatures, but then humans don’t have much of a great track record in treating any creature, even fellow humans with much respect.
What brings me to this discussion though is that like most with mental health illness I have had my own dragons to slay. On a day of celebration for St George the man who slayed the mighty dragon all those years ago, the Patron Saint of England I felt it was a good day to talk about my own battles with my own dragon…alcohol.
Alcohol is one of those things which is so socially acceptable that people don’t even notice when it becomes an issue for someone else, or rather should I say they rarely notice. Even as a young child I always knew it was a problem for my Father. He was as full blown an alcoholic as it was possible to get. He couldn’t get out of bed without a whisky. He was violent as a result of his alcoholism and I don’t remember a time in my life when I couldn’t smell alcohol on his breath. Maybe it was because of this extreme form of alcoholism I was familiar with that I didn’t recognise my own problem with alcohol for such a long time.
Like most young adults I would enjoy going out and drinking with friends, and like my friends I would get rip-roaringly drunk. I guess you would call it binge-drinking. I saw drinking games at parties as a challenge and it wasn’t unusual for me to end up passed out drunk by the end of the night.
What was unusual though was that as my moods peaked and troughed with my illness, my drinking would aswell.
I started drinking during my lunch hours, going to the pub straight from work and then more when I got home from work. This would go on and on, sometimes a bit more sometimes a bit less. On night’s out with colleagues I would put my credit card behind the bar and not even think about how much I was spending.
In 2007 I ‘woke up’ realised I was drinking to the point where I was likely to lose everything, I was in a lot of debt, having trouble at work and becoming unpopular in social circles in part because of my drinking, in part because of my mental illness. At this point I tried to reign in my drinking. I didn’t believe I had a ‘problem’ just that I was drinking too much and too often.
I did start drinking less, but whenever I got depressed or hypo-mania set in my drinking got out of control again. It wasn’t until I was married and had my Husband’s help that I finally slayed the alcoholic dragon.
Between us we established, with quite some difficulty on my part, that I had a very difficult decision ahead of me. To admit I was an alcoholic and stop drinking or to continue the way I was and completely annihilate everything in my life for good.
It took me until 2013 to completely stop drinking, I did it with no medical help, I actually only admitted to my GP and Psychiatrist in the past couple of weeks that I even had a problem with alcohol! I still crave alcohol, being in a pub and around alcohol is extremely difficult, I find it very hard being around people who are drinking, especially at times like this when I am struggling mentally and would have normally turned to alcohol as a crutch.
I slipped up during my recent overdose and used cider to take the pills. My clock has as a result restarted from over 2 years to just 11 days, but I’ll take those 11 days. I slayed the dragon once I will slay it again.
Happy St George’s Day everyone!