Editor's Note: This piece is written from the perspective of someone who is caught in the cycle of addiction, recovery, and relapsing. It is a dive into his mindset and how addiction/recovery affect different aspects of his life. The writer does not claim to have the answers. He does not claim to be perfect. Too often, we speak for and judge others while failing to listen to them. This is a chance for you to hear the perspective of someone dealing with addiction. Straight from the horse's mouth.
I find myself writing this in a frothy mist of the foot spray I applied to my shoes to make the dollars I stuff under the soles of my shoes acceptable or at least ascertainable as a form of currency to an unfortunate teenage booze dealer. No one wants my putrid foot money, but actually, neither do I. I only wish to have booze, and I am going to get it. Now.
My wife hates when I drink. I hate when I drink. However, in an effort to hide my drinking, I have hidden money in various places like a true alchie. This time it was in the sole of my Crocs—that poor cashier.
I can't entirely agree when people say liquor isn't different from any other drug. It is, for some people, a very acceptable form of entertainment. And actually, it used to be for me as well. Like many other drugs, I believe alcohol is a chemical dependency that one can treat with time. That view is controversial at best, and I am not qualified to make any assumptions or give any medical advice, especially in this state...
Anywho, that was a week ago. Now, I am sober (yay?). I've had time to think about my actions, and all of them are cringeworthy. Yet, somehow I keep coming back to this same place. The view from the bottom of a bottle is not pretty. Sometimes I'm a functioning alcoholic; sometimes, I'm a stumbling, incoherent mess. This week I decided to give something different a try. I sought the help of mental health professional.
See, I live abroad, and I don't speak the local language well. This is an excuse that I have used often to avoid confronting the heart of my relationship with my liquid demons. I'm not very religious, so I also have an excuse not to go to AA. The best thing happened when I realized that these are just excuses: Now I had to deal with my demons.
I finally resigned myself not as weak, but just not able to handle this situation independently. I never really had a rock bottom. Technically, I have had dozens. It should have been the time I drunkenly slipped on ice and knocked my front teeth out. It should have been when I rage quit a great job just to go downstairs to the bar to waste a paycheck that I would no longer receive. Neither episode phased me until I finally realized I was not unique. There are millions of people with mental health issues. Millions with addiction issues. I personally self-medicate as a way of dealing with my anxiety and depression, but as I mentioned earlier, I'm not a doctor, so that's just a prescription for disaster.
I will probably never be "cured," but I can be treated. There are dozens of ways to treat addicts, but the bottom line is I didn't stand a chance unless I admitted to myself I needed help. The good news is, whether it is booze, heroin, or caffeine, there is always a solution. It will take some time to figure out precisely what that is, and you will probably relapse a few times. That's okay as long as you are trying.
To quote one of my favorite podcast hosts: "Mental illness isn't your fault, but it IS your responsibility."
The journey will be arduous, but hey, at least I can put my money in my wallet instead of my repugnant shoe. If you need help with any form of mental illness or addiction, it's okay to take your time, but don't hesitate to reach out to people. The world wants to see us all get better.