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Archive for June, 2012

I’m hung over again. Not good news.

The pull of the pub proved too strong for me and at 6pm I was in there. I had a lovely chat with the Doge about music, about life. We laughed, we shared, we enjoyed.

And, I came back and had a couple more drinks, with Mag. We laughed, we ended up dancing round the kitchen and singing. (I’m honestly not sure what totals to be writing in my drink diary, but it almost certainly equates to the equivalent of about six pints).I felt so alive, so free, so wonderful.

Still, the fact that I’m here and writing about it is good. Writing is good for me. It’s my natural way of communicating. Without alcohol I’m painfully – and, yes it is painful – shy, but at a keyboard it all seems to come so naturally, so honestly.

Today is the start of the fabled weekend that E and I both know I will struggle with.

When I drink there’s a lot of just sitting around and brooding. I notice the change is small emblematic things that signal my lack of life and energy. I’m more likely to have a bath than a shower. I get up later. I listen to news channels on the radio rather than music. I resent doing anything constructive or useful. I stare at job ads in a fug of useless self-loathing and fear.

So, there it is, the bad and the good.

At some point there are posts to come entitled “All my friends are alcoholics” (which is true up to a point) and “All my heroes are alcoholics” (which is also true up to a point). I do seem to have a particular connection with dark art and literature; pessimistic, dystopian and noir are my entertainments.

This is one of my favourite songs about drinking and one I completely identify with.

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After a decently successful trip to Thin City Addiction Services yesterday I made it home safely. Mag was out, and when Mag is out I feel the tractor beam of The Spread most strongly.

I decided to cook instead and that worked but then Mag went out for the evening and so did I. It’s unusual for me to be out so late, I’ve generally been on the afternoon shift with the OGs or join the after work crowd. I had arranged to meet Exact there to watch the football, he cancelled but I didn’t.

I drank too much; more than I intended. Four pints, a double whisky and a shot of some holiday liqueur the landlord’s parents had brought back from holiday. Earlier, at my meeting, E had asked me if I’d got drunk when I’d binged at the weekend and I’d said I had. I’m not sure I did last night. There was very little pleasure involved, it was just habitual and there were none of my usual crowd there.

I’ve noticed how I – and other Spreadheads who probably have drink problems (I’m not in a position to judge) – make these plans that drag us back there. Offering to loan books and films, “Are you in tomorrow?”; finding sporting fixtures, “Are you going to watch the game?” and so on.

I got home – not late – to find Mag still out so I sneaked a sneaky spliff out the back door too.

I had a hangover this morning. In a way that’s good. Until recently, the only ill effects I’d have felt from drinking that amount would have been a continued craving from not getting enough alcohol down me. But, it has made me more likely to drink – and to drink more – today. I’m waiting for my phone to beep with a text inviting me down to The Spread – I’ve arranged to give a spare copy of a CD I’ve managed to end up with to GBDUSD.

It’s Friday, and I’d love to go for a beer when everyone else finishes work.

But, with the hangover vanishes all the positives I’ve found from cutting down – I start to brood, I become more acutely aware of what a mess my life is, how little I’ve achieved and how little time I have left.

There’s a crossroads feeling to this attempt at sobriety. I’m in my 40s and still, to all intents and purposes, dependent on my parents. I work, but not enough, and when I give any thought to my employment prospects it’s not encouraging.

If I can’t get myself straight this time I’m starting to think it really will be too late for me, that I might as well just give up and see what happens… essentially, the thought is, rather sadly that I might as well go and drink myself to death.

Thin City Citizen

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Yesterday afternoon I toddled off down White Street and into Mud City Road, the old familiar path to Thin City Addiction Services.

I saw E, my keyworker I think is the correct term, to plan my next move.

Since our first meeting she’d consulted with the doctor who makes all the decisions and he’s agreed – up to a point – that I can be prescribed Antabuse. Coming too to the chemical mix will be Acamprosate and Naltrexone, both of which are designed to reduce cravings and the risk of relapse.

I handed in my drink diaries, with those three zero units so proudly penned in last week, to be followed by two days of bingey drinking. E asked me how long I thought it would take me to get down to zero and stay there for the three days I have to be alcohol free before starting on Antabuse.

It was a nice chat. E asked if I was suffering withdrawals, remarking that I looked ‘clammy’ and whether I intended to drink later in the day, I said I wasn’t sure. Looking at my drink diary she wondered how I would cope with weekends as a trigger for my binges and asked about my general mood.

My general mood has been much better, helped by my relative success in reducing.

And, now I have a date. A day zero for my abstinence. It is Wednesday, July 18. That’s when I’ll need to be stopped in preparation for my first Antabuse on July 20. I can do it. I know I can. But, it’s still a frightening prospect – I’ve spent almost all my adult life in thrall to alcohol, it’s been my social life, my courage, my coping mechanism.

I have to keep clinging on to how much better I felt last time I was abstinent – a whole year off the pop.

Then, I went and drank, of which more later.

Thin City Citizen.

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So, over the weekend I drank.

It came as no surprise to me. Why should it, when I’d planned it as soon as I knew Mag would be away.

I smoked dope too – see above.

Nothing too heinous. Nothing to break my resolve completely. But as I look at my drink diary now I see my three days of zero units followed by three of around 10 units. Nothing on my best efforts of course. But last night I felt I had to drink to see off the withdrawals – one bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale.

It’s a bastard it really is to be an alcoholic. I can’t – and never try to – speak for everyone who’s ever suffered or struggled with booze, so you’ll have to take this as it is, an honest personaly opinion:

I fucking love drinking.

I fucking love being drunk.

I fucking love pubs.

Today, I probably won’t have to drink, but I’d damn well love to. You see, those few days of cutting down and cutting out have left me wondering if I really do have so much of a problem (and, in fact I’ve never (as previously discussed) hit “rock bottom”) and surely I can handle things.

That thought takes no account of the wrecked relationships, lost jobs, serious ill health, wasted education and so on and so on and so on that I can rack up to my lovely friend alcohol.

I stopped writing too. I stopped visiting the Brighteye forums.

You see, I’m hugely afraid of being sober. Hugely afraid.

Tomorrow I’ve an appointment with the Thin City Addictions Team. They will assess my drinking and see about an antabuse prescription. I don’t feel ready. We shall see what tomorrow brings.

Take it easy.

Thin City Citizen.

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I filled in my drink diary as usual this morning. And, the Thin City Citizen is pleased and proud to announce (to a no-doubt fascinated readership of what WordPress stats inform me could be as many as 20 people) that a big fat zero went in column one and another in column two.

Yes, I drank nowt yesterday. At least nothing alcoholic. Much tea there was. Much water too. I even followed some online advice and bought some Diaoralyte – the re-hydration sachets that you’re supposed to take when you have diaorhea – and forced (sorry, they taste vile) one of those down too.

This morning I loaded up the pill tray again for the following week. I’m now taking – deep breath – this each day:

20mg Citalopram – in the morning, this is my anti-anxiety prescription.

30mg Mirtazapine – in the evening, this is my antidepressant.

Vitamin B compound strong – I take three a day from the huge stockpile that built up when I was last sober but not taking my medication properly.

100 mg thiamine – one a day.

500mg Vitamin C – I’m taking two. I’m still petrified that my pneumonia will come back and cost me my job, and this seems a decent way to combat it.

550mg cod liver oil – I’m taking this on the basis that it can’t do any harm and my nutrition of late has been appalling.

Calcium, magnesium and zinc – and not just any calcium, magnesium and zinc ladies and gentlemen, no this is calcium, magnesium and zinc that has been chelated – whatever the dickens chelated might mean. Again, I’m taking one of these every other day on the basis that it was in the house anyway and it can’t do any harm. Although I read online it could be a good treatment for anxiety.

And that’s that.

I’m also eating a lot more and a lot more healthily. And, you have no idea how much better I feel already (of course, you may, in which case apologies for failing to recognise your extraordinary empathy or own experience of alcoholism).

I’m sleeping less (this is good, I used to be in a 12 hour coma). I have energy. My anxiety is more manageable. My depression is less of a problem. I’m busier. I’m more productive. I’m reading again. I’m listening to music again.

To counter this exhausting and tedious list of Good Things, I am still concerned about my lungs. I’ve cut down on the fags and hope all those vitamins might be doing me some good, but I feel like the pneumonia is coming back. I have shortness of breath, I sweat with very minor exertion and feel of slightly ‘out of it’. I’m also a bit concerned that I wake up every morning with pins and needles.

But these are minor doodahs on the thingummy and otherwise I’m on top of the world ma.

Leave a message below if I’m out.

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I work on Tuesdays. Proper work. Paid work. I drive out of Thin City and into the Former Industrial Area (FIA) to an office and write. It’s not great stuff. It’s for some free local magazines. The people are nice and it’s good to get out of the house.

I remember reading a couple of accounts of heroin use which chimed very much with me. (I can’t for the life of me remember who wrote these accounts, but I’m pretty sure they were musicians). The gist of it both of these stories was that heroin use is a full-time job – you get up and spend all your day trying to get your hands on heroin (or, if you’re not a rock star the money to buy heroin) then you take it, the next day you do the same – and repeat.

I like routine. And alcohol helps me have a routine. It’s not a good or healthy routine (it’s got a hell of a lot better since Sunday) but it’s a routine.

I’ve gone over what the bad routine was and it’s very similar to the heroin routine – sleep, drink, smoke, sleep.

Yesterday as I drove towards the FIA, I followed – of course – my usual routine. Out of Electric Street, down White Street and onto Mud City Road and then call it at the nearest petrol station to buy fuel if necessary and cigarettes. As I pulled into the forecourt yesterday I had a shock. The pumps were all behind wire and the place was being dug up.

The shock to the system was quite severe. I cling to routines and habits desperately and any change causes real unease. I drive the wrong way to the FIA; Exact has been telling me for months that there’s a much quicker, easier way to get there, but I can’t quite manage the change in routine that would cause – where would I stop to buy cigarettes? What if I get lost? What if the traffic’s bad going that way? What if aliens land in Dodge (aigthoo) and set up some sort of checkpoint. What if… What if…

Mag rang me at work yesterday. The Shinei are moving. They will be gone in two to three weeks. The landlady is selling the house. This should – this is – unalloyed good news.

But.

What if lunatics move in next door? What if the Ku Klux Klan set up a training camp next door? What if squatters get in in the meantime and start to stage Thin City’s biggest free raves? What if it’s bought by a charity for rehousing owners of dangerously loud birds of prey?

Change ahoy. Danger ahoy.

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Last night I tried to go without alcohol. I couldn’t do it. I really couldn’t by the way, this wasn’t a case of weakness or lack of willpower, but having to drink to ease physical withdrawal symptoms.

It’s no surprise and I’m – as the title of this post suggests – not that bothered by it. My drinking diary this morning shows that last night I consumed 4.7 units of alcohol and started to drink at 9pm – I’m a unit down on the night before and an hour later starting.

The withdrawals – as anyone who has experienced them will know – are extremely unpleasant. I tried to stave them off with food, I poked at them with fizzy water and fruit juice, I ran away from them with a long walk. They got me in the end.

Still. Things remain positive. I started drinking at 9pm and the first one – a can of Carslberg (reassuringly weak) – didn’t touch the sides.

The only slight downer is that I took a third drink when I didn’t need to.

The antidepressants I take are called Mirtazapine (I also take Citalopram, which is supposed to be an anti-anxiety medication). On the patient leaflet – along with the cheery suicidal thoughts warning you’ll find on all antidepressants – is a ‘may cause drowsiness’ warning. As understatements go, this is up there with ‘Stalin had some anger issues’. Mirtazapine is my nighttime friend. In fact, I’ve used it in the past to manage a couple of days of abstinence or cutting down here and there; upping my dose by half a tablet has a real knockout effect.

I took my tablet fairly early – around 6pm I think – last night and by the time it came to opening that third beer, I was well on the way to the Land of Nod.

That third beer I drank to get drunk.

A slight disappointment then, but as I’ve made getting out of my head in various ways the main purpose of my life since I was 16, I shouldn’t be too surprised.  For the last five months I’ve been drinking at least 100 units a week without fail, sometimes much more than that. I’ve only been cutting down since last Sunday.

So, at Brighteye I’ll have to report my ‘failure’ and start again on the seven day challenge. It really is a wonderfully forgiving and supportive place though.

If I’m being realistic, I think my aim is to have one or two days alcohol free this week, before Mag goes away on Friday.

That will be the challenge. Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Not so much the pull of alcohol per se but the pull of my lovely long days in the Spread, my haven from shrieking children, shitting dogs and screaming parents.

In all honesty, I’m already looking forward to it.

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