Just to be clear-I blame the alcohol. I know that many of you reading this might be feeling sorry for me that I can’t handle alcohol like the rest of the world. That’s what I thought too. But then I read This Naked Mind and learned that all of my beliefs around alcohol were formed by media, advertisements, and our society’s acceptance of the drug.
I’m not angry with the industry. It’s their job. They are selling something and it’s a really big business. They need to advertise, sell, and make money. It’s my job to research the substances that I am consuming to make sure that they fit within the standards that I have set for myself regarding my physical and mental health.
I didn’t do that. I failed to protect my health by failing to understand the effects of alcohol. Not the effects of alcohol on me but the true effects of alcohol. It wasn’t until I learned more about the drug that I finally understood.
I got the message very early on that drugs were bad. There were no neon signs offering cocaine, no commercials where people were snorting pills and watching their favorite sports teams play, and no waiters asking me if I would like to shoot heroin when I sat down at a restaurant. There was an underlying current that drugs were dangerous and could F up your life.
With drinking? Not so much. I never got the message that drinking was bad. I got the message that you shouldn’t drink and drive but never just “don’t drink.” Instead, it seemed glamorous. Everyone was doing it and it appeared as though life was just way more fun when drinking.
So, when I started using alcohol and having problems I thought it was all me. Why was I blacking out and feeling more and more depressed? Why was I having problems stopping at just one? Why did I have week long hangovers of anxiety loops? The lady in the magazine doesn’t have these problems. She’s beautiful, happy, and her life looks really put together with her fancy glass and sprig of fresh herbs.
But it wasn’t me. It was the alcohol.
I know some of you are reading this and thinking that I am in complete denial. Hear me out. Alcohol is highly (highly!!!!) addictive and dangerous. Not just to certain brain types but to anyone who uses the substance. It’s so addictive in fact that it’s responsible for 88,000 deaths per year (more than all other drugs combined). Alcohol craves more alcohol and the more you use it the more you use it. There’s a reason that Kenny Chesney sang out the words “One is one too many and one more is never enough…”
I didn’t know this. I thought that since I wasn’t drinking in the morning or could sometimes go a day or two without drinking that the substance wouldn’t have any side effects. Hmmmm????
For some people there is no choice. If they drink they will die. The alcohol has already taken such a toll on their body that any amount of alcohol could be fatal. They already know how bad alcohol can be. They understand very clearly that alcohol is deadly at worst and has severe consequences at best.
But it’s not just those with the disease who suffer.
Why do we accept hangovers as normal life? Our bodies are literally trying to do everything it can to eject the poison that we consumed in bulk. (Thank you brain). If I told you that there’s this Chinese food that makes me throw up, have the shakes, feel dehydrated, and have a massive headache every time I eat it-but that I just keep eating it anyway-you would think I was crazy. You would wonder why I would put myself in that situation. You would be concerned. But when we attach the word “hangover” somehow it’s totally acceptable.
If you start looking you will easily be able to find some research to support just how bad it is when not used in “moderation.” And, like most things, you will be able to find lots of articles to refute the research. It’s a billion dollar industry and it goes without saying that finding out it’s bad for you could be bad for business.
Why am I writing about this? I was so blindsided by what happened to me. I suffered alone and in secret. I feared shame, scrutiny, and social isolation so much so that I went on living in darkness until I could no longer breathe. I was terrified of being one of “them” (who ironically I now know as some of the smartest, bravest, and most loving people I have ever met).
None of that was necessary. It wasn’t me. I wasn’t broken and I wasn’t marred with a lonely defect that couldn’t be fixed. I was exactly as I should be given the facts of the substance I was using. I’m so fortunate that I got ahead of things before they got much much worse. Thank you Annie Grace for laying it out so clearly for me. Thank you for doing the research and writing the book and getting the word out. I plan to do the same.