|Amy (such_heights) wrote,|
@ 2009-12-31 07:27 pm UTC
What I do like about New Year is the sense of a chapter closing, a moment of reflection and then moving on. This is what happened last year; what's next?
As for what happened last year - well, I was ill. Every time I look back over the last 12 months, it's a fact that colours everything. Here's the summer, where I was better, here's the autumn where it all fell apart again. This year was punctuated by bright periods of happiness, and I'm grateful for that, but they could only do so much the combat the weeks I spent pinned down by depression, like my own personal, inescapable gravity that showed no signs of letting go.
I was always this way, really - bouts of what were dismissed as 'teen angst' (a phrase I'd be all too happy to see the back of, let's stop trivialising the experiences of the young) during my youth were unquestionably depression, though I never thought of it as such until this year. I thought I was a fuck-up, weak, pathetic, but I never gave myself the grace of saying that this is illness, it's not my fault, and I can get better.
I'm getting ahead of myself a little, though. What I meant to say was - hello, I'm Amy, and as it happens I'm an alcoholic. I intend to leave the shame of that firmly in this decade, and so unfortunately everyone who clicked the cut-tag has been drawn into my own therapy session. I do apologise, and promise to be brief. See, happily, depression is something that I see discussed reasonably regularly around the blogs I wander around, which is great. Other people have better words than I do to express what it's like. Just the other day sheafrotherdon wrote this small piece that hit me right in the heart with its trueness.
But for me, my depression has been tied up with bouts of alcohol addiction for a long time, and that's not something I have so many bookmarks about. Thus, I shall attempt to muddle along myself. An obvious disclaimer, first - every addict's experience of that addiction is very different, I can only speak for myself. What I would say is that, for me, it's never been like what you see on TV.
After all, on TV alcoholism is sometimes a symptom of moral failure, or degeneracy, or the hero's fatal flaw. It's bestowed upon specific characters for specific reasons. But life is much more random than that. There's no particular reason why I have depression, I just do, and there's no particular reason why that manifests itself in alcohol dependency, it just does. And it's taken a long time, but I am now able to say with a reasonable amount of confidence that it means bugger all about my worth as a person. *g*
The way that alcohol abuse works for me is this: I know exactly how much it's going to screw me up, and I do it anyway. Not out of self-destructiveness, though sometimes that too, but because this year I didn't think I had any other options. I was falling apart at the seams and close to suicidal, and alcohol served as a short-term, quick fix way for me to get through the day. I knew I was going to have to pay for it later, but the trade-off seemed worth it.
I can't blame myself for that, even though I regret it. It's just that there were a few things I was missing, things I would love to tell myself circa. November 2008. What I didn't realise was that it was in fact possible to get better - something that frequently seems unthinkable whilst in the depths of depression - and that there really was no way that dependency on alcohol wasn't going to spiral out of control and become a problem all of its own.
But I didn't know that, and so I turned to alcohol anyway, a last ditch attempt to stagger my way through the year. When I'm depressed, it's as though there is a great, transparent barrier between myself and the rest of the world, and I'm unable to interact very successfully with things on the other side. Add alcohol, and it's like my body can slip through that barrier, run on autopilot and talk to people and attend the things I'm meant to, and meanwhile my mind is elsewhere. Alcohol made it easier to pretend as though I were functional.
I wish I hadn't, I wish I'd just admitted how bad things were, but I couldn't. I was ashamed, because I believed that the worse things got, the more it was due to my own failings, my own weakness.
It wasn't. It really, truly wasn't. I believe that now.
I did get help, later, and over the summer I stopped drinking - as an aside, withdrawal was also not at all like you see on TV, not for me. Shakes, yes, but I spent a good amount of time just laughing to myself. Look, I don't know, it was a weird time! But I came off alcohol, more or less stayed off it, and now I've been sober for months. It is so much better. I'm still depressed, still trying to figure out how to get better, but I'm working on that with my doctor, my family, my friends. Even when things are at their worst, I know that alcohol is not going to make anything any better, which is probably something I only really could have learned by making the other choice in the past. I hope it's a choice I won't make again, now.
That being said, sobriety's not easy - as anyone who doesn't drink for any reason will know, it can be a real nuisance socially. Not to mention that temptation is other people, a fact I'm forcefully reminded of as I reach the end of the booziest portion of the year. But it's okay. My thanks to go Sainsburys, who actually make drinkable alcohol-free wine, which I will be quaffing tonight - I cannot live on coke alone! - and to a veritable village of people who've helped me get here, some of them knowing, some of them not, but all loved.
You know, I was going to find a neater way to segue into this, but I'm running out the door and I've got nothing - have a happy new year, everyone. May 2010 bring you good fortune, peace, love in any of its many guises, and above all joy.