A reader wrote noting that I often write about addiction and depression. They wanted to know if things are easier or harder regarding addiction being that access to such vices could potentially be completely withheld by others. I figure I’ll share my reply.
Let’s start with alcohol. I was having a really bad summer, Sara unexpectedly moved to Boston and I got REALLY lonely. I was supposed to join her, but the logistics felt impossible. I missed her so much, I couldn’t sleep for months. On top of that, I had some really bad trache experiences. So, I picked up scotch, vodka and brandy.
I got really depressed and drinking felt like a nice break. I was also told by several people that I wasn’t “allowed” to drink ANYTHING. At 27, I don’t think “allowed” should be an issue, so I drank more and harder. I hire assistants who don’t question me, I have plenty of access to liquor. I definitely used it. After awhile, after Sara unofficially dumped me over it, I just realized it was a temporary fix for a bad situation, and I quit. I quit because I wanted to quit. My doctor gave me Ativan to help me sleep, and I’ve been trying to sort things out since. I definitely get depressed, but I let myself feel and try to fix it.
Drugs are different. Originally, I never got the choice to quit and it still bothers me. However, I also understand that I can’t live on opiates, just like I can’t live on brandy. Nobody understands how absolutely terrifying the hospital is for me, especially without Sara. She always made me feel so much safer. So, in the hospital, I take every liberty with pain medicine and medicine to sleep. I’m just not strong enough to cope in that place. It’s frustrating because everyone close to me has labeled me an “addict,” and says that I’ll hurt myself because I don’t know what I’m doing. The thing is, I know exactly what I’m doing. I ask for small well-spaced doses. I study all the drugs. I don’t mix pain medicine with sleep medicine. I never ask to take pain medicine home. These are all conscious choices. I don’t like being in pain and terrified, especially terrified, so I think it’s my absolute right to cope as I see necessary in that place.
You’re right, nobody can tell you to quit something or not be depressed. That only makes things feel worse. People can be supportive, it’s much easier with support, but ultimately, you really have to want to quit. You have to realize that vices are a temporary fix for a fucked up situation. If you let yourself indulge too long, you’re not solving anything. You’re really just making the overall problem last longer. Nobody can tell you these things and make you do anything, though. You have to understand these things in your own head. The choices have to be yours and no one else’s.
It’s okay to feel awful, let yourself feel it. Just try to realize that if you don’t confront why you feel awful, if you constantly patch it with vices, you’ll never actually feel better.
That’s my experience anyway.
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