The Demon Drink, Mental Illness, and the Unfairness of It All

When I was a teenager, I dreamed as usual that I was in Samael’s palace, and again, as usual, he was piss drunk. We were dicking around in a stained glass hallway outside the library and he was swilling this clear, strongly alcoholic-smelling drink in a shot glass.

Me: “What are you drinking?”

Sam: “Aqua vitae.”

Me: “… so like holy water?”

For years I just thought he was getting drunk off holy water or something else stupidly Satanic in my alcohol illiteracy, seeing as I’m a teetotaler and can’t tell you the difference between Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Blanc (did I spell that right), but oh no, was I wrong. The bastard was drinking vodka.  No wonder it smelled like the Grey Goose I drank straight from the bottle on Blowout freshman year (last day of classes where we all get piss drunk.)

Sam usually drinks vodka or fucking radioactive absinthe like a loser, or god forbid, a whole bottle of red wine, which he supposedly emerged from with Bitch Tits Lilith at the beginning of time.  Considering he planted the original grape vine in Eden, dude has a different drink in hand for every hour of the day.  He’s even drunk margaritas with umbrellas in them.  Loser.

I don’t drink or do drugs due to medical reasons and it makes me actively suicidal and manic (as in pressing knives to my wrist and wanting to jump in front of the subway) – been there, tried that – I’ve only ever had one drink a day – a glass of wine one day, maybe a Mike’s Hard the next – and just a single drink makes me a crazy lady. God forbid I ever tried weed – I’ve heard horror stories of people with bipolar disorder and anxiety having horrible episodes after smoking marijuana. I’m even allergic to pain meds like Percocet and Vicodin which make me psychotic.

Basically, drugs and I don’t mix AT ALL and though all the spirits I know drink and some, like Sam and Aym, do weed and other more hardcore drugs, I never drink unless I’m in dreams, and in them I turn into a flirtatious idiot that dances on bars in Hell, sings karoake badly, and runs around breaking things and laughing like a maniac. I handle alcohol about as well as Sam, which is to say, not at all.  I go crazy and hyper.  He gets maudlin and emo and violent.

I’ve never been drunk in real life (I’ve only ever had one drink with a heavy meal, with the drinking episodes usually spaced out between three or more months) but even being buzzed makes me dissociate. It really sucks because I love wine and mixed drinks, but I’d rather not end up bleeding out from my wrists, butcher knife in hand in a bathtub, or baking in a stove like Sylvia Plath, so I absolutely cannot have alcohol.

I’ve often thought this was unfair: why does my goddamn disorder mean people pressure me into drinking even when I say it gives me nightmares and makes me unstable?  People have mocked me for not drinking even though there is a 90% chance a single drink will make me suicidal – it makes it so my body can’t process my meds for days afterward – and there’s a big chance I’ll try to walk into traffic or drown myself.  It sucks, but whatever.  Alcoholism runs in my family so it’s probably for the best.

I tell all my friends and boyfriend to not let me have alcohol because I’m impulsive as fuck and will sometimes be like “Half a glass of wine won’t hurt me, teehee!” Newsflash, Allie: you’ll get hypomanic, won’t be able to drive that night, and will have vivid nightmares and hypnagogic hallucinations for a week!  You may even have a breakdown at work and try to cut your toes off.

Being bipolar is unfair.  Having OCD is unfair.  Having severe anxiety and panic disorder is unfair.  I have to do so much just to simply appear normal: take meds morning and night, have a healthy routine where I’m in bed by 9 and up by 7, exercise, go to therapy.  This routine and abstinence from drinking and drugs means I can work full-time on Capitol Hill, means I can get straight A’s in graduate school, means I can write novels and poetry that maybe don’t suck, means I can have healthy relationships and be a productive member of society.  Still, I get intrusive thoughts, am suicidal when triggered, have panic attacks, and go hypomanic if I’m elevated.

There is no cure, and I hate it.  I hate being me.

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5 thoughts on “The Demon Drink, Mental Illness, and the Unfairness of It All

  1. In my experience, people can be downright rude about one’s relationship with alcohol. I don’t drink either (for health issues and because alcohol tastes absolutely wretched to my sensitive tongue) and I know people in college thought I was a bitchy prude for it. If I say I can’t have milk because I’m lactose intolerant, people get it and are respectful, but heaven forbid I say I don’t drink.

    I know this probably isn’t comforting, but there are a lot of us out there who have to maintain strict regimens to stay “normal” mentally and physically. We can’t really identify each other in public or anything, but I guess it’s sort of nice to know we’re not all alone.

    • Yeah, I’ve literally had people shame me for not drinking. People just don’t get it I guess. I don’t even really like the taste of alcohol unless it’s a pina colada or moscato. Red wine is okay.

      There’s so much stigma about mental illness that just makes sufferer’s lives shitty. I’ve had people abuse me and my trust due to my disability and blame me for being suicidal. It’s a vicious cycle.

  2. I’ve been through my periods of hating myself for my illness and struggled with drinking alcohol when I shouldn’t have but then I remind myself that people shouldn’t need alcohol to live a good life. There’s so much more to life that you can still do

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