Tag Archives: guilt

Whose mental health are we talking about?

4 Aug

1:58 pm

Lately, I’ve been sort of offline; I just haven’t had the time or ability to wrestle with my thoughts too much these past few days…

A quick life update is that, no, I didn’t get the job I applied for–after a long series of interviews (gah!)–but, that’s OK since there are other jobs out there. I’ve been on the hunt in one way or another since mid-June, and um, I am at the point where I feel like it’s OK (slash, necessary for my mental health) to sit back and let it be for a while. Let it percolate. Enjoy the fact that I was fortunate enough to collect a bit of unemployment, remember that this is just a phase and the economy will rebound, and put some faith in my network. I have worked with a lot of great people over the years, many of whom are still looking out for me, I have no doubt.

Anyway, I’ve got some time to re-focus on this blog and my “e-book project,” which is simply, to compile my posts and self-publish a version of this blog. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and it’s a way for me to sort of close one chapter, as it were. A lot of what I post these days–and will continue to post–isn’t really related to getting sober, and I want to re-read some of my past posts in order to get more of a grip on who I was then and who I am now. It’s a process–and there are probably a LOT more “important” things I could be doing right now and/or thinking about–so I will keep you posted!

What else has been going on? Well, as I think you all remember, I have posted about my parents’ mental health a few times. And, I remain committed to not writing that much about it and them on this blog since it’s not my mental health I’m talking about. However, not writing about it does not mean I don’t think about it a lot–especially as I watch my father devolve, as it were, into what seems to be a worsening mental health “situation.” I mean, if I knew nothing about his past and his personality, and was confronted with only his behavior today–I’d probably avoid him, and then I’d forget about it.

I know from my own experience with alcoholism that MOST people don’t want to know (or admit that they know) about your mental health disorder, or they oversimplify it because they can’t (and don’t want to) delve deep. I like to wonder, I like to ask questions, I like to look for patterns; MANY folks do not.

That being said, I just don’t know what to do about or for my dad–and, if I should do anything? He’s a grown man–in his 70s–yet…from what I can tell, he’s just getting worse. I have to assume that untreated mental health disorders only get worse as you get older. I fear that it’ll all come crashing down, sooner rather than later. Yet, you can’t convince him that there is anything about his behavior he should change–and, a lot does need to change. Lately, I’ve come to the conclusion that there isn’t anything I can do at this point; he won’t hear reason, he won’t hear truth, and even if he acknowledges that things need to change, he won’t choose to change. Yet…there is this feeling of, If something happens to him, well, it’s my fault, I should have done more.

It’s probably the feeling one has trying to get an addict into recovery before they’re ready to get sober–and then, who dies from an overdose or suicide. It’s my fault for not forcing them into recovery. I should have done more.

All I can do is let it go, let him go, let his mental health be HIS mental health. What more can one do? I probably think more about his mental health–and how he’s hurt me and others–than he ever will, which is sad, but probably true.

On that note, it’s time to get outside and enjoy some of this sun!

The “drinking thinking” goes away

11 Mar

11:10 am

Lately, I’ve been reading posts–and remembering my own thinking circles–about the thinking that COMES WITH drinking (to excess).

You know what I’m talking about, and many of you (us) have told and continue to tell ourselves that we’re fucked up, or it’s our fault, or it’s somehow PART OF US.

IT IS NOT. It’s part of drinking; it’s part of addiction. Remove the drinking and you remove the “drinking thinking.” For me, it began to disappear around 15 months (of mostly continuous sobriety).

I mean, the thoughts of guilt, of shame, of remorse. The sheer obsession with how much we drink, drank, or drunk. No matter how much we drink now–could be a glass, a bottle, two–we feel bad about doing so. Like, really bad. Like, telling everyone and their uncle how sorry we are that we drank. NO ONE CARES. Believe me, no one is getting why we are “so upset.” We get it, because we’ve drunk to embarrassing, mind-mutilating excess a million times before. We get it, because we’ve endured hangovers that come with face-erasing (literally, once I could not feel my face for about 15 minutes) panic attacks in the local drug store, in the middle of the street, at our desks at work, on long drives up the coast. They do not get that, but we do.

Is it real, this guilt, this paranoia that the world will “find us out?” Yes. Is it “part of us?” NO!

I mean, the ruminations on how much of a shit we are, a failure, inept, incompetent. That’s the booze talking. That’s the alcohol working its magic on our neurons.

I mean, the obsession with “getting sober,” the idea that EVERYONE gets sober because it’s a life-threatening prospect, to keep drinking. That, too, is the booze wending its way into our circuits, and staying there because we can’t imagine that our brains will ever flush it all out. As if we are damaged for life. I was talking to someone the other day who hasn’t touched a drink in 20 years. I was like, Oh, so…DID YOU GET SOBER? Hushed whisper on my part. A look of confusion, a blank stare on his. No, he said, I just felt better not drinking.

Not everyone gets sober; some people just stop drinking. Not everyone deals with this depressive, anxious, self-berating thinking that evolves as we become alcoholics. YES, BECOME. We are not “born” drunks. We develop a problem; we become alcoholics; we engage with our tendency to feel bad, but the booze makes that tendency come out a million times worse. Not everyone feels guilty about saying crass things while drunk. Not everyone feels bad about picking fights. We not only feel really bad, but we ruminate on this, and continue to pick it apart until, well, we drink again SO THAT WE CAN FORGET.

These thoughts become us, but they are not us. And, as I’ve seen–and I think I’m as good an example as anyone, though there are some out there who would say I’m not a “real alcoholic”–these thoughts go. The circular thinking subsides. The guilt dissipates. You begin to see that what you did, well, you did. But, you can move on. You stop saying you’re sorry because…well, your thinking gets clearer. Less depressive, less anxious, less circular, less ruminative and prone to overanalyzing.

Anyway, I have a bunch of work to do today, but just wanted to check in. I’ve got about a week to go until my one year anniversary, but I’m not really whoop-whooping what to me has simply become about living–not “living sober.” More on that in another post.

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