Content Warning: alcohol use, substance abuse/addiction
Please keep in mind that this is a piece of fiction, and is meant to portray a characters experience with a mental health disorder/learning disability.
I don’t want to drink ever again. This is the proclamation I make every morning after I drink, when I’m hunched over the toilet or lying in bed, my head spinning and unable to recall the prior evening. I don’t want to live my life like this. I don’t want to be surviving until I’m drinking again, only to wish that I wasn’t. I don’t want to be the person I am when I’m drinking, someone completely numb to the world, a transformed version of myself. I don’t want to need alcohol the way I do.
But then, the next day dawns and I can’t ignore the aches and pains in my body, screaming at me to singe my thirsty throat. It gives me peace from the stressful world. It’s an escape.
It starts with slow sipping. Maybe I can pace myself tonight. But then hours go by, and unfortunately, I am unaware. From the multiple accounts of people finding me after a night of drinking–which has become 90% of nights–I’m often glued to the couch. Sprawled out. Inactive. When I try to speak, it’s slow and crackly, and I slur my words. They blend together.
When I finally get up to greet them, I stand. As I walk, the dizziness becomes so apparent my entire body swirls and often, with each step, I’m dangerously close to hitting my head on my wooden floors.
When they can finally make sense of my words, I want to “go out to my car and drive at 80 mph” or “dance on a table at a bar” or “call people that make things messy.” It’s dangerous behavior, they say. Reckless. Self-destructive.
I also get aggressive at times. When people try to tell me to stop, I yell at them. Oh, how futile their actions are! I understand they care, but you can’t tell me to stop when I’ve already started.
It’s all of these things that make me hesitant before grabbing the next decorative bottle. I stare at my brown cabinets, cursing at myself for being weak enough to be standing there, making excuses for myself, saying it’s just one drink. Tears begin to flow. I’m not strong enough. I can’t fight it.
In a moment of strength–or obligation to my happier self–I call my friend. I pray she doesn’t pick up, but when she does, I find the ability to be vulnerable. I explain my struggle, my inability to stay away from the very thing that’s harming me, and how much I hate myself for it. And despite my frustration toward myself, she shows me patience. She shows me love, and reminds me that in a time when an illness is trying to kill my soul, I must be kind to it.
I take a breath and step back. You’re trying your best; I’m proud of you for trying your best. You got this.
After talking to my friend and being reminded to take care of myself, I am able to walk away. And from that day on, I’ve been sober.