So, a few more days have passed…… sober…….. and I am sick. Home-in-bed-sick, where all you do is sleep, glaze over on the couch for a while, then sleep again.

The fogginess of my brain these last few days has me pondering the classic chicken-egg question. Do I feel bad because I do unhealthy things (like drink 2 bottles of wine in one evening) OR, do I do unhealthy things because I feel bad?

I’ve known Depression since my teens and I can tell you that Bitch can’t be trusted. Always lying to make you feel worthless, useless, lifeless…. never giving you credit for the little changes, the massive effort for tiny strides.

The other Sickness that some of us deal with has to be considered here……do we drink because we have problems or do we have problems because we drink?

The answer is both, of course. I know we have to sort all of the particulars out as individuals – each one of us for ourselves…..but for me I’m thinking the problems started long before I started drinking.

Not big problems… just regular problems that, for whatever reason, I didn’t know how to handle. I grew up in an extremely religious home; so, even as a kid, I tried all of the things I was taught to do when hard times came, but things never felt “right” for very long.

It’s not that I was unhappy kid… I had a pretty happy childhood, actually. At some time in my early teenage years, I just started to have this kind of constant unsettled feeling….. and it was beyond the normal kind of thinking like “my hair doesn’t look quite perfect” or “I want to look like a cheerleader”. It was a deep sort of realization that no one understood me. Not my friends. Or teachers. And certainly not my parents.

God bless them, but my parents were the type of folks who didn’t really want to hear about your feelings unless you could immediately give them a solution and promise not to talk about them again.

So that was the start of having to kind of find another way to get my feelings out without verbalizing them… I had a few positive healthy outlets there for awhile and intermittently throughout the years but the one I landed heavily on was alcohol.

I’m coming to understand that the unsettled feeling was untreated Bipolar Disorder and ADHD. My family was the sort of family that “didn’t really believe in” mental health (my dad used to use phrases like “feel good psychology” even though he had exactly zero experience with anyone in the field) so, I was quite hesitant to get involved in any sort of counseling…

But now that I am in therapy and when I’m asked a question like, “Why do you drink?”, I feel like my answer is what anyone would say – “to make life seem better” or at least “to feel less of it”…

But with even the tiny amount of distance that I’ve achieved….. I can see the kind of tail spin it created for me… I would drink on Friday because I have been such a long week then repeat Saturday and Sunday… Feel terrible Monday and drink in the evening to feel better and so on and so forth until Friday came around again and it started all over.

Of course, I would complain about how I didn’t have any time to get anything done at the house or hang out with people….but I was always either drinking or recovering from drinking.

It kind of hit home for me when I was at my mom’s house the other day looking at family pictures on the wall….. weddings, birthdays, holidays, family photo sessions…. and realized I was hungover or drunk (or both) in almost every single one.

So I guess my answer to the question is still the same…..both. I drank because I had problems and I had problems because I drank…. but I’m looking forward to having less of both.

~ Leigh

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