Monday, January 4, 2010

One for the road dear friends

A very nice man called Tom said some very nice things about my blog just the other day, for which I am grateful, very grateful.

I was so pleased that I showed what he wrote to Mrs CD. She knows I keep a blog about my recovery, or treatment, or whatever I feel like calling it today, probably someone studying medical coding and billing would know a better name.
However, she hadn't read it, and then she did.

"There's quite a lot about me in it," was her first reaction.

Her second reaction was tears.

That's one of the reasons why for the foreseeable at least, Cardiff Drunk is ceasing trading.

I've thought for a while that it's possible that being Cardiff Drunk and writing a blog called Drunk in Cardiff might not be the most healthy of things. I think it encourages me to think about myself in those terms too much and it encourages me to think about myself too much.

I'm pretty much the picture in the book for 'Should get out more'. I live in my head too much and I live online too much and I need to try and do less of both. I have too many secrets and I need to start living in the light a bit more.

So, for the moment, I don't have anything to say.

I'm really grateful for all the nice things people have said to and about me and to all those Chinese blokes sitting at computers putting up comments every day - thanks lads. Particular thanks I think to Anybeth and Ana of Ana's fallen angel for being particularly well, nice... good luck on your own journeys ladies.

I've decided not to delete this blog for the moment, just in case in might be of use to someone, and it's a record for me too. The email address is still alive and I'll be back to reply to any comments from time to time. I'm thinking of starting an alcohol and alcoholism news blog, in my own name, and if I do I'll come back and leave a link.

I'm pretty well as I sign off. I've been sober for more than seven months, the longest period in my adult life, I'm on the road to Prozac but considering staying off all medication, I want to start working/looking for work at the end of this month, and I can do 25 press ups in one go, which I would have thought ridiculous at any time in my past.

I may be back, who knows. But for now, if you spent it, thank you for your time.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Home is where the...

"I'm at home," I told Mrs CD on the phone.

"Whose home?" she asked.

Good question. This, my parents' home, still feels like my home. I'm slow, I don't deal with change well, I can't cope with it so I ignore it and then it doesn't go away so I smash it in the head with binge-level drink and drug use and create a crisis that will send me home. Addicts and depressants are like this.

Just a visit this time, in order to see my brother, who has the bad fortune to celebrate his birthday on Boxing Day.

Mrs CD is in our home, which I only occasionally think of as my home - partly because of the SSFI's next door and partly because I didn't chose to live there (not the house, the street, the area, the city or the country, although I am delighted to be in the land of my mother's fathers), but I've never chosen to do anything in my life. This sounds dramatic I know, but, sadly it is true. This is why, when I think of change, and the changes I would like to make to my life I think in apocalyptic terms - this hasn't been my life at all, it has been the life of other people, the life of alcohol and drugs and the life of fear.

I'd like my own life.

I wonder what that's like? Perhaps you can tell me.

These posts should have more structure dontcha think? I do. I think I should start writing with more discipline, but I just sit and type - I enjoy it, so sod yer if you don't - with little thought of how it might read. This, you lucky person (in so far as you exist) is a sewage outlet straight from the mind of the Cardiff Drunk - although, as I've said before, you're not getting the whole picture, that would be too horrible.

So, now it strikes me that I was struck yesterday with a Pavlovian response that sent me salivating for a drink. I drove home (whose?) from Cardiff and managed to troll straight past my intended junction. No big deal, I have two choices and the second takes me through my old stomping grounds when I was a successful journalist (sod it, I've had too much regret about the way that time ended - in drink, in overdose, in solicitor's offices trying to put together an employment tribunal case - another course that was chosen for me by others. Digression again. But, yes, sod it. I was extraordinarily good at my job. You might not guess it from this, and that's why I worry that I ought to write more 'professionally', but I was a fucking natural.)

Where was I? I was driving through what I used to call my patch and as I turned off to drive past where I once lived so happily - in a place where I chose to live with a friend who I chose to live with - I started to salivate for booze.

The road I used to toddle down after work after having gone to the pub for a couple after the office shut and with a car full of Guinness and with a bag of the best quality green stuff waiting for me at home.

God, I thought I was really happy then, though I was almost certainly storing up trouble for myself. Much happier than I am now, I sometimes think when I'm down. Sober though I be.

Mrs CD asked me that the other day. She has a habit of asking these unanswerably big questions: "Am I alright for you?", "Do you want someone sexier?" and so on. And, the other day it was, "Did I force you to come here, were you happy there on your farm with your drink and your dope?"

"My life is much better now," I told her.

And, it is. I was in debt then, and it was mounting. But, I had a job and I was a functioning alcoholic, in fact my drinking was of concern to others - primarily my parents - but not to me. My lifestyle was not healthy but it was part of me and it was my part of me, the same with the smoking - both things I chose. Perhaps that's what it's like for me to chose my life, not very good. But I guess this is what this is all about, the self-esteem books which lie unread, the counselling, the antabuse, the trying to grow up.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.

Frilly crackers to yer.

Cardiff Drunk.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Minesweeping we have known

Ah yes, mine sweeping. Do you remember mine sweeping? Do you mine sweep yourself? It's probably a teenage thing really, but I've always done it.

And, I remembered it today. All those half-empty glasses my abstemious parents, my sensible drinking Mrs CD and her near teetotal parents left round the place. It comes so naturally that I did in fact find myself scanning for them; the glasses I could filch, take out to the kitchen and neck on the way. The bottles I could fetch and open and sneak swigs from. I offered to go and get the brandy to fire the pudding with (none for me) out of habit, bad habit, dead habit.

So, this is Christmas and what have you done? Survived innit. Not too bad really and sober as a choirboy (I wouldn't have been, when I was a lad I was briefly in a band who rehearsed in a chapel - we stole the communion wine. Imagine our horror when we discovered our Methodist brethren got to God without the use of alcohol, fair play to them.)

It's a bit of a strain being around family, particularly when in counselling most of which is to do with things that happened a long time ago in a place just over an hour's drive away. I love my parents, as far as I feel anything at the moment, but I'm also in long and ongoing discussions about how they fucked me up - as, of course, every one's parents does for everyone. It's one of the reasons I will never have children, why spread the pain further.

Ah, but something of note has occurred! Christmas Eve was a day without dope. I went to make one in the kitchen - I go outside for all my smoking, legal and otherwise so there's no suspicion in that - and Mrs CD's father came towards the door so I stopped. I could have gone back to it I suppose but I was quite pleased with myself for just saying no. I think I'll do the same today. I can't remember the last time I went for a day without smoking; it's been a long time.

I find myself feeling relatively positive about things. I had feared that the local kids would be out in full force, but it's been very quiet around here lately, since the petition came round in fact and I've also found myself worrying less. I'm toodling along quite happily on my lower dose Trazadone, which gives me a good night's sleep. My appetite isn't very good and I'm down to two meals a day, but they tend to be somewhat substantial. Mrs CD's at home, so my domestic duties are shared and the house looks nice and I'm doing more than my share.

Still, there lurk the demons, the misery that can lead to drink, the regret that I can't really socialise without drink - yet, it's supposed to be yet you're saying, let's try and see change as incremental shall we CD?

Mmm, talking to self, time to go.

Somehow I feel large and positive changes are on the horizon.

And of course I wish you a happy Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Counselling again

Counselling again yesterday and a mixed bag. At the very least it means I get up earlyish.

But, I seem a little resistant to counselling at the moment. When I was really storming forward and making progress I couldn't wait for it but at the moment it's hard work to get anything out of me and I feel for my counsellor (who I am now going to start referring to as L) who's pulling teeth at the moment.

I've come to the end of one batch of counselling and we had to have a review to check on progress and how I'm doing. I filled in a CORE form. Anyone who's ever been treated for depression in a serious way will have seen one of these. Over 30 questions on your mood - in the last week... I have felt terribly alone... not at all, sometimes, often, most or all of the time.

We compared it to the form I filled in when I first came in for counselling. L was a little shocked I think, as my score had rocketed from around 30 to 89, and the stuff about ending my own life, hurting myself, being bothered by unwanted thoughts and memories was all in the highest category.

I thought long and hard while filling in the form, and have to acknowledge that the timing was bad, coinciding as it did with a change in medication.

We talked about it - my thoughts about death - and happily agreed it's quite normal for me. I wrote about this the other day but it seems worth repeating so I shall. I think about suicide regularly and quite dispassionately, it's my escape card and it's always somewhere in my mind - well, if things get worse I can always take an overdose. I'm quite relaxed about it but people I tell are less so.

That was the main discussion really. I'm struggling to remember the session even now - it seems terribly important while I'm there, but it goes so quickly, I used to have a magnificent memory (although it's been a curse too, not letting me forget pain I'd be best read of) but it's certainly slipping. Daily dope probably isn't helping.

I was so brave back then - I'm going to change my life completely, live completely differently - and perhaps I'm coming to terms with the fact that I just don't have the courage for that and will continue largely as I have: saying yes when I mean no, keeping my thoughts to myself, anything for a quiet life.

Is that so bad? I'm sober and healthy, I don't have debts, I have a secure home and my thinking has become notably less apocalyptic and focused on burning down my current life in order to build a new one. I told my L how bad I am at noticing or acknowledging change, I can't think of it as something incremental - I don't think, 'Oh, it's good I got up at 9am, not 1pm.' I think, 'It's a fucking disaster I didn't get up at 8am, I am a loser and a failure and always will be, I might as well have a spliff and ruin the day'.

With Mrs CD at home, I'm smoking less and not at all during the day, and when I do, that's when I have my bad moods.

New year is the time for change isn't it, and there are things I want to do - I want to start to earn a living; I've been dependent on others my whole life and I want some independence and that's the big and scary thing I really want to face. I want to have a self, and a self with some self esteem.

I've nearly finished my Charles Bukowski book. I've read it before, many times, so I can't really say that it pressages a great improvement in my concentration, but it's something. I've also started watching a box set of series two (season is for Americans) of The Wire, and am loving it - in so far as I love anything while trying to pick it apart and analyse it as I go.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.

If you're reading this because of your own problems with drink and depression I really am thinking of you and hoping that things are going OK - Christmas is a hard time, YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE HAVING FUN, it's all about family and pressure and EVERYONE IS DRUNK, so remember to look after yourself. I can't offer any failsafe tactics but having somewhere you can be on your own, quite calmly is I think a good thing.

Cardiff Drunk.

A shop full of sherry

If I'd have written this last night, as I wanted to, it would have been a mess of misey, a potage of pity and an, errm, pate of umbrage.

Now, however, I feel quite bright.

Mrs CD and I have done our Christmas shop and got to the supermarket in time to avoid the worst crowds and the shortest temperatures. I seem quite relaxed about drink at the moment - quite glad not to be in with the indulgent. We bought a bottle of brandy for the pudding, a bottle of sherry and a bottle of Cava and, as she always does, Mrs CD asked me, "Do you mind?" And, no, I don't mind in the slightest.

I haven't been to the pub for a while now and maybe that's helping too. I think my time for pubs has passed now. Of course, I still think about grog, and not in a healthy way - I don't think of a drink, I think of drunk. Hell, it's our national drug and it's everywhere. A story in the newspaper the other day recorded the falling of prices to such an extent that alcohol is now cheaper than water in some stores. Well, you're welcome to it, go and knock yourself out.

I've settled into some sort of calm. Is it a calm before a storm? I don't know, I thought for a while that it must be but now I can see that it doesn't have to be that way. Remarkable really. I'm even quite looking forward to seeing my parents and Mrs CD's too - normally a cause of much panic.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.

Cardiff Drunk.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Restart the world, I might want to get back on again

Another good day round Cardiff Drunk's neck of the woods (do woods have necks?)

Last night Mrs CD and I had a chat about what I should do with my medication next. I'd been on the internet looking at fora about anti-depressants and side effects and so on and managed to quite scare myself with what I was reading about Prozac/Fluoxetine - 'I'm in hell', '21 days in and I want to stop' and the like. I didn't have too many problems the last time I took the stuff; in the end I was taken off it because of very bad nausea but the mental effects as I remember them were pretty positive.

I can even vividly remember telling my then girlfriend that I was feeling better within hours of taking the first capsule - so quickly in fact that I wonder if it must have been a placebo effect of 'doing something'.

But, this lower dose of Trazadone is suiting me very well, and it's got me thinking about completely coming off all this stuff - or as much of it as I can manage.

I feel lighter, less lethargic, less despairing. Bitter experience makes me cautious of this, but I wonder how much of a self-fulfilling prophecy that is: I expect things to go badly, so they go badly.

I'm certainly, tomorrow, going to cash in my prescription for 18 100mg Trazadone capsules. When I last saw the doctor she was very keen that I should start the Fluoxetine as soon as I finished the Trazadone - although it was my keenness to make the change quickly that persuaded her that I shouldn't stabilise for longer on a lower dose of the latter.

I think I'm going to take her advice on that. "Come back in if you find you're struggling," she told, and was very insistent on the matter. I'd come in in a pretty low state and reporting suicidal feelings - "Although not with any serious intention of acting on them," I said in my stock response to questions about these thoughts.

It sounds dramatic to say that thinking about killing myself is a constant, but it's true - I'd go so far as to say I'm obsessed with death; what it means, what it feels like, and that's mine, yours, loved ones and so on. How to do it, do I have enough pills to do it, when will I do it, what will I do first and so on and so on.

But, it's rare that I feel I'm actually moving towards acting on these thoughts - why am I so fricking absent from my own thoughts and opinions that I don't even know this for sure, that I talk about it in such a distant and observing way? Don't know, does everyone think like this? I'd love to know.

Enough of the mordant tangent (good name for a band I think you'll agree), let's accentuate the positive. I'm calmer, I'm enjoying things more - things like music and the company of Mrs CD appreciably and almost exponentially more.

We talked the other night about what had changed about me - I would have said not very much - and she highlighted two things she thought were massive: "When you began to talk," and, "When you gave up coffee."

"Talk about what?" I asked.

"About what you think and feel," she answered.

Crikey. This is news to me. But, I suppose it's good news isn't it?

Six months alcohol free. Let's not forget that. I'm further away from a guaranteed downer I'd been drowning my brain in every day, I've been on six months of Campral and vitamins, I've been eating OK and now I get at least some exercise every week. Maybe contacting X helped to exorcise the most significant ghosts in my mind?

I'm not swinging from the chandeliers, nor any closer to earning money with which to buy chandeliers from which to swing when the time is appropriate, for example I was low this morning, but came out of it.

It can't be anything but a boost either that Mrs CD is on holiday and feeling bright and breezy herself. She's in quite a good and confident position with her work and the changes she plans to make there and we both seem to be coping with the idea of the Christmas influx OK. (I have my fears but they're less insistent than usual.) The house is together and tidy and we're pretty much on top of everything. She's been on her own new antidepressant for about a month and, although she was reluctant to go back on to any mood medication, she seems to have benefited from it.

But for me, it looks like a period of stabilisation for me at the moment.

You'll have noted that I still believe myself to be fascinating, so expect more updates of stunning mundanity as the days pass into 2010.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.

The Cardiff Drunk

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Things have, quite suddenly, started going well. And, I'm inclined to think that reducing the dose of Trazadone has a lot to do with it - I feel more alive, less medicated, more emotional. Who, indeed, would have thought it.

I've been greatly cheered by reading some Charles Bukowski too. God, I love Chuck, and identify with him almost totally - whether this is a good thing or not is probably up for discussion.

It's nice to read something, and although it's re-reading, I've been skipping throught it with no problem with concentration.

Mrs CD has finished work for Christmas, and we spent a pleasant morning in bed, doing what couples are supposed to do and which we haven't been doing for a long time because I'm a miserable, stoned, self-loathing twonk.

Too much information, I suspect.

I managed to do my volunteering on Friday and go and see my partner in the website. I missed a couple of things, getting a prescription and taking my antabuse, but I'm quite relaxed about that.

I actually found myself (ridiculous phrase, never use it again) playing the guitar again; just for fun. JUST FOR FUN. JUST FOR FUN. These are big things in the Cardiff Drunk brain. I feel grateful for my good fortune in life without hating myself for being undeserving and just more relaxed and sorted all round.

So, stop taking so many happy pills, get happier.

We're on the road to Prozac.

If you spent it thank you for your time.

Much love,

The Cardiff Drunk.