Wednesday, December 31, 2008
But, seeing as it's that time of year and I've just gone three days sober, I might as well wibble on about what I'd like to happen in 2009.
Mrs Cardiff Drunk is safely sat down stairs watching a rom-com - I don't do rom-coms, I believe it to be an abbreviation of Romanian Communism and about as appealing.
Well, I hope to be in a better place with drink this year. I hope to get on with some, err, stuff - writing most of all. I aim to write this thang every day. Mmm. Oh yeah I intend to get on top of my whole flipping awful mess of a life, stop living in fear and anxiety and pain and start to have some joy again... Oh, and I'd like to win Miss America, or just for fecking once get onto the podium, come on guys be fair here.
And, I intend to listen to this song as often as possible, you should too, it's nice - and never, ever, again listen to the Katie Meluah version - oh no, not indeed no not.
Gawd bless the dagging lot of us!
I'm not and that's a worthy cause for celebration, so have one on me. I Made it through work again and into the danger period of not being in somewhere where drink is absolutely forbidden, but, I'm not imbibing today.
My rule, after going a week without, and thinking I was a big and clever Cardiff Drunk, was not to allow drink to affect my work. It was deliberately lax cos I have a history of breaking such rules, but I've been breaking this one too. Arse!
If I'd stuck to my strict rule I'd be 'allowed' to drink on Thursday night and Saturday night, but I've done more than that. Anyway. I'm not drinking today and may even be heading towards a period of more sustained sobriety - although I am following that one-day-at-a-time route at the moment.
So, tomorrow is another day... Another year even...
Mrs Cardiff Drunk has been helping me get back on top of Mr Eczema; mercifully she quite enjoys smearing me in unguents. But, she is annoyed that it has to be done and that it is almost certainly the result of the TABLETS I TAKE TO MAKE ME FEEL HAPPY.
I see the point, of course. The skin revolt is starting to get me down and for me getting down is not a good thing at all, oh no, it often calls for medication of the liquid time.
And, my dose is about to increase to 200mg-a-day. I love the sleep though, and, if I'm honest there's an attraction in the feeling of doped-out sleepiness Trazodone brings on. However, I think, if once I've upped the dose things start to get worse on the epidermis front I'm going to have to ditch them.
Hey ho. I, like all good sad people, have looked up Trazodone on the web in search of exciting side affects. My all time favourite side effect came with some sleeping tablets I was prescribed: "You may begin to believe things which are not true."
Trazadone however is relatively benign I think and unusually for an antidepressant can be ceased without withdrawal symptoms.
I dear reader am now a Campral user. Six of the little beauties are due down my gaping beer funnel each day and I've just taken the first two.
So it's on with the Campral and maybe off with the Trazodone. Brilliantly, I see from a quick weblook that Campral includes anxiety and insomnia among its possible side effects.
I don't know. I'd really like to be off all of this stuff but it's almost a habit now - I've been taking antidepressants and other head meds for over 10 years now.
In my heart of hearts I know that exercise, good food, some diverting interests and a lotery win would be a lot more effective than all the medication in the Medditerranean.
Happy new year to you none the less, here's to a good 2009 for us all, more peace, less war, more kindness less hate, more love... all the usual sort of stuff.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
However, that's a diversion for another day. Today I said no to Diazepam, which really surprised me.
I went to see the doctor today, and was delighted to see the same GP as my last appointment. That's the first time that's happened at this practice and it felt nice to have a bit of continuity - I might even go as far as asking to see him again next time.
He was very good about everything. Asking how I was going, how work was suiting me, what my drinking was like and so on. He advised I try AA and used the dread word alcoholic about me.
I'm still denying this, but the denial is weakening - knowing that even while I am successfully making it through a few days without the booze as soon as I do surrender to the bender (thanks for that Pop Will Eat Itself) it really is a surrender and it really is a bender.
So, the prescriptions have come thick and fast again. The dose of Trazodone has gone up and I'm on Acamprosate, or Campral again, or at least I will be once I get to the chemists. I've had all my skin treatments renewed, in the nick of time as it happens, the tubes and tubs were bare and sad to relate but a visible skin condition is not the best medicine for happiness, oh no. Thiamine and multivitamins too have been replenished - I'd stopped taking them over Christmas but I must start rattling again.
Campral is supposed to reduce cravings for alcohol and also to repair brain damage caused by long-term alcohol abuse, which is a good trick if you can manage it I guess. I've taken it before and... Well, I can't honestly say what effect it had; I relapsed in the end after all, but I shall imagine it is doing some good and in the imagining there shall be some good. Or so it is hoped.
I feel very much better today. I charged onto Brighteye yesterday, posting in the SOS forum and got the usual good advice. (Who wants to hear good advice though).
Really, the gist is, come on you've got a problem and you continue to kid yourself about it. You really need a good long period of sobriety before you even think about drinking again.
Mrs Cardiff Drunk is home which is great news for me. I really am a child. If there is no-one telling what to do and what not to do then I do, well, very little apart from, wake...drink...sleep...wake...drink...sleep.
That's something that needs addressing. There's a gap to be filled which hopefully will become easier with time. All those good ideas, that correspondence course, those books I want to read, that music I'd love to write. Well... well, I've said it all before haven't I, but, got to keep trying.
Gosh, that's a long old post and there's things not to be done. Prevarication doesn't just prevaricate itself you know!
If you spent it, thank you for your time.
Monday, December 29, 2008
The crashes as I describe them though are entirely self-inflicted.
Going home is tough. I have a strange relationship with my parents which alternates between completely dependent love, horrible guilt at what I've put them through and what they've done for me only to see me piss it all away, and anger at the way they made me.
When I first went into counselling for depression and alcohol problems my mother thought I was getting 'tips about how not to drink', in fact I was moaning about my her - the over-protectiveness, the failure to launch (to borrow the title of a terrible rom-com), the failure to equip me for any independent life.
Going home then is always uncomfortable for me.
But, I enjoyed myself and their company and that of my brother and his girlfriend and remained quite happily sober. I can stay sober for other people but never for myself.
I lied too in order to manufacture an opportunity to drink. I told them I was due to work on Saturday; in fact I wasn't, although that was only confirmed on Christmas Eve. So off I ran on Boxing Day and I ended up where I always end up - in the pub, all day. My mother and father don't know I've been drinking again, they still think I'm a successfully treated teetotaller - more lies, more deception.
The same on Saturday. Back straight into the old routine. Waking late, dressing and heading straight for the first drink of the day. I stopped eating properly too - burgers and left overs not properly cooked. Just waking up wishing I hadn't and wanting to kill the day and get back to sleep as quickly as possible.
I thought suicidal thoughts for the first time for a while. What an idiot I am. I also felt terrible inadequacy about my ability to do my new job and just wanted to throw it all in.
I am coming closer and closer to the realisation that I am an alcoholic, I just can't do sensible drinking, can't do moderation, as soon as I have any freedom I go mad.
I think I know this, but I dread sobriety so much. It's slightly positive that I got no joy from my drinking binge; I didn't enjoy it it just relieved the awful boredom for a few hours and gave me some semblance of confidence, but there was little laughter, no high spirits, just awful necessity.
I've stopped today and as I have to work this evening should remain stopped, but I'll feel awful, I'll suffer withdrawal symptoms and I'll feel the same tomorrow and Wednesday, which is New Year's Eve, God help me.
Mrs Cardiff Drunk returns this evening which will be a great help.
I think I have to try and go for this. I think I have to stop and stay stopped for a good long time.
I'm due at the doctor's tomorrow and if he's received the letter from the Community Addiction Unit then I should be given Campral and have the Trazodone dose increased. I might ask if I can try to go on Diazepam again, to detox myself again - but I can't imagine that will go down well. I think the most important thing is to try and be honest.
I hope you all had fine festivities.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Mrs Cardiff Drunk and I exchanged our gifts this morning, and I am now the proud owner of a very nice new pair of trainers and a Johhny Cash collection. Super.
We're apart this Christmas for the first time for, oh, well, quite a long time. She needs to see her parents and sister this year and I'm working on Christmas Eve and the day after Boxing Day. And, forty years ago this very year my older brother had the temerity to be born on the day after Christmas Day - poor timing brother. (I feel even sorrier for two of my school mates and their present supplying family - twins born on Christmas Day!)
Shall I do the Scrooge thang?
No, I can't find it in myself today. Well, OK, a little bit. We finished our Christmas shopping yesterday morning and I do find the shopping scrum a bit dispiriting, but, beyond that I'll leave it.
Shall I say what problem drinkers, alcoholics and recovering alcoholics say about Christmas? No, you know it already don't you? But, maybe you don't. I'm sure you do though, so I shan't.
Well, it's quite a hard time of year if you're dealing with a drink problem. (Bugger, I went and did it anyway - I couldn't stop myself, "My name is Cardiff Drunk and I'm a stating-the-bleeding-obvious-aholic.")
It is though you know. For very obvious reasons.
"It's the one day of the year when it's seen as perfectly respectable to start the day with an alcoholic drink," as my recently-ex counsellor said.
That was when I was on the waiting list for a detox and the local charity had told me they wouldn't do one in the immediate run up to the Christmas period.
But where am I in my odyssey?
Well, the last time I drank was on Sunday - a two day bender that really got out of hand. I got back on track by not drinking yesterday, that was good.
I'm due to go to my parents either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Mmm. There is danger ahead I think.
The job is helping fantastically, it's given me a routine outside get up - go to pub - fall down - get up - go to pub - fall down.
I feel a little stronger as well. After the weekend I can safely say that I am physically craving alcohol, but, I just know that I am not going to give in it today, or indeed (probably) tomorrow.
My parents, I think, still believe me to be teetotal. It's too much trouble to disabuse them of this notion of my abuse (Much of my counselling has been around a slightly difficult relationship with my parents - nothing major really and not helped by my own oversensitivity.) So, if I go down on Christmas Eve I should be safely locked up at home. But after my last crash and burn I'm still a little jumpy about going home - it's a small town and I don't really want to see anyone there beyond my immediate family.
If I stay in Cardiff though, I'll finish work at noon, take Mrs Cardiff Drunk to the station for her train to the far and frozen north lands and then...
Well then, I'll be free on what (and, I'm sure Jesus would be thrilled) is usually called one of the biggest drinking nights of the year. My last trip to the O was somewhat more successful than usual; I had a damn good chat to someone, it's an excuse, but that's part of the reason I was in there so long and drank so throatily, and I'll no doubt be tempted to head there.
If I go home to my parents I'll have to wave my brother off to the pub. But, we shall see, we shall see. The main thing I hope is that I don't wake up on Christmas day feeling rubbish and hungover.
Anyway. I hope your festivities go well, if you fest them at all.
That's where the danger lurks. It'll be Christmas Eve
Monday, December 22, 2008
But I lost it a bit over the weekend.
I won't go into the usual long account of my doings and imbibings and the concomitant loathing that do follow them. Oh no. Suffice to say, I went a bit mad - probably nine or ten on each of Saturday or Sunday. Weaker than I would normally have drunk immediately before I detoxed myself.
Still. I haven't drunk today. Made it to and through work with out any problems. Gosh, oh lordy I want a drink now, but I know I won't, not today, not tomorrow and not till who knows when.
We shall see.
I've just watched The Assassination of Jesse James by The Coward Robert Ford with Mrs Cardiff Drunk. For me to make it through a film sober is quite an achievement but it was a rivetingly sombre movie and all the better for it.
My favourite version of the famous song is by the Pogues: "And history will record it was Bob and Charlie Ford who laid Jesse James in his grave."
Brad Pitt in not bad acting shock too.
Hey ho. Hope yer all fine and dandy.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
When I don't post for a day, it usally means I've had a bad one - misery, indolence, that sort of stuff. When it goes a couple of days, it's likely that drink is getting out of hand again.
That's been the case this week I'm sorry to say and I'm rather too depressed to post at the moment, beyond this, I'll try again later.
Gawd bless us all.
The Cardiff Drunk.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
He's very nice, kind and patient; willing to listen and non-judgmental, which I guess goes with the territory. I assume doctors chose their specialisms and I do wonder why anyone would chose to work with addicts - I'm very grateful that they do and always end up wondering if they've experienced the problems themselves, maybe through relatives.
I stopped into the library on the way to the CAU and got out a book on meditation. I started to read it while I waited and felt calmer straight away - I know I've got to try and do something to find a way to get back in control of my mind and maaaaaaybeeeeee this might be something I'll actually follow through on.
So, in I go and report my progress. My self-administered detox, my new job, my seven days off and two days on the booze.
"Why did you drink again? " He asked, and I must admit I was momentarily stumped.
Really, I should just have said, "Because that's what I do, that's what I've always done, and I can't imagine doing anything else."
I can't quite remember what I did say now, although I know I mentioned habit and that I was in a social situation. We talked around my history of social drinking - I have, occasionally in the past, drunk like an ordinary person, although it hasn't been for very long.
I also told him that I was really scared of sobriety, I'm really not coming to terms with that idea very well at all. I said I didn't want to go onto antabuse (a drug which deters you from drinking by making you as sick as several dogs if you do drink) because I was frightened of it, really, I think I should have said, "Because you can't drink on it, d'uh!"
I think he read that to be honest. And, gently suggested that abstinence may well end up as the best option for me. He also agreed to write to my doctor to ask him to think about further increasing my Trazodone dose and also to prescribe me Acamprosate - a drug said to reduce cravings for alcohol and repair brain damage. I've taken it before and I did find that while I was on it, but still relapsed, the relapse was less serious than when I came off it completely. I'm also to ask for a referral to a skin specialist to check out what I've been believing to be a side effect of the Trazodone but which he says should be investigated further.
A referral to group therapy sessions which would normally follow a detox should be on the way too and I also get to go back to the CAU to report on my progress.
I was told I could go get a fast track for detox if I felt I needed it too - I'd said that at the moment I don't think I do and I didn't want to take a place on a list that someone else could be using.
I was relieved actually that I didn't simply get turfed out of treatment as I thought I might have been.
If you read or have read the last post you'll know I subsequently had a slip up, but, all in all the appointment itself went well, perhaps the relief was part of the reason for drinking. Excuses, excuses, excuses.
I hope you're well.
The Cardiff Drunk.
That, dear reader, we shall call a bad thing.
However, I don't feel as bad about it now as I did when I came in from the pub last night. There were three definite triggers to this - one was my appointment at the Community Addictions Unit, (which gets a post all of its own) the other was going out for a meal with Mrs Cardiff drunk and the last one was being given an evening off work.
I'd like to say there was no element of physical necessity in it, but I'm not so sure I can. I certainly craved yesterday. Having a drink yesterday means I'm that much more likely to have one today, but I am resolved not to, and, should it come to that I've still got four Diazepam tablets left and can always take my Trazodone early and knock myself into the Land of Nod.
The appointment seems a stupid trigger doesn't it? Going to an appointment about getting over an alcohol problem makes you drink does it? Well, yes, kind of. It's just habit you know. When I was in my eight pints a day cycle I would lie in bed till all hours, but managed to reduce my intake little by staying out of the pub till at least 4.30pm. Counselling appointments meant I got up earlier, which meant I would find myself coming out of quite a stressful experience (and emerging from hangover too) at around 10am and walking past the C - I didn't always go in, but sometimes I did.
The same happened with my first appointment at the Community Addictions Unit.
I'd had a not bad day. A little lazy as ever - not writing this, not writing my article to pitch - but managing to clean the house up and do some washing. Mrs Cardiff Drunk came home and I realised there was bugger all food in the house.
"Can we go out?" She asked, offering to pay and suggesting the local Thai restaurant.
I ummed and aahed a bit and said I was worried about going out because I might be tempted to drink and I didn't really want to, in fact, I didn't think I should.
But, in the end, off we went. We had a very nice meal indeed. I drank water and Mrs Cardiff Drunk drank a small glass of red wine.
And, I just started to twitch and crave terribly. I'm incredibly self-conscious, shy and nervous (one of the reasons I drink is to enable me to deal with other people more easily) so being out and sober is new to me - I've never done it. And, staring at that glass of wine didn't help.
On the way home I just announced, I'm going to go to the pub with my book and have a bit of a read. The idea just lodged itself and (I know this sounds weak and stupid and may be simply incomprehensible to those who haven't been there) was not going to leave.
I got home and managed to get my coat and shoes off and start to do something useful. But, the siren song was there and in the end off I toddled while Mrs Cardiff Drunk had a bath.
I went to The O. I really had just intended to go in, sit quietly and read and have a couple of pints, and stick to the weak bitter I've been on lately.
But the pub was packed-ish. It was music night.
He's a local lad I think, who plays the guitar and sings covers and has a really charming presence - and very good he is too. But, the best thing about him is his evident kindness. He hosts it as a sort of open mic, and was joined by a girl who he is evidently teaching to play the bass. She's in the very early stages of learning by the sound of things but his patience with her - leaning over to tell her the chord while he was playing - was quite something to see.
Once they'd run through their little set, he invited guest singers up and played while a lad I know from the C did a karaoke take on three numbers before he let 'Beatle John' join in and take over the guitar.
The first pint went down slow. But, it didn't taste quite right so I went over to a stronger ale. Bad, bad, bad. Two became three and three became four.
The thing is, I just felt at home there. Everyone was getting nicely wasted, people smiled, people talked.
I think I would have done better if some bloke hadn't sat at my table - making me a little jumpy. But these are excuses.
The reason I don't feel so terrible now is that I haven't slipped straight back into misery. This morning, Mrs Cardiff Drunk brought me a cup of coffee in bed - the old me would have stayed there, self-loathing and brooding and preparing to slip further, hating and wishing I hadn't woken and trying to get back to sleep.
But today was better. I jumped up and out, drank the coffee, drank water, had a shower, made breakfast and put the washing on before getting on here.
I've done better here too. I've stayed away from Comment is Free - that site really is addictive and does me no good at all, I read the news today, oh shite - and got straight on with this after doing a bit of a job search.
So, a slip, but I'm going to HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT. And that's what I'm going to try and do - I'll let you know how it goes.
The Cardiff Drunk.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Oi, you went through all that detox mess just to drink after a week?Honey! give it a month, two months. shit, give it six months and see how you feel.When I quit drinking (for total abstinence) I was in a dark place and needed 100% sobriety to deal with life, feelings, counseling, learning, stress, health, exercise. I needed that time to process my emotions and really get good with my head and heart.I'm not saying you are an alcoholic, only you can decide that. BUT I'm saying if you ever think you can drink again without bad effect on your emotion and life....you need a DOSE of sobriety that lasts a bit longer than a week or two. You need to deal with you, and that stuff in your head that you are self-medicating.
WELCOME TO DRUNK IN CARDIFF.
Any blogger knows how extraordinarily gratifying it is to know someone is reading yer ramblings and I'm no exception, I've got nine followers now and I love each and every little one of you to the bottom of your no-doubt spotlessly clean cotton socks.
I do try and respond to comments when you leave them, apologies if I don't. I'm very keen to link to other blogs about alcohol, depression and life in Wales as well, so if you have one, drop me an email or a comment. I'll try and follow the example too of one of my new pals - anybeth, who writes Swimming in Clear Water, and stick a post up about 'em, but then as you'll soon learn what I say, with all good intentions - like that Frodo fellah in Lord of the Rings, he really couldn't help putting the ring on could he? And digressively enough, it was interesting to hear in an interview with Andy Circus, who played Gollum/Smeagol that his research into the role largely involved talking to heroin addicts - isn't always what I do.
That's good. No cravings either. Which feels fine.
Now, the idea is to start to take some more positive steps - and actually follow through with the fecking little steps into bigger steps. That's always been a bit of a problem for me - I tend to be a quitter. I start things, realise I'm not going to be the world's greatest at them and return to bed. I've done this with all sorts of interests and hobbies which could now be providing a bit of positivity in my life.
Yoga, for example, I decided in order to do it I had to do it every day as soon as I got up, and I decided if I did it in the morning I had to do it really early - in some velvet dawn or some such. So, I started up that way. But the first time I missed a day because I fancied a lie-in or whatever, that was it. "At yoga, I am a loser and a failure," I cried. "That is not for me, oh no, I must abandon this now before more disappointment rain down upon me, like poor home results rain down upon the famous Leeds United." (If being a Leeds United fan isn't a good reason to be depressed then I dunno what is - I'll ask the doctor.
Work training was fine. I'm getting used to the routine, although starting at 5pm means everyone's a bit jaded by then. We all seem to be getting on OK. There's a few students looking for money to help them through their courses, and a couple of people taking on second jobs - one poor bloke is working as a builder as well starting as early as 5am some days; he must be exhausted by the end of a session.
The old fear of failure is still around me like a miasma. Can I do this? It all seems very complicated, very technical at the moment, but, I'm keeping my head down and taking it very seriously and listening and taking notes, so I'll just have to trust to that.
Really, there's not a whole lot to report from yesterday. I still need to get more discipline into my life, but I'm getting there bit by bit - my housework's less last minute before I go out or my girlfriend gets home - certainly than it was when I was drinking every day.
I check a couple of websites for writing jobs every day and I do email off for them if I reckon I've got the modicum of the ghost of a sliver of an outside chance. I've been accepted by a few blogging sites, but it's all for no pay and I do the yoga thang - see above - and don't bother. Stoopid, I know, but then I know I'm stoopid.
The routine of the pub has been displaced, but in its place now sits the routine of the screen. I'm writing this now as the first task of the day, after which I have to try and do something more productive - which today means writing another couple of posts on here, a quick look at the Guardian website - but it must be a quick look! - and a pop in to the Brighteye forums.
One of the reasons I look at The Guardian is to attempt to promote this blog - I leave a link at the end of whatever comments I can be arsed to spew out. I got a couple of nice comments as a result - and one, long and very extraordinary email - by far the best missive I've ever received. I wonder if he's still reading, I emailed him back - if you are hello Mr Moss Side, I hope you're well.
Erm, where was I, yes, there I was. Which is here. Then I must write that article and send it off to the Guardian - I don't have any great hopes of getting it published, although it's not a bad idea and I've had stuff accepted there before, but just following something through to completion will be a good thing. All I have on my to-do list from Mrs Cardiff Drunk is a bit of food shopping and laundry - a stoned orang utan could do it, but that don't mean that I will.
We shall see, and no doubt I'll let you know in inordinate detail.
Take it steady our kids.
Monday, December 15, 2008
It's getting to be a pain in the neck - well, in the arms, hands and legs, and yes, the arse mostly - to be honest. I had to stop taking Mirtazapine because the skin inflammation was so severe but so far I've stuck with Trazodone - it guarantees me a good night's sleep at the very least.
But, as anyone who's suffered from serious skin problems will tell you, it gets you down. Which is not a good thing for an antidepressant to do.
I'm not allowed to wash with soap, I have to use my moisturising cream which is called double base, then, I have to apply a strong steroid to the actually inflamed parts of my skin. I have to use the double base to moisturise but at a different time of day because it's a barrier cream so would interfere with the action of the steroid.
All fine and dandy. But the inflammation is spreading and I'm struggling to keep on top of it. I take a bath most days, which I shouldn't, I know it's worse for the skin and I think it's just a matter of comfort and habit. We've got a problem with our shower too, it's sending water through the bathroom into the kitchen. But, to properly treat myself after each wash is starting to take up to half-an-hour. I'm supposed to do the same at the end of the day, but I never remember to and once the Trazodone kicks in I'm in no fit state to.
I shall have to work at that. And Mrs Cardiff Drunk takes a positive delight in rubbing cream into me.
But it's making me self-conscious. The worst area is on my hands, which are a bright crimson red all the time and, if I forget to, or don't apply the steroid possibly I have an ugly looking rash to go with it.
Don't get me wrong. I'm still getting better. Tonight, I really will have a proper moisturising session, and tomorrow I'll get up early and have a shower rather than a bath. At what point though do I decide that the pain caused by the Trazodone isn't worth the pleasure of proper sleep and a levelling out of my mood - I'm not exactly singing and dancing all day long but I've stopped going into real deep downs now I'm on the higher dose and I'd say I didn't have any suicidal thoughts last week.
We'll see I guess.
I haven't had a very good history with antidepressant side effects. Prozac was the first one - it made me permanently nauseous. Then there was Dothiapin, that gave me a heart murmur.
Effexor I stayed on for years. One of the joys for me was that I could use it to feed my appetite for an altered consciousness. The withdrawal symptoms are legendary and generally described as being like electric shocks to the brain - which, loon that I am, I loved. That electric shock description isn't accurate entirely but it's the closest I can get to an absolutely extraordinary sensation.
Now, I mentioned on another blog (which I abandoned because it was associated with my name and I wanted to blog about this anonymously) that I was taking Effexor and another problem drinker told me it had a history of causing increased alcohol consumption.
I've just looked this up, and here are a couple of posts from a forum on antidepressants:
I have been on 75 mgs of Effexor for 4 months. I have always been a social drinker, but never have I had such strong compulsions to drink than my time on this drug. I was very worried that I was turning into an alcoholic until a friend in the medical field told me there was a strong link between Effexor and alcoholism. I went to my doctor immediately, and he told me to quit the Effexor altoghether, and he put me on Prozac for two weeks to ease the withdrawal symptoms. I would just like to hear from anyone who has had a similar experience and if it will go away once I am off all the chemicals.
In fact, I've seen enough anecdotal evidence of this to be convinced. This means, of course I have another excuse for my boozery - the drugs made me do it your honour. Well, maybe not, but it is interesting that I took Effexor for much of my drinking life and I know if I'm offered it again, I'm a gonna be a saying, no thank you very much.
It went OK I guess. I went out a 4pm to watch the Chelsea v West Ham game at The C. Brain's pubs do Match day Ticket deals which give you a discount on four pints of one of their beers. Seeing this as a useful limiter that's what I went for, and, from being a confirmed Stella and Cider quaffer, I down-sized to Brain's Bitter. I even checked the strength - 3.7% I think.
I did fine in the pub. In fact, I probably shouldn't have bought the ticket, because that made me have four pints when the slow pace at which I was drinking I would have been fine on three I think.
The problem came on the way home. I popped into the shop and bought my tobacco, but added two cans of Guinness too. Mmm. Not so smart. I'm still going to be a one's too many ten's not enough sort of drinker whatever measure of control I reach I think.
Once I got home though I only drank one-and-a-half cans of the black stuff, actually chucking away half a can. My girlfriend drank the remaining bottle of Dragon Stout, for which I was grateful - the fact I'd left something was good too.
Now, I'm back on the wagon again. And, I feel fine to a degree. I certainly don't want a drink, I'm not craving, but the day is yet young. I've got work at 5pm to look forward to.
So, Brian, a weekend of two halves (11 halves actually I suppose). Still, no disasters and it's early doors yet.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Yesterday went pretty well in fact. Training at work was rather good fun. Lots of little games and stuff, quite silly and enjoyable. It was the first day I had a 9am start and I made it on time which greatly pleased me - despite getting nearly half way to the call centre before realising I'd left my badge at home and having to race back to get it. Bit of exercise you see, that's good for depression - or rather that's good for alleviating depression.
Since stopping drinking last Friday, my energy levels have shot through the roof and I've just been much better in every way.
But, I know I'm not ready to completely abstain, and, I hope I don't need to. Now, this may be stupid, this may be fooling myself, this may be denial. But, I know I need to try and find a place with drink where I can enjoy it socially and responsibly. Quite simply it's been such a part of my life that I can't imagine life without it.
I'm fairly relaxed too about the fact that when I do drink I am likely to drink too much. What I am desperate to avoid is the awful and joyless necessity to grind my way through eight pints a day. There's quite a debate about this at the Brighteye forums I use.
There's a thread for people who want to cut down and drink socially, which is regularly invaded by a couple of posters who, with a missionary zeal, insist all these people are fooling themselves; that anyone who has had a problem with alcohol should label themselves an alcoholic and practice abstinence.
There's another thread there called Fear Of Sobriety, which I really recognise. A lot of people post on there describing the sort of problems I've had with racing thoughts and finding alcohol the best way to calm a skittering brain - lawks, do I recognise that.
I already feel in a better place. I have a job, which I am absolutely not going to do anything to jeopardise. I'm happier and busier than I've been for a long time - housework mainly, but also going out every day for some sort of walk. I've got my voluntary work to start up next week - after Thursday's false start. I'm going to email them after this with a couple of ideas for their newsletter.
Let's see yesterday's drink diary then.
I intended to go out just to watch the football and have maybe four pints in so doing. (You may be saying denial already, particularly after you've read what actually happened).
It was Mrs Cardiff Drunk's works Christmas do. She doesn't enjoy these occasions at all and worked herself into quite a palaver at the thought of it, so she asked me to come along.
So, off to the C I went at about six and had three pints of weak bitter (that's part of the plan you see - I always used to drink the strongest stuff I could, without slipping over into those drinks I consider beyond the pale, like Special Brew, white cider and the like - I've had quite enough of those in the past).
Then Mrs CD came along and into town we went where I drank two pints of 5% lager, a black Russian and once home, a bottle of Dragon Stout - which was very small, but a naughty 7%.
Doesn't sound too great does it? But, I'm cool with it, it was a one off, a special occasion and all that and there was no way I was going to cope with the 22 work colleagues of Mrs CD, very few of whom I know.
The Dragon Stout I bought for nostalgic reasons. I saw it in a Kurdish shop as we walked home - I had a nice, tiddly chat with the man behind the counter, telling him nos da was Welsh for good night and him telling me the Kurdish equivalent, which I've now forgotten apart from it ends with Osh. We had a natter about the PKK and Kurdish nationalism - something I was taught about by a minicab driver in London, drinking heavily and breaking your inhibitions down can be a real help with learning my friends.
I went to university in Birmingham - many, many moons ago now - and lived in an appallingly drunk and drugged up household in Balsall Heath. The area may well have changed by now, but, when me and my legless compadres lived there it was notorious as a red light district and drug dealing area - there was even a road, Cheddar Road it was called, which had Amsterdam-style sex workers sitting, scantily clad in the windows of the nondescript terraced houses there. It was the least discreet type of prostitution you can imagine and as the road was a dead end you could assume that every car that went down there was doing so for one purpose alone.
There was plenty of on-street dealing. We only ever bought cannabis on the street but I'll assume that there was plenty of other stuff on offer. In fact, one memorable night, a housemate and I were out on the streets after coming back from a club, desperate to find something to smoke, and, I (speeding and drunk to hell) ended up going into a crack house to see if anyone had any marijuana on offer - I never want to do that again, it scared the bejeeber-creepers out of me.
In the end, a street walking prostitute took pity on us - it must have been about 3.30am - and called her pimp for us. He drove us to his place and sold us a big bag of home grown weed, then very kindly dropped us back at ours. Now that's what I call customer service.
Anyway. Most of the dealers were West Indian in origin and had pretty much taken over the local pub called the Cannon Hill - we were much too scared to go in there. Racism and discrimination of any sort profoundly depresses and repulses me, but, this was an all black pub and we formed the impression (we were young and foolish and inexperienced and two of the four came from rural West Country towns with little or no ethnic mix) that white faces would not be welcomed there.
The dealers would all sit outside drinking bottles of Dragon Stout, which is a West Indian brew, and it was in the local shops that we got a taste for it.
We actually got well known enough among the local dealers that they have us nicknames - something we considered quite an achievement. "Hey Longhairs," they would assail us, offering their wares, which was simply descriptive of how we looked in those days of grunge and grebo, but, after a while, we graduated to become "The Lightning Posse." Perhaps I'm full of rubbish and they shouted that at everyone, but, foolishly or not, we were right proud of that.
This morning, after a bit of a binge, I did feel a little rough around the edges, but a proper breakfast, plenty of juice and detox tea with milk thistle, has done the trick and I don't feel as bad as I used to every single morning.
The plan today is to keep busy this morning and then pop out for the 4pm football. The test is to STOP after what will probably be four pints of weak bitter again. That's the test. And that's when I'll start to see how I'm doing. After that I'm working Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday so I don't want to drink at all for those three days.
I'll let you know how it goes. Maybe I'm being an idiot. We shall see.
All the best.
The Cardiff Drunk.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Friday, my seventh day without alcohol - by my experience of professionally administered detoxes this is well in the 'alcohol is all out of your system' territory. I can laugh at breathalyzers and breeze through blood tests.
Again, I was up. A shower, a cup of tea for Mrs Cardiff Drunk. A proper breakfast (does a bowl of muesli and an apple count as that?) and took all my supplements; whether they're actually doing me any good who knows, but taking them makes me feel better. Fine band Placebo - up to a point.
Then, out the door and into the horrid, horrid world of the main shopping drag. (After Thursday being my first Diazepam-free day, I'm sorry to say I popped two to set me on my way.)
And, I did fine. I started early enough that the crowds weren't too horrendous and managed to get of seasonal shopping done. I even phoned my mum and dad to tell them what I'd be up to in this season of seasonal.
Mind you, the whole thing did exhaust me. Physically more than mentally to be honest. In my latest - what is it - 10 months of abusive boozing, my daily exercise has consisted of little more than walking to the supermarket or the pub. By the time I'd schlepped round Cardiff's shops my legs were killing me.
I had a bit of a minor panic when I got back. I don't know why, that's just part of the problem I guess. But managed to keep going, managed to sort all my laundry out before sitting at the computer, which always signals a certain amount of purposeless time wasting.
Stupidly, I took my Trazodone even earlier than usual because I was due in work Saturday at 9am and was terrified that I'd be suffering from a pill hangover. Mrs Cardiff Drunk and I had intended to watch the Dylan Thomas film - the Edge of Love - but I never made it to the end.
Dylan Thomas probably has a fair claim to being the world's most famous Welshman. Who else is there? Maybe Richard Burton and probably in these days of ubiquitous globalised super premier league bobbins Ryan Giggs is certainly up there. The rugby stars will be known round the world too, but the number of countries that play football dwarfs the number or rugby union nations, so Ryan it is, Craig Bellamy too I suppose, and Aaron Ramsey at Arsenal and so on.
I couldn't keep up with the film too well. It was all well and good and enjoyable up to a point, but, felt slow moving. I can watch a film when I'm drunk and get right into it, when I'm sober (and I know I'm going to have to learn this discipline - thank you for the meditation tips anonymous commenter, I will certainly start to look at that, and maybe that will help my concentration) my mind races too much and I need to read, or write, or play the guitar as well.
Dylan Thomas had a funny relationship with Wales I think. He wanted to leave, but, he wanted to come back too, but you never lose your heraith. I even get it and I wasn't even born in Wales - so it may be psychosomatic heraith; is that allowed? I'll ask the next Bard I see - possibly on Bardsey.
I've got an uncle Dylan, and have always pronounced it as my Welsh-speaking mother and family have, which is Dullan. So, I've always said Dullan Thomas and told people who say Dillan that they're wrong. Well, apparently not, according to the film (and my mother's told me he may well have anglicised his name of his own accord). Strangely the only person in the film who pronounced it in what I've been blithely considering the 'correct' way was Sienna Miller's Irish Caitlin rather than his Welsh-speaking Swansea sweetheart Vera Phillips. And even Caitlin used Dullan only rarely, so may have been using it as a put down.
Mmmm. And, so what. If anyone knows the reason for the pronunciation I'd love to know. Incidentally, it's a fine way to annoy fans of Robert Zimmerman fans by insisting on calling him Bob Dullan - 'because that's the correct pronunciation'. I'm sure Sideshow Bob himself would find it most amusing.
Lordy me, what a long post.
Yeah. Friday was ok thank you. I hope your's was too.
Today though, it's Saturday. And Saturday may be the day of drink. It hasn't be yet, but it may well be. We shall see and report back tomorrow. Do not go gentle into that food shite - as I advise customers outside MacDonald's.
Actually, there were probably more negatives than positives. I'm getting into a routine, which is a positive. I wake up and I get up and make Mrs Cardiff Drunk a cup of tea.
I was due to start my volunteering with Journeys: Recovery from Depression at 11am, but had forgotten that we had the plumbers come around to look at our turbulent priest of a toilet. He arrived, a bit late, but nothing major, took a good long look and had to phone a colleague, who came round, and took another good long look - conference, conflab and the suchlike. Big decision - we can't fix it, it's been put in by cowboys and you need a new one - but here's a little routine with a screwdriver to stop water pouring through all the time. Can we have £90 please.
By then, it was too late to get to Journeys, so I phoned in plumbed. Disappointing, but there you go. I'm going to email them a couple of ideas for their newsletter today.
That's what I say anyway. I've identified a continuing problem I have; you might want to call it a symptom of depression, you might want to call it stupidity, you might want to call it laziness. I know which I prefer and it's closer to doors two and three, but I'm learning, starting again, picture me as a toddler or a teenager, man, I've got a lot of growing up to do.
Mrs Cardiff Drunk is a great one for to-do-lists. She says they help her keep organised and give her a sense of achievement when she crosses off jobs. I love 'em too. That is I love making 'em. And, I seem to have the idea that once I've thought of something, and then, even more concretely written it down, then it's in the bag and done. Can you spot the vital missing part of the process? Do email if you can.
It's kind of like a problem that the Left seems to have. Once something has been noted and satirised they seem to believe it's gone. The best example in my view is Oliver Stone's Wall Street. You'd often hear commentators referring to the old 'Greed is good' culture of Wall Street and the City of London, as if, in making a movie about the attitude it had been sought out, nailed and filed away in the THINGS WE DON'T DO ANY MORE file.
Recent events would suggest that a satire really isn't quite enough.
Still, I managed to do a little shopping and I managed to do a bit of writing. My Trazadone is really knocking me out at the moment, so I really want to try and change my routine a bit. Once I've taken it the evening's pretty much gone - I can't even read. And, I want to read. It says in all these how to write books (and it's pretty much received wisdom) that it's good for would be writers to read a lot.
Perhaps I'll put that on a list. Along with not wasting so much time on Comment is Free.
And that, my li'l childer, was Thursday. I called it Thirstday because I was still getting the cravings, and that's how we used to refer to the week at one of my old jobs: Mournday, Twosday, Woesday, Thirstday, Freeday. Weren't we just adorable?
Cheers, hope yer well and happy and healthy and wealthy and wise and all that jazz.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Anyway. I'm going to try and make a better first of this from now on.
Before I got my job on the newspaper I signed up for a correspondence course in writing - they're called the Writers' Bureau and they advertise quite heavily. I only completed two assignments, but got excellent feedback - more fuel for the I'm a genius I don't have to try to do anything fire that destroys so many of my dreams.
Well, on Tuesday I emailed them and was thrilled to learn that I can simply start up where I left off. I've still got all the course materials so that's another little project to try and keep me busy and it should also be something I enjoy doing.
The, this thing comes easily, sounds terribly egotistical I know. But, it is to an extent true. I'm a terrible talker, and writing is my natural form of communication. I wrote incredibly quickly and easily when I was reporter, but, it must be remembered that everything I wrote was sub-edited and proof read before cast before the lucky old newspaper buyer. Left to my own devices, I just do the first bit and don't bother with the rest. I've sent off articles which are probably absolutely awful, first draft material in need of a hell of a lot of tweaking and very obviously not worthy of publication.
The same is true of this blog - although, I think spontaneity is accepted in this sort of writing - I never read through what I've written, I just spell check it and press publish.
So, that's another thing to try and learn a bit of discipline. I'm going to try and take a bit more care about these posts - please bear in mind that I don't so much build castles in the air as whole civilisations where men live in brotherhood and peace, so we'll see how that goes. I've got an idiot's guide to HTML, and I would like to do more in terms of links and the like.
A real inspiration has come from finding so many other mental health bloggers out there. I was getting a bit disillusioned by the blogosphere having spent far too long gazing, gob open, at right wing and libertarian hate sheets.
The first inspiration was The Secret Diary of A Manic Depressive: it's on my blogroll. The writer is a natural communicator, I'd go further and say an absolutely excellent writer - honest, beautiful prose, thoughtful, moving - and, if she doesn't get a book offer from her blog, well, then publishers are fricking idiots. It is, by the way, quite possible, that publishers are fricking idiots - most other professions are, so I don't see why publishers shouldn't be.
Do have a read of it.
I heard about her blog on Radio4, and through her I've discovered a whole network of bloggers writing about their mental health problems: sometimes they're inspiring, sometimes less so. But, I'm trying to join these networks and any other way I can use to promote this blog (I did warn you I was a hideous egoist - a self hating one, but one nonetheless - I looked up 'the addictive personality' on the internet once, only to find there isn't one (apparently) and what people like me have is a narcissistic personality - makes sense I suppose.)
So, I'm going to try and jazz up my blog a bit, I'm going to try and get back onto my course, and then I'm going to try and start submitting proper freelance stuff and then I'm going to write a novel, radio play or screen play. And then I'll wake up.
We'll see. It's a fine intention and the road to hell is this way.
All the best.
The Cardiff Drunk. I think the plumber's arrived. What joy!
There is to be an all party Parliamentary inquiry into alcohol treatment, so, I thought I'd chuck my views at someone. I'm not at all sure I've gone about it the right way, but, this is what I wrote:
I am, I am ashamed to admit, a complete illiterate in the workings of our democracy (despite working as a local newspaper reporter for many years - I think that says more about our media than our Parliament though - "People aren't interested in politics," our editor used to tell us), so I apologise if I am making this approach in the wrong way.
I am also somewhat ill-informed as to what extent the NHS and alcohol services are devolved to the Welsh Assembly Government, so I shall copy this email to my AM too.
I have been a user of services for alcohol abusers in London (Haringey, everyone's favourite London borough), Gloucestershire and Cardiff and I would like to say that in all these locations: there are not enough, they are understaffed and underfunded.
The waiting list to get even an initial assessment appointment through Cardiff Alcohol and Drugs Team is at least a month, to get on the list for a detox is even further in the distance - in the end, I have detoxed myself after my GP prescribed me Diazepam. Counselling is bi-weekly at best. The Fitzhamon centre is an excellent facility and worthy of more support.
It slightly saddens me to say that the most helpful support by far I have found is through a privately run website called Brighteye.co.uk, which is an online community of people with alcohol problems - if I could lobby for them to have some public funding or support I absolutely would. (Of course, this is fine for me, safe and secure and in a home with a nice shiny computer to indulge my verbosity on, and many people with alcohol problems will be in far worse situations than I).
I contacted a charity called Progress to Work - I have been unemployed for two years - who were, very apologetically, unable to offer me any help unless I admitted to a drug problem (I have used cannabis, but to say it was a major problem would have been essentially dishonest) and unless I was claiming benefit (my life over the past couple of years has been so chaotic that I am essentially outside the tax and benefit system; I am trying to remedy this now.)
When I was coming to the end of my most recent bout of drinking I saw pubs in your constituency packed with half-way house drug users and people in "supported" housing because of mental health problems - they have nowhere else to go and this is a tragedy.
I quite understand that drug users, particularly heroin users, need help too but the disparity in spending between drug and alcohol users is, in my view, disproportionate.
The last time I was in a public house, there was no publicity about seeking help for problems apart from a poster inviting people to take part in a BBC3 documentary on lives of excess - brilliant.
I absolutely acknowledge that laws - including the blunt instrument of increased pricing, taxation and the like - should not be made to cater to people like me, who are probably always going to have a problem with alcohol even if it were sold from fast-moving unmarked vans and only in return for diamonds and pearls. Those who can and so use alcohol responsibly shouldn't be penalised on our account.
I see alcohol related problems every day where I live - under aged drunks, of age drunks, homeless drunks - and almost none of these problems are related to public houses. I see under aged sales made in corner stores and minimarkets every day and have been approached by teenagers (not entirely without menace - I was able to say no, I don't know how a woman on her own would feel when approached in this way) to buy booze for them.
Young people are learning their drinking behaviour on the streets, not in licensed premises where there may at least be some social pressure to behave responsibly.
I do apologise if I am sending all this to the wrong person, and would be grateful if you could direct me to a more appropriate avenue if such exists. I also realise I've wandered all over the subject rather than concentrating simply on alcohol treatment services, and, again, I apologise for this.
I shall let you know if I get any response or if I can find out the correct way to contribute - I know Alcohol Concern are collecting opinions and there's a link to them on the right hand side of the blog.
I got myself hyper yesterday by drinking too much coffee. Stupid Cardiff Drunk, bad Cardiff Drunk. It doesn't inspire any positive activity though, just adds to the racing of my thoughts and leaves me clicking round t'web looking for places where I can find some sort of interactivity.
That's good to an extent. I go the Brighteye forum and leave long-winded bits of advice for other drinkers. Sadly, I also end up at the Guardian's website, leaving comments. That should be fine, but, you leave a comment in order to get a reaction, so you hang around and click across the site leaving your worthless four pen'orth but you end up constantly checking back to see who's called you a worthless dink and wondering how you can find a way to call them a worthless dink too - but, like in a cleverer way.
Some days I think the internet is just a bad thing. The more we are able to talk to each other, the more we insult, belittle and argue - all anonymous of course.
I did make it to my volunteering meeting though, with Journeys, a charity for sufferers of depression in Wales - whose offices happen to be a matter of a few hundred yards from my house. They only have a staff of four and they all seem lovely people. There is a part of me that still believes depression is a quite natural reaction to this mad old world of ours (it's a view I think I first came across through a Marxist soul band called The Make Up, but don't quote me on that), and for people who are gentle and kind and thoughtful this world, which is so often cruel, grasping and stupid, depression is a given.
Today, I am due to go into their offices again to start my volunteering. We agreed that a very gentle start is the best way - I'm going to do two hours a week. But I hope it will be good for me and even for my employment prospects. They have a newsletter they need help with and were quite chuffed that I had journalistic experience.
Then, on to work. Training still - it's training for ten weeks.
I have to be careful what I say about this. One of the first items on the agenda was that we must not bring the company into disrepute and our trainer told us about a girl who moaned about working for them on Facebook - she and several others who had contributed to her page were booted out.
I haven't named the company I'm working for (and there are many call centres in South Wales; it's the new mining), and, because I'm keen not to further damage any chances of future work by having employers google my name to find - oh, he's a verbose, depressed alcoholic - I'm doing the best I can to remain anonymous. I'm also hugely grateful that they've given me a job after two years on the scrapheap, so, to be honest I'm not inclined to be critical of them.
Yesterday scared the living McCartneys out of me. We were sent up to the call centre itself and allowed to listen in to calls. The business they're in is quite complex and watching the girl I was assigned to listen to flicking through screen after screen to find the information she needed at enormous speed was both awe and fear inspiring.
I did have a touch of the I can't ever do this. But, I must remember that I have had a demanding job before and picked that up as I went along. It's also convinced me I'm really going to have to work at the training - I mentioned that my memory made school exams a doddle for me and kind of set in stone a thought that I really don't have to try. I am going to have to try and try very hard.
On my way back from work something extraordinary happened. Well, not quite, but, for the first time in as long as I can remember I felt like a normal human being again - a member of the working, not shut in all day quivering with fear until it's time to drink, walking, talking, living human race.
Exercise is known to be good for depression, so I'm sure that the brisk 20 minutes to and from work are doing me a bit of good as well, as is the necessity to appear relatively smart and clean - something I'd really let go on - as many drinkers no doubt do.
I made it through yesterday with four Diazepam and I'm not sure they were needed to deal with what you would call alcohol withdrawal symptoms, but, simply anxiety and (and this is bad) I love anything that alters my consciousness. I'm going to have to stop that - although there are only about eight tablets left now.
In terms of my drinking I'm still in a dangerous place. I'm a very long way from coming to a decision that I will never drink again - it's all I know, and although I'm doing my best to fill my days and find ways to be useful and productive I know I'll drink again. What I have to hope is that I'll have made enough changes in my life for drink to be the social lubricant it is for so many other people. I'm probably being stupid, I'm probably in denial, but I hit my first goal - to be able to work and I'm on my way to the next, which is to go a week without a drink.
We shall see, and be assured, you'll be the first to know.
The Cardiff Drunk.