Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Better by bits

Long time no blog and all that. I've not been in the best of mental or physical health and as a consequence have had little to say for myself.

Things get a little better though - the plan to rename this blog Itching in Cardiff is receding as I get to some sort of grips with my eczema.

Nothing much else to say to be honest. I went off on one a little over the last week or so - drinking six days out of seven last week. This week has been better and I haven't had a drink since Sunday now. I won't drink today either as I have to get up early tomorrow to go to the doctors' then to work to make up what I missed in my illness then, hopefully, off to volunteer in the afternoon. It's my birthday and it's likely I will allow myself to celebrate this in the pub - even if I am celebrating on my lonesome, but I've met a couple of nice people in The O of late and will hope they are there to pass the time of day.

Next week I go back to the Therapeutic Day Programme for three days to complete the course.

Hopefully I'll be able to blog more after my blip too.

The main danger is that Mrs CD goes away today, working until Sunday, that's been the worst trigger for me to go off on a bender in the past and a successful few days will be remarkably good for me.

If you spent it thank you for your time.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Love the skin you're in - busy days - fear of despair and the crash

I haven't written for a while - and I'm hugely grateful to those readers who took the trouble to ask, "What's up Cardiff Drunk - normally you're a noisy bastard so why now you are so quiet?"

Things are a little tough in the world of Cardiff Drunk at the moment.

It started simply with doing more. I started on the day therapy programme (DTP) through the Community Addictions Unit (CAU) (we live in a world of acronyms and initials in recovery-land (RL)).

The programme was fine - and its contents confidential - but I managed to get there every day, I managed to speak a little in a group environment, which I find tough. But the chief fly in my ointment is the condition for which I've been prescribed many an ointment.

I don't know what this is any more but I know I want it to go away because it's destroying any improvements in my mood achieved through lower levels of drinking and having a routine of work and therapy. I stopped taking the Trazodone to try and see if that might be the trigger for the rashes and dryness and itchiness and pain. My hands improved slightly and I thought it was getting better, but I've gone back to it over the last two days just to get some undisturbed sleep.

Things got really bad. The eczema on my face - if eczema it is - became infected, redness became scab and self-consciousness spiralled into fear and self-loathing. I went to the doctor as an emergency and the infection has now pretty much cleared up. But the underlying malaise remains and remains a threat to my equanimity.

I'm back at the doctors' tomorrow morning when I'm going to make a fairly desperate plea for a solution. The dryness gets worse by the day and it seems to be spreading, today my thighs flared up with what looked like veins coming through the skin, the skin on my hands is thick and the blood seems to vanish from their surfaces. I can see some of this as an allergic reaction to washing powder - though I didn't change it around the time when the problem started - so today I've got a new brand: I'm terrified of the consequences this change might have. And, why is it on my face and on my hands if this is the case?

Perhaps I'm over-treating the problem and I'm taking a bath a day which is probably just drying things out even more - I'll have to try and get back to showering. I'm washing with aqueous cream and I'm worried this is clogging up my pores and making the redness worse, but I'm terrified of using shower gel or soap.

I'm close to despair to be honest. I've missed two days of work and when I've been there I've been so distracted that I'm not taking much in and I'm terrified I won't be able to cope when I go live on the call centre - it all feels too much. (Do you get the point that I'm terrified yet?) I'm going in today but dreading what I've missed and that I'll have to catch up, possibly at the expense of not completing the two week TDP.

The drinking has gone up too. Nearly disastrously this week with no work or TDP to fill my time. I've found myself drinking for five days solid to yesterday, and drinking too much - I'm determined now to have today, tomorrow and hopefully a couple of more days off it but I know now it'll be a physical struggle and suicide has come into my thoughts again.

Sorry to be so down - things probably aren't as bad as I imagine, I'm not in the disaster zone yet and I'm doing better at helping myself than I have done in the past.

I hope you're OK.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Daily Happy.

Today's Daily Happy takes us to Liverpool, home or several popular beat groups, including these silly old sausages, who for a long time seemed so predestined for third division status they were nicknamed the Doo Badleys...

Here though are the lovely Boo Radleys with Lazy Day...

My first ever meme.

I've never done a meme, chain letter or whatever, but unrepentant egoist that I am the Interview Me one promised much exiting navel gazing, so I emailed Anybeth of Swimming in Clear Water (link on the side bar, take a look it's a very good blog) to join in.

This is how it works. Anybeth has emailed me five questions, which I will answer, you, dear reader are then invited to email me - cardiffdrunk at gmail dot com and I will send you five questions. (I hope at least one of you does.)

Here goes.

1. What is your first memory as a child?

The first defined and definite memory I have is of being at Playgroup and terrified. I'd somehow lost my mother and was running through the building desperately searching for her in absolute fear - I found her in a walk in cupboard where I seem to remember her doing something with a tea urn.

2. If you were on death-row, what would be your last meal?

I'm sure I wouldn't be able to eat. I hate the death penalty and am very glad it is gone from this country. However, I guess the question amounts to what is your favourite food. I'm struggling actually to come up with a definitive, this is the one, meal combo. I would start with grilled fresh sardines I think; continue to a very good steak with superlative chips and move onto fresh fruit salad and then cheese - all washed down with a syrupy red wine.

3. What is your favorite place you have visited?

The place that really had the greatest effect on me was Paris but most specifically the Palace of Versailles. I like my history and was blown away by the enormity of the building and the use of architecture to say I AM THE ABSOLUTE MONARCH, GAZE UPON MY HUGE FACADE. As I keep mentioning, I'm only partly Welsh, but I do get a genuine feeling of heraith (a feeling of longing, most often used about the Welsh country by exiles) when I'm away from the mountains for too long - seeing Snowdonia in the distance hits me in the chest. Close to my childhood home is a place that is undoubtedly beautiful, but it is its associations and memories which make it particularly special to me - it's called May Hill and if you ever get the chance you should go there.

4. What is your favorite book? and why?

Yoiks. That's really tough. Just one - I could probably do a list of ten more easily, in fact I think there's a list on my profile. I've just had a look and it's a list of authors. The Long Goodbye would be up there for the beauty of the writing, He Died With His Eyes Open is my favourite Derek Raymond but has its fault. Foucault's Pendulum really had an effect on me and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Slaughterhouse Five had a big impact on my formative years. But, pushed into a corner I'm going to have to go for American Tabloid by James Ellroy because it's a magnificent piece of story-telling which rattles along at an extraordinary pace, I also think it's Ellroy's best work in his stream of consciousness ratatatat style.

5. What do you like, and dislike, about where you live?

Well, what do I like. I like our house, which is small and perfectly formed but which we've done a pretty good job of turning into a comfortable and pleasant home. I like Cardiff's compactness - I can walk pretty much anywhere, I like a lot of the people, who seem open and friendly and I like some of the pubs. We're 20 minutes away from the seaside and not much further from beautiful countryside. Dislike? Some days the area in which we live can bring me down, the kids in hoodies hanging round drinking, the refugees from life arguing in pubs, the empty buildings, the brothel, the drug addicts, the kids next door screaming until one o'clock in the morning - they're about four and six years old. Most of all, I like living in Wales.

Thank you.

I blame Stoke City.

The last two days saw a bit of a slip in the Cardiff Drunk world, but not as bad as they have been and nothing to send me into the black of my black and white thinking.

I went out on Friday to see D and give him some books; he's a real enthusiast for Welsh history (being a Welsh speaker from the far west) and I had an Owain Glyn Dwr book and a history of Druids for his reading list. Naturally, we met in The C. I stayed longer than I needed and drank more than I should have - five-and-a-half pints I think.

Yesterday was work and then I headed out again to watch Stoke V Liverpool in The C. Again, I overdid rather and drank six pints. Encouragingly though, I came home and stopped.

My skin remains a problem. The doctor prescribed an antihistamine and a new moisturiser but it remains very dry and painful - stinging whenever I apply any cream. The most probable cause is still, to my mind, the Trazodone, but to go without it seems too much at the moment. My lovely guaranteed sleep, through all the itchiness and the worrying.

But, if it is to be dealt with then I'm going to have to try going without the Trazodone to see if that has any effect. Maybe tonight. We shall see.

Tomorrow's a big day. Work in the evening and before that the first day of my Therapeutic Day Programme alcohol counselling. I feel a bit of a fraud already - I'm drinking and most of the others on the course will be abstinent and fresh out of what could be a life-saving detox. Will they want to hear from someone who's in a relatively controlled drinking phase.

There's the temptation of another big game this afternoon - Manchester United V Chelsea but I haven't yet decided what to do about that and to drink three days in a row would be a bad thing I think; I'll feel much better tomorrow if I don't.

What I know does me good and what I do though aren't always the same things.

All the best,


Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Daily Happy, is mellow today.

This one makes me really, really happy.

Four Tet, My Angel Rocks Back and Forth.

A much better day.

There that's better. Today was a lovely, sharp, fresh out of the box chalk to yesterday's hard, back of the sofa fluff-covered lump of cheddar.

And, it hasn't worn off yet. I still feel damn fine thank you very much, I might even call it an up.

Why's that then. Simple really. Better behaviour, more self regard. Wednesday was a mess. I was down because I feared my skin was running away from me - not literally you understand. Because I didn't eat properly, because I had a bath not a shower - bad for the skin that - and just let myself go a bit.

Today, I kept myself busy, and even stayed off the computer for a decent long time - oh, and despite this being one of the days my 'rules' allow me to drink on, I haven't touched a drop, although there's a bottle of sherry and some cans of Guinness loose aboot this hoose.

I started my volunteer work today as well, which is another little step back towards the life I once had before I ripped it up in a soggy mess of booze and misery.

I only stayed for two hours at Journeys (the depression charity, there's a link on the sidebar if you'd like to look at their work, which is really all about self-help, diet, exercise and the like), but it's great to feel useful.

I wrote some stuff for their newsletter - searching the internet for news about depression and chopping it up into bite-sized chunks. It's the sort of stuff I used to do like falling of a log (is that really that easy? To be perfectly honest I've never tried it) and I'm certainly not as proficient as I used to be, lacking the confidence of continued practice and knowing their house style.

I won't be able to go in next week, which is a shame, but for today that was very valuable for me - I hope it had some use for those on the receiving end.

I kept myself out of the slough of despond for the rest of the day with housework and food shopping and going to the library to make one of my regular donations to Cardiff City Council. Despite being a qualified librarian I am appalling at returning books on time - perhaps it's because of it, perhaps there's some terrible psychological scar.

I'm due at the doctor's tomorrow morning. I'm going to feel a bit foolish I think - the main reason for making the appointment was the skin problem, and, by stopping using Doublebase and going back to aqueous cream it seems to have sorted itself out. Still, I might, if I can pipe up the courage to break out of my 'yes doctor, no doctor, thank you doctor' persona, ask for a referral to a skin specialist as the Community Addictions Unit doctor suggested I should.

Well, it's a reason to get up anyway.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Daily Happy.

I don't know why but almost everything I'm posting seems to be Scottish - and old. This is really old, ie from my childhood, when I loved it dearly and I love it now. I believe one of the KLF might have been the manager of Strawberry Switchblade - and no doubt if you're more inclined than me you can find out.

What I do know is one of the singers went on to a band called Death In June, who were fantastically gloomy.

Unlike this which is bittersweet, or sweetbitter, take yer pick.

And this is Since Yesterday by Strawberry Switchblade:

Down Kafka's korridors with a beetroot face.

I'm all of a tizzy now, panicking, fetid and feverish and fearing disaster and the lock-in and the hideaway.

I should be on an up.

I've just got back from assessment for the therapeutic day programme (TDP) I was referred to by the Community Addictions Unit doctor. A drive out to the leafy suburbs to a great rambling pile of a place that acts as Cardiff's psychiatric hospital - corridors straight out of Kafka. But my skin is rebelling and revolting and squats over any positives.

It's on my face and I can't face that. I keep applying the moisturising cream but it makes no difference and a beetroot red is starting to spread across my forehead and like a mask around my eyes; the cream stings horribly when I apply it and the skin on my forehead is starting to get puffy with what I fear will be bursting pustules underneath the surface.

I've been here before you see. When I was a student I was out of control. Completely out of control with both drinking and drug abuse. I drank a bottle of spirits and more a day and took enormous amounts of dope, speed and acid. I didn't give a flying faeces for myself, rarely washed or changed my clothes and eventually horrible things happened to my skin. My face became one big scab - I was Elephant Man repulsive and people stared in the street if I ever got the temptation to go outside, which I didn't. That was impetigo in the end, it started as eczema and just got infected, and it feels like that now.

It feels unfair (life is unfair they say, but I don't care I want it to be gentle to me even if just for a while while I look for some strength). I won't be able to cope with that coming on again and I'm so far from where I was then. I'm coming out of addictive drinking and indeed haven't drunk since Sunday, I smoke dope occasionally and I eat healthily and regularly. I haven't changed anything that might inspire an allergic reaction as far as I can tell and I live more cleanly and healthily than I have done for a long time.

The weather isn't helping I suppose. It's bitterly cold and windy and everywhere you go inside the heating is on full blast and that makes it flare more. God I hope this passes. I've just rung the doctor's to make an appointment for Friday and I'm feeling pretty desperate now. Perhaps I don't drink enough water? I'm drinking water.

I'm self-conscious enough as it is, please don't let this go where I fear it might.

On the slightly sunnier side of the street though, I did, as I say make it my TDP appointment. Just an introductory chat with the nice fella who runs it.

I told him where I was with my drinking and he told me what the programme consisted of. Ten days of talking in groups and I'm due to start on Monday - another reason to get up and out the house for a 10am start. There's also the chance of referrals to outside agencies for help with work and the like and that's something I'm going to have to really try and pick up on.

I told him of my previous negative experiences with group therapy but as I said to him I'm happy to have an open mind and take help wherever I can get it at the moment. The first rule of the programme is confidentiality so I won't be writing too much about what goes on in the group, but I will tell you how it goes, if I'm not cowering in misery under a green skin by then. Another rule is abstinence, monitored by breathalyzer - I just have a zero reading this morning. I had kind of planned to have a drink on Sunday - there's Manchester United (the Red Scum to Leeds fans) v Chelsea (the Chelsea Scum to Leeds fans; we're a lovely bunch) to watch. So I have another spur towards abstinence and control.

God, I want this to go away - if it means coming off the Trazodone that's what I'll do, in fact, I'm not going to take it tonight: I don't need to be up early tomorrow and I've read Trazodone has no withdrawal symptoms and the redness is how it started on my hands before escalating all the way to cracked and bleeding skin and infected patches - I want to crawl into bed and die. I've just looked up Campral and that too has skin rash as a possibly serious side-effect; why can't I just be fucking happy and healthy?

If you spent it thank you for your time.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Daily Happy.

Today's Daily Happy continues to show my age and the fact that I really don't try very hard to keep up with what's new, exiting and simply too magical in today's music.

Well, sod 'em, they're young they'll survive.

Despite being an extremely melancholy song this makes me happy in the shock of recognition way - the lyrics that is, I'm not a dark and interesting looking Scottish girl with good taste in lipstick; would that I were dear reader, would that I were.

"For the self-assured I have no cure, I only wish I was." Do google Pull The Wires from the Wall, you'll love them.

I hope you enjoy it.

Me and you and the search for my courage

I'm trying to waste less time - time is precious for us earth crawlers it is finite and ever-dwindling. Yet, I tend to spew it out on my shoes or strew it in my footsteps, unloved and unused.

So, how does one waste less time? (I'm open to suggestions here).

A lot of the time I waste is wasted here in the wooden chair in front of the yellow door Mrs CD rescued to make into a desk - she wastes far less time than I.

Some bits of the time are not as badly wasted as others. This, for example, I don't consider to be completely wasted - I think of this as work in a way; at least I'm doing what I'd like to do for a living, writing. This time I blithely classify as practice.

However, bits of the time land unused on the chronological crap heap having served no purpose whatsoever.

These bits of time have been spent thinking, brooding and fearing.

"What are you doing Cardiff Drunk?" You might ask if you was an asking sort of person.

"I'm thinking," I might reply (I'm an answering sort of person).

Really though I'm probably brooding or fearing.

"What do you brood upon Cardiff Drunk?" We've established now that the character 'you' - a faceless internet reader - is indeed an asking sort of person, curious even.

"Fecking everything," I would reply, with a sigh.

Sadly that's true, and I'd love to stop it - again, 'you', the faceless internet reader is invited to supply suggestions at this point, I, Cardiff Drunk believing that a question-asking sort of person might, in their curiosity, have uncovered things we like to call 'answers' and 'solutions'.

Principally I brood over perceived wrongs, slurs, slights and betrayals. Over and over in ever recycling circles of thought in terrible technicolour perfect recall. I make myself do it. We have control over our thoughts to a degree do we not? (An idea that's well put in the self-help book, Stop Thinking Start Living - a book I started to read, got on well with and stopped reading to get on with some more important thinking, brooding and fearing.)

The fearing is less based in the time paste of the past and more in the big blank of the future. It encompasses everything - my parents will die and I will not be able to cope, people will mock me in the streets and I will not be able to cope, I will die of a heart attack and I will not be able to cope, the heating is on so surely the boiler will explode AND! I! WILL! NOT! BE! ABLE! TO! COPE!.

It's great stuff isn't it? (Do you need a question mark after a rhetorical question? That one gets one because it's not rhetorical; the character of you, now playing something of a Greek chorus role is being called upon again.) Some of it's even quite imaginative.

Still, I'd like to do less of both. This, as that book suggests, means more 'doing'.

For me, beyond the household chores and making sure I get through the basics of personal hygiene and care of appearance and not doing bad things that will make me hate myself, doing ought to mean writing properly and contacting publications and writing for free sites in order to build a published portfolio of some kind.

But one of the key fears is, I Am No Good At Anything And If I Try I Will Fail and I Will Not Be Able To Cope. In fact that's the founding father of the fears.

Let's call this fear one that should, as Stop Thinking Start Living suggests, be dismissed. It may be true (and here the character of you - now suspended well above the stage to take a much more metaphorical role as a divine presence or all-seeing-eye of some type - is being cravenly invited too offer up: "No, CD, you're ace, don't dislike yourself so!")

But even if it is true it shouldn't matter really should it, people can only say no to your submissions and, despite your fears, they probably will do so quite pleasantly and without the recourse to mocking, laughter and character assassination you have conjured and with which you believe YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO COPE.

Back to the time and its wasting. Some of it is spent quite harmlessly and pleasantly but not particularly usefully. Reading the blogs you might see on the sidebar and stuff. I try and leave comments too and consider that in some way useful as I gather that's the way to build a following on the internet, but, there are plenty of other things I should be doing.

What are you getting at here? (It's you again! Now dressed in a purple velveteen smoking jacket and affecting a louche and slouching air - you're mocking me aren't you, I warn you I WON'T BE ABLE TO COPE.)

Well, I'm just trying to explore drink and depression as usual.

Because there is one sure-fire cure for thinking, brooding and fearing, and it starts with d, continues with rinking and ends in disaster.

I always find courage in a cup, sometimes things even get done in a galumphing and clumsy sort of way that does me or the things no justice.

Now, I need to start finding it somewhere else. I've looked everywhere, I've looked in bottles and glasses and in little paper wraps full of powder and inside rolled up cigarette papers and I've looked in books about meditation and yoga (but rarely to the point of going beyond looking and actually doing, for reasons that have been explored in tedious detail above) and the like and I've looked in education and reading and work. I've even looked in my memory because I must have had some courage once, surely.

(I have just stopped myself from writing But I've Never Been To Me.)

And now I'm letting myself type it because that's where I know where I should be looking, but, it's a long search and I'm not sure which tools to use, CBT, will power (such as it is, which is as that of a moth in a lighthouse), what?

Well, the search continues, any suggestions on the location of courage and ways of finding it are very gratefully accepted and I've got no-one to ask but you.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Daily Happy. . .

As I'm often as miserable as sin, I thought I'd start to stick up a daily video; yes indeedy, those two comments on J Mascis and co shellacking Just Like Heaven were grist to my groovy grinders...

I love music - indeed I write and record it occasionally - and it makes me happy; in fact I think my mental health would be enormously improved if I stopped listening to the bloody news all day (particularly evil Radio Five Live) and listened to more music.

Here then is track two of the Daily Happy collection...

It's by Looper (Belle and Sebastian fella) and it's called Up a Tree and is...

Silly boy. Not so bad though.

Well, I don't feel too bad after yesterday's escapades.

First to shine a sunny sunbeam on my mood is the fact that I'm getting on top of my eczema (if eczema it really be). I say I, but in accepting this My Skin Is Slightly Better Than It Was Award I would like to thank Mrs Cardiff Drunk, without whom etc.

I'm not hungover either and feel a certain strength from my success in stopping drinking yesterday. I'd always heard rumours and myths about this thing called will-power, but I never really believed in it.

Possibly, things are just getting better for me. Atypical! As Bill and Ted would have it.

I'm not abstinent yet, but my drinking is massively reduced from what it was in November. I'm working: no, I don't always enjoy it, I'm nervous about what will happen when the training ends and the actual work starts and I'd be lying if I said I skipped into work with rubber heels; but it's given me some routine, some non-pub social interaction and maybe even a bit of pride. I'm also getting more on top of other things in my life - I'm better around the house, I'm eating more regularly and healthily and I do get more exercise.

Oh yes, there are long miles yet to be covered and I don't know where they will lead me but I do not feel as if I have plummeted down to the bottom of the chasm again.

The silly part is that I've had a spliff this morning. I picked up a very small amount yesterday and my first act of the day was to smoke a one-skinner. It's not the end of the world but I'm going to try very hard not to get into that habit again.

I went through a phase - when I was last sober particularly - when I smoked an absolutely enormous amount of high-potency weed. It's something I used to enjoy when I was a student but it became part of the problem in the end. There was no real joy in it and paranoia wasn't ever very far away, it increased my isolation and removed my wish to do anything. I don't want to go back there again.

It also makes me lie. I haven't told Mrs CD what I've done and one of the reasons I do it so early in the morning when I do is that I want to be completely cleared up by the time she returns - of course, this evening I have to work so that's another need for a clear head.

So, I really ought to be doing stuff and that's not going to be helpful is it?



Sunday, January 4, 2009

On the seventh day God created Brain's bitter.

My six day sober ended today. I am determined not to allow wailing and gnashing of teeth to rule the day however.

I have been to The C, to see D, and once there partook of four pints of Brains Bitter. This started at around 1pm, it is now 8.41pm and I'm pleased to report that's where that particular bout of drinking ended. I'm rather astounded to be honest and, to a degree, proud of what I see as an achievement.

This despite the reflex action that pushed me into the shop to buy four cans of Guinness on the way home. They sit downstairs now, unloved and unquaffed.

I'd be a fool to myself (and when am I not), to see this as much of a good thing however. I really should have stayed off the pop. And, stopping is a chore - at least it feels like it now; and the day is not yet done and those cans are still there.

Nevertheless, I've still drunk substantially less than I have done on previous 'relapses' - less than half the usual in fact, so we'll look at positives here for once.

My skin continues to cause me great concern. I'm using a steroid cream and a simple moisturiser. The steroid thins the skin and, I'm sorry to say, I must have been over applying it to my hands, which are the worst victims of this bloody awful rash/eczema/whatever. They're permanently red and irritated in a self-consciousness inducing way. But last night I could see the blood through the skin, which is not good.

So, with the help of Mrs Cardiff Drunk, I gave myself a damn good moisturising, which calmed down the irritation after an initial bout of horrible stinging pain.

I think I'm going to have to go back to the doctor about this. If it's the Trazodone I'm going to have to stop taking the tablets because this is starting to get me down in quite a serious way.

The sleep too is odd. I've never dreamed much, or, rather as I gather we all dream, I've rarely remembered my dreams. This is something else though. It's out like a light into total darkness, Mrs CD calls it a coma, and I'm undisturbable, unshakable. Then, around eight hours later, pop! I'm awake, straight up and out of utter darkness. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it just seems a bit odd.

Well, I shall report how the rest of the day passes tomorrow. I'm nicely tired, but craving oblivion from the black stuff too - perhaps the best plan is to go to bed and take the blackout pills. I won't drink tomorrow because of work and the same on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Oh yeah. And the reason I HAD to go out today was to pick up some dope. Another piece of foolishness arranged in my cups.

Could be worse.

How be you?

If you spent it, thank you for your time.


Saturday, January 3, 2009

So this is Sa'rday and what have you done?

For me, it's more a case of what haven't you done, which is drink.

That's six days sober, which is good going for me, and to make it to the end of Sa'day without chugging is good work for a Cardiff Drunk - all those football matches, all those pubs on the way home from work and that's what people do after work isn't it? Going for a pint? I never go for a pint though, maybe a gallon, usually substantially more.

But not today.

I'm in sobriety and I'm not sure what to do with it. I'm glad to be at work and not suffering withdrawals, but I think I'm still in the addicted phase - I feel uncomfortable without my beer; I'm not sure what to do with myself and even Dusty and the White Stripes can't save us now.

My mind's racing all the time. Spin, drizzle, crunch, grind, extrapolate, speculate, down and down, down and around then back to the top and off again. It's exhausting.

I can sleep though. I might take my new high dose of Trazodone tonight and that's going to be a big sleep (not The Big Sleep of course, which means death - I wonder if the owners of the Big Sleep hotels were aware of that when they so cheekily appropriated the great Raymond Chandler's words for their poxy executive hutches.)

I've done work, I've done cooking the dinner and now I'm petrified of boredom - there's a DVD to watch but I don't know if I can concentrate for that long; we shall see I suppose.

I have managed to finish a novel though (no, not writing one, reading.) That's a step in the right direction, a move up the long hill of, erm, happiness.

I've got this and this helps. But I dance around doing it. Think and think and think and think and prevaricate. I log on and check my emails and open up the dashboard, but then I'm off. The emails always include something from Brighteye, telling me the SOS forum has been updated, so off I go there. It's been a great help in fact to have Brighteye - what use it does I don't know, but being able to offer advice does give something of a sense of worth, however unjustified.

Then there's The Guardian to scoot through - usually in search of somewhere to chuck my tuppence in. Partly in promotion of this blog, to which I always leave a link (oh, such delusions I have of this blog.) Still, it's something I DO, and do (nearly) every day... As well as being the corner stone of my attempt on the world parenthesis record.

It's my spastic mind you see. I've been looking up Post Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome and there may be an element of that to my meandering, but, although I don't really have the evidence of long-term sobriety to back it up I believe it's always there.

See it off sherbet, belt it one booze, piss on it the pop....

Every day in every way I'm getting hetter and hetter.

But, at least I'm not drunk.

I may be tomorrow, but I'm not today. Tomorrow, I'm due to go to The C to see someone, dangerously early, around noon - I maaaaaay try and negotiate the whole pub/social interaction thing without drinking, but we shall see, that's tomorrow and today I'm not drunk.

If you were listening, thank you.


Friday, January 2, 2009

A big week - hospitals, volunteering, work

I'm working tomorrow; a long day for me, 9am till 3.30pm. But, the prospect of the early start has helped me stay sober today and do some busy round the house stuff.

I've got a couple of big days this week. Wednesday I work in the evening, but also have to get myself to a hospital in north Cardiff for an assessment prior to entering the therapy programme there. This would normally follow an in-patient detox, but the doctor from the Community Addiction Unit (CAU) after hearing of my relatively successful self-detox has sent me along early doors.

I don't know quite what to expect from such an appointment but I'm not hugely keen on the idea of group therapy - one of the reasons I still kick against Alcoholics Anonymous (suggested by both my GP and the CAU doctor - the organisation's much mulled over religious aspects also give me pause for thought). I've been in group therapy before and lasted one session.

Oh, I was but a youngster then, and drunk in North London. I'd done my detox and went along to the group therapy with, I think, a pretty open mind about what was going to happen.

It was, to my mind, a disaster.

You'll have gathered that without six pints in me I'm pretty chary of talking to anyone I don't already know. I did manage to speak up given the opportunity but there were stronger personalities there who took over and, sad to recount, it became an alcoholic misery competition straight out of Monty Python's Four Yorkshiremen sketch.

"Well, I was drinking a bottle of whisky a day."

"A day! I'd got through that by lunch, then I was off to the pub till closing time."

"I didn't mention the vodka yet. And, the pubs never closed for me, I was king of the lock-in and a mate and me always used to buy four pints at last orders if they were shutting on time."

And so on and so on.

There's a serious point to this I think. I have (and I know this is pretty stupid) felt something of a lightweight and therefor, less deserving of serious help. Since my early 20s I haven't drunk spirits and even when I've realised I'm addicted and reached out for help I am drinking a relatively small amount - I know 8 - 10 pints a day is not inconsiderable, but I would guess of those who reach out for help it's probably nothing much to write home about.

I've also never reached that magical place for drinkers - rock bottom (Carreg Cennen is top rock, this is different).

This is usually due to the efforts of others. My parents have constantly come to my rescue and bailed me out like a drunken investment bank. Girlfriends too have cushioned my fall.

I'm not beyond attempting to manufacture super lows, but rather in relation to depression and other problems than the drinking (to which, of course, I always cling to and distance it from blame in my problems: "It was something else, not my mate booze, he's here to help.")

I've spoken to counsellors about this. I'm so keen that everyone should think I am OK, so insistent that nothing is wrong, so desperate to avoid causing upset that I wait until I'm close to disaster and suicide before I ask for help.

Anyhow. That's all by-the-by.

The day after the assessment, I'm due to start my volunteering with Journeys, which is a good and positive thing. I'm hoping the work will be challenging and allow me to write - they're keen on the fact that I used to be a journalist - but I'm happy to stuff envelopes, type and make the tea to be honest.

Well, I shall no doubt let you know how it all goes.

Take it easy out there and be sure to wrap up warm now.

Diolch yn fawr, the CD.

A man walks into a bar... And out again and into a car!

Mrs Cardiff Drunk and I went out yesterday. Off in the car to West Wales to see a friend of hers - beyond Swansea! There be dragons.

We did a lovely walk around Careg Cennen. If you ever find yourself in the farlands, yes, even beyond Swansea, then do go and have a look, it's a real spectacular and in yesterday's sunny mistiness looked straight out of a fairy tale as the sun started to set behind it.

I worry. That's my job. And I am not a very sociable fellow (although I can't say that I like my own company either, although I hope this will improve). So, I worried about travelling, I worried about the country lanes freezing, I worried about being in company, I worried about going to the pub for a meal, I worried about the dragons.

And, guess what?

Nothing went wrong. Nothing happened. No dragons fell from the sky, no-one acted the loon and disturbed my hair-trigger equilibrium. A splendid time was had by all.

And, I didn't drink. I didn't make a big deal of it, just decided I wasn't going to drink and said I'd do the driving. I'm greatly assisted in this traditional aid to sobriety by my worrying - I'm an awful passenger and fuss awfully over Mrs CD when she drives.

I must admit it was tough to stay sober in company, but that means today is the fifth day since I had a drink.

And, was it so hard? No, not so bad. A little physical discomfort but nothing I couldn't handle and with my faithful friend Trazodone guaranteeing sleepy-bye-bye time once I got home.

I like driving. I like anything that can completely fill my brain and stop it wandering and with The White Album to speed us on our way it was all rather jolly.

Toodle pip.

Cardiff Drunk.


Among those silly resolutions was, write blog every day.

What did I not do on January 1?

Write blog.


First the sports then more from Cardiff Drunk...