Sunday, December 27, 2009

Home is where the...

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

"Whose home?" she asked.

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

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

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

I'd like my own life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you spent it, thank you for your time.

Frilly crackers to yer.

Cardiff Drunk.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Minesweeping we have known

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mmm, talking to self, time to go.

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

And of course I wish you a happy Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Counselling again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you spent it, thank you for your time.

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

Cardiff Drunk.

A shop full of sherry

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

Now, however, I feel quite bright.

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

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

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

If you spent it, thank you for your time.

Cardiff Drunk.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Talk about what?" I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you spent it, thank you for your time.

The Cardiff Drunk

Saturday, December 19, 2009


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

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

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

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

Too much information, I suspect.

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

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

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

We're on the road to Prozac.

If you spent it thank you for your time.

Much love,

The Cardiff Drunk.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


This is what I listened to to day: Rage Against The Machine, Bullet in the Head, and Killing in the Name Of, then a bit of Big Black Kerosene, then The Enemy, We'll live and Die in These Towns, and a whole lot of Wonder Stuff. A whole big gooey pie of nostalgia, anger and disappointment. Strangely, it was Rage Against The Machine that made me cry, a video of them performing over some riot footage, I was glad that the tears came - good God, I felt something!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Darkness descending

I'm back. Back as a Cardiff Drunk after a brief four days as a London Drunk. Still not a drinking drunk but a drunk nonetheless, that seems to be the way of things.

I spent today in bed. All of it until about 5pm. I had two baths. I ate a plate of beans on toast then I went out and played football. Then I came home had two spliffs, made a cup of tea and came and sat here.

I'm still in the drumpers. Surviving in a world of grey. Hating the day and wanting only to sleep. No interest in anything, no pleasure in anything, only dread.

I have to try and have a better day tomorrow. Going to London was a mixed blessing. It involves being around successful people like my brother and my former best friend from school.

My main concern at the moment is that I feel no emotion whatsoever. I feel completely blank, that's the perfect way to describe my state at the moment, just blank.

I'm going to see the doctor tomorrow. The plan is to complete my move from Trazadone to Fluoxetine. I've never really put much store in antidepressants. I take them and have taken them for years, but because I can't actually feel any drug-like high from them I don't imagine them to be doing much. Well, perhaps they are. Perhaps that's why I'm like this at the moment, because of the reduced Trazadone dose.

I felt a little lighter last week because my mornings were free of the Trazadone hangover. I wonder what the doctor will say? I had a good appointment with her last time and felt I was taken seriously, treated like someone with an illness rather than someone who should stop drinking, or just cheer up.

I'm going to try and tell her how seriously low I feel and tell her that unless I can find something that will help lighten the conversation I'm permanently having with myself, I'm very likely to start drinking again, because I know that shuts it up completely.


If you spent it thank you for your time.

Love you all, as ever,

Cardiff Drunk.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Your hopefully, Cardiff Drunk.

I feel I should write something after my last counselling session. In this big old battle, I think counselling is my potent weapon.

It was a good old session, but it was hard work. I was dragging words out of myself rather and thinking, thinking, thinking. There are some rather unpalatable things about my personality that I have to delve into if I am to change them and a terribly well-defined divide between Good and Evil (sorry for the biblical langauge, but that's the way I think about this) in my life.

It's all very screwed up, very bad, and very damaging. I felt the usual lightness that comes from a bit of confession but it's all kept going round in my head. I'm thinking too much, I'm brooding, I'm spending too long on the computer, I'm smoking too much dope (see recent posts), I'm all in a pickle and very distracted.

It feels like a big change is coming somehow. Mrs CD and I spoke about it today, I think she is unsettled too - she spoke about moving away somewhere and living a completely different and very green life, that's her dream - is it mine?

I'm going to London on Friday, to see my brother and I just see it as a chore at the moment, something to be survived. Although I had some wonderful times in the capital city I also had some terrible ones, very specifically in the area I'm going to be visiting. I feel I should be doing other things but I don't know what they are, and besides I have ample opportunity every day to do things and I just sit.

Sometimes I think this whole sobriety thing is just a little step on my journey and there's a big crash to come and a cleansing fire to burn. I mentioned in a comment that I haven't really signed up to the idea that I'm an alcoholic who just can't ever drink again and I know I may well be kidding myself. The thing is, that while I've been mentally in some very bad places, I've always been so molly coddled, so protected and surrounded by people who want to help me I've never, ever, really experienced the consequences of my actions, including my drinking - I've been sad, yes, and I've attempted suicide, but even in that I don't feel as if I've hit rock bottom. The kick has never been hard enough to really jolt me. In fact, my drinking has remained stubbornly damaging but not too damaging, I have been able to control it that much - I've never drunk in the morning, I've very rarely drunk spirits, I feel as if I'm probably going back there some day.

Bad times here, but I won't drink. I won't drink at least until the new year, if I do then - I think about it often, but I won't drink yet, I'm not well enough, not by a long way. The fact is if I think of drinking (as I almost constantly do in these rather troubling days) it's not the nice social couple of pints that should be my aim were I to start drinking again, it's being hammered, it's the magical thrumming of the blood that comes with the first pint of the day as morning turns into afternoon - nothing will ever match that feeling I don't think.

I'm not blogging terribly well at the moment, I'm blogging a lot but it's all rather confused isn't it.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.

Your's hopefully,

Cardiff Drunk.


"Isn't it great to wake up in the morning and be free!"

That's what a lad said to me outside the Community Addiction Unit the other day. I think he was called Joe, and I really should remember because our conversation felt important at the time.

I gave him some tobacco because he'd left his at home, and he told me a bit about himself. His heroin addiction, losing his mother, alcoholism, homelessness. I feel a fake and a fraud when I hear what other people have gone through to land in addiction - my very comfortable life and my self-inflicted problems feel, well, lightweight.

It makes me angry at myself: I've had every opportunity you can imagine and I've pissed it all away, to this.

I think I've a long way to go to be free as well. A long way.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.

The Cardiff Drunk.

Brightness. Badness.

Yesterday's good stuff did leech into today. The full schedule, the physical exercise, the social contact and the reduced dose of Trazadone made my start to the day as bright as it has been for a long time.

The sun shone too and I was up fairly early, not long after 9am. I made it out too, and there was where the feeling of well-being really hit me: I was much less nervous of my surroundings than I usually am. Mornings are the best time around here anything, the people who are likely to cause me anxiety - young people, dodgy looking people, are either asleep or in school.

My mood does go up and down through the day and generally follows this pattern. Lets say this is a good day - there are days when there is no variation at all, it's just down - one where I manage to get out of bed properly and get about my business.

I start the day feeling pretty bright and this will continue until I have a low around 3 or 4pm. This coincides with kids coming home from school and I think I've learned to be anxious and fearful around this time. It's just struck me that another learned pattern may be contributing, and that is a drinking pattern. Around 4pm I'd have to start thinking about leaving the pub and returning home to make dinner for Mrs CD. I generally get a bit of an up in the evening too at around 8pm when I get a feeling that there's not going to be any need to leave the house again and that I am safe. Sadly, the day usually ends on a low after staring too long at a computer and knowing that going to bed at 11.30pm means at least an hour of listening to the SSFIs next door.

I'm still pretty bright, but, of course, I've done my best to sabotage it by having a spliff (something that was notable for its absence from yesterday's busy programme). Learn from this Cardiff Drunk, learn from it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Counselling, my great hope

"You can't expect to well every day, you just have to try and do well more days than not."

That's what Mrs CD just said to me. She's a wise old fish isn't she? I envy her sense of perspective. I'm quite tired now, and I haven't even taken my tablets yet, I don't know why I'm even sitting and starring at this stupid screen. I've got nothing to say, except I hate the SSFIs next door, and that I don't need another spliff but I'm about to have one.

Nighty night sweethearts.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.

Cardiff Drunk.

200mg and a good day-ish (it's always ish)

Well, I took my two little 100mg purple and green capsules last night, cutting down my dose of Trazadone to 200mg.

So far, and I know it's early days - day even, nothing but good stuff. I slept well, which is a relief, Trazadone's warm and drowsy embrace are what I love it for. And, there was a notable improvement in my liveliness this morning.

That's partly chemical, and partly me. I'd made a list you see - things to do. A counselling appointment always helps and whenever possible I make these as early in the morning as can be arranged, 10:30 today, because I know counselling is the one thing I absolutely won't ditch on.

So out I popped and on with the list. Some shopping, then home and it's lunchtime - and I ate lunch! Cooked something and sat down and ate the thing. And, then I washed up afterwards! Another note for the file: perfectly normal things everyone over 12 can do but Cardiff Drunk never learned.

So far so fanfare for me - oh, and a drumroll for putting the washing out too.

God, this is a dull old post isn't it. I was going to write about my counselling in another post because once I get going I've got a million things to say and I've been gazing with envy at other bloggers who can write concisely.

So, that's about it really. All I have to do now on my list is make a meal for me and Mrs CD, go and play football, come home and do some writing and then I'll have done EVERYTHING. Amazing, unprecedented, sod your Copenhagen summit the big news is in Cardiff people.

Let's see if I can keep it going - the much cherished, often spoken of but seldom believed in ROUTINE, has made it's first steps into the light.

Laters people.

If you spent it, thank you for your time,

Cardiff Drunk - who really, really loves you all.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pill dilemma

I intended to call one of my previous posts Pill Dilemma.

I'm aware that the amount of blogging I'm doing at the moment is possibly a little extreme, but I've got a lot going on and I'm trying to cut down on the several thousand word rambles, so this ones about my medication.

The one drug I've never neglected to take is Trazadone - sleepy, lovely, Trazadone, and SSFI-neighbour-proof sleep too.

But, I'm on the way to SSRI land, next stop Prozac, and have supposed to be cutting down my dose since the doctor's appointment.

I hadn't until tonight, but, in the spirit of, 'one more things won't make much difference' I've just taken 200mg rather than 300. These come in capsule form rather than tablet and I was going to say that I don't know what effect that might have on the medication, but, if early signs are to be believed, it might mean it works more quickly.

One of the reasons I want to change from Trazadone is that I'm aware how reliant on it I've become - not to manage my mood, although, I would say (and, I've tended to find that this is all an antidepressant can do) I think it has stabilised me to an extent. No, I need it to make me sleep, I'm addicted to that aspect of it and I get in a mild panic if I think I'm going to run out of it.


My dilemma is I'm not sure how good an idea it is for me to be changing anything at the moment - and I'm also aware at the stultifying effect on my recovery this kind of fear is having.

Scared to do anything.

Well, 200mg it is, let's see how it goes.

Night, night all. Nos da as my mother's tongue would have it.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.

Cardiff Drunk.

Ready, steady, f**k!

Excuse my language in the title. I tone down my language considerably on this blog; were you to meet me in the flesh you'd probably be disgusted by my course and foul speech.

But, that expletive is deserved and, as ever in self-loathing land (which is where I seem to be living this week) it's aimed at me.

It could have been so different, it could have been so much better, but then idiot man had to try and get out of bed.

I'm really starting to feel more and more like that in my doltage.

So, what's the best way for me to start the day? A spliff and a hot bath? No, that's not the right answer. I won't go over in great detail the extent to which that is NOT THE RIGHT ANSWER, but suffice to say that the psychologist who gave me such helpful and splendidly useful advice about dealing with anxiety would be shaking his head at the stupidity of it all were he here to see me.

I had two things to do today. Some little bits of housework and a trip to the Community Addiction Unit to take my Antabuse.

I have, after managing to pull some sort of self-respect out of my wretched arse, managed to make a decent stab at putting out some washing, cooking a meal, picking up some books and stuff. I managed to make it out of the house, just about at around 4.30pm, which is when I got up.

I missed the pills again. I can take them myself perfectly well of course, and sometimes I do, but if I'm honest, usually I don't if I don't make the walk to the Community Addiction Unit (this setting up of rituals the falling apart of one part of which renders the whole excercise spoiled in my mind, is common to much of my life).

This starting to get a bit Russian Roulette-like. I haven't sorted out my other medication either - ritual: it must go in the pill tray on Sunday - and, it's only writing this now and being slapped in the face by my own staggering ability, and even desire to create difficulties for myself that I'll take at least some of it tonight.

Two things I logically know will really, really help me in every way - getting a routine and keeping busy, and I can't even manage that.

I'm making a bit of an attempt tomorrow. I've written it all down. The tasks and appointments I have would cause little trouble to a child of average intelligence, yet to me their completion will be a cause of celebration. I'm probably setting myself up for a fall by even attempting so much, yet, really, I want to be better and I want to live an ordinary - damn it even an interesting, fullfilled and productive - life and this stuff is that at its most basic.

Two of the things on my list are among my big positives: counselling and playing football.

Of everything on that list it's counselling that I simply will not miss. It's been very important for me lately - hard work sometimes, but giving me a taste of the great release I think I'm going to have to go through on this li'l ol' journey of mine (sorry, hateful reality tv bogwort that journey stuff).

Anyone who's been reading this at all regularly of late will have seen a lot of self-criticism on here and that I fear is going to come up in the session tomorrow - I don't like myself, and what do you have to say about that?

I'm looking forward to it and will no doubt tell you all about it.

If you spent it, thank you for your time,

Take it steady youngsters, Cardiff Drunk. X

Bigmouth strikes again...

X has replied after my third email. Good old self-obsessed, selfish me, of course, didn't think for a minute that someone might possibly have other things to do than indulge in long, intense, very personal, not particularly pleasant wallows through the sludge of my mind.

She sent a lovely reply and I'm mortified to hear that she's not good - she too suffers from depression and anxiety - and I'm causing further not good by essentially stalking her.

I must admit I feel somewhat the heel.

However, we have ended our little exchange on quite friendly virtual terms with a hope to talk a little more when she feels better.

She too, I think, shares my pain at the way we've managed - with some of the best intentions ever known to man - to misunderstand, miscommunicate with and cause hurt to each other.

It has been selfish of me to try and contact her, and to do so with such doggedness, but I have to say it's something I have felt compelled to do - if you can train your brain and completely control your thoughts, then I'm a long way off managing it and I was thinking about her every day, I have drowned a lot of memories in drink so, now, they bob up.

I hope it can help us both in the end.

If you spent it, thank you for your time.

Cardiff Drunk

Here brain, here!...

I could probably, at a very long stretch, say I'm a good multi-tasker, but the reality is probably that my magpie mind has a magpie mind (smaller I presume) all of its own.

I can't do one thing at once. Simply can't. I always have to be listening to something, or doodling at something, or playing at something, or something at the same time as I try to read or write or work.

I'd love to have a calmer mind you know. It has served me well and the hustle bustle world of knowing a little about a hell of a lot of things of the journalist was where it really came into its own.

In these less busy times however, it's got a tendency to be a bit of an enemy (I did once write a line in a song which talked about being 'At war with your own mind' - don't worry, you'll never have to hear it). It's got a lot to do with my anxiety - I'm always scanning for danger, looking ahead, preparing a defensive response, looking for exits, preparing my excuses. But with nothing to fill it's time it gets nasty, the negative voice in my head is the result of too much time to think. The feeding this negative unicourse (new word ok - I didn't want to say monologue, cos there's definitely an argument of sorts going on) gets from my canabis intake is another debit mark for my current drug of choice - the case against is becomes compelling, but then I've known that for a while - perhaps telling the blog is a way of moving closer towards actual action.

I always said that staying sober would require me to be busy. And, I haven't done all that well at that. I do have things to do, but when my mind is freed from drink it runs around like a lunatic looking for twenty exciting, compelling, things that are going to make my life fantastic. Faced with all of them, I do nothing, then I hate myself for doing nothing.

Meditation is one of the many things I put on that list to do and it's something that might well help me calm my mind - I've got the book... I've got the time... Really, I've got no excuses.

So, what's stopping me? See above.

If you spent it, thank you for your time,

The Cardiff Drunk - I really loves you man, yer me bessht mate

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Who the hell did that then?

I feel I should be clear about something now. I'm not completely honest on here.

Yes, when I'm blogging well and regularly, I do tend to write an awful lot of my life up on here, but it's far from being a complete picture. What I do, particularly in so far as it relates to my alcohol-related life, is here.

But not everything. There are thoughts I have, and indeed, things I do, which I don't touch upon because they trouble me too much - I am ashamed of them. They worry me and, particularly in the bad times, and particularly when I smoke too much (and, I do, frequently, and if I were completely honest I might start to admit to myself that with canabis, as with alcohol, one's too much) these thoughts make me fear a little for my mental health.

I know I'm depressed, but I'm starting to believe that a lot of that is within my control - however feebly I try to take that control over my life. But, I'm starting to worry that the way I've managed to compartmentalise my life and my thoughts mean something a little more serious.

I've spoken to my counsellor about my splitting of my life into two component parts: one, a public and very, very, controlled and watched life, lived primarily to the end of pleasing others; the other a secret life (much of my drinking life for example) where anything is possible if it's possible to get away with it.

There are parts of my life and myself that I cannot cope with and I think I have convinced myself that someone else is living that life.

Oh joy, it's just gone 11pm, so the children next door - aged at a guess, 3, 6 and 9 - have been moved upstairs before they go to bed. I wonder if tonight they'll watch the telly, loudly, in the room adjoining our bedroom, or perhaps have one of their screaming fights again? It's a school night, so they'll almost certainly be asleep by 1am. I have invented a new secret nickname for them, it doesn't contain any nice words, so I have turned it into an acronym and used it as a label for this post.

Tis the season... Stormy weather....

Ah, Christmas shopping... because the chief thing Jesus was trying to get across in his teachings was, and I think this comes across particularly clearly in the Sermon on the Mount, that we should all have more stuff.

Bah humbug! But, I shouldn't be so cynical, and the last time I posted anything even vaguely religious I got spam comments trying to save my soul, which I truly appreciate believe you me.

But, I don't think Christmas in its modern form brings the best out of us really, and it's not a time of year I enjoy.

It's also - because this is another key tennet of the Christian message - spazzed central.

This will be my second sober Christmas, as, although I hadn't been detoxed and I wasn't really engaging with any treatment for alcoholism last year I was abstinent at the time. It didn't survive long after that.

Actually, the whole bloody set-up seems designed to throw the unsuspecting recoveree (as I am moved to style myself today) screaming towards the nearest gin palace for a 12 day bender.

You're expected to spend money - in fact it's your moral duty and if you fail to do so you are a despicable failure - so any financial problems you may have will be racheted up a notch or two.

Family will come round. In my case two sets of parents who've only met each other once (last Christmas) and to me seem to have little in common. Mrs CD considers herself hostess, which she loves, but which also puts her own often delicate equilibrium under heavy stress. And, of course, everyone drinks, all day.

At the moment, I just want to bugger off somewhere quiet on my own. In fact, it would be perfect! My mum and dad could come here and I could go there. No bother.

Counselling on Tuesday, which, as ever, I'm looking forward to - there's a lot to talk about and at this very moment in time I feel the prospect of it all rather exhausting.

No reply yet, of course, from Ex - is that good or bad? Who knows. It's pretty upsetting - but, knowing the history quite understandable - that someone who means so much to you is unreachable. But then, when I fuck up, I tend to fuck up big time.

Not happy thoughts.

So, this Sunday, I think it's safe to say that while there are some minor improvements in the routines of living, the big picture is one of stormy weather.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Good blog, nice, positive blog... Plans for simpletons in life... Change...

Well, after those worrying ponders about the blog, and the wisdom thereof, it seems as though the fit of writing yesterday did seem to help my mood; I almost instantly felt better.

So here we go again.

Today has been a pretty good day too, and I really needed it to help lift that recent gloom and that awful feeling that something was going to crash. It showed me, in the head-crashingly simple and straightforward way that seems to work best with old stupid here, that I can do better and I can help improve my mood.

For starters, we - Mrs Cd and I - had a plan. That was the last thing I was given to do by my counsellor before I went into the darkness - an agreed attempt to try and get through one day with some sort of routine and reach the end of it feeling as if I'd achieved what I wanted to. It didn't need to be a lot - the aim was to get three meals, not do anything that would make me hate myself, and go to bed tired but happy.

Today there was a list with an early start - well, 9am, which for me is early. And, I just about made it out of bed and into the desk to 'work' for 9.15. Then, once I'd woken Mrs CD from her much needed slumber, I managed to eat breakfast and we set off to face the big wide world.

And, we managed really well. Got through a couple of tasks, made it home and Mrs CD made a lovely meal and went out while I went back to the computer.

Small steps. But steps in the right direction.

With the rushing in of reality so assiduously ignored, there's an overload in fresh sobriety. And, I'm also willing to admit now that I'm pretty fucked up in many ways - there's lots about me that I don't like, there's lots about me that I want to change, there's lots about my life that I hate and regret, there's just lots of everything.

But, it's down to me now. I force myself into pain and regret because it's safe and it's familiar, I flirt with the idea of drinking because it's safe and familiar, I don't change anything because it's safe and familiar. Safe and familiar and the coward's way out and the easy option.

Now, today, I had a better day and I know why I had a better day. So, and this is a new idea this one, let's try and do it again. And then again. And consolidate this valuable little lesson and stop being such a hidebound, monstrous fool.

Fercrissake I might even take that lower dose of Trazadone tonight and forget the fear of not sleeping and just fucking get on with things.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Some wise words I probably need to consider.

I hadn't blogged for a while, it always comes in fits and starts, so when I do I end up having a little trog round the blogosphere, usually through the wonderfully slippery process of clicking links on followers, and blogs I follow, and comments on those blogs and so on - you could get lost for days, and I can certainly manage hours.

Well, off I trotted today, and I ended up at a very good and moving blog about depression, which exactly described my experience and feelings of depression - here is the address:

And, there in the comments was this, which may even be even wiser than the original post:

However, there are things you can do for yourself which might help. I don't think you'll like this suggestion but I might as well offer it. Reconsider the blog. Really. I know because I speak from experience, that although writing a blog is a way of communicating with people in what can be an extremely isolated existence, it's also an extremely effective way of convincing yourself that things can never be different. Because every day you're repeating a mantra of depression; every day you're telling yourself that you *are* depressed, *still* depressed - God when will this end?!

I promise you, it can get better and you can have times that don't hurt quite so much. But for me, in order to get to where I am today, I had to let go of some of the things I used to think helped me. And that included reading and writing about depression almost daily. I'm not suggesting you should abandon your blog all together but think about what I have said perhaps. It's little wonder we stay depressed when all we think about is being depressed!

Now, there's a thought! I have been making my occasional bloggeries with the thought that it is theraputic, and two counsellors, including my current one, have suggested it may well be so. I've also had the pompous stated aim of 'helping others in the same situation', and that still stands, although I don't know if it does. I also enjoy writing - more than that, it really is my natural first language - and used to do it for a living and want to do it for a living again, so I consider this practice of a sort, working on my skills even. I love the fact that some people read it and it feeds my ego.

What if that's all so much smoke? I'm really going to have a ponder on that one - I note that the blogger to which the comment was addressed hasn't posted since that post. I can't stop writing, but I do have other outlets for that, and it is certainly true that each of these posts, if they slip easily enough off the keyboard, involve a lot of thinking - invariably thinking about alcoholism and depression.

There's also a sense in which I'm aware of slightly using my depression and alcoholism - to gain that attention my needy, weedy ego demands. Alcoholism and depression makes me 'special', and it's been the source of most of my freelance writing commissions to date - it's always newsworthy in this country.

I'll still blog - I certainly need to start up the blog I really want to write, the humourous interesting one, the one that will get me work. I've been stressing about not writing here and I kind of hoped to get into a routine of doing it, as a positive thing. I've even thought of doing some little things to promote it - setting up a facebook page or joining some of the blog networks, or taking a more active role in the ones I've already joined, but all that does even more to define me as ALCOHOLIC, DEPRESSIVE... After all, I do this anonymously in order that my name shouldn't become associated with it, in order that I can't be googled and pop up as ALCOHOLIC... Damn, I just finished the post and have to label it, label it and its writer - alcoholism, depression, anxiety, antidepressants, regret...

Maybe I should, maybe I shouldn't. Mmm, much to think about. In many ways this is a time of great uncertainty and of big decisions I feel, an important time. Cue Husker Du if I can find them!

(If they did one of those textual analysis clouds you can have done on your Facebook profile, the main theme of this blog would undoubtedly be ME, and the most used word would be I - now, is that healthy?)

I was going to post Husker Du playing These Important Years, but I found a lovely clip of a young lad playing the song very well and very seriously and, you can hear the words better and easily learn the chords if that's your thing....

If you spent it, thank you for your time.


CardiffDrunk (cripes! even my pseudonym is negative. Egad.)

Out of the past

Ah, or aaarrrgggh even! It's my life. Yoiks! That's me becoming sober. I'm not going to try and universalise my experience, but for me drinking has certainly been a good place to hide from some of the more unpalatable truths of my personality and my history.

And, drinking has gone. My little cave is opened to the elements, my own horrible self is in the sunlight, all naked and revealed. And, it's not very nice. Twenty years of drinking leaves a lot of regrets. It's partly, I believe, why alcoholism is described as a progressive illness. Medically, it's physically progressive and there's tolerance too, but I think the longer you drink the more you have to regret and a very, very good way of avoiding thinking about that is to drink more - "Nurse! The anasthetic!"

Anyway so here I am. I had a career, but I drank it away. I had the opportunity for a very good education, but I drank it away. I had a very significant relationship, but I drank it away.

Now, I know the common sense advice is to acknowledge these facts, accept that thinking about them can't possibly change anything and accept the exciting new opportunities life has on offer. I don't know why I'm qualifying that as advice, it's just damn true, and I know this, so why am I wallowing in the misery of my past? Because, I'm an idiot that's why. (Let's have a kinder version too: because, I've been very, very ill and I'm only just coming out of it.)

It's the significant relationship that hangs over me now, as it did the last time I got sober, and my regrets and my attempt to do something about them ended horribly for all concerned with much pain that could have been avoided spread liberally around - with me being the chief spreader.

But, I can't seem to leave it alone. It's partly guilt and the need to receive absolution and fogiveness from someone who means a huge amount to me and was very important in my life, who made me very happy and who I made very unhappy. It's also partly a matter of the strength of those feelings - they just won't leave me alone. Now, the common sense advice would be to just move on - she doesn't want to hear from you and is probably quite happily getting on with her own life, which is probably now a damned sight happier for your absence.

I have emailed her twice now. Once, a short pithy, 'I just wanted to see how you are' and 'I'm sorry'. I got a very short and polite reply congratulating me on getting sober and wishing me well for the future. So, I sent a long, self-obsessed, self-justifying, moaning email - I said I wanted to explain and apologise, but probably did neither. I haven't received a reply, so I sent another - truly lengthy, but trying so hard to be less self-justifying and expressing more of the sorrow I feel about what I did. I also asked, rather pathetically, for her friendship. And, promised, rather sinisterly, to phone her if she didn't respond.

Stupid? Yes, it probably is, but I feel I can't help it, I need to try, if not to put things right between us achieve some sort of closure or even civilised adult contact. (Isn't that stupid - you can't help it? That's what little children say when they're caught doing something naughty like picking they're noses. I can help it of course, just as I can help having bad days by smoking dope in the morning, just as I can help getting angry and disappointed with the things I haven't done, I can help by doing them - it's not impossible, it shouldn't be.)

But, I really don't know how to live. I was never taught and I have never learned. I have learned to get away with things, to get by on the least, to hide from hard things in drink and drugs, to avoid responsibility by relying on others or using my 'illness' as an excuse and a hiding place - I can't work, I'm a drunk, I can't go out and do things, I'm a drunk...

God, I'm not a very likeable person, and I'm going to have to change into someone who is if I'm going to have any self-esteem. So, talk about those things that shame me with my counsellor? It's probably a good idea.

The days of harm reduction

Harm reduction is the result of my last counselling session, the verdict of my counsellor on what I have to be doing at the moment.

As ever, counselling felt a good and releasing thing, and some big things came out - big things about my life and what I want from it. Too big to manage at the moment, so at the moment my task is not to harm myself.

Not to drink is the best way to do this and, I admitted I had come very close to drinking recently. It seems to just happen, but of course, that's not how these things work, it was me who just happened not to go to the Community Addiction Unit to take my antabuse and then, all of it sudden, it just happened that I was a day short of not taking it for a week, and a week is a long time in Antabuse. After I left counselling, I passed a pub I used to drink in and had the worst cravings I've had this sober period. I went straight home and took my tablets. Of course, not taking my medication also means not taking the anti-craving drug campral and maybe that had an effect too.

What did we talk about? Me, me, me... great for the over-analytical and self obsessed (I do sometimes think I should just stop and start living - just forget labelling myself an alcoholic and a depressive and live, but I'm just not able to). I spoke about the unhappiness with the life in which I have woken up after 20 years drinking and the shame I feel for that life - if I'm OK with it she said we can talk in more detail about this next time.

So, harm reduction for now, just staying alive and staying sober. Staying alive and staying sober.

The long dark tea time of the soul.

I can't find the full quote from Douglas Adams' wonderful, Life, the Universe and Everything... But, I know the Long Dark Teatime of the Soul strikes on a Sunday and comes, 'after you have had all the hot baths you can reasonably have'.

I've had two baths today and it's only five o'clock. Is that reasonable? I know it's not good, in fact it's bad. But baths are all about safety and comfort and warmth and that's why I crave them, they are an antidote to fear.

When I got that wonderful advice, psycho education (typically, I can't be arsed to link back to the original post but I did write about it at some length), on dealing with anxiety hot baths were a pretty big no no. The physical symptoms of anxiety heat the body up, to counter it you should be cooling the body down, drinking water for example. I, on the contrary, am currently indulging in as many hot baths I can have - reasonably or otherwise - smoking dope, not eating properly, not getting out of bed and drinking giant mug after giant mug of hot tea.

It's even physically bad for me - the one thing I know, guaranteed and for sure, that will make my eczema worse is having a bath, and the more I have the worse it will get.

Do I want to be ill? What kind of an idiot am I? No, I don't want to be ill and, yes, I am all sorts of an idiot - but we know this don't we... evidence, as cited above, has shown.

I really have gone into quite a serious down, which is why I've come back to the blog. I'm hoping to purge myself of some of this stuff, it's weighing down heavily to the extent that it feels almost physical and it feels exactly like it felt last time I felt like this, which is the last time I went loopy, got in my car, drove to London and did a huge number of stupid, self-destructive things that were supposed to culminate in suicide.

Don't worry, this is not a cry for help in that direction, I feel sure I won't end up there again, but I'm in the same continuum and I need to get out of it.

Positively, I had a really excellent appointment at the doctor's on Wednesday (was it Wednesday? Time's a bit blurry and loopy at the moment but no matter).

It's a lottery who you will see at the surgery I use and, while none of the doctors I've seen actually been bad, some are better than others. I won the lottery this time with someone I'd never seen before and had the longest GP's appointment I can remember: it was a good 15minutes and it was actually a conversation - she listened to me!

She agreed a trial timetable to change my antidepressant to something that is less sedative - I think it's going to be Fluoxetine, which off the top of my head has had its fair share of horror stories in recent years. We'll see, I've convinced myself that Trazadone isn't doing me much good at all - I get a good night's sleep, and I know that's important, but I think it's contributing to my general lethargy through the day.

So, I'm headed towards uppers. She's also continued my Antabuse beyond the six months it is usually prescribed for to help me get over Christmas and the New Year without recourse to dry sherry, and that's a relief. I went in for a blood test today to see if it's damaged my liver (call the irony police) at all and if I can continue safely. I'm going back in two weeks to see how I'm doing at reducing my dose of Trazadone. She signed me off sick for another five weeks - aiming for the New Year - and gave as the reason depression rather than alcoholism.

Well well, in order to check the spelling I've looked up Fluoxetine, and it's Prozac, meaning I was wrong when I told the doctor I've never taken it. I have. It was the first antidepressant I was ever prescribed in fact, all those years ago. In the end I had to stop taking it because it made me so nauseous, but I do remember it made me feel better - up, even. That would be great, and I think I can cope with feeling a bit sick if this mood will lift. It came in a rather snazzy yellow and green capsule when I was necking it too.

And, as I am now going on too long, I shall split my posts, and start a nice new blank sheet.