Alcohol… my friend. Alcohol… my enemy.
My love affair with alcohol has been going since I was about 15 years old. At various points during my life there have been periods where I have clearly been drinking too much. The rest of the time I would consider myself a regular moderate drinker… although I think perhaps a doctor might prefer to describe me as a moderate/heavy drinker. I drink every day, and I would say I probably drink 1/2 – 2/3 of a bottle of wine or 3 cans of lager every day. On Friday & Saturday night I’ll let my hair down and probably drink a whole bottle (from 6pm – 1am) or 4 or 5 cans of lager… often finished off with a double whisky or a Cognac before bed. I occasionally have a night on the gin & tonics too but haven’t done that for a while. I very rarely get fall-over-drunk, and I very rarely suffer from a hangover. I always remember to drink water while I’m drinking & always finish the night off with a glass of water before bed (water is the only hang-over preventative).
Obviously over the years the daily quantities have fluctuated and when I was in my early 20’s I probably didn’t drink every single day, though it won’t have been far off – I’d have just been drinking in a pub with friends rather than at home by myself. I have always been conscious of the fact that I drink more than is strictly healthy, and I have always dreaded the thought that I might become an alcoholic and therefore have to give it up completely as a result. Over the last 8-9 years I would say my intake has increased, but not the amount I drink at home. The difference has been lunches at work where perhaps I’ve drunk half a bottle of wine, or there’s been some sort of work related do where the champagne is flowing. Then at 6pm we will usually have a couple of glasses of wine or beers in the office before going home (there was a period of about 3 or 4 years where I would regularly have drunk a bottle of wine before getting home sometimes more). I would then get home and crack open a bottle and drink maybe another half bottle of wine.
Things have (had to!) calmed down over the last couple of years. I rarely drink at lunch time and if I do it’s one glass of wine (the occasional boozy lunch does still happen but they are few and far between). I have stopped having the beer or wine at work at 6pm, and over the last 3 weeks I have been trying to cut the alcohol out completely during the week (I wasn’t very successful last week). I intend to try and keep it up but not beat myself up about it if I lapse every now and then. I just want to try and stop the habitual nature of my drinking.
Since I started writing this blog in March, I have been looking at all areas of my life and my alcohol consumption is something that I am always aware of, yet regularly choose to ignore. I do drink too much, but because I drink less than I did 3 or 4 years ago, I allow myself to feel ok about it. Since this depression really took hold about a year ago I suppose, I have started to feel more paranoid about it. I don’t get mindlessly drunk, I don’t lose my memory, I’m not a ‘bad drunk’, I don’t get aggressive (with a couple of extremely rare exceptions which I talk about in my post Journeys Into Rage). I don’t hide bottles, I don’t pretend to people that I drink less than I actually do, I never drink in the mornings, I don’t have uncontrollable cravings. I don’t deny that I drink too much, I do try to moderate my intake, I do drink lots of water… you get the idea… butter wouldn’t melt.
But, is my paranoia over my level of alcohol consumption just another outlet for my insecurities and depression – another thing that I’m beating myself up about needlessly, or am I in fact already an alcoholic??
Half of me says that yes I drink a lot, but it’s ok I have control over it. The other half is like a little voice whispering in the back of my mind ‘you’re already an alcoholic, it’s too late you loser…’ (I will just clarify that I don’t hear actual voices). I feel pretty confident that some people will read this and say that I do indeed have an alcohol problem, and others would say that I am no worse than a large percentage of the population of the UK. Who is right?
I think that perhaps the truth is that I am in danger of becoming an alcoholic, but not there yet. Although I have maintained my drinking habits for the last 25 years and it’s never gone out of control so who’s to say it will now? A doctor would say that I definitely drink too much and am destroying my liver. I smoke cigarettes and joints too – it’s either going to be the lungs, throat, mouth, liver, kidneys, heart…. well I also work in the west end of London and to be honest I’m far more worried about the air I breathe all day every day with all the heavy particulates from exhaust fumes, than I am about the cigarettes or alcohol.
I might get run over by a bus tomorrow.
My latest reply to people who ask me why I still smoke, is to say that ‘smoking is my pension’. Seeing as I don’t have any pension at all – absolutely nothing, then smoking will ensure I don’t make it past the age of 65, therefore I won’t have to live through years of miserable, old aged, lonely poverty. Sadly that one makes a lot of frightening sense to me.
I digress. Alcohol. Problem? No problem? Paranoia? Deluding myself? I honestly don’t know, but I think at the moment as long as I continue to try and keep a handle on it, then I should be ok.
Right, I’m off for a beer.