Before and After. Part 3. A bipolar episode and alcohol usage.

This part deals with the before, during and after of a bipolar episode and alcohol usage. Part 1 and 2 dealt with exercise and food.


To contextualise … before the depression arrived this year, I was drinking a lot, for me. I drink when I am hypomanic and I drink when I am anxious. I drink when I feel trapped. I drink to have fun. I drink to connect. I drink to feel alive. I started drinking at parties at 15 and have always mixed with a drinking crowed. I have been through periods of weekend binge drinking, and periods of drinking happily by myself at home.

I have done research on what ‘a lot’ is, but besides the milliliters recommended, it seems it’s up to you. And now I am a cheap date. On my meds, I get dizzy quickly. So ‘a lot’ for me is a bottle of wine a night, sometimes opening up the second. It became a reward for making it through the day and emotionally de-stressing. While tipsy verging on drunk, I can watch a movie, do some work, write a blog and walk through the boy’s bed-time routine. The wine display stocked and re-stocked with online orders. My Hubby may have a glass of wine with me, but I am the one who carries it through. In other years, it was sometimes Vodka, which was useful, as I mixed it with fruit juice so it looked like cool-drink. Alcohol usage is an indicator of a de-stabilised mood. 

Going to hospital this September put an end to all that liquid, with no bother at all.  The Rivotril and Seroquel took its place. I stopped drinking for two months. I remember being scared of the stuff – not so long ago – and I enjoyed no heartburn and being back in the driver’s seat.

Now I see the markings of an easy and accessible slide. There was no fun, no going balls to the wall, and I miss the feeling of getting real. Although this year has been a hibernation for me, no booze makes me even less social. Disciplined and socially wound up, I decline events and don’t reach out. I notice people stop reaching out to me too.

It’s December and here I am, enjoying opening the bottle and the first taste. Do I like it, don’t I like it?  If I don’t, it goes down the drain and another one opens in its place.  The promise of a glass of wine makes my day bouncy and my evenings a full stop. I don’t always crave more – I think due to the re-introduced Seroquel. But I feel shittier the next day – foggier than the drugs make me already. I have already taken it too far once since hospital.

Does this mean going to the AA and giving up booze for the rest of my life? It sounds melodramatic, but then what’s the point? Is life just a serious, stress-inducing experience until die? Giving up alcohol for ever is my secret fear and I don’t know what to do about that.

PS please don’t tell me to meditate or pray. I trust that advice and subscribe to its wisdom. But this is real life.


  1. updownflight

    December 21, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    I could identify with a lot in your post. My drinking pretty much started at 15. My dad letting me have a drink at that age maybe wasn’t a good idea. Drinking became a custom for me, as well as self-medication. I think my bipolar started at 15, too.
    I had periods of heavy drinking throughout my 20s, getting really bad in my early 30s, before hospitalizations and a detox at the hospital. I drank in public, but my worst was at home. Yes, mail order wines, vodka from the store. Hubby drinking a couple, me 8-10 per night. He then became conerned, but it didn’t sort of stop until hospitalizations for mania w/mixed features.
    Doctors said I was an alcoholic. Hubby didn’t think so. Doctors convinced me for a while, though and I went to AA for years. Some like me truly are alcoholics, but over time I realized I wasn’t.
    Early on on bipolar meds I’d have alcohol binges. That was downright dangerous with blackouts. Over time, though, I pretty much eliminated it. Now I drink max 1/2 to 1 drink some, but not all days. With my meds, 2 consummed too fast makes me very ill. Really, I’m glad.

    1. Cogitator

      December 21, 2017 at 6:47 pm

      Wow very similar. It helps to hear from another soul who faces the same questions, after dubious behaviour. I have read your posts too on this… thank you

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