Alcohol & mental health

So alcohol.. just a little something I have been thinking about recently after taking a look at my own consumption.

It’s well known that alcohol isn’t good for you and perhaps most importantly for those suffering from a mental health condition it’s a depressant, can lead us to act impulsively e.g. self-harm and suicide, can interact with psychiatric medications and produce some pretty unpleasant and dangerous side effects.

I know all this and have been told multiple times by medical professionals not to drink or too at least think about cutting back on it. So-why do I still do it?

I was never really much of a drinker and still am not! When all my friends initially began experimenting with alcohol and getting inebriated age 13 I stayed away from that. I didn’t want any part of it (the calories or loss of control!) I continued to tell people I didn’t drink. I still remember the first time I got drunk I was 15 nearly 16 I think and I was very depressed and it being my first episode I wasn’t sure how to express my emotions. So a boy had some Jack Daniels and we went out into the woods and got a little tipsy that afternoon after school. All fun and games. For some reason I ended up with that bottle. I went back to my room and drank the remaining half alone and sobbing. I don’t know what made me do it or why I felt compelled to keep downing it despite the revolting taste ( I haven’t been able to touch Jack since!)  but I think it was just the need to feel something and too feel happiness.

At first it was brilliant I had never felt anything like this! it was amazing I kind of felt lightheaded and just so smiley and happy. I went out and found my friends (who were stone cold sober) and at first they just laughed and found it funny that I’d finally got drunk. But then I began to be angry, shouting and swearing in person and on the phone to my friends for absolutely no reason at all. The evening culminated in me wailing in despair as I began to slit my wrists fully clothed in a bath.

Ever since then I’ve tried to be careful with alcohol but after losing a lot of friends after isolating myself I was keen to maintain any friendships I had left so along came teenage parties. Exactly the kind of think I hate. So hello alcohol my anxiety saver. I drink and out comes this fabulous alter ego I almost aspire too at first. She’s fabulous, confident, makes people laugh and just seems like she has got her shit together. Then comes the next stage. Horrendously slutty. In day to day life I am petrified of men as I’ve unfortunately had some bad experiences and I hate the way some men just stare and the looks they give. Some men I am comfortable with but I still don’t let any touch me (platonically or romantically) sober.

Then its sadness and regret.

So why do I drink?

Firstly, for the elation. When I’m ill I feel suicidally low and even now when I’m recovering I just feel numb. Therefore why would I turn down the opportunity to feel an emotion which is predominantly happiness and joy at finally feeling so giggly and confident.

Secondly, to stay social and in touch with my friends. I can’t think of a social occasion with people of my own age I have attended in the last couple of years that hasn’t involved alcohol. To be fair I am probably in the prime profile of binge drinkers as a uni student and someone who is coming out of their teenage years but this is no excuse! I just wish that I could feel comfortable socialising without alcohol.

Finally, to feel wanted. I am so desperately lonely most of the time. Alcohol gives me friends and men to hold me. It’s not real I know but just for a few hours I can feel social, friendly, bubbly, confident and most importantly wanted.

I’m sure my reasons aren’t uncommon but I had a meeting with my psychiatrist today and he mentioned reducing my alcohol consumption. Many medical professionals and friends have recently expressed concerns over my drinking. Worryingly I think that its fine and normal and in fact drink a lot less than lots of people. Worryingly however I can feel myself itching to drink and take the pain away and it’s becoming all to easy to reach for a glass now. So before it becomes a problem I think I might stop drinking for awhile and since we have just started lent ( I am not religious but it seems convenient timing) I might try the next 38 days without…… I’ll let you know how it goes!vodkaimagehttp://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/health-effects-of-alcohol/mental-health/alcohol-and-mental-health/

Four ways to help prevent alcohol affecting your mood

  1. Use exercise and relaxation to tackle stress instead of alcohol.
  2. Learn breathing techniques to try when you feel anxious.
  3. Talk to someone about your worries. Don’t try and mask them with alcohol.
  4. Always be aware of why you’re drinking. Don’t assume it will make a bad feeling go away, it’s more likely to exaggerate it.

My Brain review on mindfump

So I did a brain review! It’s an interesting activity I found out about on mindfump.com where you can rate your brain out of 5 and give a short review of it. I found it a ‘soothing’ exercise and liked the reflection it allowed as well as the attempted creativity of trying to draw an optional brain scan.

Really recommend you guys check it out and maybe give it a go (Go to mindfump.com and in the brain reviews section there’s a link for submitting your own.)

Here’s my attempt!

Received model 20 years ago & it worked pretty well for the first 15 years with just a few blips. Unfortunately it has been temperamental since then, but currently seems to be in recovery mode.

Key facts about this model:

  • Memory like an elephant; which can be pretty useful for passing the odd exam and being organised. Depression seems to upset its memory though but the main fault is that it seems to save memory files incorrectly and surface really bad memory files at unhelpful times, which can cause system crashes.
  • Pretty logical brain but like most brains; stress and anxiety can affect its rationality at times and it can appear to have a ‘logical side’ and a ‘crazy side’ with it being hard to remain rooted in the logical side. 
  • Awesome acting ability so that it will feel as though you are wearing a mask and your emotions are concealed from others. This can be really useful for hiding the problems it’s prone too so you can continue with daily life but beware of this life-threatening function as it can very easily all boil over.
  • A big selling point of this brain in this age is the fact that it is unlikely that you will be fat because it’s eating disorder function will not let you relax around food especially when in front of others or let you eat certain food groups. If this setting fails there’s always the high anxiety setting that is sure to burn calories with sleepless nights, pacing and hypervigilance!
  • One thing however that makes all its flaws worthwhile; is the fact that it’s actually a really caring and kind brain as it’s always looking out for others and making time for them even if not in it’s own interests. Will always remain kind to others even if not to itself.

I would therefore recommend this brain to someone who wants to be kind to others but beware of its ‘malfunctions’ as sadly they detract from the potential of this brain and may cause a reduced lifespan due to its self-destruct function.brainscan

Significance of the male species

OK I think I’ll edit this and have a read through later as my Quetiapine is starting to kick in now and I feel so sleepy right now. so sorry for any errors..!

Before I took more I couldn’t sleep so thought I’d put down a quick few thoughts on the topic. I recently red this post (love and mental health) which I stumbled across when looking for something else but nonetheless it is a really interesting read I think and I’d really like to explore the idea of mental health & love in the future.

Men. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them! Although perhaps a jovial saying this is perhaps a fairly accurate description of how I feel sometimes about the stronger sex. (Fully aware that I am sounding like a self indulged hysterical teenage girl but I do actually want to try and address some feelings here so give me a minute to waffle please!)

Men have given me the greatest times happiest but also some of the worst times.

I have a wonderful and loving father & brother and greatly admire and respect a lot of men so please don’t think that for a minute I am not a fan of men. However I also am scared of men. I feel petrified walking down a street. I don’t feel safe even in broad daylight. I feel their predatory lingering stares boring into my skull as they follow their testosterone.

Perhaps this is unfair as it’s probably my paranoia and even if it’s not then it’s a minority of men who behave as such; but I am scarred by the memories of unwanted contact with them starting from around age 6. I have never been sexually abused (I just clarify this as it’s not my experience and I do not want to not away the importance/significance of those who unfortunately have) but unfortunately I have had quite a few unpleasant experiences from unwanted penetration with toys in doctors & nurses game gone wrong to rape. I am hurt by men and I have been damaged by them. Why are they doing this to me? Why are they ruining me for everyone else? Why do I still want to be with the species both platonically & romantically?

Give me a drink and I will sleep with men I can’t abide but I couldn’t sleep with the man I loved and who would have done anything for me. I’m scared. So scared that I have to drink myself into oblivion to be loved when all I want to do is be loved. Why is the world so cruel?

At the end of the day I just want someone to take away the pain but I don’t know if that will ever happen as how can you be loved if you don’t ever let anyone in?

“Where there is love there is life”- Mahatama Ghandi

The down low….

Just as a bit of background I thought I’d write this for you and allow myself a pity party and some reflection.

A common question or opening gambit from mental health professionals is “so tell me a bit about yourself.” This often leaves me in a blind panic or upset as how do I summarise the last 20 years into a minute or so.

I usually start with the basics: I have anxiety and depression diagnosed in 2012. Fairly standard but there’s a huge amount of emotion and related issues tied up in those 2 words and how much do you reveal to a stranger? On one hand they are a stranger so just say the bare bones and/or medical history side. Stay factual and scientific about it. Be safe.

I’ve learnt it’s very easy to play people and be selective in what you tell them as you conceal everything in an effort to save yourself the painful process of baring your soul to a stranger. You can force eye contact with them, radiantly smile and make up something about how about how sometimes you feel a bit nervous or down but you don’t really know why you have been referred here as you’re ok and it’s human nature to feel a bit down on edge occasionally. I’ve been under the care of CAHMS, AMHT and CMHTs as well as a multitude of school and uni mentors and counsellors but none of them have really helped as I haven’t taken advantage of their skills & expertise as I’ve always thought I could do better on my own and at the end of the day it was just about getting on with it alongside some pharmacological intervention from a doctor.

Unfortunately it’s a strategy I have applied for far too long and where has it got me? Here’s where: multiple suicide attempts, 5 years of self harm, an overdose induced psychotic episode, the pain of dealing with an eating disorder on my own, an inability to form relationships or to trust anyone, missed school and university as well as dropping out and the inability to hold onto a job in those periods.

I guess probably from looking at me as a child you could’ve maybe earmarked me as one for mental illness. The signs were all there shy, low self esteem, reluctant to join in social or group activities, strong family history of mental illness, first diet at 9 despite a low BMI. etc. I’m not saying there is anyway too spot a child headed for mental illness as then we could pick such individuals out and cure them before they were ever subjected to such a cruel fate. Unfortunately we cannot though and that is the nature of the beast so to speak as there are multiple biological, psychological and social factors that contribute to mental illness.

It is just with hindsight I can look back and see how it wasn’t normal for a 9 year old child to think she was fat, to cry on her windowsill alone at night feeling empty. However I’ve always had friends, got a string of A*s in school and outwardly appeared confident and independent so I guess it would’ve ben hard for those around me to spot I was struggling until it all became too much. Despite the struggles though I’ve still managed to succeed in life as we (mankind) seem to have a remarkable capacity to carry on despite distress and so I am now in most senses a fully functioning member of society who is at a good uni, who passes exams, volunteers, has friends, holds down a job and whatever else contributes to ‘normal!’

Anyway that’s enough of me  and my rambling! I would love to hear any thoughts/comments or personal stories you might have.