Sunday, July 8, 2012

Bipolar Alcoholic: I Need To Stop Drinking

Bipolar Disorder and Drinking Alcohol
My husband is out of town for a couple of days. He is the consistent one with routines. When he is here, my behavior is more consistent too. For example, the kitchen gets cleaned every night, counters and all. The kids get put to bed at the same time, with the same bedtime routine.

A Change in Routine
There is an upside to him being gone. The kids get to be part of the "lets have fun and be irresponsible" side of my personality. Like a treat...something fun to have every once in a while, but not all the time. The big downside, when on my own is that I always drink more. And that was the case last night.

It's not as though I don't drink when my husband is here. I do. I drink every single night, a bottle of wine or more, except when I am sick with a cold or some other infection. But when he is out of town, I stay up later, drinking longer and more.

How Alcoholism Impacts My Immediate Physical Health
The entire family is getting over a respiratory infection right now. I am just about better, but still have a bit of a gunky cough. When I started drinking last night (2 beers), I felt fine. Then I switched to red wine, in a little glass intended to slow my consumption, but I filled it up about a bazillion times.

Even after drinking quite a lot, I didn't feel drunk. I imagine that with so much regular alcohol consumption, my tolerance is very high. Although I didn't feel drunk, I could feel the impact of the alcohol in my immediate health. My ears began getting plugged and popping, my throat started hurting. My cold symptoms got worse because my body was working so hard to deal with the alcohol, making my immune system too busy to fight the cold. 

How Alcoholism Impacts My Mental Health
Alcohol can also interfere with the action of bipolar medications. And even the immediate effect of being intoxicated causes a person to be less inhibited, and more of a risk taker. My mind was unhinging last night. I could feel the "crazy" coming and it reminded me of when I needed day hospitalization. Bottom line, I know that alcohol has a very negative impact on my mental health.

How Alcoholism Impacts My Family
In addition to the dangerous impairment of judgement that happens when a person drinks, I just hate to have my kids see me with a drink in my hand all night, every night. It is a horrible example. The little kids aren't old enough to entirely understand, but my teen is getting a very clear message, that consuming large amounts of alcohol is okay. I don't want to keep sending that message.

Long-term Effects of Alcohol Use on Health
I worry about my liver, and sometimes take ibuprofen or acetaminophen pain killers at night, which taxes the liver even more. Alcohol is a toxin, and alcoholism worsens health in numerous ways. When the body is busy eliminating alcohol from the system, it can't devote as much effort to the normal tasks of running the body. In addition to cirrhosis of the liver, chronic alcohol consumption leaves the body vulnerable to numerous infections and certain types of cancer. And like smoking cigarettes, it makes you look older sooner. In short, it disables the body.

So What's My Plan?
I want to stop consuming alcohol, and I understand that, like making good dietary choices, I need to move through this one choice at a time, and try my best to make choices that are good for my body and my family. I wanted to put this all on the blog so that I am accountable to readers, and hopefully more likely to stick to my objective of eliminating alcohol from my life. I quit smoking cigarettes. I can do this too.

Wish me luck! Leave me some good advice, if you have any.

Evening 7/8: I had my first alcohol-related test and failed, but just a little. My youngest kids and I are staying at a hotel with a pool, just for fun tonight. The hotel restaurant is a sports bar. It was a little too tempting, and I ordered a 22 oz beer. But then I drank about 8 oz of it and began feeling yucky and I stopped drinking it. So not too bad. I was able to stop. I'm still shooting for no alcohol consumption, and will keep working at it, choice by choice. Another benefit...think of all those calories I won't be taking in by avoiding glass after glass of wine every night!

Evening 7/9: Failed to abstain my second night as well. But at least I kept track of my alcohol consumption, rather than drinking from a bottomless wine glass all night long. I also paid attention to how I felt when I drank. The two light beers I had in the early evening made me only the tiniest bit buzzed, and gave me a headache. Throat started hurting 1/2 way into first beer, but kept going anyway. Late in the evening, after the kids were in bed, I sat down to watch a movie and had two glasses of red wine. The trigger to drink in the evening is so strong, but at least I am keeping track and drinking less. I won't stop trying to kick the booze.

Evening 7/10: This is hard! Husband asked if I wanted to have wine with dinner and I said yes. (He doesn't know I am trying to stop drinking. I know I should tell him, but he was not supportive when I tried to stop smoking, and I don't want to fail at this with him looking on.) I had a glass before dinner, and then two more. It's good at least, that I am paying attention to how much I'm drinking and am able to stop before late evening, and switch to tea. I'll keep trying.

Afternoon 7/11: We went to a beer garden for lunch and I drank only water. Good choice!

Evening 7/18: Still having about 3 drinks per night, and want to reduce that, but still don't seem to have enough willpower once evening rolls around. But have not reverted to the bottomless wine glass. Am finishing one drink before starting another, so can keep track of exactly what I am drinking. Also starting to drink later in the evening and switching from alcohol to hot tea earlier at end of night.

Any more updates on my struggle to quit drinking will be posted as tweets, in the Big Fat Bipolar Tweets section of the sidebar.

Bipolar Stats:

  • Level of Mania (on scale of 1 - 10, with 1=none, 10=practically levitating): 1
  • Level of Depression (on a scale of 1 - 10, with 1=none, 10=can't get out of bed):
  • Medication Compliance (0 = not taking, 5=taking some, 10=taking all): 10
I am recording my mania and depression bipolar data separately because I often have mixed episodes where manic and depressive symptoms occur at the same time.

This blog is for informational purposes only, it is not intended to be used for the treatment of mental illness. If you are having emotional troubles, please see a mental health professional, not a computer. 


  1. Good luck! Using alcohol for the euphoria is short-term and like robbing Peter to pay Paul - except more like robbing Peter several times and then not having anything to pay back. I'd like to drop my intake zero ... it's at about one (strong) drink a day ... but have been reluctant to give up a ritual I have enjoyed for so many years. (I think my reaction is stronger than most people; it's a wonder I've never been alcoholic. Perhaps it's because the prospect disgusts me so much.) I realize my stubbornness is stupid, but I'm already grumpy enough about the other sacrifices. I think when I quit it will be a threshold event and an indication I believe anew in my future.

    Be strong!

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  3. Drinking one bottle or more of wine per night indicates a serious problem. No doubt your husband and your children are suffering with you. Please consider AA and counseling. Your whole family will thank you.

    1. Did you read anything she wrote?

    2. Did you read anything she wrote?

  4. I understand exactly how you feel. I am bipolar2, rapid cycler- and mom of 3 boys 14,12,and 3. I use my nightly bottle of wine as a ritual and way to seperate the day since I am a stay at home mom. Being bipolar unfortunately isolates me and I rarely socialize with other people so when I drink at night it feels like I am going to a party, or something absurd like that. Even sicker, is that I smoke while drinking,so I will be huddled outside in 0 degrees *and going outside makes me feel like Im leaving the house* I have tried so many times to quit, even after I have had some real emotional outbursts and bad evenings, I always go back to that ritual. My husband is an enabler,and does not ever discuss my mental illness. Weakness frightens him. I dont know what I would do with my night if I wasnt drinking. I have inability concentrating on book reading, and have little personal space in my home. It almost seems hopeless sometimes. I also tend to take my medicines at night before bed, so combining everything cannot be good for me. Lots of love and positive vibes for you- you are not alone!