Is a book written by Elizabeth Vargas, I listened to it on audiobook and really liked it so I found her story on YouTube.
I’m watching her 20/20 interview where she talks about her alcoholism. One of the things she said that made me stop the video to reflect was how the hangovers evolved.
The alcohol so changed the chemistry of her body it created a cycle of demand… she says your heart doesn’t feel like it’s beating, it feels like it’s fluttering, and it’s not even like your hands are shaky, your entire body is shaky, you’re shaky inside and the only thing to stop it was to drink some more.
I had never read or heard anyone describe this before but it’s exactly what I felt on days after drinking excessively, like 1.5 liter bottle of wine plus a few vodka and ginger ales in one day. I would start drinking wine at noon or so and drink until that bottle was gone (1.5 liters!, the equivalent of 2 regular bottles of wine), if I didn’t have another bottle(!) I’d start drinking vodka mixed with ginger ale until I passed out, blacked out or decided to go to bed. This could be 10 – 14 hours of continuous drinking. The next day would be hell. If it wasn’t a day I could stay in bed all day and had to get up and actually function I would feel like death. My head pounding, my heart fluttering, my mouth dry, sticky and tasting like old, stale booze no matter how many times I brushed, my hands shaking uncontrollably and feeling like I was shaking, – no, quaking, on the inside, like an energizer bunny on speed, it was the most awful feeling. Plus the depression, despondency, regret, shame, guilt and self-hatred. Many times if I was alone, just wanting to die, wishing it would all end, that it would just stop.
I struggle to recall and articulate my alcohol use progression, how alcohol has affected me over time. In many of the stories I read and listen to the individuals can recall a specific drinking event that started them on their way to alcoholism, they can recall the very first drink. Now, I can recall the first time I used weed and didn’t feel anything AND the first time I used and got high but I cannot remember my first drink. I know that I got in a lot of trouble as a teen because of drinking. I remember my aunt’s wedding when I was 14; I was drinking people’s leftovers and got pretty drunk, it’s actually a story that gets told and reminisced a lot in my family.
I remember in my mid-twenties talking about my mom being an alcoholic and not wanting to be one because I didn’t want to never be able to drink again. And I didn’t even have a problem back then. Although I did drink to get drunk when I drank. I didn’t just have a drink, so maybe the problem was there, who knows.
In my late thirties I started drinking long island iced teas on the weekends and would be drunk every Friday and Saturday night, using Ritalin (that I was prescribed) with my husband and staying up until 3 or 4 am then sleeping until noon. My kids were teens back then and my youngest lived with her dad so it wasn’t like we had to get up early and take care of kids, like now.
Then came the wine. I specifically remember reading a diet book, like the Supermarket Diet or something like that where the author said one glass of wine while cooking or eating dinner is fine and I was off to the races. She had given me permission, apparently. But one glass turned into more. At one point I was trying to lose weight and traded wine in my wine glass for Crystal Light but I don’t think that lasted very long and I was still drinking Long Islands and taking Ritalin on the weekends.
Then in 2012 I was tired of being sick and tired. I wanted to stop but I didn’t want to stop. I wanted someone to make me stop. And I wanted to get out of my house, there was so much chaos going on. My daughter was living here with her son and she had a boyfriend she was with all the time and she was always using my car and I didn’t know how to say no to anything. So, I decided to go to rehab. My husband was surprised, he didn’t believe I had a problem. He was not on board with it but he’s not the type of person to stop me from doing what I have my mind set on (except when I wanted to rip up the carpet in the living room, he practically begged me to please not do it today, that time I listened).
So I got myself on the waiting list at a rehab like it was going to be a vacation. When the day came I got wasted because I thought, may as well, since this is the last time I’m going to drink. I cried most of the way there and when I was there and my husband was gone and I was alone, I was terrified. I cried myself to sleep. And I woke up to a bang and my bed moving. Did I mention I was terrified? Now I’m even more terrified! My bed is moving! I was frozen in place, didn’t know what to do. Eventually I realized the walls were super thin and the beds moved, someone in the next room with a bed on the adjoining wall was tossing and turning and the bed was hitting the wall and shaking my bed. I instantly regretted being there and I wanted to go home. In the dark I was bargaining with God, let me go home and I’ll never drink again. I probably could have just called J and asked him to come and get me but by this time I realized what a stupid thing I had done and I was embarrassed and didn’t want to crawl home with my tail between my legs. I spent 21 days and paid on the bill for 3 years and here I am almost 6 years later having spent almost the entire time drinking. No more Ritalin ’cause the doctor won’t prescribe it to me since I’ve admitted to being an addict, and no more Xanax either. I guess that’s one good thing that came out of it. I suppose I could go to a different doctor but really, that would be just stupid.
I’ve lost so many days to drinking and recovering and being sick. The number one best thing about being alcohol free is waking up every day without a hangover. I hope I can remember this the next time I’m craving. I read Alcohol Explained, I know what it does and what to expect and I don’t want to drink I just hope I can remember that shaking on the inside, that awful, horrible feeling of wanting to die just so the misery would end.
It’s just not worth it to me anymore.
Day 23. I’m not going to drink today.