Like a lot of people, I get stressed. I work in a busy environment where there’s no room for error and a lot of pressure to stay ahead of top of things. This is all multiplied by the fact that I’m self-employed!! Everyone deals with stress in their own way. Things happen, they get us down, but we all find a way to bounce back or get over it. Well, in addition to what I’d call “every day stress”, I’ve had to deal with a lot of underlying issues. Only I didn’t know what those issues were. Not fully, anyway. Even now I’m not 100% sure…although I’d like to think I’m heading in the right direction.
You know that “oooh, I know this, the answers on the tip of my tongue” feeling? Well, I’ve had that through a lot of my life. It’s just that the answer was never discovered. After a while, it became frustrating. A crack in the foundations that make up the person I am. It eats away at me constantly. Sometimes a voice reminding me that I don’t fit in or a subtle dig that something isn’t right but never giving me more than that. Maybe deep down I did know the answer but was just too scared or ashamed to admit it? I really don’t know. I wasn’t ever in a place to begin to think about it, let alone pause my life to re-evaluate who I am. No. I needed to block things out. Alcohol was/is fantastic for that. Stressed? Have a couple of drinks. Become too anxious due to over-thinking? Have a drink. It’s become necessity. I’m always busy during the day having to pretend to be ok that I don’t have time to think about anything else so really it was a drink to get me through the night. A way to survive, one night at a time. Days blur into each other, weeks become months and life no longer feels the same. It’s hard to look forward to something when you’re struggling to get yourself through a few hours. I didn’t even know if I’d still be alive in a year’s time, let alone plan/look forward to stuff. There have been times when I thought I didn’t need alcohol to numb my head. A sudden flash of positivity or determination to stand on my own feet. It’s fucking difficult. It’s like trying to remain upright whilst walking against a strong current. In the end, you get tired and give up. What’s one more drink gong to matter? It’s bad for me but hey, if I die…I die. I won’t have to deal with the shit that’s going on inside my head anymore. So really, it’s a winner. But there are people who depend on me. People I can’t let down. People I’ve made commitments to, so checking out early isn’t something I can do, despite what I think or feel. But then sometimes people around you add to your stress. They don’t mean to though. Any other person could handle it and not blow up internally. Not me. Just when I thought I could use daily life to escape the thoughts and niggling cracks in my foundations, I found that daily life was getting on top of me too. So getting tipsy is a no-brainer really. I can still interact with the world around me whilst not having to think too much.
Towards the end of last year, I was ill and prescribed codeine tablets. High strength painkillers that had zoned me out. It was fucking great. The doctor was actually helping me more than he realised!! I remember the first night taking them. I didn’t think, I didn’t move, I didn’t care. From the outside I was alive but on the inside I was on pause. No hangover, no being sick and no guilty feeling for taking them because a doctor told me to. When I ran out, I was really gutted. I was feeling a bit better but to be honest, I didn’t care about that. I cared more about not having codeine. No more free pass to getting zoned out…which meant no more quick and easy escape from the stuff going on in my head – which also meant no more quick and easy escape from the world if shit really did hit the fan…but I won’t go into that right now. So I tried to get my hands on more prescription or high strength pain killers but it was difficult without people getting suspicious. It affected my mood and made me irritable so I did the only thing I could: had a drink. I’m sure you can see where this is going.
I’m certainly not proud of having to use things like alcohol or prescription drugs as an escape or a crutch. It’s a difficult thing to admit and I hate myself for allowing things to become like this. Put yourself in position…what would you have done when you became so desperate to escape from things you couldn’t handle? Being secretly dependent on stuff is like a dual identity: one side is trying to appear ok to everyone whilst the other side is crumbling, trying to maintain the side that pretends. In fact, there’s a bigger and more important dual identity going on here: one side of me that’s lived according to how a male should live, pretending on a daily basis that everything is ok…whilst the other side knows that being a male is a lie and doesn’t want to have to pretend anymore, or take a back seat.
Featured image: via Google