I Accidentally Quit Drinking:
Not That You Have To? It was actually quite unhealthy.
By Emmanuelle Mccall
Graphic by Tess Adams
The goal: wake up before nine and catch up on work. Attainable for those who have mastered the influencer regime of "eating the rainbow" and going to bed at 8 pm.
Off to a great start; I woke up at noon in a whirlwind of anxiety and productivity paralysis.
I cut myself a little slack; allowing oneself the grace to be a couch potato, spending hours listening to music and scrolling through social media.
And snacking! "Slack" and dysphoria have taken turns dictating my day-to-day life since I "quit drinking." By the time I took my "morning nature walk" to grab takeout at 7 pm, I had to decide whether I'd accept an invitation to a party. Party: showing my face and performing as the radical, unbothered, confident social butterfly that I am in everyone's eyes.
You don't know me very well yet, but I'll take any excuse to stay in, "I wish, but I have too much homework, have fun for the both of us!" Clubs have been off limits since I and my hotshot Boston club D.J. ex broke up a couple of weeks ago. Since then, going out, bouncing self-consciously from side to side while my senses overstimulate as I cope with overconsumption, dissociation, subjected to the touch of unwelcomed men– and, worst of all, going to bed late, –has become my nightmare. Does avoidance equal wellness?
By 11 pm, I'd checked zero things off my task list and decided to dedicate myself to an act of service. Since when did having an unproductive Saturday become such a guilt trip? If I wasn't self-determined enough to fulfill my needs today, the least I could do was make someone else happy. It was time to bake the doormen the long overdue brownies I'd promised! By midnight I reached the lobby–brownies in hand–and particularly no one to hand them off to. "I've got nothing better to do than wait," I told myself. Moments later, I was covered in blood.
Adults always say to cherish your college days and have fun! They'll be memories before you know it."
A boy stood rattled in the foyer with a lifeless girl leaning against him. My eyes traveled from the boy's bulging eyes to his accidentally tye-dyed white shirt as they met the barely recognizable face of the injured club trooper. Blood diffused from her right eye like an eternal well.
I was directed to carry her to the seat and grab paper towels. Running back towards the troopers while on the phone with 9-1-1, the 19-year-old began to vomit on herself.
Like the blind following the blind, another resident returning from the club took the stage yelling, "I'm an E.M.T." as she straddled the barely conscious girl. With the young lady's head in one hand and the paper towel in the other, she violently rubbed the two together. She then began undressing the semi-conscious girl's top, saying, "we have to clean the blood! It will look better when they arrive!" She seemed conscious enough to feel discomfort but not enough to advocate for herself.
'How did I get here?' She and I were probably wondering the same thing.
For a quick second, when karma doesn't exist, I thought, "at least she has an excuse for being here." She'd sleep this one off, but me, had my (once healthy) self-isolation and unproductivity due to a surplus of free time become so extreme that the universe was frantically subjecting me to any form of human contact?
Those adults forgot to mention that "the good old days" are terrifying when you're mentally ill.
It's pretty simple. She was having a classic Friday night with a few added cuts and bruises from the fall out of her uber. A 2018 report published by N.C.E.M.S.F. reported that 23% of E.M.S. calls are alcohol-related.
I won't waste my breath telling you to ‘watch your glass and pace your drinking, to eat and stay hydrated before you go out, to party with people who you trust, to call a car home, or make any comment about who you should have 'sleepovers' with depending on your consumption’.
Somehow we found ourselves sharing a moment of powerlessness that Saturday night. She had over-partied, and I had under-partied? Pick your poison.
As for myself, the statistics have become a bit complicated. Studies on various forms of depression conclude that such illnesses result in a higher likelihood of alcohol dependence. A study by I.S.R.N. Psychiatry unveiled that among individuals with high alcohol dependence, nearly 64 percent experience depression. That could've explained how I coined the title "life of the party" in high school (or, to be honest, up until this year).
Besides the obvious potential development of long-term liver malfunction, alcohol masks itself as the perfect depression antidote. Like cardiovascular exercise, increasing Blood alcohol levels is directly parallel to the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Another disguised effect is the production of dopamine and serotonin–the happy hormones –when alcohol is consumed. Those with mental illness, particularly depression, feel the effects twofold. The euphoria and sedation are golden, but the decrease of the central nervous system, drop in GABA, and increase of glutamate in your brain make your depressive symptoms worse.
To add the icing on the cake, skipping "just one pill" has become the theme for many trying to find the balance between self-care and necessary fun. Dr. Sarah Ramsay Andrews, a psychiatrist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says that side effects of antidepressants, including nausea or dizziness, can be amplified. The point is balance.
Even if you do not have a diagnosed mental illness, haven't just entered the breakup blues, or just received a diagnosis for any condition that may require you to take antidepressants but have social anxiety, keep reading.
So why does my therapist keep telling me that alienation from partying is detrimental to my depressed mood? If it is not clear, I don't like being a statistic. The tragic night has encouraged my relaunch into nightlife and the prospect of drinking again. I haven't mentioned that the breakup was one of the best things to happen to me. Here's how I go out now:
I will not hook up with anyone I am not interested in dating.
I will not wear anything so uncomfortable that I can't dance like I'm alone in the shower.
I will clean my space before leaving the house, so I wake up feeling a little less gross.
I will not go out when I am behind on work or dealing with negative emotions.
I will refuse to hold back on dancing. I'm sure innumerable scientists have said that moving our body relieves anxiety.
And, most importantly, I will not drink.