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Bipolar: Drinking Alcohol is not the Solution

Posted Sep 17 2010 10:09am

I stopped the pain of bipolar by drinking, but I almost stopped the pain by death. I didn't know alcohol made my bipolar worse until March 2009, when I quit drinking and decided to take control of my  life.

In 2002, I went into deep depression.  I had lost my son to the military and my 5 year relationship to a younger woman.  I felt abandoned and miserably alone.  I understood my son's choice to go into the army and better himself. The fact stands, I was afraid I would lose him, and I couldn't bear it.

After 5 years, I thought the relationship I was in would end in marriage. Except it ended abruptly when I found him in a awkward position with a very young girl.  The younger girl part make me feel ugly and old. I became a very angry person, betrayed, and very much alone.  I carried the anger with me for years until one day he called me to meet him.  I was hesitant, but I - had caused me so much ill and harm.

The breakup nearly destroyed me.  I started drinking heavily it seem to take the pain and memories away.  I was numb and I liked that.  Then in January of 2009,  I decided that this wasn't any good.  I could feel my health failing badly and decided it was time to take control of my life. 

I didn't have a job or insurance so I needed to find a way to get medical help.  My doctor recommended a state mental clinic where services were free.  I applied and was accepted and  received free medications - Lithium, Zoloft, Trazodone, and others that I tried and didn't work.  I applied to a state hospital where I could get medical help at a some price, and just recently had a colonoscopy for a small co-payment. 

When I was drinking the medications I was taking were not working.  The alcohol stop the affects of the drug so I was getting worse each day I drank.  Not drinking has really changed the way I feel.  Of course, I still have bipolar problems, but not as bad as I did have them.  Now my life mine is clearer and I know where to go and what to do to help myself. My dreams are starting to come together. Drinking is not the solution.

Hornbacher, who detailed her struggle with bulimia and anorexia in Wasted, now shares the story of her lifelong battle with mental illness, finally diagnosed as rapid cycling type 1 bipolar disorder. Even as a toddler, Hornbacher couldn't sleep at night and jabbered endlessly, trying to talk her parents into going outside to play in the dark. Other schoolchildren called her crazy. When she was just 10, she discovered alcohol was a good mood stabilizer; by age 14, she was trading sex for pills. In her late teens, her eating disorder landed her in the hospital, followed by another body obsession, cutting. An alcoholic by this point, she was alternating between mania and depression, with frequent hospitalizations. Her doctor explained that not only did the alcohol block her medications, it was up to her to control her mental illness, which would always be with her. This truth didn't sink in for a long, long time, but when it did, she had a chance for a life outside her local hospital's psychiatric unit. Hornbacher ends on a cautiously optimistic note—she knows she'll never lead a normal life, but maybe she could live with the life she does have. Although painfully self-absorbed, Hornbacher will touch a nerve with readers struggling to cope with mental illness
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