I drink. I drink often. It’s not always what people would consider a lot, but it’s something. Especially as I tend to drink alone. Usually my reason for drinking is because I’m alone. I don’t think I’m an alcoholic because as Therapist has stated I don’t obsessively think about it, I don’t NEED to have a drink when I get home, and if I don’t get anxious at the thought of going a day without it (which I frequently do). It doesn’t make me miss work. It doesn’t interfere with my functionality. But that doesn’t mean I’m not concerned about it, and I am afraid it’s becoming a problem for me.
Why Do Alcoholism and BPD Co-Occur So Frequently?
Why do people with BPD also often develop alcoholism? Most likely, several factors that account for the high rate of co-occurrence. First, BPD and alcoholism may share common genetic pathways. That is, some of the genes that put people at higher risk for BPD may also create higher risk for alcoholism. Also, there may be common environmental causes for alcoholism for BPD. For example, experiences of maltreatment in childhood (such as physical or sexual abuse, or emotional abuse or neglect), have been linked to both BPD and alcoholism.
But, there may also be other reasons for the link between alcoholism and BPD. Individuals with BPD may use alcohol to decrease the intense emotional experiences that are a hallmark of BPD. Because people with BPD have strong emotions frequently, casual use of alcohol may lead to abuse or dependence.
One of the reasons I worry about this is because my grandfather was an alcoholic. A recovered alcoholic, but an alcoholic. He drank a lot and was often violent…. Until I was born, and he gave up all alcohol until the day he died. We’ve all heard the “it skips a generation” saying. I have a theory that this is because the next generation is the one directly affected by the consequences of the first generations problem so they are less likely to engage in that problem themselves. The 3rd generation however has not been as directly exposed to it, so without the vigilance the 2nd generation had, they fall prey to the commonly occurring predisposition towards addiction. My father does not drink. Maybe a glass of champagne on holidays at dinner, but otherwise he does not drink. Myself, my brother, and my sister all drink a lot. It’s something I keep an eye out for because I have enough problems ruling my life, the last thing I need is a demon in a bottle granting me unfulfilled wishes as well.
In high school, it was impulsive and binge drinking. It was a fun time with friends, rebelling against the rigidity of my home life. It was an escape from the rules and regulations. It was relaxing.
At University it was a way to escape the stress and anxiety I was under to meet the academic standards I required myself to perform at. I’m not sure when exactly this started though. I don’t recall drinking a lot my first 3 years at University (I was there for 6 years to earn my Bachelor’s and Master’s in succession). My final year of undergrad I was a little more social but didn’t have much of a social life so I would have relatively few drinking binges. When I entered Graduate school and moved in with Sister we started drinking more frequently. My schedule was less rigid, and while my classes were more difficult, they were all of my choosing and interesting to me as my focus so grad school didn’t feel as daunting to me as undergraduate did. I went out more. I dated more. I was more social. I was more self-conscious. I had more pressure to achieve academically. I was constantly stressed out. My eating was at it’s most rigid and restricted, my exercise was compulsive, my studying was obsessive… drinking was the only time I was able to relax a little.
When I moved to New York my first 6 months I lived by myself 4 hours out of the city for job training, away from everyone I knew here. It was just me and my cat. I drank a lot. The loneliness was debilitating. Numbing my mind was the only way I managed to make it through some nights alone.
Numbing my mind. Quieting the obsessive ruminations. Stilling the self-hatred and worthlessness that I created. I was beyond accomplished academically and professionally already, and yet, I was alone. Being alone was my only real fear at the time. Specifically being alone in the long run, never finding someone to settle down with, but being alone, being lonely, was never good either. Drinking made the internal darkness a little more manageable. Alcohol blurred the harsh edges of the pain I’d feel. Made it more bearable.
When I moved in with Evil-Ex we drank a lot for the pure fun of it. We had enormous parties and events and for the first time in my life I felt like I was able to enjoy my social life the way I never could in university. Then of course things took a turn for the worse and I would drink to dull that pain too. To ease the anxiety he would create. Ease the tension that often sprung up between us. Ease the sting of the abuse he would inflict. And finally to forget the torment that I had to endure day after day even after we had broken up but still lived together. The pain was a firey inferno melting my emotional skin. Alcohol was the only thing I had to help extinguish the agony. Take my thoughts to a better place where things were softer and less dire.
Throughout my life I would be so uncomfortable with who I was that I couldn’t be comfortable in my own skin. Drinking helped me settle into myself a little better. Took me out of my head and put me back into my body. It still does this if I’m out with crowds or people I don’t know.
Interestingly I am much less inclined to drink if I’m with people I do know and am comfortable with. When I went home I had some drinks with sister over the course of the day, but there was no intention to get drunk and I cut myself off easily. When I hung out with buddies from back home I had no inclination to be someone I wasn’t. When I’m hanging out with Roommate and her boyfriend I don’t even think about having a drink… unless of course it’s been an extremely stressful day or something triggered me into anxiety.
I often drink to deal with stress. I wish Pyschiatrist prescribed benzos because I do need something to help me alleviate my situational anxiety and I would prefer something that doesn’t have the caloric content of alcohol. Yes, that is actually one of my bigger concerns. Alcohol has a lot of calories that I don’t want. It may sound stupid but in order to accommodate drinking, that means I need to eat less or I’ll go over my caloric intake. It’s not nutritionally sound.
And when I’ve been drinking more and more frequently it does begin to worry me. Roommate has been gone the last couple nights and she’ll be gone tonight too. I’ve been very lonely and therefore drinking more often. This is a problem because she’s going to be moving out in a month or two probably. I need to get used to dealing with being alone in a healthy way. Not by drowning my anxiety in a glass of liquid relief. I just, get stuck. I can’t seem to make myself move in a way that is more productive. I’m so tired after such a long day that I don’t have the energy to do anything.
I get bored easily and drinking helps cure that as well. Everything becomes a little more amusing. A little more fun.
Ironically, I don’t really like drinking that much. I like that it relieves my anxiety, but I’d prefer to take my anxiety medication and take a nap. Alcohol also screws up my sleep. It disrupts sleep in general and I don’t need to be exhausted at work. But more importantly the last thing I need is to be too exhausted to go to the gym which helps me regulate my mood and my body image. Sleep is also important for keeping my moods steadier. PLUS, alcohol is a depressant, which is just not good for a depressive personality in and of itself. Ugh! There’s just nothing good here.
But everything seems to revolve around alcohol these days. All our social activities. All our events. It’s easier to avoid if it’s not present, but how do you turn it down when everywhere you turn it’s in your face?
Alcohol is an escape.
Alcohol calms and numbs my mind.
Alcohol eases anxiety.
Alcohol reduces my stress.
Alcohol lets me relax.
Alcohol helps me settle into my own skin.
Alcohol takes away the emotional pain.
Alcohol makes me feel less lonely.
How do you compete with cutting something out of your life that seems to do so many things for you? Because I know that it’s just a cover. A mask. It doesn’t really solve any problems. In fact, mentally, physically, and emotionally, it creates more. I have to fight this before it becomes a full blown addiction and it’s even harder to hold back.