Thursday, April 19, 2012

Borderline Personality Disorder and Alcohol

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.
[source]


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.

19 comments:

  1. I don't think we have to tell you our stance on alcohol.

    So I'm curious, do you think alcoholism is a disease? I know a lot of people who classify it as such... I'm not so sure I believe that.

    My grandfather on my dad's side was a raging alcoholic. My dad? He drinks a beer here and there because he enjoys it, but he's not turned off by it. He just really has no desire to get drunk. As for me, I enjoy my beer and my whiskey, but I've never gotten out of control. So who knows what that means. All I know is that for me, in my particular case, it doesn't run in my family.

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    1. I haven't read too much into the subject to give a truly informed opinion, but I think with chronic alcoholism it has disease like symptoms but it's not a disease in the traditional sense. If you've been consuming large quantities of alcohol over a prolonged period of time it does have the capability to damage and alter parts of the brain. If you do this to the point where you are altered on a chemical level I think this alteration can be transferred genetically to children if you reproduce after the change has affected you significantly which could lend more credence to the possibility for a genetic predisposition towards alcoholism. Like many genetic predispositions though, there is also an element of choice and environment. My family has a high history of heart attacks, heart disease, strokes, and alzheimer's so as a preventative measure I am strict vegetarian. I'm predisposed to these things but I have chosen a lifestyle to make them highly unlikely.

      Alcoholism is an addiction. Like any addiction it can be a life long problem, and it does have the ability to damage your brain and body permanently but I don't think that makes it a "disease" in the classic sense of the word.

      Still, it's something I watch out for just in case there is that predisposition. Also, because drinking too much just isn't very healthy.

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  2. I have found myself drinking a lot less as of late. When I do drink (this is my current state, it is new for me, alcohol has historically made me goofy/loveydovey/lifeoftheparty) I get all sad and weepy and the emotional lability rears its ugly head. I had to excuse myself from a fun night out with coworkers because of it. We were at a drag show and thos queens just love their fucking emo songs and I was drinking "purple rains" because a prince tribute band was playing later that night. The vodka totally took me out of the moment and back into my head and I realized I was more or less trapped. Offered my apologies and went home and smoked weed til I passed out. I had one drink last night at the pub and could feel the melanchollies and so I left. Until Im over the breakup stuff I am just gonna avoid having more than one drink. I have been making such strides and I would hate to backslide because I cant control my impulses because my inhibitions are low from alcohol. Its funny, weed doesnt do me like that. Im me, just not a type A version of me, which would be me (I know in my heart) had I not been smoking weed the last 20 years. Yeah I would probably be a neuro scientist instead of what I am now, but oh well, there are always prices to pay for everything. This is my path and Im cool with it now. I am glad we arent all fucking cookie cutter. It gives us all a sort of intrinsic value. We are all special because we are not.

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    1. Yeah it's been making me really melancoly lately as well. Not that it hasn't done that lots before if I was already feeling mopey, but it definitely doesn't help. Sometimes it's better for me to just get all the weepy bullshit out (if I'm by myself). I can't recall being taken out of the moment when I'm drinking. Usually I'm so in the moment I forget to think about consequences, which I suppose is it's own problem, but a different, and often much funner one.

      Just one drink sounds like a good plan. Small backslides happen occasionally but if you can avoid them that's definitely going to be the better option. I've been having a hard time stopping myself once I get going though. I had only planned on one drink last night, but that turned into two, turned into three... I don't have a pause button when I get like that. I just want to drink until I'm not alone anymore, or asleep. Either way.

      I'm glad we're not all cookie cutters too =) There would be no point in having a conversation with anyone at all if we were all the same. Boring.

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  3. I agree that alcohol can be a great way to get a little numb when that is necessary but it can get out of hand fast. I have BPD and I have been warned by doctors about having BPD and the higher chance of becoming an alcoholic. Instead of alcohol to solve my problems, I have learned to deal with my BPD symptoms with help from http://onlineceucredit.com/edu/social-work-ceus-tdp. I recommend checking this site because it has very useful information.

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    1. It definitely can get out of hand fast. That's what I'm trying to be vigilant of now. I don't think I can quit drinking all together, but I'm definitely going to try and monitor better.

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  4. Haven, this may seem almost unrelated to the post at hand, but...my brain goes down strange roads sometimes. This might be one of them.

    I have an odd question related to Evil-Ex & ...chemical reaction?, for lack of better way to put it.

    Set-up for question: I have a co-worker with whom I've been ...emotionally entangled... for roughly 2 years now. He & I are friends: we like the same shows, have similar intellectual reactions to situations, and have well-matched senses of humor. There are indicators that he's on the socio spectrum, but the previous verdict of "yes, sociopath" may be overturned. (Narcissist seems more likely at this point, but... i'm not willing to go back to school to figure it out.)
    Here's the thing that puzzles me: his proximity to me *physically* affects both my cognitive abilities as well as my coordination. It *feels* like a high-school crush on the cute boy 3 lockers down--same physical & mental reaction. STILL. (even after 2+ years & lots of character analysis.) I observe that giving him a hug tends to dissipate the sensation, but workplace policy changed about a month ago so that is no longer an option. It reminds me of playing with magnets as child--the field of attraction screwing everything up until the charge was discharged, somehow.

    Did Evil-Ex ever cause a similar reaction in you? And did it last much longer than seemed logical and reasonable? Because 2+ years of this is just *deranged* from my point of view....

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    1. Yes, actually. I was very drawn to his prescense. Magnetically is a good way to describe it. It lasted almost 3 years when I finally broke and couldn't love him anymore. Every day I just wanted to be near him. Actually touching him didn't dissipate it, so much as ease the anxiety. And I always craved more, but that could be because he was often so distant and didn't give me much physical attention.

      But yeah, I would be anxious and freaking out when I was away from him, but actually seeing him or being near him was a huge draw.

      For me I think it coupled the obsession, the object constancy, and the lack of certainty.

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  5. Wow. It's hard to put into words what coming across your page has done for me. All of a sudden, I don't feel so alone. This is amazing, what you put down here in words.

    But to topic: I myself drink my fair share. My father was a heavy drinker when I was younger. I remember vividly seeing him hanging out the car half way, caught on the seat belt, wondering if he was dead. I drink a beer or two every night after work to wind down, not because I need them, just to relax. Although I do question that often, but then again what don't I question. But when it comes time to socially party. I pretty much get wasted. I am totally out of control and almost everybody loves me, whether I'm with people I know or with a bunch of strangers. Being wasted and all, sometimes I forget alot. But what I do remember is my mind slows, I don't over think nonstop. I don't constantly question my every move and every word. I can just live in the moment. Almost like it's my own little secret world and I don't have to worry about anything. I can be 'me'. The real me, and I love it.

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    1. "what I do remember is my mind slows, I don't over think nonstop. I don't constantly question my every move and every word. I can just live in the moment. Almost like it's my own little secret world and I don't have to worry about anything. I can be 'me'. The real me, and I love it."

      This is it, exactly. This is perfect. This is how I feel and why alcohol helps me so much when I'm out with other people.

      I find that I'm more likely to get out of control with my drinking when I don't know people. I have much more control, and much less need for the emotional assistance, when I'm with people I know.

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  6. I just wanted to say to be very, very, careful! You are dancing on a very slippery slope. It seems you drink for all the same reasons that I myself did and every other alcoholic I ever met. I'm not by any means saying that you are.. I have alot of alcoholism in my family, Ive always said that I was environmentally and genetically predisposed to become an alcoholic. So now i have a fancy label of having a co-occurring disorder. I have done several treatments for alcoholism over the years but never once did they give thought to the fact that there was anything else behind the curtain. Now that Im aware of my BPD I have a little more direction. I have tried so many meds with no luck. For me alcohol was the only thing that helped. I have a history of unstable relationships, (ya think) but my relationship with alcohol was by far the worst. Talk about idealizing and devaluing.... Like I said just be careful, if your drinking more then you wanted to, blacking out, passing out, skipping meals to drink more and not to screw up your buzz those are all kind of a red flags.

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    1. Yes. I do recognize that, which is why I'm trying to be more vigilant of it now. Sometimes I wonder if you can truly treat one condition without simultaneously treating the others. In the mind they aren't seperate compartmentalized entities. They mingle and feed off of each other.

      I definitely find myself drinking more than I want to and skipping meals to not screw up the buzz (also because I need to balance my calorie intake). Good things to monitor for sure.

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  7. 'Like I said just be careful, if your drinking more then you wanted to, blacking out, passing out, skipping meals to drink more and not to screw up your buzz those are all kind of a red flags'

    check, check, check, check and check. LOL, isn't that the only way to drink? I jest, kinda, well, not really...

    Haven, I used to drink about three, four times a week at my worst. I simply can't do that now... after all, alcohol can be pretty evil i think you'll agree! I make sure the weekend is when i allow myself to let loose. The reason i limit it to once a week (and i do sometimes do a mid-week session too if i really want it and i'm feeling stressed or upset), is cos i can't have just one or two drinks....so, it works for me this way and has been working for a few months now...Thank god, because like you, i did sometimes get nervous and maybe on occasion still do, that it could take a hold over me. But, I've been ok since I'm not depriving myself completely, just structuring and controlling it.

    Oh, and since i like my buzz, the more often i drink the more i'm gonna HAVE to drink to get the buzz...which ain't good since i like to feel good on as fewer drinks as possible.

    Oh and mood disorders and addictions....go hand in hand usually, but you know that.
    Good luck. You can definately get it down to a good level without putting pressure on yourself. :)

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    1. I'm sure you recall how often it seemed I drank for a while there. I keep telling myself that I'm going to limit myself to only drinking once a week too! That never quite seems to happen though =( I don't think I can quit cold turkey, and since I can't quite seem to limit to once a week I'm at least trying to be very vigilant about the quantity of alcohol I consume. And that seems to be working pretty well for me.

      ::laughs:: yeah the build up of an alcohol tolerance sucks. I've definitely noticed that. Plus if you eat too much before it inhibits the buzz as well. Limiting my drinking will bring down my tolerance and make that buzz easier. I'm pretty sure this is disordered thinking though =P haha.

      Sounds like you've been doing alright for yourself lately =) That's definitely good to hear. Thanks!

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  8. Well for me I WANT the alcohol to take away the pain but honsetly it only intesifies it I was recently diagnosed BPD and it completely fits me from a very young age there is no acoholism in my family but I can't help but drink. They say that the medication (effexor) I'm on makes you crave it and since I've been on it I have wanted it more so I believe that its true I had a lot of trauma throuout my life and honestly believe that's where all this stems from. I hope one day I feel better about things but if I haven't by now in my 33 years of life why would I now? If you ever need to talk look me up on facebook my name is Rena Bernard.

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  9. I believe this blog right here just changed my life. I'm thinking I want to have a drink just to celebrate. =) But I won't. Thank you.

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  10. Omg...I totally feel the same way...not sure when you wrote this post, but I can relate a little tooooo much, my dad was an alcoholic and so was my fam, but i would not consider myself a full blow "alchie" yet! Everything you said is reflective of my feelings and concerns exactly! Even the part you mentioned about alcohol being everywhere! When you feel socially insecure or depressed....its the easiest most "legal" escape. Thank you for your post as it helped continue to make me not feel alone.

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  11. Thank you for sharing this information. Alcohol is not good for health. In fact, mentally, physically, and emotionally, it creates many more problem.
    drug addiction

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