They say in the world of recovery that an alcoholic is insane when in the throes of his disease. I can definitely attest to this.
So many times when I was under the influence of drugs and alcohol I acted out in the most irrational manner towards others. Looking back I realize though, that the most insane behavior I displayed was definitely towards myself. Now, almost 9 years sober, I am finally beginning to recall how many times I wanted to end my life because of the intense mental anguish I was living with. Pain caused by the lack of love I had for myself and the immense shame compounded from years of addiction and demoralizing behavior. I remember feeling lost and lonely, fruitlessly searching for help from someone who understood what I was going through.
One night that will be forever etched into my mind took place when I was dating this woman in my early twenties. It was a terribly co-dependent relationship. The whole time we were together I suffered in my insecurities. I always needed to know where she was, often accusing her of infidelities. During that relationship, my alcoholism and co-dependency collided leaving me wallowing in what I thought was a bottomless pit of loneliness. I found myself huddled up on the living room floor of my girlfriend’s house crying into the ear of the suicide hotline operator on the phone. I told the person on the other end that I didn’t want to live and I didn’t know what to do. After about 15 minutes the person said they needed to get off the line. Thank the universe I made it out the other side. If only I would’ve had the awareness and sobriety at the time to find real help, like a psychiatrist. If only they were more available.
My insanity from my addiction continued for years. One night after going out to bars, I ended up with my friend in their car; a garden hose slithering through the barely cracked window. The garage was all closed up. As we sat and chatted about why we wanted to die, a moment of clarity came over me and I thought about my son. He was only around 2 years old at the time. The desire to not leave him fatherless was enough to get me momentarily sober. I immediately jumped out of the car and left.
One of the last attempts to commit suicide happened during college. I was very inebriated and arguing with my girlfriend. All I remember was coming to with the cops standing in the doorway of the house where I rented a room, my girlfriend and roommate trying to convince them that I wasn’t going to kill myself. The next morning, I learned about how the night before, I was wielding a knife and threatening to use it on myself. Instead, I stabbed it through a mattress several times.
Every single one of these instances was always followed by mornings with intense hangovers and a tired brain full of regret and shame. There were definitely more thoughts of wanting to end it all. I just wanted the pain and hurt to stop. So I’d drink, go insane, and wake up and do it all over again the next day. This continued for years.
On the morning after my last drink, I woke up with a fear in my bones. A fear probably pretty common among alcoholics. The feeling that something went horribly wrong the night before, but you just don’t remember what. A hope that is was all a nightmare and not reality.
The first thing I did was check my email and my browsing history on my computer. Then I opened my email. I sat stunned; staring at the screen with the worst headache. I read the email. It was from a female acquaintance who I deeply offended online the night before. She threatened to tell the world about me via her Facebook Status. She even wanted to turn me into Facebook security.
Somehow, I still dressed for work. I even picked up my carpool buddy and drove the 30 miles to work. But, the whole time I was working out a plan in my head. A plan of escape. An escape from me.
We arrived at work and I went to my cubicle in the back of the office. I docked my laptop and emailed my boss a one-line resignation. I snuck out the back door and drove back toward home. Suicide raced through my mind again and again. A quick fix for the pain. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about anything, I thought. I wanted to find a brick wall and drive right into it. I couldn’t think of any other option. I never used my insurance at work for mental health appointments and the Internet was still in its infant stages so there was no online psychiatry like there is now. It would’ve been great to have an objective voice to try to talk me down off the ledge. Instead, I was using the same brain that got me into this situation to try and solve the problem. Insanity.
That day I did remember there was a 12-step meeting in my town. From that moment on my life changed. It took getting into a 12-step program to get me sober. But, sobriety was only the beginning of my psychological journey. The real work began after sobriety when I was able to get real professional mental help and get to the bottom of many of the behavioral problems which I use to drink to cover Between recovery and professional mental health help I have come a long way. Almost 9 years sober now and I have the life of my dreams.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. 1-800-273-8255