The Bipolar Bum

Backpacking and Bipolar II. Taking Manic Depression on tour.

#Bipolar #Alcoholism #Selfmedicating

#manicdepression #mentalhealth #mentalillness #alcohol #alcoholism #bipolarbum #cartoon


Short term: Amazing Anything else: Disastrous

Short term: Amazing
Anything else: Disastrous


Conforming to the English stereotype as I have in the past means that my relationship with alcohol has been intense to say the least.  My first experience of it was at thirteen being dropped off at a friend’s for a “sleepover” (English kids don’t even have these, oblivious parent much?).  Before the car was even out of sight my older friend had begun jabbing my back with a bottle of Smirnoff Vodka.

“Get some of that down you before we get there”.   I was compliant.  I arrived at the first party I’d ever attended absolutely blasted after a third of a bottle of vodka. I felt great and my hyperactive, amusing behaviour meant that I was the toast of the town among my compatriots.  Rarely was there a dull moment when I was around alcohol.  I discovered I hated the taste of beer, wine and cider and until that changed some five or six years later, my weapon of choice was always a neat spirit.  Red Aftershock and I often embarked on an evening hand in hand.  My body rejected the volume of spirit I was giving it, obviously.  The consequence of this was that I was happy to throw up three or four times a night, minimum and keep filling ‘er back up.


My relationship with alcohol definitely didn’t become more moderate over time until I was made by my now-ex partner to swear off of spirits altogether, because I was ‘too much’ whilst on them.  I agreed and for years held to it.  Eventually I got back onboard the liquor train and regular service resumed.  The one man riot had re-surfaced.  Friends with bands loved to take me along to gigs because even if there were only a handful of people making up the audience (a regular occurrence) they would feel as though they were playing to a decent sized crowd on account of how absolutely over the top my behaviour was and how I would do anything to whip anyone around into a frenzy.


After the age of about seventeen I began to feel INCREDIBLE amounts of guilt when hung-over.  This was well before my diagnosis and I just assumed that I had been in the routine of needing to apologise so much after a night on the ale that I had somehow trained my body to feel guilt whether I had done anything wrong or not.  This was plausible enough that I never challenged the theory until a decade further on, last Christmas, when my diagnosis was forth-coming.


I have written this story out in such detail not as an ego-trip (Quite frankly I’m ashamed of how heavily alcohol has featured in my formative years), but to decisively state how padestrian my approach to SERIOUS alcohol abuse was.  It is a similar story to most English kids and I was quite unaware of how we differed to the majority of other places in the world until relatively recently.


I haven’t touched alcohol since Christmas, as I very quickly linked the guilt I was feeling with the fact that alcohol is a depressant and I didn’t need anything causing FURTHER malfunctions with my brain chemistry.



I have thusfar found no distraction or alternative strategy to deal with having what I would call an itchy brain.  There are days when every thought seems to be barbed;  When I am beset by a sense of impending calamity, and every thought takes on a prickly, irritating quality as though the inside of my skull is being given a rash.  This isn’t the sinking, numbing onset of depression.  It may even be hypomanic irritability for all I know, I’ve only recently become fully aware of it.


What I do know is that when I enter this state -I am defenceless.  I currently have to grit my teeth and hold on until I take my meds, then pray that they send me off to sleep.  Before I would have had a big glass of whiskey and it would have almost immediately mellowed me out.


Alcohol used to allow me to travel through time.  I could calm myself down and, if required, use it to fastforward to the next day.  It slowed my thinking down to a crawl if I needed it to and meant that I was far easier to distract with T.V, company or music.  In a sober state I find my thoughts become quite sneaky and find ways around my defences.  I may be distracted, but only enough that I don’t become consciously aware of negative trains of thought until it is too late.  Sobriety enables my mind to turbocharge negativity if it decides that’s the way it is going.


Truthfully, a lot of the time I just miss being able to drink good brandy and whiskey.


What is your relationship with alcohol?  Have you found a good alternative or do you still imbibe whilst being medicated?  Do you find that you feel particularly guilty or low in the mornings?  I want to hear from you.


All the best,



2 comments on “#Bipolar #Alcoholism #Selfmedicating

  1. stockdalewolfe

    I found therapeutic grade St. John’s wort in California, was put on Zyprexa and that pretty much took care of my need to drink. I regret spending years in an alcoholic haze. And, re: vomiting… Thanks to living in fear of my alcoholic father vomiting ,I don’t think it cool at all and have a bad phobia about it. In fact, I find little good about being a drunk. It is a form of self-medication and a poor one at that. For years my therapist told me my drinking was aggravating my depression. I wish I had listened to him sooner.


    • stockdalewolfe

      Oh, and beside the St. John’s wort and Zyprexa, Navane and Klonopin. Klonopin will mellow you out. I have used it in crises– now on a low dose all the time.


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