Marian Keyes on her alcoholism

From How To Fail With Elizabeth Day podcast > https://podcasts.apple.com/ie/podcast/s7-ep6-how-to-fail-marian-keyes/id1407451189?i=1000464666298

Alcohol had been a great friend to me from early teens, and it just became a better and a better friend… Everything was getting worse… My drinking moved from a worry to obviously alcoholic. I felt very depressed and I felt very hopeless, and I was so grateful to alcohol, because I thought, my god, this is helping me, because I was so unhappy, and how would I manage if this was taken from me?

I woke up one Monday morning and I was due to go to work. The depression that goes with heavy drinking is hardly a surprise considering that alcohol is a powerful depressant. I woke up and I thought I cannot go on like this…

Alcoholics are addicts who decide to get help. They often talk about a kind of jumping off point, where you realise you CANNOT CARRY ON as you ARE. But the idea of living without the … alcohol … Well I was in this paralysed, powerless, terrified state; I was on anti-depressants and I was on sleeping tablets; and I had took them all. And I don’t think I wanted to die, I wanted help. I wanted somebody to come along and helicopter me out of it… But by trying to kill myself, no matter how half-hearted it was, it kind of forced me into a point where I could no longer pretend that I was okay. And that got me into a rehab place. But even when I was going in there, I thought I was really DEPRESSED… I thought whatever was wrong with me … I needed to have therapy and some sort of trauma would be identified and then it could be sort of plucked out of me, and then I’d be fine and then I could go back and I’d be a normal person who could manage life and I could drink normally. Jesus, I was delusional, but that is part of the whole illness.

I was just very lucky that I went there and very quickly it dawned on me:

The only thing that’s wrong with me is that I’m an alcoholic.

And the only way I’ll ever be okay is if I stop.

And it was a clear revelation. But also I was heartbroken because this had been my best friend, it was the LOVE OF MY LIFE, it took away my pain, it took away my fear, it took away my sorrow and my heartbreak at my empty life and at my loneliness. The thought of being without it … I grieved it, like the way you would grieve a lover or a person who died. It’s a very powerful relationship, addiction, it’s incredibly enmeshed… and passionate… It’s like having a dysfunctional relationship with an abusive person. I knew what I had to do. And very quickly I became hopeful. My feelings changed really quickly. I was lucky, I think a lot of people who don’t get that immediate lift might relapse. But just because I wasn’t pouring this powerful chemical into my any longer, my mood changed. I could see the wonder of the world, which had seemed like it was misty and ashy and shrouded in grey for so long. And I had hope that I could have a life which was more like the lives other normal people had.

It’s such a hopeless condition, addiction – that feeling that every door is locked, that you’re trapped in this underground room. It is POSSIBLE to recover. It is POSSIBLE. And really and truly for me it was my waking thought, it was all about how I could drink, where I would get it, how I got the money for it, it was everything to me. I can be out now, I can go to parties, I can be at dinner with people, people can drink. I am almost literally blind to alcohol. The freedom I’ve been given, when I was such a prisoner. And now I don’t care if I accidentally smell someone else’s wine – I feel, oh my god! no get it away from me! It’s like horrible stuff.

All it made me feel was miserable for years and years.

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