Because of this, I kept most people at arm’s length from me. Instead of having a group of friends that was very close, I had many different groups of friends that I would bounce around with. In high school, it got worse. I started at a new place where I barely knew anyone, and I began isolating. I would spend weekends by myself only leaving to play sports. Thank god for sports. It was my only contact with the outside world and became my only social contact as well. It took me about a year and a half to get a new friend group at my new school. But this came at a price because to fit in, I started using drugs and alcohol. They all used, and I wanted friends, so I did, too.
I was really good at using. I could drink beer like water and the alcohol removed my shield of awkward anxiety and sadness away. I became popular with the guys, and to my great surprise, girls. For years, alcohol was my friend and worked for me. However, as I entered college, a shift occurred. It was not enough for me to just go out. The style of drinking I did in high school no longer worked for me. I was sad, I hid in my room during the day, and I felt worthless. I began using drugs and drinking on a daily basis. It had worked for me before, and I desperately wanted for it to work for me again. I was in a major depression and it showed in very different ways. I became less concerned with my appearance. I stopped giving a shit if people knew how many drugs and drinks I had. I would start drinking early, and blackouts occurred. I would use a variety of substances to make me feel anything, for even the slightest moment.
Life took some turns and my depression lessened. I was in love with a girl. The best three months of my life followed the next summer. I was working, I had a ton of money, a girlfriend, friends, and the party never stopped. I went to concerts, barbeques, on vacations, and just generally had fun. Life was awesome. As is the story with many summer loves, she left to go back to college, and I was also suddenly confronted with a separation of my parents. Life spiraled out of control for me again, and I used my parents as an excuse for my negative actions.
Because of my parents, I left school and I moved to Chicago. I fell even deeper back into my depression. I would spend entire days locked in my room. Keeping the volume down low so no one would know I was home, I racked up debt and began lying about everything in earnest. Life sucked and it was during this period in my early twenties that I first considered suicide. However things turned again. I got dumped, and almost immediately fell into another relationship. This was still one of many co-dependent relationships, but she kicked my ass into shape. I went back to college, kept working, and lived a life of rigid structure which kept me from sliding backwards for a bit. Like always, though, I began to fall back into my familiar tendencies. I doubted myself. I felt tired all the time. I drank more, and I lied about drinking. My anxiety was all over the place, to the point where I felt paranoid about basic aspects of life. Somehow I managed to get promoted at work. While I achieved goals, I got dumped again as my drinking and drug use continued to grow.
I began drinking each night and isolating in my apartment. I could count the number of friends I had on one hand. I lived to use. I would find myself skipping class, crying watching sit coms, and staying up super late because I didn’t want the next day to come. As is the story of my life, everything then took a giant swing in a positive direction. I graduated college, got promoted at work, and met an amazing woman whom I would eventually marry. Even though I felt lost inside, the amount of outside positive reinforcement I received in a brief period broke my mood. Looking back this is a very enlightening period. The outside world did not see me as the complete failure that I viewed myself. Depression ruled my entire life as an adult until this point. I was 25 and life was hard, but life got very good for many years following.
It is odd to see the same cycles repeat themselves and to just say I am an alcoholic at 31. I know know that my alcoholism was always with me and reared its ugly head when I was very young. However, I frequently wonder if I did not have my depression, if my disease would have had the right conditions to develop.
Want to read Melissa's side of the story? http://www.lifeimpaired.com/2/post/2014/01/the-d-word.html