The Experience Will Stay With You;

This is the blog of a recovering anonymous alcoholic. There's also some Marxism creeping in now and then. Feel free to post comments, but if you know me, keep them anonymous. Thanks.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Heroine

'Nurse Cadden was duly found guilty and the judge gleefully sentenced her to death. When the sentence was pronounced and the judge intoned: "and may the Lord have mercy upon your soul" she snapped back "Well, I am not a Catholic. Take that now." She was a very brave woman.'

Friday, August 25, 2006

A.A. Gill

He may be a middle-class food critic and friend of Jeremy Clarkson, but he is also a writer of pornographic novels and an ex-alcoholic. He was on Desert Island Discs this morning; there was much that was recognizable to an alcoholic. In particular, "depraved" is too grand a word to describe alcoholism; the salient features are crushing boredom, overwhelming depression, self-pity and guilt. He also picked some cracking tunes, two of which would be on my list. (Although, I would go for William Shatner's rendition of Common People and the English version of 99 Red Balloons, the German version is here: 99 Luftballons, from 1500videos.) Sadly, the programmed is not available online, but the track listing is available.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Confessions

A few days ago I ended a post on my depression with an excerpt from Karl Marx's "Confessions". This was a Victorian parlour game. Here are my answers.

Your favourite virtue: honesty

Your favourite virtue in man: magnaminity

Your favourite virtue in woman: resolve

Your chief characteristic: fear

Your idea of happiness: walking uphill in the sunshine

Your idea of misery: lack of purpose

The vice you excuse most: jealousy

The vice you detest most: misrepresentation, dissimulation

Your aversion: television

Favourite occupation: walking

Favourite poet: Ivor Cutler

Favourite prose-writer: Raymond Carver, Jeanette Winterson

Favourite hero: Leon Trotsky

Favourite heroine: Thelma & Louise

Favourite flower: black rose

Favourite colour: pink

Favourite name: Sammy Hilbert-Spaess

Favourite dish: chenna chatni

Favourite maxim: Everything flows

Favourite motto: Only connect

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Pollock

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Depression

I read in Humphrey Carpenter's biography of J.R.R. Tolkein that he wrote in his diary mainly when he was depressed. This presumably gives a somewhat one-sided view of his life. I used to write on scraps of paper and in assorted notebooks when I was very depressed. I've destroyed most of them, starting with a diary that came free with a copy of The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend that I got for a christmas present when I was a teenager (fifteen, I think). I can still remember throwing it in the wheelie bin outside the front of the house.

Conversely, I seem to be blogging only when I can see a glimmer of purpose or progress. I got back from Japan two weeks ago (after spending two weeks in that crazy country) and have been mired in depression, lethargy and futility since. The first day in the office was OK, filing expenses, etc. Tuesday morning I had a meeting with a support worker at the drugs and alcohol recovery centre. It was depressing (as is everything when I have a depressive mind set, surprise), I have a job and a flat and am not in trouble with the law, so what am I doing here? It lasted less than five minutes and I wandered aimlessly around town waiting for DAAP to start. The DAAP is the Drugs and Alcohol Awareness Programme. This was a half-hour seminar on the effect of drugs, a laughable thirty-minute video about drugs, presented by someone who'd clearly never had a hangover or even inhaled, a coffee break and then an AA fellowship type session. I was practically catatonic throughout the two hours. All of the other participants had tranquiliser addictions, and I felt no connection with them at all.

I floated into work devoid of thought, fading out of contact with others' reality, stared at my VDU, immobilised. I gave up and went to the pub, thus ended a 37-day dry run. There's no point getting depressed about that, it happens. Apart from the 89-day dry run over christmas and new year, it's the longest I've been dry in over ten years.

I stayed in bed from Tuesday afternoon to Thursday morning. I only got up Thursday morning because I thought I had a counselling session. When I checked my diary and realised it wasn't until Friday afternoon I could no longer function and started panicking. Then I started drinking again. Bought two grams of coke and went on a 24 hour binge. I collapsed onto a friend's couch around 1pm Friday and didn't get up until 8am Saturday; they came and went and came back. I briefly felt good, walking home in the sunshine, taking a detour through some greenery. I'd missed my counselling session, but who cares, I'd already given up on that.

Some friends visited on Saturday. Drank nervously and too quickly at a dinner party. The food was Japanese, which depressed me (I've been trying to forget about that wonderful land as reality bores me stupid, to tears). Couldn't function socially down the pub and gave up and went home. We went for a walk the next day, things were better. Hit the alcohol after and then a pub quiz.

Still with me? That's week one done. Nothing too bad, some moroseness and inability to cope with my futile existence; lethargy, binge drinking and drug taking. More staring blankly at the VDU on Monday. Gave up and went to the pub, but at least managed to sit outside in the sunshine and read a backlog of political articles.

Struggled into work briefly on Tuesday and Wednesday, but managed to do very little. Down the pub both nights. Normally, I would either (i) drink myself drunk, or (ii) not drink. I found myself drinking more slowly than normal, and leaving before closing time (which is 2am). I wasn't enjoying myself though, it was the repetition of a grim ritual. (I think that is paraphrasing Marcus Aurelius' depressing description of sexual intercourse, thrashing an entrail comes in somewhere, bloody stoics.)

All week I woke up, 6am, 10am, 2pm, and lay there in bed. Sometimes listening to the radio. Several hours would pass before I dragged myself out. I tried swimming as exercise to kick start me. On Thursday it was so late by the time I got up that I didn't go to work. I did manage to go kayaking, but felt scared and nervous on the water at first. I was knackered afterwards, but had insomnia, so went out and got drunk. Didn't go to work Friday either, do they even care? Why can't they just fire me, or even reprimand me or something? This is no way to treat an alcoholic!

Instead, unable to do any work, I noticed a copy of How to Cope with Stress on a bookshelf and read that. It had a questionnaire to determine personality type, I came up as "carefree", i.e. I don't suffer from stress and drink too much. That's helpful. It did have a surprisingly effective relaxation technique that's worth remembering. I went down the pub after and was described as louche, I was just so relaxed that I felt stoned. I lost at pool. I got a bit drunk.

Predictably, I spent several hours lying in bed, disfunctional on Saturday, went to a festival, smoked some resin and whited out. Got a train back home somehow. Tried to watch Blackadder on DVD but my new DVD drive is locked to some non-UK format (it was stolen, what do I expect?). The unlocking software I've got also was no use - it only gave me 15 minutes of the first episode of Blackadder III before asking for a registration code. Fuck it. I retired, defeated, once more. Stayed in bed till 4pm this afternoon. Tidied up the room. Got it all off my chest. Will probably go to the pub now.

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.
-- Confucius

Your idea of happiness: To fight
Your idea of misery: Submission
-- Karl Marx "Confessions" (a Victorian parlour game) ca. 1865

The experience will stay with you; and that's a promise.
-- The Independent (London), review of RoH production of Wozzeck