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The Alcohol Problem

Alcohol began to play a role in coping with Nick's mental illness - for both of us. That's not to say that either one of us ever met the criteria for "alcoholic", but each of us at some point started to turn to it. I think this is an important topic to highlight, because while alcohol itself isn't necessarily a problem, our motivation behind the use of alcohol can be.

Before I go on, let me describe each of our alcohol behaviours before Nick started suffering. Before his suffering, I enjoyed drinking a glass of wine with dinner. This would occur 3-4 nights per week. Nick, on the other hand, hardly drank. He might have had 1-2 beers per month. In fact, whenever we went out to dinner and he ordered a beer, he would have a few sips and never finish the rest. He continues to do this to this day. It was, and still is, a regular argument of ours because it feels like a waste of money.

For me, alcohol became a problem starting early on in Nick's suffering - I just didn't realize it at the time. When he started suffering, my 3-4 glasses of wine per week turned into a nightly habit, and sometimes it was more than one glass.

But if I'm being honest, I didn't consider it a problem for a long time. I only started questioning my motivation behind my drinking when I started to notice a strange behaviour start to emerge in Nick.

Several months after Nick started suffering, I started noticing my wine disappearing faster than I was drinking it. After I would go to bed, Nick was pouring himself a glass of wine... and Nick hates wine. When I confronted him about it, he acted like it wasn't a big deal. He said he should be free to do whatever he wanted. And while that was true in theory, it couldn't help me from being concerned about this new behaviour - especially when he had always hated wine.

My solution? I started to hide my bottles of wine in the basement so he wouldn't find it.

I was hiding the wine in the basement for a few weeks before I started to realize that I, too, had a problem. I started to ask myself, "Why am I going to such great lengths to hide this? Why do I feel like I need this? Why am I even drinking at all?"

My answer was easy: because I was numbing myself.

My motivation to drink a glass of wine before he was suffering? I enjoyed it.

My motivation to drink a glass of wine after he started suffering? I wanted to numb my feelings.

This wasn't just a problem with Nick. We were both desperately attempting to numb our feelings. Yet, here I was, pointing the finger at him. I was accusing him of the early stages of a drinking problem because he wanted to numb himself, like he had with video games. And while I wasn't wrong about his desire to numb himself, I was being a huge hypocrite. I was turning to alcohol for the exact same reason.

Luckily, the fighting over alcohol only lasted a couple of weeks. Once I realized how hypocritical I was being, I decided to not allow alcohol in the house for a while. Instead of wine, I started drinking flavoured sparkling water.

I would be feeling all of the feelings from then on.

I would also become a regular habit to question my motivation before drinking. Before I ordered a drink or bought a bottle of wine, I was now asking myself: is this because I want the alcohol, or is this because I want to numb myself? If my honest answer was to numb, I wouldn't consume it. I still ask myself this question to this day.

Now that Nick has recovered from his somatic OCD, I can say we're mostly back to our old drinking habits. Nick still hardly ever drinks more than a few sips of beer at dinner. I still tell him it's a waste of money. And today, I actually drink less than I used to. I still have an occasional glass of wine, but the main difference is that I always check my motivation first.

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John Paul Schaeffer
John Paul Schaeffer
12. jul. 2022

Thanks for the honesty on your self reflection! I remember the amount of laughter that I created when I lectured my students in the business course on one of the best things they can do for themselves was to give up drinking alcohol ever again in any form! There is no reason to put that poison in your body!. alcohol has never been the answer to anyones problems ever in someone’s life and only adds to the misery‘s

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