In the past month, I have changed three pretty major things about myself. One: I legally changed my name to Kailyn Mable Middlemist, shedding my abusers’ last name. Two, I started using they/them pronouns, something I’d been wanting to do for awhile yet never did. Three, I quit drinking.
All three were things I had thought about for a long time, and it just kind of all happened at once. Changing my name made me more comfortable and confident in changing my pronouns, but the decision to stop drinking was one made more out of necessity than want.
Growing up, my parents were, for lack of a better term, raging alcoholics. Every night, they’d leave me to fend for myself while they drank in the garage. For the first 18 years of my life, I was immersed in a home of rampant self-medication through alcohol. Jim drank Bud Light, Becca drank off-brand Jack Daniel’s and Diet Coke.
People with a genetic predisposition for alcoholism are more likely to become addicted, but there are social factors that influence whether or not someone becomes addicted, too. According to the Addiction Center website, environmental factors like witnessing violence, physical and/or sexual abuse and mental illness can all increase the possibility of alcoholism.
So really, I got the short end of the stick.
“But why decide to stop drinking now, Kailyn?” you may be wondering.
Because the week I changed my name, the week before spring break, my doctor increased my antidepressants. And that week, I had been drinking alone every night. The night I changed my name, I got very, very drunk. And then kept drinking alone.
And then, throughout spring break, my mind just kind of... cracked. I went from suicidal to un- able to sit still in a matter of hours almost everyday. I wasn’t able to fall asleep most nights because I was manic. And when I did fall asleep, it was only after hysterical sobbing. I was miserable, to say the least.
So I did what I always do and reached out to some fellow bipolarinos (remember them?) who proceeded to inform me that holy shit, alcohol doesn’t interact well with medication. But even more so, it doesn’t interact well with bipolar disorder. I was shook.
Most medications for depression come with a, “Do not take with alcohol” warning. Or a, “Don’t consume alcohol while on this medication.” And really, they mean it. Alcohol lowers the efficacy of these medications (it’s literally called a “depressant”), and for people with mental illnesses, it can throw our weird brain chemistry even more out of whack.
I’m not going to say everyone should quit drinking, because I think that’s a ridiculous thing to expect from people. But I do think it’s good to stay informed of what amount of alcohol your brain can handle, and, if you’re on medication, to keep in mind that too much alcohol (or almost any recreational drug) can fuck with its effectiveness.
And also, it’s okay to make the decision to stop drinking if that’s what you feel you need to do. I started using drugs and alcohol as a kid because I wanted people to like me, and I’m not going to let that make me continue doing something not good for me.