Darkness Visible – Grapevine Article by Toby M.

His alcoholism and bipolar disorder conspired to keep him in some fearful places

My drinking started when I was 17 years old. Some friends and I got hold of some liquor and beer, which we drank in the back of my friend’s truck bed. We sat drinking and smoking cigarettes. Everyone was getting pretty drunk and although I was pretty far-gone, I kept drinking that whiskey. When I came to the next morning and found my friends still passed out cold, I found some more whiskey and started drinking all over again.

Something else happened to me when I was 17—I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. I would get manic and would run around town all day long. My Bipolar goes up and down, mania and depression. When I get depressed I am tired and don’t have any energy. In the summer I get more manic and can just go and go, then I would crash. It is hard to catch up on sleep after being manic. Bipolar makes me feel depressed, anxious, angry, paranoid, racing thoughts, and sometimes I have felt suicidal. My mind is not always the best place to be. My thoughts come and go very quickly.

My alcoholism has led me to many dark and fearful places. I was married once and would hide my alcohol from my wife in the toilet tank or under the mattress and thought she would never look. I would go into the bathroom several times in the early morning hours to take several pulls of whiskey.

I remember thinking that this hell would never come to an end. My wife would yell at me constantly to stop drinking. I would always say, “Of course, I will.” But as a good alcoholic, I just drank more and needless to say finally got divorced because of my drinking.

That hell I lived back then was not really a life at all, it was just an existence. I went from one blackout to another, from one drunk to the next.

I have been given a chance to start over and to have a better life. My sponsor always tells me to go to meetings. I take his advice to heart. I love going to meetings because I always feel better afterwards. I have many good friends in Alcoholics Anonymous. My doctor got me started on medication and I have to take many blood tests to make sure my medications are at the right levels.

I find that being sober with this condition makes life easier to live well. I don’t get as angry. Still, my life can hard. I get frustrated very easily. Not everyone in meetings understands me. Sometimes it’s hard to move forward, but I know that the group and God will get me through.

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