How much is too much: Alcohol and Bipolar

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I love a good drink. Alcohol plays a major role in how I relax and how I socialise. Over the years, as my moods have changed, so has my relationship with alcohol and my consumption. When I lived alone, I was in a manic state nearly the entire time and I drank often in my flat when no one was around. After it became a problem, I made a promise to myself never to drink alone again. I’ve kept that promise, well as much as I could. I’ve had  some rare slip ups to this rule when I’ve been feeling very depressed. Alcohol was there and I knew it could numb the pain I was in.

Anyway, the point of this post is to explain how alcohols effect on me has changed recently. Take yesterday evening. I was sat at home, after having more than a few drinks the night before, I thought I’d have a quiet night in to myself. I’d been feeling slightly delicate that day, probably because we had started with beer and then graduated on to whiskey. Though feeling a bit rough, it wasn’t a problem; until about five that evening. My heart began to race. It felt like it was going to explode. There was a sharp, shooting pain in my back that radiated into my chest. It felt like the beginning of a panic attack. I sat as relaxed as I could taking deep breaths through my nose and exhaling out my mouth. The pain refused to dissipate. To calm myself, I ran a bath. The bath has become my safe place and the heat soothed the pain I was in.

I knew it was the alcohol that was effecting me because this wasn’t the first time this had happened. Before Christmas, I was drinking heavily. The nearer we got to the festivities, the more often I was having panic attacks. Move forward to Boxing day evening and I was in terrible pain, my heart again racing at a ferocious speed. I had to retreat upstairs to the spare room I was staying in and cry. I sobbed, sitting on the bed, feeling that I could no longer cope with these nearly incessant bouts of panic. The next day, with my husband, we made the connection between the panic attacks and alcohol. Without fail, the day after drinking I would have these attacks and it seemed to be the only explanation.

We decided it would be in my best interests to not drink until my birthday at the end of January. It worked and I didn’t have a attack for the entire month. I saw my psychiatrist during this time and he agreed it was most likely alcohol making me feel this way. I was also severely depressed and he felt the alcohol had contributed. Alcohol, he said, interfered in how the medication I was taking worked.

The depression has lifted now and I’ve decided only to drink on special occasions. Unfortunately this means dealing with the fallout the next day and I need to decide whether having a few drinks is actually worth it.

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5 Comments

  1. Faye February 19, 2017 / 1:14 pm

    I absolutely relate to this post. My relationship with booze (wine in particular) has been a rough ride. I’m absolutely a binge drinker, I cannot drink ‘a glass’ and put the rest in the fridge. My depression and anxiety make me drink more but make my anxiety and depression worse. I also find it disturbs my sleep pattern and gives me palpitations which brings on panic attacks….so why do i do it again? Since Christmas I’ve not drank at all but that’s because I’m quite chaotic at the moment and my eating patterns have also changed.

    Sorry…I’ve gone on a bit there!

    I really enjoy your blog Katie, I feel it’s like having a friend that understands me! X

    • Katie Conibear February 19, 2017 / 1:17 pm

      It’s really difficult to manage drinking when you have mental health problems. Good for you for not drinking, it will help and make a difference to how you feel. I love these kind of comments because it makes me want to keep going with this blog!

  2. Ela Kaimo February 20, 2017 / 5:06 am

    When I was in a depressive state a few years ago, I turned to alcohol daily to numb the pain. Needless to say, it destroyed nearly all my meaningful relationships, including the one with my mom. Back then, I found it difficult to deal with depression without alcohol, but alcohol only made things worse.

    • Katie Conibear February 20, 2017 / 6:54 am

      I’m so sorry to hear this happened to you. I hope that things are better for you now x

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