For me remembering dreams are a rare occurrence because of the medications I take for anxiety and depression. So whenever I have nightmares or night terrors, I can almost always pinpoint the cause: skipping my medications at night. Sometimes I forget or fall asleep before taking them but last night it was because I chose to have a drink a few hours before bed.
So it’s nearly 6 a.m., and, naturally, I feel like a complete moron. Why in the world would I choose a Woodchuck cider over a good night’s sleep? (Not to mention I always freak out my husband when I do this.)
Girls’ nights out. Epic brewery tours. Networking and wine tasting. So many awesome memories in my life are always associated with drinking, right?
Of course, you already know the answer to this question.
And the strange thing is, I don’t drink very often. I drink maybe a couple of times a month. But I often start to miss it.
If you’re like me and have struggled with depression and anxiety, you know the side effects of alcohol while on medication. For me, the medication essentially stops working, plus there’s drowsiness, vivid dreams and (the worst part) exacerbated hangovers.
But in case you’re still struggling to understand why it’s important to give up on casual drinking, here are a few more reasons. (And, yes, I’m preaching to myself.)
1) Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome, also referred to as SSRI withdrawal, is no joke. Because these drugs dissipate quickly, missing one dose can cause horrible side effects. I’ve experienced anxiety, dizziness, irritability and vertigo.
Because I’ve been taking these meds for more than 10 years, the side effects are severe and can last for days. It becomes more and more difficult to function as time passes.
Skipping doses here and there to enjoy a great glass of wine seems harmless, but it’s dangerous.
2) Giving up alcohol is just one step to overall wellness. I stopped eating fast food hamburgers about 15 years ago and still love my life. (Shocking, I know.) Missing out on drinking won’t change my life either.
Folks with hypertension, diabetes or other illnesses adjust their lifestyle to eat and drink healthier. People with mental illnesses are no different.
After all, I’ve been lectured far too much on the legitimacy of psychological disorders and the efficacy of prescription drugs, mainly by irritating people who have never experienced mental illness. But I can’t strive for mental health awareness to be taken seriously and treat my medication as though it’s optional.
3) Others have given up alcohol and succeeded. Millions of people struggle with alcohol abuse, so my own misgivings about not drinking are almost laughable.
So forgive me, friends, if I continue to decline social events at breweries or wine bars. If I do manage to attend without complaining or sulking, encourage me to down a Sprite instead of an alcoholic beverage.
For years, I’ve been wanting to quit my meds. No, not just because I really like craft beer but because of all the side effects. I loathe taking medication, and I never signed up for long-term prescription drug usage, but here I am.
But for now, I’ll talk with my doctor and keep up with my doses. I only have drinks now on special occasions (which there aren’t enough of, durn it!) Hopefully, I won’t start dreaming about delicious mudslides.