Wasted

I spent the first night of spring break on the bathroom floor. No, no, I wasn’t in some exotic location partying with friends. No, I hadn’t hit up the local bars. Heck, I wasn’t even just getting trashed at home. Nope, I was just sick. So what else is new?

Anyway, while I was up all night not doing anything except throwing up intermittently, I had a lot of time to think, and a lot of time to decide on my next blogging subject. But before I begin…

My blog is still in it’s fledgling stages. I initially set a goal for myself to take awareness action outside of this blog every 5 posts, but around post 5 I almost died and things just didn’t go as planned. So I reset that goal to every 10 posts. Since this is the 10th post (woo hoo!) I am planning on beginning a poster campaign at UNT to raise awareness and get more people checking out this blog so we can start doing real events, interviews, etc. This is all very exciting, but it made me hesitant to write this post. See, I’m about to make a move to try and draw a lot more attention to this site, but the next subject that’s on my mind is one that may make me a bit unpopular, especially among my own age bracket. So I’m just going to be quick, like ripping off a band-aid:

This post contains opinions that are anti-drinking.

*looks around* is anybody still reading? Okay. Well, I wanted to tell the story of why I came to write this blog:

I am a junior at UNT, and I have the best job ever. I get to film and edit for a living – my dream come true. I had ditched the RTVF program at my school, and somehow found work in the real world of film. This is unheard of. I had been working at this studio for about a year. I had gotten to be good friends with my boss and coworkers.

Well, one day, I missed a dose of some of my medicine. Like most prescriptions, it advised that I take it as soon as I remembered. Being sick wasn’t new to me, and I knew what would happen: I’d take that dose along with the next dose, and wind up throwing up all night. Since I was friends with my boss, I thought I could tell him about my chronic illness and forewarn him of the impending sick day I’d need to take.

It went something like this:

Me: “This might sound silly, but I might be sick tomorrow–”

Boss: “You might be sick?”

Me: “Yes, um–”

Boss: *leaning out office door, calling a couple of the guys over* “Hey, do you hear this? She might be sick tomorrow!”

Coworker 1: “What does that even mean??”

Coworker 2: “Ha, yeah, like I might get really drunk tonight?”

Coworker 1: “I might get hungover!”

At this point, I stalked off, got my bags and went home. It would be upsetting enough to have a jerk boss publicly humiliate you like that, but it was worse coming from a person I consider to be a friend. Oh the stories I could tell of trying to explain an invisible illness to bosses or teachers. I was livid. Not only was I once again expected to be well if I didn’t look sick, but to insinuate getting drunk?! That made it really personal. I hate drinking. I’ve lost friends over it. But that’s college life, right? I realized it was an issue of awareness. Everyone is aware of the binge drinking and partying that goes on in college, but there’s little to NO awareness of my disease that effects 5.5 MILLION women in North America alone! Drinking is a stupid decision, but being sick was NEVER up to me.

I have a theory that it is not uncommon in people with invisible illness or any illness to not drink. I’ve done no research, but my own thought process is that I feel completely crappy all the time anyway. Hangovers are the last thing I need – I spend enough time on the bathroom floor as it is. And I’ve never seen the draw of drinking so much that you can’t remember anything. I’m sick, and I even almost died once – I want to remember everything I can. I only have one life, after all.

Then there are people who “drink socially,” which is also beyond me. If you need to drink to have fun, then I don’t think you have very good friends. If you saw my friends and I hanging out, you’d probably think we were drunk all the time. Having fun is a lot like being drunk, except you don’t need alcohol. The last reason I hear drinking is great is because it helps you not worry about life – okay, zip it right there. Part of being a grown up is being present in your own life. Drinking as a form of escapism is, in my opinion, the lowest and most immature….but now I’m ranting. This post isn’t about ranting.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve hated the idea of drinking. I wasn’t raised that way – both my parents drink, and in a Lutheran church we have no qualms about having real wine up there on the alter. But for some reason, I have always been against it. Maybe it was God’s way of preparing me for being diagnosed with an incurable disease. Most medicine I take has labels that forbid alcohol, and yes, there’s the physical stuff I mentioned earlier. But there’s more than that. Hating the idea of drinking is alienating. No one else on planet earth feels that way. Getting drunk is accepted and encouraged EVERYWHERE. It was only this year that I found one human being who shared my views. That’s 21 years of it being just me. 21 years of learning to be okay with feeling isolated.

So I was ready for the new feelings of isolation that came with being chronically ill.

My coworkers made me mad that day, but I couldn’t stay mad. It was an issue of awareness. I’m not on an anti-alcohol crusade here, I just think I deserve as much awareness as binge drinkers.

AFTER ALL,

1 in 4 college students engage in binge drinking (which, I want to remind you, is a choice).

1 in 2 people in the U.S. suffer from invisible illnesses.

Most were born with their condition.

If you’re healthy enough to be getting wasted and partying this spring break, then I envy you. But I wonder, too, why you don’t take better care of your body.

That’s all I have to say about that.

(Statistics courtesy of invisibleillnessweek.com, youngadults.about.com, and my.cleavelandclinic.org.)

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11 thoughts on “Wasted

  1. While I don’t think all drinking is bad (I enjoy a good glass of wine when my body and meds will allow), I whole heartedly agree about the exposure and acceptance binge drinking gets for college students (and even outside of college) compared to invisible illness. I also think the way your situation was handled is appalling. To call others in to laugh at your illness is ridiculous and shows how little awareness there is.

    When I was in college and dealing with similar symptoms (actually I was misdiagnosed with Endometriosis while I was in college), the common misconception and question put to me not so politely was, “Are you pregnant?” Because what else do college girls do besides drink that could possibly cause them nausea and pain – oh yeah, have unprotected sex and get pregnant (probably while drunk), certainly not struggle with an invisible illness. This might have been confounded by the fact that I was put on steroids and blowing up like a Macy’s Parade balloon. Either way, I felt the judged and embarrassed.

    I commend you for this post and for committing to taking action to increasing awareness. Have you run across Jennifer Pettit and her Understanding Invisible Illness blog in your blogging travels? While she attended Villanova, she worked to promote awareness among the professors and students. She might be a great resource. http://myuiiblog.blogspot.com/

    1. Thanks for the link!

      Wow. I hadn’t even thought of the pregnancy thing. I wonder if people ever think that about me…hmm….very interesting. And horrible. The whole situation is just…infuriating. If someone ever asked me that, there’s a good chance of me totally going off on them, not JUST because I’m anti-drinking and not JUST because I’m being stereotyped, but also because I, as a woman with endo, will probably experience a lot of difficulty even getting pregnant – something that truly torments me.

      PEOPLE, UGH. But it’s still an issue of awareness. Ignorance SUCKS!

  2. I most certainly agree with you on the majority of points you make. I, personally got buzzes for the first time in my life last weekend, and I’m 25. I’m THAT girl who forgot her I.D. on her 21st birthday…

    But, I have to contend on some of the observations you’ve made. The first thin that stood out is that you seem to equate any level of drinking as being inherently bad and resulting in getting slammed. There are many who drink alcohol because they enjoy the taste. And that, done consciously an in moderation is fine. I, personally, only need a few sips of a good rum or brandy to enjoy it’s complexity and burn.
    On the other hand, by and far, people our age drink to get drunk. That’s how it’s been since man took a sip of a skin of fermented grape juice and thought, “hey. This pretty good!” So, although a form of escapism, it’s a time-honored, socially acceptable and society-forming form f escapism that in many cases is necessary for social interaction and acceptance.
    I think only a few of the many think they need alcohol to have fun. Others probably don’t really think about it that way. Which may be problematic, true, because getting drunk is a serious decision. But drinking, I think is just a fun supplement, rather than the key to having fun. Much like opiates and weed aided Bhuddist monks in there meditations. They may not have needed it, but it helped.
    I think drinking, when done in moderation, under control and safely is fine. It tastes good and produces nifty side affects-if not taken too far. A lot like a McDonalds cheeseburger. It’s soul food. Not necessarily a fun substitute or particularly good for your body. But I think people would be a lot less happy and a little more crazy if they refrained from doing things they enjoyed. You are a fantastic writer, by the way!!

    1. Thank you so much! I appreciate you sharing your thoughts! This post has brought on many interesting discussions and comments from my readers. It’s an interesting and complex issue with lots of sides to it. I agree that if you do drink because you enjoy the taste and not to get drunk that that’s fine, but I can honestly say that I have never met anyone with that stand on it. That being said, it’s only fair to take in to account that I’m a little younger than you, and I go to a “party school” I guess you could say. A popular agreement is that “there’s nothing to do in Denton but get drunk.” And…that is kind of true, Denton kind of sucks.

      As far as needing alcohol to have fun, that is a bit of a blanket statement on my part and is probably not how the majority of people feel. But I have met a lot of people who take that stand (again, though, consider my age group and location) and I find I feel very sorry for people who do feel that way. In fact, I recently met a girl who feels very passionately that nothing is fun if there’s not drinking. I think we could be good friends…if she wasn’t drunk all the time. But I know that’s probably an extreme case. However, in my own experience it’s not uncommon for people to hold that drunk = fun and anything less is boring.

      In my own humble opinion, I draw the line at anything that alters your mind. I don’t know if I’ve just read too many dystopian future novels or what, but I just can’t get behind doing anything that alters how one thinks. I’ve been drugged up for medical reasons before, and I’ve been a little buzzed on alcohol once. In both cases, it was fun, but I don’t like the feeling that I’m just not quite myself. I think that escapism is fine in many forms, like eating trashy fast food or watching movies, but I draw the line when one escapes themselves, so to speak. But that’s just my view on things, and I know it’s an unpopular one. And of course, being sick has a lot of influence over that opinion. Being ill or being in the hospital can be a harrowing experience that really makes you think about who you really are and what makes you you. My sister had brain surgery when she was very little, and she changed a lot after the recovery. It started me thinking about “true self” and the mind at a young age. When I got sick, it had nothing to do with the brain, but a myriad of painkillers and surgery left me clinging to “myself,” and wanting to stay “feeling like myself.” So that definitely affected my thoughts on drinking and really any “highs” people can get.

      But again, that’s just me. I can’t tell you hard and fast what’s right and wrong. But I don’t like the pedestal that drunkenness has been placed on in this day and age, that’s for sure. 🙂

      You’re a fantastic writer too, by the way. 😀 Thanks for the comment!

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