I’m learning something really damned annoying: I can’t drink anymore. At all. Not that it was a problem or anything like that for me, but I do enjoy a couple of margaritas or hard ciders every now and then. Not to mention I have a patch of mint in my garden that produces 3″ mint leaves just perfect for making mojitos. It was always something of a point of pride for me, coming from a family of alcoholics and being the only one who could drink and not lose my shit or become a raving lunatic (oh wait). These last couple of months, while I was being cautious, I retained my happiness that I could still enjoy a couple of grownup beverages without any adverse effects due to my medication.
I’m sad to say that is no longer the case. There are many things that will cause a rise in blood lithium levels, and booze is one of them for some folks. Like me, apparently. Really, the problem isn’t the booze. It’s dehydration. Every drug has an annoying Sisyphean side effect: lithium’s is dehydration. Dehydration increases the concentration of the drug in the bloodstream, leading to fun things like hand tremors and muscle twitches. I’m a karate student: I can’t have this. Which means not only do I get to do battle with my own brain, I have to hyper-hydrate and avoid anything that dehydrates me, whenever possible. Such as anything with caffeine or alcohol. I’ve also learned recently that if I’m craving a drink, it’s because my brain’s gone manic. Why I like to drink when I’m manic, I have no idea, but it’s a warning.
Now, the alcohol I can do without. The caffeine, however, that’s going to suck to do without. Plus, it feels like a kick in the shins after going through the trouble of quitting smoking a few months ago. Is this your way of forcing me to be the perfectly healthy human being I’m supposed to be, Universe? You could have just sent me a text, or an email. No need for all this physical drama, really.
Then again, I can be incredibly clueless and resistant to change, and perhaps I really will look back on all of this after a few years and see the good that it’s done me. I can envision the person I want to be and should be if I don’t want to suffer the same fate as my parents. I have to be the sort of person I’ve always made fun of to a certain extent, the more-enlightened-than-thou types that my fair city is unfortunately saturated in. Except if I want to tolerate myself, I have to leave out the self-righteousness and judgment that really has no place in that sort of lifestyle.
What does the healthy me look like? She gets up early and drinks some water (not tea/coffee), takes her meds, and does some meditation and yoga. Then she wakes up her daughter, and because she’s already been up for a while, she’s not instantly irritated by the normal stress of getting a child moving for the day. Then she eats and takes her vitamins and such (which are just as important as the meds, really). And drinks more water. Repeatedly. All day, every day. And she’ll know if she hasn’t been when her fingers start twitching and her legs feel like they have to run or they’ll explode. When she gets agitated, she has to sit her ass down and meditate. Right then, if at all possible. Or do more yoga.
That has to be my life now, as much as possible. Yoga. Meditation. Exercise. Meds. Vitamins. Water. Water. Water. I have to take care of myself in a way that no one else ever really has, even when they were supposed to, so as stupid as it sounds, I really don’t know how. Which is what makes this so hard. There’s still a sullen teenager parked on her butt with her arms crossed in the corner of my mind saying, “Fuck you. You want me to do what other people were supposed to do but were too fucked up to? You want me to do their job? Fuck you.” And I know I just need to fucking get over it, but I have to at least acknowledge her presence and tell her, “You’re right. It sucks and it’s not fair, but if you want to live, here’s what has to happen.” And hope she’s not too busy feeling bitter to do the right thing. And drink lots of water.