Recently I’ve written about my compulsive behavior: always having a drink of wine with dinner, and then continuing to drink and snack until bedtime. So one evening I decided not to have any wine that night, figuring that unless I was an alcoholic, it would be easy. I always used to say that the reason I had to have a glass of wine with dinner was that it made the food taste better. But actually, that evening’s meal tasted fine without it.
Then, after dinner, I was amazed at how alert I was. I was able to go back out to my office and work for another hour, and then read a book I was in the middle of. And I felt no compulsion to keep snacking. Later, Adrian and I watched an old West Wing episode on Netflix, and then, at our usual bedtime, we were ready to go to sleep.
I felt quite pleased with myself as I settled under the covers, and vowed to have more non-alcoholic evenings in the future. There was only one problem: I was wide awake. After attempting breathing meditation and other methods to calm down and fall asleep, after a half-hour I gave up.
Sitting in the dining room playing solitaire, my usual way to relax when I can’t sleep, I slowly sipped a glass of wine. Evidently the shock of sobriety was too much for my system.
Sometimes stopping a bad habit can lead to other problems, as it did for me when I couldn’t sleep. But that doesn’t mean one should give up. What I realized is that I need to stop the drinking gradually. Lately I’ve been cutting back and that’s been going pretty well.
Of course, I could have put up with the sleepless nights or taken a sleep aid, instead of having a glass of wine to solve the problem. Alcohol may make us sleepy at first, but then it tends to disturb sleep. I know that. And maybe some part of my brain just wanted an excuse to keep drinking.
Adrian quit altogether several years ago. But he had solid medical reasons to do so. There may come a day when I have to give it up, too, and then I will.
Share your strategies for giving up bad habits in the bipolar message boards.
Published On: December 15, 2006
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