Hi, My name is Darin, and I’m an alcoholic. This is my story.
For the sake of this not turning into a memoir, I’m going to begin with the very first time I enjoyed an alcoholic beverage by my own choice. I was 17 and it was my first night in the dorms at University of North Texas (UNT) in Denton. My cousin was having a keg party for the beginning of the new school year. I think I had probably 5 red solo cups of beer over the evening. I can remember that after the buzz from the first one set in, I loved this new sensation. I had never really dealt with an active addiction so I had no idea the lust that I was developing with that feeling of release would one day turn into.…many moons down the road….to leave me in an ICU room…. holding onto my life. This all the while my family could do nothing but sit back and watch the devastation and reality of what this disease of Alcoholism has done to their son/grandson/nephew/cousin/future uncle.
For the next two years, I drank and consumed like the average college student does. Well the average college student in my book. Binge drinking was a common theme as I partied from Thursday through Sunday night. There were too many nights of “how did I get home”, “how much did I spend”, and so many more unanswerable questions.
My alcoholism became more and more of an apparent issue when I began dealing with a process addiction. My junior year I was diagnose as suffering from “Anorexia Nervosa”. What had started out with good intentions and wanting to be healthy become an obsession with being skinnier and thinner. I was obsessed with the numbers on the scale and the number of vertebrae I could count when looking in the bathroom mirror. I loved the feeling of wearing bracelets that were fixed sizes and seeing how they could progressively be slid up my shrinking and thinning arms. Hunger was suppressed by alcohol consumption which could mean going 4 to 5 days without a proper meal. It also helped with the defeat I felt when i finally caved and had some celery or any other food I felt comfortable with.
I finally went back to Lubbock after losing close to 80lbs in only 3 months and began Intensive Outpatient (IOP). I saw a psychologist, a nutritionalist, and my general practitioner. I did not gain an ounce over a 6 month timespan. I did stop losing, but maintained my weight by still severely restricting on food and nutrients and drowning myself in my vice, vodka.
I eventually went back to finish my degree at UNT and continued to drink the same amount as I did before. I graduated in December of 2006. As I started my next few journeys all across the United States, I took my alcoholism with me. In my mind life was always going to be better at the next destination. Failed relationship after failed relationship, I continued to drink. Eventually I landed myself with a DWI. In theory this is the wakeup call someone needs. Oh no. Not this tough cookie.
Throughout my 18 month probation sentence which included having a breathalyzer in my car, I found creative ways to still drink. This included LOTS of rides from “friends”. I had the system beat in my mind. I would drink all month and 4 days prior to meeting with my probation officer, I would “sober up” so I could pass my urine test. This urinalysis would not test for alcohol in your system, but would look for specific enzymes that your body produces when there is a presence of alcohol. From research, I knew that your body would produce this specific enzyme up to 80 hours post consumption. Hence the four days “sobriety”. When I began this routine, the withdrawals were manageable, but every month they grew worse and worse.
The last time I went through this practice I ended up going to the ER. The first day or two without alcohol I was having auditory hallucinations. People were talking even though in reality they weren’t there. In my apartment they were plotting to rob me so I would try to talk myself out of this and just remained under the covers. The visual hallucinations started after a day and a half with just shadow people darting behind walls and corners when I would look in their direction. The straw that broke the camels back though was when I very vividly started giving birth to butterflies out of my skin. Stupidly, I drove to my mom’s house. Even standing there in front of the mirror explaining to them what was going on, the sensation did not go away. As we drove to the hospital, the car was full off butterflies and they kept crawling out of my skin. I remember this like it was yesterday. When we got to the ER’s triage desk, I kept trying to scoop up the butterflies and seeds that were molting all over the desk away from the clerk. I'm surprised he kept his composure.
I had been through a medical detox before and my family knew what was coming. They needed to get my sedated as soon as possible. They didn’t get it in in time. I ended up breaking the hospital bed and having to be restrained. I don’t remember any of this. It took several male nurses and family to hold me down. My mom still won’t tell me what I yelled at her but apparently it was pretty bad. It takes an extremely strong person to be able to go through something like this. For that I am not only extremely grateful to call her mom, but also blessed. I’m not sure how many days I was in the hospital then. I felt like it was for two or three days. I was on a heavy Ativan regimen as well as getting nutrients back into my system. When it came time for me to check out, I was ready to go home. In my mind, I felt like I was past this. My family had other plans.
With much resistance I went to a rehab facility. I was on a 45 day program. After a couple of days, I began to feel thankful for being there and at that moment wanted to really get this stuff under control. Looking back I had a very fundamental problem with my mindset. I hadn’t actually come to grips that I was an alcoholic as AA sees them. I saw myself as a person in recovery. I was a heavy drinker that had to take a break to get my life figured out. I also viewed that dry spell as a way to figure out how to drink responsibly. I remained completely sober for 90 days after I left treatment and then I started to drink again.
I wasn’t drinking as much as I was before rehab, but it was only a matter of months before I was back up to that. I apologize for not already giving you a hint of exactly how much that was. Before rehab I was consuming a liter of vodka every two days, and on top of that a 750 ml bottle of either hot damn 100 proof or Rumplemintz everyday.
The grass is greener on the other side. I made moves thinking my life was going to finally start. I made a big mistake of moving to St. Louis. At this juncture no matter how noble my intentions were, I was up to my old ways. After a period of stagnation, I returned to Lubbock for lack of better options. I was kicked out of every living situation but thankfully I found refuge at my grandparents in Denver City. It was short term. I think my grandmother in some way thought with some structure at her house that would help. Maybe not…. it could have been that she literally just didn’t want to deal with the thought of my sleeping on random couches or the street. I ended up making my way to Austin for the first time.
I spent 9 months here. Still drinking. Held down a job for a very short time. I was being funded through family. Continuously drinking the same amount. My family was set to go on vacation at the end of July 2103. I was going to be driving to Denver City, settle in at my grandparents house, then driving up to Cloudcroft NM. My grandmother called me about a week before hand and very politely asked if I could please not drink on this trip. Of course out of love I wanted to be able to meet this request. I also knew the harsh reality of when i stopped drinking that there was going to need to be medical supervision.
I do want to take a moment and say that about a month before this happened I had grown tired of drinking. I was tired of feeling like shit, I was tired of the Irritable Bowels (IBS), I was tired of waking up every two hours (when i was actually able to sleep) and having to go take straight shots of whatever I could find to stop the sweating and shaking, I was tired of not having a relationship with my family…. I WAS TIRED!
I headed to Denver City after a week of trying to lower the amount of alcohol that i was consuming. Still consuming over half of the normal amount I was already going into withdraws before we even got to the mountains. I took water bottles filled with vodka to stash and be able to sip off of so I didn’t get out of control with my symptoms. Friday night was the last night I really remember much of anything. I know that I had discussed how i needed to drink with my mother and grandmother if I had any hope of staying out of the hospital. That Saturday morning, July 20th, mom was inside the cabin packing up our stuff so we could head to Lubbock and be close to a hospital. I was outside with some family. I went to stand up and when I did i collapsed and began to experience grand mal seizures.
It took almost an hour if I remember the story correctly to get me down the mountain to the closest hospital. I seized for quite a bit on the way down. When I got to the bottom; the outcome looked bleak. My grandfather has been open about the fact that when they got down the mountain based on the way I looked and was presenting he didn’t think I would be alive. They all followed the ambulance down the mountain with the thought somewhere that this might be a goodbye. I ended up being on such a large dosage of Ativan that I was completely unconscious for most of my stay there. i was on a ventilator for 10 days. I came very very close to having a tracheotomy due to the fact that my lungs continuously were aspirating and would not keep fluid out of them for any duration of time. I developed aspiration pneumonia in the hospital as well as A.R.D.S. Guardian angels were looking over me though because here I am today.
I left that hospital not the Darin that I was when I entered into it. I like to view it as a piece of me died up there on the mountain. That piece needed to die though. I needed to be set free of it. In order for that to happen, like all addicts….I had to hit my rock bottom. I can’t explain the loss of desire that I had.
The main sober living establishment in Lubbock turned me away. Thats a different rant for a different day. I can understand their reasoning, but I strongly disagree with turning an addict away who is wanting to better themselves because of insecurities in you program. After lengthy discussion with my mom and step-dad we made their house into my own sober living. All of the rules and regulations that would be at a facility I wanted to uphold there.
After 6 months in Lubbock and getting my roots established in AA again, I made the move back down to Austin. I have been here since. There are holes in this. I am an open book. If anyone would like to contact me for whatever reason….please please do. Anytime day or night. You never know what one conversation could spark in yourself or even me.
My story is not even close to being over, in fact I feel as if it is just beginning. Like all addicts know, relapse is a huge part of recovery. I not only put myself out there to help those that are dangerously getting close to this being their reality, but also to keep me and my sobriety active active and fit.
Love to everyone and thank you for taking the time to read.
Hi my name is Brian and It's my time to story tell. I'm going to try my best to keep this brief. But for those of you who don't know or know me...I have epilepsy or what it is called it in the community "E".
It will be 13 years on Feb 3, that my whole life changed. I was 15 years old playing basketball for a small privately school I went to. It was during practice that I started having a horrible headache. I brushed it off and went on it with playing. The second headache that same practice was much worse. I asked my coach to go get water and as I walking back to the court I found my mom who was an after school care teacher at the school as well and before I knew it everything went black and I hit the ground, and at the same time my mom tried her best to lighten my fall.
I woke up about 3min later and had no idea what I just experienced I could barely keep my eyes open as my coach and principle did there best to keep me awake. They rushed me to a shower and stripped me down thinking that it was just heat exhaustion (man were we wrong).
I remember all I wanted to do once we got to the hospital was sleep and the nurses telling me I had to stay awake. Being the stubborn persistent person I've been since I could talk I decided to sleep on the floor of the triage room in the hospital. At this point the nurse gave in, and brought me a bed.
As soon as I laid down I was out. What I've never told people is that even though I was asleep I could still hear everything that was going on. I heard my sisters crying, I heard family talking that had come from out of town. But what I heard next is what would scare me even to this day.
My dad has always been the strongest person I've ever known. He's always had an answer for everything. He is who I could count on for anything and still do to this day. I heard him crying and holding my mom who was also inconsolable. I heard my mom ask him "Robert is he going to be okay" and my dad; the one who knows everything, never cries, is the rock of my family said while in tears "I don't know". For the first time in my 15 years of life my dad didn't have the answer. I had no idea what to expect. My dad couldn't give any possible outcomes.
I woke up about a day or two later and I was in a dark hospital room. I remember my mom sleeping in a chair with her hand in mine and her head on the side of my bed and my dad sleeping in a chair next to me. They called the doctors in and began telling me what happened.
I suffered a brain hemorrhage from an AVM (arteriovenous malformation) which in laments terms is a brain tumor, on top of that I had a small aneurysm as well. The AVM was about the size of an acorn and from the high blood pressure of playing basketball; it finally rain it's course and it popped, along with the aneurysm.
Fast forward to April 8th I had it set to be removed through gamma knife which is essentially shooting the AVM with radiation and dissolving it (a less evasive version of a brain tumor removal).
After the surgery I began experiencing seizures from the swelling of the scar tissue. It got to a point where I was having a seizure at least once a day. We got them under control once we found out the cause.
I was diagnosed with Epilepsy and experience multiple types of seizures (grand mal, absence etc.) since then I have been on medication to keep them under control. Everyday is a struggle, I have trouble remembering everyday tasks, I sometimes forget where I'm at, why I'm there, or what I'm doing. I experience mood swings from the medication. But I feel it's a small price to pay to be able to still experience life and see my nieces and nephews grow to be adults and hopefully have my own children someday.
There is some parts the story is missing but to save time I wanted to keep it brief. I recently have became more open about my epilepsy and want to help as many people as I can through my story. Especially younger kids who have no idea whats going on with there body: because I was that kid, at 15 I wasn’t worried about what guy/girl liked me or if my Mom was going to say yes to going to a friends house. I was thinking about doctors appointments, am I going to be able to leave the hospital today, I was thinking when are these seizures going to stop so I can be a normal 15 year old. Please-- kids, parents or anyone who suffers from epilepsy, or if you know someone who suffers from epilepsy don’t hesitate to reach out.
I'm going along with Darin on this run because when I was in a hospital room at age 15 I told myself I'm alive for a reason, and that's to change the world even if it's just one persons life I influence I will be happy. I refuse to let epilepsy define me and to keep me from leading a normal life.
We're excited for this journey and to bring all of you all along with us!! :)
Love, Brian & Darin
- Richard King
- Jeff and L’Anna Jones
- Nancy Yaeger
- Kristin Frazier