Dear Annie: I always had an exaggerated response to alcohol and could never have just one drink. The first time I ever tried drinking was when I was 14 years old, and I got drunk. I wasn’t a heavy drinker right away, though. I would drink on weekends and otherwise led a “normal” life through my teens and 20s.
However, when I was in my early 30s, I found myself in a high-pressure professional job, living alone in a big city. My life appeared to be great, but I was completely miserable. On weekends, I would start drinking at 4 p.m. and would continue until I passed out or fell asleep. I also started abusing pills and found that as long as I was passed out, I could avoid the pain that had become my life.
Finally, I decided to end my life. Fortunately, my suicide attempt did not pan out and I went for help. I was sent to a state psychiatric facility for six months. While there, I finally admitted to myself that I had a problem with alcohol. For years, I thought that once I got my mental health issues straightened out, I could drink alcohol safely. But I learned that alcohol was also causing a lot of my problems.
With the help of Alcoholics Anonymous, I got the support I needed and have been sober for 12 years. I am now happily married, have earned a second college degree and have a career I love. I hope others who have a problem with alcohol will realize that they can’t wait for their other problems to go away. They need to stop drinking as a first step. – Sarah B.
Dear Sarah: Thank you for sharing your story. April 7 is National Alcohol Awareness Day. It’s also a good reminder that any of our readers who worry that they or their loved ones have a problem with alcohol can take a completely free and anonymous screening at HowDoYouScore.org.
Dear Annie: You missed the boat on your response to “Confused by Wife,” who said his wife thinks she’s ugly, refuses to stop drinking or smoking, and won’t go anywhere. Worse, she wants him to stay there with her. He says he is in good shape, but she wants him to go bald, give up exercise and snack on junk food so he would know how she feels. He’s such a typical male. Everything is about him and his looks.
Annie, this woman is severely depressed or she has some kind of medical condition. She has withdrawn from life. It common for depressed people to expect others to behave the same way so they can “see how it feels.” They can’t always figure out what’s wrong with them, and they’re tired of being misunderstood. Other indications are her lack of energy and not caring about her health.
The first step is for her to have a complete physical, and then she should seek out a mental health professional. With the right medication, assistance and support, she can start participating in life again. – Sarasota, Florida
Dear Sarasota: You could be right that the wife is depressed or has a medical issue and should speak to her doctor. But she must be willing to make the effort, which she is not. Our advice was for the husband. But we will add that if he can convince his wife to see her doctor, it could help.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.