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12:33 am - Tues 10/25/05
Thinkin' About Drinkin' (Redux)

Thinkin’ About Drinkin’...And Other Things (Redux)

(I wrote this first bit a week ago Tuesday)

My biological mother is an alcoholic.

Her father–my grandfather--was also an alcoholic (After he ran off, my mother spent most of her childhood living with her grandparents).

I didn’t know any of this growing up. I found out when I wrote the West Virginia Dept. Of Welfare, as an adult, some years back.

Of course, when you find out that your mother is an alcoholic, and her father–your grandfather--was an alcoholic as well, it makes you wonder a bit about your own drinking history.

The last time I got drunk was sometime back in the mid-90s (At a Halloween party, so we’re nearing some kind of anniversary here). I got loaded, had to be driven home by Mark N.-which I don’t remember-and passed out on my bathroom floor (I think I told someone once that I woke up in the bathtub, but I was actually wedged in between the bathtub and the toilet).

Off the top of my head, I can’t remember the last time I drank (Maybe at Jane’s daughter Emily’s wedding...?).

I never officially “resolved” to stop drinking (I’m sure if I had, I’d have a drink in my hand as I’m writing this--I’m not particularly good at “resolutions”). I just stopped.

What happened, basically, was that the price of drinking, compared to whatever “reward” it offered, just became too high. There were too many drunken episodes where I regretted something I said or did, if I could even remember it, and advancing age and obstructive sleep apnea made hangovers less and less fun to deal with (Many mornings, I feel “hung over” anyway, without having had a drop, so I can hardly imagine what a real hangover would feel like these days).

I don’t know if I’m an alcoholic or not.

I never drank on a regular basis (Well actually I did for a time–After things ended with Beth II, I started going to The Green Door every Saturday night), drinking didn’t always mean drinking to excess, and it didn’t seem very hard for me to stop (I think in large part because drinking was usually a social thing with me, and I stopped having a social life, by and large, sometime in the mid-90s).

But on the other hand, I had “blackouts” on more than one occasion, I drank to excess on a number of occasions, and maybe most tellingly, I sometimes drank to deal with my feelings (Or to be more accurate, to not deal with my feelings).

I don’t know if I’m an alcoholic or not.

But sometimes–not often, but sometimes--I really want to drink.

And the reason I want to drink is why I ultimately stopped drinking–On some level, I want an excuse to lose my mind.

I don’t know if I’m an alcoholic or not.

But I could be.

Thurs 10/13/05 (11:27 p.m.)

Well, it wasn’t exactly a barn-burner of a “weekend”–No commercial auditions, no casting workshops, no social engagements (I called John O. in the latter part of the morning to see if he wanted to have lunch, but he wasn’t home), and I didn’t even go to a movie–but I submitted myself for three things off of L.A. Casting and for an extra role on “Crossing Jordan” (off the Central Casting phone line), I signed off on Kay’s card design (It’s very nice. As I told her in an email, “It almost fooled ME into thinking I was a professional!”), I took a very long walk today, and maybe most importantly, I called a sleep specialist in Pasadena, and have an appointment for next Wednesday morning.

I think I did myself a disservice in here recently by suggesting I’ve only made a token effort to help myself, regarding my sleep problem--Obviously, I haven’t done enough, because the problem isn’t solved, but it’s not like I tried the CPAP for one night, decided it wasn’t working for me, and threw it in the garbage.

I’ve got to watch not giving myself enough credit in here. All you know, basically–“You” being anyone reading this–is what I tell you. And while it’s okay for me to rip on myself for not doing enough regarding...whatever it is I’m not doing enough about, I’m not really nuts about other people performing that function.
So I’ve gotta get better about appraising myself honestly, and play down the pathological self-deprecation, cause I don’t need other people jumping on that bandwagon.

Fri 10/14/05 (12:04 p.m.)

(I know I've already written about Tim F., but this is an earlier draft--I think--and I thought it was interesting enough to stick in here.)

Recently, I've been emailing back-and-forth with Tim F., a friend from high school.

Actually, we didn't make it all the way through high school; our friendship flamed out a couple years in, and while I've always taken responsibility for that--I remembered the problem being my jealousy when he started dating Tammy P.--It seems Tim's memories of those times are not nearly as vague as mine (My memory, or lack of memory, makes it seem like I went through most of high school in a "fugue state").

In Tim's emails, he paints the portrait of a chronically depressed, emotionally needy basket-case, constantly needing comforting and reassurance to shore up his low self-esteem, and prone to scary fits of rage in the bargain.

I "wore him down". He became "fed up". Eventually, he'd "had enough".

And what he remembers as "the final straw" was how I flipped out over the casting of Death Of A Salesman (A play that ended up not getting produced, because the director--the Vice-Principal--left school under a cloud of financial scandal); Apparently, the role was double-cast, I wanted "Willy Loman" all to myself, and as Tim put it, I had a "fit".

What do I remember of this? I remember we were going to do Death Of A Saleman, and I remember being cast in the lead.

That's it.

(I can “piece together” what must have been my problem: I remember feeling a rivalry--at least it was a rivalry on my end--with Keith H., who wasn’t anyway near as good an actor as I was, but who came from a wealthy family, was better looking, and more popular than me. And I’m guessing he must have been the other “Willy Loman”, and I didn’t like that too much–but I really don’t remember it.)

Tim remembers another charming aspect of my behavior around that time–Apparently, I liked to throw things, sometimes at people.

Again, I didn’t remember that, but spurred by his recollection, I vaguely remembered one such “episode”...

I was somewhere–I don’t remember where--with Tim and Tammy. Tammy was in his lap, and either something was said that I didn’t like, or else I was just annoyed that they were together and I was “out in the cold”, and I threw a book at them (I think I hit Tammy in the head).

That’s the only “throwing things” episode I remember–I don’t remember what, if any, repercussions there were, oddly enough--and it’s pretty unappetizing to remember it even now.

But I have to assume that if I thought that was a reasonable way to deal with my anger/jealousy/whatever-it-was-I-was-feeling-at-the-time, I probably didn’t confine myself to one such “episode”.

Not too pretty, is it?

(But in my own defense, it's been years since I threw anything at anybody.)

Weds 10/19/05 (7:01 p.m.)

Went to the sleep specialist in Pasadena today.

I guess I was disappointed in how things went, because as I drove away, I had a very hard time not bursting into tears.

I was actually getting excited yesterday–I’ve never gone to a “sleep specialist” before (Just two garden-variety “throat doctors”), and was apparently hoping for some “magic bullet” that would instantly solve all my problems–but when I was there, I felt rushed, and in spite of myself, cowed by the fact he was (Cue impressive music here) an “expert”.

And when he said I’d need another sleep test (Which I’ve done twice before), it almost cued ‘angry jim’ to say “I already know I have sleep apnea, asshole! Just fix it, already!”.

But my unhappiness aside, he said that CPAPs are better than they used to be (And he mentioned the possibility of a Bi-Pap as well: CPAP stands for “continuous positive airway pressure”, but a Bi-Pap actually adjusts the pressure as you inhale and exhale), and he brought up something the two previous doctors never did, which was the possibility of a dental “appliance” (I think it would be great if I were a candidate for that. Though when I’ve read about it, it seems most insurance companies think of it as a “cure for snoring” and not a treatment for sleep apnea, and won’t pay for it).

I was very confused about the set-up there–The doctor told me to go upstairs, where what I guess is a different company schedules sleep tests and sells CPAP stuff, and if they didn’t accept my insurance, to come back down, and he’d arrange for me to do the test at Huntington Hospital, where he apparently works–and it turned out the other place didn’t accept my insurance, so I went back downstairs, and was told that “someone will call you to schedule an appointment”.

(My appointment was at 9:30 this morning. No one called me today.)

I think part of what left me feeling so deflated afterwards was seeing that, between my $150 deductible and $25 co-pay on doctor visits, I’ll be out $200 by the time I’m done with my follow-up visit. After that, hopefully, my insurance will pay 90% (90% of what, I don’t know. And that’s assuming anything the doctor prescribes will pass muster as “a treatment for sleep apnea”, which is covered by insurance, and not just as “a cure for snoring”, which is not. I’m not sure I understand the difference; I guess maybe sleep apnea sufferers snore, but not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Otherwise, I don’t get it).

In any case, I have to give it another try. And not just “give it another try”–I have to try and try and keep trying until I can get some fucking sleep. And if the first thing doesn’t work, I have to bug this doctor till we find something that does work. And if I don’t have any money, if insurance doesn’t cover it...well, that’s what credit cards are for.

I have to work this out. It’s not overstating things to say this is killing me.

And I don’t want to be killed.


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