In Blue Nights, Joan Didion writes:
“Alcohol has its own well-known defects as a medication for depression but no one has ever suggested – ask any doctor – that it is not the most effective anti-anxiety agent yet known. “
It’s true. You can, for example, face something terrible, some past trauma or something unforgivable about yourself, and you can drink and you will feel better. You will stop thinking about it. You can make a list of ten things, just ten things you did when you were drinking, things you would not have done, would not have happened if you were sober, the places you woke up, the people you stole from, the places you cruised through at night, the substances you said you would never use, the DUIs, and you can have a panic attack, you can feel numb, physically, in the face, and you can walk outside and down the street, it can be any time of day, any type of weather, maybe it will take an hour, and you can walk into a bar. You can take a sip and relax. You can remember everything that just happened, your teeth going numb and the world growing dark, like it was yesterday. Like it’s over. You can find it funny, even if you’re alone. Even if you’re still alone. Later, though, after the first sip, the well-known defects will arrive. There are the things that make the list, the ten things that gave you a panic attack. There are ten more things. There are the places you wake up.