The Texas Republican Convention recently endorsed in its platform so-called “gay reparative therapy,” widely considered to be junk science by the medical community. While speaking in San Francisco last night, Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, is doubling down on statements that being gay is a “lifestyle choice” and compared being actively gay to being an alcoholic.
It’s not the most batshit crazy comparison to make, actually, but it is predicated on the batshit crazy belief that homosexuality is something a person should just, like, suppress. Keep reading »
Motherhood. We all have a vision in mind of what it’s supposed to look like: warm, nurturing, saccharine, even beatific. Even the messier versions we allow — frazzled new parent anxiety, daylight zombies — still position the mother as with-it and in control. But what about the mothers who are anything but in control? What about the mothers who have an addiction in control of them?
Jowita Bydlowska is the author of a searing memoir, Drunk Mom, about her 11-month relapse into alcoholism after her son’s birth. A sober alcoholic, Bydlowska toasted her son’s birth with a glass of champagne. Then she began drinking regularly in the overwhelming new days of parenthood. At first her relapse was easy to hide, especially home alone on maternity leave with a newborn. But soon, the addiction metastasized into full-blown alcoholism once again, causing her to make dangerous decisions about her own and her baby’s safety and shrouding her relationship with her baby’s father in lies. When she finally makes it to rehab, the reader is relieved everyone is still alive.
Drunk Mom, which will be published in America on May 27th, is a discomforting read. It’s bare-naked honesty about addiction and families will make a lot of people uncomfortable, especially those with idealized versions of what motherhood and womanhood “should” mean. It’s by far one of the best memoirs that I’ve ever read (and yes, I’m including Wild in that) both for it’s candor and bravery and for her narration. I understand addiction all the better with once-again-sober Jowita Bydlowska as the Charon to this Hades, our guide to the underworld.
I called Bydlowska in Canada where she lives with her now-five-year-old son.
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Up until two months ago, I was drinking, on average, a bottle of wine a night. I don’t know if that makes me an alcoholic. I wasn’t going out and getting blotto at bars; I was coming home from work, pouring myself glass after glass while I did responsible adults things, like laundry, cooking dinner, watching “Scandal,” scowling at OK Cupid messages, and getting ahead on work tasks. I wasn’t sending inadvisable drunk texts, maybe because I wasn’t even drunk — my tolerance was that high. But I was doing it night after night, all the while thinking, I should probably take it down a notch. Drink less. I’ll start tomorrow. Keep reading »
Look, this might sound terrible, but I’ve got to say it: this time-lapse video of a homeless U.S. Army veteran’s voluntary aesthetic transformation makes the case for vanity if there ever was one. Jim Wolf has struggled with alcoholism since leaving the service and has found himself, like many others like him, without a home. This is where Dégagé Ministries of Grand Rapids, MI comes in. The church-funded non-profit shelter for the homeless and disadvantaged collaborated with Design 1 Salon & Spa and Rob Bliss Creative to clean Jim up real nice and show people — and most of all, Jim — that beneath the scruff and the patina of rough living, he is still a respectable man deserving of a better life. With a shave, a haircut (and color!), and a sharp new suit, Jim liked what he saw when he looked in the mirror. And you know what he did? Post-makeover, he started attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for the first time ever, and he’s now scheduled to move in to his own housing. Looking good isn’t always enough to make you feel good, but sometimes, when you’re at your lowest point, it can be the first step to lifting your spirits and reminding you of your own worth. [Buzzfeed]
How do I put this in a way that won’t lead my coworkers and family to stage an intervention? I am a functioning wino, by which I mean I drink a lot of wine, but I’m always on time for work, rarely get wasted or have drunken outbursts, and smell just fine, thank you. How much wine do I drink? LOL I’m not telling you because I don’t necessarily know that I could quantify it. And I’m not alone! A new study out of Iowa of all places (not the Napa Valley or my apartment?) found that most wine drinkers have no idea how much they’re drinking — or how drunk they are — because they’re just, like, not paying attention I guess? The Des Moines Register reports:
The study, published in Substance Use and Misuse, found that participants poured 12 percent more wine into a wide glass than a narrow glass. They also poured 12 percent more wine into a glass they were holding, versus one placed on a table. Color contrast affected pours, too. Participants over-poured white wine into a clear glass by 10 percent. There was less over-pouring when the wine was red.
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Is there a penalty for a woman who breaks through the glass ceiling and, then, from her position of power, admits that she struggled with mental illness in her past?
Yesterday New York City’s Speaker of the City Council and the Democratic candidate for mayor Christine Quinn revealed in the New York Times that she had suffered from bulimia and alcoholism for a good portion of her life. Quinn explained how her mom suffered through breast cancer throughout Quinn’s childhood and after her mom died, binge eating and purging gave her a brief feeling of relief. It was also in college that Quinn binge drank to the point of developing alcoholism. She checked into a rehab center at age 26 and got control of her eating disorder and her problematic drinking; it wasn’t until three years ago that Quinn, who is also the first mayoral candidate to be openly gay, went entirely dry.
Christine Quinn’s admission echoed another powerful woman’s recent decision to go public about a private struggle: “Morning Joe” cohost Mika Brzezinski revealed in MORE magazine that she has suffered from exercise bulimia for many years, meaning that she binges on food and then over-exercises to burn off the calories.
Brzezinski and Quinn aren’t the only two well-known women to admit to mental illness: Carrie Fisher and Catherine Zeta-Jones have both been public about their struggles with bipolar disorder, Lena Dunham talks about her OCD, and plenty of other celebs have been open about their mental health struggles, too. But I suppose that Christine Quinn and Mika Brzezinski fascinate me in particular because they both work in fairly male-dominated fields — the mainstream media and politics — that aren’t known for being warm and fuzzy. Keep reading »
On a recent red eye from New York to Los Angeles, model Melissa Stetten sat next to actor Brian Presley and live-tweeted their conversation to approximately 30,000 followers. What ensued was little less than the public humiliation of a husband and father for, among other heinous crimes, allegedly flirting with her and having too much to drink.
While we’ve all sat next to that annoying seatmate on a flight who keeps talking when we just want to be left alone, I do not believe that Brian Presley’s behavior warranted such a public flogging. He sounds like a perfectly harmless guy who chatted up a pretty girl.
Stetten, on the other hand, sounds like an arrogant, insensitive twit. She publicly shamed a man for talking to her and mocked a recovering alcoholic during a possible relapse. Keep reading »
I’m not an addict, and I’m not an alcoholic. But as offensive as this may sound, I sometimes I wish I were, if only so I could have a language and a community to help me deal with what often seem like out of control urges—a structure surrounding me to help me cope with, well, life. But there are no 12-step meetings for people who simply have trouble getting up every day, who feel hollow and weak and unworthy, but who don’t gloss over those feelings with a single, predictable vice. Over the course of my life, I’ve certainly used alcohol, sex, shopping and food to help quell those feelings, and they’ve each worked, in limited doses, but eventually their effects wore off.
The thing is, though, my rock bottom moments don’t revolve around alcohol, though I’ve consumed my share, or drugs (I’ve attempted to smoke pot twice, and basically failed each time); sometimes it’s food, sometimes it’s sex, sometimes it’s shopping, but I fundamentally believe that the core part of me that hates myself in those moments when I’m eating an entire box of cereal, screwing someone I’m not that into, or buying a pair of shoes I don’t need and can’t afford, is the same impulse that drove, say, my father or grandfather to drink (both are recovering alcoholics). Keep reading »