[Sober Living] Relapsing on Diphenhydramine

I don’t know what I was thinking on Tuesday, April 3rd. Probably nothing at all. I was certainly distracted by an overwhelming, lingering, emptiness, even though things are going fine. I just wasn’t feeling well. Not feeling “on my game,” being just sick enough, with creeping self-doubt mixes together into self-destructive disaster smoothy for me. With most of the remaining expired bottle of diphenhydramine, in fancy blue, I took 175 milligrams of the old familiar deliriant.

Hi, so, let me introduce myself.

I really enjoyed the numbness that alcohol provided. My first flirtation with being in a drunken stupor included briefly holding onto an arcade coin depositor exclaiming how much I loved that feeling. Growing up, I always felt off. Turning all that off feels great. Maybe I just feel too many sensations?

Smoking cannabis was like that, times one hundred.

That was the start of something I haven’t fully returned from yet. Between having my mind completely defragment repeatedly, sometimes appearing as a videogame HUD display, outright hallucinating, or being frozen in place with the whole world confined to one space, it was a wild adventure.

After I quit smoking and drinking, I needed to fill that void.

Something over-the-counter that I could innocently buy and consume? Too bad deliriants are significantly more harmful to get messed up on than alcohol. I have seen the shadow people and figures. I never got into multiple-day binges until tripping on 300+ milligrams of diphenhydramine. It’s terrible.

Unfortunately, I still need to fill that void like starvation or near-fatal thirst.

Most days, I’m able to overcome it easily.

For the days it’s a little more difficult, I’ll eat way more sugary foods than I need, masturbate, and do something I really enjoy to let that wave of anxiety subside. The best way to resolve those issues is to find the stress demon and kill it. Things usually get better by the next day and it’s back to normal.

How about those repeated days of sickness?

Where you just want the pain to go away? That’s the time to text my sponsor, but then the excuses come up, and what’s closer is much easier. The first 75mg didn’t do anything for me. I took the other 75mg and within one hour felt that familiar dizziness from alcohol that diphenhydramine provides.

The hangovers last nearly the whole day and you’re just numb.

I got through the day well enough. Maybe more zombified than normal. I got home to the last two 25 milligrams of diphenhydramine. It started off innocently on Monday with those two pills and some bismuth subsalicylate for that lingering stomach ache. I had wanted that feeling again, so Tuesday happened.

I took these photos then threw out the rest.

I wrote something while inebriated.

It was going to be a post on career development called “Dealing With Chaos” and how to handle the ups and downs in life. It was the next scheduled thing to write and I guess that stood out to me more than wanting to write a Sober Living post while not sober – which I consider that to be.

Here’s what I wrote, unedited:

There’s a notion that everything should be easy. What ends up happening is that we become unable to tolerate any deviation from our expected plan because of our limited patience or sensory overloads. How can we keep rolling with the punches of life? Promotions, layoffs, changes of duties or people, and the never-ending search for work that lets us feel comfortable, fulfilled, and otherwise the opposite of chaos. Is it just about finding inner balance?

Perhaps there’s something more.

We do the work of several people. This sort of thing wasn’t what we were promised with the rise of automation. We should be living more comfortable lives, rather than less overall. We’re wired 25/7/365 to our jobs, whether we like to admit it, and when that void isn’t filled through any stretch of unemployment, it’s a burden we must push through.

It’s not bad, just my usual rant.

The discernible differences between the inebriated me and sober me are: while drunk, I wrote paragraph after paragraph with such fervor that there are times when that otherwise sense of self-doubt seem appealing, and while high on a sativa strain, my thoughts were so scattered that I couldn’t form complete sentences.

So here’s the problem.

Tuesday could happen again. I continue to tempt fate since diphenhydramine is effective at helping me overcome certain allergies. Which makes me sick to my stomach because if it’s not that, it’s alcohol, it’s weed, or it’s anything else I can get my hands on that will make me stop feeling anything at all for a few hours.

That means there’s a deeper pain to address.

I’ve been writing the Sober Living column since I had my closest brush with more mainstreamed insobriety back in October. The specific events were the inspiration for the “Career Mishap Trilogy.” It was the best bad thing to happen to me in a while, I suppose. These writings have been helping me.

It’s just that there’s still something deeper.

There must be a root cause analysis of my addiction. What makes me act this way? I don’t think it was just exposure to these things, either, because growing up I’d binge play videogames, seek entertainment to help me escape, and just in general try to get out of this world experience I’m in the middle of having.

You’re not that way, are you?

It’s not some kind of suicidal drive. I’m happy enough with most of life. There are just moments when I am compelled to temporarily escape. Everything is garbage in those moments, and nothing is good, unless I can ride out the wave in some kind of virtual reality or inebriated reality.

Then it’s back to lollipops and ice cream cones.

Why can’t I fix this? Why did I press past the purity precipice to pursue pleasure?

Was it just because I was curious what the chicken saw on the other side of the road? Was it just because I wanted to know how it was like for everyone else? Did the straight culture finally wear me down enough where I wanted to see if I could find more people that were like me? The other weirdos?

Why do I always have to take it to the limit?

Why can’t I just enjoy in moderation? Monday would have been the equivalent of one drink or one toke. Just enough to get the lightest sensation without wanting to go overboard and end up half a day later still just a little hungover, quiet, and unwilling to admit it. Shouldn’t it be fun for everyone?

Why can’t I join the festivities?

Why should deny these pleasures?

Maybe once I know these answers… who knows.

Sources: My personal experiences. Also written about by CG Kid in “Benadryl Addiction: The Problem And How I Overcame It.”

Quotes: None

Inspirations: My personal experiences

Related: The Sober Living column.

Photos: Glass with two diphenhydramine pills dissolving in water before I threw the contaminated water into the drain, cleaned it, and left it on the drying rack.

My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.