glass of wine spilling

I have this frequent nightmare where I’m underwater, just below the surface of a pool. The water is as grey as the skies above, and I’m cold. So cold. There are brown autumn leaves resting on top of the water, gently rippling from the breeze above. Somehow I know that they are from my parents’ Catalpa tree. I’m in their pool. I stretch my hand toward the air, but for some reason I can’t reach the space where water and breeze meet. And throughout the dream I’m calm. Too calm, even though I know I’m drowning.

Awake, I know the dream isn’t real. But it is.

It starts with the sound of the cork squeaking out of the bottle, making my heart skip with anticipation. Even as often as I hear it, it still feels forbidden and exciting. As I pour it, the weight of the bottle feels as familiar as that dream, down to the gurgling sound of the pool filling up.

But it’s the first sip that really gets me. The taste of the tart white or bitter red on my tongue. The feeling of warmth that coats my belly, gives me courage and makes me believe I’m funnier. It tells me I’m better with it, and I nod my head yes in agreement. I know I should stop at the bottom of the first glass, but I pour another and sometimes another. My head is still above water, I think. I keep drinking.

And when I do, it drags me swiftly down. Instead of thrashing to save myself, I go calmly with chagrin upon my face. I know the place it takes me all too well, and I’m comfortable there, despite knowing the extent it holds me back and pushes me down.

At the bottom of my third glass, the numbness comes. Pain, hurt, bills, everything is gone. It’s only me and my stemless glass. Eventually, I sink.

I’m drowning again.

I’ve heard plenty of stories about how my grandfather loved the bottle a little too much. He would come home angry from the bars night after night, frightening my mom into tears.  And my mom started smoking as a young girl. She tried to quit for years, but never could.

Am I addicted? Hell if I know. I know I don’t feel addicted. I feel stuck. And I know I don’t want to be an addict. I don’t want the blood of an alcoholic, or a smoker, or this ticking time bomb of DNA to define me. I want my work, my mind and my kind nature to define me. I want me to define me.

I am so fucking tired of the cycle. I’m tired of the headache every morning. And I’m tired of that nightmare. I want to dream of blue skies and rays of sunshine instead of grey waters and chill in my bones. I want to watch my children play with clear eyes, instead of through the fog induced by last night’s choices.

I’m also completely afraid. Afraid of knowing who I am sober. Afraid of regaining control. Afraid of asking for help. Afraid of not drinking. Am I ready to commit to that? Is that what I want? What I need?

That’s it. This is where it ends.  It won’t control me, like it controlled my grandfather. I will not drown at the bottom of the bottle.

But first, let me finish this glass.


I wrote the essay above months ago with editing help from the folks at Yeah Write, but didn’t share it out of fear. And my situation hasn’t changed. I drink at least two glasses of wine five nights out of the week. I hate to read that on paper, but I don’t know how to change. Or where to begin the change. Maybe it this essay will be it. Maybe not. But I have to start somewhere, because I deserve the chance.

This essay was originally posted on Danielle Dayney’s blog


The Instagram account @louise.delage is not what it may seem. What appears to be a 20-something-year-old’s documentation of a trip to Paris actually holds a much deeper message.

The account gained over 100 thousand followers quickly because she seems to nail the balance between picture-esque views and photos that show she has a great social life going for her.

What one may not pick up on, is that almost every photo includes either Louise holding a bottle or glass of alcohol or has one somewhere in it. After about a month and a half of the account being run, with 150 posts, “Louise” released a video explaining the reason this account was made.

The video was made with a French production company in partnership with Addict Aide, a company that aims to raise awareness about alcoholism in young people. The goal of this account was to show how easy it is to hide such an unfortunately common and potentially fatal addiction. Nowadays especially, photos posted with young people and drinks are so common. If you see that a friend is constantly posting photos of them with drinks, say something. Check in with your friends. You never know who may be suffering.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

If you or a loved one is affected by addiction and need help, you can call SAMHSA’s hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

A while ago, I was at a picnic. It didn’t take long before people were joking that adult beverages were needed, and everyone laughed… everyone except me. Now, I’m not a humorless person, I laugh all the time. I just don’t think those jokes are funny.

Every single day, more than once a day, someone around me will mention alcohol. There’s a constant barrage of advertising, internet memes, drink recipes, casual jokes. I’m not a person who needs a trigger warning, but I really wish it all would stop sometimes.

Let’s set the scene. I am an alcoholic. For me, drinking was fun for about five minutes, back in high school. I think I had a normal teenaged love-hate relationship with the drug until I was an adult.

When I was 19, I woke up one day feeling crappy. The crappy feeling just wouldn’t go away. It stuck around all summer, dragging me down. I was suddenly terrible at my job. I was becoming apathetic. I didn’t know it, but I was depressed. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, hadn’t the faintest clue how to fix anything.

My depression worsened, and as that happened, anxiety bubbled up and reared its ugly head. After a few years of feeling lost and alone, I found a lot of friends who were interested in drinking and partying. Things spiraled out of control around me, and I just watched it all go by. I wasn’t having fun, though. I’d have fun in the moment, sure, but the bad feeling was always lurking around the corner. I can see now I was trying to chase it away.

At 21, I left home. This gave me the freedom to drink every night without fear of judgment. So that is exactly what I did. I drank to feel nothing instead of feeling bad. Alcohol became my crutch. Fast forward several years of addiction and misery, and I had a breakdown. Finally, two years later, I found myself in recovery. As my mind and body recovered from the hell I’d put it through, my concurrent disorders slowly became manageable.

Today, I’m open about my recovery. I don’t lead with that when I’m introduced to someone, but I don’t hide it either. Sharing has helped me learn how widespread the problem of addiction is. Every time I tell someone I’ve been to treatment, they tell me about how their dad went to rehab and they never told anyone, or their sister is an addict and they don’t know what to do, or they’ve lost someone as a result of alcoholism… the list goes on. Everyone I speak to seems to have a story about addiction negatively affecting their lives.

So why do we make these drinking jokes? I believe it’s because the topic is uncomfortable, and there’s still a lot of stigma. Personally, I had a fear of telling anyone about my addiction for many years, and that was because I felt like people saw addicts as pleasure-seekers. I wasn’t having fun, though. That was important. I was just trying to function in a world where I didn’t even know how to get out of bed.

If you are one of those people who jokes casually about how they need a drink to get through the day, please consider this. The person you’re talking to may be trying not to drink. They may have an addict in their family. Statistically, they probably do! They know someone, somewhere, somehow, and addiction has touched their life. Maybe a simple joke doesn’t affect them negatively, but maybe it does. Maybe they’ll even laugh – I did it for years. I faked a laugh as I felt more and more alone.

Addiction affects more people than we realize. If we can educate each other and think twice about making jokes, the stigma won’t stand a chance.

Image via Thinkstock.


If I’m being quite frank, it has the power to destroy my day. It has the power to send it reeling into the depths, with no hope for return and for no apparent reason at all. It will shut me down completely. The only option is to succumb to it, to get it over with and move on. I let my mind run rampant with fallacies, just long enough to mute it for a little while.

A nightmare.

I dread falling asleep because the night is dangerous. My day is done, and there’s time now to review what I’d done, who I interacted with and all I’ve said. There’s time now to consider all of the possible outcomes of my actions, primarily the negative ones. Perhaps, I upset my boss, and I’ll be fired tomorrow. Perhaps, I’ve disappointed my parents.

Burning Bridges.

I have always been close with my family. Now, I feel like I can no longer be. What if they don’t accept my anxiety? What if they call me weak or dramatic or tell me to suck it up? What if they cannot understand that I cannot control what goes on inside of my head? What if I upset them? What if it’s this way for the rest of my life?


Both in the past and the future, but never the present. I reminisce on days when I felt the utmost joy, no worries, no anxiety back when days like those existed. They are the most beautiful thing in my mind. They are also the most torturous. I can’t go back, no matter how hard I try. So, I try to look toward the future and imagine how wonderful things will be, and I can’t get there fast enough. That’s exactly the problem. I am not there. I am here, and I can’t be. I don’t want to be.


I am consistently fearing the worst in every situation, regardless of how nonsensical it may be. Even if I know the outcome will be positive, there is (at the very least) a sliver of me that worries the tables may turn. Some may call it protecting themselves, but not to this extent, not to this frequency.

A gift.

My anxiety is a lesson. I am constantly learning things about myself and about others that amaze me. I’ve learned I am strong. I am more than strong. I am a warrior, and I am a survivor.

I’ve learned I can relentlessly fight every single day. I can wake up, fight again every morning and go to sleep knowing I survived another day. I’ve learned my relationships are stronger than my anxiety. I am hopeful to learn of my family’s support, despite the plaguing doubts. You cannot change your family, so you love them despite the differences.

I am able to decipher when I am being unreasonable, when my mind has carried me too far yet again. While I am still unable to stop it, I am able to recognize it. That is more than I could ask for from myself.

To become President of the United States, you first must:

1) be a national born citizen of the United States.

2) be at least 35 years old.

3) have lived in the United States for at least 14 years.

Then, there are other qualities people look for in their candidate: leadership experience, some set of values that match their own, a deep understanding of our economy and other issues that affect the American people every day.

So why are we now trying to diagnosis Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump with a mental illness, as if that is what would disqualify him from the job?

On Wednesday, California congresswoman Karen Bass launched a petition calling for a mental health examination of Donald Trump. To promote her efforts, she started the hashtag: #DiagnoseTrump.

Now, there’s plenty to criticize Donald Trump about. Pick your battle: his comments about women and veterans, the Muslims ban, the wall… And sure, you can even criticize his temperament. Maybe you don’t like the guy at all.

But whether or not he has a diagnosable mental illness shouldn’t be part of the conversation. Because if he did have a mental illness, that wouldn’t be a reason he shouldn’t be president. What are we trying to gain from slapping on a diagnosis?

In her petition, Rep. Ball claims Trump meets the criteria for narcissistic personality disorder. But she also says, “The American Psychiatrist Association has declared it unethical for psychiatrists and psychologists to ‘comment on an individual’s mental state without examining him personally and having the patient’s consent to make such comments.’”

So, let’s not.

As expected, the hashtag has already led to stigmatizing tweets:


But, some have spoken up about the problematic nature of the hashtag.

So before you #DiagnoseTrump, check out the tweets below — and think about what you’re really saying.









Lead photo: Donald J. Trump

Real People, Real Stories: Life With Bipolar Disorder is a collection of 10 powerful stories from people in our Mighty community who live with bipolar disorder.

Click below to download the e-book:

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The book contains the following stories:

I’m an Olympian, Former Escort and Now – a Mental Health Advocate by Suzy Favor Hamilton

To Myself, the Day I Was Diagnosed: Bipolar Is Not the End, but the Beginning by Madelyn Heslet

The Words That Changed My Outlook on Living With Bipolar Disorder by Emily Stainton

‘Functional’ Is a 24/7 Job When You Live With Bipolar Disorder by Steve Imperato

The Secret Truths of a Bipolar Girl by Danielle Hark

The Blur of Bipolar Disorder by Fraser Speaks

Dear Future Boyfriend, From a Girl With Bipolar Disorder by Shelby Manoukian

10 Things I Wish My Loved Ones Knew About Living With Bipolar Disorder by Nichole Howson

Why My Kids Know Mommy Has Bipolar Disorder by Jennifer Marshall

Psychosis Isn’t Shameful, It’s a Symptom by Charlie Kaplan

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