Wednesday: Another F*cking Alcoholism Post Because Why TF Not (Part I)

I’m trying out my “edgy please come click me” titles so if it’s NOT working for you, please leave me a COMMENT down below chastising me for being inappropriate and WACK AF! If you’re already over it, then let’s hang out, chit chat about alcoholism and reflect a little bit on our culture. Why? Because we’re f*cking nerds, that’s why! Deal with it!

For some reference, here is my first post about alcoholism on this blog that actually made it through my five rounds of editing on this blog Intersectional Feminism: Addiction & Discrimination: https://www.westindiancritic.com/blog/marijuana-alcohol-how-we-focus-on-one-substance-while-ignoring-the-other

Here is my other post, 1 year later about alcoholism and substance abuse:

(2016) Alcohol Addiction: Our Silent Public Health Emergency

I’ve written a bit more informally, but none of these posts made “the cut”, so suffice it to say, these two posts summarized my thoughts up until that point about alcohol addiction and alcohol abuse in general.

Today, I’ve decided to make my daily post about alcoholism because of a recent event in Saint Lucia, “Live N Colour”, an end of summer party marking the end of Carnival season for young people in Saint Lucia. One of our country’s most prominent newspapers, The Voice, tackled the issue of teenage drunkenness at the party, an issue which rose to prominent attention due to a viral photo of five or so teenagers passed out drunk and covered in powder in disturbing positions that made the teenagers in question look dead. The image rightfully raised cause for concern, however due to the fact that those teenagers were likely minors, I will not be sharing the photo here. You can view an article about the subject on The Voice website here.

While the seemingly annual occurrences of fatal car crashes related to youth consumption of alcohol have promoted various anti-alcohol abuse pledges, these public displays against excess intoxication seem to have been muffled by the louder voices of ongoing cultural practices, family culture, and repeated instances of Heineken billboards and Chairman’s Reserve billboards plastered across our country’s highways. While I just pointed out the cultural component to alcoholism, this isn’t to say that the country I’m currently in (the United States) is actually any better. Alcohol addiction is present and highly visible to me in both countries, even if of course, we do things differently in Saint Lucia. So do not think this is a “compare and contrast” kind of blog post.

I wanted to cover five subtopics here somewhat informally since again, this is my daily blog post and doesn’t require the rigor of hours of research and citations that I would publish along with my long form blogposts. Here are the five subtopics and I’ll move quickly through them so that you don’t get bored and decide to flame me for coercing you to read something longer than a tweet.

OK, are we ready?!

Common myths about alcoholism that crop up during publicized alcohol related incidents

Myth #1: The blame and responsibility for alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction lie solely in the hands of the alcoholic. Alcoholism and abuse are personal failings that reflect poor character.

Truth #1: I understand why it can be hard for people who have never struggled with alcohol abuse to understand that it is not a personal failing. Personally, I have no trouble turning down a drink and I rarely drink despite keeping a fully stocked liquor cabinet in full view right in my home. If you’re like this, you might see someone binge drinking and think that they just need to control their behavior. The truth is, alcohol abuse and addiction are rooted in many factors, not just personal choice. There’s a large genetic component to alcoholism which predisposes different people to alcohol abuse. Even if something may seem easy for you or me, this doesn’t mean it’s the case for everyone else.

When searching in recovery circles, I found this graphic that accurately depicts some of the different root causes of addiction and where they may lead if someone doesn’t turn to alcoholism. It’s not just a matter of mimicking behavior, but how people are predisposed to respond to their environments. Some people grow up with alcoholics and become alcoholics while some grow up around alcoholics and never touch a drink in their lives. This doesn’t mean however that these people are immune to codependency, overeating, or abusing another drug.

 
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Myth #2: Alcoholism isn’t a problem as long as you’re “high functioning”.

Truth #2: This one can be the most frustrating as it enables many intelligent alcoholics with severe issues related to their alcohol abuse to deny that their alcohol consumption is an issue. Many “high functioning” alcoholics hold down jobs and keep their lights on, enabling them to live in denial for years. Most of these alcoholics would be unable to appear “normal” without the people they surround themselves with covering up their addiction for them. While their friends and family suffer, they are able to maintain the façade that their drinking falls within normal limits. This quote from The Recovery Village outlines the issues many high-functioning alcoholics are covering up. I urge you to focus your attention on the bold and underlined section of this quote:

They ask friends or family to cover up for them. A high-functioning alcoholic might ask her husband to call in sick to work for her when she’s struggling with a hangover, or borrow money from a friend to pay bills when she’s spent too much on alcohol. In reality, high-functioning alcoholism is usually made possible through the enabling behavior of loved ones.

They restrict their drinking to specific times, situations, or beverages. You might hear a high-functioning alcoholic say, “I never drink on weeknights,” “I only drink at bars,” or “I only drink beer.” These self-imposed limitations might help the alcoholic convince himself that he is in control of his drinking when in fact, he often breaks his own rules.

They isolate themselves in their private time. High-functioning alcoholics may act sociable and outgoing at the office or at company parties. But when they’re not at work, they often prefer to spend their personal time drinking alone or at bars. They may even discourage their family from inviting guests to the house because they don’t want their drinking habits to be exposed.

They break personal commitments because of their drinking. A functional alcoholic may receive awards at work for meeting high-performance standards, while forgetting an important anniversary or missing a family celebration because he or she was drunk or hungover.

They secretly struggle with mental illness. Many high-functioning alcoholics use their substance abuse to mask psychological disorders like depression, social phobia, or an eating disorder. They may suffer from anxiety about their competency or their material security. When they’re not under the influence, they may be moody, withdrawn, tearful, or irritable. They might even talk about suicide or attempt to harm themselves. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 25 percent of functional alcoholics struggle with depression.

Functional alcoholics are often intelligent, hardworking, and well-educated. Their professional status or personal success can make it hard to approach them about having a “problem” with alcohol. However, it is impossible to continue drinking heavily for a long period of time without suffering the physical and psychological consequences of alcoholism, such as liver disease, heart disease, neurological damage, cancer, or depression.

Click here to read the full article.

Here is some more troubling information about high-functioning alcoholics from another website Blueprints For Recovery

People who are in denial about the harm of being a “high functioning” alcoholic often:

Joke frequently about alcohol addiction

Keep employment but not earn raises or promotions

Get arrested for driving under the influence (DUI)

Binge drink to “relax”

Forget conversations and activities that occurred while drinking

The clear trouble with “high functioning” alcoholics is that their addiction may not catch up to them for many years, but the long term effects of binge-drinking are not up for debate; they’re verifiable scientific facts. High-functioning alcoholics are likely to underreport their drinking as well due to remaining in a high stage of denial. Since around 20% of alcoholics are “high functioning”, this allows many to hide their trouble with alcohol abuse for years.

Myth #3: Some alcohol consumption is actually healthy.

Truth #3: Oh sweet summer child… Sadly, the facts just do not back up this commonly held misconception. The negative effects of alcohol consumption especially on a regular basis vastly outweigh the benefits. Additionally, alcoholics are likely to drink far more than “moderately” and far more frequently. They underreport their drinking yet rely on studies to validate their addiction that rely on alcohol consumers taking in the smallest doses — which they themselves are unlikely to consume. This article digs deeper into the myth regarding a glass of wine a day and was written by a physician. This article discusses common “big alcohol” myths regarding alcohol consumption and debunks every single one.

Reuters recently summarized a large 2018 study with this quote which more accurately portrays the effects of regular alcohol consumption:

Blood pressure and stroke risk rise steadily the more alcohol people drink, and previous claims that one or two drinks a day might protect against stroke are not true, according to the results of a major genetic study.

We believe a lot of horse shit about alcohol whether or not we are big drinkers. While education in and of itself will not necessarily stop an alcoholic from having their fifth pint of beer and calling it their second, it will certainly help those of us who want to learn more about alcoholism and alcohol consumption to contextualize their behavior and will help us to understand our deadly culture surrounding drinking.

Stay tuned for Part II of this post tomorrow! When I’m done with the series, they’ll all be linked and combined into one post.

Tuesday: Top 7 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Became A Professional Writer

I’m short on time today, so outside of some small expansion on my points, I’m going to keep this brief and give you a list of the Top 7 things I wish I knew before I became a professional writer. Phew! I’m sure this list could be much longer since I knew absolutely nothing before I went into self-publishing. If it weren’t for a couple of mentors, I might still be blissfully unaware of how self-publishing can be a lucrative way to support oneself. Here are the things I wish I knew before I got started

1) start earlier

I wish someone had told me to just START when I had the first inkling of what I wanted to do. I got started writing 2 years after my mentor tried to put me on to the whole thing and I missed an entire era of much easier money in self-publishing. The best time to start is now is DEFINITELY true of writing.

2) solve “writers block” early

The difference between a professional writer and an amateur can be found in their entire attitude towards writer’s block. Amateurs use “writer’s block” as an excuse. Professionals recognize that whether you have writer’s block or not, you have to find a way to push through it and write. Professionals realize that you can train yourself to be more creative and have more creative ideas. This is not a fixed skill! This is also something you should solve early on so you keep having good ideas.

3) network professionally

Online networking has made a lot of difference for me from keeping tabs on industry changes to getting helpful tips and reliable subcontractors. The sooner you can join a real professional network, the better.

4) you will get over bad reviews

Amateurs think negative reviews are the end of the world. Professionals realize that there will always be someone who has something negative to say about your writing. Even Harry Potter has some horrid reviews, scalping JK Rowling and dragging her name through the mud. It’s impossible to write without criticism whether it’s justified or not. You must get over it! And you will!

5) the naysayers are wrong (but not for the reason you think)

Most people who speak negatively about the money making potential of writing or self-publishing do not make money in writing or self-publishing. While some gatekeepers like to think it’s impossible for anyone new to break in, these folks are rare. Most professional writers who make money self publishing are aware that it is possible for anyone who puts their mind to it.

6) editing counts

I used to hate editing and do everything under the sun to avoid it. I learned that editing is actually just as important a process as writing. Even if you have to pay someone, exchange labor, or get a friend to help you, editing is crucial and counts for so much.

7) writing should be fun, even when it’s work

Usually when you’re writing fiction, if you’re bored that means the reader is bored. This is especially true in commercial fiction, which I write. Writing should be fun. Your stories should be fun. A good measure of whether you have a fun story will be whether or not you are having fun while writing it.

What do you think of these tips? Is there anything else you wonder about writing professionally or self-publishing?

Wednesday: What To Do On Mediocre Days With No Motivation

I’m here with little motivation to write, partly because I lost the blog post that I slaved over yesterday for half an hour, and I am still a little wounded to put much effort in today, silly as that might seem to you. I’ve finished my writing for the morning, done some meditation, and made a pumpkin soup for lunch at home. Overall, for a “mediocre” day with no motivation, I’m doing alright. This morning, I got some sad news (which I will write about later) and I’ve been dragging myself along ever since. Unfortunately, sad news doesn’t stop time. We still have to go on and get things done. “Adulting”, am I right?

‘Here are my three simple tricks I use to keep me going when I feel like curling up in bed, re-reading King Lear, and shutting the world out:

(1) Mindfulness Meditation

I wouldn’t keep recommending meditation if it didn’t really work for me. I’m not the only one who agrees. Scientists know that mindfulness meditation has real effects on reducing anxiety, and the spiritual practices centered around mindfulness meditation do so for a reason! This morning before work, I added 5 minutes of quiet meditation to my day so that I could get my mind a little quieter and focus on what absolutely needed to get done.

(2) Socialize

As an introverted writer, sometimes I forget that my “social battery” does actually require some depletion in order for me to recharge on my own. I’m quiet, and I enjoy spending time alone, but on tough days, it’s actually better to reach out and remember that you’re connected to a wider world. This doesn’t have to be time consuming. Today, I texted my sister, my family members, and spent some extra time with my fiancé, which has been lovely and reminded me that there are reasons for me to pull myself out of bed.

(3) Draw or Color

“Adult coloring books” are all the rage now because we are beginning to recognize that creative activity, no matter how small, can play a huge role in making us happier. People are inherently creative and when our creative spirit is fed, we feel really good. Coloring and drawing can also have a meditative aspect to them that make both activities very relaxing. The final thing I’ve done today is spent 30 minutes or so with a pencil and paper, just having fun and drawing something new.

What are your tips for mediocre days when you have little motivation? What is your “bare minimum” self care routine? Comment with ideas down below.

Thursday: Thoughts On “All The Rage” by Darcy Lockman

  • This book definitely makes it on my required reading list for anyone considering becoming a parent or co-parenting with a man.

  • Great complementary book to Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine, which explores neurosexism and patriarchal bias in science examining gender differences

  • The funny/humorous tone in this book in the trend of Jessica Valenti’s writing style makes it really easy to dive in and relate plus the analysis of Facebook groups and other contemporary forms of community women create makes many of her points even more salient in our social media saturated world.

  • This book comes with many other recommended reads on gender and division of labor that I’ll hopefully be able to review.

  • The clear & negative impact of inequality is interesting especially when you think of it in terms of the covert contracts that appear to be implicit in most heterosexual relationships. The scary part is that more equal labor distribution before kids can totally vanish once a woman decides to have kids. Sinister to think about.

  • At around 50% of the way through the book, I thrust it straight into my required reading list before having kids. Eye opening and the book will probably spark many projects.

I know this blog post is short but I’ve been writing a lot for work this week and trying to keep my head above water there. Do you have any summer reading? Drop your latest read in the comments below. 👇🏽

Saturday: Am I Ready?

Creatives love the excuse of “not being ready” to start something. We will go over in our heads hundreds if not thousands of times the many ways we need to improve, change and lead all before getting started. Fear paralyzes in these occasions and we convince ourselves that we “aren’t ready” and back this up with every excuse under the sun that we can think of.

How do you know that you are ready to start something new?

The idea of failing is what holds us back. We don’t want to pick up the paintbrush because we fear that what we create will be ugly. We consider this to be a failure. But what we consider failure doesn’t have to be viewed this way. “Failure” is just information — it’s data guiding our next move. Creativity is an iterative process and “failure” only represents one iteration of many. You’re “ready” once you accept this!

You’re ready when you’ve allowed yourself creative space to define your value. Another fear creatives internalize is the fear of disappointing others. As social creatures, it’s natural for human beings to seek some approval. If for example, you strive to create content online, approval can be a literal measure of your value. However this unhealthy belief equates one measure of value with overall quality and your personal value. Approval of any kind is information too.

Fellow creatives and social media experts give advice to content creators that doesn’t help either. Telling someone to “add value” to their audience is meaningless since everyone defines value differently. You are “ready” when you acknowledge that social approval and “likes” are not the sole determinants of value. Other forms of social approval can be equally unhelpful — the feedback of naysayers and envious people comes to mind.

You are ready when you can “let go” of the outcome of your creative process. This doesn’t mean not to plan or to abandon outlines or anything of that nature. Letting go means accepting the ups and downs of the creative process without allowing it to push you off your path. When you are ready to never give up regardless of the outcome, you’re ready to dive into a new creative pursuit.

We all need these reminders as some point or another. If you’re a creative, author, content creator, poet, dancer or artist, what advice has helped you best tap into your creativity? Post in the comments below. 👇🏼

Wednesday: Quick Daily Report

I know when you start blogging for “real” it helps to make what you post relevant, interesting and helpful to complete strangers, but I want to document a little bit of what’s happening in my life for the sake of keeping it all together.

  • This weekend I didn’t work on my long-form blog post the way I planned because I decided to read the last 300 pages of War And Peace and actually finish the book. I liked the book, although if you’re looking for the excitement and tone of a John Grisham, you won’t find it here.

  • I started reading Rebel Without A Crew, the story of director Robert Rodriguez who created the films El Mariachi as well as Once Upon A Time In Mexico. His grit, drive and mindset are setting me right this week.

  • I did some work over the weekend, which I hate doing typically, but I just started on my next science fiction release for work.

  • I started watching Doctor Who season 1 again starting Chris Eccleston and Billie Piper. I’ve yet to meet an artist with the name Billie who I don’t love.

  • I’m starting to worry about my ability to keep up with the production schedule for this blog. It’s not so much that this is the most important thing going on for me right now. It’s just that I have high hopes for the future of this blog and the idea that I can miss a day and not write what I’ve been meaning to write makes me feel guilty.

  • I’m nervous about “oversharing” and posting to social media. I feel it’s okay to acknowledge these anxieties. I don’t love sharing personal information, and I’m quite closed off. Writing is my vehicle for freeing my overactive mind and sharing that process in any respect can be terrifying.

I know this quick daily report focused a bit on my fears and struggles, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that if you’re reading this, you can relate too. Comment down below if you’re nervous about a creative project of yours or if you have been in the past! 👇🏼 I’m sure that I’m not alone in this one…

Wednesday: My Remote Work Routine - 5 Tips For Digital Nomad Productivity

I travel back and forth between the United States and St. Lucia a few times a year and in the past two years I’ve been to Martinique and Barbados during times when I’ve also had to work. Since I’m a full-time writer and I run my business from home, I’m a kind of “digital nomad” so my office comes with me wherever I go.

I have five tips for remote work that I always incorporate into my remote work routine when my office is on the road…

1) Noise-cancelling headphones

These are a must for traveling and working since you can turn any environment into a workspace and really get into the zone. I also use noise-cancelling headphones to wear on airplanes, and for help falling asleep. Currently, I’m using this brand of PLT headphones which work really nicely and can transition from wired to wireless so even if you lose your charge, you can still use them. The only thing I don’t love about them is the fact that I need an adapter for my iPhone but it’s a minor issue. I’ve tried a lot of Bluetooth headphones in the past and these have the greatest range by far out of any cheaper options I’ve tried.

2) Schedule work that doesn’t require an internet connection

This tip I don’t use within the United States as much, but when I work on flights or when I go to countries with notoriously bad internet connections (like Martinique!) I plan ahead this way too. Since as a full-time writer I balance writing 3-5k words a day with marketing and social media tasks that require an internet connection, I use this to my advantage. Before I travel, I schedule all my social media posts and emails so I can focus on writing the old school way — just a word processor, no internet connection.

3) Book a place with dedicated workspace

I have had some great workspaces in my recent trips, including a Capitol Hill studio in Washington DC as well as a my brief one night stay in the Crystal City Hilton. I require a table for focused work and I make it a priority to book a place that’s business friendly. Traveling is usually business related, and I rarely stop working when I am traveling, so it’s a priority to have a dedicated space. Working from couches or from bed really throws me off so I avoid that if possible.

4) Pick optimal work hours for the situation

I prefer working a typical work day, but on the road I have to be discerning about when I get my work done. If fitting 6-7 hours of creative work is impossible, I hit at least 4. If I’m visiting night owls, I schedule my hours in the morning as usual so I can go out at night. If I’m on a family related trip, or traveling with my fiancé, I schedule later hours to accomplish daytime activities. Just because I’m working during the trip doesn’t mean I have to miss out on enjoying the blessings and opportunities traveling has to offer. Making adjustments to my schedule sets me up for success.

5) Plan activities outside of work to look forward to

I always plan something to look forward to whether I’m traveling to Upstate NY or Martinique. I can’t focus on work 100% of the time and balance is so important to me. I always plan specific activities I can get excited about and “work for” during my trips. I like doing this because it keeps me focused and working on a tight schedule with greater efficiency.

The great thing about my remote work routine is that none of it is rocket science. Simple changes make a big difference and these easy adjustments allow me to enjoy both work and travel when I am working and traveling.

Do you ever work when you travel? Let me know in the comments. Pin the image below to save these remote work tips to your favorite board for travel and entrepreneurship. 👇🏼

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