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Alcohol broke my brain

Old 08-01-2017, 07:09 PM
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Alcohol broke my brain

Hey there, SoberRecovery. This is my first post. I'm not in a good place right now, but I suppose most people aren't when they first come here. Anyway, I'll tell you my story....if anyone cares.

I'm currently about 30 years old, and was drinking heavily for around 6 years. I quit drinking about a month and a half ago, and also got off of low doses of two potentially addictive medications. The problem is....there's no light at the end of the tunnel for me. The longer I remain sober, the more I see what alcohol has taken from me, and the less hope I have about ever getting it back.

Considering the short length of time (relative to some alcoholics) I was drinking, the mental toll is absolutely staggering. The doctors have performed all sorts of brain and blood tests, and there's apparently nothing detectable to medical science that should be wrong with me. Nonetheless, my mental state is absolutely TERRIBLE. My ability to speak and write is completely crippled; it's almost as if my brain skips over words. I cannot type a complete sentence without reading it afterward and finding at least two words completely missing. Apparently the same thing happens with my speech, only it's other people that have to notice that for me. I also have a very difficult time finding the right words in any given situation, and my new inability to solve math problems (I used to be a teacher) has left me unable to perform the job I once loved. Worst of all, though, is the impact it had on my memory. I had a hard enough time remembering things before, but now there are days when I wake up unable to remember a single thing about what I did the previous day. It's like a blackout...but WITHOUT ANY ALCOHOL. Without the ability to remember things, it feels like I've fallen prey to stupidly-early-onset Alzheimer's, and there's no hope for bettering myself if the progress in doing so is wiped away every night when I go to sleep.

I've been trying to improve my life one step at a time....getting more exercise, getting out more and being social....but my mental state shows no form of improvement even after this long. The way words disappear makes me seem like I have a speech impediment to the rest of the world, and my relative inability to express myself makes finding new friends an impossibility. I also have extreme jealousy of everyone else in the world, especially when it comes to speaking or writing. If this post ends up being comprehendible, it's only because it took over two hours to painstakingly correct and meticulously edit.

I just...feel like a dead husk of a man roaming this world aimlessly. Enlightenment, peace, happiness...these things elude me at every turn. People seem to actively avoid me once I open my mouth. I won't be surprised if this post gets no replies, which is just as well since there's probably even odds on me forgetting I ever posted here in the first place (due to the aforementioned memory issues). But anyway, assuming I do remember I posted this, what can I expect here? Have any of you heard of cognition and memory being so irreparably damaged from alcohol abuse over such a short period of time? And given that nothing was detectable by any of the doctors and specialists I've seen, what else can I even do?
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Old 08-01-2017, 07:19 PM
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I have read before that it can take 6 months or even longer to fully function correctly after alcohol. I'd say stay strong and continue to eat healthy. I am just starting my recovery and I am planning to start juicing to get a healthy kickstart. Maybe that would help?
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Old 08-01-2017, 07:23 PM
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The brain can and will recover given time. I took a couple years to get my mind back. Am I 100%? Maybe, maybe not but I have enough to do fine in this world. You can help the process with diet, exercise and stimulation.
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Old 08-01-2017, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by MNVikes4life View Post
I have read before that it can take 6 months or even longer to fully function correctly after alcohol. I'd say stay strong and continue to eat healthy. I am just starting my recovery and I am planning to start juicing to get a healthy kickstart. Maybe that would help?
Changing my diet is probably going to be one of the last things on my plate, unfortunately. Everyone needs a coping mechanism of some sort, and without alcohol, I'm finding that (unhealthy) food is one of the only things that keeps me sane. Good luck with your own recovery, though.
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Old 08-01-2017, 07:28 PM
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Welcome incognition! one and a half months is terrific. I hope things improve for you as you rack up the sober time.
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Old 08-01-2017, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by duane1 View Post
The brain can and will recover given time. I took a couple years to get my mind back. Am I 100%? Maybe, maybe not but I have enough to do fine in this world. You can help the process with diet, exercise and stimulation.
Thanks. I figure that reaching out here is a good first step toward social recovery. I ended up isolating myself for a long time when I was drinking. Losing more and more friends, afraid to go outside for fear that the world would judge me. I also hated talking about myself, because what do you say when your most significant personal characteristic is that you get shitfaced alone in secret every day?
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Old 08-01-2017, 09:18 PM
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Hi Incognition

I drank for 20 years and did other drugs for longer than that. I wanted to feel better immediately but from this side of the fence I can see how unrealistic that expectation was.

As for the ;'wasted years' - yeah I think everyone can identify with that - but I've done more in the last ten years sober than I did in the 20, maybe even 30 years before that.

There's nothing I can do about the time I've lost but my gravestone is not going to read 'he wasted 20 years'...I've done more important things since y'know?


If I can leave you with just one thought it would be that this is not the best it's gonna get - it gets a lot better

Don't lose heart
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Old 08-01-2017, 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Dee74 View Post
Hi Incognition

I drank for 20 years and did other drugs for longer than that. I wanted to feel better immediately but from this side of the fence I can see how unrealistic that expectation was.

As for the ;'wasted years' - yeah I think everyone can identify with that - but I've done more in the last ten years sober than I did in the 20, maybe even 30 years before that.

There's nothing I can do about the time I've lost but my gravestone is not going to read 'he wasted 20 years'...I've done more important things since y'know?


If I can leave you with just one thought it would be that this is not the best it's gonna get - it gets a lot better

Don't lose heart
Thanks Dee. I really hope you're right. It's hard to be hopeful right now when I'm forgetting the simplest of things on a daily basis, but one of the reasons I signed up here was for support....and hope. I used to post on all sorts of message boards in the past before I started drinking, and the only ones I ever posted on when I got drunk were really bad, and I got banned from half of them.

I guess, in particular, this is hitting me really hard because this is the first medical problem that I've directly done to myself. I've had mental issues before, but none of those were really my fault. I just can't help beating myself up lately over this one, particularly because it's so severe and the consequences were directly caused by my actions. Add to that the guilt over what I could have been doing with those 6 years (which should have been the prime of my life) besides killing my brain and...well....the self-loathing is hard to stop some days
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Old 08-02-2017, 12:37 AM
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Keep posting incognition. 6 weeks is a really good place to be in and things may well take some time to settle down.
You really have to keep at this, as it's the only way it's going to get better.
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Old 08-02-2017, 12:41 AM
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I wouldn't steer you wrong

My progress was a little longer than most because I suffered some mini strokes in the course of my last home alone detox.

Even so the back to full health period was nothing like the 20 years I spent poisoning myself.

I feel I'm back as mentally sharp as I ever was now

D
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Old 08-02-2017, 12:55 AM
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I think it is fairly common to suffer from cognitive impairment in early sobriety. Some of the things I read about that help cognitive ability include:
  • Sobriety
  • Sleep
  • Exercise
  • Going for walks
  • Meditation
  • Omega-3 rich foods
  • Socializing

For me, the first four are the most effective, although healing is anything but a straight path.
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Old 08-02-2017, 02:08 AM
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INCOGNIT- being sober means you can see your memory difficulties for what they are. 25 months ago- I was given the diagnosis of Korsakof's. My story for all it's horrors is on a thread I made at SR for the world to see. You need to work at it. Go to a psychologist and do CBT stuff, find out about a neuropsychology assessment(I did, it helped me understand), see your doc about your health- especially blood tests. Look into brain training- rewire it so your have more cognitive ability. Needless to say drinking again will make it all much worse.
Empathy and support to you.
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Old 08-02-2017, 02:44 AM
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Originally Posted by incognition View Post
Thanks Dee. I really hope you're right. It's hard to be hopeful right now when I'm forgetting the simplest of things on a daily basis, but one of the reasons I signed up here was for support....and hope. I used to post on all sorts of message boards in the past before I started drinking, and the only ones I ever posted on when I got drunk were really bad, and I got banned from half of them.

I guess, in particular, this is hitting me really hard because this is the first medical problem that I've directly done to myself. I've had mental issues before, but none of those were really my fault. I just can't help beating myself up lately over this one, particularly because it's so severe and the consequences were directly caused by my actions. Add to that the guilt over what I could have been doing with those 6 years (which should have been the prime of my life) besides killing my brain and...well....the self-loathing is hard to stop some days
First, Welcome!

Second, I can completely relate to the inability to "grasp" the right word when writing or speaking (I believe this is called aphasia) and the period of time I endured it when I got sober scared me to no end. I am a writer by passion and education and words are so important to me. It took me til 6 mo to be creative and eloquent enough to start my latest blog, and it was probably a month or two before that when I felt confident in my speaking again. I too was scatter-brained, distracted, had little ability to concentrate....Like Dee said, wanting to "be better now" (and I'd add, being scared we will never be ok) is normal, unrealistic, and disheartening. As people told me, "time takes time."

Third, your sober time is awesome! And it's still very early. Taking care of ourselves means a LOT of different things - starting with not drinking and gradually incorporating SO much more. Have you thought about a program of action? Those of us who stay sober tend to get that way because we DO specific things to live a life of recovery. Mine is AA - others will tell you about success with an SR-only based regimen, AVRT, CBT, etc. The key is in the doing.

Glad to see you here, and know that we can relate. Take care- keep going. It really, truly, absolutely keeps getting better if you don't drink. The best thing about it "getting better" (for me) is that I have a REAL life, where choice and peace are both within my grasp. The rewards of my sobriety are immense.
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Old 08-02-2017, 02:55 AM
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I'm glad you wrote that Incognition If I wasn't a lunkhead now, I could have described myself exactly like that.

Stopping in mid-sentence, deleting whole people you've met then introducing yourself again, blackouts sober, inability to speak, write, remember what things are called, jealous of normal people. Tick

I'm nearly 3 months now and I managed to read a book. I can remember very clearly that the hero waters his cactus with an icecube from his designer vodka, which he describes as liquid purity. The storyline's gone, however. Got to shift focus.

The effect of alcohol on the body is huge and it is going to take more than a couple of months to reverse the adaptations it made to being poisoned daily. In the meantime, it's wiser to concentrate on helping it repair with good food and exercise etc than to spend energy on wishing it was different. I feel quite relaxed about it at the mo, and hopeful that it will return in time. Patience.

I wish you all the luck in the world
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Old 08-02-2017, 04:38 AM
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Based on the way you express yourself in writing, I very much doubt you have any cognitive deficits. You seem very intelligent and articulate.

I also experienced severe brain fog and mental misfirings, and really slow thinking, after quitting alcohol last year. It was so bad; I felt like I had a film of gauze wrapped around my brain. It went away after about 30 days, but I wasn't as sharp as I used to be for another few months. Then I started feeling pretty decent at the five month mark and then stupidly started drinking again!

Now that I am quitting for good I am looking forward to feeling sharp again, but I expect it will take some time based on how much mind-deadening poison I've consumed ...
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Old 08-02-2017, 05:58 AM
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Welcome incognition

Congrats on your sober time!

My first year of sobriety was pretty tough. My memory and cognitive issues were very disturbing. I am a voracious reader and I couldn't follow a plot or keep up with who the characters were or what they were doing. I couldn't even follow a 30 minute sitcom on TV, I would have to keep rewinding because I couldn't remember what I had just watched. My memory was non-existent. I couldn't find words in my brain, I felt mentally sluggish and in a fog.

I was back and forth to my doctor, for that first year, insisting on test after test.

But, good news! It got better. I got better. Everything came back, my reading ability, my memory, my brain! They all came back!

Keep going, it will get better, it will be worth it!

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Old 08-02-2017, 08:41 AM
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Greetings, Incognition, from your future self!

Well, not really, but I could easily have written your post nearly word for word when I was 6 weeks along. I went through exactly the same issues.

6 weeks is great, but it's still very early in the overall scheme of things. It takes time to undo the damage. I started keeping a pen-and-paper journal early on in sobriety (around 6 weeks, actually), and early on it's full of rantings such as "MY BRAIN DOESN'T WORK RIGHT ANYMORE!!!", as well as cross-outs and re-writes and blank spots where I got stuck for a word. Nowadays it's much cleaner, as well as reflecting a much more serene state of mind.

Even after 4 years, I still have vestiges of cognitive issues. For example, it still takes me a long time to write a post, and typically I have to go back and edit heavily many times before my writing approaches coherency -- thank goodness for the backspace key! -- however, things overall are MUCH better now than they were at 6 weeks sober.

I sympathize with the feelings of frustration and despair and remorse along the lines of "what did I DO to myself?" But really, there's no point in indulging them, and you must try not to. All you can do is continue to do the next right thing (as you have been doing), and try to be patient. Of course, not picking up a drink is the foremost of those things -- if you stay sober, there's at least a chance that things will improve. If you drink again, there's NO chance.

I hope you'll continue to post as you are able, and let us know how you're doing.
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Old 08-02-2017, 10:40 AM
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some interesting observations you bring up. I have no advice but I'll share my experience. When I was drinking pretty heavily every night, about late morning early afternoon the next day I found talking difficult, clear thinking difficult, the same with writing. At the time I didn't know it was the alcohol but I do now. I couldn't wait to get home and have a stiff drink because my brain would "unlock" and I would think a bit more clearly....for awhile. Then of course I became drunk and it was bedtime. It was a horrible cycle.

You're pretty young, glad your aware of it. I know you've seen doctors but getting a second opinion is never a bad idea. doctors are human.
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Old 08-02-2017, 11:22 AM
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Incognition,

I don't have much more to add.. a lot of really great replies here. Just want to say to give it time. All you can do is move forward.

You are only 6 weeks out from heavy alcohol use and two medications. That's a lot to recover from.

As Spartanman said, you express yourself incredibly well in writing, so I think you are being a bit hard on yourself. (I love your screen name too.) You clearly are aware, sensitive and creative.

The body is remarkable in its ability to heal. Don't know what medicines you were on, but they and the alcohol could've been a mix that your brain is still sorting out. Just keep on the path. You have huge motivation for it.

So glad you posted. Stay with us!
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Old 08-02-2017, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by incognition View Post
I guess, in particular, this is hitting me really hard because this is the first medical problem that I've directly done to myself. I've had mental issues before, but none of those were really my fault. I just can't help beating myself up lately over this one, particularly because it's so severe and the consequences were directly caused by my actions.
welcome,incognition.
sloooooow down and throw out the ass kikin machine.
this
"The doctors have performed all sorts of brain and blood tests, and there's apparently nothing detectable to medical science that should be wrong with me. "

tells me that ya stopped in time.the tests show theres no damage, so what severe consequences from your actions are you referring to?
or maybe your trying to make something that isnt true true?maybe your just not giving it enough time to find out?
i went through chemo. pretty intense for sure. i experienced the same thing then- it took time for my body to fully recover and the full effects to diminish. id say about 6 months.
because it was a poison- just like alcohol
many of us have put mass quanities of poison on our bodies over a length of time. its going to take time for the full effects to diminish and the true, real, underlying issues to show.
i was told early on it can take a year or longer for the full effects of alcohol to be gone. i found it true for me. 23 years of drinking, my body,mind, and spirit werent going to heal over night.
i was extremely scatter brained for a while early on. it drove me crazy(er) bonkers( er)!! i had a difficult time at work. i couldnt focus on the work right in front of me and made mistakes frequently.
and speaking and writing? yeah, that wasnt the easiest. i knew what i wanted to say- idk if this makes sense, but i could see the words in my head, but i just couldnt get them out. there were quite a few times in conversation that it was noticable and the person i would be talking to would say what i was trying to say.
writing wasnt that much fun either.

but over time that started getting better. i can still have times getting words out or writing/typing are difficult- sometimes the words are all there in my head, but i just cant get it said or typed. but now its NOTHING compared to what it was.
and from what i read and hear from a lot of people, its quite common, and not limited to alcoholics/addicts- them normies can have the problem,too.

its going to take time.

"But anyway, assuming I do remember I posted this, what can I expect here?"

you can expect to find people that have been in your shoes. you will find people that have experienced what you have- no terminal uniqueness.
you will find suggestions of solutions for problems.
and support.

now i have to run out and shut off the sprinkler in the garden i turned on 4 hours ago and forgot.
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