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First Sip of Alcohol

Vanilla Milk

(age 14)

My mom driving me crazy as she drives us home, I fondle the small glass jar in my hands, given to me by my friend that evening. Vanilla extract: 33% alcohol. It may as well be liquor.

Never having tried alcohol before, I sneak a swig of the cooking ingredient. Warmth fills me, though the taste is abominable. I feel relaxed, relieved of the duty of listening, of caring beyond the comfort of my small reality in this moment, indifferent to the point where my mom’s words no longer attack my dwindling sanity.

I sink into the glories of being buzzed, alcohol warming my body & soul. The depression that’s plagued me for months is suddenly nowhere in sight. The monstrous voices that’ve also been lingering are now silenced. I relax into this glorious new feeling, an experience I never could’ve imagined before tasting the substance. I stare out the window of my mom’s van, the shadow of a smug grin quietly slipping across my face.

* * * * *

I stay up late at night, eagerly waiting for my family to wander off to sleep so I can try this alcohol thing once more. I mix some vanilla extract with milk. It makes a tolerably delicious mixed drink that provides a sufficient buzz for my lightweight body. Every time I feel the warmth, I also feel the black veil lifting—some relief from my intense & dark reality that has been overwhelming me to the point of exhaustion for so many months now.

This hobby continues, becoming routine as I await the slumber of my housemates so I can drink my sorrows away. Several nights a week I stay up late in eager anticipation. After pouring my delightful beverage, I slip outside & climb onto the family van in the front yard or on the fabulous trampoline in the backyard. Staring at the stars, I sing comforting songs to myself, often ones I make up on the spot. One cup, two cups, three cups; is this a buzz or am I drunk? If I’m especially lonely, or needing a distraction from my troubled mind, I’ll take the cordless family phone out back & call a best friend to dump my woes upon or a guy to shamelessly flirt with.

Even if unintentional, I am usually up past the expiration of my family’s conscious hours, & I then have the tempting option of a relaxing drink to provide the opportunity of a good night’s sleep. Whether I desire a drink or not, I often turn to it in hopes of easing my insomnia, a miserable condition that began lurking in my life two or three years ago. Depression invades my disturbed mind so greatly that it’s never silent long enough to get enough shut eye to cure my overwhelming exhaustion. Drinking relaxes my spirit.

I sink into the comfort of the midnight stars glistening above my broken heart. The glimmering lights twinkle, winking at me as if they know of some magical happening yet to bless my life, some wickedly gorgeous hope that I haven’t been able to see yet. The night sky swallows my woes so I don’t have to sleep with them. I drift into the darkness with a smile wild as the Cheshire cat’s. My inner darkness matching the eerily empty night sky, I camouflage into the blackness, grateful for relief of the incessant voices plaguing my sanity. For once, I sleep soundly, & the experience is so beautiful & rare I come to deeply appreciate sound sleep.


August 2008; 10th grade; age 15

My psychotic depression declares itself more boldly than ever. After a year of intense depression, hearing voices, & consistently engaging in self-harm, I have a mental breakdown—literally, a psychotic break from reality that immensely warps my perceptions for the following year. I experience a terrifyingly realistic hallucination of hell, followed by endless months of continuous depression, insomnia, night terrors, hearing demons (voices), self-harming, & pondering suicide. Everything grows dark & terrifying, though also thrilling & intriguing.

After such terrors of the mind, a little alcohol to relax & diminish the intensity of my darkness is desperately desired. During Christmas break, I finally achieve my desire. I attend my first “real party,” where I am introduced to actual liquor—vodka, to be precise; a liquid that becomes my best friend for several years. The escape from my mind & the thrill of rebellion & the beautiful concept of normalcy as I prance along through the party scene with friends are all too glorious to even consider forfeiting use of such a simple substance.

During the following summer & first few months of eleventh grade, I fully develop my infatuation with the harsh warmth of liquor, my first blackout experience happening shortly before school begins. I enjoy roaming the town with a friend & a bottle, laughing away the horrors of life, focusing on tangible smiles to ignore the ache lingering in my soul. But November welcomes me with a harsh reality check: I am kicked out of school for possession of vodka & marijuana.

With their trust in me broken, my parents decide not to enroll me in school elsewhere. Instead, they choose home school, though their instruction only goes as far as handing me the textbooks & restricting me to my bedroom. Other than for "field trips" to church or the grocery store, I rarely leave my bedroom for six months.

Despite such punishment, my drinking problems don’t end here.

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