I have been reading the personal experiences on your website. My mother always drank but since we had never known anything different we never considered her an alcoholic. She didn’t hide alcohol anywhere, there were no empty bottles in cupboards, no morning drinking – all the things you typically associate with an alcoholic.
She would start drinking at about lunchtime every day and continue into the evening, She got through a litre of vodka each day.
We all knew to avoid her once she had had too much to drink. She would be verbally abusive and would put us down constantly – we were ugly, stupid, flat chested, useless, no-one would ever be interested in us. We shouldn’t be allowed to have children of our own since we would all make such awful parents.
My mother ran her own business and got into debt. Whether the stress of the business caused her to start drinking I will never know but the two seemed to me to be linked. Once in debt she had to keep working to keep her house and she seemed to be stuck in a vicious circle where she had to keep working and drink to cope with that. We tried to tell her she would suffer liver failure but she had no interest in listening, I believe she thought alcohol was the only way she could cope and she couldn’t live without it.
We pleaded with her to sell her business and enjoy her retirement before she died from drink but she wouldn’t. We thought it was only a matter of time before she started showing symptoms of cirrhosis and then she would be forced to confront her drinking. My father was an ex-publican who thought that heavy drinking was a sign of enjoying life. He knew she drank too much but didn’t think it was serious and turned a blind eye to it.
It turned out my mother had advanced cirrhosis without us realising and one morning we found her unconscious – she was rushed to hospital but died shortly afterwards. Apparently 10% of people with cirrhosis die from this cirrhosis related complication that leads to internal bleeding.
Half of me wishes she was still here to try and build a relationship with her but the other half of me realises that even if she was still alive she would probably still be drinking and our relationship would be no further forward. It hurts me to think of the things she wanted to do once she had sold her business that she will now never get the chance to do.
Anyway, I want anyone else who has someone close to them who is drinking heavily to realise that not all alcoholics adhere to the alcoholic stereotype and that you don’t always have as much time as you think to persuade them to stop drinking.
I feel guilty now that I didn’t do more when my mother was alive – true she probably wouldn’t have taken any notice anyway, but now I will never know. Please, if you know someone who drinks try one more time to persuade them to get help, even if you know they won’t listen, because you never know how long it will be before it will be too late to get help.