I've known people, dead and alive, with alcoholism.
The dead ones are dead because they believed what all the nonalcoholic drinking people in their lives told them about alcohol: That having one or two drinks after dinner was as simple as having one or two drinks after dinner, and then not having any more. But this was not true for them. For them, having one or two drinks after dinner meant having all the available drinks in the house after dinner. And the next morning. And the next evening. And hey, screw dinner.
They're dead because the people around them trying to help were ignorant. The people around them told them various things: Just pray. Use willpower. Shame yourself out of excessive drinking. I know one case of a nonalcoholic trying to help an alcoholic in which the nonalcoholic's brilliant solution to the alcoholic's drinking problem was to send that alcoholic over $300 worth of megavitamins.
The alcoholics I know who are alive are alive because they found other alcoholics who understood what they were going through and were able to talk to them and reach them in ways that nonalcoholics were incapable of doing.
I don't understand the uncontrollable urge to drink. For me drinking is very controllable--I may do more of it than I ought to, but there's never been any question for me about who decides when and how much I drink; I decide that. Sometimes I set out to drink a lot, have a glass of wine, realize it doesn't taste good to me for whatever reason, and then, check this out, I don't drink anymore wine that night. For the alcoholics I have known, it doesn't work that way. If I understand what the alcoholics I have known are saying to me correctly, it's more like a compulsion, an itch to be scratched: Must have more alcohol. I feel that way about cigarettes, and I can dimly remember jonesing a few times for pot when I was out, but booze? No. I don't get that one.
So guess what I normally do on the subject of alcoholism? I SHUT THE FUCK UP.
I don't understand people with depression issues, either. I don't understand why they can't just be happy, or at least be happy more often than they are depressed. I don't understand what's so hard about getting out of bed. I don't understand what it's like to feel flattened by life--except one day out of the month when whatever combination of hormones my body cocktails up turns me into a morose motherfucker. But you know, that's one day a month only. I can stiff-upper-lip my way through one day a month.
What I'm fairly certain I could not do is stiff-upper-lip my way through all the days of the month feeling like I do on that one day. I'd kill myself, if I could find the energy to bother, which I probably couldn't. I'd probably just drift along feeling miserable until I quit bothering to clock in for work . . . drift along until I was evicted . . . drift along on the streets until God knows. I don't know, but I'm pretty sure it would be bad.
But my limited ability to imagine what it must be like to deal with depression is not the same thing as my actually having depression, so generally, on the subject of depression, I SHUT THE FUCK UP.
Don't read books about how medicating depression is all one huge scam from Big Pharma, and then lecture people with depression about the best way to treat their depression.
SHUT THE FUCK UP.
Don't read .PDFs on the internet about depression and then lecture people with depression about what you learned in thirty minutes with Acrobat Reader.
SHUT THE FUCK UP.
Really, really don't then condescend to people with depression that what they put into their bodies is their business, really, but you don't have to approve of it. No, you sure don't! But if what people put into their bodies is truly their business, why are you still talking?
SHUT THE FUCK UP.
Ignorance kills people every day, but you're still talking, because no one's going to tell you what to approve or disapprove of!
I for one am not telling you what to approve or disapprove of. I'm only telling you to