I thought I should contribute to this thread because I share so many of the symptoms of alcohol that you talk about. When I drink, I turn into an absolute nut! A completely different person. I also experience the same thing with hangovers that Suzanne describes, horrible, horrible headaches, vomiting for hours and hours, and they sometimes last for days. I also started to experience panic attacks when I would have a hangover, and I suspect they are due to all the terrible and embarassing things I would do while drunk. In addition, I share the same inability to stop at a couple drinks after I start and will drink myself into oblivion. I remember nothing of my actions the next day and refuse to allow anyone to tell me anything about it because it is simply too unbearable to hear. The only times I have ever tried to commit suicide, or even thought about it, has been when I was drunk. All rationality flies out the window. I have been to jail for several DUIs and other alcohol-related horrors. But it has been over ten years since then, but only by complete luck, or God, or whatever.
I tried AA, but being an agnostic, I found it very difficult to get anything out of it, as so much of the program revolves around the Christian view of God, organized religion, and an absence of personal responsibility, all of which I strongly disagree and against the foundation of my beliefs. Needlesstosay, it wasn't for me.
The confusing part for me was that I was able to really quit drinking any time I wanted, except when I was around lots of people in a social situation. I get very nervous, pressured to become a social butterfly, fit in with the crowd. It was difficult because I have always found it very difficult to relate to people on a deep and meaningful level. Ironically, I have always played the role of advisor rather than advisee, probably because I am more comfortable with my guard up at all times.
When I started reading about bipolars and their lives, I felt so relieved. I see myself in so many of you. Today, I haven't had a drink in over 6 months, not only because I'm on the meds, but I simply can't afford to bear the consequences of it. So much of my life and the lives of others have been devastated because of my drinking. Luckily, I never have felt a need for a drink while alone or while at home. Plus, my husband doesn't drink, which helps a lot. I've simply removed myself from that life. But it will be difficult to avoid it forever, although I hope by the time I find myself in situations where I am prone to drink, I will have learned new behaviors and my medication will be at the appropriate level. Let's hope.
And finally, my husband recently had a close friend die after drinking while on some type of depression/mental illness medication. We still don't know what that medication was, only that it was related to depression. Therefore, my husband is petrified that I will drink on my medication, especially since alcohol seems to saturate my entire body when I drink it. In addition, I appear to be very sensitive to mixing medications. Just something to think about, because apparently, bad things can happen when drinking alcohol with medications such as those we are on. We have personally seen it happen.
Hang in there, guys.