March 7th, 2017 by Jan

I had a conversation about mental illness the other day.

I know my diagnose of my mothers illness is not mine to make. Still, it makes it easier for me to accept her behaviour if I think she was ill.

I truly believe her hoarding and OCD was an illness and not “just the way she was.” But, I am not a doctor, and no doctor I know of, ever diagnosed her with anything, other than heart disease.


This conversation also brought up alcoholism as a disease. I was asked if it was a mental disease and in the moment I said no.

I think I’ve changed my mind.

Alcoholism has been described as “an allergy of the body, and an obsession of the mind.”

With that description — yes, Alcoholism can fall into the category of mental disease.

The way I look at it is — if you are allergic to say, strawberries or peanuts, most people would quit eating strawberries or peanuts after the first bad reaction.

The first time I drank — I got drunk, blacked out, and have no clue how I ended up with black eyes. I felt like shit, and still… I drank again and again.

People who are allergic to different foods do not seek treatment. They do not need to meet with others who are allergic to strawberries or peanuts. They don’t talk about how, they had a bad day, or a good day, and that they REALLY want to eat a strawberry or peanut!

No one who is allergic to these thinks eating (just one) is a good idea.

Nor, are they given a chip, or a cake, when they make it a day, or year without digesting what they know, may kill them.

People with peanut allergies, do not relapse!

Yet, alcoholics do.

No matter how long an alcoholic is sober, many of us have a niggling thought — a great obsession; that one day… we will be able to drink again.

I believe I am an alcoholic. I may be wrong, after all, I diagnosed myself when I was but 28 years old.

It’s been well over 30 years since I’ve had a drink, yet, there are days I continue to think, a drink is just what I need!

I’m told this is normal behaviour for alcoholics.

My physical allergy to booze, comes this mental obsession and that’s why I’m still nutty about the stuff.

The disease concept of alcoholism continues to be debated even among people even in “the industry”. My healthcare in BC does not cover treatment for this so called disease, and there are plenty of people who blame the user for their “bad choices.”

Do I blame my mother for her choice to hoard? Did she have the choice?

If I drank again after all these years of sobriety — would you blame me or the illness?

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