Today I don’t want to have a drink.


I was born in 1995 in the Seattle area, I didn’t live there for long as I moved to Traverse City, MI for most of my upbringing. After a year of community college at Northwestern Michigan College I left for Tucson, AZ, where I studied at the University of Arizona for three years. I started in business and flip flopped majors a few times until I settled on my ultimate passion, photography. I'm currently studying Photography at Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, OR, where the art scene is vibrant.

I started drinking at 16, and didn’t stop until April of 2019. At first it was fun, but gradually my experience simmered into something far more sinister. I was completely devoid of any coping skills. Having been diagnosed as bipolar at the age of 20 my identity began to unravel. I had already developed a heavy drinking behavior to self-medicate my untreated bipolar symptoms. I would drink to fall asleep, I would drink to feel better, and I would drink to numb my suicidal thoughts and general sadness. 


After being diagnosed I turned 21 shortly thereafter, and the drinking world was now legally mine to consume. Even at 21 years old, I knew that the drinking I would do “socially” was different than that of my peers’ drinking behavior. However, I would not be denied my favorite pastime and ultimate crutch. It went far beyond drinking to “be social” and turned into a ritual. The people closest to me started to pick up on my behavior despite my best efforts to hide it from them. I was realizing that in order to drink the way I wanted to I would have to start appeasing their concerns. So I would only drink a couple beers on Monday, that way the rest of the week I could drink as much as I pleased, because look I had control...I only had two on Monday. 


Eventually, my life became unmanageable and I was left with the option of having the girl I loved in my life, or removed from it completely. Thankfully, I chose to put down the bottle, even if I wasn’t doing it for me. Somewhere a few months into my sobriety I transitioned from being sober for my loved ones, to being sober for myself. From that point on I began to seek help for my alcoholism, and admitted that I was powerless. I’ve since found strength in my loving support system, and through Alcoholics Anonymous. So, today I don’t want to have a drink, and that’s as far down the line as I’ll let myself go.

Caelum Gay / (231) 590-4572 / caelumphotos@gmail.com / Portland, OR

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