Hi Resillience, welcome. I am very glad you've joined us.
You are most certainly not alone here - in fact when I read your comment about wondering that if you'd been diagnosed with bipolar earlier in life you might not have self-medicated for so long, I teared up. My story too. I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 about nine months ago. I'm nearly 6 years sober, so I managed to beat the booze long before my diagnosis, but did it ever put me in a spin.
As you probably know, people with bipolar disorder have a higher propensity towards addiction than most, so alcoholism and other substance abuse problems are quite common amongst us. When I was diagnosed I went through a bad time of anger and regret - I lost far too many years to the bottle, if only I'd known what was driving it, I might have been able to prevent it. Then again, maybe I wouldn't have, who can know ... what matters is here and now.
Just my opinion, but I reckon when we're in a low, when things are hard in our life - certainly something as difficult as having a child with such a serious medical issue - we do self medicate. We use booze to find oblivion, a break from our brains and all the distressing stuff that's occupying our minds.
Then, when we're feeling up, the relief of not being depressed or distressed makes us want to never let that feeling go. We chase the feeling, and we try to prolong it with alcohol. We can't have just one, because we need more and more to keep the feeling going. Chasing the feeling in a hypomanic state, whether through booze or anything else, can cause us all sorts of problems, but it's fun at the time.
Trouble is, eventually we can break our off switch. So where other people can moderate their drinking, we can't. Well, I should say I can't - certainly not all bipolar people have that problem.
As with anyone struggling with the booze Resillience, to quit first you must really really want to. Once the will is there, it's still a hard process, and it takes time to 'stick', but it's so very very worthwhile.
Do read through the thread, you'll find a lot of good advice and support through other people's stories. And feel free to post any time you want here.
We've all been through it here, and we're here to help you and cheer you on when you're ready.