Around 2015, Geovani Gilberto switched from binge eating to alcohol addiction. He underwent bariatric surgery and gradually became more and more dependent on alcohol. He had depression, suicidal thoughts and reached a point where he had to be admitted to a hospital in Joinville (SC), the city where he lives.
At 41, the transport inspector says that the help of his family, especially his ex-wife, friends, and the AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) community are essential for his recovery. Read Geovani’s full report below:
“I weighed more than 160 kg and underwent bariatric surgery. I knew I had a risk of changing the addiction to food for another. In my case, the compulsion ended up going to drinking.
But alcoholism started slowly. In 2015, he was married and attending college. The problem is that when I drank, even in small doses, I already had some ‘blackouts’. I changed into someone else, I totally changed my personality.
I got to a point where I also had depression. In fact, I don’t know what came before, depression or alcoholism. But everything got worse and I started to have suicidal thoughts.
All of this definitely messed up my marriage, because I drank and when she came home from work I was asleep, totally blacked out and drunk.
Even at this time, when I was married, my then wife was very supportive. She was the one who took me to Caps AD [Centro de Atenção Psicossocial de Álcool e Outras Drogas] and there I started to treat myself. I got better, but I had a very strong relapse.
I preferred to leave the house because I didn’t want my son and wife to find me in that situation and, suddenly, lifeless—the suicidal ideas were very strong. I went to live with a friend, but it didn’t work out very well either because of the whole situation. Still, I didn’t look for help.
This friend of mine insisted, but I couldn’t take the first step. So, I rented an apartment and left this colleague’s house. One day, my father and my ex-wife showed up at the house to rescue me.
I spent all night drinking and so they solved me take it to my sister’s house. I had lunch there and was hospitalized in the afternoon.
I still don’t forget this date: October 15, 2019. I was hospitalized for 15 days in the psychiatric ward of a hospital in Joinville.
During this interned interval, my sister’s wedding took place and I could not be present. After this period, I went to my parents’ house, where I returned to live in a small room.
In the beginning, I took antidepressant drugs — and still I take— that caused me many side effects. I was emotionless, I couldn’t interact with anyone. passed hours sitting in the outdoor area of the house.
While waiting for the divorce to happen, I remained a dependent on my ex-wife’s health plan. She had psychological and psychiatric follow-up, as well as occupational therapy.
Alcoholics Anonymous Group helps me a lot
This year, the divorce papers came out and, now, I got a referral from the psychiatrist to resume my care by the Caps.
Within the groups, there are all kinds of people who are addicted to various types of drugs. It ranges from a person who lives on the streets to a businessman.
I’ve already been hosted at the center and, this week, I’m starting to participate in Caps groups. I’m also going to continue participating in AA, virtually — some people even feel more comfortable that way than face-to-face.
In the beginning, I had a lot of prejudice and resistance to participating in AA. But from the moment I was part of there —look what I said: being part of it—, my mind was too open to the issues of alcohol and drugs.
Today, I have no problem talking openly about it because it’s something almost every family experiences or has experienced.
When I told my story on Twitter and other networks, many people left comments on cases in their family or themselves.
At the same place that sells rice and beans, it sells alcohol
I was never one to sit at a bar table and drink. He always bought the drink, hid it in a bag, and drank it while walking down the street, alone.
Alcohol has become an object for any social relationship: people go out for drinks and, at barbecues, they always have to bring beer or another drink. I’ve never used other drugs, but I say alcohol is the worst of them.
I don’t know where I can find crack or cocaine, but I know in my head where they sell alcohol. In the same place that sells rice, beans and bread, I also find alcohol.
So, you go through the places and people can drink quietly, no one will be surprised. Socially, alcohol is very acceptable in any environment.
I never forget that, during the treatment, I went to the house of a couple of friends and said I wouldn’t drink. This friend said the following sentence: ‘I don’t trust a person who doesn’t drink beer’.
I’m tired of losing who I love
In this journey of recovery, I had the support of many people. A great friend gave me the greatest support, especially in the heaviest part of depression. We always talked.
It’s also important to praise my ex-wife. She was very important in the first steps of my healing, she was the person who was closest to me. My sister, my parents and my friends from the union also helped a lot.
After I got out of hospital, I went a year and a half without drinking, but then I came back. I haven’t been drinking for a week. I did this the day before going to the AA and start this new cycle.
I have a 13 year old son who is the sweetest and most caring person I know. We get along really well. But worst of all, he was once a witness to one of my outbursts. It hurts me a lot and I’m ashamed. I don’t want him to see this ever again.
About four months ago, I can say that one day I woke up totally different. The days went by and, more and more, I was feeling happier. I started to worry more about myself, take care of myself and, mainly, smile more. I don’t have that depression anymore.
Before, I felt a lot of pain and anguish, had no hope and no plans for the future. Today, everything has changed. I’m in my apartment, I have a lot of plans and I want to grow.
I also want to make up for lost time with my son and grow closer and closer to him. I want to follow all the things he does and, thus, be more participative in his life, both in moments of sadness and in moments of joy.
No more losing someone I love because, when a person drinks, they fail to enjoy the best moments in life, the opportunities for hugs, kisses and affection.
I like this phrase and I hope that more people can identify with it so that they stop doing something that could be harmful to it, as happens with alcoholism.”
What is alcoholism?
It is a chronic disease that sets in after a person makes continuous, uncontrolled and progressive use of alcohol. Several factors contribute to this, such as quantity and frequency, the person’s health and environmental, psychological, social and genetic aspects.
Consumption is no longer something pleasurable and starts to impact a person’s entire life. It is characterized as an alcohol use disorder when, regardless of frequency and quantity, this person has signs of behavioral changes.
“It becomes aggressive and inappropriate, for example, affecting mainly family relationships, as well as impacts on occupational abilities”, says Arthur Guerra, psychiatrist and executive president of Cisa (Center for Information on Health and Alcohol).
In medical consultations, it is common for the patient to go into denial and say that he does not drink, according to the psychiatrist. “Furthermore, there is a certain arrogance in this patient and also a projection, that is, always placing the blame on someone or something for the consumption of alcohol.”
Is there treatment?
Yes, it depends on each case. But it is important that the person or family seek help from a psychiatrist. “There is no standard, but in general, in more severe dependencies, we are very successful when we start the abstinence total use of alcohol,” explains Guerra.
Treatment should also involve psychological care, support groups (such as AA) and family presence. Physical activity also helps in the patient’s recovery. It is possible to get help from SUS (Unified Health System). For this, just look for a Caps in your city or a UBS (Basic Health Unit).
If you are thinking of committing suicide, seek specialized help such as the CVV and Caps in your city. CVV works 24 hours a day (including holidays) by phone 188, and also answers via email, chat and in person. There are more than 120 service stations throughout Brazil.
The 2nd VivaBem Mental Health Week is coming
In the pandemic, Brazilians’ mental health worsened. Uncertainties and changes in routine caused by the coronavirus, social isolation, sedentary lifestyle, among other situations, resulted in increased stress, anxiety and other disorders.
Brazil, which before the pandemic was already the first in cases of anxiety in the world, has become the country with the highest number of depressed people in quarantine. Talking about it is the first step in dealing with these problems and finding mental balance.
That’s what we’re going to do in Week 2 Live well of Mental Health, which will start with a live event, shown on 10/14, from 2 pm, on Youtube and on UOL Channel. With a presentation by journalist Mariana Ferrão, the event will have five panels, in which psychologists, psychiatrists and special guests will talk about mental health without taboo.
Check out the full event schedule here and keep an eye on VivaBem’s Instagram to find out more about the 2nd Week Live well of Mental Health, which is sponsored by Libbs Pharmaceuticals.