Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Drunk or sick?

New Zealand is a place with many contradictions. People are friendly and often willing to help out complete strangers - I've blogged many times about the kind, wonderful parts of our culture - but there are some awful parts too. Those of you in New Zealand will likely know what I'm referring to. Everyone has been chipping in their two cents about it. I've been thankful to find that most of the people I interact with in real life, and on social media have perspectives on this issue that I respect and understand.

But of course, that's not the case everywhere. Comments around the theme "Drunk girls get what they deserve" have been popping up, and it made me think of a situation from my own teenage years (don't worry - it's a happy story.)

I'd gone to a party. I wasn't drinking, because I'd just started on a medication for an ovarian cyst, and wasn't sure how it would affect me. I remember having a great time at the start of the night, but after that things get a bit blurry. When I asked people who didn't know the full story about it later, they remembered it as I was very drunk that night. But I hadn't had any alcohol. 

I didn't know it at the time, but I was actually having an allergic reaction to the medication. As the night went on, the reaction got worse and I got "drunker." 

I remember talking to a guy I didn't know, and that he kept asking me if I was okay and how much I'd had to drink. Then after a while he asked if I wanted to be left alone, to which I think I must have said yes.

I pieced together later, that he did leave me, but was concerned enough about the state I was in to go and find the girl who was throwing the party. She knew I hadn't been drinking, so figured out I needed help and called my parents. I don't remember anything beyond this point, but apparently I fell over, then screamed obscenities at several people. A friend carried me down the stairs, because I was too out of it to walk, and the girl left her own party to wait outside with me until my parents arrived. I spent the rest of the weekend in hospital having convulsions as the medication worked it's way out of my system.

The experience left me feeling incredibly lucky that I had good people around me who had looked after me, when I needed help. It makes me sad that this isn't a more common story though. 

Rape culture tells us that "drunk girls get what they deserve." Would I have deserved to be assaulted in this situation? Would anyone who took advantage have not been responsible, because I was out of it? I wasn't drunk, but most of the people there that night genuinely believed I was and, when my behaviour was described to me afterwards, I could certainly see why.

I don't like to think about it too much, but that night could have ended very differently for me. I could have been around people who were indifferent, or worse people who had malicious intentions. I might not have got the medical attention I needed, just as someone who was "just drunk" and had alcohol poisoning might not have got the help they needed.  

There have been a number of times where I've been mistaken for being drunk because of the effects of my illnesses. We've all heard stories of people collapsing with some kind of illness of injury, and people ignoring them because they think they're "just drunk." So what if they didn't ignore them, but assaulted them instead? Would we blame the victim in those instances? I think most people would agree that taking advantage of someone who is seriously ill is absolutely abhorrent, so how can you honestly believe any different for someone who is drunk if the effects can be so similar? 

So my point here really is, if you see someone in trouble then help them if you can, even if you think it's just alcohol induced. My guess is, most of the people who helped me have long forgotten about that night, but I'll be forever grateful to them anyway.

Thanks for reading,
Little Miss Autoimmune

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