True Life Casey: How She Inspired Me to Turn My Life Around
I remember the day that MTV's True Life: I'm an Alcoholic aired. It featured Casey from Massachusetts who seemed to drink from morning to night, even drinking beer while brushing her teeth.
Well, True Life Casey wasn't just a random person on TV for me, she inspired me to turn my life around. I was just like Casey. I was blonde, 21, and loved to start my days with a Mimosa.
But it has been eight years since that episode and Casey, like me, is around 29 years old. As I look back at myself and the bubbly Bostonian Casey, I realize that a lot of what transpired back then was because we were so young. Let's face it, when you're in your teens and early 20s, you do so many things that you wouldn't do when you're closer to 30.
For example, a 29-year-old wouldn't be so fast to drop or quit jobs, open credit cards when she doesn't have money, or party all night. There are not only more consequences as you get older, like not having parents to fall back on and having more bills to pay, but you will see your peers move on and get married, get promoted at work, etc. As a result, you don't take things as lightly at 28, and you tend to to think and act for the future.
Yes, even millennials, as they say, grow up. I know I have, and it is doubtless that Casey has too.
That episode was just as much about being young and free as it was about drinking.
But here was my story a few years ago ...
At the points in the program where Casey said she had lost previous jobs because she was getting too wasted, and especially the point where she slid down the side of a building and started to cry on the ground, that felt really personal to me.
At 21 I had temporarily dropped out of my senior year of college because I needed to work full-time to make ends meet. My parents stopped paying for my tuition and living expenses because my dad lost his high-paying job. It was also too late for me to apply for student loans.
My biggest concern at this point was just having food and paying the rent so I wouldn't get kicked out of the apartment I had with my roommates, so I got a job as a barista at a coffee shop.
I asked for extra hours because the pay was low, so I ended up working 50 hours every week. I managed to work Monday to Friday as most of our customers were office workers. That meant I could party on the weekends.
Drinking Before Work
So while it's great that I had a job, I always needed to wake up to a drink to feel motivated. I made sure to have plenty of champagne and orange juice so I could make mimosas each morning. But I also had two light beers after that. This was all before 6:30 a.m. because work started at 7:30.
From the episode ... Casey at the bus stop
How often do you drink?
Drinking During and After Work
I bought light beers along with me for lunch and went to a private part of our work building to swish them down. It kept my buzz going. When my boss smelled alcohol on my breath and heard me slurring my speech, I was written up and almost lost my job. I was fired from two previous jobs because of similar things.
I would also go to a bar after work and inevitably a guy would buy me drinks. I would always slip out and go to another bar if I thought the guy was getting too touchy or expected me to go home with him. That kept the drinks coming.
Clubbing on the Weekends
But the weekends are when I would really let loose. After my bills were all paid I had about $100 a month to buy cute club clothes. I used the money to buy those stretchy mini dresses that were about $20 each. They were perfect for dancing and drinking all night.
All bets were off at the club. My roommates Jessica and Gina told me they would keep an eye out for my safety, so I would just use that as an excuse to drink all I could. Some nights they would have to drag me off of the lawn outside the club because I fell down laughing.
Other weekends simply went by in a blur because I couldn't remember a thing. I just know I kept the buzz going all weekend. I almost got myself in trouble with guys a few times because I started to walk out the door with them. Although my friends loaded my purse with condoms, they always pulled me away from the guys because it could have led to the unknown.
Casey Puts it All Together
You would think that I would have recognized how out of control I was and go get help. But it doesn't always work that way. When you're young, especially, all you want to do is have fun. The part of your brain that is responsible for proper decision making isn't fully developed at 21.
So when I saw Casey on True Life, being wasted and pulled off the ground by her friends, drinking at every opportunity she could, and telling the story of how she had been fired from previous jobs, it was like I was looking in a mirror. That's exactly what I was like. Casey did people a favor.
The bravest thing she could have ever done was go on True Life. She woke up a lot of girls who were in denial about their partying. I realized part of the reason I was spinning out of control was because I had dropped out of college and was feeling extremely unsure about my future
I decided to bite the bullet and get student loans to do my senior year in college. I lived on campus and joined an A.A.-type of organization offered at school. While I still slipped and drank too much at times, I was doing much better than I was working as a barista unsure of my future.
My Life Today
It has been almost five years since that episode of True Life was on the air. I am doing much better. I got married and earned my B.S. in Management, and am an office manager now. My dad also got a new job even though he had to wait about a year.
I no longer drink before or after work, but I do drink on the weekends with my husband at home. Even though I shouldn't drink at all, I limit myself to about six drinks a week and that has been working for me. I don't know what would have happened to me if I didn't catch Casey on the air that day!