Posts Tagged ‘addiction’
Last New Year’s Eve, I had a bad case of the flu. I was miserable, lonely, broke and ill. I called my friends at 11am and told them I wouldn’t be joining them and put down the phone feeling gutted.
Any normal person would have chalked it up to a case of bad luck and germs, watched movies in bed, grabbed a pizza and an early night and woken up on New Year’s Day one step closer to feeling better.
What did I do? I went to the shop, bought a bottle of vodka and got drunk.
I’ve never drunk normally. I regarded people who enjoyed ‘just the one glass of wine with dinner’ as freaks — although I envied them totally. For me, it had one purpose: oblivion. It made everything go away, and once I had it inside me, there was no ‘off’ button until my money ran out or someone broke the front door down to stop me.
At 3am, a brick smashed through the bedroom window and landed on the bed. It wasn’t personal, most likely the antics of some drunken idiot trying to prove himself to his mates. Ironically I judged him.
I woke up, not knowing for a moment what had happened. Broken glass covered the duvet and I cut my hands to ribbons tearing back the bedsheets and trying to figure out where I was. Still pissed, and with a bitter wind now blowing through my bedroom, I went into the living room, downed half a bottle of Jack Daniels and knocked myself out till morning, comatose on the sofa in a bloodstained blanket.
So it should come as little surprise that as I sit here typing this, hangover-free on January 1st — having spent New Year’s Eve eating ice cream and watching movies with my boyfriend — that comparatively speaking, 2012 is already off to a rollickingly good start.
2011 began as it was to continue for the next six months. I started off the new year drunk, lonely, frightened, in debt and with a hole in my soul ten times the size of that in my bedroom window.
February saw me relapse again, nine bottles of vodka over four days. The police broke in. I can’t even remember being taken to hospital.
I managed to stay dry for three months till it happened again. I had tried so hard, but I was merely abstaining, not dealing; and it was scarily easy to give in and pour it down my neck again. As I opened the bottle I even felt a sliver of excitement. Another week lost from my life, another empty bank account and another bunch of cuts and bruises to add to my ever-growing collection of scars. All of which I have no recollection of getting.
I was losing my friends, the respect of my family, and clinging onto my job with bloodied fingernails. I couldn’t even tell you the last time I’d felt something close to self-respect.
All the while I was playing out a life in public that everything was okay. But then, I guess that’s what the disease of addiction turns you into: a liar.
I truly mean it when I say I wanted to get better — or the next time I wanted to die. That was the choice. I couldn’t live like this any longer. I stopped trying to do it on my own and I got some real help.
I found a way. The irony is, I can’t tell you how I did it. I won’t. I’m not going to stand here and advertise a method of getting and staying sober. What if it ends up not working for me and I have a public fall from the wagon? I could destroy someone’s faith in a solution that might otherwise have worked for them. But what I will say is this: for anyone who’s listening, you can’t do it alone. You’ve probably tried already and it’s failed.
A month after I got myself cleaned up good and proper, the handsomest man I’ve ever known turned to me and said “I’d love for you to be my boyfriend.” He had wanted it for a while, he just needed to know I was getting sober for myself rather than for him.
Two months later I left my job. At the time I was riddled with fear, but by this time I had managed to accrue some cash in the bank. I took four months off work and threw myself into getting better.
In October I sent my first invoice for my new business, Thesaurus Rex Copywriting, to one of the world’s biggest software companies.
But most importantly, I no longer see fear or apprehension in the eyes of the people I love. I don’t have to feel that disappointment emanating from my friends and family when I’m found, paralytic, wild-eyed, thin and covered in god-knows-what after going off the radar yet again.
Destructive behaviour comes in all forms and can go to different extremes. Not everyone with alcohol problems drinks the way I did. It can manifest itself in drugs, booze, risky sex, even work and fitness. The drink and drugs just make the noise go away. The sex is a temporary validation.
My world this January 1st is a million miles from where I was last year. I have a loving boyfriend whom I fully intend to marry, a roof over my head, money in the bank, a buzzing new business. I’ve just been ranked in the top 50 most influential LGBT people on Twitter (in fact, it’s for this very reason I’ve chosen to share my story). All this has come to me since I got sober and started participating in my life instead of being a victim to an illness.
The best thing I did in 2011 was for myself: I saved my life. I finally saw how little I valued ‘me’ and I did something about it. And I’m full of gratitude to the people who helped me.
Life has changed, and if you’ve read any of this and are thinking “This is me. This is how I feel” then I promise it can change for you, too.
You just have to ask for help, and it will be given.
Happy new year. x
“I told you I was trouble,” Amy Winehouse sang, “You know that I’m no good.”
For me, that’s the most poignant lyric she ever wrote. It sums up the mind of an addict. You see, it wasn’t a brag; it was a mixture of ‘keep away’ and ‘help me’.
How do I know? Because not so long ago, I was Amy Winehouse.
For most addicts, there’s a constant presence on your shoulder telling you you’re not good enough, that somehow, you’re ‘less’ than everyone out there. Your thoughts go round like a washing machine on high-speed. The noise in your head is constant, loud and harsh. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a rich and famous popstar, or Mary Taylor in Islington, homeless and sleeping rough in a shop doorway; it’s that same mindset. Alcohol and drugs are merely the medication.
Addiction isn’t fun. Addiction isn’t “Let’s go to the pub and get pissed and have a right laugh” or “Let’s get fucked on drugs and get up to mischief”. Addiction is lonely, terrifying and insidious. Oh, sure, you start out like everyone else, a few drinks here and there, a dabble or two in something a little harder. You don’t realise when it stops being fun, but it does. Suddenly you find yourself alone in a room, afraid to go out, because ‘outside’ is too damn scary.
So you take that hit, and for a short while, the noise stops. Peace through oblivion. Then you come around and the noise starts again, louder this time, and coupled with the anxiety, fear and terror that come with withdrawal. So you take another hit. Sweet, blessed relief. And somewhere in the back of your mind you hope you don’t wake up from this one. You’re nothing but trouble, you see. All you cause is pain and worry.
I read a fantastic blog by Russell Brand today, in which he said:
“When you love someone who suffers from the disease of addiction, you await the phonecall. There will be a phonecall. The sincere hope is that the call will be from the addict themselves, telling you they’ve had enough, that they’re ready to stop, ready to try something new. Of course though, you fear the other call, the sad nocturnal chime from a friend or relative telling you it’s too late, she’s gone. Frustratingly it’s not a call you can ever make — it must be received.”
The problem is, addiction is the only disease in existence that tells you that you haven’t got it. Lock an addict away and they’ll be looking for an escape, or biding their time and playing the ‘yes, I’m fine now’ role until they’re alone again. I’ve had people in the kitchen pouring drink away while I’ve been climbing out of the bedroom window on my way to buy more.
I’ve been a day out of hospital after being found in my flat, hours away from death, and already I’m figuring out where I can get hold of some gear. I believed the booze and drugs were giving me something. In fact, it was the opposite. They were hollowing me out, alienating my friends and family and slowly stripping me of all that was real and good.
Sadly, all the love and support in the world wasn’t going to help Amy get better. She was trotted out on stage at every opportunity to make money for her record company. She didn’t have the luxury I’ve had of anonymity, of being left alone so she could get better. Contracts had been signed and albums were due. Her star had to keep shining, and all the while the press were snapping at her heels, waiting for her to fall again.
I can’t imagine anything more frightening than the whole world waiting with bated breath for me to fuck up, then posting it on YouTube when I do.
Yesterday evening, people shut down Facebook and Twitter on their computers, still in shock and disbelief at this tragedy, before heading off down to the pubs and clubs for a well-deserved weekend blowout.
Mary in Islington sits down in her shop doorway, begging for a few coins to get a can of beer. Just a little something to help take the edge off. You might have seen her last night, she may have come up to ask you for some change, desperate and devoid of pride, but like a lot of people, you probably looked away, annoyed and uncomfortable.
Sunday morning rolls around, and half of London wakes up with a hangover. Some might even still be going. iTunes seizes the opportunity to promote Amy’s albums on its homepage to make some cash, and somewhere in Islington, an ambulance arrives to take away the body of a homeless woman found dead in a shop doorway.
And all over the world, recovering addicts wake up and pray to a God they’re not even sure exists for the strength to stay clean one more day.
The world carries on. Then somewhere, a phone rings.
Recently I went on holiday to Madrid, and like any self-respecting gayer, I hit the gym with a vengeance beforehand, and strutted my way to Heathrow Airport with shoulders that looked a little like I had cannonballs stuffed in them and tits that, in my opinion, gave Jordan a run for her money.
OK, so that’s not strictly true, but man did I feel confident. Months of hard labour and comments from friends about my newly-bulging biceps had left me feeling like I could more than hold my own against the muscle boys of Madrid.
On the first day at the Lido I realised what the phrase “body beautiful” really meant.
Everywhere I looked I saw perfection. Beautiful, bronzed, speedo-wearing perfection.
You know that scene in Spider-man where Peter Parker comes home after being bitten by the little radioactive bastard in the lab? He rips off his shirt to reveal a puny, skinny body before he passes out on the floor, then wakes up the next morning with pumped up pecs and a six pack. All of a sudden he’s a new man.
Now imagine that scene in reverse and you get an idea of how I was feeling as I stood at the entrance to the Lido. I spent most of the first day lying on my front, drilling a hole into the concrete from my stonking boner and trying to cover up my sorry excuse for a beach body.
You have to put in a lot of hard work into achieving a body like those guys had, unless you take the easy option and use steroids. But what happens when you take it too far?
I used to know a guy who was addicted to exercise. We’re not friends any more – I couldn’t put up with him to be honest. He ran every morning, swam every lunchtime and went to the gym for an hour every evening, usually with a spinning class after that. He used to turn down dates and offers of socialising with us so he could train more.
I would have felt sorry for him if he hadn’t spent most of the time he wasn’t training loudly putting other people down when they were slightly overweight or less attractive than him.
As well as the obvious dangers of steroids, I’ve also read reports of guys taking a powerful stimulant called Epehdrine before they work out so they can train harder. I’ve noticed a few people in the gym who seem anxious or jittery and often wonder if they’re on it. I also know for a fact that Ephedrine causes chronic insomnia, so usually they turn to sleeping pills or booze in order to get to sleep.
Now I’m not going to deny that these examples of hard training look amazing, but seriously, if they don’t die of organ failure because of their ridiculously low calorie intake, they’ll probably either get cancer from sunbed abuse, or a heart attack from all the drugs they’re using to help them on their way to the body beautiful.
Is being perfect really worth that?
As the days rolled on by the Lido I got so used to the constant parade of plucked, preened and pumped bodies walking around that they all started to become curiously unsexual. I mean, every single one of them looked the same!
My boyfriend at the time asked me what on earth I saw in him when there were all these Adonises walking around to tempt me.
“I fancy you because you don’t look like one of them” was my reply
Screw the body beautiful. Give me a real human being any day.
This is my blog, then.
It’s strange. You suddenly think: “I’m going to start a blog!”. You get all excited, setting it up, choosing an avatar, coming up with a funky theme, title, colour scheme, etc.
Then you sit down and think: “Hmm…what am I actually going to write about?”
I’m going to try my hardest not to get all Sex and The City on your ass, but seeing as how my daily life involves working my butt off, writing, socialising and looking for a date, I suppose it’s inevitable you’ll end up drawing comparisons.
So let me set the record straight.
For starters I’m male (guy_interrupted should have given it away). I’ve just turned thirty. I work as an editor, writing and managing content for a couple of pretty big websites – a hard, but well paid job. I’m gay (in both senses of the word), single (my last boyfriend split with me a week before my birthday – cheapskate) and I seem to have a love life closely resembling a ride at Alton Towers (costly, often terrifying and sometimes leaving you feeling a bit sick afterward – not to mention the long periods of waiting around in between).
I’m neurotic and sarcastic, I like action films, rock music and going to the gym. I’m also rather addicted to my BlackBerry, which makes a nice, healthy change from crack.
Oh, and I’ve done a bit of modelling on the side. Which is tacky, but if someone wants to pay me to stand in front of a camera and look moody then I ain’t complainin’.
I’ve had my fair share of dramas in life, from violent relationships, bankruptcy (see previous – he stole all my money). An HIV diagnosis (seven years healthy and counting), earth shattering breakups, depression and drink and drug abuse. I refer you to paragraph seven – I wasn’t joking.
Yeah, I suppose you could say I’m glad to have left my twenties behind…
Thankfully for my mother’s sanity, I’ve picked myself up, dusted myself off and I’m now a perfectly well-adjusted individual who’s glad he took a big ol’ bite of life’s apple (even if it loosened a couple of teeth) because it’s given me a good outlook on things – and plenty of material to put on this blog.
The male Carrie Bradshaw I am not – in fact most people would compare me to Miranda in terms of my dry humour and slightly cynical outlook. I’m not ginger, but I do have an enormous crush on the guy who played her husband.
So I guess you could say this is my therapy. My diary. A place where I get to share my thoughts and feelings on everything that goes on in my washing machine of a brain.
I’ll let you decide whether you want to keep turning the pages….