My life has been fundamentally shaped by my battle with schizophrenia and alcoholism. These are things that do not show outward signs until a later age. So, although I was a weird kid, there wasn’t anything else to the matter. I did not involve myself with medical treatment of my issues because I didn’t trust the people delivering them.
I grew up in a perfectly normal household in suburban Melbourne. I did well at school and continued on to university. I had plenty of opportunities and destroyed them all in favor of drugs and alcohol. It was not my intention to destroy everything in this way, it was certainly not my goal, it is just that these things continually asserted their priority in my life and made choices for me that I would never make in a sound mind.
I was homeless by the age of 25 and lived in empty houses when I could and slept in parks when I couldn’t. The choices I made led to crash after crash and still I maintained my headstrong approach and kept making decisions that proved I didn’t learn from my own mistakes. The headspace I was in was way too arrogant for that. There was nothing anyone could tell me, nothing I could hear or see that would make me change my ways.
Though what I was really driven by was the constant noise in my head. The selfish and self-destructive behaviors were all a result of a condition that no-one was able to name. Something that no-one seemed to understand and that was absent from the mental health conversation. I was smart, and I read a lot of psychology literature and I didn’t find anything that related to me. No answers came out of that place.
I was lucky enough to find my way into Alcoholics Anonymous. I have celebrated 10 years sober since then and was privileged enough to do a 2 year term as secretary of the state board for Western Australia. In all seriousness, there was no-one else I could have turned to in my severely crazy state. I was able to lean on the experience of a lot of people who had lived through the same problems I had and showed me how to cope with my head using means other than getting wasted.
The Deep Dive Down
I will say right now, there is a very good reason why people choose drugs and alcohol over everything else: they solve the problems going on in their own heads. The quiet torture that people go through is something they keep to themselves.
The kinds of problems and ideas that float through a mind are best kept to themselves or they run the risk of being nominated ‘crazy’. It really becomes a game of figuring out how to act without people realizing what sort of person you are. And the best way to alleviate the stress caused through that constant double-think is by getting wasted. That is why people choose it over friends, jobs, families, money, spouses, opportunities, lovers and the respect of their peers.
People who do this have a serious problem. It is just not respected by our society. Someone who drinks heavily is just described as an a**hole. It is not understood that this person is only medicating themselves through a very serious condition. Psychology doesn’t understand it, they just offer ore socially acceptable medications, not much else changes!
This is something I saw thousands of people going through in my time with Alcoholics Anonymous. And the thing that keeps that tribe together is the mutual understanding of what it is like. That is what keeps some of the most moody and crafty people I have ever met together. The trust that comes through sharing the road to recovery is deep and abiding.
Though during my time in the office at AA, I had access to all of the people most experienced at being clean and sober. People who had been consistently sober 10 or 20 years. And although they had many, many coping mechanisms, but nothing that put the problem to bed. Nothing that truly finalized my issue. It was something you just had to live with forever and your lifetime happiness was decided by how well you coped with this problem.
I was not happy with this answer. I didn’t want to have coping strategies for the rest of my life! I wanted to solve this thing. So I went about studying alternative therapies. I wasn’t sure that the common ones like herbs or Chinese medicine were really going to solve the issue. I mean, if these guys had come up with an answer, then it would be a well known thing. So I studied a dozen different kinds of meditation, consciousness and hypnosis type stuff. I knew exactly what I was looking for, I had heard it described in very clear terms by thousands of people in AA meetings.
And I found it. The results of that quest are now available through another site of mine: PainBody.org
After my first successful completion of the procedure, I knew peace and quiet in my mind for the first time. No more depression, negative self-talk, urge to drink or anything of the kind. It was truly the answer I was looking for. The thing that I was silently trying to overcome my whole life had been defeated. Now my favorite thing to do is sort out the same problem for other people.
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