June 18th, 2008 marked the ten year anniversary of my realisation that I could not drink, ever again. On June 18th, 1998, my many battles with alcohol ended. If I had not stopped drinking, my battle was going to end anyway. I was that close to drinking myself to death. A long, painful drawn out suicide. Instead I chose to battle my addiction and finally win the war. Five weeks alone in hospital gave me time to reflect. I came to the realisation that if I was going to survive a self-inflicted ordeal, that I would leave hospital a free man.
I wasn't very original using alcohol as form of replacement for something missing in my life. My life was falling apart. Mentally and physically, I was a sad, pitiful example of someone who had almost given up on life and the wonders living could offer. My behaviour was bizarre and often bordered on incoherent. Physically, I was a severely jaundiced, bloated, 'yellow balloon'. Yet up until that day they stretchered me out my house, I didn't really care. 'Go ahead and die. You have no friends, your family here in England has left you for the sake of their own wellbeing. Drink yourself to death, nobody will even notice, you'll just be another pathetic statistic.' Such dark thoughts were relentless. To have survived that hell from ten years ago has given me the incentive to use my second chance to the fullest.
When I become aware that my mental health was deteriorating; I attempted to numb the panic it caused by consuming vast quantities of alcohol. Ofcourse, the horrible irony is that my drinking compounded my mental health issues. Not very clever, I know, but I was a desperate man in desperate circumstances.
Let me describe to you a typical day, ten years ago. After drinking myself into oblivion from the night before, I would wake up from a very poor, disturbed sleep, with a sense of panic. I need a drink, it is early morning and the off-license is closed. I wonder if I can last another hour? I stagger over to the off-license, still partially drunk from the night before. I purchase a two litre bottle of cider and take my 'salvation' back to my house. I have consumed the entire bottle within in minutes. I feel sick, I pass out for two hours, only to wake up knowing I must have more cider. So back to the off-license to purchase yet another two litre bottle of cheap, nasty cider. The pattern continues, I consume the cider just as quickly as the previous. I am in a constant state of 'topping-up'. I needed alcohol, this shadow of a man was physically and psychologically trapped and controlled by his master. I was a slave to drink. For the next three weeks, right up until that moment I was whisked away in ambulance, all I did was drink cider. No food, just cider.
Five weeks in hospital gave me the opportunity to get control back. I was determined to conquer my master. I wanted to live and I mean really live. So when I walked out of the hospital, I knew that I had broken the shackles that alcohol had placed on me. I knew I would make it, because the key element was that I was sincere in my conviction. The sense of relief I had goes beyond words.
I have been asked why I write such blogs. It reinforces my belief that I can choose to live in a positive environment. I write blogs as a form of personal therapy. I spend a lot of time on my own and think of my blog as a form of communication with the world. I sincerely hope that there will be people who read my blogs who get a bit of comfort from them. You see, I firmly believe that we all have the power within to challenge adversity. We can all demonstrate that negatives can be turned into positives.
Ten years ago, I was trapped. Ten years on, I am still not well but I am so much better. It has been a slow journey, sometimes painful, sometimes exhilarating. Ten years ago, I was stuck inside a cider bottle. Yet I crawled out and saw the world with a clear vision. I looked out from the top of the bottle and knew I had the right to live.