Given that I’m trying to get out of my comfort zone and have a go at new things, having very recently tried my hand at hosting video podcasts (see HERE), I thought that it would be good to try doing a conventional audio podcast interview and my friend Michael Dempsey of Recovery from Recovery fame kindly volunteered to be my first guinea pig interviewee for this little experiment.
So – without further ado – here’s what we came up with:
I think it turned out alright. Sure, there’s nothing in the way of any real production values… no jingle or anything… but that’s to be expected; and yes, the sound quality leaves a little bit to be desired on my end, but as far as first goes go, it’s not half bad.
I look forward to doing more and would like to thank Mike for not just being a brilliant interviewee, but also (being an experienced podcaster himself) a really good mentor and – last but not least – for lending a hand to clean up the audio for me.
Many, many, many thanks to him for that.
As for the content of the interview itself: I think it’s really good. The last half of the interview, in particular, is really insightful and I got a lot of identification from Michael’s observations of the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Also, during the course of the interview Mike has some really useful expert advice for anyone wanting to set up their own recovery blog.
…Okay, well that’s me done for one article and one interview. It’s been a blast.
…and welcome to a very special article that marks not just the third anniversary of the existence of this blog, but also my very first venture into video podcasting with my special guest (and fellow TSM warrior) Katie of Embodied Daily fame over on YouTube.
P.S. I’m aware that it was difficult to make out my drink diaries and extinction graph from what I showed in the video. Sorry about that. Please click HERE to get a better look at them.
‘…Not long ago, drink was my “sun” and I was in its orbit.’ – Marie
Hello readers and welcome to the second in my series of ongoing interviews with different people at different stages of recovery with The Sinclair Method (TSM).
My friend Marie – who has been on TSM for over three years now – has very kindly agreed to share her story with us.
What follows is a transcript of our correspondence together.
When did you first realise that you had a drinking problem and how did you come to hear about The Sinclair Method?
Hello Gary. First let me say that I’m really excited to work with you on this article. Mindful, compliant Sinclair Method Is a true life-saver. I’m happy to do this as I can to help spread the word.
You ask when did I realise I had a drinking problem? The short answer is I was in my mid-40s.
The true, long answer is that I simply grew up with alcoholism and drinking. It was just what people did. I have a strong family background with drinking, so it was only ‘normal’ when I snuck my first beer at 11 or so. I got married in my early 20s to a rather large man, but I could drink him under the table at will. At that time I was still in the driver’s seat with the drinking. Months would go by and I wouldn’t touch a drop. I separated from my ex in my late 20s, and could drink ‘socially’.
Then some of the binges started creeping in. I would have been shocked at this point if anyone had told me I had a ‘drinking problem’.
I just grew up with people often drinking a good portion of the night and then recovering the next day. I tried to date at this point in my life, and had several broken relationships. My friends Jim and Jack were always there for me. though – Jim Beam and Jack Daniels. I never drove drunk, and I never missed work due to a hangover, but the drinking was becoming more and more prevalent. The binges came more and more frequently and became more and more intense as to what and how much I was drinking. I had the family history, and my own personal choices too, that had me marked as a person who drank.
The AUD started really getting bad in my early 40s. I’ve always been a private person, so a lot of people in my family even still called me a ‘teetotaller.’ I’ve never had to go to the hospital and detox, and I still tried to never miss work or any other important engagement; but I started believing more and more in the bottle of alcohol in my fridge.
Images of cold cans of beer would just pop into my mind when I was trying to focus at work for instance. I’d be home, relaxing an watching TV and, without any real conscious thought on my part, I’d be up and into the kitchen to get a glass of Amaretto. I still didn’t have a ‘problem’, you see. I still didn’t need AA, or any other form of help.
If I kept my head clear and really focused, I could still go for long periods of time without a drink.
As I initially said, it was in my mid-40’s when things came to a head. I’ve always lived on my own, so not even family members knew things were getting bad for me. I just kept it to myself. If I never missed work and never drove drunk, I was in control, right? I was all about Rum Chata at the time, and I had a very hard time getting out the door to go to work without ‘just a sip’. In spite of having lost several family members at this point due to the drinking so prevalent in my kin, I would slide down stairs because I was so buzzed. This is ‘hitting bottom’ in the worst possible way. Finances have always been rough, so I’ve never been able to carry much health care or go see a physician or get medications. So I ended up simply trying to ‘ration’ the alcohol, which left me in quite a white-knuckle state. The ‘binges’, if you could still call them that at this point, had pretty well melded themselves into a string of fights with my drinking. On my days off work, or when I had a clear schedule, I would just drink. I would eat once every other day, but always had red wine handy.
My true moment of realisation happened when I woke to an awful smell of greasy smoke one morning. I used to take several over-the-counter sleep meds, and yes, drink heavily on top of that. I went into the bathroom that morning, only to find that I had left a small votive candle burning on the back of the seat. It had gotten too hot, and the glass container it was in had exploded. There were sharp shards of glass and stinky blobs of brownish melted wax all over. It’s a good thing I left that little candle on the back of the inflammable porcelain seat. I never would have woke up if a fire had started.
That was when things came together for me. That was when I realised it was change or die. The little choices and decisions I had made one at a time all through the years had come to a head. I was torn between the image of the cold beer in my mind with beads of condensation sliding down the sides and the images of all my family members who had died from AUD. This was when I realised that it wasn’t like me to have to fight to get out the door to go to work without a few swallows of Rum Chata. I was single, on my own, but I had to somehow give up the drinking or die.
There is a strong AA community in my area, but I knew these people and would watch them suffer with the cravings to drink. There are many bars in my area, and though I never wanted to go *INTO* the taverns themselves, they would trigger the need to drink when I passed them. I’d get home and pop open the bottle. My finances cut out any possibility of seeing a doctor. I was at a very crucial point in my drinking – I call it the ‘Black Hole Event Horizon.’ I knew the drinking was going nowhere good, but how could I just leave that half-glass of Long Island ice tea?
You didn’t throw any drink out! I never got a DUI or had to go to detox, but I was nonetheless about to get sucked into some very destructive behaviours. Black Hole indeed.
I had been a follower of the sci-fi show Babylon 5 a few years prior.
One day I did an online search of the actors of the show to see what they had been up to recently. I came across Miss Claudia Christian’s memoir ‘Babylon Confidential’. I got a copy, and when sober enough to comprehend, read it quite avidly. Many things clicked into place when I did. Then I got a copy of Dr Roy Eskapa’s ‘The Cure for Alcoholism’ and was blown away by the sense and the logic to the science behind this ‘Sinclair Method’. This is the same time when it came to me that maybe I couldn’t take my own rough drinking habits for granted anymore, much as I grew up seeing the behaviour all around me.
It was also about this time that I got out to meet Miss Claudia in person. Yes, finances were hard, but it was ‘do or die’ when it came to the drink. Miss Claudia was appearing at a sci-fi convention. I have to say I was far to shy to openly discuss my drinking with ANYONE, let alone someone I was meeting for the first time. That was early 2014. I left her a copy of some of my writing, and then quietly went about my business. I gradually struck up an online conversation with her, and then saved up my pennies and nickles and went out to another convention she was appearing at. This time, I summoned up the courage to speak to her. That was later the same year. She helped me to get my first few doses of naltrexone. Miss Claudia’s wonderful non-profit, CThreeFoundation.Org, was of great help to me. I saved up a bit more cash, got my own supply of naltrexone (Naltima) and began mindful, compliant Sinclair Method. The Drinking Dragon, which had so quietly and perniciously crept up on me, was quashed. The AUD Monster, which was on the very verge of sucking me in, was removed completely from my back. In spite of a lot of odds against me, I got it done – and if *I* can anyone can.
Wow. That’s a great story of perseverance in the face of adversity. So… it’s been over three years now, right? What have those three years been like? Have you been able to keep compliant?
Oh, Gary. Have I been able to keep compliant? That’s a very good question, because it’s the whole point of the Sinclair Method after all, right? Yes, I learned early on as I was beginning TSM that LIFE has Inertia, and the Drinking Demon has a life of it’s own. I learned to keep my nal on me always. Things seemed to try to conspire to trip me up once I did realise I had to change or I was going to die from my AUD. I learned early on to keep my naltrexone on me all the time so I wouldn’t get caught out without the medication. It’s such a simple thing to do, really, and yet I had such an awful fight getting my nal!
I feel as though my pharmacological extinction moment happened in March of 2015, so yes, we’re about at that three year mark. Life itself is huge, so the last three years have been a terrifyingly beautiful time. My life is very different these days than what it was years ago, when the drinking was bad for me. For instance, when I was new to TSM, I did the research and learned about some of the science behind the Sinclair Method and pharmacologically enhanced learning (PEL) and I started exercising regularly on the days I did not drink.
These days, my life is grounded around those healthier choices instead of drinking. For me, AUD was such a huge part of life that the change was …. bewildering. What to do with all the time and energy and money once devoted to drink?
I’ll tell you about my extinction moment. Again, I had quite a fight getting my supply of naltrexone. When I did get the medication, I was mindful and compliant. If I compute how much I spent for my supply of nal, it breaks down to a cost of $2 or $3 per pill. Yes, like many other TSM folks, I had to order via a pharmacy in India. As a binge drinker, I did not drink daily. When I was having a rough day and felt a binge coming on, I would take a nal, wait the prescribed hour, then drink. I started TSM just before Christmas 2014. I drank per Dr David’s method thirteen times over the course of those intervening months. If you follow that simple math, that means I used thirteen pills at an expense of some $26 to $39. I don’t put this question forth in a ‘snarky’ or sarcastic manner – but do bear in mind the costs of hospitalized rehab and detox. Compare those expenses. Upon a time I would spend that $25-$40 in one night drinking easily.
So, I was at work that day in March when I had my extinction moment.
I worked in a laundry in an elderly care facility. The pay was not good; and I had no health care. My boss came to me and told me that hours and pay were going to be cut. I didn’t have much to begin with, and my paychecks went down by about one-third. This is part of what I mean by how life will throw you ‘curve balls’. Once the AUD has you, it intends to keep you.
I was furious. I worked nights, in a wing of the facility off by my own. I blush to admit this today, but there I was at work yelling and screaming and cussing. I kicked, and cried, and threw things about. I’m a lone wolf, and as hard as I worked I had just barely been making ends meet. How was I going to support myself making even less? AUD (Alcohol Use Disorder) is a GOOD term, and covers a huge field of people in a wide gamut of drinking abuse. Some people have ‘good’ lives, and are still AUD. I myself don’t drink for a reason; if not for naltrexone I’d drink for MANY reasons.
Then the realisation of my extinction moment hit. I landed flat on my backside on the gross disgusting nasty sticky floor at work when I realised I had been so upset and angry for HOURS – but never once did that image of the bottle of Amaretto waiting for me at home come to plague my mind. As beside myself as I was in that moment, never ONCE did my internal voice say, ‘I need a DRINK!’ I had been so wild and agitated for hours, but I was no longer subject to the Drinking Demon. After the shock wore off, the tears that had been of sheer rage turned to … joy? Relief?
The past three years have been terrifyingly lovely indeed. I never expected to have that time. Now, it’s up to me to figure out what I want my life to be about, and how to cope with those awful blind-sides life throws at us all. It’s up to me to figure out how not to permit myself to be so upset. TSM is about dignity, and the personal responsibility that goes along with it. That’s what these last three years has been about for me. Not long ago, drink was my ‘sun’ and I was in its orbit.
It was a ‘Black Hole Event Horizon’ indeed. Objects in motion tend to carry on as they’re going, until acted upon by an outside force. Life has thrown a lot of trials my way. I’ve been compliant with TSM, and so it’s been a rock. I may not know where my life will take me in the next few months, but do know alcohol won’t be part of it.
I used to fight and ‘white-knuckle’, waiting for the time when I could drink. I used to be able to almost taste the alcohol, and feel the tingle in my fingertips before I even had a drop of anything to drink.
It isn’t a life for me anymore. Just a few weeks ago, I opened a bottle of root beer soda a friend had given me – it wasn’t a regular sweet soda.
It was an alcoholic beer, 5.5% by volume. Blind-side. Inertia. I looked at that beer for a long time, I grant you. I considered taking a nal, waiting the hour, and then finishing the bottle. I admit part of me wanted it. I ended up throwing it away, when not too long ago that surprise sneak-attack on the part of the Drinking Demon would have set off a huge binge for me. As strong as AUD runs in my family, the Drinking Monster still just doesn’t stand a chance against mindful, compliant TSM. It is terrifying and beautiful, but there is hope there too. For all forms of addiction – because if we’ve figured out the Sinclair Method for drinking, perhaps soon we’ll figure out how to save people from other forms of substance abuse outside of AUD.
I had a t-shirt printed that says, ‘Alcohol + Naltrexone = Your Life.’ Dr David left us a huge legacy, of dignity and hope. There you have it, Gary. Nal on.
‘…Not long ago, drink was my “sun” and I was in its orbit.’
Well said – I like that. So it’s fair to say that you were a rapid responder…
I also like the fact that you mention pharmacologically enhanced learning (PEL) and about healthy endorphin reinforcement on your alcohol-free days.
Question: given the steady growth in interest in The Sinclair Method on social media how long do you think before TSM stops being a niche thing and goes mainstream?
It IS a brave new world, once Extinction happens, isn’t it? Drinking does take over our minds and lives, bit by bit. When you’re free of that life-style, things do open up.
You asked how long did I think it might be before TSM stops being a ‘niche’ thing and becomes mainstream? Again, a very good and insightful question on your part. My answer would be I think it might depend on where you live. Having seen Miss Claudia Christian’s excellent ‘One Little Pill’ documentary – well, perhaps in India where Alcoholism is developing TSM might develop right along with it. That’s so encouraging. TSM may well be ‘mainstream’ in Helsinki, perhaps, where Dr David and Dr Hytiaa did the now-famous ‘Deprivation Effect’ studies.
Perhaps elsewhere in Europe in the next five to seven years naltrexone may become more and more readily available, along with doctors and pharmacists who understand how the Sinclair Method works. I feel as though TSM efforts are getting well under-way in these places.
And then there is America, which has always been it’s own story. In the States, TSM efforts may always have to be grass-roots. I put chalk in my pocket and take walks around town and scrawl ‘Sinclair Method’ or ‘Naltrexone’ on the sidewalks in front of the taverns in the area. I’ve considered booking one of the conference rooms at my local library and having an informal TSM Meet and Greet. I’ve pulled people aside when out at parties and told them privately about TSM. I’m heart-broken to say that financial concerns seem top-priority in my country today. I’ve sent emails to Senators and Congressmen and more local assembly folk, explaining how effective and worthwhile TSM is – I don’t think I’ve had one response. My state’s department of transportation official website reports that in 2015 there were 190 fatalities due to drinking. There were 2,900 injuries. The NHTSA (United States Department of Transportation) websites report that every day 29 people die in the country in impaired driving accidents. That’s one every 50 minutes in the US. The other pertinent fact here is that, last I knew, TSM has a nearly 80% log-term success rate.
I find that conjunction of facts bleak and awful: there are so many accidents in my state alone due to AUD, but I’ve not really heard back from any authority I’ve reached out to and notified of the Sinclair Method.
By the way, I did try and look for more recent statistics from my state department of transportation as to the impact of AUD on driving on the roads in my state, and couldn’t seem to find more recent figures. I’ve also tried reaching out to local doctors on the subject of TSM as well, and gotten as little return communication.
I’ve also reached out to famous daytime TV talk show hosts about TSM and gotten no answer.
So, for me, the hope of the Sinclair Method lies in other countries. In the US, the Sinclair Method may always be grass-roots. I’ve gotten spare copies of Miss Claudia’s memoirs and donated them to my local library.
I’ve also bought spare copies of Dr Eskapa’s ‘The Cure for Alcoholism’ and donated that too. It IS a human rights Issue. In my last job, the woman who trained me was killed by her husband because she told him she was leaving him. He would sit in the bars and drink and brag he would hurt her if she did leave. He’s in prison for life, at tax payer expense. This happened just as I was learning about the Sinclair Method. In America, it may always be people who have gone through pharmacological extinction reaching out to people who need the news.
In the States, it may always be a case of AUD folks helping other AUD folks. The attitude that says, ‘If you have drinking problem, DON’T DRINK’ is just too prevalent here, on too many levels. For my part, I’ll keep an eye on how things develop in other countries and applaud the success there.
My best to you Gary – Marie
Thank you, Marie. This has been a really good, insightful interview. Thank you so much for your time, your input and for spreading the word – it’s really appreciated. I love your chalk drawing, by the way! (and have made it the leading image in the article) 🙂
The following article is what you might call an epistolary… an electronic “chain letter” (using instant messaging and e-mails) between myself and Lesa, a member of the Your Choice, Your Recovery Facebook forum, collected and re-edited here in a Q & A format.
…I like doing these types of things, I must say.
It makes a real change from the onus being just on boring ol’ me… and I like how it makes for a really organic article.
I pretty much just got lucky. I went to a 30 day in-house Rehab and AA and I couldn’t stop drinking.
I was a disaster and I felt like I was sinking further and further down.
A friend of mine who’s an avid AAer told me about naltrexone but didn’t know really what it did. I started researching and came across Dr. Roy Eskapa’s book, The Cure for Alcoholism. I read it and went to my doctor and asked her to prescribe it to me.
I didn’t even mention TSM because I was worried she wouldn’t give it to me. I was given the prescription and told not to drink but if I did it wouldn’t hurt me*. I started it right away.
[*Note: this is NOT the correct way to prescribe naltrexone for The Sinclair Method. The correct protocol is to advise the patient to take a naltrexone pill one hour before their first drink and not to take it on any days that the patient does not drink.]
[After a short break the conversation then picks up again a few days later by way of e-mail correspondence]
Hope you’re well. I’ve had an odd couple of days where I’ve not been able to find the motivation to do much (February is always like that for me – it’s just a dead month here in Hartlepool).
I’ve been thinking about my blog and I think that I might do a whole series of interviews like this with different people at different stages of recovery with TSM… why? Well, because I think readers are getting a bit bored of hearing “Gary’s story” all the time and would be grateful to hear other people’s points of view.
So… continuing on with our interview… I have a question for you: I note from your posts on the Your Choice, Your Recovery forum that you’re someone who very much supports medically assisted alcohol addiction treatments such as TSM as well as other stuff like baclofen and gabapentin, etc… and my question is what do you say to people who don’t support a biological model of alcohol addiction? What do you say to people who view it as “an illness of the soul” (a view supported by many AA members)? Or, for that matter, people who view alcoholism as a “choice” rather than a disease? (a view supported by some psychologists)
I have been dealing with this for a while now. AA is so infiltrated into our society no one wants to hear anything else.
“It sounds to good to be true!” or “Lesa, there’s no magic pills.”
So I respond like this, “If I go to my doctor and I tell him I am sad and nothing makes me happy, he’d probably diagnose me with depression. He wouldn’t tell me to “choose” to be happy and go find “God”.
That would be malpractice, especially if I committed suicide.
Yet, we live in society that is brainwashed into believing that if someone is alcoholic they need to find a “spiritual awakening” and “choose” not to drink.
It’s completely absurd!
There are medications that repair the eroded neuropathways from addiction and balance-out the neurotransmitters that cause anxiety and depression caused by alcoholism. I take Naltrexone as needed and Acamprosate to balance out the neurotransmitters. They are a great medication team to cut cravings and create homeostasis (balance) back to pre-addictive state.
It’s absolutely ridiculous we (TSM) folks are educating society on this scientifically proven and evidence based method to cure alcoholics instead of doctors. We really need to make a movement to help so many people suffering from alcoholism. Not only is society ignorant to these medications they fight the scientifically proven method! It’s pure madness.
…I think you’re right: ignoring an effective, safe and dignified treatment in favour of a less effective, antiquated one IS malpractice… it goes against the Hippocratic oath.
It’s like a class action lawsuit waiting to happen.
I mean, it’s a question of human rights, surely? It’s like this: if there was a ground-breaking treatment for diabetes or cancer that was being denied to people there’d be an absolute uproar, but because TSM is for alcohol addiction it’s like nobody gives a sh*t about our rights – don’t you think?
That’s a great point. I am going to start using it. You’re right, if there was ground breaking medication for any major illness that was available and not used there would be an uproar. I am going to use this in my arguments with non-believers.
Here’s a question that I wanted to ask… I note that you work in law enforcement… and my question is this: would attending AA meetings not put you in a potentially very compromising position if you found yourself sitting in a room elbow-to-elbow with people you’ve previously arrested?
I mean, okay, there’s the “who you see here, what you hear here, let it stay here” card and there’s the twelfth tradition… but in this age of social media you have AA members breaking their own traditions online all the time…
Actually that’s another dilemma I had to deal with in AA.
I am actually a sergeant in the jail which makes it even harder because you spend 40-60 hours a week with people who hate you. They love to get dirt on staff.
12% of AA members are court ordered so there’s no desire to keep that private. I live in a very small community in Northern California called Humboldt County. We have the second highest crime rate per capita in the State to only be beat by Oakland, California.
Most of the people who commit crimes are influenced by drugs and alcohol so as you can see going to a program or going to AA in my area can prove difficult. I had to go out of the area for rehab that was professional and first responder based to feel safe. AA meetings had many offenders and I found that made that support system even more ineffective for me as well.
So thank God for TSM and MAT (medication assisted treatment).
…So I notice from my newsfeed that you’ve set up a Facebook page. What can you tell us about that? This is very much inspired by what you’ve read in Roy Eskapa’s The Cure for Alcoholism and Linda Burlison’s A Prescription for Alcoholics, right?
I want to be a part of a movement that educates society on new approaches that treat addiction. I find it ridiculous that society is so brainwashed by AA. I know that it takes a strong person to be a linchpin but I think I am up to the challenge. I am inspired by several people: Claudia Christian, Dr. Roy Eskapa, Dr. David Sinclair (of course), Linda Burlison, Lance Dodes and you. Plus, all the many people who are willing to speak out against the masses and are making positive change. I really want to be a part of this movement and see real change.
I have dedicated my page, The Game Changer for AUD with Pharmacological Extinction (see HERE) to helping as many people as I can. I am currently working on a class dedicated to teaching people about the brain, addiction, alcohol deprivation effect (ADE) and medications used to control and cure the disease. I created and taught many classes for law enforcement and I am going to use those learned skills to teach my new passion TSM and MAT.
However, I am a novice blogger and Facebook page manager so I am still learning in that area.
On my page, I show and talk about books that not only talk about TSM and MAT but provides the proof of the statistics and the information that back it up. I also bring up issues and add some of my personal information and issues I’ve dealt with going against the grain.
I hope you join me and I look forward to creating my class and sharing it with all of you.
That sounds great!
I use WordPress as my blog platform, by the way. It’s a blogging platform/website builder that’s really user-friendly and really easy to learn. You don’t have to have any real experience with coding or anything like that to set up a decent looking website with WordPress.
…Okay, well I think we’ve just about come to the end of the road with this article, Lesa. Thank you so much for your input and long may your success with The Sinclair Method continue. Also, all the best with your new projects!
I have been nominated for The Liebster Award by fellow blogger, MagnumOpus. Thank you so much for nominating me, Magnum. It’s really flattering.
Magnum has a wonderful blog called – appropriately enough – MagnumOpus. It’s quite an endearing motivational blog, all about spreading positivity. To quote the About page, Magnum describes herself as: “An optimistic person who sees the bright side of every situation and every person”.
I have had some really nice interactions with some other bloggers on WordPress and there are some very talented people on this platform, so it’ll be a pleasure to put forward some nominations of my own.
Here are the rules for The Liebster Award:
Acknowledge the blogger who nominated you.
Answer the 11 questions asked.
Nominate no more than 11 other bloggers for the award.
Pose 11 questions for them.
(So do you see how it works? It’s essentially very similar to a chain e-mail, passed from blogger to blogger – the only real difference being that it’s actually quite a nice thing rather than an annoyance. Oh and by the way, it’s apparently okay for a blogger to be nominated by different people a number of times… there’s no rule against it)
Anyway, without further ado…
Questions from MagnumOpus:
1. What was your dream as a child and did you achieve it?
My ambition as a child was to be a great artist, to draw comic strips and to be famous for it. As for whether I achieved this… well, as for being a great artist, the answer to that is “I’m still working on it”… the answer to the second part is “yup, I first got published in Spit! comic back in the nineties” (see below for the concept design for one of the characters that I drew for that magazine)… and, lastly, as for the part about being famous – well, not really; even though there is a cult fanbase for those old comic books my name is not really well known… in fact, it’s only recently that fans of this stuff have been searching me out and saying “Are you the guy who drew this?”.
2. If you were given 3 wishes , what would you ask for?
I only have one wish: to be given a time machine… something which I’d use, firstly, in order to go back in time and stop my mum from being murdered and, secondly, which I’d use to go back in time to give my younger, stupider self a much-needed slap around the head.
Oh and if there was some way that I could engineer it, I’d like to make a life sentence in the UK actually mean life… not sure how I could use a time machine to do that, though.
3. What inspired you to start a blog?
I felt that I had a story to tell and, given my one man war against the tyranny of brevity (haha!), I thought that WordPress would be a good fit for my hyper-verbosity!
…And at the risk of sounding like a wannabe do-gooder, I also felt that some people could perhaps relate to some of the hardships I’ve endured during my life and could take some inspiration from some of the solutions that I’ve found – such as, for example, the story of how I recovered from alcoholism thanks to The Sinclair Method (see the podcast below – I’m the guy in the T-shirt on the right).
4. What is your biggest fear and what are you doing to overcome it?
Ooh! Good question. My reflexive response was to write “fear of failure”, but after a bit of thought I have to say that the thing which I fear most is being written off – that’s the thing that keeps me awake at night.
You see, here’s the thing about me… thanks to a combination of alcoholism and bipolar disorder that hijacked my life for the better part of two decades I managed to either miss out on or squander a lot of opportunities (on both a personal and professional level). And despite being as bright and as creative as I am, the fact of the matter is that what most employers want more than anything (more than even skill) is reliability – something which I just couldn’t give for many years and which would render me both unemployed and unemployable for a long time, unfortunately.
Now that I’m sober and that my mental health has drastically improved what I’m very much trying to do is to redeem and rebuild myself… though it’s not easy – I’ve left quite an unfortunate legacy thanks to my years in the wilderness (…oh and thanks to behaving like a horse’s ass).
So what am I doing about it? Well, I’m trying to set achievable goals and I’m trying to become the best possible version of myself – “creating some good karma”, in other words.
5. What is that 1 book that changed your life (you can also mention an incident if not a book)?
6. Who is your favourite blogger in the WordPress community?
I like the work of a number of bloggers and I follow a number of blogs in my WordPress Reader, but if I’m absolutely forced to single out one person it has to be my friend Michael Dempsey of Recovering from Recovery because I think that out of all of the addiction treatment themed blogs out there (and there’s a plethora of them) his is one of the most balanced.
Why? Well, because here is a character who is so inspiring because he is someone who has endured a devastating traumatic bereavement – the murder of his wife and daughter – but who courageously chooses light over darkness… there’s no self-pity and no brooding with Patrick Jane – he instead presents a defiant joie de vivre to the world…
…And I find this quite inspiring because I know that this is how my mum would want me to live my life.
8. Which Superhero would you like to get if you could have a superpower?
…Because I want Bruce Wayne’s superpower of being richer than anyone else! Haha!
Seriously though, what makes Bruce Wayne so special is that unlike other superheroes he doesn’t have any superpowers to fall back on and yet he’s still able to kick the ass of just about everyone in the DC Comics Universe thanks to his mastery of numerous physical and mental disciplines… and it’s this unstoppable, indomitable will that I admire so much – that IS his real superpower and something that distinguishes him from the likes of Tony Stark (AKA Iron Man) from the Marvel Universe (and another playboy billionaire), who – let’s face it – is a push-over without his suit of armour.
The same cannot be said for Bruce Wayne at all… a true renaissance man who, as well as having an IQ somewhere in the stratosphere and being the world’s greatest detective, is an expert in just about every form of combat in existence and can bench press 800 lbs.
Well, that’s all I have to say, really. I rest my case. The only other thing that I could possibly add is that Batman simplylooks cool – and there are millions of little kids on the planet who love dressing up as Batman who agree with me on that score.
9. Which pet do you like more, cat or dog? What is it about them that you like the most?
Oh I’m fond of both species and spend more time than I really should watching cute pet videos of both dogs and cats on Facebook.
But I would say that cats get the win just because their emotional colour-blindedness is so endearing. Haha.
Aaaw bless… they really are something else. And they remind me of children on the autistic spectrum in the curious way how they’ll give affection, but don’t know how to reciprocate it many a time. They’ll just look at you blankly.
They’re quite misunderstood, I think. Some people misinterpret the lack of reciprocation as coldness, but they just don’t get cats in my view.
10. If you could have a talk over a cup of coffee with any person dead or alive, who would that be and why?
Easy: I’d pick my mum. I don’t think that I really need to go into why…
11. If you could have a day celebrated on your birthday, what day would that be and why?
“Pariah’s Day” maybe? A day that celebrates the outcasts and the misfits. A day that celebrates eccentricity and individualism, in other words.
Why? Well, because I’ve always been someone who’s never quite fitted in… I’ve never had a “tribe”… but I don’t see this as a weakness at all. Quite the opposite – I see myself very much as a free-thinker, not constrained by consensus opinion on any topics and someone who thinks outside of the box.
My nominees are:
Beckie’s Mental Mess
Barbara from myaphorisms.com
Stephen from A Fractured Faith
…And my questions are:
Why did you start your blog?
Which person (alive or dead) has been the biggest inspiration in your life?
What is one fact about yourself that most people don’t know?
Have you met anybody famous and – if yes – what were they like?
What’s your “TV kryptonite”? Which TV programme would make you want to kick the TV screen in if you were forced to watch it?
What’s your favourite book?
Where do you stand on the “nature vs. nurture” debate when it comes things like addiction, mental illness and crime?
Name a pop song that you enjoy listening to but would feel really embarrassed to admit to liking to most people.
Should there be a “Blogger’s Code of Ethics” or do you believe in complete freedom of speech on the internet?
If you had a time machine what would be the first thing you would do with it? And why?
What would you like inscribed on your headstone after you’re dead?
Well, I finally got around to watching Dallas Buyers Club on Netflix and it was really good. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto both turn in exceptional performances.
Sadly, what undermines this biopic is the way that it takes some extreme liberties with historical fact in order to make it fit better into a three act play structure… for example, both the Jared Leto and Jennifer Garner characters seen in the film are invented – they’re actually based on a combination of different people rather than two real individuals. They’re composities.
Another aspect that’s completely fictional is the depiction of Ron Woodruff (as played by Matthew McConaughey) as being a raging homophobe, when he in fact had no hostility towards gay people in real life and it’s since been suggested by several people close to Woodruff that he was actually bisexual.
But if you can allow your brain to shut that information out it’s quite possible to enjoy this movie for its depiction of a group of people with HIV/AIDS coming together to form their own “buyers club” in order to (often illegally) access the best medication available in order to prolong their lives.
The best parts of the film? For me, they’re easily the scenes where Woodruff is poring over books in the library and educating himself on the best treatment options available for the virus, ultimately becoming an expert in his own condition and ultimately a civil liberties hero in his fight against the FDA in order to allow AIDS patients the right to experiment on their own bodies as they see fit.
There are in fact several parallels which I see with the scandalously unfair fight that many people with Alcohol Use Disorder in many countries have on their hands trying to access naltrexone or nalmefene using The Sinclair Method… and the undignified hoops that some patients are forced to jump through in order to get hold of a prescription.
I also relate to the scenes where the Matthew McConaughey character is ridiculed for educating himself on his own condition and the best treatment options available. I’ve had this several times over the years, with an addictions worker once cautioning me that I “think too much”.
The democratisation of science is a scary thing for some people. Autodidactism is especially threatening to some doctors, it seems.
But the question should be asked: is it really monstrous arrogance to “act as your own doctor” and take risks such as importing naltrexone illegally when you’re forced into that position because you know the default medical paradigm in your location is woefully ineffective in comparison to The Sinclair Method?
When the system has you over a barrel and your choices are severely limited, are you really the villain for saying “Fuck off. I’m not playing by your rules anymore. I’m just going to import some damn naltrexone myself”.
I would say not. It’s not so black and white as far as morality goes.
Anyway, I just wanted to share my thoughts on the movie. Despite the lack of historical accuracy it’s still a good watch. I got a lot of identification out of it.
Another film worth checking out for that similar theme of laypersons on an autodidactic quest to educate themselves on medicine (in order to save their little boy) is Lorenzo’s Oil (see HERE). Well worth viewing.
Just back onto the subject of The Dallas Buyers Club: there’s quite an interest article here about a HIV patient inspired by the initiative of the Matthew McConaughey character who has recently injected himself with an untested gene therapy: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-41990981
Makes for interesting reading. It wouldn’t surprise me if gene therapy was one of the next things that they’ll look at for addiction treatment. Hey, you never know.
Okay, well I’ve ran out of things to say. Thanks for reading.