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The Crazy And The Calm

Loud, sarcastic and quite frankly raving mad

When the pillar crumbles

overdose

This post is dedicated to a pillar – a pillar who passed away in the early hours of the morning. As we found out the news, the pain felt by his loss became more and more evident – like a ripple that was unable to stop because of the pollution it has suffered. He was amazing man who supported and helped in one way or another nearly every member of the Dorset NA community,. If you were stranded and needed to get to a meeting, he would drive out of his way to pick you up and take you to one. He gave his life and soul to the still suffering addict and his dedication pulled a lot of people out of a seemingly endless black hole.

Over the past day I have seen the NA community of Bournemouth crumble with him. The love people had for him has become evident – but it always was evident. Gradually, the community saw his recovery deteriorate – it started with one thing, then led to another until finally he went to his favourite poison and overdosed. He had well over a decade of clean time. We thought he was invincible. After over two weeks in a coma, his body gave up the fight and he passed. If this isn’t a lesson that addiction is a daily fight, I don’t know what is.

I hate this disease and I hate what it does to my friends, family and myself. Some seem to think that when an individual has decades clean they are somehow immune from the relapse, but that couldn’t be more untrue. The disease still haunts you even when you haven’t touched a substance for a while, it might come back in a drug dream or an obsessive thought that won’t go. For me it comes back in drug dreams and obsession over food and exercise. This disease takes people when they are not ready, this pillar was only 51 years old – not old and certainly not ‘death’ old. After a succession of deaths over the past year, this seems to be the one that has shaken us the most. Whilst many of us didn’t speak to him everyday, when we did see him the connection, relationship and rapport he struck with us nearly instantly touched our hearts and made our day significantly better. He was there in a heartbeat for all of us and the struggle of coming to terms with the fact that he deteriorated so rapidly, in body and mind, is a shock to all of us. Francis McLaughlin exits this world leaving an indelible mark on the community that he loved and was so deeply involved in. It certainly will not ever be the same without him. There are no words that can describe the loss that we have suffered over the years but this one seems to be affecting us all in a much deeper way. He certainly left a legacy to be proud of and saved countless lives during his time. He will be remembered amongst the NA community the same way that the likes of Alan Turing, James Harrison and Florence Nightingale are remembered. Rest in peace Franny

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Oh come on, one pint won’t hurt

Omg the amount of times I hear this – especially over the Christmas period but all year round as well. Our society, worldwide in fact, is based around drinking. It’s your birthday? Have a drink. You’ve had a good day? Have a drink. You’ve had a bad day? Have a drink. You’ve got time off work? Have a drink. You have work tomorrow? Have a drink. You get the picture.

Over and over again I have to tell people I don’t drink. The reason I give them varies depending on my mood at the time and my desire to make them feel jaw-droppingly awkward. I. Don’t. Drink. And the reason why is really non of your business. I don’t mind you asking – it’s human nature to be curious – but when I give you an answer, please accept it and don’t try to encourage me to have ‘just one drink’. I can still stay out until the early hours of the morning and dance to all the house and dubstep my heart desires, just without the searing headache when I wake up.

If we were to be really honest with ourselves no one likes the taste of alcohol and you don’t need to get absolutely shitfaced to have a good story to tell. I don’t see how losing your inhibitions and dignity makes life any more enjoyable or entertaining. If you want to be unpredictable choose decaf. I see my choice to not drink alcohol much like a dietary choice, similar to being vegan. Plus I hate the taste of alcohol. I hate the taste of radishes too – hence why I don’t eat them.

People seem to be confused by the fact that I smoke but don’t drink – alcohol kills more people than cigarettes do. If you brought out a gram of coke, offered me some and I declined, would you be surprised that I had declined or would it just be obvious? I hope that for anyone with a brain cell the latter because coke isn’t exactly an ingredient of longevity.

Currently, my Facebook feed is rammed with dry January posts. Omg but why don’t you drink in January? I think the answer is pretty damn obvious and I don’t think anyone would encourage you to have a drink. So why is it that someone who doesn’t drink for a month is left to it but someone who makes a lifestyle choice not to drink is constantly questioned about it?

I think it makes people feel awkward that I don’t drink, which doesn’t really make sense because for the same amount of reasons that someone may not smoke, I don’t drink. Alcohol doesn’t have to be a part of your social identity if you don’t want it to be, alternatively if you do that’s your choice. But if it does make you feel awkward that I don’t drink then that’s okay but it’s your problem so please don’t impart the symptoms of it on me.

The Perks of Being Mental

So, it’s been a while since I have posted anything – sorry – busy life now! It’s easy to forget the places you’ve been in when the places you’re at are so much better, but with MH Awareness week just gone I thought I should post something.

Who would have ever thought that there would be positives to having gone through hell? I never did. It’s all about what you make of it though that depends whether you will have positives. I’ve met people who have come out the other side of depression, anxiety, addiction, eating disorders etc and have wanted nothing but sympathy. That’s cool. I’m not going to give them sympathy because I don’t believe in it but it can be nice to know you’re not alone and I get that. But, I’ve also met people that have come out the other side of such illnesses and grabbed life by the balls and I think this really is the most admirable and courageous thing anyone can do. To know that hell is a place and that you’ve been there and seen nothing but the dark side of the world and the people in it but still you’re living life and positive is a quality I have no words to express.

During my time at uni, I’ve met a lot of people who have had anxiety and depression, and some still have it. One particular person couldn’t walk into a lecture before, she didn’t know what she was afraid of, but she was afraid and no matter how much she tried to overcome that feeling, it just wouldn’t budge. We started uni together, on the same course and are one year apart in age. She’s a legend. If you met her you wouldn’t know that she couldn’t get out of bed at one stage. From the beginning she put herself out there and signed herself up for different student roles and we became friends.  You know exactly who you are – keep being a legend.

Another person who’s pretty damn amazing I know who still deals with her anxiety. She takes her medication and occasionally gets a panic attack but she god damn slays! She overcomes her fears and does it with dignity. Sometimes she thinks the world is going to collapse onto her but other times she’s up and doing the do and building her life. Another girl I met last year was doing a medicine degree and so had chosen to do a degree at my university in one year. ONE YEAR! She struggled with depression and had serious family problems. We could relate to one another in that way and many other ways for that matter. Every day she would get up and go to her lectures, she would party hard in the evening and train hard at the gym. Another slayer.

It’s hard to be a student in a very student environment and still pretend to be a ‘normal’ person. I’m not saying that I admire these people for pretending to be ‘normal’ because they don’t pretend to be normal and that’s really what I admire them for. They know they face struggles that other people don’t face but they don’t let that take control of them. They carry on with their studies, activities or whatever else they have to do.

Of course I admire many more such people but to describe all of them would take too long.

Being an addict, I am all or nothing. I am black and white, I don’t understand ‘grey’. I was in a very dark place for a very long time not just with my addiction but with depression and bulimia but I know it can get a lot darker than where I was (it’s hard for me to imagine but I know it). When my absolute rock and best friend took her own life I realised that you can never predict the future or wish someone back and everything you wished you said, you should have said. When someone so close to you goes so suddenly it finally hits home that you’re not invincible and shit certainly does happen. You’ll meet people along your journey, some of whom will build you up and others will tear you down. Hold onto the ones who build you up. They don’t have to get where you have come from nor even say anything when you have a break down – they just have to stay with you and take you as you are.

I have realised that whilst I’ve got the capability to do some nasty and horrible things to people and myself, I also have the capability to do the exact opposite. I’m not saying I’m going to be in this mind set forever, I am saying that right now this is the mind set that I’m in and I’m not worried about forever right now. I say what I mean. No one has time to deal with hints or ‘beating around the bush’.

I often think about my friend and wish she was here to see the beauty and fulfilment that life has to offer. She could never see that she would come out the other side of her depression. When I was travelling I could see a volcano spit plumes of smoke and spit lava and I wished she had been there to see it with me. I heard lightning strike a nearby building, I felt an earthquake. I gave a lift to a hitch-hiker. I partied in the streets and saw the most wonderful colours all together like an exploded paint tube. All of these things I wished she had seen with me before she went. But she didn’t and when you realise that life can be so fulfilling, all it takes is determination and a positive attitude, you make your life fulfilling.

I realise that no one is here forever, and since the passing of my friend, many more of my friends have also exited this world. I’ve learnt lessons from all these people. I want to die happy. I want to die knowing that I’ve made the most out of my life and I haven’t let my past predict my present or my future. When you’ve been so close to death you lose the fear of it. I’m not afraid of dying and when it comes, it comes, but I’m not in a rush to speed up the process anymore. I think you’ve got to have experienced hopelessness to feel hope, shame to feel pride, guilt to feel freedom.

No one is innocent or untainted by this world. It leaves an unfavourable mark on all of us but that’s the beauty of black and white; with black comes white. I’m no longer ashamed of the scars that cover my arms and legs. They are my history and they remind me of how far I have come. Nor am I ashamed to deny alcohol or be the only one sober because it reminds me of how resilient I am. I’m not ashamed that I have spent a lot of time in institutions. Those institutions have taught me a lot. I value the lessons that life has to give. I don’t seek these lessons out nor do I learn from them first time around. I take every day as it comes. I don’t imagine problems but when they come I deal with them. My mother cried when she dropped me off at treatment, she thought she was never going to see me again. She thought that the next time she saw me I would be in a coffin. I can’t tell you the joy I experience when I see how proud of me she is. I’m now the daughter she has always wanted and she’s the best mum in the world. My mum is also someone whom I admire for her ability to have been in hell, dead in every way but the literal, cope with it and still remain positive. I have the ability to feel great things now and that’s only because I’ve seen hell. There is no such thing as heaven. As I said everything and everyone is tainted or scarred. We all have histories.

I think a lot of people who take their own lives know that those they love and care about will go through hell themselves, but it’s not enough to live for other people. I guess my message is that if you feel like giving up, don’t. Just wait. Great things are waiting. Don’t leave the world feeling hopeless and already dead. You need to be ready. Ready is not when you want to die. Ready is when you have no regrets. Ready is when you’ve done everything you wanted to do, fixed relationships you wanted to fix and still love seeing your family and friends. You need to be happy when your time comes to go. That’s ready.

When in Rio

I have just left the amazing city after spending ten glorious days there. On the first couple of days I just needed to chill, having been on a truck with twenty other people and very early starts for the past six weeks. I spent the majority of my stay in an Airbnb with one of the most lovely hosts a girl could wish for. She welcomed me into her home and city with open arms. I was staying in Largo de Machado, a convenient location for all the sights. 

The first day of doing stuff we ventured out to the big man JC or Corcovado. This is a big Jesus. I was reading into why the city wanted a giant Jesus on the highest mountain and there’s no reason, they just fancied putting a giant Jesus on a fuck off mountain. Fair play. The views from JC of the city were awesome on one side but hazy on the other because for some reason the fog only fancied blurring one side of the city. Still, we saw the best side. To be fair, never has it been so hard to take a selfie with Jesus. There were so many people there that photos had to be taken from the ground, facing up which also means I’ve got a photo of JC in the background and my 12 chins in the foreground. Photoshop! 

After we’d done JC it was time to head to Sugarloaf (I looked it up and there’s no such thing as sugarloaf). We headed up there just before sunset and it was the best time to go! Although there were this far too cringe worthy American family in front of us who yelled “SUPERHUG” before embracing each other in such a manner that I as a Brit am embarrassed of. Yuck. Affection. Anyway the view was spectacular and we got there just in time to see a beautiful red sunset behind Corcovado. The entire city and beyond was visible from the top and it was spectacular. 

We did eventually manage to do the Selaron steps. They really are quite something. Although a photo opportunity required a wrestling match to get every other tourist off them. It was hilarious watching people pose poses that looked very pre-planned and well practiced. The steps have a tribute to nearly country on them. Selaron wanted the steps to be an ever evolving work of art. It is definitely a work of art.

We went out on the town more times than I can remember and the scene is the best I’ve experienced. In Brazil, no one goes out to get drunk, they go out for the music and to be with their friends. I’ve not seen one Brazilian so drunk they threw up or passed out. There’s samba everywhere and when the clubs are full, people dance on the pavements whilst vendors with wagons sell caipirinhas, beers etc. It doesn’t really get going until about 12 but doesn’t finish until 6am. Leviano bar was a favourite! We never went to the highly rated Rio Scenarium though 😢 

One of the first things that struck me like a blunt knife in the eye was the number of homeless people in the city. Even more noticeable is the fact that ALL of the homeless in Rio are black. Depending on who you ask depends on what kind of answer you’ll get. When I asked a local tour guide he said because “we live in a Catholic country and they believe that if they give money to the homeless they buy themselves a place in heaven. So, they reject the help from the state because they get given money”. When I asked a fellow lother at my airbnb he explained it was due to the corruption and racism present in the city. He said that there were little to no services available to help the homeless. I think I find that reason slightly more believeable.

On our last day we did a favela tour. We went to two favela: one was a bustling city within the city, the other a quiet but jammed residential area. When I told my host I was going on a favela, a look of fear struck her face and it was evident that inner city residents really feared the favelas and have never been to any of them. The construction of houses in the favelas would make a health and safety inspector break down. People have built on top of other people’s houses, paying the residents below them a premium. Rocinha is a favela that had been pacified in 2011 because it was encroaching too much on the rich city neighborhood adjacent to it. However only part of it had been pacified because it had access to roads. In the favelas, where the police cars can’t go the police don’t go. In that part of the favela there was no running water. Residents had to collect their water from the well. These people didn’t have identification, they didn’t have birth certificates. To everyone else they didn’t exist. The part of the favela that had been pacified was pretty safe, although it was evident that the residents weren’t happy that it had been pacified, apparently it was because the police had come but no other services. The police that did parade the streets of Rocinha were fresh out of the Academy. They had to be uncorrupt, and the only way to ensure this was to make sure they were new. After two or three years they would be moved out of the favela because by that time they were probably corrupt. There are over one thousand favelas in Rio alone, it’s very evident this country has a problem with corruption at its heart.

Miranda Pantanal

Well just wow. I don’t know how else to start off this pit other than to say that it left me speechless. We got to Faz de San Francisco (about 20 minutes outside the town of Miranda in Brazil) in the early afternoon. As we took in our surroundings after a relatively long drive we were left stunned at the beauty of the place we were staying in and the beauty of its landscape.

We set off in the mid afternoon for our first safari and within moments saw our first Giant Anteater! It was camouflaged amongst the long grass in the cow field. Due to the loss of habitat that the Giant Anteater has suffered and continues to suffer we were fairly amazed at how many we saw over the couple of days we were there. It was a slow creature that shyed away from humans but it didn’t run. Can they even run?

As we moved on from our first spectacular spot we drove along the road for about 200 metres and then saw a Jaguar! Wow! It was a very very brief glimpse of the ears and back as it basked in the post wet season sun but it was amazing. Within seconds it had slipped off into the forest. Unfortunately it was so quick that I didn’t manage to capture a picture of it.

After that massive highlight we got on our merry way and saw loads of different birds including Parakeets, Hyacinth Macaws, Stalks, Heron and Roadside Hawks! We also saw a lot of Caïmans and Capybaras. The Capybaras are giant Guinea-pigs and the Caïmans are tiny crocodiles but both are definitely worth seeing.

Then we went back to the Fazenda, mulled around for a bit and had some supper. Supper was a buffet that included balls of crocodile meat 😱, not my thing but each to their own.

Post supper, we went on a night time safari! We were super excited as the cover of darkness offers a greater opportunity of seeing the animals harder to see during the day. Within about thirty minutes our guide was teasing a bush with some funny noises and whilst we were all twiddling our thumbs and thinking him rather odd an Ocelot makes an appearance and crosses the bridge! Oh wow! It was totally awesome! It carried itself so gracefully and carelessly, the guide told us it was hunting for snakes including Anacondas! Within several minutes it was back into the bushes to hunt for its supper and we were off. The night safari followed with more birds, Capybaras and Caïmans. We caught a glimpse of some sort of racoon but by that point we were all so tired.

The morning after we set off at 8am to go canoeing! It was a relatively small lake that formed part of the river during the rainy season. On our canoe boat tour we got some great close up shots of Caïmans and some birds. We asked about the possibility of seeing an Anaconda but apparently the weather was too warm and the chances of seeing one were slim because they prefer cooler weather. After crashing into many a water lettuce we made our way back to the bank and set off to go horse riding in the afternoon.

After lunch we adorned ourselves with very attractive hairnets to put on under the ‘riding hats’. Whatever. The horses we were riding were an absolute dream. I have never ridden such a responsive and obedient horse in my life. It was enjoyable but we weren’t lucky enough to have seen animals we hadn’t previously seen.

In the evening we went off to a barbecue and a show of traditional dancing from the southern Pantanal region. The stars were amazing and it was the clearest view of the milky way I have ever seen, but I didn’t have a camera equipped. Just take my word for it, it was something else.

The food was awesome and the dancing entertaining although somewhat awkward to watch. I left pretty swiftly as everyone else started to gulp the caipirinhas (don’t think I’ve spelt that right).

The following morning it was an early start for the boat ride around the lake! We got some great shots of various flora and fauna and even had a go at piranha fishing! Although I had numerous tugs on my fishing line I didn’t catch a piranha 😢 but the sunsets on offer made it all worth it! We then watched a Caïman chomp down on the piranhas that others caught. It swam as quick as it could up to the boat ready for a free meal. The power in the jaws of the animal took us all by surprise and it was absolutely fantastic to see!

Iguassu Falls

Well, the first word that comes to mind is nothing because it left me absolutely speechless. It was the most breathtaking thing I have ever seen and after going through three South American countries and parts of Africa prior I have seen a fair amount of breathtaking views. This was the best.

It was absolutely teaming with tourists on both the Sunday and Monday but it’s totally understandable that it would be. Any photos that you see of this place just don’t do it justice. It’s not only the view of it that’s amazing. When you see it in person you understand the unrivalled power of it. It’s like nothing you’ll ever see. It stretches for miles.

The town itself (Foz de Iguaçu) is nothing special. It’s got a few malls but the place only exists for the falls really. The Argentinean side of the falls offers a much better view and is better equipped for the masses of tourists who flood the park each day.

The Argentine side of the falls and park offer a much better opportunity of spotting wildlife as well. Whilst you are equally as likely to get your lunch nicked by a coati on either side of the falls, you’re much more likely to see the odd monkey on the Argentinean side.

The coatis are cute until you have to wrestle them to get your rucksack back. All the guides around the park are super helpful and all speak fluent English. I waited to do the boat tour until I went to the Argentine side because apparently it was supposed to be better than the Brazilian side. I knew I’d get wet but I thought it might be a byproduct of seeing the falls up close. Oh no, it’s not a byproduct at all, in fact you actually go into the falls several times. All the other passengers seemed to find it hilarious. Me, not so much. In fact it was very unhilarious. It was very very very cold and very very very wet. I just wanted to see them, not be in them.

The photo opportunities were immense, I only needed my camera phone and the photos were awesome. No need to get out my camera. The devil’s throat was definitely better on the Argentine side although the bridges to it were slightly rickety. Overall it was amazing and I am so glad I got to see them.

Buenos Aires

After travelling through the back end of nowhere it’s a shock to the system to come to the bustling metropolis that is BA. It’s wonderful to be in a hotel that has WiFi and a bed to sleep in after the many freezing nights of camping.

The majority of people in the city speak English and the climate is tropical compared to what we’ve recently experienced. I’m trying to speak as much Spanish as possible. I have to remind myself that I’m in Argentina and not Europe. When I imagine Argentina I imagine a developing country but it’s already developed. The prices of everything are very European and it’s all a bit westernised for me. When I go travelling I like to see something completely different to the country that I’m from. The architecture is beautiful and the history of it is fascinating. Some 1600 palaces exist in the city and after the banishment of the monarchy, they were reluctant to destroy them so handed the land and buildings on it over to various countries to use as embassies. Avenida de 9 Julio is the biggest road in the world, and at some points expands to 22 lanes going one way. The city has a very French feel to it.

I visited La Boca yesterday. It’s a tiny street on the river that’s bustling with tourists and tango dancers kicking their legs for tips. It’s got all the standard tourist crap that you can buy but it’s a beautiful little street. Everything football exists there. You can pose with a plastic Messi outside a shop and have the tango dancers in your photo at the same time. The prices are through the roof there though, but where there are tourists there is expense.

Being the birthplace of the Tango dance, there are shows left, right and centre. They are slightly more pricey than expected but when in Buenos Aires it’s an absolute must. The culture bursts through the seams of the relatively archaic theatres and Malbec is the heart pumping the blood around the body. Being a non-drinker, I haven’t tried the Malbec. Wine is wine to me, it serves one purpose – to get me absolutely rat arsed.

The vineyards are abundant in the country; well they would be for a country famous for its Malbec and steak.

I’m not going to lie but it is hard to spend 24/7 with people you first met when you landed. These people have seen the best and worst parts of me and I too of them. Some people are my new best friends and some people make me grit my teeth and bite my tongue. After seeing the country, it would have been relatively easy and safe for me to travel on my own but when I booked it, I knew nothing about the continent and didn’t want to take the risk.

The Japanese Gardens are immaculate and make Hyde Park look like a rubbish dump. The flower beds are abundant with newly planted buds. We rented out a pedalo on the small lake within the gardens, we were the only Europeans there it seemed so it was nice to see something that was busy with locals. Although they didn’t seem to give a crap if they crashed into a goose, or a bank, or a boat. We were slightly more cautious.

The south Americans possibly have more of a sweet tooth than I do and in every restaurant or cafe you walk past you can see all kinds of sweet treats displayed in the windows.

For me, it’s not one of my favourite cities but beyond the boundaries of the city you could easily travel for 900km without seeing a single hut or person. I’m glad I saw Buenos Aires and if the opportunity arose again of course I’d come back but there are other places I want to see first.

New problems

tug of war

Life has it’s problems. No matter how rich or how poor you are I can guarantee your life isn’t perfect, whether it be the pressure from work or pressure from the landlord. Problems are problems and they are all relative.

Having had a complex and difficult upbringing, being in active drug addiction and suffering from mental illnesses and all the problems that come with such issues I have totally different problems now. Before my problems were is mum going to be dead when I get back? Why does she say mean things to and about me? Why are there strange people coming into the house? Who are we running away from this time? Why does my sister not believe me? Why does dad not believe me? Why did she hit me? Why is my mum so different to the other mums? Why did (person) do that to her? Why did I have to see what I saw? To where am I going to get money from? Why is the dealer always so f****** late? I want to die, I want to bleed all the evil out of me, I want to puke all the evil out of me, I just want to die, who can I steal money from? I just need to be numb.

In all fairness self-harm kept me alive at a time when I would have otherwise killed myself, it was a temporary coping strategy with lasting consequences. Throughout my recovery there have been times where I have wanted all the pain to end and there have been times where I just absolutely love my life. I saw this picture earlier:

ship

Well as much as I can resonate with this, I am not a ship (nor are you) and sometimes we are helpless to stopping the ‘water’ around us from sinking us. I do think it’s an important metaphor though. I think the key is to be always aware of the ‘water’ around you and what could happen if you become unaware of it and become immersed in said water. However, when you are a child and your emotional, academic and social intelligence are still forming you can do nothing but to let the ship sink you. A child’s brain is not formed or established enough to cope with traumatic events.

As an adult who has done more work on herself than a final year puts into their dissertation I can firmly say that I know I need to be aware of the water around me. I am aware of the things that have changed, the things that haven’t changed and the things that could change. The major thing that I have learnt in my life is that any change that has happened in my life is me, any change that hasn’t happened in my life is other people. Other people haven’t changed and most aren’t willing to and it’s not my job to make them willing. I am one human being and just as I cannot change when day will become night, when toast will become coal, I cannot change other people.

This was something that I really still struggled with until just a few months ago. I always felt like I had to have control, otherwise everything would just go to shit. This continued well into my recovery – trying to change my boyfriend, trying to get others clean, trying to change my mum. Eventually I just left those situations or learnt to accept them.

As life moves on and progresses so do it’s problems. Now my problems are why is there so much work to do? How am I going to have enough time to read all of this crap before exams? How am I going to go to all the places I want to go to? When am I going to fit in the time to see everyone?

My problems now aren’t really problems to me – they are blessings. However, these are problems that a lot of people get themselves really worked up about. The problems that I faced up until the age of twenty were real problems to me, however they may not be problems to a lot of people and they may be absolutely unbearable for others. They were in a way unbearable to me but I didn’t take my own life (I tried, but now I am glad that I failed). I am and have seen the evidence that humans have an amazing ability to survive. I don’t know what it is or how it occurs, we just survive when living is impossible. I think it lies in the hope for better things, the belief that things will get better – even if you don’t realise it now you wouldn’t be alive if you didn’t think things could get better. That’s why people kill themselves or genuinely try to take their own life – because they no longer have that hope.

I made lemons out of lemonade. Ugh, the expression makes me cringe. I have turned my experiences into empathy for others and an overwhelming desire to help others in dire situations. I am going to facility that aids addicts and alcoholics to recover within the community in the hope of doing some voluntary work there. I’m also in the process of writing an article for the local newspaper that will introduce the local homeless community to the town and I’m also hoping to volunteer at a charity that supports those with cancer. My long term plan is to study medicine, because no matter where you go in the world, medicine is universal (apart from shoving a hyena bone in a broth and hoping it’ll cure HIV – it won’t in case you’re wondering). Medicine will allow me the ability to help people from all countries, cultures, religions, regions, languages, social and economic  backgrounds. As a frequent patient of the Royal Berks many of the doctors looked down upon me for taking up “valuable bed space for people that really were ill”. I was ill and I think having a doctor that understands what someone may be going through could really change someone’s day.  It’s not always the problem that I can relate to, but I can relate to suffering and the feelings that occur. That’s the main thing that I think is involved with empathy, not relating to the person’s situation but maybe relating to the feelings that they are in due to such circumstances. I am no saint but I know the effect that a listening ear can have and how much hope it can provide.

You can never forget your problems, that’s just ridiculous. How is it possible to forget events that had such a lasting impact on you? But you can move on from then, you can remember them and learn from them and hope that someone that is in the situation you were once in doesn’t have to do it alone. It’s cliche but the reason that cliches are cliches is because they have been said so many times because they are true. We are social creatures and helping others not only helps them but makes us feel like our suffering wasn’t for nothing. The moment we feel like our suffering was for nothing we become victims again. I do not want to be a victim again. I am not a victim, I’m a survivor.

Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong

This is quite a well-known video amongst the addict community but doesn’t seem to be elsewhere. It provides an alternative explanation for the causes of addiction that goes above and beyond rat park and an explanation that resonates with a lot of addicts. If you haven’t watched it already I highly recommend you do.

 

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