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With the conclusion of Mental Health Awareness month, I wanted to take some time to reflect on this issue that is very personal to me. It’s extremely difficult to talk about, but healing doesn’t happen without facing our own “demons”. As a Pirate running for office, transparency and privacy are both important issues to me, and I hope that maybe my transparency can vicariously be your anonymity, and this is one of many issues motivating me to seek change through politics.
I suffer from a multitude of mental health conditions. They are debilitating at times. I am bipolar, have manic depression, at times acute insomnia, severe PTSD, and I am an alcoholic. I am also a disabled USMC veteran. Although I didn’t serve in combat, I sustained a series of training accidents and endured some pretty heinous abuse that I also would rather not discuss the specifics of at this time. I felt great shame for a long period regarding my military service because I felt like a failure, but I have come to terms with what happened, and I am still proud to have served and I am honored to be a Marine.
The most detrimental of all these ailments I experience is alcoholism. The alcoholism has always functioned as a form of self-destructive self-medication for me, as it also does for millions of other people. It’s been described as a disease of the mind. You could say I’m allergic, because from the first time drunk as a teenager it always made me act like lunatic, however back then it was fun to be wild. It was years later that it evolved into a different kind of monster and severity falling into the depths of physical dependence that couldn’t be broken without medical detox.
One of the biggest factors contributing to my alcoholism later in life was the lack of access to mental health care, and I turned to a poisonous solvent as my medicine instead, resulting in my entry into the criminal justice system. Every arrest and every entanglement I found myself involved in with the law was alcohol related, from DUIs to suicide by cop attempts. I feel like all of this would have been preventable if I had access to the proper mental healthcare when I needed it the most. Instead, it took over a decade of suffering through poverty, homelessness, incarceration, and near-death experiences before I was finally able to obtain the proper medical care I so desperately needed. Without it, I probably wouldn’t have made it this far. Therefore, I am an advocate for universal healthcare. There are countless people out there like me who desperately need access to healthcare and may never receive it, and it will cost them their sanity and lives. Healthcare should not be a luxury.
I am not healed. There is no cure. But today I’m sober, and today is what matters. The present moment is all that is persistent. Yesterday is gone and what happens tomorrow depends on our actions right now. Every day is a war within. Alcohol is more destructive than nearly every other drug physiologically, but its socially acceptable and abstinence from this poison is almost viewed with suspicion. The cravings are there; the thought of a drink of a Buffalo Trace on the rocks still makes the hair on my neck stand on end or the fantasy of red ale still makes my mouth water sometimes. But what is fundamental is that I recognize that these thoughts are illusions. I know exactly what the outcome will be every time I drink; ensuing madness followed by shame, guilt, embarrassment and anxiety at the very least, if I’m lucky.
I could say alcohol ruined my life, but my life is not ruined. It is the struggle behind me that has given me the resiliency I have today. No matter how much failure I endure, I always get back up. Climbing out of past pitfalls is the inspiration to always achieve something greater, and after every time I have hit the reset button on life and lost everything, I always am reborn stronger.
The collective trauma of the 2020s: an era of pandemics, global civil unrest, war and endlessly accelerating natural disasters has created a whole new generation of alcoholism and drug addiction. Coping with a perpetual news cycle of damnation, a great multitude of us have turned to drowning our sorrows into oblivion with substance to our own demise. But the problems will not go away no matter how long we try to hide from them. They will only continue to stack up.
In my world, alcohol is referred to as spirits because its consumption opens one up for possession by a thought form who feeds on the destruction of its host. An archon; a psychological parasite. You can take this however you will, be it archetypal symbolism, or psychic attack. Either way, the result is self-annihilation.
One of the most valuable means of therapy to my outside of traditional medicine, counseling and exercise has been “art therapy”. I feel like abstract expressionism best describes my creations, but they are inspired by the mind parasites of addiction and the need to visually manifest and sometimes even ritualistically destroy the images, even if no one else ever sees them. They can be also trapped and encased forever within the glass frame or digitized and bound in the dimension of cyberspace. What matters is they are being metaphorically expelled from the psyche. This is a constructive and creative way to channel these emotions, and I recommend everyone try it, even if its just randomly slinging paint onto a canvass.
All craving, darkness and parasitic energies
I do reject, expel, and bind thee
From now and forever, for eternity
Let it be so, SO MOTE IT BE!