This is not the bit where I talk about what a genius Robin Williams was.
There is a special type of aggression reserved for the wealthy individual who struggles with sobriety. From the outside it seems f*cking ridiculous. You have endless financial resources. You have time. You have control of your own career. Who the hell wouldnt manage to stay sober under those circumstances?
Actually the more privileged you are? The further away from real help you will get.
People love taking money off of people who have lots of it. In towns and cities where the wealthy congregate, piranhas will set up shop. Leeches will milk the insecurities of people who have money and feel lost. It's easily done. And if enough people buy into your crap? Word of mouth recommendations passed around the dinner party tables of the well-heeled will make you a very comfortable living from their unhappiness.
Gazza is a good example of this. He p*ssed away all of his own money on drinking and rehab. He managed 18 months sobriety at a time white knuckling it, (just not drinking, to the exclusion of life itself). When he ran out of money his kind, well meaning friends paid for the best help money could buy (ie the same help he'd p*ssed away his own money on in the first place).
How Robin Williams' life ended is still conjecture at this point.
How it was lived is not.
He struggled with alcohol. And people saw that. And they took from him. They took his money and they took his hope and in return they delivered the same tired, worn out sh*t they give everyone who pays for the best treatment money can buy. Mediocrity. A life free of alcohol but empty of anything else.
That's the first part. A lot of folk aren't privy to the tools of the super wealthy, but some are. And if you happen to be one of them? It's something to bear in mind. Watch out for the preditors dressed in white coats. Don't take their platinum coated snake oil.
The second part of this sad story is self medicating. Something we are all vulnerable to. Irrespective of financial circumstance. It's something that is not warned about early enough in alcohol abuse. Because there is no such thing as too early. And it doesn't apply to amount consumed either.
People fall into self medicating with alcohol unwittingly. And when they do? It seems like they have stumbled upon the Holy Grail. The magic bullet. The answer to all questions our souls have ever uttered.
It's not. It's just lies. Insidious. Dangerous lies.
If it's a magic bullet? You have just entered a game of Russian Roulette with it. And you can't win.
Self medicating with alcohol goes two ways. It's either for depression or for anxiety. I won't waste your time insulting you with my layman's terms understanding of neurology and serotonin levels in the brain. That's not my department. I can tell you how it starts though:
One drink. It can stay one drink for a very long time. A glass of wine in the evening. Maybe even two. It's not dyed-in-the-wool instant alcoholism. It's not a ceaseless craving that knows no respite. It's just a drink. One that gives relief. An altered state. A sense of filling in the emptiness.
It's never as effective as the first time it works. So the chasing begins. The chase of the initial cessation of symptoms. And the need to seek out that relief takes up time. Takes up space. Erases any semblance of emotional wellbeing. It's the pointless quest that strips our world of any colour.
How does it feel to drink to the stage where you f*ck with your serotonin levels to the point of depression? Like you are lying underneath a duvet made of concrete. Like your body is the heaviest thing imaginable. Everything is black and grey. Conversation and eye contact is unbearable. Moments turn into hours, hours tun into weeks. Like you hate yourself so much you want to tear your own skin off. That the only thing capable of making it go away is the thing that made it worse in the first place.
Another drink please.
What does it feel like to medicate for anxiety with alcohol? At first it feels like someone has pressed the mute button. Like a fluffy eider down has been wrapped around you. Like you are a baby again and life is sweet and blissful and fuzzy.
How does it feel when it wears off and you sober up?
It feels like your skin is too tight for your body. Like there is never enough air in the room. Like outdoors is too vast and indoors is suffocating. If you do anything except lie in the foetal position or crouch in the corner of a room you will surely die because it's just too much. Like your tongue swells up and your entire body shakes. And you know with absolute certainty that your heart is about to explode.
Both of these situations cannot be helped by alcohol. They may have relieved it at first. But they take more than they can ever give. The truly sad part is magic bullets do exist. Just never from a glass. Did you know that anyone who abuses alcohol rinses the f*ck out of the vitamin B12 reserves in their body? Do you know what happens when you have a lack of B12 internally?
So if you make a lot of it naturally in your own body, you wont go there after a session on the booze. But if you rinsed your supplies out the night before? Paranoia. Terrors. Feelings of extreme upset. Sound familiar? If this is you (bearing in mind I'm a TV presenter not a doctor so this isn't medical advice) then consider taking some sublingual B12 for god's sake. Don't spend years crouched in a corner like I did.
Did you know there are aggressive forms of NLP that can assist massively in helping the brain's serotonin levels in combatting depression? Even in people who have abused alcohol very badly?
Not exactly the most expensive guidance money can buy, is it?
It breaks my heart that people self medicate with alcohol. Whether it's at the one-glass-a-night stage, or a litre of vodka. Whether they are massively wealthy or living on the street. Because the anxiety or depression you are trying to escape can actually be fixed at any stage. Help can begin today. Ask for it. Please. I know. I've been there. No one should be vulnerable to it. No matter who you are, or where you are from, or how you got to this stage.
Not even if you are a genius. And the whole world knows your name.