THE BLOG
07/09/2015 12:56 BST | Updated 05/09/2016 06:59 BST

Why Learning to Listen to Experts Is a Vital Skill in Recovery

The best thing I can recommend is you take a job in a charity shop for a few hours a week. Don't push yourself.

I'm not very good at being told what I can't do. But I'm also fairly bad at being told what to do. Which leaves a fairly narrow margin. It means I pretty much have to figure everything out for myself as I move along.

I didn't used to be this way. Not really. Not until I was faced with an avalanche of news that I didn't want to hear

We don't know whether you are going to ever recover physically from this. Let's get you a wheelchair whilst we try and work it out.

I'm not a big fan of limitations. But I'm at the point now where the only ones I have are held in place by my own belief system. They are my responsibility. I stopped listening to other people's advice so long ago that what they say truly has no impact on me at all.

You won't be able to live by yourself. Stay with your parents. Be prepared for the day your body stops working again, because it can't keep this up for long.

This past decade for me has been a testament to what can happen when you are finally backed into a corner and the only way out is to listen to yourself. It has been hard and scary and dark for a great deal of the time.

And therein lies a very bad habit I picked up along the way.

Of all the things I struggled with? I couldn't help but find getting sober easy. Once I realised the truth of it. A method that couldn't fail me? It was inevitable. No matter what life threw at me, (and I wouldn't even know how to start describing the events of the past decade to you) it never even occurred to me to turn to drink for comfort.

The treatment you are talking about is so dangerous that we believe it will kill you. We cannot support your choice to try it. We strongly recommend that you don't.

I experienced miracles on my journey to get out of my wheelchair. I felt them myself and saw them in other people. I do also recognise that devising a fool-proof method that actually stopped myself & others drinking is somewhat miraculous in itself. I respect the miracles I have been privy to.

But somewhere along the line. At some point in these 10 years. Somehow I picked up the belief that life was supposed to be hard. That life was beautiful and I was lucky to be here, yes. But that certain aspects of life were supposed to be lived the hard way.

That I would have to fight for my body to work everyday. That I should keep people at arms length. That it would be better that way. Better if it was me. Just me. Getting through the difficult bits of living. Doing it all on my own.

But what if it's all supposed to be as easy as getting sober was?

Most people that contact me have no issue with making their own bodies obey simple instructions. There is no doubt there for them. No fear. Not a hint of it. Their doubt is all drinking related. How can they stop? Will it really work? Can they trust themselves ever again? And I always answer that these days I trusted myself more than anyone else in the world to give myself what I need.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday I sat in a Consultant's room and he told me in no uncertein terms that I hadn't gotten away with it. That my years of being bedbound then in the wheelchair. That losing the amount of weight I did during that time. The damage that the original illness that caused to pieces of me. That a combination of all these factors, and more, left me in a position where I had a choice. Take responsibility and listen to expert opinions now; or let Osteoporosis come find me and put me back in the physical circumstances I found myself in not so many years ago.

And I'm going to do exactly what he tells me to do. Because I don't know best. He's the expert here. I'll suck it up, get my ass to the gym and start lifting weights. I'll take whatever medical treatment they decide is best for me. It's fine. Successful sobriety has taught me that I like learning new things. This will just be one of them.

What yesterday really taught me though? Was that I've still been holding back. Still trying to protect myself from a world that might, just might, put me in a wheelchair if I let it in. That by pushing people away in a bid to protect myself from harm, I've actually been putting myself in a precarious position.

That there is no such thing as protection. That life is not supposed to be hard. It doesn't have to be listening entirely to your own guidance. That it's okay to accept help and advice from other people. And that it's supposed to be easier that way.

I don't take anyone else's guidance when it comes to sobriety.

1) because I never think about it anymore so it's not necessary.

2) because I devised a method that works better than anything else I've ever seen.

Even if I did do it accidentally.

But that doesn't mean I have that knowledge in other areas. I do make mistakes when it comes to my own physical recovery. I do make life hard for myself by refusing to ask for help. I am healthy and strong now. But if I don't let people in? Then I won't be this way forever. I'll end up being physically disabled again.

And I'll have no one but myself to blame.

Accepting help doesn't make me reliant on other people. They aren't feeding me or dressing me. They are just helping to ensure no one will ever have to do that again. And it's the same with drinking. If you've tried it your way, and your way doesn't work? Swallow that pride and tell someone. Ask someone who has the answer. Nobody will think any less of you for it.

It's not supposed to be difficult. Life is not supposed to be hard. And guaranteed, the bit that we think is hard? Somebody out there is nailing it, effortlessly.

Sometimes all we need to do is ask the right person the right question in order to change.

It really is that simple.