The monster of addiction

If you follow this blog or have read my book you will know that I am a recovered alcoholic. Which means I no longer have the mental obsession to drink or drug. I have been freed from my alcoholic syndrome and live a meaningful life.

Alcoholism is usually on my radar as I work with chronic alcoholics and show them the same path out which I, and millions of others have taken over the last 80 years. And if you are inflicted with obsessive drinking please reach out. I’m happy to help.

I have recently been looking at my past and what made me cross the line into chronic alcoholism. Before then I was a hard drinker with mental health problems such as borderline personality disorder. I was a self harmer and crashed around in unhealthy relationships. The only real stable relationship I had up until now was to my previous wife, but I walked out on her as my need to drink became paramount.

Alcohol consumed me and led me down a hellish path of suicide ideation and mental health disorders. My first shot at sobriety was when I was 30. I was living in New Zealand and contemplating suicide. I had lost everything worthwhile in life and didn’t understand why I couldn’t quit the booze. I was full of self hatred and was racked with guilt. It was then, by meeting other Alcoholics that I began to understand the cause of my obsessive behaviours around drink.

Resentment was at the core of my drinking which itself was just a set of two symptoms, a mental obsession and a physical craving beyond my control when I started to drink. I had to somehow master resentment. It was another six years before I would find permanent sobriety and freedom from anger and fear. In those six years I went back down the path of mental health teams and anti-psycotics. Mentally unstable and emotionally bankrupt before I discovered a solution.

Resentment is the number one offender when it comes to addiction. Anger suppressed, whatever the cause or justification fills us with a spirit of darkness. We begin to lose our way in life as we grow ever more selfish and self centred. We become subject to the monster. In the end it owns us and the only relif we get from it is by drinking alcohol or abusing drugs. Eventually we cross the line to the point that no human power can save us. The solution has to be bigger than us and metaphysical in nature. Only light can drive out darkness.

I look back at my destructive past without fear of ever returning. My story has become useful when I comes to dealing with others who are locked in the dark. It is my most valued possession. More-so because I also know the way out.

If you are struggling with drink or drugs I can help you by showing you the way out. There is also a free meditation practice that will help you overcome the darkness by becoming aware of the light. Nothing has improved my life more than non contemplative meditation. It has given me the basis of faith on which my recovery stands.

I am grateful for the life I have now, no longer plagued with resentment and fear and building resilience to stress I have found a way into the light. And this solution is available to anyone who is willing to commit to a life of spiritual growth and to live under the principles of love and patience. Here is the link for the free meditation. It really is a life changer.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

And breathe

I am finally out of the dark and am experiencing lower pain day’s. I feel mentally back on track with a much more positive mood. It’s times like these I make the most of my day’s, everything is less of a struggle and i’m reconnected to life after a bad run of mental and physical pain.

My cocktail of medications have finally kicked in after months of tweaking and after a consultation with the pharmacist I am feeling more comfortable with the medications I am taking.

My family life and work are now easier to deal with and I am enjoying both. I am nowhere out of pain but the levels are low. In my back I feel a deep vibration, almost like an electrical current. And my face and head pain has been reduced to sensations. Like crawling under the skin. It’s much better than the electric shocks and burning that i have been experiencing for the last few months.

As a result of low pain my mental health has much improved. The cloak of deppresion has lifted and the hallucinations and voices have fizzled down to manageable levels. I almost remember what it was like before the accident. Meditation has been the tool that has helped me rediscover lost consciousness. I feel awake again.

I know it won’t last but I am not in negativity about the inevitable storm that’s ahead. CPS is a phantom beast. It has given me a break where I can breathe and live again. And whilst my pain is low I can do life with gratitude. And I am thankful for this break and opportunity to be present with my family.

Here’s the free meditation link that has completely changed my approach to dealing with the pressures of life and fatherhood.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

2021 Reflection

As a new year begins it’s a good time to reflect on the past twelve months. Not to fall into worry or elation, simply to see if I am living up to the principles that I set myself.

It’s been an up and down journey, some I have struggled with. Living with chronic pain has changed the way I parent. Trips out are depending on my pain levels on that day. It’s just another thing to factor into our days. For the most of it I have just wanted to rest at home. My part time job tires me out and with bouts of self pity I have sunk pretty low mentally.

I have experienced deppresion again, especially when I slipped two discs in my lower spine. I was off work once again and feeling the pressure of financial problems. But life is what it is. I have had to adapt to a new me and stay out of resentment in the process. Meditation and faith have kept me afloat. My wife never worries about me, she knows I always pull through.

We just celebrated 7 years of marriage

As for my family, they are thriving. Stacey is enjoying her volunteering, working with new mum’s. She loves babies and is a natural when It comes to dealing with them. And to our four girls there couldn’t be a greater mother. Her intuition blowes me away. I still follow her lead as a father, she knows how they tick.

The triplets are enjoying school which makes life easier, and it gave Stacey free time for the first time since they were born. They are growing as individuals now and have strong personalities. Ava is a real help and a mother hen to her sister’s, she’s a real mummies girl. Lacey is cheeky and has a wicked streak at times, she’s quite attached to me, if she’s upset she mostly wants dad hugs. Blakely is unique. She has a very different personality to her sister’s. She will happily play on her own and isn’t bothered who’s lap she parks herself on.

Frankie is a typical teenager who hides out in her bedroom. We do see her occasionally, like over Christmas. She is also doing well with her school work. She’s matured so much over this last year. I’m incredibly proud of her.

The stream of life keeps going and I do my best to navigate myself and my family through the stressful times. As dad it’s my job to bring strength and stability. If I’m doing my job everything falls into place under my roof.

I love being a family man. It’s the greatest gift a man could ever have. And it’s a privilege to be a father to my girls and a husband to my beautiful wife. I feel like I’m doing okay. We have a roof over our heads and food on the table. My girls want for nothing so in many ways I have only gratitude each day that I experience real love.

I’m a blessed man.

Happy new year

Wishing everyone the best for 2022. The stream of life will bring joy, pain, ups and downs, things that don’t make sense and things that will move us. Be awake to it, be present in every moment. You have an opportunity to learn from it all and be a light for those still lost in the darkness of themselves . Be patient, be tolerant, be kind to all. The toughest people I’ve met are those who love without reward and live without fear. We’re all here for a reason.

Love

Happy new Year and God bless x

Merry Christmas

This has been a particularly challenging year on the parenting front aswell as the pain. But we made it. As a father l look back at the year with a sense of hope. In that my daughters are growing into confident and for the most, kind and caring little girls. I couldn’t be prouder.

The curly mops

Frankie has also done some serious growing up this year, she happy and enjoying her teenage years. My wife Stacey has had a busy year and is now a fully trained breastfeeding pier support worker. She works for a charity in our local area helping new mum’s out. She even organised a fund raiser recently. I am also proud of her and her efforts.

We have made to celebrate Christmas with Stacey’s family. It’s a busy house, especially with the triplets so excited about Christmas this year. They are still hard work, but we continue to rise above the challenges together. With love and patience at the centre of our home.

A natural mother

My hope for the new year is that we keep moving forward as a family. That we overcome the inevitable challenges and pressures that come with multiples. And I wish a merry Christmas to you. May your new year be filled with moments of love and joy. And that you get a little bit of what you want and all you need x

Nativity

This week, after weeks of practicing at home our girl’s school class put on their nativity. We were interested to see how they reacted in front of a big audience. Thankfully they loved every minute.

Ava was a shepard, lacey an angel and little Blakely was a camel. They all sang beautifully and danced, all with confidence. They all played their parts with big smiles on their chops.

Ava

I am very proud of them all. It can be scary to perform in front of a lot of people.

Lacey

It was lovely to see them so exited. They have been looking forward to it.

Blakely

I love that schools still keep the tradition of the nativity alive. It is after all the true meaning of Christmas.

We have so many great memories of our girl’s already, the many milestones they have reached over the last four years. Their first nativity is something we will always remember.

They continue to learn at a fast pace. They enjoy school and learning and are always excited to show us what they have been up to during the day.

We were lucky we were able to attend the nativity with all the Covid-19 restrictions coming into place. Now we are just going to enjoy Christmas as a family. After the last year we have earned some joy. And for me I am praying for low pain day’s without any hospital visits or bad flare ups. My fingers are crossed.

I hope you are all getting into the Christmas spirit without too much stress. May you enjoy this time of year.

The weight

It feels like a while since I wrote a positive post. Between CPS flare ups, slipped discs and now a stomach bug I’ve been feeling the weight lately. I’m run down, tired and feeling out of sorts.

The triplets have also been ill with bugs and bad chests. They have been up throughout the night so Stacey and me are both overtired and in need of rest. Dealing with three ill little girls is never easy. They can be hard enough to deal with when they are fit and healthy.

Truth

But we are through the worst of it. I returned to work this week thankfully. My back is getting stronger everyday. I will soon be back to just dealing with CPS pain. I still find it hard at times to compute that I will be in pain for the rest of my life. Some days I’m more accepting of it than others. Some day’s it brings me to tears but I can’t let it overwhelm me, I just deal with a day at a time.

On the plus side we are looking forward to our annual trip to Stacey’s parents house for Christmas. We have our decorations up which always brings a sense of comfort to our home. Since becoming a dad I love Christmas, the joy and excitement it fills the girls with is priceless. They will be writing their letters to Santa this weekend. There is a real buzz around our house now.

I must remember that Christmas is a time of forgiveness and I need to let go of the frustration and anger I feel towards myself at times. There is nothing wrong with self care if ultimately it benefits another and I need to take care of myself in order to take care of my family. I’m tired of feeling the weight of bad health now. It’s time to pick myself up and get back to life.

Guilt

I have dedicated much of my time to writing about overcoming mental health. And since recovering from alcoholism and BDP symptoms eight years ago I have been in a position to share my experience and to help others. I also write a weekly blog post for the Central Pain Syndrome Foundation. A non profit charity supporting sufferers of a brutall nerve condition with no cure. I was diagnosed myself in 2019.

I have found it incredibly difficult to adapt. From writing about how to overcome depression to then begin to experience symptoms of it myself put me in an awkward position. As a father I also had to adapt to new limitations as I fought to get my chronic nerve pain under control.

Big responsibility

This is an honest blog and the truth is that I have struggled to deal with parenting and chronic pain. I have experienced a lot of guilt and frustration over the last few years. Mostly I have grappled to support my family which with much absence from work has been hard to say the least. All I wanted to do as a man was work hard and support my family and to build a life for us.

I have had to accept and understand that financial support is just a small part of what I can achieve as a parent. A more important show of my role is to raise my family in a home of love. To teach my daughters kindness and how to forgive – to be free from anger is the greatest gift I can pass on before anything else.

Carrying the weight

Even though I have physical limitations now I can still be a kind, loving parent. Through improving myself mentally and spiritually through meditation I can bring emotional stability under my roof. And my girl’s are happy. We have a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. I have no reason to feel guilt.

It serves no use to sit in self pity. As much as I feel the pull of negativity I cannot let it overwhelm me. I have a job to do. My family need me solid mentally, and to be able to meet the stresses of life as they crop up. So as long as I can still meditate I have a chance to survive central pain syndrome and not let pain define me. Then guilt is just another emotion I need to be watchful of.

Women & weak men

There was a time I was an over emotional boy in a mans body. I needed attention and validation to keep my self esteem up. I needed to be constantly pampered and resented women who didn’t treat me as a I expected to be treated. Girlfriends and friends alike. I was a weak man. Unable to function without what I perceived as a woman’s love.

The problem with being a resentful mummies boy is that it doesn’t make the basis of a healthy relationship. Some women buy into the act, touched by the needy personality. But it doesn’t last. Strong women don’t put up with it for long. Becoming an emotional crutch for a man’s emotions breeds resentment. Him for not getting his ego stroked, and her for refusing to pamper to his needs.

As men we have a definite role to play in a relationship. And it is to be emotionally strong. Women appreciate a man who can stand on his own two feet. Who can manage without the constant need for approval.

Approval and love are not synonymous. I learned this the hard way. Needing approval is just that. It is born out of resentment and fear for failing to get a woman’s love somewhere along the line. Whereas love is free from all emotional entanglement. To love is to live in a state of ready forgiveness, to live without expectation and to treat another with respect.

Some couples though thrive on the drama the emotions bring. They feed off each others emotional failings. We all know the type. They become tied by resentment. As sick as their relationship may get they always gravitate back to each other. They are under a spell – driven by overthinking and over emotional responses. I have been in those relationships in the past. Hating my partner for not receiving the love I felt I deserved and her sick with control over me. I was as weak as they come.

A real loving relationship is based on a mutual respect. A conscious awareness of each other that doesn’t overstepped boundaries. I trust my wife completely and she trusts me. There is no resentment between us because we don’t allow to fester. We talk our problems through without fear or rancour. I have had to learn to do this and it hasn’t always been easy. My ego crops up at times with old thinking that I have to keep in check.

Weak men rarely survive their families. These are the men that are always seeking attention, cheat and fail at their responsibilities. They are dishonest and resentful towards the opposite sex. And because of this they will continue to sink further in their need for validation. And they will always be able to find it because there are weak women too.

Providing the principles of love and tolerance

As men we tend to sit in the dark with our problems.  We work, take care of our families and do what we can to stay strong mentally and physically. We have a definite role to play. But life can also wear us down. Relentless routines can stress us out as we do what we can to deal with work and home-life.

I have always taken my job as a parent very seriously. I have been the main bread winner whereas it has been my wife’s role as as a stay at home parent to deal with the daily chores at home. We have always had the agreement that she does all the washing and house work so it’s my job to cook each day. It’s an agreement that works for us.

But over the last three years since the accident, things have changed drastically for us. I no longer work full-time which has affected us financially and has also affected me mentally. I had the rug pulled out from under me. No longer able to earn as I once did, I can no longer provide for my family as I had been doing previously.

Going back a few years, when we realised we had triplets coming I began having little nagging fears, such as how would we cope if because of – perhaps due to illness – I could no longer work full-time and take care of us financially. A week off work with a chest infection in the first year of them being born caused us a financial set back and led me to experience how difficult life would be with less earnings coming in each month.

When that fear became a reality I sank into a depression. I got caught up in the dire reality of my situation and felt the frustration from my wife as I struggled to hold up my end of the bargain. I used to write about the importance of a man’s ability to provide for his family, now I was thrown into a position where I could no longer do that.

We had to accept charity in my first month’s of being off work undergoing medical tests. It was a crushing blow to my self esteem. It drove my depression further. I no longer knew myself and had to somehow change my whole perception, outlook and view on life and how I lived it. A diagnosis at a year into my chronic pain condition brought some relief. Being an invisible illness caused some suspicion from friends and family. But that releif did little to help my situation and home-life.

It has been three years and in that time I have settled into part time work that is less physically and mentally stressful. Working within the same company I am grateful to still be in employment. And with help from the government we still have a roof over our heads and food on the table. But my mental health is still a problem with little resolve.

As I write this I am now dealing with two prolapsed discs in my lower spine. I am off work again. The point is that I cannot take anything for granted. Life throws us curve balls and we may not see them coming. It is still our jobs as father’s to provide for our families. If not financially as we would like we can be still be of use.

The most important job as a dad is to provide for our families. No matter what life is throwing at us we can still be mentally strong for our partners/wives and children. It is that strength that is of most importance. My children need stability from me. I see this now more than ever as I deal with physical disabilities. I need only to ask myself this.’Am I practising patience and tolerance around them?’ Am I providing mental stability so that they are growing in a family with love at the centre?’.

And my love, mental and spiritual strength will always be the most important things I can bring to my home. My wife also needs me grounded in these principles for when I am practicing these simple things I am providing things that money cannot buy.  We have a roof over our heads and food on the table. We have a home of laughter and joy and my children are growing with confidence. There is nothing more we need.

We are a family that love each other and in the end – that is all that counts.