Joe Walker: Drinking to Oblivion
A few months ago I watched Louis Theroux's doco : Drinking to Oblivion.
I watched a young man Jo Walker (my age) destroying himself with booze. Not just your typical weekend binges either, day drinking, half naked on the street covered in blood type drinking. My heart wept for him.
Lovely, vulnerable, lonely, lost, sensitive and sad Joe. Desperate to be normal but more desperate to be loved. It killed me to see him in so much pain. Pain that he had never really learned to deal with properly, pain from losing a relationship, pain from not getting the job he really wanted. Not knowing that there is always a better day around the corner, he felt hopeless and helpless. Picking up vodka which slowly became his sole companion.
And, I wonder how much of this pain came from him being male. Something I am particularly passionate about and something I wish we could have a giant revolution in. Men, listen up - it is ok if you are not ok. Yesterday, I was cruising through Facebook and on every mental health blog I follow there was spiel after spiel about our growing suicide rate in NZ (announced yesterday by the Chief Coroner). And, I can tell you, the reactions were spewing vitriol - at a system being ignored, nurses and doctors under stress and funding being cut left, right and centre. Systems that live in FEAR of what will be in the papers the next day. This has to STOP. It is beyond a problem, it is a war, a silent war, raging and blowing catastrophe into homes all across the country. Yet, we're forced into silence, do not mention it, don't talk about it, don't air your dirty laundry in public. Well tough, I have mentioned it. Suicide, male mental health, alcohol, addiction, there I said it all. Tough subjects? Tough. We have to start talking about this, we have to get real. Our lives are getting busier and busier, we are more in demand than we ever could imagine. We are more vulnerable to outside pressures, we're all competing against each other, who's wealthier, who's busier, who's more successful?
Ruby Wax said that at the moment 1 in 4 adults are affected by mental health problems at some point in their life. I have this theory that we're heading to more, much more. If we're not there already. Men tend to stay silent, stoic, 'strong' and in turn don't get the help they need. Which in some tragic cases leads to suicide. It should not be that way, if we are closer and closer to more of us suffering then speaking up should be compulsory. Stay standing, stay upright, stay alive, make it clear that the way we are right now is just. not. good. enough. Our services are under pressure, our nurses and doctors are under pressure and on top of it all, in my opinion it is not being taken seriously enough by people at the very top. Not in the slightest. Part of having Sergeant Calm up and running was for me to have a voice, to make it ok to talk and I will keep doing this until the day I die.
I'm sorry, I've digressed what originally drove me to write this post was the fact that I saw a news article about Joe from 'Drinking to Oblivion', he is alive, well and sober 8 months after the doco originally aired. He truly exposed his darkest scariest demon, in fact he said it himself - he was so bad that he actually wanted to be filmed at his worst, to blow the doors wide open, screaming for help.
It's an extreme case of falling to your knees in mercy and I'm not for one moment saying that it has to be quite that dramatic. But, if you need help, if you are stuck in a spiral of addiction, ruminating suicidal thoughts, dark, dark days. Keep asking, keep trying, keep looking for that help. Their are people who care deeply and resources or not, you can live a better life.
Men, women, kids, male, female, ask for help, do not rest until someone listens. Let's change the world together.