Death in the public eye

If you connect to any form of news media you cannot have failed to have heard about the untimely passing of the actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman.  Now I can’t really comment on his abilities as an actor, I’m not qualified and frankly I’ve seen some films with him in but can’t say I was a “fan” who’d seek out his work.

However I would like to say farewell and thank you to him. The story is a brief one, a man who had a drug habit and decided in his early 20s, smart man, to get out of that game.  Over 20 years sobriety/clean time – that take some effort my friends, I’m coming up to 10 years sober and that has required me to work at it.  I know others with 10, 20 etc. years clean/sober all of them have worked for it.  Then a slip – he picks up again.  He acknowledges this and goes off to rehab.  He is found dead probably from an overdose.

His story will be repeated over and over and over again – you get clean/sober something happens and you lose that precious ability to stop yourself saying “I need a drink/fix etc.  I’ll help me feel better… or I’ll be better able to cope with this stress… or I just want to fit in with these others..”  etc. there are as many “excuses” as there are addicts/alcoholics who fall off the wagon.

So I thank him – I’ve had people close to me who have dropped off their sobriety and then I hear that they are ill or dead etc.  I thank those too – they remind me that I can never take my sobriety for granted.  I’ve woken today with no intent to have a drink and no plan to have a drink.  Great!  I do not ever take that for granted – that thought could hit me out of the blue at any time on any day and I don’t have any real defence against it.  However all the work I put in is to try and live my life a different way now, process stuff inside of me my feelings and thoughts differently so that I don’t have one of the “excuses” appearing in my head in a way that is louder than than the voice saying “Hold on – you know you can’t drink safely.  You know only one will actually turn into only 17 in no time at all.  You know if you drink again there is no knowing where you’ll end up mentally and physically.”

So RIP Mr Hoffman but from me a huge thanks for today your death has not been in vain it has made me look at myself and say “There but for the grace of God … and actually how good is my sobriety – am I ok today”.

Also here is an honest interview with someone who knows a lot about addiction talking about his death.  I’m where I am today due to this man and many others.

PS – I acknowledge Dr Lefever’s concerns over anti-depressants but I have no opinion on that other than if you are on prescribed medication use it as prescribed, if you have an addictive personality and are concerned about your prescription medication talk to your doctor honestly about it.

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About furtheron

Music and guitar obsessive who is a recovering alcoholic to boot
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9 Responses to Death in the public eye

  1. byebyebeer says:

    The first movie I remember seeing him in was Boogie Nights, and he was brilliant in that. He played awkward, crippled souls so well. I didn’t know he was sober all those years, but somehow it doesn’t feel so powerful now. I’m really saddened – for him, for his young children, his family – but agree it’s a powerful lesson to take away. I hope it helps remind those who still struggle with the finality of their decision to quit. The alternative is quite serious.

    I look forward to listening to that interview later. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. fern says:

    I admit I live in a bubble because I knew nothing about the circumstances or life of PSH. Thank you for writing this post and attaching the video link. Now I’m in the know! I agree, it is a good reminder and I liked the way the dr on video described addiction.

  3. I am very angry with this guy. I know that’s not very understanding of me and sounds callous but here in the internet we get to say what we feel. He left children behind. He got paid mountains of cash to do what he loves. How many of us can say that? Damn few. And to throw it all away boggles my mind.

    • furtheron says:

      Now there is the difference between you and I. And fundamentally the difference between any addict and normal people. I’m sad that he threw it away not angry because I know I’m just like him and I could throw is away in an instant if I let my guard down since as an addict I’m programmed to screw up in the way he screwed up – simply he just got the dosage wrong that is it. He was medicating his disease in the easiest but riskiest manner. I could too. I could get up from here head for a bar and order a drink – you know as I type that it is still enticing. I know that is madness. I know sooner or later it’d kill me like it did this guy but deep down fundamentally it is my nature the madness of the addict is that it doesn’t matter once you step back over the line. People who don’t suffer won’t understand, just as I cannot understand those that can drink normally.

      • I know addiction is beyond my comprehension and, truthfully, I hope it stays that way. But I still get angry when I see this stuff happen. That’s my first visceral response. Here in NY, the keep running photos of him walking hand in hand with his kids in Greenwich Village. It just slays me.

  4. Elsie says:

    Newcomers and those who slip are painful reminders of where I came from. It scares me to pieces to know that my 20+ years of being sober can be gone with just the right (wrong) set of circumstances and an ill-fated stated of mind.

  5. I have been reading a lot about Mr. Hoffman and responding to articles, and I like this one here Graham because you talk about gratitude. A reminder that our sobriety is nothing to be taken for granted. I thank God every night for my sobriety, because I certainly didn’t remove that obsession to drink. Mind you, I need to do the work on it daily. And when I think things are starting to get me down, I think “at least I am sober” and if the best that I can come up with that day, then that’s what it is. Mr. Hoffman’s death is sad, as they all are. He just happened to be in the limelight. They are all that way – premature.

    thank you for this, Graham. Very much the tonic to the day.

    Paul

  6. daisyfae says:

    Very much appreciate your perspective, Graham. Like “Exile”, i have had a hard time shaking off the anger and frustration – one that seemingly has EVERYTHING finds that isn’t ENOUGH? But you’ve clarified and explained it… and like you, i’ve found the sadness, and gratitude that this is a demon that has passed me by. For now, anyway….

    • furtheron says:

      Steve Clark – guitarist with Def Leppard died in 1991. By 1991 I knew I had a major drink problem – that year with my son a year old I moved jobs. I could lie as I did publicly then and in the interviews etc. about what a great career move it was, I wanted to move from financial services to an industry (pharmaceutical R&D) which suited my morals better… blah blah blah… I moved jobs to be out of London, have to drive to work each day, a site that was out of town on a campus with no pub on the doorstep … those are the real reasons. I moved jobs because I was trying to control my drinking. I drank for another 13 years there is the fact. It just changed how I drank.

      Anyway 1991 – Steve Clark dies. He had it all, everything I told myself I’d been cheated out off through bad luck and that was why I drank. He was in the biggest rock band on the planet, had the looks, the long hair, the black Les Paul Custom … everything. He drank himself to death.

      Do you know what I honestly thought when I heard that. “I’d have done the same as him in his position probably”. I knew the reason he drank was he couldn’t cope he had to drink to cope like me. I couldn’t stop only when time and money curtailed it – imagine I was a millionaire star with people waiting on my hand and foot all day… holy cow… I’d drink myself to death. I could so relate to that there and then, I knew that day my drinking wasn’t ‘cos I was trapped in a 9-5 job with a young family, a wife, a mortgage and a car loan – it was because whatever my situation I was going to drink to have to cope.

      I knew I was an alcoholic that day… 2004 I finally gave into that. That is why I relate to these people – I’m the same as them, they are the same as me, we get it where others shake their heads in astonished disbelief at the shear madness of active addiction I nod mine in shared understanding.

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