I’m writing this during the week of Robin Williams’ death.  Like lots of other people, I am deeply saddened.  On many different counts – his death, his courage,  his emotional storms and addictions; how much his sheer chutzpah and energy will be missed.  I’ve just heard that he was in the early stages of Parkinsons.  How much can one human cope with?

I’m in long term recovery, and recently celebrated 18yrs sobriety.  For many more years than I care to remember, I lived as if I was confident – could handle anything and everything – “I can do that, here – let me, I’m fine, I’m a coper”.

I became an alcoholic, using alcohol to prop myself up. It gave me an appealing scaffolding structure on which I displayed my prowess as a confident, handle-everything woman.

There was no obvious cause or reason to the alcoholism.  I had a wonderful childhood, a blessed family experience, many glorious opportunities.  But somewhere along the spectrum I lost belief in myself, in my abilities, skills and gifts.  All of which I hid beneath a layer of uber-confidence, helped substantially by a liberal and increasing doses of alcohol.  There was a huge gap between my own inner awareness and the outer display.  Over time, I became ever more terrified of being found out, uncovered as a fraud.

Until, with John’s love and support, and several recovery attempts, I checked into St Patrick’s Hospital, Dublin to begin my recovery.

I still have times of depression, although less frequent since I’ve included mindfulness and meditation in my daily goings.  I also release myself from the tyranny of perfectionism – an ongoing quest.

To quote a coach friend, Clare Myatt, also celebrating long-term sobriety: No-one asks to be born with a pre-disposition to any disease – whether diabetes, cancer or alcoholism – but that’s the way some people arrive. They may not be responsible for the disease they have, but once they have it, they are (I believe) responsible for taking care of it.

Mental health problems like addiction and depression sometimes can’t be seen, and they can affect anyone.  It’s estimated that 1 in 4 adults experience at least one diagnosable mental health problem in any one year.  (Mindwise Northern Ireland).

If you, or somebody you know, has been touched by depression or addiction – please know that it’s possible to stop the spiral. Ask for help.  If you know somebody who you suspect is in this situation, ask them if they’re ok.  Gently.

There are so many organisations offering help.  Start with Samaritans:  www.samaritans.org. Tel: 028 9066 4422 or 08457 909090.  They will be able to guide you unconditionally in finding the best kind of help.

Thankyou, Robin Williams.   You’ve inadvertently helped thousands of people.  You’ll never know how you’ve helped me, and countless thousands of others.  As a consequence of your courage, I can proudly stand and say “My name is Trudy, I am a capable, caring, compassionate woman, who happens to have a life-threatening problem that once had me”.

Bless you Sir. May you find peace. And may your new companions enjoy and love you as much as we all have. Thankyou.

Contact:  trudy@trudyarthurs.com / 07810 511 600

© Dancing Leopards Ltd August 2014