I was going to write about the pressing matter of the brand new single but I feel I need to get this all out there instead.
For years, since before i can remember i have lived with an alcoholic dad in my life. My mum parted ways with him when i was a baby to protect me from it growing up (The strength that must’ve taken is unfathomable) but I still saw my dad regularly as a kid, having divorced parents didn’t really affect me much as i didn’t know any different. Most of the memories of my dad when I was very young are of him sober and we had well, just an awesome Dad and daughter relationship. I absolutely idolised my dad as a kid. He was free spirited in a bit of a ‘Del boy’ kinda way. He was kind, funny, extremely intelligent (he has food hygiene and safety qualifications coming out of his ears including a masters degree in Science) and of course he spoilt me rotten. Naturally there are the odd broken memories of my dad drunk but it wasn’t until i was old enough to understand the seriousness of the issue of alcoholism that it really started to hit home.
I’ve watched my rock and hero of a dad fight this vile illness over and over again throughout my life so far. For a short while it looked positive that he could triumph over this sickness but alas it got him in its grip again and I’ve had to watch over the past 8-10 years as it’s grip’s gotten tighter and tighter.
After years of trying to help him, nurse him, clean him, feed him, file missing person reports when he’s gone missing, aide him through rehab, get him through detox after detox, support him through short periods of sobriety, none of us (his family) could do any more. My step mum has been the main rock and has tried and tried to help him but eventually and naturally she couldn’t carry on living her life with my dad in it without it sending her into a deep dark depression. You see, addiction doesn’t just affect those who have it, it affects and destroys everyone around it. Emotionally and physically, it fucks you. When you love someone so much, you’d put your life on the line for them but knowing there’s jack shit you can do, unless they help themselves is absolutely heartbreakingly devastating. You feel constantly sick and ill with worry. You can’t sleep, you can’t eat, one minute you feel angry and frustrated to hell, the next sobbing in an emotional ball of a mess. You feel like screaming in the street, “Someone just make them stop!!”, it affects your work, your home life, relationships, life in general. Watching someone you care for so deeply and unconditionally slowly killing themselves only to have them act as if they don’t even acknowledge your pain or everything you’re trying to do to help; Kids, parents, partners…..doesn’t matter, you’ll always come second to the cravings (addiction is a monster of selfishness). Then there’s the darker side of what the addict becomes when under the influence. For us It’s like something out of the exorcist, the change in my dad is that horrific. I honestly wouldn’t wish any of it upon my worst enemy.
There are so many stories and incidents that have occurred, they are too many to write here today so let’s talk about where we are now. We, (my step mum, uncle, husband and a family friend) had to intervene and get an ambulance recently (September) to save Dad’s life as he was laid up in a studio flat (his new dwellings since his divorce had come through in April/May). Now when my dad drinks, he’s the type of alcoholic who can’t physically stop on his own once he starts. His body craves it and needs the alcohol so strongly that were he to stop abruptly, his body would go into shock and he’d die. Unfortunately as he drinks and drinks, his other usual bodily functions go awol. He doesn’t eat, hardly drinks any water, eventually he can’t walk as he deteriorates more and more, week after week. Because he can’t walk, he then can’t get to the toilet, can’t exercise so that leads to everything from bed sores to muscle wastage and naturally a huge build up of bacteria…….that is how I found my dad those few weeks ago. Lying in a literal pool of his own excrement on a broken filthy couch with a filthy duvet over him. A bucket full of fag butts and sick sat next to him in a flat that looked and smelt like a scene set out of trainspotting. Naturally our main concern was the bed sores as if septicaemia were to kick in he’d be done for. Short of it is, We got there just in time and off to hospital he went and began his next detox. We’d saved his life yet again and yet again the whole “Please don’t drink again, please get help” conversations flowed once he was through detox.
Several weeks later and my dad is deep in the midst of another relapse. A few weeks back, inside a cramped emergency B&B that the council had arranged as Dad was now homeless, It was strongly expressed to my dad that if he drank again, I would be pulled out his life and he would lose me as well as everything else. Neil (my other half), couldn’t bare to see me fall apart all over again. We had a holiday booked which couldn’t be cancelled and I had to leave for a week so I implored Dad to use the huge network of support he had to get well again. However, despite all of this and despite his promises, Dad went back on the drink.
I haven’t seen my Dad for 4 weeks now. I cut contact as I couldn’t let myself be dragged down in it all again. I feel horrifically guilty at times alongside the heartbreak. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. I also feel slightly hypocritical when I’ve said how selfish addicts can be, when I’m leaving him for my own sake however, if I didn’t pull away, it would have a detrimental effect on my own health, mentally and physically. I also have to remind myself, that Dad’s the one that’s actually left me. The second he put that drink to his lips, he left. I have to remind myself that I am not responsible for my Dad and his actions. He knew clearly, the consequences were he to drink again and he still chose to take that route. It kills sometimes to think, my own Dad didn’t even try for his own daughter’s sake. It’s like “Do you even give a shit about me one iota?!” But then it’s pointless even going down that thought route. My Dad is an addict. He can’t help it and it’s nothing personal (even if it feels like it at times). I am not an addict so I will never understand it from his point of view but from the outside looking in, I can see what this awful illness does to him. I also know that some people win against addiction and learn to live their lives without alcohol/drugs. I know that the addiction will never leave but it can be managed if you fight hard enough. I think the fact that Dad didn’t even try this time, that’s the killer.
I’ve been putting my full focus into MeMe Detroit to keep my mind occupied which has helped somewhat but even with that I’ve subtly noticed it affecting my work. I’ve been making the odd silly mistake during shows like at the last show, I swapped a different tuned guitar on the wrong song and only realised mid verse. I had to swap guitars back, tune the right guitar into a drop-d tuning whilst singing and playing the synth at the same time. I’ve never done anything like that before. Barney has noticed that I haven’t really been with it during shows. My playing is fine but he can see that my mind’s been kind of “Where are we, what am I doing next?”
It’s only the last fortnight or so that I’ve started to feel slightly better in myself without Dad in my life. I guess it’s the ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ thing. That sounds awful I know but I have been able to focus more on my life and with a slightly clearer head. Of course, my dad isn’t really out of my mind. I’ve thought about him every day but as the physical effects of addiction haven’t been right there in front of my eyes, it’s been easier to think positively and more clearly.
That was until yesterday…
Yesterday i received a phone call from Stratford council to say my Dad had spent the night on the street and had been picked up by the police. He’s suffering from severe diarrhoea and has no control of his bodily functions. An ambulance was called but after taking his vitals, deemed him not a priority to be taken into hospital. My dad is currently in desperate need of medical help and mental health help. We, his family have been rallying around with phone call after phone call to try seek help, even to the extent of possibly getting him sectioned. He’s at a high risk to himself right now. We had to file a missing person report last night and had a search on scouring the streets as we had no idea where he was, only that he’d been dropped back out onto the streets. Authorities via council had managed to find him a hostel but it was in Birmingham. My dad is in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Also, the diarrhoea was preventing my dad from travelling/even walking anywhere….. Yet we still couldn’t find him. Eventually he showed up on my step mum’s doorstep in the middle of the night. She can’t let him in as she’s now not mentally strong enough to cope with it. Not to mention how bad of an effect it would have on my 2 brothers who also live there. We’re all at a loss with what to do. He needs an urgent mental health assessment but they won’t do one if he’s drunk so he needs medical help to detox first. Not to mention the diarrhoea could be a sign of his liver packing in! Still all the paramedics saw yesterday, was a drunk that wasn’t in a life threatening situation(??)
The police and an ambulance have been called…again this morning. I just pray they get him into a hospital and detox him! This whole situation is so fucked up right now. My heart is telling me I need to hot foot it over to Stratford to try and talk some sense into my dad but I know what it will do….absolutely sod all. He’ll listen to his daughter, you’d think but no, it’s like talking to a solid steel wall when he’s under it. Nothing you say gets through and you come away an emotional wreck.
I never thought I’d see the day that my dad would drink himself out of a home, by the way, the council had arranged sheltered accommodation for him and he had a room in a nice house to live in the past few weeks. Naturally though he’s now lost that.
We’re going to have to take one day at a time and think nothing but positive thoughts of my dad using this as a wake up call. We’ve always said, we think he needs to hit rock bottom to jolt start him into getting well again. It doesn’t get more rock bottom than this.
The band has a big show in London on Friday where we’re playing the brand new single for the first time so the band’s rehearsal schedule this week is full on. Alongside that is all the admin work from the label side of things for the release. I love my dad beyond the realms of the universe but (as bad as it may sound to some) I have to make the single release and MD my main focus this week……Not only is it my career, my life but i have to……else I’d fall apart.
Addiction is a devastating illness to those with it and those around it. Although awareness around it is beginning to change, there is still a very wrong stigma attached to it. I strongly believe (in my Dad’s case anyway) that mental health issues are deeply connected and there needs to be more help, more awareness for mental health and it’s connection with addiction. Right now he needs to detox and then be given a full medical and mental health assessment but the ambulance service currently won’t take him in. It’s such a grey area when it comes to addicts and mental health. The police, paramedics, authorities are all restricted by what they can do. As it stands my dad is incapable of looking after himself and is a risk to himself but as long as he is drinking, the authorities won’t touch him. Something needs to change that’s for sure. I for one, will be putting positive focus on that change. The more people that understand it and learn about mental health issues and addiction, the easier it will be to make that change for the better. This is why i wanted to write this update. Please share this and share your experiences in the comments. Together we can rid the stigma attached to mental health and addiction for good.
*For anyone affected by addiction and/or mental health issues, reach out here:
National helpline: 0800 9177 650
Freephone crisis & support line: 0808 1 606 606
National charity working with families affected by drugs and alcohol