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Music, Mental Health & Addiction

I'm drawn to sombre, melancholy and quite haunting music in a way that transcends the cerebral and captures the heart. Having learned more about emotional sobriety and mental health awareness in the last few months has made me think of why I'm drawn to certain artist's. Suffering is a teacher of lessons I feel I should already know and wisdom is the patient parent always content with progress however minute.

I have often contemplated my purpose of existing. These thoughts have been compounded by experiences of disease, death and depression. However, I have always been protected by a sense of self preservation pertaining to the religious understanding of my Catholic upbringing. The soul being damned, not worthy even of a temporary foothold in purgatory, gave me the impetus to seek solace in alcohol. The jumping off point described in the Big Book of AA is where I was heading. An unenviable condition of experiencing life as excruciatingly unbearable without alcohol and contemplating oblivion in some form as to stop the incessant torture of the alcoholic mind.

After experiencing the depths of being emotionally unsober and the spiritual void created by the absence of feeling enough, worthy; I'm realising what place music has in being a cathartic vent and empathic pool to submerse into. A new oblivion in which to explore the realms of existentialism and maybe find the elusive purpose of all the why, what if and how come questions that flutter in and out of my mind without an anchor point.

I adore the Blues genre, steeped in endurance, resilience and dignity. Progressive rock from Fleetwood Mac to Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones all pay homage to the Blues and this is how I developed an appreciation of guitar based music.

The Manic Street Preachers created one of the most elaborate and disturbing albums in Rock history when they released The Holy Bible in 1994. Sometime soon I'll do an in depth review but I sometimes wonder how far down the rabbit hole I can venture.

I recently discovered Joy Division after seeing a photo booth photograph of their lead singer, Ian Curtis, taken a few days before he took his life. I have an interest in his lyrics and their album 'Closer' (1980) as I interpret it in terms of my experience with addiction.

Atrocity Exhibition

I'm aware that my grandmother was taken by her step-mother as a child to peruse the dead for entertainment. Rigor mortis would set in and bodies would become animated, sitting up and expelling air from decaying orifice's. This song is luridly alluring with its beckoning to follow the narrator inside to spectate anguish. In contrast to my Grandmother's macabre visits as a child, the listener is invited to witness damnation in the flesh, writhing without dignity or hope. Genocide gathers momentum and possibility when humanity watches with indifference; our own mortality and certain demise unrivalled even by mass destruction. The human spirit shatters into slithers of obsidian splinters causing wounds that are cauterised by ignorance.


The bassline on this track incessantly carries the listener like a juggernaut that's slowed down just enough to allow an insight into the despair of disconnection. The alcoholic suffers from a hundred forms of fear, perpetual anxiety leading to strained and skewed yearning for rest and peace from the four horsemen, terror, bewilderment, frustration and despair. God is love, Grow Or Die and if we surrender to self in an attempt to preserve the status quo we seal our fate. Ignorance is a blindness that is perfectly agreeable in the moment but causes shame and regret in its destruction. Generational guilt manifests itself in this realm of don't knows and why, but when a diseased elder gifts a legacy of anger, resentment, hatred and bitterness I become ashamed of my experience and how it shaped me into becoming the personification of isolation. Alas, there is hope, the promises materialise sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, they will always materialise if we work for them. I just need to see the beauty in the day we line in, a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of my spiritual condition.


Trying to keep equilibrium as an alcoholic is an inevitable crisis. The elusive balance becomes an even heavier counterweight against change. Whether this is in terms of attempting to drink like a gentleman, controlled and reserved or trying to accept the onslaught of excruciating withdrawals. Capitulating and bracing, tense. Tersely I accept the next few days will be horrendous with either sunburst or void on the descent into sobriety once again.

An alcoholic has a responsibility to treat the condition and not retreat into the oblivion whence they came. Ignorance is a cloak of self deceit worn by a traveller unaware of their blinkered and doomed trajectory. Sobriety is vulnerable to disturbances. Chasms filled with hurt emanating from relentless fear. Embers glow with resentment and shame, furnishing a hellish existence for an alcoholic that will become their biggest asset in recovery, if they survive.

Observing examples of spontaneous lasting cessation is frustrating in the extreme for an alcoholic. The brutality of time, it's merciless ebbing away of a person until their demise is either prevented by miraculous intervention or they're martyred to facilitate the salvation of others. Proceeding with life on life's terms is keeping on track, the clickity clack of a sole and soul journey. Continual traumatic indulgence is the maladjusted person's way of returning to the scene to survey, reminisce and grieve. A sense of dread tinged with hope waiting for acceptance.

The perpetual cycle of addiction has an exit but it's a bit like stepping off a moving train onto the platform, unless you wait. The cycle of change begins with ambivalence.


Churning stomach, racing thoughts, God's plan is to guide the alcoholic towards Fellowship, community and sanctuary.

A Means to an End

Recovery is something that some alcoholics never grasp, some accept it through trial and error and others embrace AA with so much fervour that they're spiritual awakening is wondrous. One day at a time we get a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Dependence on alcohol now becomes dependence on God as we're taken by the hand and learn to understand. Canine's devouring scraps and vultures consuming rotten flesh is symbolic of alcoholism's depths of depravity. A human being reduced to scorned anguish is a candidate to follow in the steps of St Francis and Step 11 is encapsulated in this prayer;

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace! That where there is hatred, I may bring love. That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness. That where there is discord, I may bring harmony. That where there is error, I may bring truth. That where there is doubt, I may bring faith. That where there is despair, I may bring hope. That where there are shadows, I may bring light. That where there is sadness, I may bring joy. Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort, that to be comforted. To Understand, than to be understood. To love, than to be loved. For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life. Amen.”
1 Corinthians 15 10: But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

There but for the grace of God go I. The promises will materialise, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, they will always materialise if we work for them

Heart and Soul

Tussling between the heart's desire and the salvation of the eternal soul. Just one more drink, the obsession of the alcoholic mind.

“ you think if you died drunk you’d sober up before you met Jesus?”

― Cormac McCarthy, The Passenger

An out of body experience, it's often a mystery how alcohol has came into the possession of the alcoholic. Cunning, baffling and powerful; alcoholism will break your heart and consume your soul and both will burn unless there's a profound change.

The void mocking civilisation, a tiny window of existence before the absorption into the ether. Terror, bewilderment, frustration, despair and death galloping beyond good and the grasp of a mercenary hand is one you can trust because the hand of AA is offered by a person free of the bondage of self.

“To be, or not to be? That is the question—Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And, by opposing, end them?”

― William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Twenty Four Hours

One day at a time.

If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps.”

― Alcoholics Anonymous

The Eternal

A sombre, melancholy ambiance emerges like a vaporous murk carrying dread filled messages steeped in sorrow. Imminent destruction meaning change or nothing.


Harpsichords and ancient percussion softly allow a voice to herald a stark message. The burden of experience etched on the alcoholic's face like battle scarred henchmen of King Alcohol prepared to die in the pursuit of oblivion, not knowing that happiness, joyousness and freedom tragically eluded them.

"Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them."

― Alcoholics Anonymous, p124

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