Battling alcohol addiction is not easy. Radio Africa Group Digital Editor Oliver Mathenge is a recovering alcoholic and has for the first time spoken about this addiction.
Oliver has marked 100 days ever since he stopped drinking alcohol and he has narrated his journey in a post titled “Once Upon A Bottle”
“So what happens after the 100 days are over?” was a question people kept asking me as I counted down the no alcohol challenge. To be honest, I still do not have a straight answer to this question because I do not have a plan. The key reason being that even the challenge was not a plan but just happened to be a decision made on the night on December
But even without that answer, I have a story. Not a story to shame anyone or me. Not a story to seek pity. But a story that has taught me valuable lessons that I am taking into the future.
FOR TWO YEARS, I STRUGGLED WITH THE URGE TO BE HIGH AND SINCE I DO NOT DO ANY DRUGS, ALCOHOL WAS A QUICK SOLUTION. I HAD GIVEN UP ON LIFE IN A MANNER THAT PUSHED ME TO ESCAPE REALITY AND SEEK TO AVOID EVERYDAY CHALLENGES. I COULD NOT SURVIVE A DAY WITHOUT ALCOHOL UNLESS I WAS TOO HANGOVERED TO GET OUT OF BED. IN BETWEEN THE DAY IN THE OFFICE, I WOULD GO OUT TO HAVE A FEW SHOTS OF WHATEVER DRINK I THOUGHT MY SYSTEM NEEDED. SOME FRIDAYS, DRINKING WOULD START AS EARLY AS MIDDAY AND WOULD SOMETIME GO ON UNTIL SUNDAY (YES, I WOULD SPEND TWO DAYS IN BARS LIKE THAT’S ALL ABOUT LIFE). I WAS A SLAVE,” HE WROTE IN PART.
Oliver Mathenge went ahead to explain how he would sneak out of his workplace before break times just to quench his thirst. He says he missed a lot of family activities and would spend more time at the bar.
“IT BECAME A ROUTINE TO LEAVE THE OFFICE AND GO TO THE BAR FOR A NUMBER OF BEERS AND SOMETIMES A BOTTLE OF WHISKY. I EVEN GOT TO WORK LATE ON SOME DAYS AFTER INDULGING IN A BIT TOO MUCH AND MY PRODUCTIVE NOSEDIVED. I MISSED MANY ACTIVITIES FROM FAMILY OBLIGATIONS TO BUSINESS MEETINGS. ONE MAY THINK THAT THIS IS SOMETHING NORMAL IN THIS DAY AND AGE WHEN PEOPLE SPEND MORE TIME OUTSIDE THEIR HOUSE – MOSTLY HAVING FUN. IT WAS NOT NORMAL FOR ME,” HE ADDED.
The Digital boss revealed how he messed up family and social relationships and sunk into deep debt.
“I WAS BREAKING DOWN. I MESSED UP FAMILY AND SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS. I WAS MESSING UP MY JOB (UNTIL GOD DECIDED I NEEDED GREATER RESPONSIBILITIES TO KEEP ME IN CHECK). I SUFFERED UNCOUNTABLE MELTDOWNS. I SUNK INTO DEBT (DEEP – AS IN DEEP TO HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS) AS I SOUGHT TO FINANCE A CHAMPAGNE LIFE ON BEER MONEY.
Oliver at one point in his life tried twice to take his own life and disclosed that he lost many friends as a result of his horrible habit.
“I TRIED TO TAKE MY LIFE TWICE (AGAIN, GOD HAD TO SHOW ME THERE WAS STILL A LOT TO DO ON THIS EARTH). I LOST FRIENDS BECAUSE I COULD NOT BE THERE FOR THEM UNLESS THERE WAS ALCOHOL INVOLVED. I ALSO HAD FRIENDS WHO WERE CHEERING ME ON AS I WASTED MY LIFE, WHICH WAS SEEMINGLY COMING TO A HALT. ALCOHOL TOOK A LOT FROM ME. IT TOOK CONTROL OF ME.”
“Sometime in mid-2017, I took the first step. I sought help not to deal with the alcohol dependency but to deal with a lot of anger, disappointment and resentment that I was harbouring towards life. It took a while to open up about what I saw was an “unfair” life. At the beginning of November, I was ready to make adjustments but it was the Drinksembar period, as we love calling it. That month, I was back at it. Running away from my responsibilities for the bottle. I was back at it. But this would not be for long as reality started hitting me again that this was what I was supposed to be putting aside. The plan from mid-2017 was to reduce the drinking and partying it was never to stop until that night on December 29th. This decision happened after two beers and a shot of Jager. I told myself that if I would go out on December 30th and 31st and not take alcohol, then I should not worry about starting the year sober. And it happened that I woke up on January 1 without having taken alcohol for two days and decided to challenge myself to another 98.
AND HERE WE ARE. 100 DAYS WITHOUT ALCOHOL. SO WHAT? ONE MAY ASK. WELL, I AM STILL RECOVERING. I AM STILL FIXING MY FAMILY AND SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS (AND BREAKING THOSE THAT ARE NEGATIVELY AFFECTING MY LIFE). I AM STILL WORKING TO ENSURE I DON’T FAIL IN MY JOB. I AM STILL RECOVERING FROM DEBT. BUT I AM DOING MORE GIGS THAN I DID IN THE PREVIOUS TWO YEARS. I AM PUSHING MILESTONES AT WORK. I AM EARNING MY RESPECT BACK. I AM HANDLING MY RESPONSIBILITIES BETTER. IN THE LAST THREE MONTHS, I HAVE DONE MUCH MORE THAN I DID IN TWO YEARS. I AM AT A BETTER PLACE WITH MORE CLARITY. I AM NOT YET THERE BUT I AM SURE THAT I WILL COMPLETELY RECOVER FROM MY ALCOHOL ADDICTION AND DEPRESSION.
I WILL BE A BETTER MAN. FOR NOW, CHEERS TO NOT BEING A SLAVE. AND IN ALL THINGS, WE GIVE THANKS,” HE CONCLUDED.
What an inspiring story!
Oliver Mathenge has also quit smoking and now uses a nicotine patch in a bid to finally kick the habit.