Thursday, November 10, 2005

A Friend In Need

This isn't directly related to my competition, but in the hours I spend in the gym, I spend a great deal of time thinking about things. This is something that has dominated my thoughts for a while now.

I have been very concerned about a close friend of mine. In the years I have known him he has always been a consistent pot smoker. Now right off the bat I want to say that I have smoked pot. And have even done it excessively. It's no secret. There was a period of time where everyone in my group of friends were smoking like crazy. We all went to extremes. With time, more and more of them laid off and eventually stopped. I took longer than most to lay off due to my extreme depression at the time, and the fact that at I hadn't worked out in years.

As our friends one by one slowed down and eventually stopped, my close friend never lost his momentum, and continued to do it more, and more, and more. People usually laugh it off, when they come by and see how wasted he is. It seems to have become his role in life, and it is a very costly one to take on. In the last year he has now added alcohol into the mix. Something that was more of a rarity for him back in the day. Now it's daily. I spend a great deal of time with him, and can't help but count the excessive number of BONG hits, and drinks he mixes himself within a 3 hour span, and that's just on a weeknight. Should he be on vacation, or just have the weekend off, it's at least twice as much per day. I have seen a lot of people who smoke a LOT of weed, but I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have never met anyone who smokes as much as he does. The drinking on it's own would be bad, but in terms of quantity isn't a devastating amount, just consistent. But when you add it up with the amount he smokes it is a recipe for severe health issues, or even an early death.

I have tried to talk to him about it, but he generally thinks that I'm overconcerned. That he doesn't have a problem, and even more so, doesn't think he's doing any damage to his body. He's in complete denial over the whole thing. He thinks because he is in his mid-twenties that he can do just about anything to his body, and not suffer any long term effects. He thinks that if he lays off in his mid to late 30's he'll be fine. Which is just not true, and even if it were, why would he stop then? At the rate he's going, he'll be doing it all 3 times as much by the time he's in his 30's, and that's assuming he doesn't add something else to his repituare. He also thinks that I'm some kind of health nut now or something, and that I'm just preaching to him. He relies on caffeine drinks to supply him with his energy, and pretty much eats crap from morning to night. But I'm more concerned with the weed and alcohol than his diet.

Now in the last year I've witnessed a few separate incidents, where he would black out and collapse right in front of me. There was once where we were standing in my kitchen with a few friends, just standing there talking, and his eyes rolled into the back of his head, and his knees collapsed out from under him and he dropped to the ground SLAMMING his head on the kitchen counter on the way down. Naturally I freaked out. My brother and I got right down there and were trying to bring him to... I was 2 seconds from calling 911 when he came around, and he acted like it was no big deal. He said it was probably because he didn't take his multi-vitamin that day, and maybe he needed a Mountain Dew. Well I don't know many people who DO consistently take a mulit-vitamin everyday, and I don't see any of them passing out. I asked my father about it, and he believes that's a seizure of sorts. He's also done this in his own bathroom. I was over when he went into the bathroom, and then CRASH!!! I jumped up, and was banging on the door trying to get a response from him, and got nothing. I was once again 2 seconds from kicking the fucking door in, and then he responded. He had passed out again in there, and hit his head on the tub on the way down. If the substances don't kill him on their own, these subsequent blackouts might do it instead.

The worst was when he woke up in the middle of the night choking on a throat full of vomit. He jolted out of bed and said that the whole front of his bed was covered in puke, as well as all over the floor in FRONT of his bed, and he didn't remember vomiting at all. Now anyone else, this might scare the shit out them enough to take a look at what they're doing to themselves. He simply thought he should have kept it to 4 drinks that night instead of 5. That's all. No big deal. He's EXTREMELY lucky he didn't choke and die that night.

It was at this point that I couldn't take it anymore and had to talk to other friends of ours to try and find a way that we could all talk to him either as a group or individually, because I alone have not been able to make any progress. I think he needs to hear from people who have smoked heavily before, and stopped, and even from those who still smoke now, but just not as heavy as him. Every single person I've talked to about it, COMPLETELY shot the idea down, and those were the ones who even responded to my request. No one thinks he'll listen, no one thinks it will make a difference, they think because they haven't witnessed the events I have first hand, that they have no place to bring it up. Well I'll tell you right now, I ain't making this shit up. I wish more than anything it wasn't true. The other issue is that he does successfully maintain his job, pays his bills, and contributes to society. So in my friends eyes, he hasn't hit bottom yet. But it's just a matter of time. While he may maintain his job and all, his social life suffers for it. He is devoid of feeling any emotions other than the anxiety of getting through the day just to take that first hit, and forget about it all.

Now I agree that for him to get better, for him to get the help he needs, he has to want to get help. He has to recognize that he has a problem. But that's my whole point in trying to get people to talk to him. He thinks I'm full of shit, when I tell him he is going overboard, and he attributes it to me being some "health nut". He has shown disappointment in me for not continuing on the same path as him. He pities people who don't smoke everyday, because he assumes they hate their lives and are miserable otherwise. He needs to hear it from other people. That's the only chance he has. Ultimately he hates his life. That's why he feels the need to inebriate himself every free chance he can.

I was the same way.

When I was battling through the hardest time in my life, I was right on that line of wanting to die, but hadn't quite crossed it. The only thing that could ease the pain and anxiety I felt was to smoke. First thing in the morning to the last moment before bed. Really, it kept me from killing myself, but a point came where it had to stop. Me getting back into the gym was an intrical part in me kicking it.

What confuses me in our friends reaction to my concerns and requests for them to help me, help him, is that in the past few years none of them have ever thought twice about telling ME that I need help. That I need to talk to a social worker, or that I needed to stop smoking so much. Nobody ever hesitated to tell ME where to get off, and I think I'm someone who would be much more intimidating to talk to in that manner. I'm the one with the temper! But for my friend, everyone walks on eggshells. It hurts me, it saddens me, and it makes Holly just sick to see how chicken shit everyone is once again, in the face of a serious problem concerning a friend.

I have always said, that knowing someone has at LEAST tried to help, but failed, means so much more than them having not tried at all.

I was deprived of that in my time of need, I wish people could learn a lesson from that and use it to help our other friend. I don't want to be standing over his casket 10 years or less from now, knowing that the people who came over to his house so many times, who called him their friend, never even attempted to help him.

I have left him anonymous in this entry, but most who read this will know who I'm talking about. If he knew I wrote this, he may stop talking to me. But if someone doesn't step up to the plate here with me, and try to help, he'll be dead and won't be talking to me anyway.

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