IMG_4179My story is simple. Born and raised in the Big Apple, I started drinking at 10, drugging at 13 and gambling at 15. Partially trained by the mob and partially educated by Woodstock leftovers, I embraced the dichotomy. I also found myself bouncing up and down like a yo-yo as a late teen in what would years later be diagnosed as bi-polar disorder. My addictions and mental illness were allowed to run rampant and left untreated until the desperate stages. My career chase for the almighty dollar was always successful as well as provided the required juice to support the covert lifestyle of chasing bets and booze. I had a subtle yet persistent case of suicidal ideation running in the background of my recurring manic depressive episodes. A suicide attempt, too many to count institutionalizations, geographically scattered arrests and lengthy periods of homelessness were expected casualties to be tolerated and accepted as the price of admission to a life of self-inflicted pain.

Loss of family, jobs and possessions were met with a sense of relief and good riddance along with almost no apparent emotional consequence. Being aloof was even too much. A six way heart bypass operation was just a temporary respite in between bets and drinks in the Mecca of addictive behavior, Las Vegas, where I lived for decades. Diabetes was a nuisance equivalent to swatting a gnat and treated with more cigarettes.

My story of how I overcame being King of co-occurring disorders is not simple but it happened. There is hope. I no longer ponder the cause of my problems and no longer question whether the chicken or the egg arrived first. Did my mental illness cause my drinking and gambling? I treated each problem separately and methodically and yet together as well. I was aided by a plethora of giving souls including but not limited to military doctors and counselors, VA doctors and programs, private and public psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and spiritual advisors from every possible background. There were multiple and repetitive phases of 12 step development and an evolvement of spiritual understanding that forced me to redefine God.

I peeled the onion and chipped away at the mountain of despair one day at a time. My dual diagnosis was the key to figuring out my own struggle with all aspects of duality. My solution was spiritual and ultimately I came to a non-dual understanding of my true nature. Once I overcame the spiritual malady I straightened out mentally and physically. I treat my addictions, mental illness, chronic back pain, heart disease, diabetes and hypertension with little to no medication.

My life today is filled with peace and happiness. I am fulfilled because I investigate and celebrate my essential nature on a daily basis. I understand love to be a recognition of our shared being and pervades all experience. I am torn between the love of movement and the love of just being. Local travel and hobbies allow me the freedom to enjoy life where I connect with other recovering souls on a daily basis.

“Rocky Bottoms”