I don’t normally speak about these issues, so this will feel like an avalanche of words.

I began using alcohol to an unhealthy level during the early 1990’s while finishing a difficult 4 year work project.

This went on for some time. I’ve known depression very well since being about 21. It’s uncomfortable and debilitating in the normal course of events, but I know now that it can become a terrifying illness for a time, requiring in my own case several months in hospital in 1984. In my own opinion it’s a physical condition. I’m perfectly certain of this. Which for me links in with a lot of stuff in the aftermath of the depressive illness. I think that studying had in the past been a kind of therapy. But round about 2004 I started to move over from academic pursuits to more physical things. Dance, for example. Ballroom, salsa and so on. Later, contemporary dance, street dance, line dance, western partner dance. It can be social… in the latter of these, I had a dance partner for about 6 years. In parallel with all this, I went to a nightclub for the first time at age 58. This mushroomed into an interest in going to all kinds of events all over the place; Leeds and Manchester are surprisingly diverse places. Alcohol was always present in the nightclub experience.

In 2011 I joined a gym with a friend; we started working towards the 2013 Half Marathon. The training was wholly incompatible with being dehydrated and feeling poisoned, so the alcohol had to be cut down. At the same time, I started to shift away from frequenting nightclubs and towards an increased interest in drug and alcohol free environments. There was no sudden change. I recall restarting an ancient interest in yoga, and then re-evaluating a similarly ancient interest in various forms of meditation. And I began going to various workshops, retreats and so on, which were quite new to me. And living in various communities. One thing kind of leads to another. For example at one dance group the djembe player also played at Kirtan (a singing of mantras), which I then went to. I then bought my own djembe, which is part of my daily practice.

For me the moving away from excessive alcohol was gradual, as a result of its being incompatible with several things which I began to value, then found invaluable. Such a thing is music… playing, practicing, learning, having a discipline, and belonging to music communities.