I read that Franz Wright just died, an amazing poet who won the Pulitzer. He had lung cancer and died at the age of 62, smoking from an early age. His work showed the agonizing pull of self-annihilation and self-preservation, a struggle I have faced on a daily basis for the last 25 years, since I was 18 yeas old.
Throughout his life, Wright struggled with alcoholism, drug addiction and manic depression, much like I have. I drank beer in excess starting at age 16, smoked my first joint a couple years later, and I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after my freshman year in College.
I smoked weed continually after the first hits I took, until last year when I was in my car accident and was diagnosed with three brain bleeds. I was a chain cigarette smoker, too, during the same time.
“I thought all adults were insane drunks and chain smokers” – Franz Wright said in 2004 to the New York Times
Throughout the last 25 years I have definitely been insane, manic and depressed, hospitalized for psychiatric reasons more than 12 times. But I’ve been clean and sober for almost 9 months now with no plans of going back to my up and down life.
“It doesn’t matter what it was – every drug that exists, any form of alcohol. All of a sudden I could talk to people, I was happy, I didn’t feel terrified, I was confident” – Franz Wright, in same interview
Wow. When I read Wright’s words in The New York Times yesterday, it truly hit home and brought back plenty of memories. In addition to marijuana I’ve snorted heroin, shot liquid Diladin, snorted Adderall, Percoset and Vicodin in excess, smoked methamphetamine, and more. Yet I’m still alive, lucky father of two singular and beautiful daughters, and I have Cindy. Whew…
I’m also finally off cigarettes for 9 months, sucking on Camel snus in its place, and hopefully I’m done smoking tobacco as well. We’ll see.
My life has definitely changed for the better since my accident. It’s been a daily struggle. I spent the first several months after leaving the hospital last year in bed, awake and at times wishing I had died in my car. The last couple months I started truly getting better. Keeping my fingers crossed.
Hopefully my ongoing recovery will one day be an example for anyone suffering from the same. Maybe one day I’ll be giving talks to high school kids, I don’t know. But I’m a survivor. Nothing is as easy for me as it once was, but I’m learning new “tricks” every day. I love you Emma, Abby & Cindy. Thanks for everything.