Public Health Insight

Tripolar: The Story of a Bipolar Triathlete - Lived Experience of Tim Davis (Part 1)

November 24, 2020 PHI Productions
Public Health Insight
Tripolar: The Story of a Bipolar Triathlete - Lived Experience of Tim Davis (Part 1)
Show Notes Transcript

In previous Public Health Insight Podcast episodes, you may have learned about opioids, harm reduction, safe consumption sites, and the broader social determinants of health that have population-level impacts. In part 1 of this mini-series, Tim Davis, author of TRIPOLAR: The Story of A Bipolar Triathlete, joins the podcast to share his lived experience with childhood trauma, substance use and addictions, and thoughts of suicide. 

Trigger Warning

Please note that this episode will discuss issues around mental illness and trauma, and may contain sensitive or triggering content. The purpose of this episode is to minimize the stigma associated with men’s mental illness and to create a culture in society that promotes a safe space for men to be vulnerable and seek help when needed. If you or someone you love has been impacted by suicide, you are not alone. Please use your discretion when listening to this content and connect to the appropriate supports as needed. For our listeners in Canada, Crisis Services Canada offers a national suicide prevention hotline which can be reached at 1 833 456 4566 or by text at 45645. Another resource for people who prefer to correspond via text message is Crisis Text Line - you can get in touch with trained Crisis Counsellors 24/7 by texting ‘CONNECT’ to 686868.

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[00:00:00] Tim Davis: And I was like, no, next time I get a chance to get free of him wrestling around with me and tickling me, I was like, I'm going to get away from it and run away from him. So I ran out the master bedroom at our house was shaped like a big rectangle, I ran down the hallway and I ran through our dining room out onto our balcony, and I ran all the way down our balcony, and back in through the other doors, into the master bedroom, my dad was chasing along after me. Ha. I'm gonna get you. And I, I believe because he, had a few too many to drink, he tripped and fell over the edge. And I was already in the house and halfway downstairs, we have a two story house and I heard my sister who was chasing the one behind my dad and let off this God awful scream.

[00:00:37] Narrator: This is the Public Health Insight podcast. 

[00:00:41] Gordon: Hello, loyal Public Health Insight listeners. My name is Gordon and I am joined by the public health extraordinaires is Leshawn, Linda, and a special guest will be introduced in due course. In our previous episodes on opioids, harm reduction and safe consumption sites, we've touched on some health [00:01:00] indicators at the population level and what public health can do to have the greatest impact. You've also shed light on self harm and suicide, and which populations are disproportionately affected by these negative health outcomes. The Movember foundation has the ambitious goal of reducing the rate of male suicides by 25% by 2030, and is committed towards creating an environment where men are seen as strong for taking action to be mentally well and are supported by those around them.

[00:01:32] In this episode, we'll be taking a deeper look in the forest of the trees and highlighting the lived experience of someone who has struggled with mental illness, and has found a way to engage in a path of recovery, through coping resilience and social support systems. He is a high school science teacher and a coach in Los Angeles, California. He's happily married with three amazing children and has been competing and coaching in triathlons and endurance races for [00:02:00] over two decades. He's a strong advocate for mental health and mental awareness. Please join me in welcoming to the public health insight podcast, author of the book title, Tripolar, the story of a bipolar triathlete, Tim Davis. Welcome to the podcast, Tim. 

[00:02:17] Linda: Welcome. 

[00:02:18] Tim Davis: Thanks Gordon and Linda, you guys for having me on the show. It's a privilege and an honor to be here on your podcast. 

[00:02:24] Gordon: Awesome, it's our pleasure to talk to you as well. We're a public health podcasts, we primarily focus on, the big picture, but a lot of times the important stories in between are missed so we're excited to share your story today. 

[00:02:37] Tim Davis: Yeah, thanks. I'm excited to hopefully share some of my experience and strength in hope that will help others, since that was the goal when I wrote the book. You guys have looked at my book and know my treacherous journey, and if there were some dark years and I'm hoping that I can be a beacon of hope for other people who maybe are in some dark places now and let them know there is another side, if you do some work and change some things, you can make positive strides in your life.

[00:02:59] Gordon: [00:03:00] Definitely, and on that note, the substance abuse and mental health services administration indicated that more than two thirds of children report experiencing at least one traumatic experience by the age of 16 and some of those potentially traumatic events include, community or school violence. Witnessing or experiencing domestic violence and a sudden loss or violent loss of a loved one to name a few. So in your case, I wanted to focus particularly on that traumatic event that you write about in your chapter, one, of your book and the name of the chapter is Falling. Are you comfortable sharing that experience, that involved your father?

[00:03:40] Tim Davis: Oh, yes. I'm very comfortable now. It took me many years to get there, but yeah, I'm happy to talk about it. 

[00:03:46] Gordon: Definitely, so if you don't mind, just take us back to the moment that you described in your book and touch on how like the immediate effects on you and your family. 

[00:03:56] Tim Davis: Okay. So, just a little background. I'm from a big Catholic family. [00:04:00] My mom's side was the Catholic side and her parents wouldn't bless the marriage unless my baptist father would convert to Catholicism. They went on to have seven kids and I'm the third oldest of seven. At that at the time growing up with my dad, he was a- he drank quite a bit. I've learned through my own experience in alcoholics anonymous that you can't really label anybody else an alcoholic, but he definately drank above the average amount, heavy drinker often times. And he was, he had a firm handle with discipline and maybe in the third oldest I had a, my sister was the oldest and then my brother was the next oldest. He was a year younger than her and he was four years older than me. He got the brunt of my dad's kind of abuse because, but he was also a very unruly child always defiant. And I got the second brunch and I got the blunt from my brother because my dad whipped my brother. He wanted to vent. I was, his punching bag for many years. 

[00:04:52] So just with that background information going into this year, it was in my eighth grade year. My older brother, sister were 16 and 17 at the time and they were [00:05:00] at their jobs at McDonald's, making money, because my parents had this rule, if you want, to buy designer clothes or go out and you need to get a job. From a family of seven, we were on a budget, if they wanted extra things they had to work for them anyway. 

[00:05:10] So they were at work and my dad had been drinking all day. It was a Saturday and it was in August. It was in the summer. Me and my little sister, we were 12 or 13 and 11, and we were playing chase and having tickle wars, my dad having a good old time. Sometimes my dad drank and he tickled a little too hard and didn't realize it and you know what he was hurting. I was like, no, next time I get a chance to get free of him wrestling around with me and tickling me. I was like, I'm going to get away from it and run away from him. So I ran out the master bedroom at our house was shaped like a big rectangle. I ran down the hallway and I ran through our dining room out onto our balcony. And I ran all the way down to our balcony, and back in through the other doors, into the master bedroom, my dad was chasing the long after me. " Ha. I'm going to get you." and I believe because he, had a few too many to drink, he tripped and fell over the edge, and I was already in the house and halfway downstairs. We had a two story house and I heard my sister who was chasing along [00:06:00] behind my dad and let off this god-awful scream, like a scream I'd never heard before. 

[00:06:04] As soon as I heard that, I was like, oh no, I just thought one of, both of them, somebody fell over, and I was the first one down, on the driveway. He landed headfirst in our driveway, from a second story balcony. He had a huge gash in his head, from his forehead to the back of his head. His neck was all swollen and, he was unconscious and I don't think he was breathing, even if he was, it was very faint breathing and I just yell, to my neighbors "call 911 get help", and my mom and sister came down and just I just remember a lot of panic and grease, like just yelling and screaming and it was a pretty treacherous. When things calmed down the ambulance got there. 

[00:06:39] My mom said, I'm going to go the ambulance to the hospital with your father. She needed me and my sister to put my three little brothers to bed because my little brothers were aged two, three and five at the time, and my mom had been giving them a bath when the accident. So we like finally calmed down, we did what my mom said. I've got my little brothers to bed and then we cried together for a couple [00:07:00] hours and we eventually fell asleep. Then I, in the middle of the night around three or 4:00 AM my older brother came home and I was in a deep sleep finally, after, And praying and having to my dad would be already at the hospital, and my brother ripped me out of my bed and proceeded to beat me up violently for over an hour, almost two hours. He threw me into every wall in the room and punched me in the ribs. He hit me everywhere, but in the face, because whenever he always beat me up, He didn't want to leave marks on the face because then my dad would know he would beat me and then my dad would be him if he caught him beating me. So, and I always had to make up all these stories about having these accidents, playing football, crashed my bike when my brother did this kind of thing. 

[00:07:36] So, he blamed me for my father's death. He said, "it's your fault dad's gonna die." and he was cussing and saying all kinds of stuff. I don't want to repeat that on this podcast, but it was pretty really traumatic for me at the time, age 13, thinking it was my fault that my father died and I carried that cross with me for many years and that led me into, using drugs and alcohol to escape the pain of those negative feelings. It was it's a lot to [00:08:00] handle at age 13 to think you're responsible for your father's death. It took me a long time to realize that it was just an accident and I was just a kid. It wasn't my fault. 

[00:08:09] Gordon: Do you almost think it made it worse that on one hand you and your dad were playing and then he ended up tragically, tripping and falling, and then you might even without being told, you might have blamed yourself, but now you also on top of that, you have your brother blaming you for it.

[00:08:26] Tim Davis: Yeah. 

[00:08:26] Gordon: That must be a harder pill to swallow. If you could even swallow it at all. 

[00:08:32] Tim Davis: Yeah, it was a very hard pill to swallow. I had a real hard time with that and I didn't realize it, but that's when I really started, like self-medicating with marijuana and alcohol. Cause I had already been using marijuana and alcohol for a few years, just here and there because my older brother, being a good older brother he was when he got into junior high, he started doing that stuff and he let me start doing that stuff. So I was age eight years old the first time I drank and smoked weed with him, he was 12 year old doing it. I already knew the [00:09:00] effects and then I enjoyed the effects now.

[00:09:02] So I don't believe that that traumatic event caused me to become an alcoholic addict. I think it's genetic and I was born with it, but that was definitely like that. And all the rehabs I've been to, and, the step work in therapy work I've done, they ask you if you can pinpoint an event in your life where you started to use to escape negative feelings- and it was definitely the, the traumatic event of losing my father and being blamed for his death. When I sought to drink and get high to escape feelings that I just didn't know how to process. And my mom never got therapy for any of us. My mom just said the only therapy I need is a Catholic priest, and that was 1987 and I don't think therapy was as looked upon as good as it is today. I think back at the time, definitely my family, if you needed therapy, you might be consented, considered a sign of weakness or something.

[00:09:50] So that kind of mentality and stigma around getting mental health help back then was worse than it is now. 

[00:09:57] Leshawn: Yeah. Yeah. You mentioned in your book [00:10:00] that, not only did your dad die as a result of this event, but also in some ways you mentioned that your mom was never the same and in some ways you've lost her as well. Can you touch on that a bit? 

[00:10:12] Tim Davis: Yeah. Yeah. So my mom oh, she lost my father that year and then a month later, her father died. So she lost her husband and her father within two months, but within months, and she was stranded with seven kids ages two to 17. She didn't know, she hadn't been working. She was a stay home. I mean, she had college degrees and master degrees and even doctorate degrees. So now she had to go back to work. After my dad died, there were a lot of bills that were on pay if he owed a lot of money to the IRS and we almost lost the house and she worked her tail off to, make sure we kept the house and tried to keep us in Catholic schools, but that eventually became too much to afford. She just worked all the time and then my relationship with her before that was, my brothers and sisters always told me I was her favorite because I was always the brightest, that of all seven kids. [00:11:00] I did very well in school. And I was offered the opportunity to skip several grades, but she never let me skip grades because I was the shortest one in the class and she wanted me to stay socially with my peers. She worked all the time. And after that, it was just all about business. She'd come home from work. She'd say " did you do your homework? Did you do chores?" She never had asked me if I did my homework, cause I always got straight A's, but and that was it, and then she went into a room or she dealt with my little brothers because they were young and they still needed a lot more attention than a 13 year old. So I just felt all through high school and our relationship was just about business when I did see her, but most of the time she was working at not even home.

[00:11:32] Gordon: Yeah. So I wanted to bring it back to the coping side of things and I know you mentioned in chapter three called, First Addictions. This is important because almost 74% of adults suffering from substance use disorder in 2017, also struggled with an alcohol use disorder. So if you could talk us through it, you mentioned first being addicted to sugar and then moving onto more harmful things and how it brought you to things like [00:12:00] cigarettes. 

[00:12:00] Tim Davis: Okay. For me, I guess my experience going to many alcoholics anonymous meetings and narcotics anonymous meetings, people share their story and I, and when I first was trying to get sober, I went to a lot of speaker meetings where the speakers would share for 45 minutes the general format is they spend 15 minutes, sometimes a little more talking about what it was like, and then they spend some time talking about what happened and what it's like today. One of the things I identified with a lot of speakers when they talk about their first addiction a lot of them, the sugar, there's the sugar and alcohol.

[00:12:30] For those of us that have alcoholism and addiction and addictive personalities, I've always said, I'm addicted to anything that that is addictive. If I haven't tried it yet, if I do try it, I'll become addicted to it and sugar. Yeah. I was a little sugar fiend. I used to shoplift candy cause my mom wouldn't buy me candy. And then it was books, I got really got into reading and I was like to escape because I could lock myself in my room and just read books and get away from the abuse from older brother and get some peace and quiet from the rest of the house with nine [00:13:00] people in it, and seven kids. There's, it's not very quiet most of the time.

[00:13:04] So I escaped in books was like my next addiction until my brother introduced me to, alcohol and marijuana and things progressed from there because the alcohol. When I started using alcohol, that was when I just felt like- I was always an anxious kid, and when I drank alcohol, I just, in AA that, there's a reading in one of the books where, you know, when we first drank out for how we felt this sense of ease and comfort and when I drank alcohol, like all my anxiety went away and I just felt like things are going to be okay. And I wasn't worried about filling less than other people, I felt I'm okay. I'm equal to everybody else because when I was sober, I just, I never felt like I fit in, in one way or another, I just felt different from everybody else. That's just a quality or characteristic of most alcoholics. 

[00:13:49] The AA, they say, we think we're terminally unique and that stuff is really just split. Now in AA, they call alcoholic thinking or disease thinking, we just want to feel like we're different. So we have an [00:14:00] excuse to drink and use to escape feeling different because people don't like to feel different. We all want to feel part of society and part of the normal group. 

[00:14:09] Linda: It sounds like the alcohol was meeting a need for you in terms of reducing anxiety and like feeling comfortable in your skin and so in that respect, like hearing you explain your story I think it's powerful because often for people who have not experienced this, you might think, well, why do you, why does someone have an addiction? Why can't they just stop? But when you explain how it met a need for you. It makes a lot of sense. 

[00:14:36] Tim Davis: Yeah. I mean, I didn't realize it at the time. I just knew it made me feel good and it made me feel like that I was at least equal with my fears and sometimes it made me feel like I was better than them.

[00:14:46] When I drank or smoke weed, I felt like I could do anything.

[00:14:48] Leshawn: Yeah.

[00:14:49] Tim Davis: I certainly gave me the courage to ask girls to dance with me. I made junior high and high school dancers, a wallflower, but if I had a few drinks and they were like, "Hey, you want to dance?" I didn't care.

[00:14:57] Leshawn: Yeah. I mentioned in that [00:15:00] same chapter that someone who's experienced addiction, their mind is pre-wired for adrenaline and you say that in pursuit of this mental hit you individuals, pursue increasingly dangerous thrill-seeking behaviors and you mentioned high cliff diving bridge jumping by jumping speeding and something called car surfing. Yeah. Can you explain that? 

[00:15:23] Tim Davis: Yeah. Okay. Yeah. I just I don't know, I live in Los Angeles for the last 30 years now, but I grew up in West Virginia. I was born in Atlanta. Small town. There wasn't a lot to do. Back then we still didn't even have the seatbelt laws. Me and my older brother, when we were young, he was crazy. And I just went along with the ride, whenever he said, we're going to do, we're going to do so. So, there was this old bridge we used to go jump off of and you had the car surfing. We didn't do high in high school. It's basically what you can picture. One person's driving. The other person is standing on top of the car and they aggressively keep going faster until you fall off. That was the thing is try to stay in as long as you can, but [00:16:00] eventually you always fell off cause the driver would start, taking turns fast. We do it in parking lots usually, sometimes they do it on neighborhood streets. Yeah, that was not the greatest of ideas, and then we'd laugh when they follow the road off on the ground and they asphalt, and had a few bumps and bruises. When you're kids, you can fall down and bounce back up pretty quick. But yeah not very smart. 

[00:16:18] Gordon: Yeah. Probably felt that kind of living on the edge was a bit of a freeing experience, which might explain why you continue to do that.

[00:16:26] Tim Davis: Yeah, and well, and also we were football players, me and my older brother, and I, we just felt like it made us tougher, like we could take kids and give it stronger. So we we also used to put on our helmets and smash our heads into lockers, and then we'd take off our helmet and smash our heads in the lockers. We did a lot of stupid stuff. I mean, I hope I don't have permanent brain damage, but it's probably it's a possibility.

[00:16:47] Leshawn: Right, right. Yeah. You also mentioned that. Playing, you mentioned football, you also mentioned that it helped develop some mental toughness and, something as an outlet to help you get through some of this addiction. [00:17:00] So particularly you mentioned that your coach Kerns was was almost like a father figure at a very turbulent point in your life. 

[00:17:07] Tim Davis: Yeah, he was actually my high school basketball coach and my football coach has cussed like sailors and they were funny in their own way, but they reminded me more of my dad cause he would cuss that as near as mad, but coach Kerns never cussed. I mean, if you've seen the movie Hoosiers with Gene Hackman, he was like him, but like a boy scout, and he was just amazing.

[00:17:26] He took me in that was my sophomore year in high school and it'd be year and a half after my dad died and it was great to have that to fall into. And also at that time I was riffing with my older brother more and he was he was a football star and I was an average football player.

[00:17:42] So when I, but I became like better at basketball than him and I, as a little brother, you enjoy being better than your older brother or something. And I never thought I was going to be football because he was, he played both sides, offense and defense, and he was just, he was really good.

[00:17:54] And so I, I loved having basketball as something that I could be better than and something that I can do, different from what he [00:18:00] did. I mean, we played ball together, many years and when I got better at him than him, that was a problem for him too. As you it's in the book, you probably read that part too.

[00:18:10] Gordon: Yeah. That's not on the topic of basketball and we'll get to the Lakers at the end of the podcast. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:18:17] Tim Davis: 2020 is not all bad for LA, right? 

[00:18:22] Gordon: Yeah. You got to look at some of the positives, but yeah, the year before you started to teach full-time you mentioned that you tore your ACL while playing some basketball. So, and I know that ended up needing to go on to have surgery, to correct the problem and the reason I'm bringing this up is because the most common types of prescription drugs that were misused in 2017 were pain relievers and tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives and such. And 1.7 million people aged 12 and over had a pain reliever use disorder. So, talk us through the process of, [00:19:00] hurting your knee, having surgery and then being prescribed, I believe it was Vicodin and how that, turned into some kind of dependency. 

[00:19:07] Tim Davis: Yeah. Okay. So I was aged 22 and I was long-term subbing and I was let's see I hadn't been as I guess as diligent about my weight training routine as I had been beause I'd go to the gym and like weight room or basketball court and I just go straight to the basketball court and also I had been drinking more. So I definitely cut back on the weight training and I was out there playing ball and I went down we stole the ball and I went down on a fast break and the guy over threw the ball. So I ran as fast as I could to catch it. And I jumped stopped or caught it and jumped, stopped and made the layup, but when I landed my legs just split in half- is what it felt like and my knee made this huge pot and I fell to the ground and it hurt like hell and it swole up and it ended up, I tore my ACL and I eventually had to get surgery about a few weeks later, took a little while to get see a specialist and get it all [00:20:00] set up.

[00:20:00] Then after the surgery yeah, they prescribed me the Vicodin and I was in a lot of pain. I remember when I came out of the surgery, I don't know they gave gave the medication right? Beause when I came out of the surgery, I felt like an axe was sticking out of my leg and it was like, I didn't expect there to be so much pain.

[00:20:13] I expected to be on some nice heavy drugs and not be feeling it. So they gave me that and made the pain go away and then I clearly remember because at this point, my drinking and using had really progressed. Okay. I was a daily drinker and daily pot smoker and the bottle said, warning, drinking alcohol with these pills may intensify the effects, and for me, a little light bulb just flashed. I'm like, yes, as an addict alcoholic intensify effects, that means we must do that. A normal person would see that and say, I'm not going to drink alcohol, but an alcoholic and addict says, Hey, this is going to enhance the effect. I love the effect already, let's go for that.

[00:20:48] And so that's the first thing I did when I got home. I remember it was a year after I graduated from college and some of my buddies were young and in college we're having a graduation party because it's like in may and I went to that party, like the day after I had [00:21:00] surgery with Vicodin and alcohol.

[00:21:02] You know that the doctor did say to try and put weight on your leg as soon as possible after the surgery and I was up dancing with like my leg in a full leg cast because I couldn't feel anything. Beause I took just the one Vikatan and for every four hours I took two or three. I drank a lot.

[00:21:18] Yeah. I went through that prescription really fast, cause you'd build up a tolerance to Vikatan really fast and I was popping more then you should, and I really loved the way it felt. And I went through all four prescriptions and then I, was looking. My little brother had a friend, you could get it, at the black market or whatever.

[00:21:34] So I was, since I couldn't get any more through my doctor, I got it that way. And that lasted for probably about six months before my, basically my connection to the Vikatan had moved away and I didn't have a connection anymore, but yeah, that was definitely, I didn't realize that at the time, but looking back as I've done 12 step inventory and lots of therapy, I was, I definitely had a Vikatan addiction phase there and probably would have continued if I more access to it. 

[00:21:57] Linda: What strikes me is how you were introduced [00:22:00] to it in such a routine way of, just a post-doc normal pain relief and how other factors in there, to let it to lead that for that to become a much bigger issue than maybe you had even thought of it could have been. And so, yeah, it shows that it doesn't really mean that, you're seeking this, it just happened to you. And how could you have stopped that you didn't know. 

[00:22:25] Tim Davis: Yeah. And I did end up using it a few times here and there over the next few years when I could get ahold of it, I ended up using a lot more drugs cause I reached a point where marijuana just didn't have the effect that it used to have.

[00:22:38] It just seemed no matter how much I smoked, I just couldn't get high like I want it to, and I was even smoking like the chronic and the kush and they're really good weed to have- well they have it everywhere but you know that California's known for and so then I started, that's when I started doing cocaine and eventually methamphetamine and things really spiraled after that, [00:23:00]

[00:23:00] Linda: All this time, you were able to still maintain your other responsibilities. You graduated from college, you were subbing. And so I wonder how you were able to still performing to other areas of your life while also battling with these substance use issues. 

[00:23:16] Tim Davis: Yeah, man, I don't know how I did it either looking back, I just know that my parents, they raised me to do your work first and play second and if we didn't get A's and B's, we'd get whippings, and so I always got A's to make sure I didn't get any whippings.

[00:23:32] By the time my senior year of college rolled around, I really was- I didn't get as good grades my senior year as I did the other years cause I was drinking and using a lot more. But then when I started teaching I found that if I drank on school nights and went into a middle school classroom with a hangover with 35 middle school kids, that just did not work out for me. Because the middle school kids are very talkative and very loud and very energetic and when you got a headache, hang over and your head's throbbing that just as a recipe [00:24:00] for disaster. So I've managed to not drink on school nights. And I would only smoke weed on school nights. So, cause I didn't wake up with a hangover if I just smoke weed. But then on the weekends I would binge drink and now as my cycle for the next few years, until I actually stopped teaching to go to my first reading. And then that began a few years cycle of me going in and out of rehab in and out of various employment. 

[00:24:22] Leshawn: Yeah. You talk about your experiences with different substances men, you also talk about how you were going to AA meetings and taking part of the 12 step in inventory. But I want to talk about the relapse rate. So the relapse rate for substance use disorders is estimated to be anywhere around 40% to 60% and this is similar to the rates of relapse for other chronic diseases, such as hypertension or asthma. However, we do want to emphasize that addiction is considered a highly treatable disease and that recovery is attainable.

[00:24:57] About 10% of American adults who are at [00:25:00] least 18 years old, say that they are in recovery from an alcohol or drug abuse issue. So, Tim, can you talk a little bit about your experience with relapsed? 

[00:25:10] Tim Davis: Yeah, sure. I also, just on that note, you were talking about, I, one of the things I learned in my, I think my second rehab is that one of our therapists or doctors there told us that I think it's the American medical association said in order for anything to be classified as a disease, it just has to meet three criteria, which is, it has to be chronic, progressive and fatal. And up until that point, I didn't realize I had a disease. I just thought alcoholism was a sign of weakness and when he labeled it that way, I was able to get my head around it.

[00:25:37] I'm like, okay, I've got a disease. A diabetic has to take insulin for their disease. Different people have different treatments. So that kind of opened my mind at least, accepting that it's the disease didn't mean that it was that I was just weak and mentally weak that, there's a deeper issue here, a genetic issue I have to leave now.

[00:25:52] And to answer your question with the relapse alcohol as an addiction is just, they say it's a cunning, baffling and powerful disease. When I [00:26:00] first started going to meetings, it was the year my son was born in 1999 and at the first meeting I went to, I just didn't identify with the speaker was talking about because the speaker had tried to commit suicide. They jumped off a bridge, but they survived and they were permanently in a wheelchair and up until that point at age 25, I had not been suicidal two years later, I would threaten suicide. But I went through these periods of sobriety where I get 30. And I'd feel like, "Hey, I didn't drink for 30 days I deserve one drink", but it was never just one drink, and then I'd relapsed and it, maybe lasts, a couple of weeks. Usually my relapses lasted anywhere from two weeks to two or three months. And then I'd get back into meetings or get back into treatment. And a few times I got 90 days or six months, and then I, again, I'd have this thought, "Hey, you've been sober 90 days. You've been sober six months. You could just smoke one joint", but it was never just one joint. As soon as I had one, I'm like, well, you had one, you may as well have another. And that's we have this thing. And the AA in any rooms, this one is too many and a thousand is never enough, and that was [00:27:00] always the case for me.

[00:27:01] Leshawn: Yeah. And you did mention that in your book that, after these relapse events, you often had a lot of arguments and fights with your wife about, the kids and, just your life in general. So how did these two relate to each other, your relapse events and, your conversations with your wife? 

[00:27:17] Wow. How 

[00:27:17] Tim Davis: did they relate to each other? That's a very complicated and difficult question. I must say my wife is an amazing woman. She works in a very strong Al-anon program and I can't say enough about, the Al-anonand Nar-anon programs for the family members of alcoholics and addicts, helped them learn how to deal with their alcoholic or addict, whether they're, In recovery or still suffering from the disease. And if it wasn't for my wife, I don't think I would end up having kids, especially if I would have never really felt like I needed to get sober because during my whole cycle of drinking and using, most of the until I got close to getting sober, I never thought I was hurting anybody but myself, but my wife, we get these arguments and she'd be like, you need to [00:28:00] choose between, her name's Mariah, or marijuana because I was just using marijuana all the day and I'd wake up and I'd smoke, at lunch I'd smoke. I was just smoking, all throughout the day and she'd be like, you got to choose between Mariah and marijuana and I would be such a smart ass cause I was still in the throws of my disease. I'd be like, I want Mariah-juana cause I wanted to have my cake and eat it too. 

[00:28:19] And every time I'd relapsed, I tried to hide it from her. So, I was living this double life. I'd say I was going to work out or, I'd say I was going to a meeting, but you know, I was going to get high with my little brother's or some friends. And then, in my car, I kept like cologne and eye drops and deodorant, or I'd go to the gym and take a shower and try and get the smell of the smoke and, the bloodshot eyes and everything away. Well she could usually tell, that was a lot of work. I don't, I do not miss doing that. There's a lot of work trying to fool her and, she felt like I didn't love her because I was lying to her about, but I didn't want to hurt her cause I knew if she found out I was, relapsed, it was drink and use again, it was going to come harder.

[00:28:58] She thought if I just got [00:29:00] sober, the relationship would get better. She found through Al-anon that there were some things you need to work on for her own self and personal growth.

[00:29:08] Gordon: Yeah. I'm glad that you you shared the story because often when we talk. Substance use addictions, mental health. We talk about the person that is directly affected because they have the diagnosis, but we often miss the toll that takes on their family. Right? Like you mentioned your kids and your wife, they're very important to you. So you're a lot of what you do. You're in a conflict, meeting your own emotional needs, as well as not pointing your wife with your behavior. So it's just a constant struggle of trying to do the right thing, but also being able to address the trauma that you're experiencing inside. And it sounds like that's, I, like you said, it's a very complicated issue. 

[00:29:44] Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:29:45] Tim Davis: That's why they say alcoholism and addiction are a family disease because it affects the whole family. Yeah. There was some rough years from 1999 to 2004. I call those my wonder years or my dark years. Cause that's the one I was just in and out of the rooms constantly coming back, take a newcomer [00:30:00] chips. I got so tired of standing up taking those newcomer chips. Hopefully I never have to do that again.

[00:30:07] Gordon: This concludes part, one of our discussion with Tim Davis, author of the book, Tripolar, the story of a bipolar triathlete. Stay tuned for the second half of our discussion, as we explore how Tim use his passion for running and triathlons to kickstart his journey towards healing and recovery. 

[00:30:26] Narrator: Thank you for listening to the Public Health Insight podcast, your go-to space for informative conversations, inspiring community action. If you enjoy our content and would like to stay up to date, follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, to learn more about our community initiatives and how you can support us, visit our website at joined the PHI community and let's make public health viral.