Tuesday, September 15, 2009

DJ AM and Addiction

The week so far has been absolutely insane. Let me try to catch you up.

As I mentioned, last week I did not do WW. This was intentional, but a mistake. I gained about 2 lbs this week. I think I still need the structure to learn what is right for me. I am all about occasional treats, etc. but I -- to date -- lack the discipline/healthy habits to know how much is too much vs. how much is ok. Perhaps in time it will come, but it's certainly not here yet. Crap. I need to get back on the WW wagon.

The reason things are crazy is because of work. I'm trying to get caught up on things, and yet work is just completely relentless. Oh well, good thing I enjoy (usually) what I do. Makes it less painful. This is a relatively recent rediscovery after an incredibly rough last academic year. It's helpful to feel like I'm getting my professional life back on track. I think that, for me, this is kind of like the yang to the yin of my life. Once I started to get healthy and feel better, I started to get more done at work. This was great because, honestly, I was just treading water or drowning much of last year -- now I feel I am actually making forward progress. Yay! May it continue through getting tenure and far beyond....

OK - on to the main topic of this post. This is not news today, but recently DJ Adam Goldstein -- affectionally known as DJ AM -- died of a drug overdose. Honestly, I really didn't know who this guy was, other than knowing that he dated Nicole Richie. After he died I was reading an article in People about him. Turns out that he had in the past wrestled with drugs, but had been sober about 10 years. In those 10 years, he had helped numerous other people get help with their drug and alcohol problems and was a shining example of a success story. Well, until he died that is. After the intense emotion and sadness of his plane crash last year, he started reusing drugs which ultimately resulted in his death. He even had plans to re-enter drug rehab. Sadly he never had the opportunity.

Reading his story made me really sad and, honestly, it made me scared. I am not sure whether I am a food addict or not, but I definitely have and in the past have had an unhealthy relationship with food -- it is not my friend, it is not what I should go to when I am sad, or happy, or feeling any kind of intense emotion. It is to fuel my body to give me the energy I need. Period. Relying on it for more is not healthy or really even sane. In the past I have done crazy and even unethical things to get food. That is just ridiculous. It has at times been like a drug -- I can recall eating fattening things I don't even like just because I was sad (e.g., dark chocolate -- gross!). In some ways I can really identify with what I imagine a drug addict would feel like when he/she needs a quick hit. It is a complete lack of control yet laser-like focus to get what you want that consumes you. It is bad.

Though you hear it often, seeing the tragic death of DJ AM made me realize that an addict is never cured. Even the poster children sometimes fall from grace. It is all the more tragic when this happens to them for (at least) two reasons. First of all, the failure of a poster child can make others feel more susceptible to failure (i.e., "Oh if DJ AM can't do it, I am so f_____!"). Second of all, I sometimes think poster children have an unrealistic burden placed on them. In addition to having to deal with a problem, they are saddled with additional baggage that comes with "carrying the torch" of success. That is rough, and in many cases unfair. This is intensified further when they fail, especially in the media spotlight ("OMG Courney Love is such a mess!!! I knew she wouldn't stay sober!")

I guess this is something I have been thinking a lot about lately. Vigilance will be essential for me to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This is not something that I think I will ever be "cured" of. It is something that I can manage, and something that I will work hard on. I don't ever anticipate a time when I will have this thing completely under control -- it will always be lurking under the surface. Now DJ AM is, unfortunately, the poster child for this. May he rest in peace, and get the credit he deserves for helping so many with something he struggled with so personally.

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