Dy­ing un­til I climbed a moun­tain

A moun­tain’s spirit helped me heal Tim Ben­nett, 49, from East Sus­sex

Chat It's Fate - - Contents -

Stand­ing in front of the mir­ror, I stared into my own eyes. They were wide with hor­ror.

I didn’t recog­nise my own re­flec­tion. Years of drug abuse had taken their toll on my now skinny and skele­tal physique with sunken cheeks and sal­low skin. ‘I’m dy­ing,’ I mut­tered. I’d wo­ken up night af­ter night with pal­pi­ta­tions, a rac­ing heart. Knew it wouldn’t be long be­fore my body gave up com­pletely.

It was why I’d avoided look­ing at a mir­ror for months now. But I couldn’t put it off for­ever - so here I was, look­ing at a man who, at un­der seven stone, was half the weight he used to be.

It was time for me to con­front the truth.

I was an ad­dict and al­co­holic.

Gate­way­drug

The prob­lem had started in my early 20s, when I tried mar­i­juana and found it helped with my shy­ness and low self-es­teem. It had proven to be a gate­way drug. Now, more than 10 years later, I reg­u­larly used co­caine, ec­stasy, mush­rooms, pre­scrip­tion drugs and al­co­hol. Cannabis was a thing of the past, some­thing I could no longer tol­er­ate as it in­duced crip­pling anx­i­ety. I’d stopped eat­ing, had my first al­co­holic drink as soon as I woke up. I’d blacked out count­less times and wo­ken up days later, of­ten with bro­ken bones.

From the out­side, I seemed OK. I was mar­ried, and pas­sion­ate about my job as a so­cial worker for dis­abled chil­dren. Iron­i­cally, I may have ap­peared clean-liv­ing, as I’d al­ways been in­ter­ested in al­ter­na­tive ther­a­pies and the es­o­teric. I’d even stud­ied reiki, be­com­ing a sec­ond­de­gree prac­ti­tioner.

When I was fully im­mersed in reiki, I’d ac­tu­ally been able to see golden, sparkling en­ergy. Now the golden glow had com­pletely gone from my life.

I’d hit rock bot­tom – but I still had a chance to turn my life around. A friend had gone through a re­hab pro­gramme in Cape Town. He said it had been hard, but worth it. It was

worth a try.

Sip­ping a beer in Heathrow air­port, I won­dered what I was let­ting my­self in for.

But to my sur­prise, I didn’t find re­hab as hard as I’d ex­pected. I was so ready to change my life, I ac­tively em­braced the twelve-step pro­gramme and in­ten­sive psy­chother­apy.

As part of my re­cov­ery, I trekked up Ta­ble Moun­tain. Sit­ting and qui­etly med­i­tat­ing at the top, I was sud­denly im­mersed in a sense of enor­mous power, of strength, of love. I re­alised I was con­nect­ing with the moun­tain it­self. It was the most pro­found and hum­bling mo­ment of my life. I came down from that moun­tain a changed man.

I knew then that I’d never want to touch

The golden glow had gone from my life

On the edge: Thin and ill At peace: Happy and sober

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