Our correspondent, Yura Kiddinme, talks to a slightly confused Jim Simmonds about his upcoming challenge and his new Blog, “former drinker”
YK: Good morning Jim, thanks for doing this interview. I’d like to talk to you today about your new blog entitled “former drinker.”
JS: Hi Yura, yes I’m very excited about the blog and glad to talk about it with you.
YK: Great! so Jim the new blog is all about giving up alcohol.
JS: that’s absolutely right Yura a brand-new blog all about giving up alcohol.
YK: Jim I’m going to ask you straight, forgive the directness: are you an alcoholic?
JS: Great question Yura. The answer is a resounding “no”. Sure, I drink very heavily, can’t seem to moderate how much I drink, I also obsess about alcohol whenever I have to go into social situations and it’s beginning to affect my health and well-being. Other than that though I’ve got it completely under control.
YK: Yeah okay Jim. Maybe when we finish this interview you might want to look up the term denial. Anyway let’s press on.
J S: Absolutely
YK: I guess it’s early days but how’s it going Jim with this “giving up alcohol?”
JS: Ah, well you see I haven’t actually started giving up yet, that is still a few days away.
YK: But Jim, you’ve called your blog “former drinker,” how does that work if you’ve not actually given up drinking yet?
JS: That’s an excellent question. You see I will be a former drinker but that will be in a couple of weeks time. In the meantime I’m gearing up to being a former drinker. It’s all about the preparation.
YK: Right so you’re still drinking, not strictly speaking a former drinker then are you? At least I suppose you’re using this time before stopping drinking to wind down your alcohol intake, is that right?
JS: To be honest if anything my alcohol consumption has been ramping up these last few weeks. In fact I’m probably drinking more now than I’ve had in ages.
YK: Jim I’m not getting a good feeling about all of this; so you’re telling me that in the run-up to not drinking you’re actually drinking more than ever before? That hardly inspires confidence that you can I give up. So why the increase in alcohol consumption?
JS: Yes I can see you’re a bit confused, it’s a bit counterintuitive. Reality is I like drinking…
YK: Woah…let’s stop there Jim. You’re about to give up alcohol and yet you’re telling me that you love drinking. Jim are you an idiot?
JS: That’s interesting and you’re not the first person to ask me that question. But let me explain. I love drinking but I can’t carry on drinking.
YK: you love drinking but you can’t carry on? What is going on here Jim?
JS: Look, I drink heavily, I like my drinking but it’s got to the point where I cannot be moderate in my drinking so what’s happened is I’m spending too long thinking about it and planning around it, it’s affecting my health, my sleep, my weight. I love it but I also hate it and it’s time for the alcohol to go.
YK: okay I think we’re getting somewhere now Jim. It’s harmful, you can’t moderate so you are giving up. So why not just give up now, why the delay?
J S: Will two main reasons I suppose. Firstly if I’m going to give up alcohol and it’s something I like then I want to enjoy a few days where I can drink before I finally put it behind me. Secondly I think I want to drink excessively so I actually remember what it’s like to feel sick of drinking, to wake up with a hangover, to feel nauseous, to experience bad sleep, excess weight. To remember those things, I think, will help me in the future.
YK: Jim this seems a very unique approach to abstinence. Are you sure you’re not just mad?
JS: look you got to do what’s right for you. In my mind this approach makes sense, it feels right therefore that’s what I’m going to do.
YK: I can respect that Jim if it’s an approach that brings results, then why not go for it. I’m guessing that you’ve experienced other success using this simple approach in other areas of your life Jim?
JS: actually no, not really. For example I’ve been trying to lose weight for several years now using my own individual approach. In fact this year I managed to lose nearly a stone in weight believe it or not.
YK: that’s brilliant Jim and how’s the diet now.
J S: well I’ve actually put it all on in the last couple of months and in fact got even heavier than I was at the start of trying to lose weight.
YK: so could we say that’s been a little short of success?
JS: no I think we can call it an abject failure.
YK: Jim again this is not exactly creating a feeling of confidence in your new venture. Why do you think this giving up of alcohol will be successful when you’ve experienced so many failures in trying to change in the past?
JS: I’ll tell you why. Because earlier this year I vowed to give up alcohol for three months and I succeeded and so I now think I’ll give up for a year and I know I can follow that through.
YK: and how was it giving up to 3 months, did you find it difficult?
JS: sure it was difficult but I found that it was socially and psychologically more difficult then it was physiologically. So staying at home during the week and not drinking was not too bad but as soon as Friday came along I could feel that old association of “it’s the weekend’ treat yourself’ let your hair down, have a drink.” When I went out to a restaurant I could suddenly feel that craving because of the association that every time I go out for a meal I drink alcohol. Every time I socialise with friends in the evening I drink alcohol so it was the associations that created the real cravings and that I found interesting.
YK: and Jim you say you’re going to do a year. Why not just give up completely and be done with it?
JS: When I gave up to 3 months,part of the reason I could do it was that I knew that it wasn’t a once and for all decision. I knew That I could go back to it after three months if I wanted to which is what I did. But there was also part of me wanting to not go back to drink.I think if I said never again when I next had those real cravings I’d give in as I couldn’t imagine dealing with those cravings for the rest of my life. Having a craving but only having to deal with it for weeks is easier. So if I say one year I I can imagine that, I can imagine a year without drinking knowing that if it was an awful experience if I felt I was missing out socially and in other ways I could go back to it but what I’m hoping for is that with one year under my belt, feeling physically better and being more productive,I’m hoping that I will say no way am I going back to drinking. That will be the point when I can truly think of myself as a former drinker.
YK: okay Jim well you certainly have a very individual approach to this and I’m guessing once you get into not drinking you are going to become something of Crusader, waging war against the evil drink?
JS: no, not at all. Believe me, if I could drink moderately and sensibly like many of my friends I would carry on drinking. My problem is for lots of different reasons I’m rubbish at moderating my intake and that’s not just alcohol. I’ma bit excessive all round. So no, those people who enjoy a little drink, fine no problem. But I know there are plenty of people like me and worse where drinking has really messed up aspects of their life. Now if one of those persons rethinks their relationship with regard to alcohol that would be a bonus.
YK: okay well thanks Jim that was very informative. I hope, against the odds, that you’ll be successful in your campaign to stop drinking. I shall follow your progress keenly by reading your blog. I wish you well.
JS: Thanks. I’ll drink to that. Well for the next week and a bit anyway.
RIP David Berman so sad that he took his life last week. Loved his music with the Silver Jews. Just listened to the purple mountains stuff he was about to tour with- “all my happiness is gone” track that says it all – not able to overcome those demons- the music lives on!