Addiction discussed

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Alcohol used to give Mike King confidence, but the problem was that to maintain his bravado he needed increasing amounts of liquor and then needed to add drugs to the equation. The well-known former comedian was at Menzies College on Wednesday talking to pupils about his experience with self-doubt, depression and dependence on drugs and alcohol. He speaks topupils throughout New Zealand under the umbrella of The Key to Life Charitable Trust. ‘‘When I needed confidence I drank,’’ Mr King said. When he was 17 he described his life of consisting of three ‘‘holes’’: depression, alcohol and drug addiction. At 45 his life spiralled out of control even though on the surface he had a successful career and was a qualified chef. But it was obvious to those close to him all was not well. ‘‘I used to have these major spaz outs,’’ Mr King said. While those episodes might only have occurred occasionally, they had a profound effect on his family. Eventually he decided to seek help. A friend in the police encouraged him to undertake counselling. Mr King was reluctant to seek counselling as he was brought up in an era where seeking that kind of help was considered a weakness. However, seeking the help of a counsellor turned out to be a defining moment for Mr King, even though on first meeting the counsellor he was not impressed. The counsellor was not like him — she was white, rich and happy, Mr King said. ‘‘What the heck can this lady do for me?’’ he had wondered. He told the counsellor he was suffering from depression and did not mention his alcohol and drug dependency. After six weeks of counselling he confessed to his drug and alcohol addictions. ‘‘Man that felt good,’’ he told the audience. It was the first time he had told anyone in 30 years. He was happy because he thought he did not have depression, only to be told by the counsellor he was depressed. He suffered from one of the main symptoms of depression in men, that of anger. ‘‘I had no idea.’’ His mind was described as being like a big pot containing a cesspool. All his thoughts were inside that pot. Instead of taking the pot off the stove, he was putting the lid on it and trying to deal with what was happening as a result with drugs and alcohol, he said. Instead of calming the situation, putting the lid on the pot resulted in a build-up of pressure which led to an explosion. ‘‘That pretty much sums it up.’’ He needed to take the lid off the pot and take away the drugs and alcohol to figure out what was going on. He stressed everyone suffered from doubt and had problems but that was part of being human. Mr King had given up his career in comedy. ‘‘My comedy has always been a mask,’’ he said.