One Day One Life took three years to write and was finally published by Balboa Press in June 2016.
The writing experience was akin to extracting a deeply imbedded,
wooden splinter from my foot with a pair of blunt plyers.
Finishing part one of the book did not feel like an achievement.
It was more like an exorcism.
For a man with ADHD, the discipline and structure required to sit down and crystallize a bold concept via repetitive work proved an arduous task.
The organizers of our wonderful world love detail, but the ADHDer will run a mile from a well-planned list.
Anything that takes diarized focus is WORK, and work is to be avoided. It is not exciting and doesn’t involve immediate gratification or risk.
Then there was the content of my life ‘not well lived’ that needed to be documented.
Years of disgraceful behaviour in active addiction, compounded by baffling mistakes and the broken hearts of loved ones had solidified into lingering shame, so translating the accumulated hurt into words and onto bits of paper was painful.
And to top it off, I was riddled with residual anxiety, which for me, is the root cause of my drinking and drugging.
Anxiety can sometimes consume me, and part of the treatment is accepting the condition as a lifetime affliction.
I feel it now, like a heavy brick of foreboding squashing my gut, and if I do not treat it daily with meditation, exercise and talking to other like-minded souls, it leads into procrastination.
The alcoholic is a complicated and layered soul.
For many years in sobriety, I just thought I was lazy and broken, but my life has shown me another reality.
I am, in fact, a living victory who always gets up, no matter how many times I have been knocked down.
Even though many of my falls have been self-inflicted, there is always hope for a better day and no matter how bleak life may become, I have refused to give up.
Fast forward to 2022 and my growth as a man has blossomed into consistency and reliability, yet still, my version of consistency dances to the beat of a different drum.
I enjoy being a maverick.
Out of the box.
For example, a ‘normal thinker’ can travel their brain pathways from
A to B in a short, straight line.
For me, I take the long route, stopping to smell the flowers and chase the butterflies. Tripping over rocks and falling into creeks. A simple, flat road becomes a bumpy, confusing, overgrown lane.
But, in the end, I DO get to B.
It just takes longer, and the magic happens when the person with
ADHD trudges the road less travelled.
We see more.
We hear more.
We experience abundance.
And that creates a big, exciting life.
Our job is not to be overwhelmed by the detours.
We need to embrace the wonder of the longer trip, and if we stay in gratitude, the confusion and disappointment loses its negative energy.
This attitude of gratitude became the focal point as I wrote One Day One Life, and to maintain my grace, I came up with a writing method that sat in self-love but had the wiggle room to cope with the frustrating detours of my mind.
A prime motivator was to write a book that was easy to read for a
person coping with ADHD and anxiety.
Unfortunately, many of the ‘how to’ texts for novice writers read like instruction manuals on how to assemble a dining room ensemble.
Boring and impossible!
That is why I avoid Ikea like the plague.
Assembling furniture feels like fire walking and the accompanying instruction manual is basically a piece of rubbish to be screwed up and chucked out.
So, I had to write a book that held MY attention.
The book needed to be succinct and to the point.
Easy to put down and not daunting to pick up again.
Each sentence had to be bright and musical.
Alarming and eventful.
Full of meaning.
It had to be short enough to entice the reader but not too short, so it was dismissed as inconsequential.
And my method of writing worked because One Day One Life
continues to sell.
The content struck a chord and has held the attention of many and
annoyed a few.
Most readers finish the book in a few sittings and the feedback has been consistent:
‘Almost every page reflected for me, similar, and in many cases startling identical feelings and experiences.’ Paul.
‘You won’t read this book, this book will read you.’ Jon.
‘This book is made of sterner stuff and doesn’t leave much to the
imagination. In short, real.’ Karl.
‘Thank you for sharing your story and inspiring me to be a better
‘I am finally free. I quit my corporate job, now helping women suffering as a direct result of Western impairments and disabilities. Thank you again. You rock!’ Gullu.
‘I found it hard to go more than a few pages without stumbling on a
pearl of wisdom.’ Phil.
‘Every time I pick up this book, I feel better about myself.’ Thomas.
One Day One Life maintains a 5 star rating and has touched a nerve.
It speaks to those without a voice, or those who cannot articulate how they feel.
The book says much of what we avoid saying and tells the reader you are not broken.
It is ok to be you!
The book is a mouthpiece for the shamed and the embarrassed. The
hidden minority who tasted the scorn and rejection of family, teachers and
One Day One life holds up a middle finger to the ignorant and politely says ‘Fuck You’, we are doing it our way.
Many of my readers coping with ADHD, addiction and anxiety have told me that I have successfully put onto paper the separation they have experienced since they were girls and boys.
ADHD is not a childhood affliction that disappears when you turn 18.
Anxiety is not a feeling that dissipates once you decide to ‘grow up’ or ‘fly straight.’
And alcoholism and addiction do not give-a-fuck. Period!
My fellow experiencers have stumbled into adulthood with deep confusion, and One Day One Life has been a staccato beat for the person who believed that ADHD and anxiety had to be bravely suffered in silence.
And unfortunately, one of the obvious indicators of our suffering is the
public shame caused by our self-medicating and self-coping mechanisms.
Reckless, anti-social behaviour that can be our scream for
Some of us die loudly before we can find a solution.
Most survive but can ruin the lives of all those around them as they
burn in their own self-indulgent hell.
Maybe, but drama is normal in the world of ADHD and addiction.
This book was written as a journal of survival, but it became a manual for living.
It is my manual for living and a note filled, coffee-stained copy still sits on my bedside table.
If I get caught in a shame spiral, I pick it up and the relief is immediate.
So, how did I write One Day One Life?
By ignoring accepted methods and inventing my own recipe for success.
I find acronyms annoying, so I came up with my own irreverent,
clipped form that still makes me giggle:
Colourful and childlike.
Adventurous and abundant.
Musical and spiritual.
Embrace your way of thinking and ignore mainstream advice.
Don’t force it.
I pretty much did the opposite of all the advice choosing not to sit down from dawn to dusk pumping out word after word.
For starters, I can’t sit still for more than an hour, so I wrote in bursts treating the page like a sheet of music, making sure I got every ‘note’ sounding right.
The words became bells and whistles.
Full of feathers and thorns and eventually the sheets of ‘music’ became a song.
Jazz songs and rock songs.
And the songs were stitched together and became a patch work quilt.
Much like my brain.
A mish mash of colour, sound and fabric.
The songs had meaning but no order, so I went to Officeworks and
purchased a children’s scrap book and a pack of coloured pencils.
I am very fond of pencils.
Acquired a huge kid’s pink, pencil case with a rubber and pencil sharpener.
Arrived home and broke the rubber, said ‘fuck’ a few times, and had to buy another rubber.
I snapped pencils and uttered more expletives.
Left post-it notes with scribbled words in salt water, soaked board shorts and cursed and bought more post it notes.
Eventually, after many false starts and trips down dead-end lanes, and gazing out the window, and getting lost in You Tube, going for walks and drinking coffee with mates, the colouring book filled up and took on some semblance of order.
I fell into a rhythm of chaos.
It became exhilarating and when I could feel the frustration building,
I knew the songs were coming.
And then it hit me.
I was writing a book of songs.
Songs of loss and love.
Songs of pain and passion.
Sex and seduction.
Of disgust and apology.
All written in my voice, but the silence simmering between the words became the chorus for my fellow experiencers and it came about that my readers sensed the silence before they understood the words.
And isn’t that the best moment in a great song?
The pause between the verse and the chorus.
For example, Chapter 12 is a song of regret. It starts as an ode to love and ends as a lament of loss.
Taking 30 minutes to write, the music poured out of me, washing over me in tears and gritted teeth, yet during the edit, I viewed the harrowing ending as a statement of acceptance.
‘What seemed so pure was always tainted.’
Freedom of choice lives in acceptance even though the reality can be painful, and that reality resonated with many of my female readers, who had survived disappointing relationships with immature men.
Men who held so much promise.
Men like me.
In my unconscious, white male bias I had no comprehension that women could experience the lust, loss and anger that were my anchors to available connection.
I believed my curse was unique.
Again, the clarity of my readers was a great relief, as terminal uniqueness is a common trait in sober alcoholics.
Another discernment in sobriety is the sense of having missed the boat during active addiction.
Alcohol is the great remover (even for normal drinkers), so as the sober
alcoholic gets well life becomes a sprint, and in the haste to ‘catch up’ days appear to become shorter.
A friend of mine has a wonderful theory about ageing. He feels the
closer you get to your last day on this planet, the quicker time seems to travel.
It’s like letting go of a stretched, elastic band.
Trim, taut and terrific and then, bang!
Suddenly you are over fifty and the passing years are like a speeding rocket to an expensive wooden box.
But God willing, I still have much to give.
The coffin can wait, and I do not fear the closing of the lid.
Much has changed since I put down the booze, but many things have remained the same.
Each day from my last drink gives me a deeper love of life and gratitude for my family and career.
The ‘anger blossoms’ I once held so tightly are now tiny green shoots and I rarely feel resentment towards people, places and things.
Yet, most days, before my early morning ritual of prayer, meditation
and exercise, anxiety still expands in my gut, like a nest of irritated wasps.
Yes, I have become calmer and my need to take risks and seek immediate, outside gratification has eased however I did seek professional help to treat my ADHD and anxiety, and during that treatment it was revealed I suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder caused by my wild behaviour in the bars and sleaze holes of Kings Cross.
In my case, medication was not the answer.
Ironically, ritual and structure have been my remedy and I adhere to a daily calendar, but it is full of colour, variety and sound.
I now use a daily list.
But hear my melody.
The lists are short and achievable.
The maverick in me sometimes cringes at the thought of numbering tasks in a diary, but the trick is to have a list that’s not too daunting.
The old messages of damage and destruction still bounce around my skull but not as frequently and not as loud.
No, I have not grown up, I have accepted that I process thoughts differently to mainstream society.
Acceptance has been a wonderful thing.
My thinking is not broken, and my brain is a magnificent, wild beast.
Frustrating at times, but I am a triumph and I deserve peace and success.
Everyone deserves peace.
The regular practice of putting silence between an outside stimulus and my resultant behaviour provides the greatest gift – freedom of choice.
I have also been blessed with the grace not to judge anyone else’s choices, even more so, if I am coming from a place of ignorance.
As I write this piece, the COVID-19 pandemic has plunged my beautiful hometown of Sydney into another Greek letter coded, viral shutdown.
People continue to die.
Our multi-cultural communities in the Western Suburbs were hard hit by the Delta variant of the virus, and the secondary germ of white, colonial prejudice now rides the back of Omicron.
Funny how quickly we forget our origins.
Sydney began as a penal colony. Except for our First Nation’s people,
we all arrived as either prisoners, refugees, rejects or immigrants.
The pandemic has eroded the shallow foundations of white Australian society.
Us pale, privileged ones are not so sure of our dominance anymore, and to compensate, our entitlement continues to fuel the purchase of real estate close to the parks and the beaches, in the hope that things will return to what they were, but (for better or worse) the goal posts have shifted.
Epidemiologists have become the rock stars of society.
I have not decided if worshipping epidemiologists is a good thing or a bad thing.
The success of counteracting a virus is suppression and suppression throws a blanket on everything.
Including mental and spiritual health.
Schools and universities were opened and closed on a whim. Small
businesses have gone broke and communities are isolating. Social media has become a perverse divide.
And the rich are getting richer, feeding on the online, comfort purchasing of the masses, picking off the weak and sending them further into debt.
Corporate gorging on the self-medicating of the anxious and the addicted.
Fueling doubt and confusion.
We have created a virus of pessimism, and our shared orgasm, is counting the daily COVID contact cases and puffing on the viral tobacco of our collective, coitus afterglow.
People now focus on crisis not abundance and our sick brothers and sisters have become morbid numbers on a graph.
It is no different to the body count of our brave diggers on the nightly news during the Vietnam War.
As a boy, that imagery was permanently fused into my psyche.
And now we deal with the daily drudgery and fear of The Virus.
We are a world at war and the drums are beating.
I’ve stopped listening to the epidemiologists. They make me anxious and miserable.
Just like Einstein’s breaking of the atom, I rejoice in the research science produces, but their peer reviewed output is a doomsday of looming destruction.
No, these white robed geniuses will not muffle my faith and hope.
I have chosen freedom of choice, and I now listen to the music.
My music and the music of my wild youth.
The Doobie Brothers.
Instead of scouring pulp fiction on the Wuhan leak, or the childish,
empire building of Russia and China, I am now reading and revelling in the words of the ancient Greek philosophers.
Thank you to every single person that has been a part of my magnificent life. The good and the bad.
It has been a hell of a ride and it is not over.
Not by a long shot!
But if my God decided it was time for me to return to my ancestors, all will be well.
I will gladly walk up to the campfire and sit down with those that went before me.
And I will be welcomed with open arms. I know I will.
If you pick up one of my books for the first time, please take the time to read the silence between the music.
Every sentence is a pattern of notes and rhymes, rejoicing in the sounds of silence and about living in eternal hope.
Owning your mistakes and not using your dark side as an excuse.
Finally, after all the sacrifice and the wasted years, I can look in the mirror and smile back at the man I have become.
We alcoholics and addicts pay a huge price to achieve sobriety. So do our loved ones.
But it is a daily price I am prepared to pay.
Proud is a word I rarely use when I refer to myself.
But I am proud of the difference I have made to my life and the lives of those I love.
My hope is my writing makes a difference to you or someone you love.
I have received amazing feedback from all over the world.
Australia, Europe, Southeast Asia, North and South America and
People have read me on land, in planes and on boats, and it has provided relief and understanding to those living with addiction, anxiety and ADHD.
So, my fellow experiencers – be well.
Live abundantly and remember:
We are as free as we choose to be.
I am sitting on my desk looking at pictures of my beautiful wife, my sons, my sisters and my mum and dad.
Even have a picture of Ollie, my mad and wonderful, soft coated, Irish
Funny how we own a dog breed that reflects our attitude to life.
An iron fist in a velvet glove.