"One Day At A Time" - Ryley's Story
My name is Ryley Richards and I am an alcoholic
I came to hear of the DoMoreAg foundation through twitter and various social media platforms. One of the founders, Kim Keller, I have known for several years. The topics they were discussing on mental health sparked my interest. I was dealing with my own battles and found their platform was discussing matters I was interested in.
Creating an environment where producers and industry people can feel safe in opening up about their issues, and having the stigma of standing alone or toughen up and bear your issues elevated. Mental health issues that can take many forms and are only intensified as one tries to deal with them alone. By having an environment to share your story you will always have a relatable impact on someone else out there.
You are never alone and to think you are the only one that is having issues is so far from the truth. By one person sharing their battles with mental health or addictions opens the door for others to help, at the same token when you share your story and help someone else, you are creating and environment to better yourself.
As someone who was struggling with my addiction to alcohol, I truly only could see the light on what issues I was having both mentally, physically, and spiritually when I could open up with another alcoholic. To truly understand the battle, I had been losing for years, I had to hear another alcoholics personal story. In doing this I was allowed to see an insight to the struggles I had of my own. Now as a recovering alcoholic, I further my recovery by reaching out and helping another person in need. To help another alcoholic helps me stay sober!
This is an industry like no other. We are all so interconnected. An industry that cares for its people, products, and way of life that sets us aside. It’s this close-knit nature that will allow us to take on these issues with mental health in our industry that will only make the industry stronger. With an open mind and open heart.
People sharing there stores on platforms like Do More Ag will allow the person suffering to relate to the fact they are not alone. To see that there is someone else with similar struggles to yourself, is sometimes the way towards growth. It is powerful when someone does open up just be there to listen.
Was there a moment in my life that was the catalyst to deciding that now was the time to quit? There are many different ways that an alcoholic can come to this realization. Sometimes its jail, marriages falling apart, losing a business, or sometimes a complete tragedy. For many this is the understanding of what it is means to be a real alcoholic, that you must lose everything in order to get help. This was not the case for me. I did not lose everything, but at the same point, I was being a small fragment of the person I knew I was. I was destroying everyone around me along with myself. My farm that I run with my father was still in tact and I still had luckily hung onto my marriage and my kids. Although they had been suffering more than anyone really knew.
My years of drinking had put me in terrible situations, people being hurt, and a huge amount of pain that my kids and wife were going through. Looking back now the things that I put myself and others through would of absolutely scared, or given sufficient reason for the average person to quit drinking altogether or drastically changed the way they drank. The insanity that an alcoholic like myself faces is no matter how many times we swear off, or try change how or what we drink, our mind will convince us again if.. Just stick to beer and I’ll be ok, If I time my drinks, go with a certain amount of cash, or i’ll only order a drink when everyone else does. Maybe tonight I won’t blackout. This is the obsession of the mind that we are faced with, that makes us insane to the fact that this time will be any different. Our will power can never overtake this obsession. We are no longer able to drive the bus. After that first drink our physical cravings overtake us and the more we put in the more our body craves. The ability to stop is overtaken at this point by the physical demand that our addiction gives us to need more. It is indescribable what it feels like to want to stop, but without any reservation, continue drinking only to wake up the next morning again with no idea what has happened again.
This is a progressive disease and only gets worse with time never better. I have hit many ‘bottoms’. I had tried to get help in the past but I was not ready to make the realization that I was an alcoholic. A hang over for me was not just a hang over anymore. The anxiety that was now bleeding into my everyday life was affecting everything around me. I would go for days in solitude not answering the phone because it was too much for me. Anxiety, panic attacks, and depression were now becoming part of my life. I would not sleep for days after a bender, my anxiety was so bad, slowing my mind down enough to relax was impossible. I was becoming irritable at work, and my family’s home life was falling apart.
My catalyst was years of ignoring or not coming to a realization that I was an alcoholic. I was spiritually broken, I did not have any fight left in me. The pain I felt and could see on my wife and kids faces drove me over the edge. I reached out for help from another alcoholic who was pretty well known. It was a shot in the dark. I mustered up a long email of what I was going through and if there was any direction I could go for help. Again, I had tried before and failed many times. This is the wonderful thing about people in the program of recovery. To my complete amazement I had a response within minutes. He was to meet me the next day for coffee.
My recovery had officially began. My contact and I met the next day. He did nothing more than ask me a few simple questions that when I answered honestly gave me a new clarity, I am an alcoholic. He proceeded to tell me his story of his drinking and the thoughts and things he had struggled with. It was like I was reliving my life and thoughts listening to him. Could it be that someone else has the same story as I do? I could relate to everything he said. He knew every thought and feeling I had ever had to a tee. I was not alone. This single act of my contact, taking the time to share with me his story and relate to mine without question saved my life!!
My program of recovery has brought to an incredible community, where men and women share their experiences of strength and hope to work to a common goal of staying sober, together. I am in a program with people who are different than me in many ways but we all share one common problem. We are alcoholics. In this space is complete acceptance with no fear of judgment. I am no longer spiritually broken. One day at a time I live a great life. My wife and kids are number one again. Not where and when the next drink is.
When it comes to alcohol or other addictions unfortunately the hard fact sometimes is that often the person has to come to the realization that they have a problem themselves. Most times if the addiction is there, the realization that there is a problem is also there, the addict has already been trying to quit on their own. The best thing for the families or friends to do is first educate yourself on the addiction. There is plenty of information out there. Find a person if you know of one who is in recovery and see if you can put that person in contact with the addict. These are some of the most helpful people in the world and have a vast understanding of the situation and can help. There are many treatment centres across Saskatchewan and Canada. Put yourself in contact with these people and they are more than willing to help.
For myself, it was reading stories online of people opening up about their addiction that I related to. Seeing the conversation being out there is what I needed. I had to relate. This is my main focus of telling my story today. I am sure I am not alone in our industry and if there is someone out there that can relate to my story, someone’s life could be changed or even saved. I know my life has been!
“One Day At A time.” This has been what has kept me sober. And helped with many other aspects of my life. Sober Ryley is the guy I always liked to be around. This was a big one for me. Part of my issue was I thought he was never good or fun enough for other people. To me, sober Ryley was a shell of who I was when I was drinking. I was never good enough. I am finally getting to the point where I am comfortable with myself. I still deal with social anxiety issues but I can clearly see them now.
I am free of my self centred life. My kids and wife who never came first are now always the first things on my mind. The change I have seen at home in this short time I have been sober is life changing. My kids have their dad back and my wife has a husband that is present. Life has its moments that just plain drain you, but I know I will be able to deal with them One Day at a Time.
The Do More Agriculture Foundation is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are in crisis, please visit your local emergency department or call 911 immediately.