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Saturday, 10 September 2011


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Happy birthday, Mike.

Congratulations on your Anniversary Mike. It is a big deal to be proud of mine. My date was 1987 and my life has changed for the better ever since.

I hit the 20 year mark last March, Mike, so congratulations to us both! It's a one day at a time thing of course, but no harm in celebrating the anniversaries. Sometimes I still can't quite believe it. I never met anyone who regretted the move.
And like you, I have an awful lot of books!

Congrats, Mike, for your 21 years!

Thanks, Mike.


You go Mike! Congratulations!

-Anonymous 5-4-06!

Congratulations, Mike!

A friend of a friend is struggling mightily right now. He has two recent DUI's and is on probation - one more and he will probably spend a year in jail - and he's drinking again. I don't even know the guy but my heart goes out to him.

Congratulations on 21 years of clean and sober, Mike. And thank you to reaching out to those who still suffer.

I came from a family of alcoholics, had my own brush with trouble with alcohol.

I'm glad you are able to speak openly about a hidden disease. Thank you.


I'd like to echo Mike's entreaty to those still "suffering" from tobacco addiction. All of his remarks apply to this issue, too. As a former smoker I hated preachers...and still do. So I'll just leave you with this personal observation: There is perhaps no better daily feeling than knowing I am a former smoker. There's not a day when this realization does not pass my mind several times, even so many years after quitting.

You are stronger than your addictions. Really.

I offer my most hearty congratulations!

I hear you Mike. I've been thinking about this a lot. I've had chronic mild depression for most of my life and drinking rode on it. I keep to myself, and it's not disrupting my life in an apparent way, but once you get used to it, especially in a social environment that thinks it's acceptable, you never get a clear sight of what it does to you.
Depression is chemically fuelled, besides psychollogical sources for it, and I know getting drunk once a week already takes a toll on my chances of being in a good mood for the rest of the week. Let alone more than once.
Somehow also drinking alleviates you from a heavy heart in a second, but the price is payed in the next days. Probably when you are prone to depression you are far more sensitive to these mood shifts (hence the temptation to drink too), but they are there. It's like dragging a stone. Drinking is almost an art when you take it as a part of your life, but i admit in my case the net worth of it is just plain negative.
I've always hated thinking of myself as a puritan, but reality has tought me that the only people fit for drinking in a healthy manner are those who don't enjoy it as much as I do.
I do enjoy waking up clean and sharp and full of energy a lot more, though.
Well done Mike.

Amazing Mike - Happy anniversary. I'll celebrate 1 year sober on September 12th & I agree with everything you said. Life doesn't get easier overnight when you quit but learning to confront life head on day after day without the broken crutch of alcohol has been a worthwhile journey so far. I'll raise a glass of seltzer in your honor tonight!

A simple congratulations says it all.

Enjoy the day.

Mike, my congratulations and best wishes, and hope that you have many, many more sober anniversaries. I've been on the opposite end of the equation, that is, I've lived about 70 years with drug or alcohol-dependent family members. And life improves dramatically for everyone when the person with the drinking or drug 'problem' sobers up. Again, my very best to you and to anyone else struggling with the problem. Keep at it. Things do gradually get better over time.

With very best regards,


Congratulations on the anniversary, and I admire your guts for sharing it with us. The world would be a poorer place without a sober you.

Congratulations! While we all come here for your news and views on photography, it is good to be reminded that there is so much more to celebrate, and more ways to help and empower others. Again, congratulations.

Happy Birthday Mike!

Congratulations and thanks.

I applaud you and wish you all the best for your continued success. That family members had gone down that ugly road was enough for me to make me stay away from it. Best wishes.

Congratulations Mike, 21 is a big one. Had to think whether it was appropriate for this forum, but decided it is appropriate for ALL forums at times like 21 years. Happy Birthday.

Congratulations and here's hoping that your example helps others.

Amen to that.

Well done, Mike. I've seen firsthand just how hard it is to kick a habit like drink or drugs and then to stay sober long term.

"He has two recent DUI's and is on probation - one more and he will probably spend a year in jail - and he's drinking again."

Yeah, that's a really tough place to be in. Tough for people around him, too. But better in jail than killing some innocent motorist on the road, I guess.


"I'll raise a glass of seltzer in your honor tonight!"

And I to you, Ben.

Funny thing, too--seltzer is my favorite drink, and I don't just say that, I really do like it best. That's what drinking it for years will do to a guy. [g]


If you can find a psychiatrist who specializes in administering antidepressants and is willing to work with you to find the types and dosages that will work for you, I highly recommend it. It really helped me.

When I asked my brother (who's double-boarded in pediatrics and internal medicine) what he thought was the biggest change in medicine in the years he's been practicing, his first answer was "antidepressants." He said some of them are like miracle drugs now.

Depression is a very serious illness.


"Congratulations and here's hoping that your example helps others."

Thanks Jim, I hope so too, because others help me all the time--there's nothing more inspirational than a person who has a year, a month, a week, a day, or six hours sober or clean and is fighting hard to stay that way for the next 24 hours.



Bless you, Mike. Just blogging this was an act of courage, and hope.


From one to another- congratulations. That's a big deal. Thanks for posting about it!

Jay S.

Congratulations, (and sorry about the advice to take your favourite tipple to bed when you were feeling curmudgeonly the other day).

I used to drink every day, usually more than I wanted to, so I'd ride into town, get drunk and have to walk 5 miles home, then hitch back in the morning to get the bike before work. Luckily mid-90's my g/f (we're still together) was a care worker for OAPs so I couldn't drink as she needed lifts at all hours of the day. Now I only have a drink or two at christmas and don't really miss it.
I grew up around bands and bikes so drugs were always easily available, but having always had a "proper" job I was never able to do anything to excess (LSD and bikes don't mix - the bike turns into a space-hopper and is impossible to ride!).
In the 80's about a 1/4 of my friends got bans for drink driving; 1 year ban and £100 fine - occupational hazard. We know a few people who've died from drink/drugs and the worst is that you can see them deteriorating but can't do anthing about it, unless they want to as well.
A girl we know is an alcoholic and she's ok if sober/slightly tipsy, but a few more drinks and she starts repeating things she's said and then gets maudlin and starts a row with her husband over something petty.

One you're into a routine of doing drugs or drink everyday it is very difficult to stop without a major life change as there is initially nothing else to fill your time or take your mind off of it. I smoke and although less than I used to I can't give up completely, so I can sympathise.

We were young and invincible, but some of us turned out not to be. Adrenaline addiction is just as bad, we've lost more through getting it wrong at speed than from drink/drugs (too poor because of D/D to afford safer adrenaline fixes :-( ). I was lucky. I bounced rather than broke (except for an arm one time and ribs another).

all the best reflective phil

Congratulations! I see too many who couldn't do what you did; those who end up "Childs-Pugh class C". We are all indebted to your willpower: imagine a world with no 'TOP'?! Goodness me.

Well done Mike, both for getting this far and for telling us about it.

I was raised by two addicts that never made it to a single meeting. To this day I have little sympathy for my departed parents, I save that for my siblings.

Zander's been spared that. I envy him that and you should take strength from it.

All the best

Is there a 21-year chip? Congratulations on approximately 7665 'one day at a time' days. I applaud your courage.
Oh yeah--I also love your blog!

Congrats, Mike!! That's a big deal.

Just fyi, Suburban Hospital (I served on the Board there in the 90's) is now a part of the Johns Hopkins organization headquartered in Baltimore.



"and for telling us about it"

Step 12. [g]


Congrats Mike.

Happy anniversary, and thanks for sharing. It makes a difference.

It also brought me to tears. I don't know why. People have anniversaries all the time and I don't cry.


I am in full accord with your thoughts. I owe everything I have, indeed my very life, to the fact that through grace I was able to turn it over 28 years ago. I'm humbled by the changes and grateful for the better days I now have - days that used to tumble away from me into a black hole.

I have often thought of referring to my own recovery experience in my email newlsetter essays, but have worried that it would be upsetting to others. In fact, now, because of your bravery, I'm inspired to speak out. You never know when an action, seemingly small, can help inspire another to a positive transformation. Thank you for your bravery and honesty.

Congratulations Mike! One of the hardest things to do and your sharing it with us takes courage and it is very inspiring.
Thank you.

Congratulations, Mike, that is a great achievement. I can't imagine the strength that took.

Max, as someone who has taken antidepressants, I want to confirm that Mike is right, they can make a huge difference. But the thing to remember is that if one drug doesn't work keep working with your psychiatrist to find one that works. They all work differently and they all affect everyone in different ways. What works for me most likely won't work for you and vice versa. Just keep at it and you'll find one that works for you.

I live in terror of alcoholism. I never met either of my grandfathers, because they killed themselves via alcohol. (and smoking in one case)

Depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder and ADHD run on both sides. Alcohol is a common way of self medicating for all of them... and chances are excellent that both grandfathers were self medicating for at least one. Serious menstrual issues run in the family on both sides, and while the grandfathers weren't self medicating for that, it's another common thing to self medicate.

Despite the seeming distance, their alcoholism has affected every day of my life. A lot of addictive behaviors promote really harmful coping strategies, and (like most children of alcoholics) my parents didn't manage to eradicate them all. It's weird to realize how much alcoholic behavior I've "caught" from them.

It isn't easy to go sober. And it is awesome to see so many people here who have been sober for so long.

You've very inspiring. Well done!

Congratulations Mike and thanks for your words and photography wisdom.

Mike: Congratulations! Well done. My 25th anniversary of clean and sober is the first weekend in October. In some ways it seems like a hundred years ago and in other ways it seems like just yesterday.
All the best.


Congratulations, and thank you.

Mike, this was a very encouraging read. I'm in the middle of my own struggle with booze, and it's nice to hear of your success. Happy anniversary.

"the thing to remember is that if one drug doesn't work keep working with your psychiatrist to find one that works. They all work differently and they all affect everyone in different ways. What works for me most likely won't work for you and vice versa. Just keep at it and you'll find one that works for you."

I second that.


Thank you Mike.
Really needed to hear that.

Congratulations, Mike. I know several people who lives have been saved by AA or NA. It does work.

I guess I was lucky, being raised in a non-drinking household. In my late teens/early 20s I hit it pretty hard (spirits mostly), as was the norm for my peers. I discovered however, that I am a depressive drunk, so I stopped drinking. Adding alcohol to my already dour attitude was not a good thing.

I won't offer congratulations Mike, that might be offensive, seeing as I don't know your struggle (the only thing I ever had an addiction to was sugar, which is nowhere near as hard to get off as those other things are. Well, sugar and redheads, but mercifully, redheads don't like me. :) ) I AM glad you managed to get off it; the interwebz would be a much lesser place without your presence. Good to have you around, and kudos for making it public; I hope someone else is helped by your honesty. In fact, I might send a link to an e-friend of mine, who is having her own struggles with the same thing - there's a lot of positive in this thread.

Thank you Mike and everyone.

Ken wrote: "There is perhaps no better daily feeling than knowing I am a former smoker."

+1 I quit smoking 48 years ago and, like many of you who quit drinking, know that I would not be alive today if I had not.

Congrats, Mike, and Happy Anniversary!

I've lived with three drunks and one alcoholic... was engaged to one of the former. Long time ago now...


Congratulations on your 21st Mike. I recently celebrated my 12th, and I owe it to AA. After quitting for a year on my own, I was one miserable bad-tempered SOB, and started in again. That didn't work out too well, so I reluctantly joined AA and quite honestly never felt the need of a drink after the first meeting. Looking back, I think the key for me was to realize right down to my core that I could not drink, and that realization lifted a great weight from my shoulders. I don't think I could have done it without AA and the meetings - and I am still a confirmed agnostic.

Congratulations. We just had a family friend die from drinking a few weeks ago, on the side of a street just a mile or so away. You can watch someone live with it for years, and then the damage catches up.

You are so right Mike, alcoholics only suffer when they are not drinking, kia kaha mate.

Hi Mike

Thanks for posting this. We lost my wife's cousin from alcoholic poisoning last year and the damage her drinking caused in the family before and after her death has been dreadful to behold. Although my wife and others tried to help through the years, she only made any real progress when she acknowledged the problem and started attending her local meeting. Sadly she had too many other problems, all made worse by the drinking, and it was just too late./ Although she was dry for a short while, she fell back into drinking as she went through a divorce and eventually died at home on her own.

At her funeral, her friends from AA were a wonderful and supportive bunch of people, with no egos to stroke at all. Probably the best and truest friends she had.


I am actually glad to her your "confession," Mike - and congrats on the aniversary! I myself have a slight problem with the bottle, but I am still trying to walk the straight line ... I am running almost every day, and photography (incl. blogs) help as well :)

That's HUGE!


I remember reading an article in Black & White Photography a number of years ago in which you described how, after learning unexpectedly that you had a son who was about to be born and adopted, you turned your life upside down within a matter of days in order to obtain custody of him and begin life as a single parent. At the time I read the article, I had recently become a father to a beautiful little boy whom I loved from the moment I learned he was growing inside of his beautiful mother, so I could appreciate the power of your desire to ensure that you had Zander in your life and under your care. What I marveled at is how you jumped into that role alone and without benefit of the emotional, mental and, yes, logistical preparations that my wife and I made for becoming parents in the months, even years, leading up to our son's birth and which, in the end, still were not sufficient to ready us for the madness and joy that comes with a newborn. And after almost ten years of parenting with my wife, I can also say that I have the utmost respect for anyone who takes on that task on their own.

I remember feeling at the time I read your article how lucky Zander is that you committed your life to him within what was, for all practical purposes, an instant of learning he was entering the world, and how lucky I am sure that you feel to have made that commitment. And now that I know what you had to overcome personally only several years prior in order to be ready for that moment, well, I tip my hat you. This particularly is a day when we all should stop to remember the blessings in our fragile lives, and your post is an additional reminder to make the most of what we have for the time we have it. Congratulations and happy anniversary.


Congratulations. 9 years for me. Thanks for sharing.

Hey, good job!

Me too by the way. Have you noticed that this type of nature can also be used for achieving good things (super power for good or bad).

Congratulations Mike. I hit my 20th on August 25. It is good to be alive and awake.
Paul Crouse
Kyoto, Japan

Mike, that's your best post yet.

Well done, Mike
For me 6 years off drinking and smoking, never been so constructively busy in my life, if I'd carried on I probably would not be here at all. And I still regard photography as a form of therapy. Only wish I could kick my addiction to buying cameras!
Thank you for sharing that,


Yay, Mike! Congratulations!

I quit smoking in '86 and had my last drink on New Years Eve 2009. If I stay dry for 21 years I will be an old man. I think my drinking was, in part, self-medicating for depression. I wish I'd quit drinking when I quit smoking as there were so very many wasted opportunities. But at least I'm still here.

It's great to hear from all you "quitters." Mutual admiration and support back at you. And thanks to all for the thanks!


congratulation on your anniversary i am a friend of bill's too.
23 years so far and still a beginner.


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