Bottom Of The Bottle
by Nik Sheasby
I was living a junkie lifestyle, only with alcohol. I know the struggles and how people deal with them. I sure as shit lost a lot of years at the bottom of every bottle I could find.
Lost it with my ass sitting in many a bar stool. I was getting more and more bloated looking and sicker and sicker and not even paying attention to it.
Many and most days off the road were spent sleeping and only waking up to take another sip off whatever booze I had not finished off the night before, if that was even a thing.
I stopped brushing my teeth most days, I would shower for hours when I woke up just in case I started puking. I had an easy place for it to drain, also a comfortable place to start drinking for the next night. Eating was not part of this new normal. Maybe a banana or a late night drunken binge into whatever was around when I had not eaten in quite some time.
Tour show days were just me hiding myself and doing the bare minimum I was supposed to do to get my shit done before starting to drink again.
Every day would start off with a shot of fireball or Jager, whichever I had hidden under my pillow. Just to dust the cobwebs off of the night before and get my sorry ass going.
All I had to do was get VIP set up or merch set up and then smile and host the drunken kittens of the night, most of the time it was me drinking with them. Saying “Fuck yes” to any drink offered to me by them. Or if no one was offering, that was more than ok because I was always buying once our bar opened, and before that time I had my nalgene bottle full of booze to help me through.
At my peak of drinking I was drinking a handle and a half of rum and most days a full bottle of fireball or jäger plus whatever other drinks I would buy myself at whatever bar I was sitting in all day and night.
I knew every state's liquor laws, I knew every last call, I knew what days you could or could not buy liquor. I spent parts of my days preparing and stocking up to get around these laws and to never run out of booze.
I took it far enough that one day when I flew to Ohio before a tour and my Dad picked me up and immediately was in tears and told me I was not well and did not look normal and that I needed to go to the doctors.
I of course said that I was fine. Got angry and stormed out of the house and met up with some friends for dinner, after I stopped for my handle of bacardi and a bottle of fireball.
When I got to dinner I was immediately stopped with questions of “Are you drunk?” “Are you on drugs?”, if you are not, then you do not look well.
My friends' children were so scared of how I looked that they got up with their mother and left the restaurant, these are kids who call me uncle Nik, kids I have known since they were born, and I frightened them to a point of leaving mid meal.
I ended up agreeing to getting checked out after many appeals by friends. When I got to the hospital the nurse informed me that I was the yellowest (jaundice) person she had ever seen in 30 plus years in the field, and just wanted to warn me because people were going to be looking at me.
The first doctor I got looked at came into my curtained off room with my father a friend and I and said “I am sorry, he’s not going to make it, he must go to Cleveland for more tests, but he is not going to make it” and then left. In this brief interaction he seconded the opinion of the nurse on not having seen a patient as bad off as I was. This was a non nice way to inform my room of people and I that my liver was failing rapidly.
When I arrived in Cleveland and finally met a doctor I informed him that if he knew that I was dying and there was no hope for me left, that he should not admit me, he should look the other way or walk away because I was not going to die in that hospital bed. Not going to make my mother and father or friends watch their 33 year old die.
I was going to go straight to the airport and fly to some place I had never been and go out that way.
They informed me that there was a slight chance and that they wanted to do tests over the weekend. I got every test that could possibly have happened including an ultrasound. Testing for every disease to explain my liver failure including aids.
When all of these came back and showed only a small infection in my liver that essentially blew up and set every long long night and continued drunken binge over the last 7 years into mass hysteria, they finally called it what it was. Liver failure due to severe alcohol abuse.
After 3 days in the hospital they decided it was time for me to go, not because I was good, not because I was healthy, but because there was nothing else they could do for me.
They informed me that they would check on me every month until I was either good, or gone. That I needed to never drink again EVER, eat healthy and exercise to help my body from going into shock.
Outwardly I was saying of course, I got this, easy, I can stop drinking any time I want to. Inside I was scared to death, for the last 7 years I had been drunk every single night. How was I supposed to be sober and exist? How does that even work? I do not know a sober Nik Sheasby.
Many people thought that rehab was necessary for me, with how far gone I was, they were not wrong in thinking that.
I never felt the need for it, I let myself develop into the sober person that I was to become. To rely on experiences, to really fall in love with life and all that I had worked hard to provide myself.
I have also been in ways ashamed to tell my story, I think ashamed is the wrong word here, I have been allowing myself to not write about it publicly as to not receive the praise for it.
Praise I would not be asking for, but that would inevitably come with talking about such things.
Praise that maybe I do deserve praise that would be warranted.
I want to share my story not for the praise of anyone,
I want to share it for the lost souls and minds that are stuck in the situation I had put myself in.
The situation I had let slip to the depths of hell, the situation I never saw a light at the end of.
I want to open myself up and be vulnerable and let people see that it is ok to be in that place, to let yourself get there. It is ok to think you are ok in that place.
It is also ok to not be ok in that place. To seek out the help and care that is out there. For me it was not rehab. It was not AA, nor was it religion and settling.
For me it was the help of beautiful strong human beings with beautifully broken souls. Humans that met me where I was at, no judgement just love and acceptance. It was the beauty of the life I was living and hiding in. The beauty of the road and the loneliness it brought on. The beauty of the cultures and cities that I was surrounded by on an ever changing basis.
It was not an easy road, I did not know whether or not I would be able to continue on my career path of touring and working in the music industry.
My first tour back out was with a notoriously heavy partying metal band called Born Of Osiris, just 3 months into my sobriety which most people thought was an incredibly bad idea. A tour I would have loved in my heavy drinking days.
Instead, I fell in love with life. I fell in love with the little details that I was a night away from losing forever. I fell in love with the experiences and the humans that this life gifted me.
I am a constant work and live with the constant struggles and will never or could never be perfect and I would never want to be. I enjoy the gift of the grit of true life. I live in that grit and thrive in it.
I want to lend myself to the broken human souls, to the ones that think they aren’t broken and are about to be. To the beautiful hurting souls, to the thriving souls, the humans living in that grit of life.
Ray Charles don’t take my sunshine is on the record player spinning, no sunshine can be taken, only given when you are vulnerable and meet and respect humans.
Fall in love with life, cherish it, live it, don’t waste time, travel and experience, spread love to other humans. Time is one part of life you can never get back and it is one part you can never be guaranteed.
I went from zero drops of alcohol until I was 26 to as good as dead at 33. Now at almost 36, and two years and 3 months sober. Life is beautiful!
Sending love and strength to anyone struggling. We all need each other.