Bruised and battered, but back!

The soldier who won the war in the battlefield with ease, but had to fight hard to win the battle against the bottle; the soldier who never gave up. He was part of Bhutan’s military force that successfully drove away Indian insurgents from Bhutanese soil in 2003. The soldier had to fight another battle. But this was not in the battlefield; it was a personal battle, one called addiction. This is what he has to say. Jigme Tshering didn’t want to be an addict. “Nobody plans to become an addict. It just happens,” he says. “My parents would have never wished for me to be(come) an alcoholic, teachers never taught me how to become an addict. I just went to hell and came back to tell my story,” Jigme says, saying that he has a MA – Masters in Alcohol. “Addiction does not differentiate; it doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor, man or woman, or anyone for that matter. But all other people will treat you the same. It is a disease with (in) us, a disease which relapses and chronic in nature. It is a progressive disease, in that, one year down the line you will be graduating from a single shot to 4-5 shots a day. Jigme says that friends and family are more affected than the addicts because “addicts have no sense to what is wrong or right.” “They are deeply engulfed in another world deprived of feelings, deprived of emotions. It is family and the ones connected with you who go through mental assimilations of shame and derogatory comments from the society.” He took more than twenty vows from the monasteries not to drink, he wailed in despair, laughed out loud to forget his addiction, danced along with his feelings, but nothing worked. “I felt so useless and (thought) that I am just a burden in this beautiful world. I took a tumble down into a roaring river from a bridge to end my life but life had other plans, I didn’t die. When I was washed ashore, my gut instantly took me to a nearby house and (I) found myself asking for a sip. This is what addiction does; I was completely over-powered by alcohol in my thoughts, in my brains.” “At this stage, it was not abnormal for me to drink. I was drinking to be normal. My life was abnormal with¬out alcohol. I came face to face with a trash can. I have lost everything today, I have nothing. When you reach this stage, there are only few places you can turn to. It’s either the police station for a theft case, a hospital due to liver cirrhosis, a crematorium, or the rehabilitation center. However, sensible it may sound, only the luckiest people come out of rehabilitation nourished with a new lease of life. Nourished in the sense that many come out and relapse, falling prey to their earlier self, earlier habits.” And Jigme has a strong message to all of us. “Your play a massive role for those who come out. Stop discrimination, stop stigmatization, we need your help in molding us so that we grow with the society. If you don’t give us jobs or the basic human rights we are entitled to, that’s where and how you are killing us.”


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