Posted by blogger, 13th May 2013
Those were the resounding words of the father of Benedict, a 22 year old who suffers from alcoholism, who both appeared in last week’s Channel 4’s award-winning documentary 24 Hours in A&E.
The episode, titled ‘Second Chance’, followed three incredibly moving stories of unconditional love – Chrissie who suffered a very serious head injury after colliding with a motorbike, John the victim of a stroke, who is brought into A&E in a very confused state, and Benedict, a 22yr old suffering the severe effects of alcohol withdrawal. All three stories were utterly compelling and heart-rending, showing the often overwhelming nature and complexity of our brains; the devastating impact when things go seriously wrong, and the power of unconditional love in both adversity and uncertainty.
I was drawn to Benedict’s story because of its mental health angle in particular, and because of its honest account of the reality of the impact of such a devastating disease, showing a completely different take to that often reported, with both the tragic impact on the sufferer, and the family, in this case, Damian, Benedict’s father. Damian describes the agony of feeling so helpless watching his son succumb to the disease:
“When somebody that you’ve brought up and been proud of is an alcoholic, I think there aren’t enough words really to describe the intense sorrow and pain that one can feel.”
“It’s like cancer or MS…”, and of course not making a direct comparison of the illnesses themselves, but highlighting that the illnesses are non-discriminatory, that alcoholism, like any illness, can affect the rich, the poor, whatever background… “I don’t think there’s a stereotype.”
Benedict, a musician, describes his struggle, his fears, and desperation, as he articulately explains his drinking and unbearable depression – how he drinks to block out the pain. How there were days when he left the house for concert practice, no longer with his trumpet in its case, but “a big bottle of cider”.
The programme ends with an equally poignant look at life outside the grips of the disease, as all three stories encapsulate the importance and meaning of love and resilience.
24 Hours in A&E, 4oD: