Living Off The Avails Part Four Days Like This Keep Piling Up

Angel, my friends girlfriend (R), running the grill in her restaurant — photo by me, April 02, 2008


“To Be Treated”; Terry Reid
Let me know if the YouTube isn’t available.

“So there was my mom, finally starting a career which paid her real money, in a new marriage with a wonderful human being and finally moving past her past… with me on the phone once a month asking for money.”
Living Off The Avails Of Others: The Monster In The Room

“What Really Is and What Might Have Been can get confusing and sometimes people have to live in the later to get past the former… and there’s no quicker way to snap back into What Really Is than a midnight phone call from your son asking for $20 or maybe, you know, $40 for some food.”
Living Off The Avails Of Others: What Really Is And What Should Have Been

“When I got home that night I decided I had had enough of this stupid town and this stupid life. I made sure my little brother was comfortable and knew how to change the channel on the TV, went into my mom’s room and broke into her piggy-bank. I took as many handfuls of pennies I could stuff into my little pockets. I was leaving.”
Living Off The Avails Of Others: A Hand Full Of Pennies


This is the fourth in what will probably be a 2350 part series on what is without a doubt the primary cause of my clinical depressions. Superficially it’s about money… and my total lack of it. But it’s really about a whole lot more… it’s about my relationship with my mother, her parents, my father and his parents. It’s about the help I’ve been offered in my Recovery and in my Life by each of them, how little there has actually been offered and the guilt I feel surrounding the whole freaking mess.



There is one question I cannot answer… and it’s the one I’m asked by everyone I know. I just spent the weekend… actually a decent part of last week trying to save someone. A little melodramatic but I did believe he was heading for a precipice. He had made the classic cries for help we all make just before we walk towards the cliff… he threw the things he cared for most into the fire and called the people he identified with and told them it was over.

It’s what we all do. It’s what I’ve done more than a few times in the past. There wasn’t much I could do of course. I know his name and his email address and not much else. We’re total strangers, we’ve never met and probably never will. I’ve posted a few times on his blog, he returned the favour on mine.

I recognize the same vulnerability in his life that was there in mine for so long. That’s why I did it, and why I’ll be emailing him later on tonight. Why I’ll keep sending him letters and notes. There isn’t much I can do, but I’m doing it all the same. Because of that vulnerability… because when he responds to my emails he’s using the same language of bewilderment and desperation I would have used.

What did you do today? That’s the question I can’t answer. Because I’m still standing still. One thing I’ve noticed is it’s pretty rare for two people to ask that question once they’ve established what it is the other person does. But for people in my position the question almost seems like a counter-introduction.

Hi. Hey. So… what did you do today? Today? Well today I learned my grandparents, who gave me $25 six weeks ago, are paying for my cousin to go on for her Masters, then I got my OneTouch UltraMini Blood Glucose Monitoring System because my doctor thinks I have diabetes then, later on, my girlfriend broke up with me because spending Friday nights on my couch watching a movie just isn’t a real relationship. The Monitoring device is a cool shade of green.

Then, for the rest of the weekend, I sat very still.

I don’t blame her for not seeing a future with me. I rarely see a future with me. She’s a year removed from an abusive relationship, she went back to school and is now working in a real job making real money for herself and her two kids. A good day for me is when I can answer “what did you do this week” with “I spent a day in Ottawa with my mom”.

I’m not angry with her, I’m not even really upset with her. I understand exactly what she did. So I’m not burning stuff, I’m not making phone calls and heading for the bridge, but what it did, what finding out about the diabetes thing did, and about the money my cousin is receiving did, was put me back into a position where I have to ask myself… looking forward, is this worth it? Who am I, based on today’s evidence, at the age of forty?

But of course the question is completely unfair. It’s a question all addicts and other people who are vulnerable ask: Who am I in ten years, in five years, tomorrow? Well… who we are in ten years is someone with ten more years worth of experiences from being alive. Ten more years of learning how to cope and deal with the shit which, otherwise, would overwhelm us.

But when I look forward, especially after a day like I just had, I still see me. I don’t see anyone too different than the person I recognize now in the mirror. I hate that I resent my cousins for the largess poured on them by our grandparents. For the laptops they received, where I had to walk the ten miles to their condo to help my grandfather with his computer because I couldn’t afford bus fare both ways. For their rent occasionally paid by our grandparents while I ate at a soup kitchen.

I wrote something a while back about how the manic depression is relatively easy to fix… but once it’s out of the way it’s the clinical depressions it was hiding, they’re the hard stuff. It’s the primary cause of relapse in addicts. They get their vision back, realize just how fucked everything is and they climb back into the pipe or the bottle.

Well looking forward I see a guy with diabetes, no family of his own… who can’t even afford an entire set of cutlery, sitting down with a cousin with a brand new Masters degree asking me how my fucking day went.



About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression when I was nineteen, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. It's now 2022, and I have an 8-year old son, and a 12-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at
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10 Responses to Living Off The Avails Part Four Days Like This Keep Piling Up

  1. darkentries says:

    The diabetes is hardly surprising considering the amount of sugary beverages you have consumed in your life.
    Everything else. Well.
    What can one say?
    Keep writing. One day you’ll churn out a book and it’ll live forever…Who’ll remember your cousin?

  2. bromac says:

    Sounds like quite a shitty weekend.

    I’m sorry.

    But don’t do this “what will I be in ten years” shit. That is the Stuff of clinical depression. Fight it, don’t feed it.

  3. giannakali says:

    Gabriel…sorry things suck right now…

    Are you on a neuroleptic? They can cause diabetes…you probably know this…but if you stop taking them sometimes the diabetes reverses with a good diet…

    Sorry about the unfair distribution of wealth…that really sucks.

  4. dame says:

    biggest mistake that i made in my life was plotting out the rest of my life.

    sometimes it’s all about taking it as it comes; day by day or hour by hour.
    a good day for me is somewhere in between past haunts or whacky panics about the future.

    life’s tests, blood sugar tests, binet tests, acid tests, it’s all a pain in the ass.

    but hey, we have music. which is nice.

  5. Gabriel... says:

    I shouldn’t have made this an “Avails” post… it’s not about the money, the cousin thing should be a separate issue but my mind has been fucked all weekend. The breakup is the thing… back in 1994 a woman I was (from what I can remember) deeply in love with broke up with me for the exact same reasons as on this latest occasion… I’ve been basically going nowhere for that long. Four years ago, just as I was starting my Recovery, another woman I was dating used pretty much the same reasons for breaking up with me… although there were some serious Other Reasons in that one.

    It’s not the breakup which is the issue, it’s the valid reasons behind her decision which haven’t changed in seventeen years. I think this actually fits into the last of my List Posts, which I’ll probably put up next… it’s basically about the things the Me Then has in common with the Me Now.

    Gianna, the only “neuroleptic” I’m on is Seroquel, but I’m using it at it’s minimum dose (75mgs/night) as a sleep aid. GloomDarkFerretEntries up at the top there has it right, I went roughly two straight years sucking back 2L of pop a day and eating pure transfat in the form of jelly centred cookies for dinner.

    Since… February I’ve taken out the cookies, the processed sugar and the aspartame from my diet and I’ve lost a chunk of weight. At some point the plan is to buy a bike.

    If anyone‘s looking for a carbonated and refreshing pop substitute try club soda with a squeeze of lemon and/or lime.

    Once I start using the monitor I’m going to put the results in my sidebar.

  6. Been there, done that in my Life’s version of the cousin getting the Master’s.. Other bits ring true, too..

    Like how you write.. 🙂

    {{{Salted Lithium}}}

  7. dame says:

    i’m sorry not to have mentioned the breakup in my comment, gabe — i know that it’s major. sometimes i just don’t know what to say, so i spike things with filler.
    i hope you’re doing okay. my thoughts are with ya.

  8. Catherine says:

    Wonderfully well written – I hope today went better for you.

  9. Lydia says:

    Hey, I don’t have manic depression or depression, so take this for what it’s worth. It was the thought about “what do I do next?” and seeing no viable answer that finally enabled me to stop drinking. I didn’t think I could recover, and I stopped (after roughly six years of trying to stop) just for a short time to figure out how to continue on with my life …… 23 years ago and counting. My thoughts are with you. Thank you so much for sharing your experience.

  10. Gabriel... says:

    Hello Cindy Sue (thanks for the hugs) and Catherine… today was better, thanks. And thanks to you both for posting.

    Hi Lydia, I like to think of this blog as a Recovery Blog… I think we can all learn from someone’s recovery, in my life I’ve learned a great deal from people recovering from addiction which I’ve been able to apply to my own recovery from mental illness. That’s why I added your blog to my blogroll, I believe people can learn a great deal from your experiences.

    Catherine is also keeping a recovery blog of a kind, her husband is attending AA now… I’ve had the thought for a long time now that associations helping people with mental illness can and should learn a lot from the examples of the AA/NA, and Al-Anon and Alateen programs.

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