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Drugs, Drinking & Damaging Decisions – One Man’s Courageous Battle with Mental Ill-health

This week’s episode of the ‘Wine and Wisdom’ show is with the incredibly courageous Mark Aiston who has overcome years of addiction to cocaine, binge drinking and gambling. Not only did this cause him to lose his job but he also lost his marriage. Don’t miss this inspiring episode where he bravely shares how he overcame his demons and how he has rebuilt his life.

#mentalhealth #addiction #mediatraining #mediacommunication

It’s not easy to admit you have an addiction or a mental ill-health issue. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can start crawling your way up again. That is why Mark Aiston’s story is so courageous.

Hello and welcome to the Wine and Wisdom show for tonight. Thank you for being here. If you’re here for the very first time, I appreciate the fact that you are trying us out for tonight. I hope you’ve got a comfy spot on the couch and that you have something special in your glass. And if you are returning to us time and time again, I love to see those of you who continue to write comments for us so please do that again tonight.

But thank you for trusting us and I tell you what there’s an amazing show coming up so you are in the in the right spot for sure, but for those of you who are here for the first time I’d just like to give you a little brief outline of what this show is about.

It’s called the wine and wisdom show but really it’s all about connection and I think something that we could all agree on over the last number of months in 2020 is that connecting with real humans who put a smile on our faces, put some warmth in our hearts, and put some wisdom in our brain is something that we are all craving and tonight will be no exception, that is for sure.

I have a great belief that we should definitely surround ourselves with the great humans of the world and this show is all about connecting, not only with you so we can share a glass of something together, I’m actually drinking kombucha tonight out of respect for our topic, but also to connect you with some extremely talented and unique individuals that I have been lucky enough to surround myself with over the last few decades. You know, they are the people who have had the courage to rise above adversities and, as we know, adversities comes come in all shapes and size. And they are the ones though, those self leaders, who are resilient enough and courageous enough to be changing our world in little ways and big ways.

So tonight I have the most incredible man, Mark Aiston, who is going to share bravely his story of courageously rising above adversity. So let’s bring him up and so we can all see him. Three, two, one, there it is. Hello, Mark.

Hello to you. And here’s my drink – it’s milk.

Oh, what a lovely thing, and a kombucha for me so cheers to us both. Just to everybody else, if you’re having a glass of wine you do not have to feel guilty, of course, about that; just enjoy it. Enjoy it. Mark, thank you for being here on the show tonight. Everyone’s really excited to hear your story hear about, I suppose, how it unraveled and then how it came back up again.

But before we go into that, perhaps you could just… I know you have 40 years of being a media extraordinaire, but perhaps you could share with us how you have been sprinkling all your wisdom around the world over the last four decades.

Yeah, well, I started… Heidi, thank you for the opportunity. I started working in the media in about 1980 which is such a long time ago. I was working for my father actually. I left school at 14 and started working for my father in Hindley Street and, for those who don’t know Hindley Street, if you’re interstate or overseas, Hindley Street’s a little bit like the Cross in Sydney. So it was pretty rough and tough. I was there from the age of 14 until about 22, and then I got a job calling horse races.

Then I went to Darwin and I called horse races and did a bit of reporting up there and then my mother rang me one night and said there’s a job in Adelaide as a sports presenter for radio, not for TV at this stage, in Adelaide or back home at the ABC. So I applied and I got that job and I was with the ABC until 1996 as the sports presenter, as a reporter, as a producer, as a commentator. I called the footy as well and had a lot of fun.

And then I went to Channel 10 and I was with Channel 10 until three years ago and along that journey from 96 through until three years ago. I worked at various radio stations. Mix 102.3 which is part of the ARN network. I worked on breakfast with those guys for about four years and then I went to FiveAA which is a talk station in Adelaide. I hosted the breakfast show with David Penberthy and also Jane Reilly. Again, those names probably don’t mean a lot to people interstate but David’s a very significant talent here in Adelaide and Jane Reilly, bless her heart, has been working with me for probably 30 of those 40 year.

So that was all up until three years ago.

Yeah, fantastic.

So we hit three years ago. There’s something quite big happens. Well, a kind of a whole unraveling of things happen probably is a better way to to put it. I mean…

I’d love for you to take us back to that time and share with us.

I’m gonna.

And I especially would love to know, you know, in the lead up to that what was it like. Kind of a big event that caused the unraveling or was it more like a slow gas leak that, you know, just was infiltrating into your life in ways that perhaps you didn’t even realise? Are you okay to share that with us?

Yeah, for sure, Heidi, and that was a very eloquently put question. I’ve had mental health issues most of my life and I’m an addictive person and so if I have a bar of chocolate, I’ll eat the lot. If there’s a, you know, the bag of almonds here, I’ll have the lot. But sadly, my addictions started when I was 14 with gambling and alcohol and then marijuana, and they went all the way through up until three years ago. But with those addictions you’re either able to hide them or you’re able to control them.

But getting back to your question, look it was a slow leak and that’s a really good way of putting it, and the reason it was a slow leak is because I was very public figure and, to a certain extent, I am now still, but because I was a very public figure I needed to put on a mask and I couldn’t let people in.

I mean, obviously, my then wife, bless her, I love her so dearly but we’re not together anymore, I completely ruined that, but obviously she knew and my family to a large degree knew and my best friends. I didn’t, I don’t have a lot of friends. I didn’t have a lot of friends even during the media times but my close friends sort of had a bit of an idea but no one apart from me knew exactly how I felt. So I guess slow leaks a good way of putting it.

And for a long, long time, I was going to work and I was in a state of… I probably should have thought about a word prior to this interview, but I was just constantly under pressure, I was constantly in fear, I was constantly in dread, you know, in a state of dread I was constantly guilty. A whole range of feelings that are obviously a total waste of time but when you’ve got no control over them or you don’t feel you’ve got control over them, they’re very dominant in your life.

And, of course, the worse I felt, the more I drank. I certainly didn’t smoke marijuana or drink while I was on air, or gamble while I was on air. I can honestly hand on heart say that. You know, that never happened, but as a result of me feeling unwell and the addiction becoming more and more painful, obviously that had an effect on my marriage because Judith, you know, didn’t know what was going on and it was just horrible. You know, I just felt fell in a very deep dark cavern.

You know, three years ago on a particular evening – and I’ll be a bit more specific about that in a second – but in the lead-up to that, you know, I could sort of see it coming. And it’s interesting because I drove a lovely car, I had a lot of money, had a beautiful house, have a lovely wife, beautiful daughter, but all of that’s irrelevant when stuff is going on in here. It’s totally irrelevant.

I can remember someone saying, “I can’t understand why Buddy Franklin gets so depressed.” This was two or three years ago when there was a story floating around when he had a couple of months off because he was unwell and people would say, “I can’t understand why Buddy Franklin’s so depressed. He’s tall, he’s good-looking, he’s dark-tanned, he’s got a beautiful wife, he’s got a lot of money, he plays football, he’s good,” but it’s all irrelevant. Yeah, none of that is…

But anyway, and so it reached a point where I had a major episode when I was out with a lot of people on a particular night and disgraced myself and, you know, I don’t shy away from that. I made a terrible mistake and, as a result of that, I had to leave Channel 10 and then 12 months later I had to leave Nova Entertainment which was where I was working FiveAA. And then six months after that my wife left me.

I mean, I think back, and I was thinking about this an hour or so earlier before this interview, I tend not to think back about that unless we’re in a situation like this because if you do you can slip into that, “Oh, woe is me. Why me?” or even more significantly things like the guilt, the shame. And I’m sort of over that now and I deserve to be over that because because I hurt myself, I hurt a lot of people, I hurt a lot of work mates, I hurt a lot of family, I hurt a lot of friends.

So that’s done. There’s nothing… I mean, well, there is something I can do about it and that’s, you know, be on a better path, but there’s no point in in going back and talking about that in my head. I’m happy to talk about it now to help others but I’m not going to go to bed tonight and put my head on my pillow and go, “Oh, why did I do that that night?” or, “Why didn’t I do…?” So if that makes sense? Yeah, but I guess just to round that out, the whole thing culminated around excessive use of alcohol and drugs and mental health and the combination is lethal and there’s a lot of people who suffer. And the more I felt unwell, the more I drank; the more I drank, the more I felt unwell, and it was just a spiral.

Yeah, it’s just this vicious cycle isn’t it?

yeah it is it is it’s terrible

and mark you know i mean through that

whole time in the lead up to that

kind of moment where you talked about

things really

went bad for you i mean in

leading up to that you were in front of

television you were on radio

you were you were supporting and guiding

and mentoring

major ceos with media training yeah

you were highly functional in

which i mean for anyone looking on you

were highly functional

and i mean you talked about the people

who did know a bit of course but

like how is that how did that

happen how yeah how how is that so

well really chaotic really in the

background

yeah yeah well it’s you’ve got a

screaming monkey on your shoulder but

you’re just getting by

and the monkey just tends to scream a

lot

a lot louder when things are about to

collapse um

look again that’s a really good question

and i think it’s a real i think the the

answer is really important

and the the reason that i was able to do

it was because i

i just needed to bolt the mask on

tighter every every every day as i felt

more unwell

and to give you a snapshot as to how

that would work

around about 20 to six every night i’d

be just

checking my scripts before i went on air

and of course i’d be made up and i’d

have the jacket and the suit and the

tile

and the floor manager would come over

and say mark you’re on in a couple of

minutes and we’ve just gone to the ad

break

and prior to him coming over

probably seven out of ten seven you know

four out of the five days during the

week

i’d feel i don’t want to do this i can’t

do this

what if i make a mistake i’m feeling

terrible

uh and the screaming monkey’s going um

but of course

as soon as he gave me the cue

uh first

it just all stopped and i just did what

i had to do and you’d never have known i

mean there was probably never ever a

time in the 40 years i was on air that

you’d go

he’s not well i mean i just i just

switch

and that becomes very tiring yeah and

and i guess in my life it was

it was a television job that i had to do

but

it it it’ll be different to in

everyone’s life

heidi because there’ll be times where

people are

going back to their wives and they’re

really unhappy and they’ll put that mask

on or they’ll be going back to their job

and they’ll be really unhappy or they’ll

be going to their

family function and they’ll put on a

mask and they’ll be really unhappy

i’m not here to stand on a soapbox and

say you shouldn’t do this or you

shouldn’t do that but what i can say

with absolute clarity

is that if you continue to do that

there’s every chance that what happened

to me will happen to you

i won’t say it definitely will but

there’s every chance because you can’t

keep that up it’s not healthy yeah it’s

not healthy for anyone it’s not

it’s not healthy for it’s not healthy

for the job you’re doing or the people

that you’re working for because you’re

not

you’re giving you feel as though you and

maybe you appear to be giving 100

but are you really no because you’re not

happy there or you’re unwell

so something has to give and it did with

me you know it it did

it was our are you okay day last week

yeah and you know i’ve been thinking

about that in preparation for our

interview and

and knowing how brave you are with you

know saying all of this out loud and

thank you so much because i think i mean

really

to be able to converse about it so we

can reduce the stigma

about it’s okay to say i’m actually not

okay

yeah yeah i mean my question for you

about

that and linking to that day is that i

mean when

when it was just so chaotic and you were

at the depths of depression and

addiction

and and making you know those silly

decisions that you know were not serving

you well professionally or personally

could there have been somebody or or

something particularly that was

said to you that could have

things in a better direction earlier

than

before you you know really unraveled

yeah

what can you say to us who are looking

on to people perhaps

and we might not know because they could

be as highly functioning as you were

[Music]

what do we do as onlookers to help

and again a very poignant question and

probably the most

important question i think you’ll ask

tonight in terms of my answer

when i when i and i’m not doing a lot of

it but when i talk

publicly about this sort of stuff i

worked for the

police force here in adelaide 12 months

ago i did some presentations just

recently for a real estate business

i spoke to a football club what i tend

to do and i’m answering your question

here

what i tend to do is i tend to talk

about what happened to me

and of course it got worse because i

went to rehab obviously uh which was 16

months ago i mean that’s that’s

that’s when it sort of reached us

absolute zenith i guess

but when i talk to organizations and

individuals

my absolute crystal clear message

is is so short and so obvious

but obviously you need to just explain

your story and explain

to people what happened and then you

know how bad it got and then

the journey i’m on now and it’s a

journey i don’t think you ever get there

but it’s a journey so i’m certainly not

here to stand up and say i’m 100

i’m really good but i’m it’s a daily

almost an

hourly thing but my message heidi is and

this relates to your question

is that if i had my time again

25 years ago i would have done something

because 25 30 years ago i knew something

wasn’t right

but hindsight’s a great thing but i

guess

my message is simply this if you

feel and this is the metaphor i use when

i when i speak to groups

i reached a fork in the road

metaphorically speaking i reached a fork

in the road and on the left hand side of

that road

was the road or the the path that i’d

been down

uh but of course not down to the depths

but i’d been down that road

and that was dark and it was depressing

and it was horrifying and it was

worrying and concerning and it was full

of um

sadness and and and all that and i know

that sounds terribly depressing but that

that’s

that’s really that’s how i would

describe that path

so when i reached the fork and the road

when i when i had my breakdown and then

consequently went to

um went to rehab or prior to going to

rehab

i was down that road and the reason i

was down that road was because i didn’t

really

understand how to get out of it i it

wasn’t

it wasn’t that i didn’t have the courage

i just didn’t have the tools i didn’t

have

the understanding i i felt totally

overwhelmed that i just genuinely felt

to i generally thought to myself you

know what this is just not going away

so so i i didn’t seek specific help

and i didn’t and and and i didn’t make

key decisions in my life

that i knew were going to help me like

stop drinking or at least go to ia

or do something about your drug use or

or obviously do something about your

mental health

issues or do something about your

gambling i did nothing

yeah i didn’t do anything so my advice

to anyone who either sees someone who’s

about to put their toe

in that path on that ground in that path

to the left

or in that path my advice is pull them

back and say hey

please don’t go down that path let’s try

and work on this

because the path i’m on now which is

bright

which is happy which is confident which

is enlightening

which is rich which is all of those all

of those adjectives and all those

descriptive words

is is just it’s just so much easier

and i i just want to say this though i

have to i have to make sure that i stay

on that path because it’s not automatic

yeah it’s not automatic i don’t want to

go back to the other path and i can

almost guarantee you i won’t but i can’t

guarantee you i won’t

but one thing i can guarantee you with

one thing i can guarantee you

and those listening and watching is that

i will do everything now i possibly can

to stay on that path

whereas before it was just my default

path yeah does that make sense it was

long and convoluted but

like that path like that path i was on

what was yeah

long and convoluted quite jagged at

times

excuse me yeah yeah you so

you know during that time i mean you you

lost your career

you lost your marriage yeah i you know

in my research for our talk tonight if

those two things did not stop you

immediately did they

you tried you kept going because

i just like part of that i don’t know if

it’s part of the same thing but i

i just want to say it i mean you don’t

you don’t get addicted to to drugs and

alcohol

and gambling unless i mean you talk

about an addictive personality but of

course

there’s other stuff behind that that

makes you want to take drugs and

gamble yeah correct look a hundred

percent heidi and and look

you know and you’d know this and i’m

sure a lot of our a lot of the viewers

would know this as well

it’s a horrible cycle because you feel

unwell mentally you take drugs

or you gamble or you drink uh you wake

up the next morning you feel terrible

uh you start to feel depressed again so

you take more

when you take when you when you not

necessarily having a bet but when you

take drugs or alcohol you tend to feel

better for that period of time

next morning you feel worse you feel

more depressed you take more and then of

course if you’re an addictive

personality like mine

then what happens in the end it

completely unravels your life

yeah it completely unravels your life i

mean

that that that’s the horror of of of

having an addictive personality

i i guess and again i’m not an expert in

this i’m not a practitioner i’m not a

psychiatrist or a psychologist

i’m not a social worker i’m none of that

i’m i’m just talking from my experience

but things might have been different if

i didn’t have an addictive

nature or god forbid if my father hadn’t

have asked me to

if i wanted to have a bet when i was 14

years of age i don’t know but

if if i wasn’t an addictive person or

have if i didn’t have an addictive

nature

or personality then perhaps after a

couple of years when i was 15 16 17 of

not feeling well

maybe things might have been different i

i might not have been heavily into

alcohol and drugs and gambling

i might have just been doing nothing and

feeling bad and then gone to a doctor

and got well i don’t know

but the combination of the two or the

combination of the four

and thank god i never took ice or heroin

but the combination of

of all of them uh is is just uh it’s

just a

yeah it’s it’s just uh

a um it’s just a license to

ruin your life and and sadly ruin other

people’s lives as well which is

something that i need to be really

careful about that i don’t get too too

down about because

there’s not much you can do about that

you just have to apologize and move on

so you’ve got some non-negotiable habits

yeah behaviors now that you

you know you’re really really strong on

yeah what are they

okay so uh not drinking and not using

drugs

uh are the two main ones i’m still

getting therapy for gambling

um but the drugs and the alcohol

is that what you’re saying say again

it’s not because gambling’s not as easy

for you to give up

no it hasn’t been it hasn’t been

yeah it it and and i’m not saying it’s

it’s a major issue for me

uh right now but it could be yeah

it could be i mean it’s always it could

be you know someone offers me some coke

down the road and i said i’ll just have

one and then all of a sudden two weeks

later

i’m coked out all day yeah that that’s

that’s the danger of of this

and that’s why you know you can ha

that’s that’s why

you can have one glass of red one night

or two maybe even three

i can’t i just can’t i can’t do that i

mean i’ve proven that for 46 years

so so the non-negotiables are

the alcohol and and the drugs and

there are other non-negotiables which

are a little bit more interesting

and one of them is and i explained it at

the start under no circumstances am i

going to put myself down

because i’ve done that enough i’ve done

that for i’ve done that for the bulk of

my life

and and so under no so i pull myself up

um there’s another general

non-negotiation but it’s not so much

non-negotiable but i i’ve changed my we

actually spoke about this a while back

when i spoke to um

six months ago i’ve made a really

concerted effort to change the language

that i use about myself

and when i talk to others about me

and and that’s important because if you

use the language that

i was using prior to the breakdown and

prior to going into rehab

it was it was just appalling i mean it

was just yeah

and there’s no point in talking to

yourself like that because

and i don’t mean this in a negative way

but i mean enough people will put you

down you don’t need to be putting

yourself down so

and i don’t mean that rudely but you

know there’s no point in that

um and yeah and i have a couple of other

non-negotiables which are a bit more

personal but

in a general sense they’re those and and

and you just need

as simple as this sounds you just need

to stick by those and

and and and make sure that make sure

that you

are on to them all the time yeah

absolutely not once a week not once a

day

but constantly you know if i’m driving

down taking my beautiful dog

uh to the to the park in the morning and

i start to feel a bit flat

or i start to reminisce then i snap

out of it now the reason i snap out of

it is because i’ve made that commitment

to do that so

you sort of have to make a bit of a plan

and i journal as well i keep a journal

on how i’m feeling and

how i’m going and um yeah

well i think for all of us you know i

mean certainly you know not everyone has

to have

got to the point that you’ve got to but

we all have our our stuff right that

can you know take us off track for

what our purpose in life or what you

know our trajection is whatever that

might be

and we have to be aware of those those

bottlenecks all those

those things that the choices that we

make that actually can stop us

from continuing to move forward and once

we acknowledge them

that’s when we can do something about

them right you know it’s got to start

with acknowledgement

yeah heidi that’s so true and you know

i’m just getting back into

i mean you know obviously when that all

occurred at channel 10

i then started living by myself and then

as i explained

16 months ago i went to rehab and i was

there for two months

and i’ve been clean ever since which i’m

very proud of but

um yeah yeah but um but the the thing

i’m just patting my dog

it looks a bit odd with my shoulders

down here

are you just scratching your foot i’m

just scratching my foot well i’d have a

very long arm if i was doing that

um but i think that you’ve hit on

on another really really poignant um

topic and point and that is that

for me to to get back to where i want to

be and that’s not

necessarily presenting at channel 10 or

hosting a breakfast show but

for me to get back to to to at least

being an achiever where

having said that i was probably never an

achiever where i was totally confident

but

to get back to really being able to

serve which i’m really doing well now

and doing workshops and i’m not here to

plug what i do that’s

not at all but just the point is if i if

i’m doing a workshop or if i’m doing

some media stuff with someone

or i do two radio shows as you know just

on a small radio station in adelaide

which is a

wonderful thing the people at radio

italia have been great to me

but if i’m to do all that stuff this is

the point i’m getting to if i’m to do

all of that stuff to the best of my

ability

then i have to be switched on

mentally physically spiritually and i

haven’t been switched on

mentally physically spiritually for 46

years

yeah so being off all of those things

and having the different attitude means

that

means that i get my confidence back

i get my self-esteem back i

i still have baggage but i’m able to

park it

and i’m able to put my efforts into

doing what i want to do at the highest

level and i’ve never experienced that

really

and i often think back and i know this

is pointless

but i often because i do think i was a

good presenter i think i did a really

good job and i don’t mean that

big-headedly but i mean i did it for 40

years i suppose you probably need

if you weren’t reasonably good at it

after 40 years then something’s wrong

i would have said get out alone that’s

right but i

i wonder i wonder how much better i

could have been

and what i could have done if i had been

well

and if i hadn’t had the addiction issues

i had because whenever i got an

opportunity to do something nationally i

always froze i always panicked i always

took a step back

and i watched other people and when they

got an opportunity to do something

nationally or at a higher level most of

them put their foot forward

and they said yes pick me and some of

them weren’t that good with respect

but they said pick me pick me i never

did that i always went oh

really me yeah and that attitude has to

stop if you want to be a high achiever

that attitude has to stop

yeah well mark you know i think we all

we all suffer

that kind of stuff don’t we really yeah

that’s that

whole kind of imposter syndrome that yes

yeah

we no matter you know whether it’s am i

going to be able to lead the

you know the d grade softball team in my

primary school

or is it some kind of big national event

we we all can suffer from it and it’s a

terrible place to be especially when

you know you’re obviously a very

talented

media expert um but the thing is

you know you talk about what you know

what could i have been well what are you

going to be now mark that yeah

that’s the better question now you’re in

the right place to be whoever you want

to be

and you know i can’t wait to watch that

well neither can i actually and and

that’s that’s a good point

and um that that that yeah that that’s

certainly a better question

see how i feel back into it yeah you did

i just fell back into it but that’s okay

that’s okay

yeah i’ve snapped i’ve snapped out of it

i’m to have another glass of milk and

i’m going to snap out of it

hey mark you’ve got a gorgeous dog

called jack

tell me tell me about the kind of impact

that jeff

jack has had on your recovery well that

that’s

going to probably make come here that’s

probably going to make me feel a bit

emotional because

jack has been um come here come here

come here look look look hang on come

here

come here come here come over here come

over here there

oh i can see you the end of the bottom

of him

oh now i see your nose hello jack

yeah um look jack imagine doing this on

a tv

news just move the camera

this is the wine and wisdom show we can

do whatever we want we just move the

camera wherever we want

um jack has been um

yeah jack has been so important to me um

he’s been through

the last five or six or seven years and

when i split up with judith

um he he came with me and the cat stayed

with judith and

and he’s he’s seen me at my worst and

he’s seen me

at my best and jack’s happy if i’m happy

he’s happy if he’s fed if he’s walked

and if he’s loved

and um he uh he’s the most

important thing in my life i

yeah i mean i have a daughter bridget

she’s a beautiful beautiful girl and i

love her dearly obviously

and so i guess to be truthful she’s i’m

just going to put put my

hands over his ears here

bridget is probably without doubt the

most important person in my life but

jack is the most

important friend in my life and

he’s uh he’s been there through all of

it and

seen it and probably been horrified and

worried but

and knows dog dogs know they do know

yeah

they know i’ll get home and if i’m

really happy which i am these days

he knows if i get home and i’m a bit

snappy or whatever he knows and

but he never questions he’s always there

for support you know and anyone who’s

got a dog will understand that

absolutely yeah we we we have one of

those and gosh

what a difference it can make on those

days when it just feels like that black

cloud is going to wrap you up

and then just bury you

the love of the dog and that that

greeting and just

that intuition they seem to have is

so special yeah yeah yeah he he’s

he is beautiful and uh i’m going to have

one last go at this he is beautiful here

jack look

here come on jack let’s see him

come here i can see you can you see

hi jack we’re watching you hey there you

go who’s that

there’s going to be thousands of people

watching now you know

yeah he’s very important

he’s very important to me heidi yeah

absolutely i wish i could give him a hug

i have two final questions for you um

you know

i do a lot of work around resilience

and about in to ensure that we are

resilient to

the you know really curveballs and

cannonballs that can come into our lives

um you’ve certainly been knocked by a

number of cannonballs

they’re not just those kind of little

curveballs they are some big ones

you talked about what you take out of

your day you know you say

i don’t drink i don’t take drugs what

put into your day every single day to

ensure you are resilient enough

to fight the demons that i know that you

have to fight still

despite the fact you’re clean despite

the fact you’re confident despite the

fact that you are

sharing your story and helping others

those demons are still trying to grab at

you at times i’m sure

we’re talking about i’m not sure and i

know yeah yeah

you put in to ensure that you can be a

resilient enough

to push them away enough yeah so it’s

another very good question so the

obvious one

is what we spoke about and the things

that that i’ve decided i’m not going to

do under any circumstances

um that that that’s number one number

two

is and i mentioned this earlier but i’ll

just explain a bit more keeping

physically

mentally and spiritually fit so i do

meditation in the morning

i go to the gym and i swim

i mean obviously the gyms were all

closed here for a while but they’re back

and that’s when i really appreciated it

so that’s my spiritual time i go there

and i sit in the sauna

i spend a lot of time in the sauna then

i go and have a have a swim i generally

do about between 15 and 20 laps

i know this sounds really obvious and

basic but it’s so important to me

if i’m if i’m just feeling a bit a bit

off or a bit slightly off then i head to

the gym it might be that

it’s the second time during the day

that’s the most important thing for me

i make sure that i’m organized and i’m

not rushing from here to there to here

to there to doing this to doing that

because that causes stress

and so i always planned my day the night

before and again i know this is basic i

understand that

but it just takes the stress out of yeah

out of the day

together yeah yeah yeah yeah

you know i’m not anal to the level of

and some people i know are anal to the

level of backing their car in so they

don’t have to back it out so they can

drive it straight out or

or having all of their clothes out

perfectly for the next day i’m not that

anal but i can see why people would do

it because it’s all organized and ready

to go

yeah absolutely that’s fine right yeah

yeah yeah

i take jack for a walk in the mornings

and at night which is

uh not at night recently because i’ve

been working a bit but

as often as i can at night but generally

in the mornings and that again is really

important for him but it’s important for

me

but i think the most important thing

which is wrapped up in all of those

things is to have a purpose

and i think what happened was just

briefly to go back for a second i think

when i

left channel 10 and for that three years

until i went to rehab

i’d lost my purpose i’d lost i’d

obviously lost my drive and i’d lost my

confidence but

i didn’t have a purpose there’s no

reason for me to get up

in the morning i wasn’t working there

was no reason

i mean it and and sometimes i didn’t and

that’s when it gets really dangerous so

just to make that point if you’ve got a

purpose

and i guess a good way to illustrate

that just really quickly was when my

father

three or four weeks before my father

passed away he had a purpose all the way

through his illness all the way through

his life actually but

all and he was a top athlete but all the

way through but in the last two or three

weeks his purpose

changed and and i understand that

i mean in the end his purpose was just

simply to get out of bed and sit in the

chair

he had a purpose but he had a purpose

until the very last moment that he

his very last breath and that was so

important to him he didn’t want

because he was in an aged care facility

for the last four months he saw people

in those aged care facilities with no

purpose at all

and he didn’t want that until the day he

died so

having a purpose heidi is what i’ll

finish on

if you’ve got a purpose and then you

wrap everything up that i’ve just

mentioned you know

the gym taking the dog for a walk being

organized

and i guess the other thing i’d say

that’s really important

is that and again this sounds so basic

but when something doesn’t go your way

rather than

rather than thinking about how bad it

was

or how or or i shouldn’t have done that

maybe just think about doing it better

next time

if you can think that way then what that

does is that will give you confidence

the next time you do it and the next

time you do it might not work out either

but you do exactly the same thing

but you can’t think that way when you’re

unwell no

you can’t think that way when you’re

high on coke yeah

right you can’t do it yeah your brain

won’t function in a way that can help

yeah no you have to be in the state that

i’m in now

to be able to think that way yeah

yeah i know i mean i i think i purpose

far out it’s just the foundation of

what we need to keep putting that one

foot in front of the other in

in the good times and in the bad times

yeah

that’s it we’ve got to be working

towards something you know there’s got

to be a purpose to it and

people talk about um you know big goals

and i i know

they’re important but to me really

it is that purpose yeah that is the

important part for us all yeah it is and

and we could talk about that for ages

but the goals are important but

and the journey’s important but

sometimes when you get there you’re

still

unsatisfied so that’s a bit of an issue

so if you concentrate on the now and do

everything and

just do everything you can right now

don’t worry about the past don’t worry

about the future

i know that contradicts what i say about

having a purpose but what i mean by that

is

if you just concentrate on doing your

job now then tomorrow will take care of

itself and then the next day will take

care of itself and

and and i remember i think it was nixon

wasn’t it when nixon got the flick as

the u.s president

he was interviewed by frost and i think

frost said to him what was the hardest

thing that you found and he said

i didn’t have a purpose i got up in the

morning i didn’t

i didn’t have a purpose i’d have and of

course that means you see

that and this is a topic for another day

but that means that he really defined

himself by his job which i don’t want to

do

i don’t want to do that yeah but but it

but it does help you when you’ve got a

job

because that that obviously helps you

financially and obviously helps you

because you’ve got things to do but

there are other things to do that aren’t

a job

that can still give you that same that

same purpose

absolutely yeah with without doubt and

i mean that i don’t know if it’s going

to be the same answer

sort of kind of to my last question for

you and that is

when you think back over the years um

i’m and i’m sure

when you were in that really bad place a

lot of people had

all this advice for you um but

i’d like you to think about what was the

piece

the most impactful piece of wisdom that

you were given

and what impact did that have on you and

what have you done because of that

well that’s a good question without

notice but i think i can probably answer

and there’s probably

look i i think i think the best way to

answer that is over the years i probably

haven’t been offered a lot of

significant advice because i don’t have

i didn’t have a lot of friends

a lot of people didn’t really know what

to say yeah you know

a lot of people didn’t understand um

but when i went to rehab um jackson opie

who was the

he’s one of the owners of um the hayden

clinic which is where i went and i’m

very grateful for jackson

he i haven’t spoken to him for a while

but he he really was

you know i suppose in a lot of ways he

sort of partly

saved my life really my sister and my

best mate were the ones that got me to

to in the end agreed to go to rehab but

jackson took me in and

looked after me i can remember doing the

exit interview with him about two days

before i was about to leave

yeah and it’s quite a significant

interview and actually we recorded it

and i actually put it on facebook he

allowed me to do that

so it was it was an interview about how

do you feel do you think you’re going to

be able to be okay do you need to be

able to cope and all that sort of stuff

and and i was really confident i was

really happy and i was really high

you you when you’re in rehab for that

period of time and you’re about to come

out you

you suffer what’s called not suffer but

you have what’s called the uh i think

it’s called the pink cloud which is

where you’re sort of euphoric because

you’ve done so well you you know you’re

off everything and one so much

but you didn’t have a lot of

responsibility in there because your

food’s cooked for you

you know everything’s clean for you you

know your bills are being paid for you

so all of a sudden you come out and then

all of a sudden you’re back to reality

but anyway

he said to me heidi he said just

understand

that this has been a really traumatic

experience for you and for a lot of

people he said

there’s no getting getting away from

that but and this is a bit

similar to what what i said to you

earlier but he said

you’re not going to move forward unless

you move forward

and i said can you just explain that and

he said well

what i mean by and of course i

understand what what he means now

what he meant was you can’t live in the

past

and you just can’t whip yourself for

stuff that you can’t change

back then and he said and i haven’t

spoken him for a while and i’d look

forward to having a chat to him and i

think he’d be really proud of me but

the point he was making was if you live

in the past

if you live in your own pity party

if you blame others if you don’t take

responsibility

then nothing’s going to change

so but that caught me by on the hop that

question i hadn’t really thought about

that but

i hope that made sense but but that

really did make a lot of it it made a

lot of sense and

and it is so true and others might have

said that to me as well but he certainly

said it in a

uh at a more poignant time as i say i

was sitting in the

in the psychologist’s psychiatrist room

with

jackson and i with a microphone in

between us we were doing my exit

interview it was quite hilarious really

i mean it wasn’t a hilarious interview

quite hilarious that anyway that’s

that’s modern media i suppose and he was

happy happy to do it and i was happy to

do it but no

that that was very that that comment and

that

that discussion we had about that

particular situation and

how to move forward was very important

to me yeah

well mark thank you for sharing your

story being brave enough

to continue to say it out loud um i i

know

you your purpose for it all is for

everybody to understand that you

you can get to the very rock bottom you

can get there

but still come back out again and i mean

just

to hear about how bad it was for you but

yet

here you are saying it out loud loud

having that courage

share your story in the hope that i mean

if if you could

impact one person between now and the

time you die

i would imagine that would be

a great gift that you could give

somebody yeah yeah and

and look it’s a bit selfish because you

know whenever i do a

and as i said i don’t do many of them

but whenever i talk to an organisation

or a group of individuals

i do always walk away feeling really

good yeah

i feel i mean i i feel good for them

hoping

that i’ve i’ve helped someone but i also

feel good for myself i mean i wish i

didn’t have to do it i wish it hadn’t

happened but it did so

you know at least i can hopefully bring

some good and and i i don’t

you know i don’t want to say that

everything is

absolutely 100 because with anyone it

never is

it never is you know i mean but it’s 200

better than what it was so but no thanks

heidi thank you thank you and

yeah i guess i’d just leave you uh

and and the viewers and and the

listeners with with what i said halfway

through the discussion and that is you

know

if you feel as though you’re heading

toward that that really nasty path

uh or you see someone tipping their toe

into that path and please do something

just talk to them

or if it’s you just talk to someone else

and just say hey

because it can happen very quickly yeah

yeah

thank you mark and and thank you for

everybody who’s watching either now

or or later which often happens

obviously with facebook lives and if you

do have any

questions for mark about um recovery or

what to do or how to talk to somebody

who you are worried about you know

please put them in the comments and we

will

check in on that i’m also going to put

in mark’s

uh contact social media site so you can

see the work that he’s doing i’ll also

going to put in

um are you okay did an amazing

conversation guide that they released

last week to coincide with the day

which was all about you know it’s hard

to have those conversations with someone

you’re worried about

and it was an excellent guide

if they say this or if they behave this

way what are some things that you can

actually say to them and

yeah i think that you know just saying

are you okay

is not enough of course and they never

meant for them to be around just that

expression

yeah i’ve released this guide so i will

include it because i think that’s a

really important part of

exactly what you’re doing mark by you

know

trying to get people just to have those

conversations yeah well that guide’s

really important i’m glad you brought

that up actually i didn’t realize that

uh because it in again how do you make a

great point and that is that it is

difficult for people

to know what to say generally it’s all

about listening but there’s even a

technique in that

and it’s it’s not from what i understand

it’s not about making the person feel

guilty or feel worried

it’s more about hey you know um can we

talk about this or do you want to talk

about this i mean maybe that’s not even

the right way to say it i don’t know but

the guy would give you good detail about

that

it will so i will i will share that but

for everybody

um watching thank you for being here we

very much appreciate

uh you actually even thinking this is a

worthwhile conversation which of course

it is um we know that right now

being 2020 it’s a very very difficult

year on top of

what a lot of people are already

experiencing as adversities in their

lives i mean beyond blue

they’re 66 up on uh phone calls to them

so there is a lot of people out there

who are really struggling with mental

ill health

and i think we’ve all got a

responsibility

we are a a big global community

that has an opportunity to change

or even save a life by just

speaking out and checking on people so

i think i’m going to leave it there for

tonight mark thank you so much for your

time

thank you so much for your courage and

um

it’s been an absolute pleasure to listen

to your inspiring story

thanks heidi night everybody

About Mark Aiston:

Mark Aiston has worked in the Australian media since 1980.

Initially starting as a race caller, then moving into television at the ABC and from 1996 mark was the chief football reporter and sports host at Network Ten.

During his tenure at ten Mark worked on many nation sporting programs including The Sydney Olympics, Bathurst, The Indi cars, Moto GP, The Sydney to Hobart, The Melbourne Cup, Clipsal 500 and the World Netball Championships.

Mark has also hosted a number of major radio shows including breakfast at Mix 102.3 and Five AA.

Mark is a major advocate for mental health and addiction.

In 2017 mark’s life changed dramatically when he lost his roles on television and radio and his marriage collapsed.

All due to his own mental health and addiction issues.16 months ago Mark went to Melbourne and stayed at the harder Clinic, a rehab facility.  Since then mark has been clean and is re-building his life.

Mark runs Mediainsider, a media training and communications business and is a keynote speaker focusing on his life, and how he is working this way back from the black hole.

Mark has a dog Jack, which he says is the love of his life.

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