Sober in Singapore: How A Lonely Executive Quit Drinking and Turned His Life Around. Interview with Nick Jonsson

Episode 165 May 15, 2024 00:44:52
Sober in Singapore: How A Lonely Executive Quit Drinking and Turned His Life Around. Interview with Nick Jonsson
Alcohol Tipping Point
Sober in Singapore: How A Lonely Executive Quit Drinking and Turned His Life Around. Interview with Nick Jonsson

May 15 2024 | 00:44:52

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Hosted By

Deb Masner

Show Notes

On the show today is Nick Jonsson, co-founder of Executives’ Global Network (EGN) in Southeast Asia and an advocate for personal and professional mental health. EGN, a professional network, fosters connections through confidential peer support groups across the globe. Nick is also the author of Executive Loneliness: The 5 Pathways to Overcoming Isolation, Stress, Anxiety, and Depression in the Modern Business World and an accomplished Ironman athlete. He marks six years of alcohol freedom this May and shares his transformative journey with us. 

In this episode, we discuss: 

Plus, more insights and experiences! 

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Speaker A: Welcome to the Alcohol Tipping Point podcast. I'm your host, Deb Masner. I'm a registered nurse, health coach, and alcohol free badass. I have found that there's more than one way to address drinking. If you've ever asked yourself if drinking is taking more than it's giving, or if you found that you're drinking more than usual, you may have reached your own alcohol tipping point. The alcohol tipping point is a podcast for you to find tips, tools, and thoughts to change your drinking. Whether you're ready to quit forever or a week, this is the place for you. You are not stuck, and you can change. [00:00:34] Speaker B: Let's get started. Welcome back to the show. I am excited to have Nick Johnson on the show all the way, calling in from Singapore, but he has already told me an interesting background. I was excited to have him reach out to share his experience. That is unique, I think. I think he has a unique story, but very relatable, even to people all over the world, whether you are an executive or you're a housewife, like, we can all kind of relate to this feeling of loneliness, of overwhelm and then seeking help and then changing our lives by changing our drinking. So I just want to welcome Nick to the show. Welcome, Nick. [00:01:27] Speaker C: Thank you so much, Deborah. It's great to be here. [00:01:31] Speaker B: Well, I would love for you to share a little bit more about yourself, how you're coming to us from Singapore, what you're doing now, and then we'll get into more of your story. [00:01:45] Speaker C: Absolutely. So I was born in Sweden, educated in Australia, and then I lived and worked the last 20 years in Southeast Asia, mainly in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. And my story then is that as I studied in Australia, I started to get the taste for success already at university, working hard to get scholarships and chasing, you know, becoming top of the class and stuff. That's something then, that I brought with me into the workplace, looking only for getting the promotion, pleasing the bosses, hitting the results, and really got caught in that rat race of success. I didn't really think or question who I was or what was the purpose of all of this. And it was only coming to an end about ten years ago. It started to come to an end when I really started to realize, why did I work so hard for this, for nothing? And during that time, though, I was indeed dealing with loneliness, and I didn't talk to anyone about it. My way to get through this was by alcohol. And eventually that also started to cause some problems for me. So I'm happy to share anything more today on the show as well. About this, Deba. [00:02:53] Speaker B: Yeah, I'm just so interested in your circumstances now, since you come from, like, you've had experience living in Sweden, Australia and Asia. I'm just curious, like, what are the differences in drinking cultures in those three different areas? [00:03:14] Speaker C: Well, Sweden might be seen as a country where you are socially acceptable to drink a lot on the weekend and traditionally not so socially acceptable on drinking during the work days. That is now blending as we can easily turn Wednesday into the weekend and then socializing and after work, drinks have become more of a norm. But that was not the case when I grew up, and there was hardly any pubs in Sweden back then. But now it is, for example. So it has changed in Australia, of course. You know, coming from cold, dark Sweden down to sunny, hot Australia, it was, for me, summer all around, which means that it felt almost like I was on holiday all the time. So a cold beer tasted good all the time, I thought. So my drinking took off in Australia. And Australians really, they love the drink and socializing around drinking and pubs everywhere and so on. So it's a big drinking culture there then in Asia, coming there as an expat, the westerner, then we seem to live in our own little bubble with other expats. And while the locals don't consume too much alcohol, the expat do. And the culture there is that we, you know, you meet after work, perhaps you've been working in an office where 200 people speak another language, which you don't speak. And you might just be feeling isolated and lonely just by the fact that you cannot understand all the conversations in the office. And then naturally, you want to meet some people who can speak your language after the office. Of course, you can do what I do these days instead. Meet with your grinding group or your swim academy or do something meaningful. But that's not what I did. Or many expats do. You tend to meet at a pub, and that becomes then the norm is after work, you go and meet at the pub and you have some drinks. And that's what I fell into, and that was not a good, good path to be on. [00:05:02] Speaker B: Yeah, that is so interesting. It's interesting to hear these different geographical perspectives and then how it's changing, but how sometimes even the climate can affect it. Like you were saying, like, Australia just kind of felt like a party in a way, all the time. Okay, so you then worked as an executive, and you found yourself turning to alcohol to cope also because of, like, this unique circumstance of being an executive. Can you kind of talk about that feeling of isolation and loneliness. And I guess also tied to what you were saying, living as an expat in a country that's not your own, and then trying to connect and fit in, like, gosh, that was a lot of different identities going on and very interesting. Can you share your experience with that? [00:06:03] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:06:04] Speaker C: So I was quite, getting quite some health consciousness inside me around 2010, and I started to control my drinking. I remember after that, I was quite firm with myself, even stopping by at the bar. You know, it was three beers max on a weekday, and I could let have more on Sundays. That used to be the day because I'm also an athlete. I trained for triathlon and so on. And therefore, after Sunday, I deserved, you know, to have some more drinks. But I was really controlling myself for a few years there. And I remember even my colleagues thought that, you know, that I didn't drink much and so on, but I did it because I wanted to drop weight and I wanted to perform well in my sport and I wanted to feel well. But then a few years later, around 2015, when I started to have feelings of really of isolation, loneliness, and when my marriage was also falling apart and I started to question myself, that's when I let go of those. I lost the control. And I thought, it doesn't matter anyway, so I stopped exercising. And then instead of having the three beers, I thought, well, I'm not going to exercise and be up early tomorrow morning anyway, so why bother? And that's when I just decided to just keep drinking. And it went from being controlled to completely out of control quite quickly. And I was out of control drinking for almost three years before I hit my rock bottom then. [00:07:33] Speaker B: And what made you change from the. [00:07:37] Speaker C: Rock bottom and coming out of there was basically because I really thought that life was over. I reached a point in 2018 when I remember lying on my bed, looking at my left foot, which was swollen like an elephant foot at the time. And I had been to doctors and they done x rays. They checked it for gout, everything. They couldn't find anything wrong with it. It was on the later psychologist diagnosis at the psychosomatic illness. It was basically the level of anxiety and depression that I was in at the time. And I really didn't know how I could stop consuming alcohol at the time. It became my medication, and I was not drinking hard liquor. I was just mainly drinking beer but around the clock just to medicate myself at this stage, just to control my nerve system and topping that up with valium and other kind of medicine. Just to get by. And that's easy to buy over the counter in Asia anywhere. So that was my life at the time. I wrote my will, my testament, signed up for life insurance, and it was when I sent these documents to all my closest in my family. But then they realized that something might not be quite right here. Until that point. On the outside, apart from my swollen foot and gaining weight, everyone thought that I was doing well. And I think just to add to this, is that I think the worse we are internally, perhaps, the more we smile, the more we are bubbly and happy on the outside, because we don't want someone to expose us. So I really covered it up well to the point where no one had any idea. And it was only then I shared with my new partner, who today is my sober wife, as I say, that things started to change. [00:09:25] Speaker B: Wow, that's so interesting that, like, the psychosomatic illness of your foot, like, as a nurse, I'm like, wow, what was going on there? That's so interesting? So for a while there, like health and fitness and being an athlete was keeping the guardrails on, and then the guardrails came off as regards to that. And then that's when you just started using alcohol more and more. But on the outside, you were successful, successful businessman, executive, the happy clown, that kind of stereotype. [00:10:06] Speaker C: Yes, absolutely. And, you know, I'm an introvert, Deborah, but I really love to have some close conversations. I feel very comfortable with that and go deep in having these conversations. I'm not so comfortable otherwise with, you know, the big settings, the huge ballroom kind of networking events and so on. But with a drink in me, I have no problems with them whatsoever. And naturally, because of the person I had, I always attracted all the kind of leadership positions with that kind of the outgoing guy, you know? But it was me having a few drinks in me. I became the president of the university golf club. I was the captain of the golf club and so on. And while I was passionate for golf, during the time in Australia, for example, it was not that I was the best golfer, but I was the outgoing guy, grabbing people together, at least after a couple of beers. But that is not me these days. That's not what I do. I take other. I do social service. I have more one on one, deeper conversations. I rather stay home and read a fantastic book or have a meaningful conversation or go for a bike ride, which I would do after our podcast this morning here. And that is me. But alcohol just changed me into some person, which I'm not. [00:11:19] Speaker B: I can relate to that. And I've heard a lot of people say, like, gosh, I thought I was extroverted. I thought I was a really group social person. But I realized it was the alcohol that was doing it. And I'd rather do, like you were saying, like, the more one on one things, the introspective things, time for yourself, that sort of thing. But I can see how it, like, feeds on itself because you were getting all this external validation, being the leader of your golf team, being kind of the social leader, the social guy. And you get a lot of positive reinforcement that way, which then also makes you keep drinking because it's like, oh, I guess drinking is making me more fun or the life of the party, even though it's not. Yeah, the change is so interesting. I've just always liked to hear just what people are really like when they remove the alcohol. You know, then you really get to discover what you're like rather than what you're putting on for other people. So then how did you quit drinking? [00:12:33] Speaker C: Yeah. So then taking you back then to April May 2018. So I got exposed by sending those emails. And I had met the woman who today, yes, is my wife. And I decided for the first time in my life, really to share with the human being about my inner feelings that I protected for so long. We had just gotten married then three weeks before, and I thought that she deserved to know how I feel internally. And I then explained it really honestly to her, and she just listened and gave me full support. And before I realized this, she grabbed me and took me to a doctor, and she explained my full story to the doctor as well. So I was exposed twice within basically 2 hours. After that, she walked me to a friend who had had problem with alcohol before, a woman who had sobered up. And she gave my wife lots of phone numbers of others in recovery community, which she connected me with, and they started calling me and meeting me. So within 24 hours, I was exposed so many times. It was big shock for me, right, to keep being exposed. But what happened was that everyone who listened or everyone I spoke with were just willing support and showing understanding. So all the stigma that had built up all the pain and all this, you know, the fear of being exposed was now disappearing. So there I was, and it was almost like I had a v shaped recovery out of that. And it was like the signals then was there that this is going to be okay. I started to get some trust. I didn't stop the drinking right then. I tried on the 4 May, which was about two three weeks later to stop by myself. I failed, but my wife was by my side. I remember managing to lunchtime, and then I started really shake and get really sick. And she had to go and buy. I remember the last six pack of beer for me. I drank that. And then I promised her, we go to the hospital tomorrow. And we went to the hospital next day, and I was still quite scared. And they wanted to impatient me. They wanted. And I remember calling my dad because it was quite a substantial amount they wanted as a deposit to get me sober. And I didn't want that because I was scared of spending the money. I didn't want to be impatient, so I refused. But my wife managed to then talk to them. I got the injection, the medications that I needed, and I could be basically outpatient and coming back the next day, and that is when I had my. So that was the moment I sobered up. I haven't had a drink since then, and that is actually six years this Sunday. So that was how I started to be on this beautiful path. [00:15:20] Speaker B: Wow. Well, congratulations, I think. You know, sharing our stories is so powerful. And like you said, we're scared to, like, just reveal ourselves because of the shame involved. But when you do, it's like, shame can't live in the light. You have to shine light on it. You have to tell your story to people who are safe and people who get it. So part of that, that, like, started your journey and then, like, what has happened in between then and now? Cause you've written a book, you're still living in Asia. Like, what has your life been like since then? And kind of walk us through that. [00:16:04] Speaker C: Yeah. And I'm perhaps a living motto of the slogan that one of the recovery programs have. Right. They talk about the life beyond your wildest dreams. And that's something that I really live and breathe. I just cannot imagine the life I have now. It's really way beyond what I thought. I mean, people say, can you live a life without alcohol? And I remember that was my wife's main concern that day. Also, when we spoke, she said, nick, but you are really enjoying yourself drinking. And she said, you never harmed anyone. Always just so jolly. How will you be able to smile again? That was her concern. And that put some fear in me. And I also didn't know. I didn't know. But as I said, we went to a friend who had some problems before, and that was a question my wife asked. And she said, it will come. Just give it time. Give it time. Just do the work. And it did and we cannot say that this is easy work. This is really, again, as one of the programs, it's an action program, right. I have been showing up. I have been doing the work, and that has given me a life which is beyond, indeed my wildest dreams. The life I lived before, I wouldn't trade for a billion dollars. I would love to keep the life I have. And yes, it is doing the recovery work and so on. And it is about, as you said, sharing the story. So my first year, then in recovery, it was a small, closed circle. I spoke to doctors, therapists, and I started to be in the recovery community, speaking one on one and in group settings and sharing my story inside here. Then one year later, something changed everything forever. And that's when I went public with my story. And I'm happy to share about this as well. [00:17:51] Speaker B: Yeah, I love that. I've been thinking a lot about that. And some people talk about they have two different sober dates. I know Jen Lee Hearst, who's pretty popular on Instagram, talks about she has two different sobriety dates. One is when she actually stopped drinking, and the other is when she came out and told her story. And it had been years later for her. And for some people, they don't share their sobriety stories at all. So that kind of sounds like that was your case, where for a year you worked on it, and then you decided to more publicly share your story. Is that right? Yeah. [00:18:35] Speaker C: So I was told by people in recovery, you know, that this is so quiet, secret. We must not speak about this. Everyone was very scared to be exposed. And I have to say I respected that for others. But something inside me felt that this is wrong because I didn't know about this recovery community. It's like a secret society. I could have gotten help much earlier, you know? And here I was falling so low that I almost died from this. And that was something that was boiling inside me. I said, we need to change this. It needs to be stopped. Calling. There is anonymous. This should be available for everyone. It should be there. But I thought, okay, I respect what is there, so let's not say anything. But then one day, a year later, I lost a friend of mine of suicide, someone I was working with. And that's the day when I called up his brother and I asked for permission to share my story because I was angry. I was pissed off because I felt that this could have been stopped. And while alcohol played one part in his role, but it was the depression and loneliness and isolation that really got him as well. But I got a permission of his brother to shout out a message. And he said, shout it out loud. That's what simon want. And that's when I said, this is going to be my life's mission now. I will not stop. You know, I will be relentless on this. And that's when I made a video for LinkedIn, and I shared my story, and I set up a fund to raise awareness then for this, to break the stigma, to have these conversations. And then I went out for a run. When I came back to my computer, this LinkedIn video had gone viral all around the world. It's been shared so many times, and hundreds of people were writing, sharing on this message. And that gave me then the courage to just keep going. And with that journalist were writing also, I went to live tv library video. There was newspaper articles, and in fact, the biggest media exposure about loneliness, addiction and mental health in Singapore history was written about me. Then a four pages full pages feature about me. So then, of course, there was no turning back. You are all over the pages and so on. And that then formed the foundation for writing a book about this. And really, again, for Simon to live on and to spread a message about this, that we can actually talk about this. We should not keep it secret or anonymous. We need to talk in order to save lives. [00:21:04] Speaker B: Absolutely. And you're kind of focused on the business world. I mean, you mentioned, like, you shared that on LinkedIn, which is usually, typically, especially back then, people don't share personal stuff. You're supposed to hide it. And like you said, there is that. So many people, different professions, whether you're an executive or you're a teacher, or like, I'm a nurse or doctors, I've had judges, lawyers, counselors. They're all really scared to speak publicly, publicly, because they're concerned about their own job security and what it would look like. And, yeah, I can see how that is a huge step. So, prop Odu. [00:21:51] Speaker C: Yeah. And imagine if you're an expat. So many of the expats in Asia would be coming out from the big multinationals in the US, right? And working then stationed in Asia as a regional director, managing director, managing some countries or even the whole region, you're there, you've been sent with the whole family. Your children are in international schools, you know, the company pay for your rent or whatever, because it's difficult to have your own properties and so on. Over in Asia, the legal system is different. Your work permit, your visa, everything is tied to your company. So the fear then of being exposed that if you are doing something that won't just mean that you leave your job or lose your job. You will lose your work permit, and you might have only 30 days to get out of the country. You have to pull out your children from school and, you know, imagine then coming home and telling your spouse this, that our life is changing, you know, and this is what happened to me twice. And it happened once in Vietnam. It happened one time to me in Indonesia. And I was not ready because easily, you know, we are working so hard around the clock for our company serving that that there's no time to keep a plan b ready. I didn't have a cv. I didn't have any recruiters on hand. So when I lost that, it was like a complete panic attack, you know, because it's like a house of cards collapsing on you and you have nothing. You lose everything in one instant moment. The first time I lost my job in Vietnam, I had. I didn't know the world of recovery. And I was perhaps building up too much, you know, tension between me and my third boss at the time. And I was let go. I didn't fit in. I was very resentful then. Now I made peace with that and I realized that I was not showing up at my best. And that was the first time that I then had a big crisis in my life and anxiety and so on. Five years later, in another job, I had recovered, but still sort of that anxiety as a foundation of me. Then I did a great job. I just been promoted. And that's when my company was sold and I was let go with 300 people. And that time I was not ready. I had no idea this would happen. And that also led to my divorce as well, because I just couldn't cope with it. My way was to pulling out a son from the school. And I didn't know if I can get a new job. How can we pay for this? So I pushed my ex wife away and said, it's better you go back with our son to Sweden. Just put him in school, and then we see what happens. But then I started to drink so much that I lost track of what was going on. [00:24:27] Speaker B: So those are unique circumstances in this expat business world. Like, you're really tied. Like, you're almost, like, married more to your company when I got out of your book. And you're kind of focused on executive loneliness and the uniqueness and pressure of being an executive, being that person in charge of everybody, how that can be so lonely and contribute to mental health problems. Can you speak to that, because that's kind of your niche also, right? Yeah. [00:25:07] Speaker C: I mean, there is a saying, right, it's lonely at the top. And that is certainly true because the higher up you go, sort of the pyramid, the less people you have at your level to talk to. So if you're in middle management, you might have in other department people at your level. You can go and have a coffee and a lunch with them and just vent a little bit and get that kind of sympathy which we need to get. But as a senior leader at the top, you don't have that and it becomes more confidential and you have to be careful what you share and so on. And then if you start hanging out with some people who report to you, then the others who report to you might wonder what's going on here, what's happening there. And so you have to be quite careful how you do that. Then what happens many times is that as a senior leader, you are really busy. Maybe you travel from state to state or country to country the whole time. You constantly on the go, meeting, having events and working that you might not have time to also build connections outside. You might not have time to build your professional connections. And that was what happened to me. I didn't have anyone to discuss my work related challenges with. In fact, in my last job, I was leading and running hospitals and clinics. So managing up to in my company was up to 1400 staff, including then the medical staff. And at that time, I couldn't really discuss my challenges with the staff reporting to me. I'm there to drive them, motivate them and so on. The issue was I didn't talk to anybody about it. I had a great relationship with my boss. And in fact, we have stayed connected for many years. And I just didn't share what was going on. I didn't share the problems I had in the work, and I didn't share them with anyone. So the small issues that was in the workplace, the fact that I walked home without pain every day, going to the bar, having a drink, forgetting about it, then showing up the next day and the problem was still there and I didn't talk about it, was what really brought me down also. [00:27:10] Speaker B: And I appreciate you sharing about the executives because I come from more working class, you know, I've worked as a nurse, little peons, you know. And I think the executives, like you said, lonely at the top. And also as much like power and respect that executives have, there's a really negative viewpoint of executives as well. And I can see that being that person with all that responsibility, the loneliness that comes with it, because, like you said, you don't have the other people around you to just kind of complain. Do the water cooler talk about, you know, bitch about management, like, you don't have that. Like you are man. Like, you are that person. And where does that go? Where does that venting go? And for you, like, it went towards drinking. One of the things in your book is you have five steps to overcome executive loneliness. And I thought, wow, these really parallel, like, quitting drinking. So can you elaborate on the five steps? [00:28:31] Speaker C: I would love to do that. And basically, the way the five steps were born was, as I mentioned before, I started going to recovery programs and so on. But the fact that they were quite secretive and many people didn't want to go for that reason, or they were scared to be exposed and at least senior executives to come into a group setting with 2030 people, that is an anonymous organization. There's no way you will get senior leaders easily in there. You know, you need to carry them in on a stretcher if you're going to get them there. And not everyone is actually getting hospitalized or hitting that rock bottom that I did. So I was desperately crawling on all my four to those meetings, but I wanted to pull out what came from that to help senior leaders, because a senior leader also, they have access to money, but they don't. But they are scared of being exposed, so they rather pay someone to help them and tell them what it is. So it is a summary coming out of those conversations that many senior leaders refuse to come. And then I thought, okay, let's take the best. So the first step then that I learned from those programs that I believe that we need to do is really taking stock where we are. Because when we are, you know, having issues with alcohol, normally many things have been neglected, including, of course, the health, finances, but more importantly, relationships, the loved ones near us, colleagues, perhaps. We sent emails that were not nice to our colleagues. We might have been shutting down also because we were not emotionally able to deal with any relationship. So the first thing then that I really thought was great in the recovery program was the fact that we do a proper stock take of where we are. And that is something that you can do then with a coach, a mentor, a friend, or you can do it yourself, just pen and paper or spreadsheet, just thinking through all the areas of your life and working. Then as a coach myself, we have this traditional sort of wheel of life or any model that you can easily find on Google with just your health, your physical environment, your finances, and just go through the main areas, basically of your life and write down first, where are you at? Have you gained too much weight? Are you eating unhealthy? What about the relationship with your brothers, sisters and parents and so on, and just really get that down? [00:30:54] Speaker B: So you're just looking. So it's not really like, why do you want to quit drinking or anything like that. It's just like a snapshot of your life right now and how you feel about these different areas of your life. Like you mentioned the wheel of life, which, like you said, it can be your spiritual, financial relationships, health, all of that. And just like, okay, under health, where am I? I've had people like, rate their health, you know, how satisfied are you with your mental health on a scale of one to ten? So is that kind of what you mean? Like you're just viewing your life right now? [00:31:34] Speaker C: Yeah. [00:31:35] Speaker B: Taking stock. Okay. [00:31:37] Speaker C: Yeah, that's, that's really it. Just to do that. Because many times again, people have been running at high speed and not ignore themselves, ignore their own health and not really sure where they are. But once you've done that, and that's where I start normally with my coaching client, the first step is for them to go over the wheel and exactly say, give your score at one to ten on each level and then discuss through it. And some are shocked when they give themselves a three on health and they're thinking, where have I gone? You know, it's only ten years ago I ran a marathon, but yeah, I haven't done it. It's just that, wow, where am I? You know, and that's something that many people are ignoring. [00:32:15] Speaker B: So that comes to your next step, which is asking for help. [00:32:20] Speaker C: Yes. So to go to a lot high ego and a lot of pride. So to walk into a recovery meeting, the barrier for that is huge. At the top level. I know people that almost rather die rather than walking into an open recovery meeting. They are very confidential. They need to be private one on one conversations with these people. That's what I found. So I typically then, and that is what helped me. That's why this is also what happened to me. Right. And it was thanks to my wife who then created the structure, who dragged me from person to person and got me that early support. But not everyone have that wife perhaps by the side. So then the next step there naturally then have to be, you have to work with a coach, a mentor, yourself. Really think here, who can I then ask for help? If you have gained too much weight or if you isolate you have depression, you have swollen food, you're drinking alcohol. You need to start thinking then who has done this before? And most people will know someone who knows someone who's had alcohol problems before. So write them down. Do then what I was fortunate to do to speak to all of them. If you are calling five people in recovery who are sober today, gone through it, or even three people, that will be some of the most wonderful and most important phone calls of your entire life. [00:33:43] Speaker B: And we're in such a unique time. A great, modern recovery, so to say, where there are so many options out there for you to get help. And so just finding what fits for you. I like this. There's a funny meme, and it says three of the hardest things to say. Number one, I have a problem. Number two, I need help. And number three, Worcestershire sauce. I love that because it is hard to. That is such a huge step. But if even sending an email, I remember the times I said something or asked for help, I was so scared. You know, just like, enter, you know, put it. When you put it out there, it's just like, wow, what's going to happen now? And I think, like you said, maybe diversifying your sources of help, kind of figuring out, because not everybody's going to get it or be able to help you in the way that you need or wants. So just kind of slowly experimenting with that help stage of things. So important. And you're right, like, your wife sounds amazing and so supportive, like, so lovely. Okay, so let's go to number three, getting healthy. [00:35:10] Speaker C: Yeah. So I think if we're coming out from isolation, loneliness, or alcoholism, or even just over drinking, then typically we have neglected the body. And if the physical body is linked to the emotional and mental, so I would just recommend everyone just to really, really focus on that first. And that's what I did. I had lost my health from having been a quite fit athlete until 2015. So until 18, there two and a half, three years of drinking and hardly any exercise, I lost it all. I gained so much weight and I needed to get back, so that's what I did. And I worked then with a fitness coach who gave me a training plan. Wearable devices. These days, it's quite easy and just set some easy goals. For me, it was just by starting, just by walking. I needed a discipline to get out of bed and go out, getting some sunlight and just walk and that. Then I added on some cycling. After about a month and step by step, I came back into my health and I would say than eating healthy, getting sleep, being kind to your body. And that's really if you spend the first sort of two, three months of your recovery being surrounded by good recovery. Conversations in the community say, there's so much out there. Explore it all if you can. Try different coaches, try different support groups and just see what works for you and what clicks for you. And then at the same time, every day, look after your nutrition and exercise and just getting back into yourself. [00:36:43] Speaker B: Yeah. Yeah. So key. Okay, so number four is nurturing healthy relationships. [00:36:51] Speaker C: Yeah, that's a big one and a painful one, right. Because it's really, really, really difficult. But what has happened, as I mentioned before, typically you have neglected some relationships. There would be some things unsaid, and some relationships in your office might be broken. And on your list of taking stock, you can review here again, if you already added some. Otherwise is the time to review that and go a little bit deeper and add more. And I was asked at this step to even go back and look at my high school photos. Think back from my childhood. Were there some children I had been part of bullying. And it was something that was unsaid. And I really, really took this serious and I really did that. Even asked, invited my parents to help me, you know, and remind me of things that happened perhaps in high school. I made a very comprehensive list here. And I even went back and some people I've not spoken to for 30 years plus, I went back to them and I asked for a coffee. And, you know, living in Asia, coming back to Sweden in summertime to see my family, I looked up these people and they are now connected and my friends again. And they were completely surprised when I eventually met them for coffee. And I made amends and set things right with them. And some of them now we're very, very close connected. It's like, you know, 30 years have passed. But then perhaps a small incident stopped that and we broke their relationship. And perhaps there was some pain I covered and walked around with inside me related when I thought of that person, that has now changed from pain into love. And that's what I done then with all my relationships. There was some silly incidents. And I can mention one more with my sister. My son was five years of age at the time. We were at the family lunch and he had never had any candy or any soda. And when I didn't look, my sister gave him a Coca Cola. And that time I was still controlling my drinking, which meant that was quite tense. And my way was never to argue or fight. I would just grab my son and pull him off the table, and we would just walk out and I'd be quiet. And my sister had been trying to call me after I rejected all calls. I didn't respond to any messages for about a year. I didn't respond at all. I didn't speak to her. I showed up at the next family gathering and just saying hi, but not speaking right. Just acting like things were okay, but I didn't speak to her. And this was basically our relationship. So she went on that list. And of course, I had to go back and made amends for that. I asked her out for lunch and I explained, you know, and I said, I'm sorry for my behavior there. I explained what happened, and she didn't know to that moment what had happened, why I just stormed off. She had no idea that my son couldn't drink a coke. And I just explained the state I had been in, that I wasn't able to have that kind of conversation because it stirred too much emotions inside me. And she understood then, and, you know, and of course, she forgave me. And today our relationship is wonderful again. So that's just two little examples. But I went through about eight, I think I had 83 people on my list, which I repaired relationship with. [00:39:58] Speaker B: Wow. Wow. And I think one of the other aspects of this could be nurturing a healthy relationship with yourself and forgiving yourself. [00:40:11] Speaker C: Absolutely. Typically here, people add themselves to definitely the list, perhaps first, and we need to make amends with ourselves and forgive ourselves for where we have been. But I think as for every, for every amendment you make, you're sort of getting a bit of yourself back. So it's all LinkedIn. And I would say that perhaps this is the step we're talking about now is where I spend the most time on working as a coach now with the people. And it's not only people with alcohol problem, it's, I would say in general, because many senior executives and CEO's have gone through divorces. All are going through divorces. There's children then, you know, perhaps in different parts of the world, at least they've had expats who moved around and partners around in different countries. So it's very, very complex behind the scenes. I'm also coaching someone who's a tv celebrity and where everything is looking fantastic when this gentleman is on tv behind the scene, you know, perhaps the challenge is still there with the family. And so to manage these relationships and to make amends, to make things right is just so important. [00:41:19] Speaker B: And then your last step is finding your purpose. [00:41:25] Speaker C: Yeah. So that was something that I hadn't really been questioning myself. And that's why I found myself in that loneliness trap and drinking, because I was just wondering, why am I working so hard for what we're getting all these perks, the bonuses for what? I don't use it for anything apart from going to the bar and drinking. And perhaps I was celebrating with some more expensive drinks when I got the bonus and I invited my friends to share a bottle of champagne. But what it's all about, and when you really start questioning that, and I didn't realize that it took me really to hit my rock bottom, to deflate my ego, to start questioning things and really opening up and thinking, what am I part of? Am I part of something bigger? And once I open up those conversations, you know, the whole world changed. And my purpose moment, perhaps, was when I went that day when I lost my friend Simon and I called up his brother and when I really felt such a strong urge to be of service and to help. But the fact that the recovery programs were anonymous was something that I just couldn't understand. Why should it be just for selected few who can figure this one out? And that's why I thought my life purpose, therefore, is to constantly be of service. And I don't want to lose more friends. I have lost more friends to suicide after that, due to isolation. I lost a good friend, a very rich entrepreneur during the pandemic who went to isolate himself. So it still happens, but I still leave my motto every day to try to be of service and to save lives, because that's what this is about. [00:43:10] Speaker B: Yeah. Well, I think this is a good place to share where people can find you and tell people about your book. [00:43:20] Speaker A: Yes. [00:43:20] Speaker C: So people can find me on Amazon, certainly. My book is called executive loneliness. It's on a Kindle layer, and also it's a hard case book, and also it's on audible as an audiobook. Otherwise, if there's any executives who are on LinkedIn, I'm there as well. And my name is Nick Johnson. It's n I c k j o n s s o n. So I would love to be connected, and if I can be of any service, do let me know. [00:43:50] Speaker B: Well, I'll make sure I'll put those in the show links, too. I just want to thank you so much for sharing your story and doing what you're doing and just helping people and living out loud. [00:44:03] Speaker C: Thank you so much as well. Deb. [00:44:07] Speaker A: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of the alcohol Tipping Point podcast. Please share and review the show so you can help other people too. I want you to know I'm always here for you, so please reach out and talk to me on Instagram at alcoholtippingpoint and check out my website, alcoholtippingpoint.com for free resources and help. No matter where you are on your drinking journey, I want to encourage you to to just keep practicing. Keep going. I promise you are not alone and you are worth it. Every day you practice not drinking is a day you can learn from. I hope you can use these tips we talked about for the rest of your week and until then, talk to you next time.

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