Snooker legend Jimmy White says alcohol ‘was the devil’

    Saturday night’s Tommy Tiernan Show touched on some heavy topics, including addiction and mental health.

    Snooker player Jimmy White spoke candidly about his experience with alcoholism and how it introduced other vices into his life, including drugs and gambling.

    “I was always a drinker, that was my real addiction. It was alcohol. Where I come from, if you had money you should be drinking. It’s really weird. Or you should be celebrating, so if you’re out celebrating you should be in a drinking environment,” he said.

    “And then I found cocaine when I was in my early 20s. And with cocaine, I found that I could have a bit of cocaine and all of a sudden I’m sober again. So I had to go and get changed and dressed and go out with different people and go out and do it again.

    “So all the time I was wrecking my body because there was an enormous amount of drinking going on. That was the devil for me, the drink.”

    He described how his path to recovery involved some deep retrospective thinking.

    “I’ve had to look back at what I used to get up to with the drinking and the drugs and madness and that scares the life out of me, what I used to do. But part of the stuff is to relive that a little bit.

    “There’s been a few apologies I’ve had to put out there to people. I didn’t personally mean to hurt them, but I might have dragged them with me on this mad road. It wasn’t really the right thing to do because these people might have had normal jobs and normal families and I might have ruined that for them.”

    Actress Charlene McKenna spoke about her mental health and explained when she regularly speaks to a therapist since he had what she describes as “a big auld breakdown” in 2009 due to undiagnosed anxiety.

    “I really fell apart and the darkness took over. Everything hurt and I got scared of everything. Now looking back, I know what happened. I’d done too much, too soon, too fast and put too much pressure on myself,” she said.

    “I thought that it was too good to be true and I should keep making hay when the sun shines, and I just never quit making hay. And then the sun kept shining until I got wrecked and I was very tired and I needed to go sleep.

    “I just fell apart and my mind was racing: mad, various, awful, everything, nothing thoughts but it was racing and I couldn’t sleep. I had to hold the bed because it went so fast I’d get dizzy. But I didn’t know what anxiety was, I didn’t know any of these words.”

    Finally, musician Brush Sheils spoke about life at 76 and what he credits for his good health.

    “To me, the most important thing is stretching. I’ve taken other techniques and used them for my own benefit,” he said.

    “The four best-known techniques would be the Alexander Technique, which everybody knows about posture. Then I do a thing called the Feldenkrais Method, which explains how your injuries, when you get older, decapitate you, really.

    “Then there’s an old thing that used to be out in the 40s, 50s, and 60s with Charles Atlas called dynamic tension. He was the first person to win Mr Universe that didn’t use weights. He did it all with just dynamic tension, by tensing the muscles in a particular way. I can do that.

    “The other thing that I do, but I don’t recommend anybody else to do, is shallow breathing. So when I’m sprinting, I should be able to get to the end of the 100 meters and talk to you the same way as I started, no huffing and puffing, no pressure on the heart.”

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