Image:
Tasheal Gill

Drink The Sea: A Poetic Documentary on Addiction

By:
Tasheal Gill (@tashealgill)

“Addiction manifests in the darkness and in the silence. It feeds from not getting the light of day. The difference between an addict and one who is drowning, is the one who is drowning knows it. The addict will drink the sea until it becomes him.” 

Why is it that we keep our ailments and insecurities to ourselves, when we know sharing and verbalizing them may be a critical step for healing? We do this, even when we know that it is better to speak when scared than to live while silenced. 

Last month I released a poetic documentary about addiction that explores these concepts; how our biggest maladies manifest in the silence. 

Substance misuse is highly stigmatized, particularly within Indian communities, so it quickly becomes understandable that our first response when spiralling is to keep to ourselves and not share our vulnerabilities. However, like anything, this becomes an issue when we fester until reaching a breaking point, which can often be quite volatile. 

My documentary “Drink The Sea” was a practise in vulnerability. I worked with my subject in unpacking the experience of his addiction, and turning it into something poetic -- something digestible, and something you could feel. 

This was a dive into what some people are lucky enough not to experience, or understand, or that some know intimately. In this time of transition and creation, certainty escapes us, but we grow gardens from dark spaces. 

Throughout the process, both myself as a filmmaker, and my subject, had to remind ourselves that we have tasted sunsets for closure and understood that storms are for clearing paths. Each conversation and each day we survive is a poem of resilience and tenacity. 

Whether you can relate to the struggles of addiction yourself, through someone you’ve loved, or from something you’ve watched, you can understand how solitude births honeycomb. It has taught us that there is no need to be afraid of going inward. The fear, of course, is inevitable, but once you pass certain barriers, there’s only one person waiting for you on the other side. You return home each time. 

Though we may not all have a lived experience through suffering with substance abuse, we share a collective understanding through loss, whether physical or mental. This was one of my inspirations in sharing this story. It was through the realization that some nights, you will sleep through your body and other nights it will fling you upright as though your brother is dying again.

Sometimes we keep useless things in case we need to make shrines. Sometimes our mind engages in acrobatics, convincing ourselves the things we love most will leave us. After witnessing a death -- again -- whether physical or mental, we begin to realize each inhale becomes more intentional. 

There is a paradoxical beauty of waking up with a black sun in your chest but still being aware of the gift of breath. 

The making of this documentary was a healing process for myself, my subject, and if I’ve done anything right, hopefully for whoever watches it. 

One day, we’ll all be forced to understand the unity of darkness and light, and how we can exist between the two. 

The full documentary will be available on Telus Optik TV on Demand soon.

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About the author: Tasheal is a screenwriter and poet who believes creativity fuels true happiness. She is studying her first year of Film Production at UBC. Tasheal first discovered her passion for telling stories when she typed up old manuscripts for her dad at the ripe age of 9. Ever since, she has fell in love with the art of storytelling. Tasheal is an Aquarius who uses sarcasm as a defence mechanism and enjoys binge-watching Frasier on a regular basis. Find her on instagram at @tashealgill

5X Press is a forum for opinions, conversations, & experiences, powered by South Asian youth. The views expressed here are not representative of those of 5X Festival.

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