His alcoholism reached a point where he'd go to work hungover. He also started getting self-harming thoughts.
It's not easy for everyone to be a social butterfly. Some people like to stay in their bubble as it makes them feel protected from the world. When it comes to celebrities, it's hard to imagine them being reserved or being afraid to interact with people. After all, their jobs require them to be fearless in front of the camera and audience.
But, there are exceptions in the industry like T.V icon Dick Van Dyke who is known for the comedy sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show. He also starred in many movies like Mary Poppins, Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang, Dick Tracy, and Night at the Museum.
What many people don't know is that the actor suffered from social anxiety. In an interview on Oprah: Where Are They Now, he revealed that even though he was this big star in the industry, he struggled to interact with people behind the camera. The 94-year-old actor told Oprah, "I was very shy—with strangers—I couldn't talk to people and I found if I had a drink, it would loosen me up. The barriers went down and I became very social. That's what got me started."
Alcohol helped him become better with people and the more he understood it, the deeper he fell into the traps of alcoholism. He then reached a point where he realized that the only way to overcome his drinking problem was to get help. He said, "It took me a long time to get over it."
Things took a turn when the actor realized that his drinking was harming the people he loved the most; his then-wife Margie Willet, and four children. More than that, he recalled that he was becoming just like his dad Loren Van Dyke and so he checked into therapy.
Loren once was a part of a jazz band where he played saxophone and clarinet but his family's situation made him leave what he loved and depend on the bottle to get through his job as a salesman.
Talking to the Guardian, Dick revealed, "When I went into therapy, I realized I was repeating my father’s mistakes. He often came home drunk after lengthy road trips and my mother threatened to walk out unless he quit – which he did."
Back in 2013, he confessed to The Telegraph that even though he understood the side-effects of his addiction, it was difficult for him to go through the process of becoming sober in the rehab. “I was in deep trouble, you get suicidal and think you just can’t go on. It was just terrible." But it was the battle with depression and the sudden loss of interest in drinking that helped him. He continued, "But then suddenly, like a blessing, the drink started not to taste good. I would feel a little dizzy and a little nauseous and I wasn’t getting the click. Today, I wouldn’t want a drink for anything.”
Talking about his battle with alcoholism, Dick told CNN, according to The Fix, that it was his decision to "come out" about his alcoholism in order to refute the popular opinion that alcoholics “had weak wills or something."
He said, “[The public] had this image of, you know, a guy laying in on the street and skid row, whereas [alcoholism] can happen to normal, average middle-class guy."
The Chitty, Chitty actor admitted that his own dark journey inspired him to help others as well. Talking to Oprah, he said, "[I] was able to help people. I get a lot of letters from people, who say that all of a sudden they weren't ashamed to admit they had a drinking problem and they got help." He added, "So I'm very proud of that."
His vision and desire to help those going through the same struggle as him inspired him to begin the Dick Van Dyke Addiction Treatment Center, a place for those with a drinking problem, people suffering from substance abuse, and those enduring mental health problems to find solace and help, reported Amomama.
The center which was established in 1978 not only offers financial assistance to those who are in need, but its partnership with Medicaid and state financial aid helps take in people with private insurance plans as well.
Dick is an inspiration to all those who've suffered from alcoholism or are trying to find new beginnings.