On the road to healing, many people begin without a clear understanding of who they are as a person. This lack of self-identity can cause problems, especially within relationships where they cannot be a good friend, spouse or family member. For Steve, the path is about learning to trust the people in his life — people who are genuinely there to help him. Steve, unlike many of the other people at the Centre, achieved a level of success and fame at a young age. He was lauded for his achievements and put on a pedestal. But, when the cameras went away and the fame dissipated, Steve was left with an identity crisis. He was no longer the person everyone thought he was, including himself. Dr. Thompson and his peers at the Centre are working to help Steve re-evaluate his life and to reclaim an understanding of where he fits within it. In doing so, Steve will hopefully be able to see the world for what it is and be able to cope with what it brings him.
In conjunction with the diagnosis that Dr. Mate made, which is that Steve suffers from ADD, Dr. Thompson underlines the impact that a lack of impulse control has on a person. For Steve, and many people suffering from ADD and/or addiction, decisions are made in a snap and with very little thought to the long-term consequences. This rash decision-making is not only harmful but it is also dangerous. If too little thought is given to the choices being made, it becomes easy to look back and know that it could have gone a different way. What is required for Steve to move beyond his impulsivity is to consider each decision he makes. He must think carefully before acting in order to take full ownership of his life.
Steve has always processed his demons as external forces driving him to bad outcomes. As Dr. Thompson observes, Steve had everything going for him: fame, enough money to kick-start his life, and all the opportunities in the world to succeed. Still, Steve fell into a life of crime and substance abuse. When asked how this happened, Steve claims he doesn’t know. For Steve to move on and better himself, it is crucial that he controls his rash decision-making and discovers who he is as an individual. As Steve takes ownerships of his actions, he will be able to improve his life.
For Steve, the road to emotional recovery was made harder by recent events. After a violent home invasion in 2015, he fell into a coma for almost a month. The events of that night left him with a brain injury, which altered his speech and his memory. As a result, it is hard to grasp whether Steve actually remembers what transpired in his past and on that night, or if he is simply repeating stories that he has heard somewhere else. While his speech has improved and he is physically regaining strength, Steve often demonstrates a lack of understanding that puts into question just how much he can remember. The results of his brain injury have made the healing process much more difficult for Steve. It is one more hurdle he must overcome in therapy.
When someone is battling both ADD and addiction, thinking long-term can be overwhelming beyond comprehension. Steve’s impulsive nature leads him to be content with life so long as his immediate needs are met. However, his lack of foresight into how his short-term choices affect the rest of his life have led him down a path of destruction. In order for Steve to succeed, he must learn to cope with the overwhelming task of thinking ahead and making decisions that will better his life in the long-term. Steve’s immense perseverance and drive, which has steered him throughout his entire life, must now be used to overcome his own mind set and to help him break out of the habits formed in early childhood.
One of the greatest fears for people who have come to rely on drugs is that, without the substances, their lives will be unbearably boring – so boring that they will lack all meaning or purpose. If one’s life is fulfilling and exciting in and of itself, there is no need to turn to drugs. In fact, using drugs will not add anything ‘extra’ to full life. Therein lies the problem for Steve – his life feels unfulfilling and unexciting. For someone whose highlight in life was achieving something significant — something even the most able-bodied person would struggle with (the run) — creating a life with equal excitement is nearly impossible. The goal for Steve is to be able to find fulfillment in his life so that drugs no longer have the same draw.
As Steve will tell you over and over, there is no worse place in Canada than Surrey B.C. To him, it is the crux of all things wrong with humanity – there is heavy drug use, violence, and a lot of crime. While he may outwardly loathe it, the addict side of Steve fits right in with the chaos of the city. He is constantly seeking the stimulation that comes with drug abuse as well as the lifestyle that accompanies it. Perhaps without him even realizing it, Surrey has provided the excitement that substitutes for the meaningless he feels. His decision to move to Powell River B.C. marks a drastic change. Powell River is small, without much opportunity, and not much in the way of the excitement. The small town limitations will either break Steve or force him to look inside of himself to find the meaning that he could never find in Surrey.
In every aspect of his life, Steve attempts to distract himself from the issues he faces. Throughout his entire life, he has actively avoided any situation that might lead to discomfort. As a result, he has attempted to fill his life with things, which he can focus his attention on, despite them being potentially harmful. The distraction, which Dr. Thompson sees as being most prevalent in Steve’s life, is his girlfriend Lisa. Despite Steve’s claims that he loves Lisa, Dr. Thompson is unsure as to whether or not Steve knows what love is – or if he has even felt it. Lisa brings with her a troubled past inhabited with people like Colin whose drug abuse leads him to violence and anger, often targeted at Steve. While this may distract Steve from what is really going on, and provide him with a convenient outlet to focus on rather than himself, it only causes his emotional wounds to fester.
For most of Steve’s life, there have been people watching his every move. What began as news coverage of his run has manifest into follow-up stories, interviews, and eventually this very documentary. As a result, he has grown up with an understanding that people are watching him. This has led to Steve’s habit of putting on a front and creating a projected image of himself that is larger than life. With this obsession Steve has regarding his image, he has lost his true self. All Steve knows is who he wants people to think he is, but not who he actually is. In fact, he will often backtrack on things he’s said or decisions he’s made because he isn’t confident about what was done in the first place. His issues around self will need to be tackled head-on in order for him to overcome them and grow.
When dealing with issues of self esteem and self worth, it can feel like you just aren’t enough. Whether through self-comparison or self-critique, many people struggle with personal feelings of self-worth. In Steve’s life, this manifests itself as a need to do grand gestures. Whether it’s running across Canada, or fighting with Colin, it is never enough for Steve to just be Steve. As Dr. Thompson puts it, there is dissatisfaction with merely being a good neighbour – there must be something more. Steve’s self-esteem issues combined with his addiction, ADD, and boredom with his own life lead to destructive behaviour on a large scale. Dr. Thompson hopes that through therapy and constructive behaviour, Steve can learn to accept even his smallest actions as good enough — so long as they are genuine and productive.
Looking back through Steve’s life, he has constantly relied on outside forces, especially his relationships, to get him through. He then blames these outside forces when things go awry. At first, it was the Government of Canada that was to blame because they took away his Order of Canada. Then, it was his ex-wife’s abuse allegations against him, which he claims are exaggerated. He expects people to be responsible for his actions and their outcomes rather than taking personal ownership. In order to lead a meaningful life, Steve must learn how to create genuine relationships with good people who are there to support him.