His Ball and Chain

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He snuck in like the men in movies do; blown in by the rain, from the urgent embrace of darkness, the bill of his cap pulled furtively low over his face. I was seated in a booth at Baraza Media Lab, and suddenly he was standing over me, brought in by the lady from the main desk who announced him by his real name, not the one he had used on email. He was fashionably dressed, wearing a denim shirt over a t-shirt, distressed jeans and Chukka boots. Two beady heads of his earphones dangled from the neck of his t-shirt, gulping for fresh air.

We had been talking about masturbation by email for a few weeks. Then we exchanged numbers and talked about it some more on WhatsApp. It’s my first time – to my recollection – to ever talk about masturbation with another man. It didn’t feel strange or odd. We could have been talking about pigeons. But now he was here and we had to talk about it face to face and I remember thinking, OK, it will be strange if I ask for detailed descriptions. 

I led him to a small intimate lounge area against the glass walls with low comfortable settees. He sat facing Riverside Drive and avoided eye-contact for the most part. You can talk to someone on email for so long but when you finally meet them the image you had of them is often upset. Some people sound so large on email but when you meet, their hands are so small. Some sound so meek on email but in person you are surprised at how much space they displace with their presence. Of course he wasn’t what I expected. I expected a delicate-faced person, someone sorrowful. Maybe a little taller. He had a face that looked chiselled by a very heavy tool. His cheekbones looked like someone hurriedly buried two diamonds under his skin but didn’t cover them well. They bubbled from underneath his skin. He had a strong face, a masculine face even without any noticeable hair on it. 

We went through the usual niceties. He had been travelling around a lot and couldn’t meet up earlier. A freelance photographer, he’s led by tragedy, by the thirst of his camera lens. He once worked for mainstream media but threw in the towel a year or so ago because he’s not very good with authority, because he’s an artist. Now he works for himself, which means he works harder and longer. He’s constantly stalking bad news; riots, deaths, exhumations, blown up KDF trucks, women and children buried in farms, murders, floods, accidents. The camera loves terrible news and that’s what he sells to international news agencies. He sees life in the form of frames. The money’s not too shabby. “The trick is your reaction time,” he told me. “The faster you get to the source of news the more you will earn. You have to get the photos nobody else has.” He uses many cameras but he favours the Nikon D850 and a plethora of lenses that he stuffs in his massive bag like hand grenades. 

When we finally got around to talking about the elephant in the room, we couldn’t call it by name. We called it “this thing.” Rather, I did. I said, “so, when did this thing start?” It felt as if we were addressing a cancer, which we might as well have been, seeing as it’s ugly when it gets a life of its own, spreading from his body to his mind, polluting it…something you want to amputate and bury on a farm of rocks. 

“I’ve always done it,” he said. “As far back as I can remember.” He started masturbating in primary school, he did it through high school, through university, through his first job and second job, through his new job, through the very seldom girlfriends he had with names he can barely recall. Now he masturbates daily. “Sometimes four times a day when I’m very busy.”

He has masturbated everywhere; in matatus, in church, in the washrooms at work, in the washrooms in planes, in friends’ toilets, in a pantry, in public toilets, in the club at 2am as a girl waited for him in the parking, in dark balconies, behind a tree with a thick trunk, in pricey hotel rooms and cheap motels with stained windows….everywhere. It’s a sneeze he can’t stifle. Like a junkie and his fix; every moment he gets, he finds a secret place and he unzips his pants and he masturbates.

“But as soon as I’m done, even before I’ve zipped up my pants, I feel terrible,” he said. “I feel so bad, so defeated.” He has wanted to stop for many years now but  the addiction just won’t go away. “It controls every minute of my life. Every second. And it has greatly affected every part of my life and now I live under great stress, I’m constantly fatigued, as in tired like someone who worked in a field. And overwhelmed with guilt and I feel depressed as a result of the evil act.”

“Why do you call it evil?” I asked. 

“Because it is. It’s not normal. I know it’s not, ” he said. “It’s like a curse of sorts. I really don’t want to, but I find myself doing it. It can’t stop.” 

Very small things trigger him. A short skirt on a woman and a  flash of skin. A clinging dress that accentuates the ebb and  flow of curves. A leg. A flicker of cleavage in an elevator will spark a fire in him. A flash of memory of the area around a woman’s navel. Tittie Tuesdays on Twitter. An advert on television. A billboard featuring a scantily dressed woman. Tik Tok videos of women dancing in hot pants. Instagram with its temptresses on beaches and making smoothies in their underwear. It’s everywhere; women, skin, sex. 

“Once I see something, it could be something small, my mind will be immediately distracted and I will not think of anything else but finding a place to do it fast. I once worked in an office, and sometimes my colleagues would be downstairs waiting for me in the car to leave for an assignment while I’d run off to the loo to do it,” he remarked. “You know how when you use the bus to coast and it stops at Mtito Andei and guys get off and smokers try to smoke quickly before jumping back on? I will be the guy going to do it quickly in the loo before we get on the bus. It’s like a drug addict who will do anything for it. And I can’t seem to stop. I have tried everything to stop, everything, but it won’t stop.”

It’s become so frequent it’s affecting his body. “I feel constant pain in my penis. I get bruises. I feel pain in my body. I feel pains here,” he points at where his lymph nodes are around the groin, neck, armpit area, “I am fatigued all the time. My job is demanding and I’m also travelling and coupled with this I’m constantly tired. I feel like I do nothing with my life because this thing possesses my whole mind. I’ve developed back pains because often I bend slightly forward when I do it. ”

“How many times a day now?” I asked. 

“Way more than five times.” He paused. “You know, when I was younger I’d recover fast, now it takes me a few hours. It’s like my system can’t take it anymore. My body is telling me it’s tired but my mind won’t listen. This thing has completely fucked my mind. I feel ashamed, you know the deep shame? I feel regret. I hate myself each time I do it. But then I do it again and feel regret and shame and then I do it again, so it’s like I’m going round and round.”

There was that time he sold his smartphone and bought a kabambe, hoping that it would keep him away from social media. (But then there was television, women in the office in dresses…). His phone always seems to send him suggestive websites and he keeps blocking them but it keeps sending more. 

Every year it has featured as the first item on his new year’s resolution and every year he has failed to stop it. “I have scrawled, in block letters, the words ‘I WILL NOT DO IT’ across the wall in my bedroom.’ so that it’s the first thing I see when I wake up but that hasn’t helped.”

It’s still there, written on his vision board. He has gone to kneel in front of the pulpit during church service whenever the pastor or priest asked for people with special prayers to come forward. “Many men of God have placed their hands on my head, Biko. Many.” Because he travels a lot, wherever he is on a Sunday, he will walk into a church, any church at all even though he is a Protestant and he will pray for this thing to go away. 

He had a fairly decent childhood. Stable home. He grew up going to church every Sunday, he still does. However, when he was in class four or five they had a househelp, a plus-sized woman who, he told me, he would often share a bed with. “Each night, she would try and force my erection in her but she was so big it was always a struggle.” He doesn’t know if this contributed. I don’t know either. 

“How do you relate to women?” I asked him. 

“I don’t get along with women much,” he said. 

“Why not?”

He wrung his hands and looked straight ahead. “I’m always at loggerheads with them. There is always something they will do that will set me off. I have always had a pretty bad temper.”

“Towards women or just generally?”

“Generally, but I tend to fight with women more.”

“What do you fight about?”

“Small things, it’s the small things that set me off.”

He gives an example. When he goes to a café with a male friend and a waitress comes to take his order, he says he usually gives his friend the order to relay to the waitress.

“Why?” I ask incredulously. 

“I don’t know, because if I address her directly she will say something that will irritate me. And I will be annoyed.”

He has always been angry, he told me. Even when he was in primary school, he’d get in flare ups with the teacher and walk out.  He’s seeing someone about his anger, two people, a psychologist and a psychiatrist at a mental health hospital in the city. “They tell me I have ADHD. I took the drugs and they reacted with me.”

“Have you told them about this other problem?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because they are treating me for anger issues, not for this problem,” he said. 

“But they could be related.”

“How can they be related? He asked. 

“I don’t know, but everything is related, man,” I  said. “ Just disclose this problem to your therapist, you will be surprised at what they say.”

“Hmm,” he said. His jaws moved but no sound came out of his mouth. 

His confidence to satisfy a woman is at an all time low. He’s afraid to even attempt intimacy. The thought of a naked woman before him, presenting her body for pleasure fills him with dread and foreboding. He’s gotten so used to satisfying himself that he’s not sure he will allow himself to be satisfied by a woman, or vice versa. Masturbation has cornered him and corroded his confidence in sex. 

In the last three years he’s had sex twice with a woman. He met the first one on a hook-up app called Tagged. She came over with big hair and a short burgundy dress that floated way above her knees like a very bad intention. He couldn’t get an erection. “She tried everything but I couldn’t just rise,” he said softly. “She was concerned, of course and I made excuses. Told her I was tired from work. That I was very exhausted from the work trip. As soon as she left I pleased myself.” The second girl lives in the next apartment block. He managed to get an erection this time for a duration of time but couldn’t get to the finish line even though the whole stand was cheering him on. When she left, he pleased himself. 

“Women show interest in me a lot, but I’m scared of taking it any further because I know how it will end. I know they will be disappointed.”

He’s going to be 32 years old this year and he’s worried. His parents have started wondering why he isn’t settling down. He wants to settle down. “I can’t just be running around making money for myself, for what? It feels empty, making money for the sake of making money. I feel like it’s time to do more with my life, to start a family,” he said. “But I’m scared of getting into something with a woman because I know I will not satisfy her sexually. I just know it. And what use is a marriage like that?”

“This can be fixed,” I urged him. 

“Yeah?” He seemed sceptical. “How?

“There are people who specialise in these kinds of things. People with worse problems have recovered; degenerate alcoholics, sex addicts, people who were sexually abused as children, Kleptomaniacs. People heal.” 

He hasn’t told anybody else about this problem. He keeps it all under his hat. It’s his embarrassing secret, his ball and chain. And he’s tired of dragging it all over. I asked him what compelled him to email me. 

“To see if there is someone out there who has or has had the same problem like this. I feel like I’m the only one who has this problem,” he said. “And if there is someone who’s had this problem and recovered I want to know what they did. Because I’ve run out of ideas. I’ve tried everything and it’s starting to affect my health.”

I walked him to the lift. “I was so afraid I would run into someone here who knows me, then they’d know it’s me in the story,” he said as the doors pinged open. 

We shook hands and the lift swallowed him and I remember walking back thinking, don’t sanitise your hands just yet, that would be an arsehole move, give it five minutes. 

***

There are no announcements here today. The Writing Masterclass is full. Winter seems to be here so you can wear the sweater your grandmother crocheted for you. Don’t throw trash out of moving cars. Almond milk is a marketing scam. [email protected] In case you want to whisper something in my right ear. 

 

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79 Comments
  1. He can start following Amerix on twitter for a start. Cold showers and sunbathing his balls will do him some good

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  2. I have been here and i know how hard it can be but i followed simple steps but sustainable ones. I will email you and you can share with him

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  3. The last sentence was on my mind..It’s true People Heal and so will he , sooner than he expects .He should give himself grace .

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  4. I can relate to his struggle as I’m about 2 weeks clean from masturbating having done so for the last 15 years of the 27 I’ve lived so far. If he’s looking to connect with someone going through a similar journey of recovery, he can reach out to me. Let him know he is not alone, and in the world where Martha Karua can head to the DCI in the defense of Maina Njenga, everything is possible.
    As always, a pleasure going through your articles Senor Biko.

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    1. Someone helped me rejoice and praise God when I have had those brief victories of ‘I haven’t done it in a week’. May the Lord graciously work in His heart as He has been doing in mine and in many others who have stopped/are slowly stopping. The interest has been fading, a day at a time. I recently shared with some men on a hike how I have been wondering if my convictions aren’t strong enough to say no at that moment. They encouraged me that even the conviction to say no comes from God. He can heal also, the Lord has been helping me slowly by slowly. I will keep mentioning him in my prayers.

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  5. On Sunday, I bought Almond Milk. It has been on my shopping list for so long and I never seemed to find it each time I went to the supermarket. The reason I was looking for Almond Milk was to make a face mask and not to drink it. I consume animal products.
    I have been living out of the country for the past 11 years, so I was surprised to see Brookside now makes Almond Milk. I selected the unsweetened one since ‘sugar’ wasn’t part of the ingredients for the mask. I also selected the Brookside brand because it seemed to be the cheaper option at Quickmart. I haven’t made my face mask yet, but would like to know why Biko is saying Almond Milk is a marketing scam

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  6. ‘My body is telling me it’s tired but my mind won’t listen.’ I empathize with the gentleman, my age mate and believe there’s a way. May you get the hand hold you need sir.

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  7. Poor boy child….everything is related to everything and interconnected! Open up some more to your therapists and a solution will come around. The pressure around you as a man and your sexuality is too much to be taken for granted. Also take up some extreme physical sports activity, it could be a panacea! We silently pray for your well being.

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  8. This is not the first story with a scene about a house-help doing things she shouldn’t with an underage boy.
    It’s hard to think that “this thing” doesn’t stem from there…
    I hope you find help. I really truly do.

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  9. The only thing one can’t recover from is death. Healing is possible… it’ll be tough and will take a while, but it is possible. Sending best wishes and blessings his way

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  10. “Almond milk is a marketing scam..”
    What happens to those who complain of lactose intolerance? Maybe they can now drink soy milk.

    This problem can find resolution. I guess when the maid slept with him, it opened the door to demons….mainly; masturbation and anger.
    He has to look for a trustworthy deliverance ministry that will kick these demons out. Jesus came to set the captives free!
    May God lead him to such a ministry and may he experience complete freedom.

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  11. When you think you have enough troubles and then realize that some people have much deeper troubles. May he heal.

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  12. I am a woman. 34 years of age. And I have been a chronic masturbator for the better part of my adult life. It was worse, It’s gotten better. From multiple times a day to once or twice a month. As a result of this, I have chronic one sided pain that has refused to heed to any form of medical intervention. Doctor’s can’t seem to pin-point the actual cause of the pain. Deep down, I know the root cause; or at least how it started. I have seen countless doctors, from general physicians, to orthopedics, neurologist, psychiatrists to name but a few. One thing I’ve never mentioned to all these doctors is that I’m a recovering chronic masturbator. And to get to the path of at least a masturbation a month, it has taken me negotiations with God. More of a give and take. Sacrificing masturbation for something greater. I suffer anxiety, panic attacks etc. Like you’ve mentioned, they are interconnected. I just don’t have the confidence to address it with a professional.
    My sex life in terms of intercourse with the opposite sex is abysmal. I often finish by myself. I engage in it while someone is on top of me. I release only when I am self satisfying and because of this, I stay away from men as I feel their sweating on top of me is in vain. And for how long will I feign orgasm? and even if one is arrived at it’s not through their own effort.
    The major problem is that it leaves me drained and empty. It’s like the euphoria you experience with drugs, it leaves as soon as it sets in, and you keep repeating the cycle to sustain the high.. Is it worth it?

    We will heal. It might take long, but we will.

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    1. well i believe that their is nothing wrong with you,for not sexually desiring men.I commend you for striving to overcome the silent addiction.

      i however believe that the one sided headache might not be related to anything.It might be due to hormonal imbalance,or eye problems .You can try using rosemary tea to relax your nerves .

      Furthermore,your lack of interest in…is not anything to worry,it might be that you are engaging with men whom you are not emotionally in tune with.

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    2. Well..i slightly understand the relationship between lack of ‘ it ‘ and the one sided headache,but persist in prayers.The headache might be due to inbuilt stress maybe from condemnation ,or even lack of exercise.

      Their is hope for your headache

    3. well i understand lack of sexual activities for some leads to headache or migraines

      i think you should look for other outlets of exercising like swimming,with time the body will adjust to it and your headache might decrease n cease .

  13. I know a guy who told me that he would masturbate upto 5 times a day. His pennis became bruised and sore. He felt so helpless and defeated. He confided in his father who took him to a Counselling physchologist. Its been more than 5 years since he touched himself.

    One day you will overcome. You definitely will.

    Also there is a guy called ‘A pimp named slickback’ on twitter. He advertises a Counselor who assists people struggling with masturbation. Check him out.

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  14. First of all I am sure you’re not the only one. You’ll find healing. Talking about it is the first step.

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  15. I AM THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD THROUGH CHRIST.
    1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21

    Utter these words daily as you masturbate. Utterly them out loud even when the desire seems to be taking over…Utter them even as you struggle and fail.
    These words are powerful and will help you break the chains, write them in your bedroom wall. Speaking about it us a good place to start. Now speak the words of the one powerful to break down this stronghold.

    Revelation 12:11
    [11]They triumphed over him
    by the blood of the Lamb
    and by the word of their testimony;
    they did not love their lives so much
    as to shrink from death.

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  16. Masturbation is a real problem for many young men that starts during puberty,starts as a way of exploring but sadly can end up being an addiction. Sadly its now excerbated by social media. Advertising and society has sexualized everything Can you imagine steel structures adverts have sexual innuendos.. God save us. The fact that he hates it thats a good start he will one day stop.

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  17. Wow.

    I read somewhere that 1 ejaculation releases as much energy as running for 6Kms. This gentleman is doing 30kms per day.

    He should join a gym to channel this excess energy and give away 2k faithfully everytime he mstbts.

    I hope he tastes the tranquility and confidence that comes with absistence

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  18. Ernest Wamboye shares how he was enslaved by the same for many years, and how he overcame.

    Please reach out to him, he’s best placed to help.

    Let me know if you need a contact. You CAN overcome this.

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  19. It’s called the battle of the flesh and the weapon is the holy spirit… He’s our helper invite him to wage the war for you. Wherever the Holy spirit the flesh is in total submission. Also look up Ernest wamboye and Bishop Ng’ang’a they have programs. I am a testament of healing for” that thing”

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  20. It’s called the battle of the flesh and the weapon is the holy spirit… He’s our helper invite him to wage the war for you. Wherever the Holy spirit is the flesh is in total submission. Also look up Ernest wamboye and Bishop Ben Ng’ang’a they have programs. I am a testament of healing for” that thing”

  21. The begging was the the course. like you mentioned, there was the fat Alice and he did try all he could. But again the Age and what it takes, he was under age feelin that the challenge was only for him to measure up. The thing had not grown up to what it was to feel. Hense the inferiority kicked in and hence self defense. To him and why he can’t deal with waiters female is the reminder of the beginning

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  22. definitely related to his childhood trauma with the house help, even the anger towards women. therapy will help when he opens up about it to the psychologist

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  23. Well i wish we heeded to bit by bit , becomes a habit.However,its never too overcome addiction especially when one desires to get healed ,to be free.

    I believe the man should talk about his ‘experience’ with the househelp,to a therapist. It will aid in his healing as this might have been the first event which set him up for his addiction.However,he must genuinely forgive her so as to be free,his rage towards women might then cease.

    Luckily,he is a healthy man who is attracted to women ,a little skin ignites in him sexual desire .

    He should also forgive himself and love himself more . However,all is not lost.He will overcome it,although a righteous man falls seven times,he rises..

  24. This is one of the saddest stories I’ve ever read. The guy is hurtling at top speed towards a cliff…and when he gets there, he will commit suicide. I have no solutions to offer, just fervent prayers for this stranger whose story has touched me deeply.

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  25. Ernest Wamboye runs a great deliverance ministry please reach out to him on his socials he will be of great help. Pole sana may the Lord bring you healing

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  26. it’s up uncanny how the world is messed up.
    This is about a girl and videos…kind of like onlyfans

    https://frankgeshow.wordpress.com/2023/06/20/mirror-mirror-on-the-wall/

  27. I feel bad for him, and the only answer i have is only JESUS can help him.. Christ came to set us free and whom the son sets free is free indeed..i will be praying for him.

  28. The evil housegirl destroyed this man. But there is hope because nothing is too hard for TMH Elohim . I pray he gets a genuine man of God who will help him in getting deliverance.

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  29. Feel for him!
    Why do seemingly good people go through so much in life, while ‘bad’ people fair so well.
    Life!

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  30. Let him go on a fast and ask God for help….of cause he has to give his life to Christ. I have seen a case that was exactly like him and he is now well. He has to deal with the childhood trauma… break that through prayer…can be as easy as a one time prayer. Let him seek true Christian counselling it goes beyond laying of hands

  31. This fellow 32-er has done the first bold step to recognise and accept his problem. Now, he can get help and recover once and if he’s willing to do the work.
    He can be helped by Amerix at https://www.afyaspace.com/book-online

    Thanks for the story, Biko.

  32. it feeds on energy. Starve it. walk ten kilometres a day by the 21st day you won’t even dare physically but also mentally. At the same time deal with the root course. The thick one messed you up big time no matter if she did succeed or not it was sexual assault touching your privates. Blessings sir Biko

  33. there is nothing that the blood of Jesus cannot heal. He needs a deliverance as I see it is spiritually connected. I pray he can find a pastor who can pray for him to be rid of the strongman/addiction.

  34. I hope that he gets to tell his Psychologist and Psychiatrist about it, and to believe that indeed, he can heal. It takes one step at a time.

  35. I really hope he gets help and heals… I can’t imagine the shame he feels and how draining it is… keep us updated how it goes

  36. It’s all interlinked, his anger problem, relationship with women and masturbation. I’m not a professional but I believe the problem began with the househelp abusing him. He needs professional help

  37. Such sins thrive in privacy, alongside the prayers eliminate all forms of being/living alone. have an accountability partner to see you through this even if you need to hire someone to watch you in the washroom Hehe don’t be alone anywhere

  38. the incidents from childhood involving the housegirl, the anger issues , poor relations with women and the masturbation are all interconnected. to get healing he needs to address the issue from the roots. he needs to open up to his therapist, see Dr. Osur he’ll be well. there’s help but you need to reach out, accept to be vulnerable enough ,pore through the wound to finally get healing.

  39. Belated comment; all addictions have a root cause, he knows it he just won’t face the truth. The bottom , rock bottom, is a hard place… you don’t have to wait for rock bottom to ask for help. Only one question you have to answer with your whole being ; Do you want to be well?