One of the best articles ever written on our story of addiction and recovery

Belmont Article

This is one of the best articles even written on John and his/our story. It was written by a Belmont University student about how addiction found an active role in our marriage. It’s a great summary of the toll addiction had on our marriage and family. Here’s to taking life one day at a time

A Long Road to Sobriety



Finding fulfillment through family

Check out the latest blog by Bulow Orthotic & Prosthetic Solutions. A huge thank you to Matt Bulow and his team, who have taken care of all of John’s prosthetic needs for the last 7 years.


For John Mabry, the hardest part of being an amputee was overcoming the mental and emotional effects—the physical part was the easy part.

He became a below-the-knee amputee while still in college. During a ride in a friend’s SUV, a right rear tire blew out, causing the vehicle to roll twelve times. John’s legs became crushed from the impact.

“I literally envisioned the remaining seconds of my life as a scene from a 1920’s-style movie reel,” he said.  “However, instead of thinking my movie would end in true love and conquest, the reality was looking more like a conclusion of indescribable fear, terror, and pain.”

John was faced with the choice of another year of surgery and therapy with no guarantee of complete recovery, or to amputate his right leg below the knee.

“Nothing can really prepare you for the moment when you first look down and see an empty space where your leg used to be,” he said.

He said what helped him the most was being able to talk to another amputee, who showed him that life does go on. Just six weeks later, John walked across the stage to receive his bachelor’s degree.

John went on to earn his master’s degree and married his wife, Sarah. He acted in Hollywood for a while, appearing in movies and TV shows as Superbad, NCIS, E.R., JAG, and numerous commercials. He is also credited with inventing a revolutionary product for the prosthetics industry that allows thousands of amputees around the world to live healthier, more active lifestyles.

However, in spite of all these accomplishments, he wasn’t addressing the mental and emotional impacts that his amputation was having on him. He fell into alcoholism, which caused much strife within his family.

Eventually, he sought help for his addition. Today, he says being sober and having a loving family is a greater accomplishment than his inventions or acting ever were. He documents his wacky day-to-day life with his wife and kids on his blog,

In 2009, he and his family moved from California to Nashville, where he works at Addiction Campuses to help others who struggle with the same issues as he did. When he knew he was moving, he called the first amputee he ever met and asked if he knew any good prosthetists in Nashville. That was how he first came to Bulow Orthotic & Prosthetic Solutions.


To other new amputees, he says, “It isn’t always as easy as they make it look on TV when they show the elite athletes competing. There is a rollercoaster that we go through, both physically and emotionally, that the average person doesn’t understand.”

Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone I have problems! It could ruin my reputation

Hey everyone. It’s John. Thanks so much for coming along with Sarah and I on our journey. Up to this point of Mabry Living’s blog, Sarah has done much of the writing from her perspective. But I’m going to start doing more of my own writing and journaling here, too. So see if you can draw something from this one about my fear of protecting my reputation.

As you may know from the video speech I posted recently (which I’ll post at the end of this blog), I openly admit to having deep-seeded issues that can be traced back to my childhood, along with multiple traumas later in life. I have been through more kinds of treatments and therapies than I care to admit. For example, have you ever heard of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)? Yeah, I’ve done that kind of therapy. Ever heard of Brainspotting? Yep, another one I dabble in regularly. But getting to the place where I was willing to go get help and risk my reputation was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.


I find it comical now to see that everyone around me – my family, friends, employer, even neighbors – knew I needed help even when I was trying my hardest to keep my problems hidden. I was so reluctant to get outside help for so long in fear of what others would think. And then when I finally decided I needed help I wanted everyone in my inner circle to keep it hush-hush. I would say, “No one needs to know I going to treatment. Let’s keep this between us.” What was the big deal? Why did I need to be so discreet about getting help for myself? A lot of it was probably because it showed weakness and meant I didn’t know how to handle life on life’s terms. I’m supposed to man-up and handle everything on my own, right; the whole pull yourself up by your bootstraps thing.

I am so grateful that today I can openly say that I continue to struggle with anxiety and worry about what others think of me, question if I’m ever going to be enough and continue to struggle with chronic pain. I am proud of the fact that I now recognize the value of admitting faults and seeking help. I think it sets you a part from others and shows great tenacity and courage.

If you’re struggling in any area of your life, please, get quality help. If you struggle with an addiction, find a highly recommended addiction specialist near you. If your thing is childhood trauma or paralyzing fear and anxiety stemming from your childhood, seek the professional help of a trauma therapist who does EMDR or Brainspotting, which can help in processing trauma. Maybe you’re just completely overwhelmed with life. If so, go talk with somebody about it. It shows greater strength to ask for help than to ignore the issue in hopes it will go away. Believe me, it won’t. I’ve tried that approach.

It helps when I use the Serenity Prayer often: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Here’s my biggest fear speech I made reference to earlier