HAMSTERS & HEROIN: Not all junkies are purse-snatching grandmother-killing psychos. I'm keeping this blog to bear witness to that fact.


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I used to take heroin at every opportunity, for over 10 years, now I just take methadone which supposedly "stabilizes" me though I feel more destabilized than ever before despite having been relatively well behaved since late November/early December 2010... and VERY ANGRY about this when I let it get to me so I try not to.

I was told by a mental health nurse that my heroin addiction was "self medication" for a mood disorder that has recently become severe enough to cause psychotic episodes. As well as methadone I take antipsychotics daily. Despite my problems I consider myself a very sane person. My priority is to attain stability. I go to Narcotics Anonymous because I "want what they have" ~ Serenity.

My old blog used to say "candid confessions of a heroin and crack cocaine addict" how come that one comes up when I google "heroin blog" and not this one. THIS IS MY BLOG. I don't flatter myself that every reader knows everything about me and follows closely every single word every day which is why I repeat myself. Most of that is for your benefit not mine.

This is my own private diary, my journal. It is aimed at impressing no-one. It is kept for my own benefit to show where I have been and hopefully to put off somebody somewhere from ever getting into the awful mess I did and still cannot crawl out of. Despite no drugs. I still drink, I'm currently working on reducing my alcohol intake to zero.

If you have something to say you are welcome to comment. Frankness I can handle. Timewasters should try their own suggestions on themselves before wasting time thinking of ME.

PS After years of waxing and waning "mental" symptoms that made me think I had depression and possibly mild bipolar I now have found out I'm schizoaffective. My mood has been constantly "cycling" since December 2010. Mostly towards mania (an excited non-druggy "high"). For me, schizoaffective means bipolar with (sometimes severe)
mania and flashes of depression (occasionally severe) with bits of schizophrenia chucked on top. You could see it as bipolar manic-depression with sparkly knobs on ... I'm on antipsychotic pills but currently no mood stabilizer. I quite enjoy being a bit manic it gives the feelings of confidence and excitement people say they use cocaine for. But this is natural and it's free, so I don't see my "illness" as a downer. It does, however, make life exceedingly hard to engage with...

PPS The "elevated mood" is long gone. Now I'm depressed. Forget any ideas of "happiness" I have given up heroin and want OFF methadone as quick as humanly possible. I'm fed up of being a drug addict. Sick to death of it. I wanna be CLEAN!!!

Attack of the Furry Entertainers!

Attack of the Furry Entertainers!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Desperately Seeking: A Cure For Depression

UNHAPPINESS, depression, "low mood" (as psychiatrists like to noncommittally describe it, when shying away from diagnosis) ~ all this is half the story of my life.

I say half the story, because depression tends to be an episodic thing.

In recent years, however, it has been pretty much constant.

Drug addiction, of course, must be a major factor in this. I realize the drugs have boxed me in. i want to break free ~ but cannot. (This is what addiction is: not just having a habit, but being unable to break it.)

My life, if you can call it that, is barely an existence, played out amongst the accumulated flotsam of years of near-inactivity.

Heroin makes me feel slightly better. From the very start my heroin use was self-medication for pain, physical, mental and spiritual. for a while it appeared to be working very well. My confidence went up. Mood swings and depression seemed a thing of the past. I noticed very early on, though, that heroin tends to block out natural happiness better than it does sadness. (How typical.)

But heroin use and the achievement of life goals make uneasy bedfellows. Heroin dulls ambition and tends to lead to inactivity. When I gave up constantly raising money to feed the habit and relied instead on methadone, a gaping hole was left in my life. Despite all my best intentions I have not been able to fill it.

My mental health was already shaky when I was living with a woman I met on the street who became a good friend, but frankly had clinically paranoid traits that did my own stability no good at all.

My only way of escaping her was to run away and live, not literally on the streets, but in an abandoned industrial building that had originally been co-squatted by my begging friends. Now it was empty. Just me and thousands of echoey square feet and rats and pigeons for company. the sound effects when it rained were amazing. it was like Fingal's Cave.

At night, ferrals cats and foxes ventured into the building. I once woke up and left the stockcupboard I was sleeping in to find a man I had never met before smoking heroin in my hall!

It wasn't even a case of no locks on the doors, which were heavily barred and boarded inside and out, but one window (thankfully not visible from the street and hidden behind thick bushes) was wide open to anyone curious and persistent enough who wished to come in.

So apart from the wild animals and uninvited junkies, at nights I started seeing weird visions and ghosts. I believed these were "spiritual emanations". When I moved into emergency bed & breakfast hostel accommodation shared with crackheads I found myself smoking "white"more and more often and my mental health plunged into paranoid psychosis. i believed the neighbours were watching me on TV via hidden cameras and laughing. I heard gunmen outside my door waiting for me to fall asleep so they could rob my stash. i saw sinister faces in my crumpled clothes that were scattered everywhere.

I managed to reduce the crack to once a week and the paranoia receded, but I was still depressed with constant suicidal "ideation" and no will to live at all. I didn't really want to kill myself, what I really wanted was an accident (or an overdose, though with my enormous opiate tolerance there seemed fat chance of that) ~ or merely to curl up and die.

The last time I tried an antidepressant (mirtazapine (Zispin/Remeron) I became agitated and so "high" that the last time I stayed awake for four days on end. Trotting up the road in the early hours, I knew which was my house because it emanated lightning. After a week of this "improvement" I came crashing down lower than I had been in a very long time.

I felt sick, physically and mentally. Alcohol made me feel better, so I attributed the sickness to DTs. I had sinister hallucinations. One day, a dead body appeared in the bathroom mirror. I was convinced that in a Frankensteinian way it was "alive" and about to open its eyes. When I glanced away it was still there when I looked back. It stayed there for five minutes, totally doing my head in.

Physically I was so weak and shaky I had to hold on to the walls. I got thrown out of a shop for being "drunk" ~} when actually the alcohol I was trying to buy, as I said, was the only thing that cut through the horrible haze that was drowning me.

Mentally I hit such rock bottom I couldn't handle the thought of polluting myself with heroin a single day more. When I did score a £10 bag, I opened it and stared at it for the best part of two hours, without the will to use any more.

The crisis went on for a month, until my druggieworker pointed out it was the pills making me ill. Unbelievably I hadn't considered this, and didn't realize that in unusual cases, antidepressants can increase depression, morbidly so, in sensitive individuals.

So I stopped taking the mirtazapine and felt better ~} though not 100% well ~ within days. The depression went on, though in a less extreme form.

A full year ago I decided I needed a proper assessment and diagnosis of whatever "condition" plagues me. At best I might actually commence a programme of recovery. At worst, it might at least mark a new start. I have had trouble with antidepressants before, but shied away from confessing the symptoms, that seemed a little too "bipolar" in flavour for comfort.

Personally, I think I am just one of those people who is over- rather than under-sensitive to such medication. But what the doctor might make of my odd experiences, I dread to imagine.

In the second half of last year I thought I was getting better. Then there was all the hassle of troublemakers moving in next door. I started waking in the early hours feeling very peeved indeed. The troublemakers moved out but the mood got no better. So I am "clinically" depressed again.

The difference this time is that I am determined to clamber out of this state. I just don't know how to.

My council tax situation reached a point where I it HAD to be sorted to keep bailiffs from the door. I have found myself using and drinking more. On methadone without gear I feel so enervated It can take hours simply to muster up the will to push myself into the shower. And I tell myself I absolutely have to do this. I was so filthy and unkempt before, I am sure there are rotting haystacks more hygeinic than I was.

So I go through life on a mixture of autopilot and exhausted trudging. My sleep is all over the place. I cannot bear the thought of antidepressants that might literally drive me crazy.

I am in counselling ~} though I missed the last two sessions. I just could not face going.

I am seeing the nutnut nurse every week now.

I have an appointment with the headshrinker in two weeks' time. What on earth he will make of the mental mess that is my life, I dread to think...

I console myself that there are far worse cases out there than mine. Most of those people, though, tend to be ravingly psychotic and have the dubious luxury of not knowing they are ill.

I am going back to NA meetings. Narcotics Anonymous appeals because it is by addicts for addicts. Nobody is telling you what to do. They just work the programme the same as everyone else.

I decided I have to stop drinking alcohol and cut out heroin altogether. I just wish something better than methadone could be available. Many addicts say they feel flat and dull on the "juice". I just want to curl up and die. If a medication leaves you feeling that bad then surely some alternative must be available. If private doctors can prescribe time release morphine pills that are less toxic and less addictive than methadone (simple fact) ~ what on earth is stopping the NHS?

So the rudiments of a programme are already in place.

But why can't I get a grip on my own mood? Why the constant irritation, sulkiness and brooding?

I break out of it. I do things. But it comes back and wallops me. Every time.

What else can I do?

I used to assume my methadone lows were "I want gear" sulks. It was actually the mental health nurse who pointed out this is probably the underlying depression making manifest. I am starting to think she might be right.

One consolation of all this depression ~ I don't usually lose my ability to write. (So long as I can muster volition to put pen to paper.) This is how I managed to keep a blog going so long. This is why I would like to pursue a literary career. If only I could make a living by writing I could get off the nasty state benefits that are as much a trap as a help.

All in all I just don't know what to do except what I'm doing already.

(Minus the using.)

My best hope for recovery seems to be the NA programme. this is so rigorous I am sure lots of "normal" people who work all week and hit the pubs and bars each weekend would have trouble sticking to a programme of total abstinence. That means no illicit drugs... not even spliffs (no problem for me: I'm hardly tempted by a herbal cigarette that brings on a cross between alzheimers and paranoid schizophrenia ~ complete with the "voices" within five tokes) ... and no drinking either.

NA say NO DRUGS AT ALL. But only "just for today"...

The logical solution to my problems would appear to be: run away from all the places I've used and spend a long time in isolation in deep countryside. In a way this is most appealing. But it's the complete opposite of the NA way. If I can get clean and stay clean in the same places I once used in ~ then I know I've really done it.

What puts me off rehab is that all you learn and all you do is in a great comfy bubble. Then you're out, full of these ideas, back in the same nasty wide world. Statistically, most people relapse. It's no coinicidence that so many rehab facilities in Britain are dotted along the South Coast... and that the south coast has the biggest heroin problem in Britain.

Nothing, no level of shame or other people's disappointment has ever stopped me using in the past: so why would it stop me again? No. I feel I gotta tackle this from deep down and out. And rehab is a business that keeps people in work. Drug businesses, I have noticed, breed complacency and one size fits all type programmes. That's why I'm saying I will make my own programme. The NA programme might well be part of that programme. But my programme will be my OWN.

How on earth I am going to do any of this clean thing I have no idea. I feel so dreadful most days without gear it's about all I can do to go through the most rudimentary motions of living. Let alone running to and from NA meets across London.

But there we go: sufficient for the day are the cares thereof.

Just for today.

God grant me the Serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the Courage to change the things I can ~
and the Wisdom to know the difference.


Reeny's Ramblin' said...

Wow that's quite the tale...

I hope you can find your motivation for kicking the drugs. Depression is horrible and stifling, I've been there and I've also come through the other side...

Akelamalu said...

God you sound so terribly depressed Gleds, I'm so sorry. You are right though, you know the only thing that will get out of this is your own determination and I wish you luck. This will probably sound naive and stupid but have you tried St. John's Wort for your depression. I know from experience it does work but whether it would work for you or whether you can take it with Methadone I don't know. Anyway I hope you find the solution soon. x

Baino said...

Wow Gledwood! And we've been on much of this journey with you. Despite being depressed you sound fairly resolute and I think NA is a good thing. Please don't skip your counselling no matter how shitty you feel.

molson said...

So you lived with ferrel foxes and other critters. I live with ferrel squirrels. I hear them running through the walls of my apartment. Chattering away and chewing up the walls. It's driving me crazy. I just chased one out of the utility room with a broomstick. It will be back in a few hours and the broomstick will be put to use again.

I once had a job that was respectable. I once had a house. I still have a car, but I will have to sell that soon. I don't use it as much anyway. Plus, there really isn't anywhere to go. I have some other stuff. Furniture and crap. I've been trying to sell it, but no one wants it. $5 for a table. Nope. $5 for a chair. Nope. So it sits rotting in a storage locker. I should take an ax and smash it all up and throw it in the dumpster, but I gave away my ax. Maybe one day, I will have a job again or maybe I'll take my broomstick and become the Squirrel Master. The latter would seem most likely, but it is the squirrels that are kicking my ass so I guess I am the Squirrel Bitch.

Well I hope you find a solution to all your problems Gledwood. Unfortunately, I have no wisdom to share with you. Funny thing is, the more depressed I get, the less I want to drink and like you I really don't like the weed. It has a really strange effect on me. It's like I hit it and nothing happens. Then hours later when I don't want to be high, pow. Haven't touched it in many years so what can I say?

Look. If you find yourself really depressed, just imagine me wrapped in a loin cloth running through the trees with my face all painted up wildly swinging my broomstick in a desperate effort to protect my nuts from the ravenous packs marauding ferrel squirrels. Even that one made me smile just a little bit.

Best regards from the Squirrel Bitch aka molson.

Laura said...

I think when a person has a history of depression and they mix it all up in drug use (both legal and illegal) your mind becomes just a puddle of piss. At least that's the way it is with me. Taking stuff changes brain chemistry and mood, coming off shit causes yet more chemistry changes and mood shifts. I feel profoundly sick, both mentally and physically at times and I absolutely know that taking meds and weaning off meds are at least partially to blame for my messed up state. I wish we could both start afresh with clean systems and see what our baselines are and work from there. Best wishes being sent your way, Gleds.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Wow. That's quite an outpouring. You know yourself that drug addiction is a major factor and that is something that you will have to eventually beat. But I had a thought that you might try to get yourself out of the rut of inactivity.

You clearly have a love of animals; from your postings on your hamsters and on donkeys. In fact, I think your hamsters cheer you up quite a bit. But you don't have to leave your room and be active with hamsters. I suggest you find some animal shelter and do some work there. It will force yourself to get out and about and you can also benefit from animal therapy. What do yopu think?

As for the whole in your life, I have to say that it's a spiritual thing and that you should seek after God to fill that.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Darn typos. That should read "you and not "yopu" as well as "hole" and not "whole".

Anonymous said...

Gledwood, the type of depression you describe is quite common among opiate addicts and often fails to respond to standard antidepressants. (Remeron, by the way, is not an antidepressant). The reason for this is that most antideps target serotonin. However, often the cause of the opiate addict's depression is a deficiency in endorphin production.

Endorphins are the brain's natural opiates--our "feel good" chemicals that are released when we have pleasurable experiences. Doctors are now finding that many opiate addicts may have had a deficiency in the production of this chemical from childhood on, and were especially vulnerable to opioid addiction because of it. They often say they felt normal for the first time in their lives when they took an opiate drug, and rather than feeling sedated, they felt energized.

Others may have had normal endorphin production at one time, but when they began using opiates, it shut down their brain's endorphin production, as it does in everyone. Then, when they become abstinent, it can be quite some time before the brain recognizes this fact and begins producing again. During this time, the patient experiences severe depression, exhaustion, hyper-irritability, anxiety, and cravings. They also feel unable to experience pleasure in any normal way.

For some this will lift after a time--but for others it may never stop--the damage done to the brain chemistry can be permanent. This is more likely the longer the addiction history was.

Methadone treatment, unbeknownst to most people, replaces the missing endorphins in the brain, allowing the patient to feel more normal--just as insulin replaces the natural insulin no longer being made by the diabetic's pancreas. However, the correct dosage is crucial. In the UK, sad to say, substandard doses are the norm rather than the exception. Most patients require between 80-120mgs, while the avg. UK dose is 30-40mgs.

These types of doses often result in the patient's continuing to use illicit drugs to alleviate withdrawals, and cycling up and down rather than being stable. This could be the problem you are having.

Also, methadone does not work well for everyone. Some addicts do better on Subutex, or codeine, or even heroin maintenance. But most can do well on methadone if it is properly titrated.

There are a number of scholarly articles in medical journals showing evidence that methadone is very effective as a treatment for atypical depression.

NA, while helpful to some, has a very negative attitude towards medication assisted treatment. Sadly enough, many NA members leave methadone treatment and end up dead due to being pushed off treatment by their friends from NA. Please remember that NA is a support group but is NOT a treatment for addiction--they are not doctors, and their program is not evidence based, nor does it address the very real physical component of the disease.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

I admire you tremendously for cleaning your life up, and you are not alone with your depression. I have been diagnosed clinically depressed, and I struggle with a lot of the same things that you have. I, too, use alcohol to self-medicate to some extent.

Your story is quite something. You are doing pretty well, all in all, I'd say.

You are loved.

Gledwood said...

thanks folks

i feel less depressed than when I wrote this, so that's something :-)

Syd said...

Gleds, I too am glad that you are going to NA meeting and are making a decision to stop the drugs and alcohol just for today. I think that most people feel very irritable and a mess when they first quit. Stay the course my friend.

Lori said...

Take it one day at a time my friend. Depression is a beast. Everything seems grey with no color. Many of us have turned our brains inside out with all the chemicals we have ingested through the years. Just keep trying to get something done, even if it means taking a shower. Little accomplishments lead to bigger ones. I know how you feel my friend, I really do...

Much Love....

Liz said...

That last photo is lovely.

You're right that to go to rehab is all well and good but it's staying clean when you get back to 'normal life' that is the problem.

What about alternative therapies? Like hypnosis or acupuncture. Are they available on the nHS drug scheme?

THinking of you, gleds. xx

Gledwood said...

Some of them, like acupuncture, reiki and shiatsu are... I have had ear acupuncture a few times. The first time I actually felt strange occurrences in my energy field!! What on earth happened I've no idea... but it's supposed to clear out the system :-)

Gledwood said...

Syd: hopefully Just For Today, one day, will last for ever!

Lori: thanks ;->...

Liz:Some of them, like acupuncture, reiki and shiatsu are... I have had ear acupuncture a few times. The first time I actually felt strange occurrences in my energy field!! What on earth happened I've no idea... but it's supposed to clear out the system :-)

Dr. Larry Deutsch said...

Aside from the relaxing and pleasurable effect of hypnosis, it can also improve physical health, emotional well-being and assist personal development.



Heroin Shortage: News

If you are looking for the British Heroin Drought post, click here; the latest word is in the comments.

Christiane F

"Wir, Kinder vom Bahnhoff Zoo" by "Christiane F", memoir of a teenage heroin addict and prostitute, was a massive bestseller in Europe and is now a set text in German schools. Bahnhoff Zoo was, until recently, Berlin's central railway station. A kind of equivalent (in more ways than one) to London's King's Cross... Of course my local library doesn't have it. So I'm going to have to order it through a bookshop and plough through the text in German. I asked my druggieworker Maple Syrup, who is Italiana how she learned English and she said reading books is the best way. CHRISTIANE F: TRAILER You can watch the entire 120-min movie in 12 parts at my Random blog. Every section EXCEPT part one is subtitled in English (sorry: but if you skip past you still get the gist) ~ to watch it all click HERE.

To See Gledwood's Entire Blog...

DID you find my blog via a Google or other search? Are you stuck on a post dated some time ago? Do you want to read Gledwood Volume 2 right from "the top" ~ ie from today?
If so click here and you'll get to the most recent post immediately!

Drugs Videos

Most of these come from my Random blog, which is an electronic scrapbook of stuff I thought I might like to view at some time or other. For those who want to view stuff on drugs I've collected the very best links here. Unless otherwise stated these are full-length features, usually an hour or more.

If you have a slow connexion and are unused to viewing multiscreen films on Youtube here's what to do: click the first one and play on mute, stopping and starting as it does. Then, when it's done, click on Repeat Play and you get the full entertainment without interruption. While you watch screen one, do the same to screens 2, 3 and so on. So as each bit finishes, the next part's ready and waiting.

Mexican Black Tar Heroin: "Dark End"

Khun Sa, whose name meant Prince Prosperous, had been, before his death in the mid 2000s, the world's biggest dealer in China White Heroin: "Lord of the Golden Triangle"

In-depth portrait of the Afghan heroin trade at its very height. Includes heroin-lab bust. "Afghanistan's Fateful Harvest"

Classic miniseries whose title became a catchphrase for the misery of life in East Asian prison. Nicole Kidman plays a privileged middle-class girl set up to mule heroin through Thai customs with the inevitable consequences. This is so long it had to be posted in two parts. "Bangkok Hilton 1" (first 2 hours or so); "Bangkok Hilton 2" (last couple of hours).

Short film: from tapwater-clear H4 in the USA to murky black Afghan brown in Norway: "Heroin Addicts Speak"

Before his untimely death this guy kept a video diary. Here's the hour-long highlights as broadcast on BBC TV: "Ben: Diary of a Heroin Addict". Thanks to Noah for the original link.

Some of the most entertaining scenes from Britain's top soap (as much for the poor research as anything else). Not even Phil Mitchell would go from nought to multi-hundred pound binges this fast: "Phil Mitchell on Crack" (just over 5 minutes).

Scientist lady shows us how to cook up gear: "How Much Citric?" Lucky cow: her brown is 70% purity! Oddly we never see her actually do her hit... maybe she got camera shy...

And lastly:

German documentary following a life from teenage addiction to untimely death before the age of 30. The decline in this girl's appearance is truly shocking. "Süchtig: Protokoll einer Hilflosigkeit". Sorry no subtitles; this is here for anyone learning German who's after practice material a little more gripping than Lindenstraße!

Nosey Quiz! Have you ever heard voices when you weren't high on drugs?

Manic Magic

Manic Magic

Gledwood Volume 2: A Heroin Addict's Blog

Copyright 2011 by Gledwood