I don't think of myself as an expert because I'm not one. I'm just a heroin addict who has researched my drug of choice. Then I'm confronted by people like that who don't know what the hell they're talking about and they truly do my head in. It was one such person at another meeting who claimed that 2g a day heroin was "ridiculous" (the sort of person who'd do 2g or more crack in a few hours and think nothing of it). I gave up meetings after that (these were run by the druggieclinic and have nothing to do with NA or Intuitive Recovery). I was fed up of being made to feel like an old junkie by people who have been on the crack pipe for a couple of years and think they know it all. Good on them for sorting themselves out oafter such a short time. But don't pretend you understand hardcore heroin addiction because you smoke crack, a drug that's all about chasing a high. Heroin is about smoothing yourself over. You take heroin and watch daytime TV and munch on a McDonald's Double Cheeseburger and sip a cyder. Heroin is a comfort drug. Heroin has long been my medicine. It's harder to give up heroin precisely because it is so very unexciting and mundane. Crack is a ridiculously intense high. Heroin feels soft and mild. Once heroin gets you it's a far more profound addiction than crack. Less intense. But still waters run deep.
So I went along with this course yesterday not agreeing with everything they said. Eg a multiple choice question "I take drugs because A it makes the daisies grow" (some such nonsensical answer) "B they feel good" (the supposedly right answer or C: life is crap". Well I'm sorry I use for answer C, life is crap, life on drugs is better. Drugs don't feel good, not really. I can barely feel anything off my drug of choice even when it knocks me unconscious ~ and this is heroin heroin, not benzoated heroin. I was buying benzoated heroin for months about a year ago, by choice. I knew it had benzos in it because I'd obtained some piss tests which came up benzo-positive even though I'd not popped a Valium or temazepam in months. I know what benzo-heroin feels like and I know what real heroin feels like. I've overdosed at least five times on heroin heroin and wouldn't mark the strength of the drug (not the niceness, the actual feeling of how strong the niceness is... even an overdose of heroin doesn't feel much more than a 4.5 out of 10. Compared to crack which is an 8.5 or more, ketamine which would be 9 or hard brainfrying can't understand what anyone's saying LSD which would be 10. Of course in niceness, heroin scores 10, but it feels by necessity WEAK. It was the love of my life and I never took it because it felt amazing as such. My true reason for taking heroin was that life was unbearable without it. Methadone stops all physical withdrawals provided you take a whacking great dose (and I needed far more than the drug clinic would admit you do to equate even to one £20 bag IVd per day (and I'm talking about traditional proper strength gear, not the weak post-drought rubbish on sale these days)). I took gear because I felt bad when I didn't take it. Gear was the only thing that made life feel worth living. Methadone didn't. Whatever those researchers believe, they believe what they want to. We all know methadone is no true substitute for heroin. If it were, junkies would not use constantly on top of their scripts. It's not that methadone is weak. Methadone is like comparing a raincoat to a fur coat. When it's cold you wrap yourself up in sheepskins. No amount of cagool is going to do it for you. Methaone is like a cagool. It's waterproof as you can get. But it's not cosy. Heroin is cosy. Addicts like heroin. Not methadone. Heroin. By and large, the clinics are wasting their time with methadone. Beggars can't be chosers, but addicts can use on top of an inadequate methadone script, which is why they do, almost without exception. I'm willing to use methadone as a vehicle to get me where I want to be. Off opiates. But most addicts aren't ready for methadone. Asking someone to give up needles, give up feeling high, give up the rituals associated with using all at once all sounds very doable on paper, but it just doesn't happen.
The crackheads who smoke heroin on their pipes, burning up most of the dose before it ever has a chance to enter the bloodstream seem to have a far easier ride on methadone than the heavy IV addicts I hung out with. This is because these people have barely any habit on heroin and so the methadone holds them very well. For those heavily dependent on heroin, doses well in excess of 100mg are required, which the clinics don't like to prescribe. And so it's the same old story. The willingness is there but the methadone doesn't work well enough and it doesn't soothe the fixation long-term junkies have with needles. And so they take their scripts gratefully, but continue to fix up whenever they can. Just a little bit less.
When doctors do a naughty and dip into the drugs cabinet it's never the methadone they swipe, is it? They go straight for the diamorphine! So doctors do know. Addicts only accept the status quo because the punitive philosphy is built into our group mentality. They believe they should suffer on methadone, so they accept this suffering. Methadone has no antidepressant effect. I waited two hours for a friend to drive another friend to their Turkish friend who buys enough personal to keep his habit and sell a little bit on and this guy gets good heroin. So I got a £20 bag of this and my depression is magically cured. As much as anything cures my misery this Turkish heroin has done the trick. I don't feel marvellous, but I feel tolerable. Before I took it I was in pain. A constant indistinct nagging ache going right through me that nothing could cure. It's bipolar depression and I know of nothing that can treat it. The pills I was on are antimanic not antidepressant. Lithium stops the mood swinging but doesn't actually cure depression. Antidepressants have sent me hypomanic or manic the last few times I took them. And they were prescribed by doctors. My sleep shrivels down to six hours, then down to four. Last time I got so hyped up I went four days in a row with no sleep whatsoever. I was hallucinating and so euphoric I wrote the most ridiculous letter to my poor gran who I new was dying of cancer. I'm just intensely glad I didn't post it for I was in the type of mental state you get into when you've drunk too much. It's what psychiatrists call an "expansive mood" ~ and I was very exansive indeed.
I was well aware that the mirtazapine (Remeron) was to blame, but far too high to care. And then, a week into it, I crashed so badly I was in a "spiritual crisis". People who knew me took one look and asked what on earth was wrong. I could no longer put on a happy act. Everything in life seemed bleak and empty. I even lost the desire to use heroin. Not knowing what else to do I scored, then took it home and opened it and stared at the open bag of brown for what felt like hours, knowing heroin wasn't the answer ~ wasn't even the fake answer it always had been ~ yet knowing I would take it anyway. Which I eventually did, shooting up in my big toe. As expected, it barely did anything for me.
So no I don't take drugs just because they feel good. I take them because life is shit, and that's always why I took heroin. Because to be frank, life felt meaningless and empty without it. You can argue all you like what I "should" feel, but these are the facts. I know I have a mental illness and I now know what it's called. Just knowing this does nothing to help me feel any better. The diagnosis, in case you don't know is "biolar schizoaffective" which just means severe biolar manic depression. The schizo bit means I get florid psychotic symptoms when I go manic. But I'm not manic now I'm depressed. Underneath the heroin in my system I know I'm miserable.
I know more than one of you will be irritated to hear me fessing up to heroin use once again. Well be irritated. You don't feel how I feel. If you had zero self esteeem, self confidence in the gutter and constant relentless depression that has gone on for years you'd use heroin too ~ if heroin found you. Without heroin I don't know that I would have made it this far without killing myself. Sorry to sound shocking or childish but that's the truth of the matter. I have fought against suicidal thoughts for years. I didn't fight my drug addiction, I simply gave into it and used, nearly all the time. But my suicidal ideation as they call it, I really have fought and not given into.
I just wish I could get some energy back. A touch of mania would go down very nicely. When I was manic between December and early March I went higher than I have ever been in my life. Cast all thoughts of drugs from your mind or you're missing the point: this was an entirely natural high and it got so intense I actually got higher on mania than I've ever been on any drug, including crack cocaine. It felt truly wonderful knowing I could be clean and on nothing bar prescribed methadone which I only took through sheer necessity and feel that good. During this phase I was more antidrugs than I've ever been. Knowing that heroin would if anything bring me down (being a CNS depressant) I avoided that like the plague. Crack I had no need for at all. Crack is like a jittery, unpleasant and weak version of the manic high. True, as the mania span increasingly out of control I got the same negative effects you get off crack: an ultra-hyped up body that just would not sleep (didn't NEED to sleep), paranoia and hallucinations, inability to focus on anything, inability to stay still. The paranoia was horrible but the hallucinations were mostly fun. I saw amazing visions in walls and floors, some as full-colour movies. The voices I heard were more entertaining than frightening. The best one was the cockney costermonger trying to get me to buy tangerines off her stall. I know I was crazy but I wasn't on drugs. NA annoyed me. Members nod-nod-nodding their heads when I proudly affirmed I was off drugs and sticking to my methadone script, as I was. Then I'd get comments back that confirmed my suspicions "when you drop the drugs..." etc. Yes they were assuming that someone who turned up hyped up and high, too high to sit still or follow a meeting for more than a few minutes at a time, someone who couldn't stop pacing and fidgeting, someone who talked at several hundred words per minute absolute had to be on crack. No it couldn't be a natural high, oh no! Why on earth do they give up drugs if not to finda higher power that brings them happiness WITHOUT drugs. Well that's exactoly what I'd found. My higher manic power that made me higher even than a heroin-crack speedball. My higher power that gave me this amazing euphoria absolutely free without any need ever to score or reload. My higher power that manifested my truest inner self. And nobody would accept it was real. One assumption I thought I was justified in making was that at NA I should find acceptance. And yet I found no acdeptance. I felt judged and misunderstood. Badly misunderstood. And when I explained to my home group why I had been turning up week after week unable to sit still, unable to follow the meeting and then raging during my share ~ not because I felt in any way obliged to tell anybody anything about my medical condition but because I felt it would be nice to give an explanation, I was so nervous despite my still-"elevated" mood my voice was literally quavering when I told them I was having mental health problems that made me hyper and high. I told them this was bipolar disorder, because I do have a type of bipolar. And not one single person, of all these members who'd had so much to say when they all thought I was using and lying about it. Nobody not one single person had a word to say to me. I went home disgusted.
So this is me. Still unhappy. I don't know where it will end. I don't feel at all like going to this course but I will go. I committed myself to going for myself. No probation officer is on my case forcing the issue. It's just me, who's decided to do this. I'm not impressed by our trainee course tutor reading the booklet aloud. As I said, I can read it myself in a fraction of the time. And I have a nasty feeling the brain science they mention is oversimplified. Though maybe not: what do I know? They say gave a colour illustration with the brain in blue and red. Blue is you; red is "it". The focus of "it" was the amygdala, an almond-shaped nub in the temporal lobe that is the seat of pleasure, displeasure and memories connected with good things and bad things. They're saying that this amygdala is what tells us druggie users that it's good to take drugs. The amygdala does not and cannot engage in logical reasoning, it just tells you drugtaking is good. So when the amgydala is activated, you wanna use drugs. You don't even know why. It just tells you drugtaking is good; that you need drugs and want drugs. It's "you", it's up to the rest of your brain that engages in logic and reasoning, to put it right and say NO!
All this makes perfect sense, but it doesn't take a two and a half hour session to explain.
And I wasn't happy that my reason for heroin use, that life is shit, was considered invalid, a wrong answer. If I considered life worth living, I would never have experimented with heroin. I was well aware that heroin was deadly: this was much of its appeal.
In my Mum's words "you took it because the antidepressants didn't work, didn't you?" and that's right.
THE DRUGGIECLINIC has offered me another hep C test. I've had symptoms of depression-related extreme fatigue for years before I ever IVd heroin so I doubt my current fatigue is viral, but they're supposed to be offering a hepatitis C finger prick test which I'll go for if it really is available there. The old test involved me stripping practically naked so every battered vein was on display, and a hoary old woman stabbing away at my extremities until enough blood could be tapped to fill up a vial. Why on earth they won't just slit the back of my leg with a scalpel and capture the dribbles into a test-tube I've no idea.
I have the classic needle fixation: love stabbing myself with the heroin works; hate anybody else having control of the spike.
But I need to know for a fact that this fatigue IS just depression. It gets severe enough that I can sleep all night: eight pm to eight am flat out, do what I have to do in the morning. A mere walk to the shops is enough to tire me out enough that I have to go back to bed and sleep another four hours. That's sixteen hours' sleep and on a bad week I can sleep that long every single day for days in a row. The sleep only tapers off when my mood lifts slightly maybe for a week or so, then on a bad week like this week I'm back to sleeping fourteen, sixteen hours a day everyday or even longer. I'm fed up of living like this. If I take a mood stabilizer it'll block my mood ever going higher than normal and I hate mediocrity. I want to be high. Remember this is my own high, my natural high. And though I do believe my mood swings are the sum of my experience (ie years of drugtaking) it's also true that bipolar and schizoaffective are indisputably genetically transmitted illness. Something like 60% of sufferers have one first degree relative with bipolar disorder or recurrent depression (my Mum has recrurrent depression, every year). And I first had bipolar symptoms LONG before heroin, drink or crack ever became issues. I first became hypomanic on Prozac when I was just 23 years old. I first got major depression aged 19. I first had depressive symptoms (and symptoms of OCD) in childhood. The how much, how bad and how bad for how longs are impossible to establish this long after the fact, but I clearly remember obsessing about having cancer, feeling like I actually was ill and in moments of despair just wishing I would die now and have it over with. I was ten years old.
Throughout most of my life I have had very low self esteem. I didn't particularly like school. The academics I was fine with, but in the sixthform (age 16 to 18) particularly I had a very small group of friends. I certainly was not depressed all the way through school, but even then I went through periods of lethargy and mild depression where I was labelled a dinosaur and even a drug addict. I certainly had the gormless demeanour, even back then.
I wasted the year between school and university, and when I did go I was totally unprepared for life in the real world. Within ten weeks I was showing signs of clinical depression. By the second term (the semester system didn't come in until my second year) I was complaining of severe insomnia and got passed from my GP to a psychiatrist. I remember the utter terror of seeing this man who had all the clinical and offputting manner psychiatrists were famed for. He said "I understand you're suffering from low mood" and promptly asked whether I was hearing voices. Ironically when I wasn't hearing voices they asked me about them all the time. Then when I did start hearing voices nobody asked about them for years! Bear in mind these voices started off as indistinct mutterings and murmurings. They only became intrusive and loud and clear off drugs when I had that manic-depressive breakdown last December. The walls started talking to me. Loud. That breakdown, as dedicated readers of this blog will recall, coincided with a drought in the heroin supply and my decision to kick heroin for good. The very first day without heroin was the day I went floridly psychotic and my mood continued cycling up and down between mania and depression for about three months.
Now I'm stuck in depression. If a friend hadn't obtained the only good heroin I know of in London this afternoon I know I'd be feeling despair right now. I really was pissed off and down this morning and nothing was making me feel any better.
I can't go on like this. I can't afford to treat what I now know is a mental illness with an illicit drug and I'm unwilling to do so. This friend will probably be back tomorrow with more heroin, but I doubt he'll be around the day after that. I'm going to have to get used to living in misery. I have no option. If it gets really bad there's always the mental hospital but the worse I feel the more I feel they'll just laugh at me if I go in there. They probably won't want to take me in anyway unless I'm "actively suicidal", which throws all manner of negative ideas into my head.
Well I don't know what else to say. Hey maybe somebody somewhere will read this and somehow get "helped" by it. What help my dullardly life story can possibly give to anybody I honestly have no idea, but if you are an anonymous or a person I don't know and you read this and have something to say, please do leave a comment. I'm interested to know what you have to say about anything I've put, or anything that what I've put brings to mind.
ONLINE DEPRESSION TEST: HOW DO YOU SCORE?
The other day, when I felt far better than today, I had a depression score of 24. It says I may indeed be suffering from clinical depression and ought to contact a medical professional.
I noticed the sleep question is totally skewed the wrong way I'm OVER sleeping not under sleeping. So I got a zero for that question, quite ridiculously.
The test is here: http://www.psymed.info/default.aspx?m=Test&id=63&l=3
What did you score?
I did this test this morning when I felt truly dire and got 38 according to your score you are rated as SEVERELY DEPRESSED; you should consult a health professional for possible treatment. If you are having suicidal ideations, please seek treatment immediately.
See I don't know what to do. What is a health professional possibly going to do for me? Last appointment I had, at the new clinic, some Indian nurse with an attitude problem kept asking me why I was there. I said "because I got a letter telling me to come in this morning". He demanded to know how much heroin I was using (he was just being nosey and judgemental in my view) then brusquely asked how many voices I had heard and how paranoid I was and curtly said he would get me an appointment with a doctor. I thought I was there to SEE A DOCTOR not some half-arsed nurse. I just got a heavy duty diagnosis which means when I really get ill I do totally lose it, and this guy expects ME to have all the answers. Well next time they'll be disappointed if they want to gloat at my heroin use because I've decided it's going to be nonexistent, no matter how much I suffer. Life is crap. Heroin is crap. I don't want life without heroin. I don't want life if the truth be told. I don't want to kill myself either I just want to curl up and sleep.