I WOKE UP AROUND 11:30 totally unable to face the day. The Deer Hunter DVD was playing that Spanish Guitar tune "Cavatina" around and around. I felt very sad and numerous miserable thoughts went through my head. About depressed mothers who kill their children. About the dead. I remembered back to yesterday and my commitment to buy more heroin. The last thing I felt was "whoopee". I couldn't face the shower, the post office, or dealing with this bastard drug dealer. Couldn't face today or any other day. I thought about NA and hitting rock bottom. They say you must first hit bottom in order to cast off your dependency on drugs and learn to live again.
(Though there's no "again" about it.)
There is no rock at the bottom. Merely shadows stretching down and down into infinity. Your personal bottom is as low as you can bear to go. Someone, somewhere will always have gone lower. Others will have given up without ever descending half as far as you. Suffering is relative. It's a purely personal thing.
I'm annoyed with Narcotics Anonymous for judging me as high on drugs when I was drug-free and mentally unwell. Even my own family seemed to think I was abusing drugs of some mysterious kind. I've got to the point of not caring what anybody thinks on this, no matter who they are.
My psychiatrist believed me. Naomi, the dual-diagnosis lady believed me. I took drugs tests that proved when I was at my most addled, that I was on METHADONE ONLY. No heroin. No speed or crack. Certainly no hashish and it really puzzled me when someone close to me brought that one up. If they knew me, they'd know me passionate aversion to the Evil Weed. (Why touch heroin if a nasty spliff will mellow you out? I gave up toking years ago because it made me anything except mellow.)
The only nonprescribed drug I took during this period was Librium. Blue and white capsules that looked indistinguishable from Prozac. I felt nothing at all off this stuff, but it's supposed to help you kick drinking. Even that had sunk almost within the British Government's recommended safe consumption limit.
It's up to me to help myself.
There are professionals who can help me, but they can't live my life for me. Narcotics Anonymous have been mooted as an option. But I don't feel understood or accepted by NA as a group. They are a group of laypeople who deal in Recovery. Recovery is when you abstain from drugs, detoxing if necessary. And far from merely not using again, you fill the void with a new passtime: learning to live life on life's terms.
My problem with NA has been their focus on addiction as the cause of all ills. My ills began before I was ever a drug addict. I got addicted to heroin aged 28. Before that I used it so infrequently ~ with weeks at a time between bouts of using. They were bouts because a £20 bag lasted me five afternoons, and I was only smoking it. I used a new introduction to a new dealer every time I scored. The old one wouldn't have remembered me.
Before I became a drug-addict, I'd done years without drugs. Miserable years. My chronic fatigue syndrome years were drug-free: what substance could I tolerate then? I felt worse than ever.
The first couple of years when I did dabble were the most miserable of all; these were my university years, and depression ruined them utterly. I dropped acid while clinically depressed and had bad trips. I tried Ecstasy and felt marvellous. Then I came down from the heavenly high, and felt worse than ever before. Speed at one time seemed an almost-answer. It raised me up to a level where I felt I saw things clearly. Only to drop me down so precipitously I could barely function at all during the aftermath. The evil cannabis was ubiquitous among students, but it brought on acid flashbacks. Yet I craved spliffs, believed I was getting a minor drug problem. Miraculously I cured myself when I took to getting my nicotine hit from ordinary cigarettes that didn't bamboozle the brains. All the joys of smoking without paranoia, fear, confusion, hallucinations.
I still had chronic fatigue syndrome when I took to regular nightclubbing. Psychedelic trance was the music of the day. I hadn't the energy to dance all night, so I spent my nights in superbly-appointed chillout rooms talking rubbish to people from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, Botswana, Italy and France. Ecstasy was the only drug that really gave me confidence. I took it in moderation. Most of us did. E doesn't mix with alcohol. Pouring two pints into a one pint pot won't get it any fuller. Once you've gone as high as Ecstasy will take you, you start going sideways, an effect that can be attained more cheaply and less dangerously on fewer pills and a sparkling of magic mushrooms. I was known as somebody who could stay out all night on nothing ~ not even drink. I always had the option of something that would set the night off with a bang, but I didn't always want it.
My mental health was still shaky. I know that Ecstasy damaged it in the late 90s, just as cannabis had in the early 90s. As my psychiatrist said "you and drugs and drink do not mix".
I know I shouldn't take any drugs at all. I don't even "want to" any more. None of the substances from my past are a temptation to me. Ecstasy would be a good case in point. It takes an hour to come on. I never enjoyed taking it anywhere except at a dance party. The peak effects from one moderate dose last about four hours but you're still buzzing slightly the next day. I haven't been out raving in over a decade and thus haven't touched E. There never was a drug I took anytime, anyplace, anywhere... until heroin got its claws into me.
Trust me, my recent use of heroin has been far more out of desperation than indulgence. It started out as what I saw as daring experimentation ~ nearly all of my friends would have disapproved, if only they'd known ~ it turned into a habit so entrenched I could not survive a day without it. They say that methadone gives stability. Some people are so stable on the stuff they can even hold down a full-time job on it. But methadone gave me no such stability. Days on the Mean Green were days spent existing, not living. At some time, at some point along the way, I realized I was merely existing on heroin too. The drug that once had turned life into Christmas every day had turned me into a wreck. Existence was drab beyond words. While heroin was depressing, methadone was suicidally miserable. I no longer have "fun" on heroin. I take it grudgingly. I deplore methadone and only take it as the greater of two evils. But a legal and at least semi-respectable evil. All I can say about methadone is that to a desperate addict, it's better than nothing. And of course, I'd rather be on nothing at all.
If only I'd embraced today's first feelings on the matter, I might have moved just one solitary step forward. Trisha Goddard, the former talkshow hostess, used to talk about embracing your depression. But I don't want to "embrace" anything. I don't just feel miserable, I feel confused. Should I embrace this confusion too? Icebergs clashing in my brains. The want of risperidone pills speaks to me aloud. It doesn't frighten me, but I know my doctor won't be very impressed when he finds out I stopped taking them. Risperidone was prescribed as an antimanic, antipsychotic. It's not an antidepressant. People with bipolar issues aren't generally prescribed antidepressants, which raise the mood. The treatment of choice is generally a mood stabilizer. I've been threatened with these, but I have issues surrounding them. So I don't know what to do.
Depression makes me realize life isn't about fun or enjoyment.
I have work to do. I hate cleaning. No sense of achievement ever came from doing it, at least not in recent times. Yet I decided to clean my house; and to do it for myself. Not for the stern lady who comes round from the council who seems to think the way I live is unacceptable. I'm doing it for me. If I had somebody else to keep my house clean and tidy for, trust me, my home would be spotless. But what's the point doing anything for myself? I've not been able to motivate myself this way in a long, long while. So I'm venturing on to fresh fields with this one.
I have to do what I realized I'd have to when I woke up this morning to a litany of ideas of doom and gloom and destruction. I shall walk away from this. There is no choice. This is what I shall do.
I never intend to embrace my depression. I intend to leave it far behind. It doesn't matter whether or not the whys and wherefores of the matter ever become clear to me. At the moment they seem utterly incomprehensible, so pondering them is an exercise in particular futility. I'm doing what I was taught to do as a very small child when my Dad took me hillwalking. You put one foot in front of the other. No matter what, you keep going. I don't know where I'm going, but I know what I'm going away from. And I'll get there in the end.
STANLEY MYERS: CAVATINA
The Deer Hunter music
Khat - from Yemen to Israel - fresh khat leaves* *The 'khat' plant (khat is pronounced 'gat' in hebrew) is a stimulant and appetite suppressor. The plant is native to Yemen, Ethiopia, ...
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