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Given I have abused drugs regularly for some years now, it’s rather obscure for me to continually question their use. I have been drinking heavily since I was seventeen, usually weekly social binges; but, sometimes because of a need to free myself from the material world, often one that seeps-in midweek. That would end in me slightly hungover before a Twelve-hour shift on a Thursday. For a solid few years though, it didn’t seem to play a huge role in my mental health.
I suffered clinical depression throughout high school. For the first few years of my adulthood, it appeared to be something I’d rarely find issue with. I would never contemplate the notion of returning to a psychologist regularly. After all, my social life was buzzing, and everyone around me was down about some aspect of their lives, and they were just as happy as I was, all willing to get fucked off their face bi-weekly.
Eventually, of course, the constant binge drinking turned into cap eating, and I found myself entering a lifestyle of weekly clubbing. It’s this world that pivoted around MDMA consumption, a life I never imagined I would lead. I found myself in the cubicles of club toilets, carefully navigating tasks like opening a capsule – without spillage – and emptying its contents onto my tongue. In an ever so masochistic way, I would enjoy the horrible chemical taste, just for a second, chewing the half empty capsules before washing it all away whatever alcohol I’d chosen.
I would often bound around the clubs aimlessly, constantly stimulating myself with the freak show nature of the other realm. We all resided in that realm for those few hours each Friday and Saturday night. Winding up in enigmatic soul searching conversations with strangers, we so often shared a communal cigarette with one another, only to find light the next morning, struggling to recall any of their names or faces.
This lifestyle went on for some time, increasing in intensity. Eventually, it reached complete weekends of absurdity and debauchery. I was pushing, and testing my body’s limits trying to find some deeper level of inebriation, one where I could disconnect from any – and all – weight from the material world. In doing this, I would do little more than find myself so incomprehensibly munted, I could barely manage to string together a few simple sentences. Yet, I would find myself shovelling that fifth, or sixth capsule, filled with clean-white-crystals, into my mouth.
After some much enjoyed, worthwhile experiences with psychedelics, the party life began to wind down. These outlandish weekends became infrequent, and the relationships I had formed around such incongruous behaviour started to fall away; as they collectively focused on their material lives, of working towards: The White Picket Fence Package.
My desire to become more productive kicked in, and I too felt less inclined to accept an invitation to an evening of senseless radical movements through Fortitude Valley’s dark pathways. Although, my need to detach, and seek a less confined mental state – one where I was no longer subjected to societies forced normalities – lingered over me. I briefly enjoyed binge drinking through the week once again, before aptly substituting it with light cannabis use.
After possibly the most bizarre circumstances via the development of a dangerous relationship, I experienced the taste of what a normal life could be. A reasonably short relationship, between two very different – and unbeknownst to either – unstable people. This, of course, ended in enormous combustion. Jobs were left, police were involved, and legal action was pursued. It was a story for the ages – though it will take up another page.
It was around then I descended into the open void, for what felt like the first time in a long time. I experienced psychological pain, like nothing I’d felt before, one that brought with it the weight of an anvil pressed upon my chest. I couldn’t breathe, and I wanted the anguish to end. I quickly grabbed the first thing that I could find – an extension lead – and I began to wrap it around my neck. In those few minutes, I wanted my life to end.
A trip to the Pindara hospital emergency room, a few Diazepam’s later and I returned home. For a short time, I saw a psychologist who offered me some brilliant assistance. I was empowered with the knowledge of how anxiety worked on my body, and I was given the tools to help prevent entering such a state. I thought that I was back in the driver’s seat, a new toolbox for mental wellbeing stashed on the passenger seat. I figured, if I could gain control of my clinical depression for this long, then surely I was able to master this new affliction.
The battle was tough, but I found distractions to work through it. Whilst all of this was unfolding, my addiction to self-abuse began to escalate. I pursued out of character fads, ones of vicious exercise regimes and clean eating, juxtaposed with constant bong abuse. My goal, however naive, involved manipulating myself into some faux sense of happiness and fulfillment. But as the months rolled by, the mask began to fade. My clean eating, and exercise regimes fell away, but the substance abuse and body issues stayed. I would often go days without eating a proper meal, trying to become as thin as I could, hoping it may help find me somebody to love.
It didn’t help that I lived alone. I could go weeks without seeing a face that I really knew; I would go to work and feel ostracised purely because of my senior role, manifesting in a need to distance myself from my employees. I would focus all of my leftover energy on my creative output, which would often mutate into worthless states of loathsome self-hate. All while abusing my diet, from fits of mass consumption, to deprivation of basic energy.
It was in cycles, and all the while I failed to recognise – or perhaps, chose to ignore – the patterns that were slowly destroying my life. A year or so on, from my previous breakdown, I faced another. This time, it was choosing to leave my place of employment, a result of my unfit mental health.
I was now unemployed.
I commenced work on my creative output intensely, pushing myself for success, continuously letting myself down, vicious self-doubt and loathing ensuing, traits that lead to intense abuse of myself. The year flew by, and I weaved in out of jobs, working harder and harder at trying to produce creative output to enable my voice to be heard, all while sinking deeper and deeper into isolation and mental instability.
At times my alcohol abuse was as bad as my continuous-cone-syndrome, often buying a second or third bottle of Maker’s Mark each week. Yet I’d always pull myself back up, and substitute it for more weed instead. Finding myself polishing off a quarter ounce each week, sometimes resorting to spending entire weeks in a perpetual high.
But, the vicious cycles became more prevalent, and I started to notice how deeply they affected my life. Winding up in the bedrooms of strange women before even knowing their surname.
You have a dark ugly side, that no one knows how to handle.
These words were uttered by a close friend after a casual night-out where I risked my life and others, by drinking before getting behind the wheel of my car – an act that seemed commonplace at that point in time – just so that I could drive down the M1, with the lines of the highway blurring into prison bars in my mind. It was a senseless act, delivering me just that extra inch closer to the end.
My substance abuse had crushed my mental wellbeing into drug induced cycles, where I would often spend weeks without talking to anyone who really knew me. During these times, I’d question if anyone, or even myself, understood who I was. Choosing instead the comfort of strange women, as I strived to deliver superficial pleasures, desperately trying to evoke a state of increased self-worth from myself. Looking for acceptance, and acknowledgment of my being, from someone I knew on a first name basis only, under the premise of rigid sexual arrangement.
I felt utterly lost, an identity crisis. I had formed a persona purely for my creative work, and forgotten all about the person behind it. I had left the mask which people identified with as my person, so far behind in my past. And then, atop of that, I’d questioned everyone’s loyalty to ‘the real me’. I had become desperately sick, and a danger to myself.
“I’m gonna try, to nullify my life
Cause when the blood begins to flow
When it shoots up the dropper’s neck
When I’m closing in on death”
I aim to stop abusing all substances someday, and instead endeavour to find an outlet for self-exploration, through a more positive pastime, one void of self-abuse. And that battle wages on. The struggle to alleviate myself from the shackles of substance abuse and addiction has become an everyday onslaught of self-discipline, and positive mindfulness.
It takes village to raise a child, and a community to elect a demagogue. I can only presume, it takes a circle of peers to defeat a demon. If your friend has identified they have an issue with substance abuse, or mental health; assist them in any way that you can, and, perhaps that might mean stopping yourself from saying:
Just come have a beer or two