So where was I, O yes “Strug to func!” Due to crippling anxiety and desperate depression I was struggling to function on a normal day to day level. Failing to carry out even the most basic of tasks such as getting out of bed, bathing myself and eating. However, like a light going on in the dark I knew I had found something when I was first introduced to painkillers. With pain relief as a physical and emotional crutch I was able to scrape myself out of bed and start performing everyday tasks. Gradually I was able to take a bath, get dressed and then later, put a face of makeup on, do my hair and finally face the day. I was turning up at college and performing really well. In fact, I was excelling in my studies and with a strong work ethic I had determination and drive. I was focused on succeeding and looking forward to going to university and pushing forward with the future.
Of course in the beginning it was fun, picking up scripts only to pop a few pills and feel that gradual lift and return to ‘normality’. The feeling of warmth and security, a kind of contentment and confidence. That fuzzy feeling that radiates itself in the mind and through the body. Taking something, just doing anything to not feel so bloody awful! Taking tablets would erase the plague of worry and weariness, removing the relentless darkness and depression. Trying to jog my memory and think back I remember popping a few pills, codeine in my bloodstream, driving down the motorway, windows down, heading to TK Maxx ready to spend, spend, spend. The topic of money, spending habits and ultimately debt are another blog entry altogether but no word of a lie, for some time that was my happy place! I realise now that when it came to spending I was just throwing money at a situation, in search of another pick me up and hoping that my problems would just go away.
With regard to mental health and addiction, some people question as to which came first, like the chicken or the egg expression. For me I would say that mental health came first and that the addiction was a symptom of that suffering. I do realise however that when the addiction kicks in it is very much a vicious cycle and can sometimes be hard to tell the difference. With my mental health and addiction issues I was very much like a dog chasing its own tale and for some time it seemed never ending. I was using opiates in a manner that allowed me to be what is described as a functioning addict but when the depression really kicked in I would use Codeine to have what I used to call ‘Sleeping Parties’. This was where I would just sleep for days and days and days. I would take to my bed for prolonged periods at a time, pop some pills and just sleep. Wake up, pop some more pills and then just sleep some more. In contrast with the busy, productive and often manic episodes that I would have, this would then be my down time. Because I was so busy at this point it didn’t happen all that often but as you will be able to see from my writing I was living my life in extremes. Just from one extreme to the other.
Naturally, the fun part did not last for long as I became just more and more addicted, taking more tablets always in search of something stronger. It also came to a point where I wanted to feel good and essentially enjoy the high. So it no longer served to just deal with my anxiety and depression, I wanted to be up there, always wanting more and more and more. This later came in the form of Tramadol, ‘Yellows’ and ‘Blues’ which are ‘Benzos’ or more accurately what we call in the UK Diazepam. Stronger opiates hadn’t quite come on the scene for me yet but it wouldn’t be long before they made their appearance.
Working so hard, a testament to how physically active and busy I was, I basically suffered a stress fracture to my foot. It was at this point that a doctor prescribed me Tramadol by way of pain relief. This was left unmonitored and I was left on them for many years and so naturally I became very much addicted. This was in addition to the Codeine and other opiates I was getting, from countless other sources by this stage. It was weird though in that Tramadol didn’t affect me in the way that other opiates did, instead of the usual soothing, calming, drowsy, sluggishness I became alert, energised and even more productive than I already was! So manic at this time I would very often find that I couldn’t sleep but this was just what I used to call ‘Tramadol Nights!’ At this point, what I considered to be a mere by product or side affect of what I was going through. In my mind I was still very much in control and had the winning combination but in reality what I had was uppers, downers and a pill for every mood or occasion. Not being able to recognise that I had a nasty habit that was just spiralling out of control!
In addition, having completed college and now in Law School I was also using a number of other drugs in a recreational manner. I was smoking Green/Weed or whatever you want to call it, Marijuana I should say. I was very much part of the House music scene and club culture and so I was enjoying Ecstasy, MDMA , Amphetamine, Cocaine and other party drugs. In true university fashion I was also drinking alcohol like a fish and a thirsty one at that! I want to talk to you more about recreational and ‘gateway’ drugs but in an effort to keep things short and sweet I will do so in another blog entry where I can consider them thoroughly and properly.
It may come as a surprise but despite my actions I had no real idea that I had a problem and by no means did I consider myself to be an ‘addict’. It wasn’t for some years, up until I was snorting heroin by myself in my lonely little flat that I ever considered myself to have a serious and true problem with substance abuse or an issue with addiction. But never did I consider myself to be an addict. It was only after attending an N/A meeting many years later that I saw myself as an addict and yes now I can see that I am very much one. Considering my history with substance abuse, misuse and addiction I can now say that I am an addict through and through. For some, the truth can be a bitter pill to swallow but I just consider it to have been a coping mechanism, albeit an extreme one, for dealing with my mental health issues. Evidently I was in serious denial but now that I have embraced sobriety I can see things for what they truly are.
I’m going to leave it there for today as I realise this entry is quite lengthy and I do want to keep things light and upbeat. But now at least you have a bit more of an understanding about my journey with mental health and progress through addiction. Always curious and forever intrigued I would love to hear your thoughts on my posts and page. Please do say hello and drop me a line, I would love to hear from you!