As I remember this moment in my life; all I see is black. Every hazy memory I recall, it is night time, it’s raining or it is grey.
I watch my father die, a few weeks later I am burying my mother on my 30th birthday. That evening it’s my birthday and to complete an unwanted hat-trick I find a sister with her wrists slit.
Reading that sentence back is a rare moment where I feel compassion for myself. Someone once told me in order to have compassion for others you must firstly have compassion for yourself.
After my father died, I was back in my valley for a short amount of time. I absolutely hammered the Valium. It gave me the same cloak like it did all those years ago. It gave me confidence and it made me numb. A couple weeks later, I am staring at my mother laying there in that cold grey room. All I want to do is close her lifeless mouth. At this point I am so loaded with Diazepam I can barely shed a tear, but I know my heart is broken.
That night I took so much Valium, I wake up on the living room floor. I thought I had dreamt it all.
On these binges you don’t recall much. However, ask anyone who has ever lost someone they love, it doesn’t get much more heartbreaking when your dream feels so real, you think the reality never happened (You will always remember that).
Back in my valley I could get anything. I had started taking codeine in high quantities. I liked the different buzz it gave me. Tramadol, nitrazepam and Valium were the same. I ordered liquid filled temazepam online from Holland which didn’t touch the sides. I enjoyed the slight hallucinations Zopiclone gave me and I welcomed the inevitable blackout. All those drugs did was make me more numbed until eventually I was stone cold.
There was no buzz, no fun time feeling like before. I was emotionally dead.
Back in my village, I would take cocaine with my friends and then self medicate with the downers just as the darkness was slipping into my mood. I remember feeling so fearful of letting that dark, depressive feeling in, I could not let myself sit still. I never wanted my friends to leave, they made me laugh and smile and I just wanted to freeze in that moment.
Three months had gone by when Easter arrived and everything was ‘normal’ again. When you’re someone used to being depended on, its really unnerving for yourself and those close to you when it’s you that needs some shelter. Those who cared for me just wanted me to be ‘me’ again, to lead again.
There’s no rule book to how I should act or how others should act around me. Looking back I realise people are just that and most of us are good people. It’s nothing too terrible if people forget or it’s not a flaw if people want to move on.
It’s being human that makes us imperfect but as the same time so beautiful.
I headed back to the capital with a plastic bag full of Valium. It was Good Friday and my friends were in town. As if to send another test, my excitement faded as there was a serious incident at work. I had averted a fatality but being involved and considering I was somewhat senior I knew I would be hauled in for an investigation.
The first step is an immediate interview with a drugs and alcohol test.
I knew this process.
Everyone was safe, my job was done and I was already meeting friends from the old country in the capital.
I decided to push the self destruct button and get stuck into lots of Cocaine.
I remember sitting in a flat in deepest darkest hipster/grime-ville at 6am. Breakfast was an instant black coffee (the spoon almost stood up in the tar) followed by a slug of cocaine.
I got on the Subway and headed home, I got my mask on ready to greet my family. I got to my driveway but first nipped to my car to down some Valium, I needed to take the edge off.
I opened the glove box and the familiar white pot I was so used to seeing wasn’t there. My heart dropped like an anvil, right down to my boots. I had left all my Valium back in my valley!
I had no downers, nothing to bring me down. I frantically searched under the car seats, anywhere where one may have dropped. Nothing! My heart felt like it was going to explode. Writing this really makes me feel like a Valium.
The following morning, it was a Saturday and I had the call to take my D&A test. My chest has never recovered from this moment of severe anxiety and I don’t think it ever will.
I mentioned my mask earlier. The mask was my brave mask, it was worn so the ones I loved so deeply didn’t have to see me suffer. I never wanted them to hurt for me. As selfless as that sounds I think it’s because selfishly I just didn’t want to face that prospect, I don’t think I could have handled it.
With the prospect of losing my job and the ability to provide for them, it felt like this was the moment everything was about to come crashing down. I gave up…..
I gave up for about thirty minutes before I got in my car and fled to my valley.
My mind was chaotic, I didn’t switch off a second on the rainy journey ‘home’. I vividly remember the podcast ‘Serial’ I listened to all the way back to my valley. My new task was simple; getting clean and getting clean quickly.
It took a day for withdrawal to set in, it was horrific. I couldn’t sleep a wink, I was as low as I have ever felt. Above all other emotions the most overpowering was how very scared I felt, I was afraid of everything. Nighttime, people, noises, life itself.
I put my headphones in and ran the roads, then worked out, then ran some more. I felt like a ghost, never staying somewhere too long in order to avoid any sort of human interaction. It was a couple more days when grief set in. Like a tidal wave bursting through a broken dam. I crumbled.
I couldn’t stop crying at everything that reminded me of my mother. I held her clothes, I looked at photos. I held jewellery and remembered every moment I could together. I felt guilt, I felt shame, I felt helpless. A few blogs ago I mentioned not having withdrawal, well I got the memo this time. On the rare moment I finally managed to compose myself about my mother, I would think of my Dad and break down. I would think of my sisters and my beautiful family. The ones who depended on me and how much I didn’t want to let them I down.
Had this experience changed me? Of course it had.
But the amount of benzos I had abused was monstrous and I was totally void of any idea who I was anymore.
I had blagged work for eleven days. By day 12 I took my homemade drug test and passed.
Day 15, I was back in work to a tap on the shoulder. I passed…………Lemon Squeezy
I thought I had cracked it. I found my way out of the hole and I think a small part of me actually did. But it’s naive to think you shake grief and addiction in a 12 day process back in your home country. And I was about to find out precisely that.
*Lemon Squeezy = Easy