Thursday, 28 April 2016

The Addict & Pain

Part One- The Addict

I am an addict. I've probably always been an addict and most certainly always will be. My early childhood is peppered with memories of wanting to push experiences, sensations & feelings further than enjoyment. Whatever we were doing or could do I wanted us to do it bigger.
It is this dangerous & often scary personality trait that has lead me to have some horrific times in my life, and also some amazing ones. The part of my brain that says 'hey, we should definitely stay up for 48 hours taking cocaine with men we do not know on a rooftop watching the sun come up whilst listening to the Trainspotting soundtrack' is the same part that says 'hey, what would happen if we redefined the classic British gangsta film genre by setting it within a firm with only women, omg yes, you should email Bernard O'Mahoney, is Paul Massey still alive? Do you think Frankie Fraser would dig it?'.

The addict in me is the artist in me is the political voice I harness is my refusal to deal with what I am dealt is my rebellion. When you don't give a fuck about normal or average you can see (often more than you'd like) with a harsh sharpness how truly ridiculous and redundant how many of our social institutions are. Being

An Addict polarises. It clarifies. It frees.
For those who need the difference explained having had (or currently having) an addiction does not necessarily make you An Addict. Most people at one point or another experience an addiction. Maybe to cigarettes, or painkillers or some other highly addictive substance. An addiction doesn't always have to be illegal, it may last for a week, it may last for years. If you aren't An Addict and you experience addiction you may walk away from it and live normally for the rest of your life. If you are An Addict, you can become addicted to anything. Drugs, money, sex, exercise, food, TV,  shopping, medication & people are all common ones. They all alter how we feel about ourselves, our lives and our lot, or free us from thinking about it all together.

But for The Addict, our tendencies to over do it & to push the boundaries spill over into seemingly benign behaviours (one of mine was going to Poundland & buying a DVD and chocolate). They are defined not just by how much we do them but how much we think about them and what we will do to engage in them. For us every day is a journey through avoiding our triggers (in this sense meaning behaviours, thoughts or places etc that can trigger our addiction lead actions).

We are not neurotypical. We are Addicts. And maybe we have addictions right now and maybe we don't, but where ever we go we know that our lives are built around transferring behaviours between one addiction and the next. Largely bored, exhausted and depressed we survive by moderating our own thought with an anxious after-voice.  'We could go to Nero's & read a book on the comfy sofa? Nope we did that three days ago and it could become a habit and weren't we in Nero's that time we smoked that joint 12 years ago?' and so on an so forth.

Imagine being barraged by constant messages about how weak willed and useless you are by right wing media sources and clueless non-Addicts on a daily basis when you are literally at war in your own mind. I haven't drank in 5 years 6 months and 14 days. I haven't taken non-medicinal drugs in over 7 years. I am still an addict every day. Still fighting for this life, to be sober through every single horrible moment of it and will be until the end.

Part Two- Pain

Somewhere between having a cold now I have stumbled on a new addiction- lethargy. I have hypothyroidism so I'm used to teeth chattering, bone bristling tiredness but this, this is something new. This is a seductive semi consciousness and it's made the last few months go quicker. Day after day in work, on the sofa, barely breathing and horrifically happy about it. I can only describe it as what I imagine it would be like to drown peacefully, a creeping physical exhaustion that move up your body and switches off your mind. Imagine fainting really slowly. Illness can be addicting too, I've realised. And now I'm in hospital paying the price for going on a little holiday behind the eyes.

They've wheeled me back from having a drain put into my lung where for the few blissful minutes I am deceived by the local anaesthetic into believing that this is going to be easy. There was a ripping pain, a tearing panic in the back of my lung and then I was off back to the ward.

When I get there, the pain rises like that sun rise on the roof, slowly. The pain itself is intoxicating. Every time it reaches a plateau I'm convincing myself that this time it won't get any worse but it does. I tell my partners that I am trying to sleep in my chair sat up with my head on my table, but the truth is I am no longer able to see or feel anything but the pain, it is consuming like the lethargy but not in a peaceful way. I am in a world outside of them, each breath a  tornado of mind numbing fucking agony. (I'm very dramatic, yes.)

The doctor comes from somewhere and we talk about pain meds which is dangerous because a) I'm in the worst pain of my life, b) This will be the third time I've explained to a doctor that I can't have mood altering drugs and c) I know how doctors treat addicts, I've been in A&E on a Friday night for an accidental overdose, semi lucid, listening to the medical team discuss how to teach me a lesson, I know how to read the face of a tired nurse.

Half shouting, or maybe whispering I tell the doctor that I'm in recovery, that I can't have morphine. She suggests another drug and maybe it's called oxycodone and I'm not sure  but I know that I can picture the molecular diagram like from  school on the blackboard and my science teacher is mouthing the word slowly and Nurse Jackie is singing Fleetwood Mac on her back in a rainfall of blue tablets and we're in Little Jay's house & I'm on my back and I can't lift my head up  and he's sliding off the sofa and my laugh echoes around the room and now my science teacher is angry but none of that can be right.

In the end I am left to weather the pain on IV paracetamol alone against the advice of the doctor who seems frustrated and confused but empathetic in her frown. That night I am carried out of my bed by two Italian nurses who sit me in my chair to sleep. I have been screaming for two minutes or maybe five or maybe all night, time is hardly applicable anymore.

The day after I can't carry my own oxygen tank to the toilet anymore and have to wait five hours for paracetamol and each minute is like a circle and I think 'Maybe we could just try a small dose of oxycodone? No.' Over and over. And every time a nurse comes to my bed, see me sweating and zoning out with pain  they tell me they'll get the doctor to look into more pain meds and by the end of the day 'No' starts to sound like a word I made up.

When most of the pain has cleared and I'm back home, 7 days later every twinge is a fuck you. I wake in cold sweats every morning. When I'm awake I'm irritable and scared and  detached and angry. In my dreams I am myself in pain, pale and yellow around the eyes, then I am in front of myself watching me sitting in my hospital gown, eyes wide like a trapped animal, hunched over in pain.

Some days I have flashbacks and feel like crying but don't. All I do is picture The Wright Stuff panel discussing addiction and Mark from Shropshire calls in. He tells us that he thinks addicts are lazy and take the easy way out and I think Mark from Shropshire should visit the scene in my mind so he can stare at me, hunched over that table and I can ask him 'is this the easy way out? Is this lazy? Does this look fun to you?'


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