Problems

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A day of mixed problems of varying seriousness and effect.

Firstly, my 85yr old neighbour is living in a perpetual state of stress because someone’s bin got vandalised yesterday. It took ten minutes to calm her down. I stood in the howling wind and rain in a pair of shorts and t shirt outside her door as she took her time telling me the fine print details. By the time I’d told her to go back inside and ring me if she was worried, I was soaked to the skin. I just know this isn’t over. I am completely at her mercy right now. There is no reasoning with someone that old. The only solution is to hide and ignore her shouting over the gate for me. Which, of course, I will never do..

Later this morning I got a text from my GP asking me to ring the surgery. It took all of five seconds for me to realise they are trying to kick me off of my codeine prescription. The dosage is poxy – 15mg four times a day – but it’s enough in these days of opiate paranoia to become a blip on a doctors radar. I’ve nursed that prescription for years. And I always only ever use half the prescribed dose, meaning the time between repeat prescriptions goes a long way to proving my ability to maintain a sense of restraint and control over the codeine. This doesn’t seem to have got me very far. A week on Friday I’ll know for sure, when I’m deep into an argument in a doctors room with some poor sap who knows me less than you do. I’m not knocking their obligations to a patient with codeine, diazepam, and pregabalin prescriptions – it’s just common sense – but justifying the codeine is going to be tough. Truth is, it’s genuinely needed, but this won’t go far in the cold light of the surgery on Friday. Ever tried to prove pain? It’s tough. There is another little withdrawal looming on the horizon. And freshly opiate-free synapses hurt. Trust me.

The General Election is tomorrow. I won’t be doing my usual drunk/medicated vigil in front of the tv screen into the early hours, shouting at the screen and pledging my allegiance to Satan if only he’d suck back the souls he rented to the Conservative Party candidates. It’s an exercise i recommend, especially if your neighbours can hear you at 4am on your tenth Red Bull and vodka, wired up to the political mainline like an electricity sub-station. People who hear that kind of behaviour never want to engage you in conversation about politics ever again. But I’m driving for four hours at 9am on the next morning so I’ll just go to bed and grind my teeth until the savage dawn awakens the next chapter of Austerity, Cuts, and Right Wing death squads. What the fucking hell have we become? It’ll be a fast and dangerous drive because my mood will be terrible. There is no chance that Labour will win. Anyone living in hope is delusional. People in the UK are either rich, hideous, and scared, or poor and too apathetic to rise up and care about how many times they get kicked in the balls. And the latest terror attacks have rubber-stamped Theresa’s victory. The majority want someone punished and they want it done with excessive force. Doesn’t matter who, just as long as they aren’t White and we don’t get to see them putting out the flames on their children’s backs. Jeremy Corbyn is too empathetic for this country of revenge-hungry beasts. We are at War. And Jeremy admits he wouldn’t press the button. It’s just common sense, and I applaud him for it, but the average voter doesn’t want to hear about taking backwards steps; about being weak; the chance for peace. They want blood and for someone to guarantee they can live their life on Facebook without giving a thought to anyone else other than clicking ‘Like’ on a random acquaintance’s holiday photos. X-Factor, Dance-Off, Bake-Off, Fuck-Off TV, rammed down semi-alcoholic throats at the end of long boring weeks in a dead end job, hating everyone. It’s the British way.

Jeremy will lose. Maybe not by a crushing defeat, but by enough for him to walk away into history as the man who should have proved the UK had some sense of hope for the future, if only enough of us had had the guts and the brains to stand up for peace.

Problems, eh. You’ve got yours and I’ve got mine. Right now it’s time to put Kurt Vile on the stereo and try to calm down. Maybe smoke a joint. Let it all pass. I mean, these are dangerous times. Someone like me doesn’t need to add their own foul twist on an already evil brew. By Friday morning we’ll all know just how fucked that brew can get us, and the hangover is going to take an eon to shift. Maybe it’ll never leave us.

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Trauma #3

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Day following weekly Trauma Therapy session #3. Me and my Psychologist raised our voices to each other. I felt vulnerable again. I don’t like it.

There’s not much to say about today. I walked for a while up onto the Black Rocks, then down the incline and along the canal and back up through my village. Locked the garden gate, the back door, drew the curtain. Lit some candles. Sat and watched YouTube videos of no use at all. Vacuous bullshit. Got confused, then sad, then at risk. Took a diazepam and decided to channel it all into something productive – and here it is, for what it’s worth.

My Psychologist thinks I’m beginning to show some form of compassion for myself and I’m not used to it. This is an alien concept to me. She wants me to grieve for my lost childhood. I don’t know if I can. And I don’t know if I deserve to. I’m washed up and sometimes things are better left high and dry where they finally rested. No storm ever got welcomed twice. Not for me, anyhow.

There is grey in the sky outside, chill wind. The view from my desk is the same little window looking out towards the hill up into the nature reserve. The scree slope is bare and featureless. Moss lumps cover fallen trees. Pigeons sit high and fat and pretty up in the scraggy beech trees. The world is springing back to life with no hang-ups from yesteryear. It’s all to play for out there. Inside, the calm plays a flat-line in my brain and slows down the typing and the adrenaline.

I hurt. I’m sad. I’m confused. There is a kernel of something deep down there, but I don’t know what that means. I’m trying to forget I have enough codeine to do the job – board the respiratory escalator going down. These are times where you either fight or die.

Obscene faces in the News. Horror and appalling humans wherever you look. No faith in anything. Hubris gone. The jumping facial tick of the liar. Viscous pools of the all consuming grey goo of all our futures. Seal resting out of place on the beach. Huge lightning storms. Trips into the past.

No. Not today. There may be a right time, but this isn’t it. Music booming from the speaker on my desk. Tie yourself to that melody. Lifeline in the April air. What does any of this mean? The words are garbled again. Reading back – made me laugh, all naïve and ‘pray for me, people of the World’. Hope springs from the most unlikely sources doesn’t it. Too confused to write now. See you all tomorrow when this will all be another shitty memory to swirl in with the others like mixing black paint. Up, up, up, into the challenge of another mixed up day. No change. No sympathy, please. See you tomorrow after my cockroach soul has survived its three hundreth nuclear attack.

Trauma Therapy

My old Clinical Psychologist is back. Today was our first appointment for a year. She’d been off to have a baby. She said I looked well and that she was glad to see me. It was a small lie but I took it anyway. Nobody can really enjoy sitting all day listening to shit like I come out with, but I like her. Savvy people are hard to find, in my experience. And she is savvy, despite what she has to go through at work. It hasn’t dulled her intellect or her soul. I’m thankful for it.

She’d heard about me breaking a couple of my own ribs a couple of months ago by punching myself. She didn’t even blink when I talked her through the moment. It’s things like that which give you a clue to exactly how much pain and anguish people like Psychologists get to hear on any given day. I don’t blame her for it. And I don’t envy her.

We are starting something called ‘Trauma Therapy’. It’s all about digging through the cesspool of my past and finding the really stinking, rotten parts. She warned me it’d be tough and that it might test our relationship. I told her I was ready for it – I mean, how hard can it be to relive the bad things you’ve been through and have replayed again and again for years? She told me it might raise my propensity to self-harm and my suicidal ideations. I told her, ‘So what?” and she sighed. I guess it’s hard to get across to the uninitiated exactly how little regard people like me can have for ourselves on any given day. Elon Musk wants to go on a tourist trip to the moon, and if he gets back without being fried into tiny microbes by the 3000 centigrade re-entry phase then he’ll never adequately be able to explain how it felt to look back on the earth. I guess that’s as good as any analogy for what I’m trying to say.

But I’m glad my old Psychologist is back. She’s a highly intelligent woman with a good sense of humour. If we’re probing the depths then I can’t imagine anyone I’d want to guide me through the whole foul mess more than her. It’s not something I’d do for a living, but then again not everyone can be a circus clown, or the president of the USA… Oh, wait..

So, here’s to the future – or at least the next year – digging through abuse and childish nights of terror and torture. Here’s to the loss of my childhood.

It’s codeine time. I think this is about the right place to stop typing.

 

 

  • Painting by Anthony Caruso.

The last ride

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By then I’d switched to lemonade. There had been a point twenty minutes earlier where I thought I might tip over the edge completely. Booze can do that to you without a seconds notice. One minute I’m there, the next I’m gibbering to somebody about how Tyson Fury once punched me in a Belgian forest. The lemonade tasted shitty but my head wasn’t freefalling anymore, despite the conversation.

I don’t see this friend all the time, but enough to know he’s still there for me – and for him to know it’s reciprocated. In fact, he is the only friend I have left after years on the BPD treadmill. The others could only take so much, and I don’t blame them. This friend is a guy I’ve known since we were young. We grew up in the same small village in the North of England; totally flat lands going right over to the boulder clay ridge where a Steelwork town belched into the skyline. It was all under-age drinking and smokes of hashish up at the churchyard until we could get into the pubs and get really legally wasted. We were the village fuck-ups, polite and well-meaning, but always on the look out for ways to get out of our heads. We’d gone through cheap sherry, hash, speed, LSD, even lighter gas, and I was pitching in and out of irregular heroin use.

We ended up separately after we got to our mid twenties – I married and started work in a prison, and he drifted from job to job, got with a girl, bought a house, and had a baby. In the end we both got fired, fucked up, and divorced, quite independently. He ended up in rehab and I ended up in a psychiatrist’s office. Fun times.

About five years ago we got back in touch in a good way and we’ve seen each other fairly regularly ever since. Through a quirk of fate, despite me moving away from the village, he now lives pretty close to me.

This night was a get-together with our partners. We were enjoying it. He’d made me cry again with laughter. Now we were arranging his stag do (I am the Best Man).

It was going to be fairly simple. I’d found a remote recording studio for us and his band to stay at. He’s a great drummer. I play guitar. We’d spend maybe five days recording whatever we wanted. On the shore of a Scottish Loch we’d play our hearts out, talk, laugh, and get a little drunk maybe. It would be a liberating and cathartic week for us both. But talk had turned to what to bring.

It started out with clothes and food. We’d take booze, for sure, and a little weed, but now we were on to serious enjoyment. He thought for a moment and then said he’d like to take some cocaine with us. I didn’t ever have a problem with that, but he did. Then I heard myself offering to stockpile my codeine and pregabalin, even my diazepam prescription. Before we knew it, the drug bag was growing and we were both wrapped tight up by the prospect of one last blow-out up there away from civilisation. The last ride of the junkie brothers.

“I’ll be found slumped naked on the loch shore with a semi-on in my hand,” he said.

“Man….this could be the best week of our lives.”

“Or one of us has a stroke.”

We laughed. We would be ok. It always was. Outside I told my partner that she had nothing to worry about. I said I had always believed in picking the right people to get fucked up with – people you can trust in a tight spot – and he was the only one left. We’d been there enough to know the way if one of us got lost. There would always be someone tending the light at the end of the tunnel.

And I forgot everything of the last twenty years; every tear and moment of distress was gone. Things were no different now to the yahoo of youth all those years ago. We were the same people as back then anyhow, weren’t we? There was no danger in a drug-fuelled trip into the past. There had been no consequences before. The drug gods had been kind enough to erase all the hurt and the terror now they were getting closer on the horizon again. We were old hands. Lead on. Nothing could be simpler..

Hallucination music to dance to

 

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Woke up to the music again. 3am in my small bedroom, headache, eyes focussing on the spiral dark swirls in the air.

It had been a blue sky day. Couple of beers in the afternoon. And some tablets. Or vice versa.

I reached for the water bottle and slugged on it until my mouth didn’t feel as dry and poisoned. The dark demons watched. The music played.

When I first started hearing the music – about a year ago – I thought it was my neighbour watching his tv. The sounds were muffled and far away, just a deep bass beat at a sharp staccato tempo. Bit like a shitty Drum and Bass track. But my neighbour is nearly seventy years old and the only noise I ever hear from him is when he comes in at 12.30 every night and throws himself, drunk, into his bed. I sometimes hear the gentle rhythmic banging of his head board as he masturbates. I lay and wonder who he’s thinking of.

But then I started to hear the music outside of my house, in other places. Unmistakeable. I hear it almost every day now. My Psychologist and Psychiatrist say the music is a harbinger of bad times or a direct response to stressors. They ask me if I know enough about it to know it’s not real. They ask that a lot. I answer them with ‘Yeah,’ but sometimes it’s hard to tell. The sinister jukebox in my head whirls on free plays in the early hours and I go with it from time to time. Keeping in touch with reality is hard when the music hums along in the pitch dark. I wait for the voices, but they don’t show too much. Their first weapon is that bass. They only talk when things get even stranger – and, yes, that’s possible.

Auditory hallucinations rip up what you thought you knew about yourself. They conspire and prey on you in weak and vulnerable moments. You are powerless. I sometimes marvel at it, but mostly the experience is repulsive and terrifying. I always feel like the music mocks me, like I’m one dance away from clapping for invisible flies. Eternal private dance. Weirdest of the weird.

This morning. Fog outside – real this time. Cold Autumn air. It’s quiet. Sore head, more tablets. NO noise except from my stereo speakers. It’s 4am. I’ll stay awake all day and bet on sleep tonight like an idiot at a casino wheel – too drunk, too many wrong decisions. Sounds of vomiting from the marble stalls, needles and crushed cans thrown down in the parking lot. Laughter and screaming, neon lights and the sound of living. Vacuous, dull muzak, all of it.

I hear something.