Recollections from a Rehab – Part two

Continued from ‘recollections from a rehab – part one’…

After what seemed like a lifetime of ferrying people back and forth into Glen Ellen, Ted and I were finally administered our Suboxone, which started to take effect immediately and in less than half an hour we were sitting outside in the smoking area chatting away, perfectly healthy and wondering what was for breakfast.

It is a strange sensation, going from being incredibly ill to perfectly normal within such a short space of time, of course we knew that the feeling normal part wasn’t going to last long as the plan was to get us stabilised on the medication for a few days, maybe a week or so, at which point we would begin to reduce the dose, going from about 4mg, down to 3mg etc. down to 0mg over the course of two or three weeks (the treatment programme was six weeks long) with the last 1/2 mg being in itself quite tough to stop taking, although never as bad as the feeling of cold turkey, which is just wholly unacceptable!

I still carried a slight resentment concerning Ted’s lack of diplomacy the previous night, when it came to us deciding who was going to be going to see the doctor first. It had actually backfired on him a little, as in the end he didn’t actually get to take his medication any quicker after all and now all that was left was the knowledge between us that he’d acted like a big old baby, without the benefit of any kind of reward to offset his shame and discomfort.

I gently ribbed him about it for a little while, not trying to hurt him but just attempting to get under his skin a bit and make him squirm by not addressing the incident directly but more alluding to it now and then with an accompanying wink and a nod.

Suddenly, he could take no more and he said “Look man, I’m really sorry about that…you know, last night…the running out the door to get in the car thing…it was really selfish of me…and you know what?…I’m really not that guy…honestly!”, which is a pretty good illustration for anyone reading this unfamiliar with addiction, or any form of mental illness, of just how far off track…morally…I person can go, when either driven by the compulsion to use or the pain caused by the lack of a substance being available; a whole new person is easily born, (with a whole new value system) risen up from the smouldering ashes of their previous selves, to potentially wreak havoc upon those unlucky enough to be close to them, to care for them, to love them.

I was also struck by how tall Ted was (about 6 feet 5 inches) and how he towered over me whenever we were standing together talking. This had stood him in good stead in high school where he told me he had been a basketball star back in the days before he’d started using Heroin, Oxycontin and crack, which in the US is quite a big deal, (the basketball, not the getting loaded!) with many high school players often going on to a professional career in the sport. I often noticed an air of nostalgia and quite profound sadness coming from Ted as he spoke about his former sporting accomplishments, coupled with an underlying anger, which showed itself now and again in some of the things he said and the way he would almost spit certain words out or clench and unclench his fists when speaking about certain people from his past. During our time together Ted’s anger bubbled over into displays of real aggression on a few occasions but he was a lovely guy, a real gentle giant most of the time.

I also noticed that he was a little self-conscious about his thinning hair, which I never even noticed but which was the reason for his over-the-top reaction to not being able to find his baseball cap the night before. He never did find it, someone obviously stole it but like he continuously pointed out, why would anyone want someone else’s raggedy, old, stinking baseball cap? Especially since they wouldn’t be able to wear it during the whole six weeks they were in treatment, then again I guess we were forgetting where we were for a minute; slap bang in the middle of a group of addicts, alcoholics and thieves!…ourselves being no exception!

If I may, I would at this point like to wander of course for a moment with the intention of perhaps setting out my stall if, as seems likely, I am about to spend the upcoming hours, days and potentially, months, attempting to capture a few moments in time from my life; freezing them where I find them and laying them down here to be viewed, pawed over and potentially judged by you, dear reader.

As I attempt to weave these recollections into some kind of coherent narrative, it is my intention to both entertain and, where possible, inform, concerning both addiction and mental illness and their attendant behaviours.

In my professional life today, I am a counsellor/Psychotherapist, as some of you may have gathered from previous pieces I have written in this blog and as such I am very aware that addiction in particular is viewed in differing ways by different people, with some viewing it as an illness, whilst others, the lifestyle choice of a weak-willed and morally bankrupt few, selfish in the extreme.

Whilst I would never claim to have the definitive answer as to what addiction either is, or isn’t, I do subscribe to the notion that it is an illness, which is both complex and deadly.

Whatever your viewpoint, I invite you to stay with me here in these pages and hopefully have a little fun and perhaps learn a little about what makes this particular recovering addict tick, however, I would also like to respectfully propose that people kindly refrain from stating their particular views as to the nature of addiction within this particular space, for whilst wholly valid, whatever your stance, those views are, I believe, best left for another day.

Also, please be assured that I am well aware of the serious nature of my illness, i will take care to describe to you both the good and the bad; the dark and the light; the funny and the serious.

It’s all very well having a good laugh about some of the situations I have found myself in over the years and I am sure anyone reading this who is by nature a little more calm, balanced, conservative and emotionally stable, (or not, as the case may be), may very well find it quite amusing, which i genuinely hope is the case as I love nothing more than to make people laugh, but the minute I start to forget that all this stuff is a direct result of my struggles with a life threatening condition or conditions…in my case, clinical depression, addiction and Tourette’s Syndrome…then I will be in real trouble and likely unable to recount any stories or tales – funny or otherwise – due to my premature demise.

In short, if what I’m writing sounds like that of someone just a little too cocky and a little too blasé, please try not to worry as I’ve suffered enough pain at the hands of my chemical dependency to probably last several lifetimes and a natural by-product of living with this illness…but more importantly from the sometimes confrontational nature of the treatment programmes I have undertaken… is a healthy process of ‘ego deflation’, which is both necessary and uncomfortable, for there is nothing more dangerous than an egotistical and arrogant addict, in full flight from reality, with a bagful of chemicals and an overriding sense of entitlement; people like that don’t live for very long and I am extremely fortunate to be alive and breathing and able to report back (all of what I write are historical anecdotes, I still struggle from day to day but it is a clean struggle now) from the front line of this most complicated and hideous of afflictions.

Then again, I suppose one could argue that me sitting here right now, investing a goodly amount of time, writing about myself is, in and of itself, an egotistical act and they wouldn’t be wrong, however when I was sitting in this very same room last week reading Keith Richards’ autobiography ‘’Life’, I wasn’t thinking “I wish this cunt would shut up…prattling oooon and oooon about himself…the big-headed knob!” I was of course genuinely interested and fascinated in the varying ways he had found to kill time over the course of a lifetime, as I would be with almost anyone; it is, you see, the human condition itself that interests me the most and although I find living with and relating to people extremely hard work, I have a huge amount of love and compassion for our silly little race and the struggles we all must endure as we plod on, you and I, ever forward…and in any case writing this has got to be a damn site more interesting (for both you and me) than eating toast and watching the fucking X-factor!

It has been noted that I am someone with a sense of humour which is both dark and dry, drier than a popcorn fart in fact…so please remember that, as dry humour and irony doesn’t usually translate well into print, so if you find yourself thinking “shit…this guy is really not very well at all!” then it’s probably due to you stumbling into some poorly lit sea of irony that I forgot to tell you about on the way in!! if, and when, this happens…please forgive me.

Finally, I would like to mention that at times, as you read this, it may become unclear as to when I was using, what I was using and with whom, as events unfold. I would just like to assure you and make absolutely clear that I have never, nor will I ever in the future, been active as a professional therapist, working with either vulnerable children or adults, whilst under the influence of any intoxicating substance legal or illicit.

Whilst I still live day to day as someone who sometimes struggles with my mental health, which can bring about a compulsion to use drugs or alcohol, I still attend weekly therapy sessions and feel I believe i have the self-awareness and integrity to remove myself from practicing as a therapist, coupled with the humility to seek the required help should the need arise.

So, that’s the boring bit out of the way…thanks for sticking with me…see you next time…


To be continued…


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