Monday, 11 August 2014

Drugs Saved My Life

Drugs Saved My Life
I think it was round about the 26th of June when it started. I was at work and this immense pressure engulfed my heart. It wasn’t sore, but more like someone had my precious organ in their hand and was gently squeezing it, whilst my chest got tighter and tighter. I started to panic, as my palms instantly broke out into sweats, my breathing falling erratic and all over the place, my attempts at getting enough oxygen rendered futile. I shook, my vision became a grey mess, and I assumed someone had spiked my morning coffee. It’s hard to explain, but it was kinda like I wasn’t there, like I was viewing my life from an outside perspective, like I was no longer in my body, with only one thought throbbing through my mind: run. Run as fast as you can. The consequences could never be as bad as this.

In that moment, I was convinced I was dying, but that wasn’t the worst of it. The worst came when it happened again, about an hour later. And again, an hour after that. It must have happened six times or so that day alone, and always situational, always sudden. Someone spoke to me; my alarm would beep to remind me of a meeting; I would stand up to go have a cigarette ... these day-to-day moments suddenly triggering an invisible piano crashing onto my lungs.

Thinking back, I actually hoped I was dying. Life has been weird for me in recent times. After splitting with my favourite girlfriend in the worst of ways in 2013, yet still living in the same house as her (even after her new boyfriend moved in), whilst surrounded by “friends” who were so hooked up on MDMA that they couldn’t see I was crumbling (that’s a lie, rather they bullied me each and every day, reminding me that I wasn’t fun anymore, informing me that I was a shit human, chipping away at my self worth until I loathed my own person), as well as another brief break-up in the middle of it all … well, let’s just say, I hadn’t exactly been the biggest fan of "living" for about a year now. Which is a fascinating statement for an optimist, and is something I learned the hard way during this long period: depression and optimism are not mutually exclusive.

But of course, these pressures were unrelated to my heart condition, right? The palpitations and borderline fainting spells were a result of my premature death, surely. And I waited for it with open arms, impatiently, whilst I couldn’t look another person in the eyes or even stand on the tube without my soul rising above myself.

Eventually, I decided I needed to know, and booked a doctor’s appointment. My hope was that they’d say something to the effect of “yup, you’re terminal, bro, you have three months to live” and then I’d laugh in the face of everyone who doubted my concerns, promptly fucking off to South Africa, where I’d hide away and frantically write my autobiography, hitting the publish button moments before I vomited up blood and died on the floor of my Daddy’s holiday house. No such luck, though.

Once at the doctor, I was examined and asked a bunch of awkward questions. The one that really stood out was: do you always feel the need to be doing stuff? I laughed. Only, like, my whole life. Since I can remember, I’ve been drowned by the urgency to continuously create; writing blogs and making music and drawing pictures and all the other stuff you would already know if you’ve been here before. In recent times, it has seemed to escalate too, manifesting into weird shit like the mad desire to clean my house regardless of whose mess was whose, almost losing my hair when someone left the cap off the toothpaste. Apparently this isn’t good, and is actually a symptom (along with many other factors) of someone who is severely anxious. That fainty shit? Those were full fucking blown anxiety attacks, man. I mean, I’m nearly 30 years old, and yet now for the first time in my life, my brain is malfunctioning and cracking and not coping? Oh how embarrassing. Oh how hilarious.

The doc suggested I go onto a medication named Propranolol, which to me was very poetic. PropranoLOL? Even this prescription was laughing at me! What’s more, I’ve always been against the idea of “happy pills”, but I gotta hand it to this doctor, she was very convincing. And not only because she was an extremely good looking girl, mind you, but also because the idea of getting my life back after such a long time literally brought me to tears.

So I started taking this shit, and I guess the million dollar question follows: is it working? Well, I haven’t had any spacey panic attacks whatsoever since then, so I guess it must be doing what it’s supposed to. Come to think of it, I suddenly have a lot more to say to people. You know, I’ve actually found myself laughing a lot more. Little things are making me really stoked, I am singing all the time, and those thoughts of impending doom or dying without being recognised or not meeting my own ridiculous deadlines for projects no one will even look at... well, they’ve all just kinda... gone.

At the doc's suggestion, other stuff has been happening too. I’ve started meditation, because I believe many of our problems can be rectified with spirituality (regardless of where “God” fits into that word for you), shutting off our minds and FEELING rather than THINKING for a bit. Even more potent, I have swiftly identified the people in my life who are counterproductive to my recovery, and effortlessly found the strength to cut them off. Those who were poisoning my existence with their negativity are no longer a factor, it’s great. I guess armed with my new bulletproof chemicals, it was rather easy to let them go from my mind, but it didn’t hurt that I deleted them off Facebook too. Sure, my house (note: not my home) is still a dark cloud of tension, but I have taken to wearing headphones 24/7, a beautiful playlist guarding my aura rather than having to hear whatever words of hate may be floating about. And boy, does it feel good. In fact, I feel great. I’m actually happy-ish! For the first time in over a year. Sure, I still have moments when I want to burst into tears because of a Bon Iver song and I know I still have a while to go, but I got this shit mapped out gangster like now, finally.

Ok, so what’s my point? Well, I have two points. The first relates to this blog, for (as a well documented side effect of Propranolol) I have lost interest in my personal projects. I actually don’t really care anymore, I’d rather go out and chat to someone than sit in front of my computer, breaking my fingers to impress the twenty thousand hits I get every month. And that’s awesome, but I’m not entirely sure where that leaves the future of my projects, nor am I sure I'm even bothered. So I guess in a way, this is a warning, but at the same time, my routine (while slower) should continue to run fairly unaffected, and despite everything, I don’t intend to be a pill junkie forevers. Once I am out of this house and in a new more peaceful place, I can start looking at weaning this shit off. And then the anxiety will come back and I’ll frantically work for you again. But it’ll be the good anxiety. The right anxiety. The anxiety I used to have. The fuel.

The second point to this blog, perhaps relates to you. Don’t be stupid like I was. I was fucked up for so long and never even gave myself the chance to think about it. It took my body to actually fail on me for me to notice how badly I wasn’t coping. I probably shaved years off my life because of this stupid crap, when all I had to do was skip down to my doctor and let them do what they do every day for millions of people: help. I always thought depression and anxiety were signs of the weak. That being emo was something to be ashamed of. But now I know, it’s not, and if you feel this way, look at what I just did. I publicly wrote all my pathetic troubles online for the whole world to read. If I can do that, then you can get yourself checked out.

Medication is fake, the easy way out, and it’s not the real you. I still believe this. But being depressed is not the real you either. You were not born to live this way. You were born to be happy, and if you need a little boost to get back to that natural state, well you’re in luck that we live in a modern world where such tools are available. Perhaps it’s the pills making me happy, but this is definitely closer to the real me than where I was at before. Because I remember this version of myself. And he’s much nicer.

UPDATE: Please note the time and date this article was published. Literally hours before Robin Williams died and everyone suddenly became an expert on depression. Thanks for stealing my thunder, funnyman. But just remember, I was depressed and giving self help advice before it was cool lololol.

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